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Regarding the number of troops at Dumai's Wells, I think we can trust that RJ got his numbers right! The man was a soldier with real life experience and probobly an immense knowledge of military history. I think that arguing about an 8:1 ratio being undefeatable in historic warfare is pointless. As in previous posts you would have to compare people with melee weapons against, sub machine guns (Aes Sedai) anti tank missiles (Ashaman) and Atom Bombs (Rand 'I'm gonna whoop your ass' Sedai), which of course is a little unrealistic and impractical. Jordan knew what he was doing in regards to this matter, so I'm inclined to think that he did his sums right.

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Regarding the number of troops at Dumai's Wells, I think we can trust that RJ got his numbers right! The man was a soldier with real life experience and probobly an immense knowledge of military history. I think that arguing about an 8:1 ratio being undefeatable in historic warfare is pointless. As in previous posts you would have to compare people with melee weapons against, sub machine guns (Aes Sedai) anti tank missiles (Ashaman) and Atom Bombs (Rand 'I'm gonna whoop your ass' Sedai), which of course is a little unrealistic and impractical. Jordan knew what he was doing in regards to this matter, so I'm inclined to think that he did his sums right.

 

Some points

 

1.) The 8:1 odds numbers were pulled from the role playing guide, not the books. They're wrong.

2.) I have an immense amount of respect for Robert Jordan for serving in the military, but simply having experienced life as a 20th century soldier does not qualify you as an expert on medieval warfare. Likewise, experience as a soldier does not qualify you to run a campaign, or to know logistics.

3.) The actual numbers quoted in the book are 4:1, which is completely realistic.

4.) The Shaido also had their own "machine guns" in their Wise Ones.

5.) Rand didn't actually participate in the combat. He was too busy looking for Aes Sedai to beat up on.

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I've always contended that the force levels on both sides are unrealistic.

 

Sure Napoleon could raise huge armies - BECAUSE, he was paying them and supplying them from what he stole from those he defeated.

 

That works as a logistics strategy for the Dark to a much greater extent than for the Light.

 

I'll give a pass on this one due to unusual circumstances. It's the Last Battle and people are joining up to fight the Shadow. We've also seen that the ta'veren are the only ones who have food that doesn't spoil, so they're getting their share of soldiers signing up just for the food. These kinds of troop forces wouldn't be realistic for a long period of time, but 6 months to a year is believable.

 

In a pre-industrial society it requires a lot of labor to produce anything. How much ore can a miner dig per day? By hand? How much ore can a smelter process per day? By hand? How many men does it take to do that? How many pikeheads can one blacksmith produce from that refined ore per day? How many livestock does an army consume per day? How many herdsman does it take to look after enough livestock to supply that army for a month? How many hides can a tanner process per day? How many boots and jerkins etc. can be made from those hides? How many tailors and cobblers would it take to make that basic clothing. How many sheep would it take to produce enough wool to clothe an army? Who shears those sheep? Who moves all of those things from where they are grown/dug to where they get rendered into something else to where they are needed. How many wagons and horses/mules/oxen does that take? This just begins to scratch the surface of the logistics problem.

 

The larger the army the greater the supporting infrastructure has to be to keep that army even minimally supplied and supported. In any society the more people the military soaks up, the fewer there are to provide that infrastructure. The more the military consumes the less there is to supply the needs of the civilians. It doesn't take all that much of that kind of strain before nations collapse, even industrialized ones, look at Germany in World War I.

 

Any nation can put a lot of men under arms for short periods, but only one with large reserves of strategic materials and an efficient industrialized agricultural, manufacturing, and distribution system can keep that army in the field for any length of time. No Randland nation has that, and all of them have had large armies stomping around spoiling crops, killing civilians, disrupting everything for the entire two year timeframe of this series. All the while reality is breaking down, weather is against them, and what food there is is spoiling.

 

Yet, somehow, in a land where everywhere we are shown, other than cities, there is virtually nothing but wilderness, and abandoned farms and villages, there are 100,000 plus man armies everywhere you look. And millions of cannon-fodder Trollocs.

 

 

This is my biggest issue too. The size of the armies isn't such a big deal (except for the Seanchan who apparently have unlimited troops). However the supply situations are completely laughable. Perrin's refugee train at one point numbered 100,000. A camp that size takes a huge amount of food, plus all the other necessities. We don't hear anything about remounts for calvary forces, or how tough it is to find replacement weapons for those broken or lost during combat (especially things like arrows and spears).

