The development of firearms and proximity to nomads

Sengoku Jidai: Shadow of the Shogun is a turn-based tactical and strategic game set during this turbulent time; primarily focusing on the Japanese Warring States period and Japanese Invasion of Korea. Other armies from East Asia are also made available to simulate different conflicts across the region.
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kongxinga
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The development of firearms and proximity to nomads

Post by kongxinga » Mon Apr 01, 2019 11:04 pm

I've been reading Kenneth Chases's thesis on Why the Chinese invented firearms, but the Europeans perfected them in his book Firearms: A Global History.

Spoilers----------------
He believes that the reason China and the rest of the World adopted Firearms earlier, but fail to develop them as well as Europe was because the main opponent for most of the rest of the firearm using world were Nomads, of the Mongolian/Turkic type.

He posits that early firearms was useless for the armies needed to fight nomads (ie the armies should comprise of lots of heavy-medium cavalry like armored cataphracts with Bows such as fielded by Byzantium, plus lots of light cav, preferably light cav with a small supply footprint ( horses that are small and can live off grass instead of transported oats)), mainly because the steppes were inhospitable, and transporting supplies faces the rocket fuel problem (you add supplies to feed your army, but the people sending supplies need to eat too, so you add even more supplies). He claims that guns were not designed to be used on horse (largely true, barring European wheellocks which were mainly used as an impact weapon), so you could not equip your nomad hunting army with firearms, and if you did use firearms against nomads, it was largely in conjunction with Wagon Laagers like the Hussites did, since pikemen need to eat, but you always need wagons to transport food for your musketeers, so mind as well use the wagons as an obstacle and leave the pikemen at home. Therefore China, Russia etc used Wagon Laagers. This is in contrast with Europe (with their pike and shot) and to some extent Japan.

The other point was that firearms did nothing if the nomads refused to give battle, and you could not force the issue since you could not siege anything even if you did get anywhere, since they lived off their herds and could move anywhere.

Final point was saying firearms could not effectively hit skirmishing cavalry in loose order.

In contrast, Europe (and Japan in the period of rapid firearms development of the teppo), the main antagonists were heavy agricultural infantry armies with armor and heavy, charging cavalry. This is where firearms shined since the armor piercing capabilities were actually useful (nomads don't produce armor), and inaccuracy mattered little when fired into concentrated formations.



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So my question to people is:

1. Does Sengoku Jidai actually buy into his hypothesis? I noticed that muskets have a -100 POA when shooting cav (although it does not differentiate from heavy cav versus skirmishing cav) while this is not the case for arrows and crossbows. Were firearms that ineffective against even charging heavy cav? Wasn't there a case of Nagashino where Takeda's cavalry were shot to bits (attacking infantry behind an obstacle)? In game I never really noticed firearms underperforming bows and crossbows. I just treated all shooters as shooters. As long as the firearm units were stationary and unleashing a full volley I can likely disrupt a cavalry unit.

2. Are we getting possible ahistorical results with the Nomad lists? I recall they were extremely poor against shooting armies such as Northern Ming, and routinely got outshot, guns or not. Realistically they would never give battle unless they had a decisive strategic advantage from their superior strategic mobility that tactics mattered not that much. Being a nomad means no one could force the issue since you just moved the herds and packed up and left. I am trying to reconcile how Chase has them as the ultimate adversary while Nomad lists were hard to fight as and easy to fight against.

3. What are these "carbines" that some of the later Nomad lists are armed with on horse? I thought you couldn't reload weapons on horse? Are these still matchlocks? How does that even work?

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Re: The development of firearms and proximity to nomads

Post by SnuggleBunnies » Tue Apr 02, 2019 4:30 pm

1) The -100 POA I believe is to simulate the slow reload rate against moving opponents. However, keep in mind that Bows suffer from reduced effectiveness vs armor. Crossbows, being loaded somewhat quicker than Arquebuses, get -50POA vs cavalry, but ignore armor and of course can fire at long range for reduced effect. So it's complicated. Bows are best against lightly or unarmored cavalry. Crossbows are best against armored cavalry. However, if your foe has infantry as well, crossbows can be a dangerous choice as they suffer from -150POA vs foot.

All that being said, pretty much any infantry missile unit is going to outshoot a cavalry unit, thanks to having twice as many men. And, while shooters are shooters, against infantry, guns will have the greatest shock effect and chance to force cohesion tests. The shooting POA table is on pg 53 of the manual, though I just play with detailed tooltips on, and of course ctrl+clicking on your units bring up the relevant POAs.

2) I think you hit the nail on the head. "Even points" battles are precisely the sort of engagements that, on a strategic level, the nomads would have simply avoided. For a more realistic confrontation, you would want to heavily tilt the points in favor of the nomads, who would use their mobility to concentrate against enemy forces. Even doing so, the Chinese/Korean armies will probably have considerably more troops, thanks to the # of men they have in their infantry units.

