War Nerd: Egypt

A friend of mine today pointed me to a site called ExiledOnline.com, with a blog post by one Gary Brecher, who's written a book called "War Nerd". Here he makes a compelling analysis of the current news from Cairo, Egypt as -- with modern military standing on the sidelines -- the streets basically turn into middle-ages warfare: massed foot movements, skirmisher/missile troops, shield walls, and even cavalry charges, with clips from Al-Jazeera English TV. (If you check the comments, you'll also find a link to a photo of protesters building a catapult to lob stuff at barricades.)

Warning: Strong political content. Significant violence content. Some ethnic jabs. Not for everyone.


A key line: "Cavalry that’s stopped is dead cavalry." (Eerily, compare to my post Monday of this week expanding on the thesis, "Cavalry attack is intrinsic to the unit's own movement".)


  1. Thanks for that link. Cynical, sure, but he's got a good handle on the conflict.

  2. I think that's very appropriate, stuck cavalry is dead. I don't know how to write turn-based rules that adequately describe that though.

    Penalty to hit anything with a relative movement in a round more than half your base walk movmenet? Ideally it would be a binary toggle with a static modifier rather than some kind of scale, just for use at the table.

    Maybe a bonus to hit anything that didn't move last round? Sort of a "flat feet" bonus.

    I think at least some of the penalty is a result of hesitation to attack a running horse because its movements are dangerous and unpredictable. The "fear of the cavalry charge" as a hesitation and indecision rather than an outright flight.

    Also note that the protestors probably don't have a problem attacking the horse directly, as it holds no value to them. They aren't horsemen. A motorcycle or jeep seems like a totally different story.

    In other protests I've seen some protestors protecting police from the mob. Stopping short of destroying important things. Do we see that in the Egypt revolt?

  3. Also, this line struck me: "Who’d be the first to die of all the guys you know?... The bravest one, the one who really believes in what he’s doing."

    Compared to this bit from the same section of Shaw's "Arms and the Man" I quoted:

    Raina: (her eyes dilating as she raises her clasped hands ecstatically) `Yes, first One! -the bravest of the brave!'

    The Man: (prosaically) `Hm! you should see the poor devil pulling at his horse.'

    Raina: `Why should he pull at his horse?'

    The Man: (impatient at so stupid a question) `It's running away with him, of course; do you suppose the fellow wants to get there first and be killed... ?

  4. I've noticed that random determination of which attacks reach which PCs has a huge impact on survivability. Once I had a PC survive a whole fight simply because his figure was hidden behind a wagon where the DM couldn't see it! Being out in front doesn't just mean you're the first one to get hit, it can mean more attacks come in at you, but woe the lone skirmisher who absorbs an entire round of attacks from the enemy simply because he's the only one in range for a whole round!