 

 

 

 

 

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This is my biggest issue too. The size of the armies isn't such a big deal (except for the Seanchan who apparently have unlimited troops). However the supply situations are completely laughable. Perrin's refugee train at one point numbered 100,000. A camp that size takes a huge amount of food, plus all the other necessities. We don't hear anything about remounts for calvary forces, or how tough it is to find replacement weapons for those broken or lost during combat (especially things like arrows and spears).

 

I also have an issue with the numbers that RJ throws at, include Brandon Sanderson. But remember this is fantasy, so eh.

 

Anyway back to the point, RJ and BS did touch on the logistics stuff like when Perrin went to So Harbor and when Mat refused to give horses to Joline and there were comments how hard it was to get horses and supplies and stuff. There were also lines and comments about starving refugees and people dying of famine and hunger. So RJ and BS hasn't forgotten about these issues.

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The numbers in WOT are fine. Despite the weapons, this is not a medieval society. This is an early industrial society with early renaissance weaponry. Napoleon was able to raise an army of 600k from a much smaller territory, then was able to raise hundreds of thousands more a few years after that army failed. While late 18th-early 19th century Europe had a denser population than Randland, Randland is far, far larger.

Armies in the low millions should be expected for The Last Battle. I expect that if you count all the peasants who have been streaming north and gathering arms, there will be between 1-2 million soldiers fighting for the light. We have almost a million just with the troops already detailed in this thread!

 

I would agree that this is an early industrial society and so armies are considerable larger, but the numbers still are a bit excessive to me. Napolean was able to call on the resources of most of Europe in 1812 and much of his army was German, Italian etc and while Randland is larger, much of it seems to be empty space. Andor seems to have only one large city, wheras 18th century France had a number of them.

 

 

Finally the biggest criticism in terms on numbers is the numbers of calvary. The Grande Armee was about a tenth cavalry roughly. That was 60,000 from half of Europe. There doesn't seem any recognition in the books of the cost of cavalry versus infantry which helps explain while army numbers grew bigger from the 17th century onwards the cavalry proportion plummeted.

Edited by Jaglover

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well.

 

It's fantasy, not reality.

 

And if any army in europe was defeated, it really wouldn't have made all that much difference to the common people - whereas if the Last Battle is lost... well, that's it. Game over.

 

The armies being moved around now are ENORMOUS compared to what used to be moved around. 5K used to be a large army - Pedron Niall wanted to seize control of Almoth Plain with 2000 men.

 

I'd venture that probably close to 10% of the population of Randland is marching to war (20% of males, probably better than 50% of males who can carry a weapon).

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Honestly, what does the count of Light-side soldiers matter? It could be millions, it could be hundreds. As long as there is (apparently) no limit on the number of trollocs the Shadow can gin up on a moments notice, there isn't much point in tallying up the numbers of good guys.

 

Personally, I would have prefered that the number remain in Dumai's Wells' territory. They were believeable, one could imagine the economies of Randland supporting armies like that, and one could imagine that the Shadow could only come up with similar numbers in the Waste.

 

But really, it doesn't matter.

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Honestly, what does the count of Light-side soldiers matter? It could be millions, it could be hundreds. As long as there is (apparently) no limit on the number of trollocs the Shadow can gin up on a moments notice, there isn't much point in tallying up the numbers of good guys.

 

Personally, I would have prefered that the number remain in Dumai's Wells' territory. They were believeable, one could imagine the economies of Randland supporting armies like that, and one could imagine that the Shadow could only come up with similar numbers in the Waste.

 

But really, it doesn't matter.

 

I couldn't agree more. Even in fantasy, things have to be a little believable, IMO. Like in LotR, when Boromir observes that not even an army 10000 strong could invade Mordor, meaning that such a force would be quite something for a small part of a medieval-like world. And, let's not forget that the Randland is only a continent of the WoT world. What about the numbers of Seanchan? Shara?

 

But if the battlefields of Tarmon Gai'don are to look more like the Clone Wars in Star Wars (where one can actually believe seeing scores of battle droids battling countless clones, because of the scope and size of the galaxy), I still fail to see how this could affect the outcome. IMO, it's all about the power (smarts and guile) of Dark One vs. the Dragon that should determine the whole thing.

 

That being said, thinking that Tam al'Thor would be able to gather an army of farmers from the Two Rivers in the tens of thousands is, frankly, pushing it big time. These people are not warriors and, given the size of villages and towns in the region, one would come to think that there wouldn't be enough men there to reach those numbers. Especially, counting the ones with Perrin and in the Black Tower, already.