3) I believe they are indeed Matchlocks. This was done in Europe as well. Presumably, you would have to reload while still, or riding slowly, and its likely such troops sometimes dismounted to fight, and sometimes stayed mounted to fire and then ride away. I'm not sure as to the specifics of how it worked, but apparently it did. That being said, matchlocks probably were quite cumbersome to use on horseback, and thus the rapid transition for European cavalry to Wheelocks once they were available in numbers. In game, they're not a great buy anyway - sure, the guns are more effective against infantry than bows, but the difference isn't drastic, as most Chinese infantry is rated unarmored in game terms. So the slight boost against infantry isn't worth the penalty against shooting at cavalry in most circumstances.

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Re: The development of firearms and proximity to nomads

Post by jomni » Wed Apr 03, 2019 12:17 am

+1 What Snuggles said.

#1 don’t forget that the Chinese employed gunpowder differently. Their firearms may be crude, but the army fielded a lot of artillery. More than contemporary Europeans.

#2 is a problem when you force a set-piece confrontation involving horse armies. In reality, they’ll do hit and run at the operational layer of the campaign where they have local superiority. Same problem when FOG2. Cavalry lose steam after a few turns. In reality they would have disengaged. Not so apparent in Pike and Shot as there aren’t much cases of a fielding a full horse army.

Pls refer to Tumu Crisis.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tumu_Crisis

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Re: The development of firearms and proximity to nomads

Post by kongxinga » Wed Apr 03, 2019 1:56 am

Thanks for the responses.

I would think reloading on horseback for matchlocks to be a very dicey proposition, even if moving at very slow walking speeds. I mean several steps have you holding a lighted match burning on both ends on one hand and your powder being poured on the other. If there is a bump, or mistake, the powder goes into the match (fizzle) or the powder gets blown off and so forth. I have not a lot of knowledge on nomad weaponry, but my initial guess was somehow wheellocks got into the hands of the nomads, but you learn something everyday.

1. On slow reload, wasn't that solved by volley fire, which the Chinese and related armies were familiar with? At least that is what Chase claims, although I am not sure whether it was the 6 rank, with countermarching European way of shooting.

2. That makes a lot of sense, some of the even matchups made very little sense.

3. Was there a good explanation of how the small Mongol Vanguard just obliterated the much larger, armored and armed Chinese expeditionary force? That engagement was more lopsided than Cannae but the sources I have don't really explain it.

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Re: The development of firearms and proximity to nomads

Post by jomni » Thu Apr 04, 2019 6:03 am

The carbines are probably not matchlocks.
This is an example of a Mongolian snaplock (crude flint lock). Though the one pictures is a modern piece, the technology was in use during the game’s timeline. Take note that Tibetan’s are still using matchlocks for hunting these days.

Image

https://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/201 ... k-carbine/

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snaplock

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Re: The development of firearms and proximity to nomads

Post by rbodleyscott » Thu Apr 04, 2019 12:37 pm

jomni wrote:
Thu Apr 04, 2019 6:03 am
Take note that Tibetan’s are still using matchlocks for hunting these days.
Matchlocks? or Snaplocks?
Richard Bodley Scott

Image

kongxinga
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Re: The development of firearms and proximity to nomads

Post by kongxinga » Thu Apr 04, 2019 10:48 pm

That is a beautiful rifle, and thanks for the information. I know matchlocks, flintlocks, and wheelocks, but never knew about the snaplocks and its related cousins the snaphauces.

The technology backflow from Russia to Mongols make a lot of sense, and the artwork in game does show a relatively modern looking firearm which seems to pop out of nowhere, but by that time European development was already paying long term dividends. The argument was that a Chinese or similar tinkerer, facing nomads as the main opponent and looking at the hand cannon/harquebus he currently has, would not be able to see the immediate benefits enough to justify further research and development, while for the European / Japanese (between 1542 till reunification) craftsman, even small improvements helps in getting the edge in defeating infantry, which eventually gets you firearms that can be used to defeat nomads (which can be when revolvers came in at 1860 versus the Commanches).

I recall a paragraph where the books says, that the Chinese inventor would not have imagined that further development results in multi shot revolvers that can be used on horseback and with better accuracy and rate of fire than a mounted bowman, and therefore lacked the incentive for immediate development. He mind as well have imagined that eventually there would be flying machines that can torch cities!

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Re: The development of firearms and proximity to nomads

Post by Pixel » Sat May 11, 2019 3:33 pm

Another book that many be of interest related to this subject but not so focused on the proximity to nomads aspect: https://www.amazon.com/Gunpowder-Age-Mi ... 0691178143

https://press.princeton.edu/titles/10571.html

Simple proximity to nomads alone isn't enough IMO to explain the divergence in European and East Asian Gunpowder weaponry / techniques. During certain periods from 1300s onwards the various ruling Dynasties fought plenty of sieges and plenty of other "Rebel" Chinese armies with various gunpowder weaponry. Additionally counter march type formations and techniques were used with crossbows in China and other places both before and after the advent of gunpowder devices. Therefore, volley fire and related drill techniques are not necessarily purely Early Modern European innovations.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_o ... mation.jpg

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_o ... mation.jpg

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arquebus# ... mation.jpg
Image Image

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