Daenerys Would Get Crushed In Westeros
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Daenerys Would Get Crushed In Westeros

The Targaryen Princess is heading into a bloodbath

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Daenerys Would Get Crushed In Westeros

So how cool was the finale of season 6? Daenerys Targaryen sailing to Westeros with her army, her dragons, her A-Squad after years of wasting time in Essos. Goals. As cool as that was cinematically there is one huge problem. It’s the roar before the defeat for, as grand and splendorous as Daenerys’ host is, it would get massacred in Westeros.

Now I would like to point out that this is not what the directors will do because Daenerys getting embarrassingly defeated would make for bad storytelling but according to military tactics, strategy, and history she would be easily beat in Westeros for the reasons below.

The Dothraki

Arguably the coolest part of Daenarys' army, the Dothraki are a nomadic horse people skilled in raiding, mounted combat, and Daenarys has thousands of them. Unfortunately there are a few major flaws to the contingent.

First and foremost here is your standard Dothraki armor.

Now, even though it is cool, it is also useless. Leather armor is worn in two situations. Under plate armor or when one is not going to be involved in combat.

Leather armor makes sense for the highly mobile, hit and run warriors that are the Dothraki but in Westeros? Where the armies wear steel and heavily armored knights are used to break enemy formations? The Dothraki would be torn apart. Even against crossbow bolts or arrow fire, the extremely exposed horse lords would be cut down before reaching their target,.

Armor and weapons aside there is one more major factors hindering the Dothraki's tactical usefulness. The terrain. While Essos is full of flatlands and plains that make perfect for mounted warriors, Westeros (or at least the parts Daenarys intends to invade) are rocky, mountainous, marshy, or densely forested. Completely hamstringing the Dothraki's mounted advantage in battle or mass movement throughout the campaign.

Strategically, the Dothraki would be most useful in raiding, attacking the peasantry, and harassing the enemies' supply lines. Although they could still certainly harass supply lines there are far too many of them (some place the numbers near 100,000 including civilian Dothraki) to justify their raiding. Even further since Daenerys wants to "win through the people" having her horsemen raiding and attacking villages would be horrible strategy.

The Unsullied

The Unsullied are, by far, the most capable fighters in Daenerys' army and the best suited for Westeros combat however there are still some glaring flaws. First and foremost their armor


Once again we see the leather armor that, as described earlier, would be feeble against Westerosi arms. Granted they are more covered then the Dothraki so they would not be as susceptible to missile fire.

From their equipment (a shield, short spear, and shortsword) the Unsullied are clearly modeled after the Greek hoplite, reemphasized by their tactics of locking shields lowering their spears and holding their ground (known as a phalanx). For reference, here is a Greek hoplite

Take notice of how much more heavily armored the hoplite is, how large the shield is, and how our hoplite is wearing bronze instead of leather.

The issues with the Unsullied is that, surprisingly, George R.R Martin did not do good research on the tactics behind them. See while the Unsullied are inspired by and fight like the Greek Hoplite they are armored as if they were pikemen. This may seem like an inconsequential difference bet, let's take a look at the pikemen.

See the pikeman can afford to wear light armor because their spears would be so long and their formation so tight, that quite literally no enemy would be able to get close enough. The fact that the Unsullied dress like pikemen but fight like hoplites means that their phalanx would get easily broken by a unit of dismounted knights.

Don't misunderstand me. Their morale and training is nearly unparalleled but those two things only take you so far when facing the rock to your scissors.

Dragons

The dragons are undoubtedly the most impressive part of Daenerys' army and, in this situation, are the wild card. Here is what I can say about the dragons based on what we know about Westerosi history.

1) Daenerys' dragons are untrained.

Despite being able to breathe fire on command, calling Daenerys' dragons "trained" would be the equivalent of me saying my Boxer is Westminster ready because he can sit and give me his paw.

2) Westeros has gotten good at killing dragons.

When Aegon first invaded Westeros his dragons were a total surprise and were effective military weapons. In that time, however, the Westerosi learned to fight dragons and the Dornes were able to outright drive the Targaryen's out, even killing one of Aegon's larger and better trained dragons.