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I thought the Star Wars forces were really undersized, actually. From what I can, the Grand Army of the Republic was like 5M troopers - something like that.

 

Germany threw 3 Million men into Operation Barbarosa, and that's one front of a war on one planet.

 

I dunno - in a republic with 10K planets (I think that's right), I'd figure that you'd have at least 1M soldiers per planet, which is what... 10B soldiers? it's off by quite a bit.

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Yeah, Star Wars has always had way too few troops in it. Considering Coruscant, one of their 10k+ planets had 1 trillion citizens, an army of volunteers in the hundreds of billions should have been expected, not a measly 3-4 million clones. But I digress.

 

For WOT numbers, look at the armies of human history - For example, the Persian empire gathered almost a million troops with which it invaded Greece. The Persian Empire also had to have troops to watch all it's borders, and was roughly the size of Andor (I think). Yes, they had a denser population than Randland does, but certainly not more than 10* denser, which puts the armies fielded per nation with every able-bodied male (and most able-bodied females as well ala Manetheren at Aemond's last stand) at at least 100k, so Rand's total forces + Aiel should be 1 million+

 

I would also say that when the Seanchan invaded they brought an army equivalent to the Persian invasion of Greece, which is why it seems like they can pull troops out of their hats. Remember, most of the Seanchan we saw were just the Forerunners, probably 1/10th or less of the full return, hence the reliance on local levies. Now that the full return has arrived, we can expect to see 2-300k soldiers being assigned to a campaign, like the campaign to crush Ituralde and conquer Arad Doman.

Edited by Erunion

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Yeah, Star Wars has always had way too few troops in it. Considering Coruscant, one of their 10k+ planets had 1 trillion citizens, an army of volunteers in the hundreds of billions should have been expected, not a measly 3-4 million clones. But I digress.

 

For WOT numbers, look at the armies of human history - For example, the Persian empire gathered almost a million troops with which it invaded Greece. The Persian Empire also had to have troops to watch all it's borders, and was roughly the size of Andor (I think). Yes, they had a denser population than Randland does, but certainly not more than 10* denser, which puts the armies fielded per nation with every able-bodied male (and most able-bodied females as well ala Manetheren at Aemond's last stand) at at least 100k, so Rand's total forces + Aiel should be 1 million+

 

No it didn't. Most modern historians put the Persian army at a few hundred thousand tops, probably closer to 100,000. A million men in an army at that time is just laughable. The supply train alone would've stretched back to Persia.

 

 

I would also say that when the Seanchan invaded they brought an army equivalent to the Persian invasion of Greece, which is why it seems like they can pull troops out of their hats. Remember, most of the Seanchan we saw were just the Forerunners, probably 1/10th or less of the full return, hence the reliance on local levies. Now that the full return has arrived, we can expect to see 2-300k soldiers being assigned to a campaign, like the campaign to crush Ituralde and conquer Arad Doman.

 

 

My best guess as to the size of the Seanchan army is somewhere around 500,000 when it first landed. Of course the real power of Seanchan might is the da'mane, and we have no idea how many came over with the armies. I don't know where you're getting your 1/10th size from, because it isn't in the books at all. In fact I'd be willing to bet that Seanchan committed a large portion of her troops to this mission, given the cultural importance of it and how long they've been building up to it. It was important enough to send the heir, and that's not something you would do with only 10% of your army.

 

 

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Those numbers are actually realistic. That gives you nearly 8,000 infantry, which is only 4:1 odds, plus 500 channelers which gives you the advantage at 2:1 plus the wolves (no idea how to rate them compared to men). A 4-1 or 3.5-1 difference with Perrin's army having twice the number of channelers is completely reasonable. Yet again the RPG is proven wrong.

Yet the real point is this- in a battle with a large number of channelers on one side or the other, the number of troops really makes little difference. Who ever has the most effective channelers will win the battle. How many times has Rand or Rand + 1-30 killed over 100k trollocs? All infantry seems to exist for in this series now is to soak casualties so the channelers can kill more. The Dragons might change that but I doubt it.

 

Rand's gone super-nukes only twice in the series. The first battle of Tarwin's Gap way back in tEotW, and at Maradon. He'll likely not be there anyway, since he'll have to face the DO himself.

