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  1. - Top - End - #91
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXX

    Quote Originally Posted by Gnoman View Post
    The big innovations of star forts is the composition of the walls. Against gunpowder weapons, tall walls of thick stone are incredibly vulnerable. Star forts evolved low walls with lots of packed earth to absorb cannonfire. However, against an opponent that lacks weapons of gunpowder, the older style of wall is superior. The height (and sheer sides) not only makes it far harder for people to get over the walls, but gives a commanding position for observation. Older castles were well designed to avoid excessive blind spots and pretty much every tactical factor conceivable to the designer - siege warfare is a brutally Darwinian process and it would not be uncommon to start remodeling if you heard about some other castle falling and looked into the vulnerability that allowed it.
    To be pedantic castles weren't necessarily built with solid stone throughout the thickness of the wall. You would normally have an inner core consisting of dirt, stone, gravel, sand or whatever detritus you had lying around. Also even in a starfort the walls are incredibly vulnerable to cannonfire. They can't withstand it either. That is why the trace d'italienne aka bastion style was transitionary. No wall at any thickness could resist the relentless pounding if iron cannonball that could be targeted with much greater precision than previous torsion artillery to continuously smash at the same small part. Eventually the only solution was to bury the entire fort underground, so you can't actually hit the walls directly. Since that isn't practicable if you want shot back you bury the fortress walls underground while they are still overground. The earth ramparts are not actually part of the walls themself. They are separate structures to protect the walls by creating a unyielding absorbing barrier that stops cannons form actually being able to hit the stone walls of as starfort.

    One of the funnier things is when they started building coastal forts out of bricks, with really really thick brick walls. But still it's just bricks. The bricks would crumble under the pounding of cannonball, but they acted a lot like earthen ramparts did absorbing the impact energy. And just when everybody had upgraded their coastal forts this way someone invented reliable impact fuses and explosive shells making guns where the shell would bury into he brick work and explode it to bits. Decades of fortification work all useless.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maat Mons View Post
    That doesn't quite eliminate the issue. You can use the curvature of one of the towers to shield yourself from the other towers.
    And the same problem exist in starforts, they are at their most vulnerable at the tip of each point. Which is also exactly where siege trenches aimed towards. The strongest part, the one most covered by gunfire is close to inner angles of the bastions, which isn't surprising as the biggest danger of one is that an enemy takes it in a escalade. Although it's a bit more complicated to do than I make it sound. A start fort in peculiar way could be said to apply the principle of the high wall in the horizontal plane instead. Diagrams of startforts (when showing a top-down view) seldom visualises the broken up nature of the slope with trenches, dugouts etc that breaks the "slope" from the walls down to ground level. This and other reasons is why there are no impregnable fortifications. And in the case of starforts, Vauban even claimed to mathematically be able to determine how long any fort could be expected to hold given the design, and troop complements involved. There was a certain degree of inevitableness in the digging of trench works and besieging of a starfort. But this wasn't a weakness per se, it was to a degree a feature. Forts were never expected to stand forever. They existed to bottle up an attacker for enough time that a response could be mustered further away to relieve the fort.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gnoman View Post
    In a pre-gunpowder world, there's also nothing you can do there to affect the wall itself. A ram or bore needs space to operate and is extremely slow, mining operations are started much further away to allow for larger work crews, and those are the only personal-scale tools that can do anything at all to a castle. Even if you tuck in that close and successfully avoid attack, there's absolutely nothing you can do except wait for the cover of darkness to run away.
    People actually did attack walls with person level items, crowbars, picks, etc. There was a famous siege during the crusades where the crusaders did so despite the relentless bombardment from above. But the diagram also misses the awnings castles would have had to support dropping stuff down on such people. Or various murder holes etc etc etc. Castles builders knew about these problems and would add measures, we only see the naked stone walls on castles nowadays, that is usually not how they looked as they lack the integral wooden structures added on top of walls to extend arcs of fire etc into blind spots. Trying to work at the base of the walls with tools, which did happen, is as you suggest very very difficult and will require a lot of time. It is also for such reasons you have sally ports allowing you to safely deploy a small team to take out such bold interlopers while the majority of the enemy are held back by the fire from the walls and the various features that make closing in to castle difficult for attackers..
    Last edited by snowblizz; 2023-09-09 at 07:24 AM.

  2. - Top - End - #92
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    Is there any reason not to eat a stillborn sheep?

    Commercial lamb meat usually starts from a month old, is there a reason for that beyond letting the lambs build up some meat?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sapphire Guard View Post
    Is there any reason not to eat a stillborn sheep?