Later, during the Targaryen Civil War (known as the Dance of Dragons) so many dragons were killed by Westerosi armies that it literally exterminated the species.

3) Daenerys' dragons are young and notorious for pillaging the countryside.

Her dragons are still very small by dragon terms and once again, if Daenerys is true in her intent to win public support, having her beasts eat peasants isn't going to get her there.

Westerosi

By far the most capable tangent of Daenerys' army are her Westerosi allies, the Dornishmen and Reachmen.

Dornishmen

I don't want to get too much into stereotypes but I do not believe the Dornish will be extremely useful in this war. They are adept guerrilla soldiers (not very useful in an offensive engagement) and are notoriously poor fighters in standard Westerosi combat. This is increased by the fact that the Dornish do not field cavalry. They are adept bowmen so that could come into play.

The Reachmen

The Reachmen are, undoubtedly, the most useful part of Deaneys' coalition. They have the manpower, the Westerosi tactics, and the Westerosi armor.

Weather

Let's all not forget that Winter is not coming, it's here. Although I do not know how bad this particular winter will be if we are to take any other winter as a set of reference Daenerys is preparing to invade Russia in the middle of December while her army consists of men walking around bare chested.

Ignoring the massive casualties that will be inflicted on the Unsullied, Dothraki and Dornishmen (the Reachmen may be prepared based on how cold it gets in the South) from the winter alone there is the issue of food. Daenerys is preparing to invade Westeros at a time when the crops will be dead and has adopted a policy of not attacking the civilians.

In short, Daenerys' army would be dead three weeks after her food supplies dry up.

Leadership

Before I continue I would like to differentiate between tactics and strategy. In a nutshell strategy is what hill to take, tactics is how to take it. As for strategists and tacticians, Daenerys is seriously lacking in both.

Dothraki

Let's remember that the Dothraki are a people who follow a Khal, who happens to be the strongest warrior in the Khalasar. Due to the Dothraki's nature as nomadic raiders there are simply no strategists among them. A Khal absolutely needs to know how to take the village but what comes before or after that is not of concern.

Even still, in Daenerys' little impromptu bonfire, she wiped out every single Khal. Although she gained the Khalasar in the process let me translate this into military speak. "Daenerys killed the best tacticians in the entire Dothraki Khalasar." Sure the blood riders aren't incapable of tactics but that's akin to purging the entire U.S high command and replacing them with Colonels. Can they do the job? Yeah. Can they do it as effectively as the generals? No.

Furthermore, logistically. There is almost no way to coordinate the Dothraki with Daenerys' maneuvering. In her entire coalition the only people who speak Dothraki are her, Missandei, and Jorah (who is currently A.W.O.L). Daenerys can certainly give her Dothraki a task at the beginning of a campaign but if any improvisation needs to happen (which in war it will) she is putting her trust in the hands of tier two tacticians.

Unsullied

As slave soldiers the Unsullied have no strategists among them. As we see in Episode 8 of Season 6 (Daenerys' return to Mereen) Grey Worm does seem capable of basic tactical thought (deciding to defend the pyramid instead of creating a beachhead) but it is unknown whether this is because he's an Unsullied or their leader.

Essosi Tactics

I'm going to group the Unsullied and Dothraki in this category because it should be pointed out the difference between Westerosi and Essosi warfare. In Westeros there are sovereign nations. The lords own territory, they defend the territory, they occupy land consisting of multiple cities and towns. In the city states of Essos there are no "sovereign nations". The sphere of influence ends a mile or so outside the city walls. Therefore, to Dothraki or Unsullied troops there are no extended campaigns. There are no battles in the field. You show up to a city, you besiege the city, and you make sure you don't run out of food. That's the best you're going to get out of the Dothraki or the Unsullied.

Westerosi leadership gap

Let's remember that this is a time where the men of the noble houses are the military commanders. The higher the house the better a commander you are. Unfortunately for the Daenerys' coalition she is severely lacking in these men.

Tyrell

With the explosion of the sept let's look at who is left in Tyrell high command. You have Willas Tyrell who is studios, educated, kind, but has a crippled leg and no military experience. Granted there is Garlan Tyrell who has tactical military experience and was lauded for his bravery in the Battle of Blackwater but does not have that much strategic experience. It's not great but it's something.