 

The channelers have to be protected from the regular troops. Eventually any channeler will wear out and not be able to channel any more. Channelers don't have 360 degree vision, so they can't watch everywhere at once. I think of channelers as the heavy artillery of the army. You really want to have them with you, but they do have their weaknesses, and a determined assault can beat them.

 

In this type of conflict the artillery will mostly duel with each other, leaving the regular forces to square off. It'll be really interesting to see how much strategy will be brought to bear in the Last Battle by either side. I'm not confident that we'll see any, but having channelers around creates a whole new way of strategic thinking.

 

 

 

 

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Those numbers are actually realistic. That gives you nearly 8,000 infantry, which is only 4:1 odds, plus 500 channelers which gives you the advantage at 2:1 plus the wolves (no idea how to rate them compared to men). A 4-1 or 3.5-1 difference with Perrin's army having twice the number of channelers is completely reasonable. Yet again the RPG is proven wrong.

Yet the real point is this- in a battle with a large number of channelers on one side or the other, the number of troops really makes little difference. Who ever has the most effective channelers will win the battle. How many times has Rand or Rand + 1-30 killed over 100k trollocs? All infantry seems to exist for in this series now is to soak casualties so the channelers can kill more. The Dragons might change that but I doubt it.

 

Rand's gone super-nukes only twice in the series. The first battle of Tarwin's Gap way back in tEotW, and at Maradon. He'll likely not be there anyway, since he'll have to face the DO himself.

 

The channelers have to be protected from the regular troops. Eventually any channeler will wear out and not be able to channel any more. Channelers don't have 360 degree vision, so they can't watch everywhere at once. I think of channelers as the heavy artillery of the army. You really want to have them with you, but they do have their weaknesses, and a determined assault can beat them.

 

In this type of conflict the artillery will mostly duel with each other, leaving the regular forces to square off. It'll be really interesting to see how much strategy will be brought to bear in the Last Battle by either side. I'm not confident that we'll see any, but having channelers around creates a whole new way of strategic thinking.

 

 

A random ashaman killed around 100 soldiers by himself in Winter's heart. I think you're underestimating the destructiveness of the ashaman.

 

As for the Wise Ones, they weren't used to use the OP to fight, they weren't even used to using the OP at all, since they channel very rarely. They weren't good OP fighters neither alone nor as a group, and they were reluctant to fight.

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Regarding the Wells:

 

1) The AS and Shaido Wise Ones were essentially at a standstill, with the AS having a slight edge. They could link (I doubt the WO's could). They put the dome up to protect themselves and Gawyn's Younglings. This kept out the WO's channeling, and I'd assuming, the spears as well (else they'd have been overrun).

 

2) As mentioned earlier, Sevanna committed her reserves, and got him by Perrin's forces in the rear. These WO's should have been able to link (time in Carihien and with Moiraine and Egwene).

 

3) Rand started taking out the AS on the hill, and the Shaido WO's were taking them out, but then Perrin's forces hit, and then the Asha'men got there.

 

4) Once the AM got there, they extended the dome a bit, protected more forces (I think), but then started turning the Shaido to mincemeat, causing the rout and the end of the battle. The WO's would not be able to sense or counter AM weaves effectively, or at all, most likely.

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Goguryeo-Tang Wars

Goguryeo-Sui WArs

 

The Goguryeo-Tang wars each probably involved armies of at least 100k on either side, heck, even if cut the Sui numbers by a 5th, we still get a total army number of 200k-500k on one side alone. This is a total war, remember, and beyond that, logistics are slightly out of the window when you're dealing with the LB and a book series.

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Moving on to the Band of the Red Hand

 

In Knife of Dreams, chapter 25 Talmanes meets up with Mat. At that point he had brought " . . .three banners of horse and four thousand mounted crossbowmen. I left three banners of horse and five of foot . . ." There's also a banner of masons.

 

In chapter 37 of KoD we learn that Mat has lost 400 crossbowmen and close to 500 calvary. Talmanes leads 3 banners of horse behind the 10,000 men who are trying to capture or kill Tuon. "Talmanes had come in range, now, and announced himself with a volley from four thousand bows . . .)

 

So, 3 banners at this point is 4000 horsemen, with another 500 dead, making 4500 total. This makes one banner equal to 1500 men

 

Given that, the breakdown should be something like this:

 

Band of the Red Hand

Crossbowmen--3500-4000 (figuring replacements and desertions)

Calvary--9,000

Assorted infantry--7500

Grenadiers--50

Artillerymen??