    Commercial lamb meat usually starts from a month old, is there a reason for that beyond letting the lambs build up some meat?
    Depends on the cause but it's generally illegal from taboo rather than health reasons.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sapphire Guard View Post
    Is there any reason not to eat a stillborn sheep?

    Commercial lamb meat usually starts from a month old, is there a reason for that beyond letting the lambs build up some meat?
    The most horrific disease I can think of that might cause that is CJD, and that survives cooking, but as said, mainly "Ew ".
    Last edited by halfeye; 2023-09-10 at 10:10 AM.
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    I've seen an ancient Chinese Imperial menu that included Leopard fetus on it. Presumably the lamb version is just too prosaic to eat.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXX

    Why is a pelte crescent-shaped? Is there a specific tactical reason to have a large section missing, or is it just to reduce weight, or is it some sort of byproduct of the way it's made? The explanation that came to my mind was that it might interfere less with the motion of the off-arm when throwing, but I'm not personally familiar with either javelin throwing or the ergonomics of shield use, so I might be imagining something.

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    Quote Originally Posted by VoxRationis View Post
    Why is a pelte crescent-shaped? Is there a specific tactical reason to have a large section missing, or is it just to reduce weight, or is it some sort of byproduct of the way it's made? The explanation that came to my mind was that it might interfere less with the motion of the off-arm when throwing, but I'm not personally familiar with either javelin throwing or the ergonomics of shield use, so I might be imagining something.
    Not having used one, so many grains of salt required.
    1) reduction in weight plus easier to handle in rough terrain. That only explains why its a smaller shield, not the exact shape.
    2) Peltasts fought in melee with spears as their main weapon, and their main opponents were other spear armed foes. With a side on stance the pelta shield gives coverage to the most exposed left hand side of the body and allows the right arm to manipulated a spear freely. It also allows the person to their left to cover the right side of their body when fighting in formations.
    My assumption has always been the shape was more designed for melee considerations than throwing javelins/defending against missiles generally.
    I know some turkic cavalry shields were crescent shaped, but in that situation it has normally been explained as a consideration for holding the reins.

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    I'd never heard of this type of shield before I read your post, so my speculation won't be very well informed, but some of the depictions make it look as if the cutout in the shield would roughly line up with the wielder's face when held in certain positions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sapphire Guard View Post
    Is there any reason not to eat a stillborn sheep?
    Yeah, you don't know why it was stillborn.

    There's a reason that food restriction rules with pre-modern origins might include a stipulation that the animal is awake and alert when slaughtered, because that lets you reasonably judge its health and thereby the safety of its meat.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXX

    Were flails ever used to trip enemies irl?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eladrinblade View Post
    Were flails ever used to trip enemies irl?
    You will probably need to specify what you have in mind by 'flail', as the word has been used to refer to a variety of different weapons that would lead to different techniques for usage.

    Broadly speaking, if you ask 'did anybody ever do this thing', the answer is yes. Somebody, somewhen, tried to do that. Was it regularly done, taught, or practiced as something you were expected to do with these weapons? Probably not. Tripping, in particular, is not likely to be a recommended maneuver due to the positioning and body mechanics required to do so - if you want to trip somebody, you must strike at the lower leg. If you have a weapon of similar length to your opponent, in order to make that your target zone you will either have to sacrifice your reach to angle a very low strike, or you will need to perform a low lunging maneuver with your torso extended toward your opponent. Both methods mean you are striking toward a non-lethal point on your opponent while inviting a counter strike to your head or critical points on your torso, and one that will be difficult to defend against because your weapon, your concentration, and your body position are not in that area.. so most of the time it's a really bad idea. Maybe you take your opponent off his feet but you get concussed or just dead because you gave him a clear shot right into your helm while you did it.

    The exceptions would be when you have a significantly longer weapon than your opponent(s), in which case you can strike at their shins without significantly yielding your own position (and doing so is a useful technique when your goal is to keep them from approaching you rather than being too concerned about killing them)... or if both you and your opponent are heavily armored enough that you cannot reasonably expect to actually harm each other, in which case controlling the opponent by putting them to the ground so that you can try to place a precise attack into a weak point is probably part of your plan for winning the fight. But you probably do that by approaching into a clinch and using grappling techniques or throws rather than attempting to trip with your weapon.

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    If by "flail" you mean the ball and chain thing that tends to show up in D&D, videogames, and medievalish movies that need a bad guy knight in a tourney, there's very little evidence that they ever existed as real weapons.

    Now flails the threshing tool (basically a long stick and a short stick with a short chain as a hinge between them to seperate wheat and chaff or rice and husk depending on where you are by bashing it) were occasionally used as weapons, and you could probably sweep it low and trip people with it as it'll tangle the legs.

