Finally, after two and a half weeks, I finished “Fighting Techniques of the Medieval World AD 500 ~ AD 1500.” I referenced this book twice here and here already, so you have some idea what it is about.
As promised, here is my review.
All reviews bear the personal bias and experience of the reviewer. I am no exception. I enjoy history in general, but I tend to evaluate my history books based on their value to my gaming experience. In this case, I can sum it up in one word: immense.
There is no post-feminist discussion of “The War of the Roses” in this tome. No, this book is exactly as advertised. It is a scholarly discussion of the weapons, strategies and methods of war from AD 500 -1500. Because of the incredibly precise focus on war, the “softer” parts of history get only cursory examinations. Reasons and causes for the battles are barely more than a few pages long. Just enough to explain why the armies battle, but not a deep analysis by any means.
The book divides the period in to five sections.
Chapter 1 “The Role of Infantry”
Chapter 2 “Mounted Warfare”
Chapter 3 “Command and Control”
Chapter 4 “Siege Techniques”
Chapter 5 “Naval Warfare”
Within each section, the authors advance through the time period discussing weapons development and tactics. After a general overview of the subject, they get down to specifics, using historical battles as examples.
Excellent, two-page, color annotated illustrations give a concise view of the battles. I loved these sections. The drawings make is very clear what happened and in what order. It really gave me insight into the reasons why the battle was won or lost. Even their analysis of the venerable “Battle of Agincourt” had some surprises to offer. Victory had less to do with English courage than Agincourt’s sucking mud!
The level of detail provided is excellent and very “crunchy” for gamers. The entire book is clearly written with excellent illustrations of everying from swords to siege techniques.
I am very fond of Chapter 3 “Command and Control.” The mechanics to maneuver huge armies using only flags, trumpets and runners fascinated me. The runner job in particular could be a good way to integrate your PCs into a large scale battle.
This is an excellent resource for DM and players alike. It is chock full of great scenario hooks, equipment and tactics. So the next time a new game supplement tempts you, think about this tome instead. Why accept a game company’s interpretation of the past, with this book, you can read about the real thing.
Reality makes for better gaming!
Trask, the Last Tyromancer