 

Total forces--20,000. There have been desertions, but recruting has also been ongoing. Right now I'd place an overall number of the Band at somewhere between 18-22,000. (probably closer to the smaller number).

 

Am I missing anything?

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- Elaybe's army (besides the Band): Elayne defended Caemlyn with 10,000 men against Arymilla's 30,000; after that battle, most of Arymilla's forces went to Elayne; all in all I would say that that's about 25,000-30,000; then the six most powerful nobles acknowledged Elayne, and they had about 60,000 between them; since them other nobles paid homage and the Queen's Guards was probably bolstered; in total I would say the Andoran forces are at least 100,000.

After Guybon showed up Elayne had 20,000 men, while Arymilla had 40,000. I'd expect at least 50,000 would survive and be in good shape. Then had the 60,0000 from the other six houses. It's noted that from other houses continue to arrive, the Queen's guard keeps recruiting and expanding, and Trankand's own soldiers are ariving. She could have 130-150,000 armed Andorans under her control by now with 30,000 of the Band outside, along with another 10,000 assorted mercenaries. We don't know how many of her men she sent to the border.

 

Brandon seemed a bit iffy on the numbers in ToM as if he didn't realize how many men the Band had. That was my impression anyways. Hard to see how Norry thought he was just another mercenary leader when he had three times as many men as an Andoran great house, three times as many men as the rest of the mercenary bands combined.

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The channelers have to be protected from the regular troops. Eventually any channeler will wear out and not be able to channel any more. Channelers don't have 360 degree vision, so they can't watch everywhere at once. I think of channelers as the heavy artillery of the army. You really want to have them with you, but they do have their weaknesses, and a determined assault can beat them.

Pardon the expression but if you feed enough meet to the grinder anything is possible.The Ashaman just give a crazy tactical advantage and superior firepower.The only way to get around them is a) more channelers or b)enough troops to survive the onslaught.The second is not really a solution, the only reason it is effective for the shadow is because they don't give half a damn about their troops AND they are easily replaced.

Edited by Zentari

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For WOT numbers, look at the armies of human history - For example, the Persian empire gathered almost a million troops with which it invaded Greece. The Persian Empire also had to have troops to watch all it's borders, and was roughly the size of Andor (I think). Yes, they had a denser population than Randland does, but certainly not more than 10* denser, which puts the armies fielded per nation with every able-bodied male (and most able-bodied females as well ala Manetheren at Aemond's last stand) at at least 100k, so Rand's total forces + Aiel should be 1 million+

 

No it didn't. Most modern historians put the Persian army at a few hundred thousand tops, probably closer to 100,000. A million men in an army at that time is just laughable. The supply train alone would've stretched back to Persia.

 

 

 

and the Persian Empire was far larger than Andor

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Moving on to the Band of the Red Hand

 

In Knife of Dreams, chapter 25 Talmanes meets up with Mat. At that point he had brought " . . .three banners of horse and four thousand mounted crossbowmen. I left three banners of horse and five of foot . . ." There's also a banner of masons.

 

In chapter 37 of KoD we learn that Mat has lost 400 crossbowmen and close to 500 calvary. Talmanes leads 3 banners of horse behind the 10,000 men who are trying to capture or kill Tuon. "Talmanes had come in range, now, and announced himself with a volley from four thousand bows . . .)

 

So, 3 banners at this point is 4000 horsemen, with another 500 dead, making 4500 total. This makes one banner equal to 1500 men

 

Given that, the breakdown should be something like this:

 

Band of the Red Hand

Crossbowmen--3500-4000 (figuring replacements and desertions)

Calvary--9,000

Assorted infantry--7500

Grenadiers--50

Artillerymen??

 

Total forces--20,000. There have been desertions, but recruting has also been ongoing. Right now I'd place an overall number of the Band at somewhere between 18-22,000. (probably closer to the smaller number).

 

Am I missing anything?

Talmanes signed 900 Altaran cavalry so the Band left Altara with about as much cavalry as they came in with.

 

Also, banners of foot are twice the size of banners of horse so add another 7500 to that.

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Just thought I'd add a couple of unknowns into the mix

- Jarid Sarand's army is still missing (last mentioned in ch.50), no way of knowing which side he'll come down on.

- King Roedran and his army, though I believe he's almost certainly going to fight for the DO

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Half of the Band is still in limbo ? Daerid $ co. They might end up fighting for/ with Murandy

All of the band were re-united at Caemlyn - "Mat's force had met up with Estean and the others that had gone ahead to Andor, and the Band was well and truly whole again"(ch.8) Though some were later sent with Elayne when she claimed the Sun Throne and are presumably at FoM with her.