    (If you want a regular battlefield weapon that's quite good at tripping, consider a halberd, the hooked spike on the back plus length of haft gives you an effective way to hook out a leg)

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    The mechanical advantage a flail offers over other types of weapon is the hinge, which allows you to extend your attack past a blocking device (eg shield, parrying sword).
    The hinge contacts the block then the head accelerates and swings over/around the block.
    It's very good at attacking the head if people parry too close to their body and attacking the shield arm. The way it is meant to be used is not conducive to sneaky pulls or hooking.

    As others have said at some point in history someone has used one at some time to trip an opponent. But it isn't what it's designed to do, nor is it mechanically suited to tripping.

    Halberds and Bills and a bunch of other 'low status'* pole arms are specifically designed to be able to trip people and pull them off balance.

    * 'low status' as in generally used by in formations by less than fully plate armored soldiers. Knights at men-at-arms in full plate would typically use a more aggressive weapon more suited to individual combat such as a poleaxe.**
    ** NB very broad brush strokes being used with lots of exceptions in the finer details.

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    What exactly are the criteria for the terms half armor, three-quarters armor, and full armor? In my head, Iíve been applying the labels based on which pieces of armor are present, as follows.
    Half Armor: Cuirass, Spaulders, Tassets (also helmet and gauntlets, but those go without saying)
    Three-Quarters Armor: Cuirass, Pauldrons, Rebraces, Vambraces, Tassets (also helmet and gauntlets, but those go without saying)
    Full Armor: Cuirass, Pauldrons, Rebraces, Vambraces, Cuisses, Greaves (also helmet and gauntlets, but those go without saying)
    But Iím finding that doesnít seem to match up with some descriptions of armor I see.

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    Fully armored and half armored are the two main historical terms I'm familiar with. I can't recall 3/4 armor used in period texts, but it is a bit out of my normal research zone.

    Historically 'fully armored' referred to having the best of what the current armor standard was, and 'half armored' had no strict definition, but was used to describe a soldier with some armor, but less than the ideal. 'Unarmored' was the other common category, and it also included soldiers who had a helmet and maybe a shield so not quite 'unarmored' from a technical perspective.

    For example A soldier with full length mail and a helmet may be 'fully armored' '3/4 armored' or 'half armored' depending on the time period.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pauly View Post
    Fully armored and half armored are the two main historical terms I'm familiar with. I can't recall 3/4 armor used in period texts, but it is a bit out of my normal research zone.
    3/4 armoured is probably more of a modern term. It's used for the early modern Cuirassier in the process of being disarmoured. Compared to a fully encased "knight" the ca. 30 Year War cuirassier had ditched the greaves and sabatons, replacing them with a stout horseman's boot instead. The upper legs were also only protected by tassets which only armoured the front of the thighs. The back part effectively being "protected" by sitting on the horse. Basically from head to knee. Half-armour in the period would have rescued tassets, or none at all. The armoured infantry actually followed the same disarmouring policy too. Lower legs first to aid mobility. Reducing "back" armour, arm armour, breastplate and finally helmet.
    In period it looks to me like the sources would simply talk about cuirassier armour and the meaning of that itself slides form fully encased armour through 3/4 and half- to just breastplates and helmet backup by lighter protection for extremities like buffcoats. Letters about armour eg discussing armouring Swedish cavalry speak of "horseman's armour" (in the English author's translation of the original letters admittedly). Also later letters speak of "light horseman's armour" and "cuirassier armour" and everyone at the time just knows what that implies. And in 1635 a letter notes "no horsemen's or soldiers' harness need be sent". These are all ofc translations of the original letters form German or Swedish. But to me it suggests as you note that 3/4 isn't really mentioned, people just know what a "horseman's armour/harness" consists of from their context.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eladrinblade View Post
    Were flails ever used to trip enemies irl?
    I'll answer this from technical viewpoint of three "flail" -type weapons I've actually used, nunchaku, sansetsukon (three-piece-rod) and surujin (rock-and-rope).

    For the first, it is too short to entangle someone's legs and its flexibility actually makes it so it cannot be used as a solid lever; for striking purposes, the weapon's appeal is in speed and being easy to conceal, and typical target areas are the head and the upper body. The techniques for controlling or entangling someone target hands, arms and the head, so the leverage does not come from attacking the legs.

    For the second, it is much longer and can be swung in a wide arc to create tremendous force, but again, flexibility means it doesn't actually serve as a solid lever, so whether it has any advantage for tripping over a bo (staff) or other type of polearm is dubious. Long range low sweeps are hence basically just strikes, they aren't tripping any more than any other strike that could injure a leg.