In this war the Tyrells will most likely be relying on House Redwyne, a powerful vassal house that often intermarries with the Tyrells. In short the Tyrell army is not leaderless but they must rely heavily on second tier commanders.

Martell

The Dornish, on the other hand, are completely lacking in military leadership. House Martell has no males that can command since the assasination of Trystane Martell.

Westerosi Politics

Based on what we know I would like to speak on the possible alliances of Westeros.

The North

I know everybody wants Jon and Daenerys to get married but let me paint this picture through Daenerys' point of view. "Hi Jon, you're a male son of my brother, the prince, and have a much better claim to the throne I want. Also, you're in charge of geographically half my kingdom and derive all your power through promising your vassals you'll secede." Now, do you see any scenario where that ends with "do you want to be friends?"

The Vale

Petyr Baelish has made it clear that he wishes to be King. In the current crazy state of Westerosi politics a successful Targaryen invasion would obliterate his chance. Even further is the fact that the Vale, for all intents and purposes, occupies the North. The Northerners don't have the men to theoretically repel him and his knights occupy, albeit peacefully, Winterfell. Where the Vale goes, the North will follow.

The Stormlands/The Riverlands

From the failed campaigns of Stannis and Renly to the constant Lannister invasions both of these nations have been decimated of leadership, resources, and manpower and are therefore inconsequential to the invasion or the defense.

The Westerlands/The Crownlands

Unlike the House Martell and Tyrell House Lannister still has capable military command in Jaime Lannister.

The Iron Islands

Despite Asha and Theon's defection, the bulk of the Iron Islands is still under the command of Euron Greyjoy. Considering Daenerys has allied with the Greyjoy Separatists the bulk of the Iron Islands will stand behind the Iron Throne.

Landing Points

Although overlooked we have to examine just where Daenerys can land her army

Enemy Territory

If Daenerys wanted to go onto the immediate offensive she has two options the Crownlands or the Stormlands

The Stormlands

The Stormlands are in a complete state of vulnerability. The population has been decimated from the failed wars of the Baratheon brothers and is effectively leaderless. Daenerys could conquer the Stormands and use it as a base of operations with minimal casualties (consolidating all of Southern Westeros in the process). However she would have to immediately set up a system of resupply, taxation, and in doing so, lose the element of surprise.

The Crownlands

Although incredibly unlikely, Daenerys could go for an immediate attack on King's Landing. If she accomplishes this fast enough she could convince the other lords to bend a knee with hardly a fight. The Iron Throne is the goal and possession is nine tenths of the law. That being said, King's Landing is highly defensible from the sea, her army isn't prepared for an amphibious assault, and Cersei has a borderline erotic relationship with wildfire

Allied Territory

There is little to no way Daenerys could land in ally territory (Dorne or the Reach) and maintain the element of surprise. The moment she lands in either region the alarms will ring, the rebel lords will get excommunicated and Daenerys will most likely have to reconquer the border fiefs of the Reach and any other vassal houses wishing to rise up through revolution. That being said, she could disembark her army without a fight, prepare them for a campaign, and begin foraging for food.

Manpower

Despite all of this Daenerys does have one advantage. Considerable manpower.

(The show often flucates manpower for dramatic effect so I am operating out of a combination of the book and the show)

Targaryen Coalition

138,000 men

50,000 Dothraki Warriors (I took the full Dothraki Khalasar and divided by half to accommodate women. I'm couting children as "male fighters" so this is a generous number)

8,000 Unsullied

5,000 Ironborn

60,000 Reachmen

15,000 Dornishmen

Royalist Forces

72,000 men

15,000 Ironborn

45,000 Westernlanders

12,000 Crownlanders

Vale-Northern Wildcards

36,000 men

6,000 Northerners (if they scrape the bottom of the barrel)

30,000 Valemen

Although I hope that the Targaryen invasion of Westeros is a pitched and difficult war with twists and turns, if we are to take military tactics, strategy, and history into account, Daenerys would be embarrassingly defeated in Westeros.





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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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