 

edited - typo

Edited by rambling

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Just one annotation to the numbers of ancient armies that have been referenced (Persians, Romans, these kinds of folks). It's one thing I learned at university that I can't believe I get to apply! :) And it's this: The numbers that the ancient historians like Thucydides and Xenophon and Plini and all those guys give are not really to be taken literally. When the invading force is described as "a million strong", that's not actually supposed to be read as "1,000,000 guys showed up on the shore" but as "a friggin' huge-ass army showed up on the shore". That goes for a lot of these ancient armies. The numbers are not reliable, they are just giving you an flavor of what it must have been like to face a big army. That's apparently just how the ancient historians worked. I think our modern kind of accuracy in reporting is a relatively recent thing, I'd be suspicious of ANY numbers written down before maybe the Renaissance.

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Yeah, Star Wars has always had way too few troops in it. Considering Coruscant, one of their 10k+ planets had 1 trillion citizens, an army of volunteers in the hundreds of billions should have been expected, not a measly 3-4 million clones. But I digress.

 

For WOT numbers, look at the armies of human history - For example, the Persian empire gathered almost a million troops with which it invaded Greece. The Persian Empire also had to have troops to watch all it's borders, and was roughly the size of Andor (I think). Yes, they had a denser population than Randland does, but certainly not more than 10* denser, which puts the armies fielded per nation with every able-bodied male (and most able-bodied females as well ala Manetheren at Aemond's last stand) at at least 100k, so Rand's total forces + Aiel should be 1 million+

 

No it didn't. Most modern historians put the Persian army at a few hundred thousand tops, probably closer to 100,000. A million men in an army at that time is just laughable. The supply train alone would've stretched back to Persia.

 

 

I would also say that when the Seanchan invaded they brought an army equivalent to the Persian invasion of Greece, which is why it seems like they can pull troops out of their hats. Remember, most of the Seanchan we saw were just the Forerunners, probably 1/10th or less of the full return, hence the reliance on local levies. Now that the full return has arrived, we can expect to see 2-300k soldiers being assigned to a campaign, like the campaign to crush Ituralde and conquer Arad Doman.

 

 

My best guess as to the size of the Seanchan army is somewhere around 500,000 when it first landed. Of course the real power of Seanchan might is the da'mane, and we have no idea how many came over with the armies. I don't know where you're getting your 1/10th size from, because it isn't in the books at all. In fact I'd be willing to bet that Seanchan committed a large portion of her troops to this mission, given the cultural importance of it and how long they've been building up to it. It was important enough to send the heir, and that's not something you would do with only 10% of your army.

 

Smileyman, I'm sorry if I wasn't clear. I was saying that "most of the Seanchan we saw were just the Forerunners, probably 1/10th or less of the full return" - That is, most of the Seanchan armies that we have dealt with were the armies that Turak/Suroth had with the forerunners (which I estimated to be 1/10th of the full return that came with Tuon). It isn't until Crossroads of Twilight that we really see the full force of the return in action. Before that point, most of the Seanchan we saw fighting were Suroth's Forerunners/locals.

For the Forerunners, I would estimate 1-200k + locals, for the Return, I would estimate 500-1000k soldiers, based on the numbers we've seen thrown about by the Seanchan.

On the matter of ancient numbers, it is indeed very difficult to tell how many troops were engaged in combat, as ancient writers were prone to hyperobole, especially in order to make their own troops seem more brave or noble. However, do not underestimate the Persian Empires forces, while they could have been as low as 100k, it is indeed possible for them to have an army of some 500k, or even a million people if you include sailors, camp followers, and the people running the supply train. The supply train would indeed be massive, but it wouldn't necessarily have to be long - The Persians controlled all of Asia Minor, and had allies in mainland Greece. Add in massive scavenging, and a huge army could feasibly be supplied by an Empire with the size and resources of the Persians.

Be careful of one thing - I have found it common for modern historians to underestimate the ingenuity of our ancient counterparts (Consider the common interpretation of medieval warfare as being heavily armoured knights slowly duking it out with heavy swords, when the research consistently shows the speed and incredible individual strength of medieval soldiers). Just because they lived 2000 years ago doesn't mean that they are any less intelligent or capable than modern humans. While difficult, such a supply train would certainly be feasible.

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