    For the third, it can be used in a manner similar to bolas - it's weight at the end of a long rope, it can definitely be thrown in such a way that it will wrap itself around someone's or something's limbs, legs included. This said, my personal opinion is that the rope mostly exists so you get your rock back and don't have to find a new one every time you throw it.

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    Why use an estoc over a poleaxe or a mace? I know about the lance-replacement reason.
    Last edited by Eladrinblade; 2023-09-26 at 05:21 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eladrinblade View Post
    Why use an estoc over a poleaxe or a mace? I know about the lance-replacement reason.
    Swords are fundamentally easier to carry than any polearm, and a long sword has advantages over a mace in terms of reach.

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    An estoc (aka a tuck in England) is a sword. Swords are inherently easier to defend with than maces. In formations a polearm such as a halberd or bill probably has better defensive capacity, but in an open skirmish or solo fight the tuck is better defensively.

    As said above it is easier to carry.

    From a training perspective of the wielded already knows how to use a sword they know how to use an estoc. Learning mace or polearm combat techniques may take more time and effort.

    Cost could be an issue. From a smithing perspective tucks would have to be simpler to make than things like a flanged mace or Bec de corvin so it wouldn't be unreasonable to think tucks could be cheaper for the same build quality.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pauly View Post
    An estoc (aka a tuck in England) is a sword. Swords are inherently easier to defend with than maces. In formations a polearm such as a halberd or bill probably has better defensive capacity, but in an open skirmish or solo fight the tuck is better defensively.

    As said above it is easier to carry.

    From a training perspective of the wielded already knows how to use a sword they know how to use an estoc. Learning mace or polearm combat techniques may take more time and effort.

    Cost could be an issue. From a smithing perspective tucks would have to be simpler to make than things like a flanged mace or Bec de corvin so it wouldn't be unreasonable to think tucks could be cheaper for the same build quality.
    As a Smith I agree with all but the last part.

    All but the most intricate maces are much cheaper to forge out in material, time, and skill. They also have multiple styles of forging available based on the above mentioned factors. They are also usual made in such a way you can quickly repair them by simply stripping off the broken or bent flange and replace it. Flange maces look complex to make but because they are modular you can use a set fuller to make a pile of each part and then just assemble them via brazing which is very quick once you get a flow. You can get away with just about any halfway heat treat as well which is a major time sink for blades. Bar maces were something you could arm 10 men to one sword for the same investment. They aren't flashy but Maces don't need a lot of refinement to work and even less skill to use well. Anyone with a semi physical life can swing one with enough force to do what it needs to do.

    Thrusting blades are finicky to make and if anything goes wrong then you have end up with a crappy mace. Most of the time you don't realize anything is wrong until it's far enough along that you have to write of the time and materials. Swords were and still are status symbols for a reason. Good news is failed blades make good donors for mace and other things you only need a small amount of heat treated edge with some mild weight to soak the energy.

    *A well crafted and weilded tuck is a wonder to behold and could easily out perform any mace with similar dimensions. Although i could only name a handful of smiths who have that skill of the top of my head.

    If I wanted to stay alive I'd take the mooks with maces.*

    Take it with a grain of salt as I tend to make more armor than weapons and shy away from edged work. Id rather make 10 fitted gorgets than even consider making a simple chef's knife.
    Last edited by stoutstien; 2023-09-27 at 01:55 PM.

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    Plenty of different ways to make an estoc, or similar blade, but generally making 1m + long thin spike with edge that doesn't bend, sag warp, etc. too much but can stab things pretty hard definitely wasn't very easy.

    Then there's something like that, 5 feet long and with cross section changing quite a lot throughout whole lenght.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Spiryt View Post
    Plenty of different ways to make an estoc, or similar blade, but generally making 1m + long thin spike with edge that doesn't bend, sag warp, etc. too much but can stab things pretty hard definitely wasn't very easy.

    Then there's something like that, 5 feet long and with cross section changing quite a lot throughout whole lenght.


    https://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koncerz#/media/Plik:Koncerz_Muzeum_Zag%C5%82%C4%99bia_(croped).jp g
    Aye. Fit and finish change but making a thrusting blade of any sizable length that was designed to make full force contact with metal/ other hardened forms of protection has to land on a narrow overlap of strength, hardness, wear resistance, and balance.

    Even then if you're going against riveted chain or better I wouldn't even bother trying to get through it which is where a properly made tuck comes into play because they're very precise and you can land fast blows on unprotected areas but aren't instantly destroyed if it does happen to make contact with something hard.

    *Ironically without gun power advancements and *shrinking* cannon scale (they are actually older than what most would consider heavy plate)I would wager that swords wouldn't have become the iconic weapon of choice for the era. The handgonne wasn't getting through without a volley but by the time the figured out that longer barrels ,shorter powder burn times, and some sort of control via a trigger meant more energy and better precision they forced the decision of moderate overall coverage or enhanced coverage for head and torso. The average person wasn't nearly strong enough to move in enough steel for full matchlock+ protection. *

    Great now I'm curious how much energy I can get out of a handgonne and am going destroy some plate and cardboard.
    Last edited by stoutstien; 2023-09-27 at 03:49 PM.

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    What do you call those extra bits of caste wall that stick out at right angles? No, not buttresses. I mean the ones that connect to towers that are out a ways from the walls. Like torre albarrana, except I think those were connected by bridges or arcades, and I'm looking for towers that are connected by full wall segments.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maat Mons View Post
    What do you call those extra bits of caste wall that stick out at right angles? No, not buttresses. I mean the ones that connect to towers that are out a ways from the walls. Like torre albarrana, except I think those were connected by bridges or arcades, and I'm looking for towers that are connected by full wall segments.
    Bastions maybe?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maat Mons View Post
    I've been reading a little about star forts. Ravelins have me a bit confused. How do you send reinforcements to one mid battle? If you have to retreat from one, how do you rejoin the main force?
    Quote Originally Posted by GloatingSwine View Post
    Through the trenchworks around the fort, which are vulnerable from above and so hard to hold in force.

    Remember that a star fort implies that your warfare is muskets and cannons (the point of a star fort is that it has fewer flat surfaces for cannons to strike).
    Also, under covering fire.

    With the lines of fire the other posters talked about an enemy advancing on basically any part of a star fort is a prime target for other parts of the fort, one layer further in. And similar to how a medieval castle will often have a higher wall inside a lower wall, ones the enemy does take a ravelin, hornwork, crownwork, half moon or similar, there's no cover for them there either. The walls of the outer works only protect against attacks from the outside. So it kind of just doesn't pay to conquer any of those things, unless they're your fastest way to conquering the whole fort. The cover situation makes any forward position a lot easier to traverse for defenders than for attackers, even if they have to use small boats or wade with their matchlock above their head to reinforce a position.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXX

    Not bastions, no, but serving the same function. Also serving the same function as flanking towers. It's hard to describe, so I made a picture.




    Also, sorry about the accidental optical illusion. It's even worse when I look at it in Image Viewer, because of the black background.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXX

    Quote Originally Posted by Maat Mons View Post
    Not bastions, no, but serving the same function. Also serving the same function as flanking towers. It's hard to describe, so I made a picture.




    Also, sorry about the accidental optical illusion. It's even worse when I look at it in Image Viewer, because of the black background.
    Could you give an actual example of castle, because even if I understand you are trying to explain a concept, there's no castle I've ever seen that looks like that.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXX

    Quote Originally Posted by Maat Mons View Post
    Not bastions, no, but serving the same function. Also serving the same function as flanking towers. It's hard to describe, so I made a picture.




    Also, sorry about the accidental optical illusion. It's even worse when I look at it in Image Viewer, because of the black background.
    There are a few problems I see with that design. It would be twice as expensive as a regular castle and not have twice the defensive strength. Before cannons, you wouldn't have huge numers of troops holed up in a fortress that could actually be taken by storm or the like. There's a reason why most sieges ended by other means. Storming a fully defended fortification was a bloodbath and medieval armies just didn't have the manpower and resources to do that sort of thing anyways.

    Another flaw is that this design needs much more in the way of manpower to defend itself. That again makes it more expensive to maintain while not being much better at its job of being an obstacle.

    Albarrana towers were used in the Iberian peninsula (and basically were completely unused in other parts of the medieval world). As far as I know there would only ever be a few (unlike in this image) but otherwise I don't know much about them.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXX

    Unfortunately, I donít have a real-world example to point to. I only have a vague remembrance of an image that I think briefly appeared in some YouTube video or another that I watched several years ago.

    The image was a closeup of a wall segment, so I couldnít get an idea of what the castle as a whole looked like. The image definitely had at least one tower out in front of the curtain wall, but connected to it. My hazy recollection says multiple towers, near to each other, but I suppose thereís a chance thatís my memory playing tricks on me.

    My hazy recollection also says the tower was connected to the wall by another wall segment, not a bridge or arcade, but I suppose that could also be my memory playing tricks on me.

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