Many would imagine that war for the Halorin
would be much like war with humans. However, there are actually many differences. Below, a brief explanation on how they fight.
The following below is inspired by the famous strategy volumes On Diplomacy and War
, and specifically the volume for the drilling of soldiers, On the Foot-Soldier
. The simple fact for Halorin is that maneuvers are war
, and therefore maximized manueverability is paramount. Air-to-air fights are usually fought with just bare talons, and the brunt of fighting is done air-to-ground (firebombing) or ground-to-air (artillery).
On The Battlefield
To fight, one must know the battlefield. First, we shall cover the most common battlefield: terrain comes later. The open sky has two determiners of victory: gravity and sunlight. One who masters gravity and sunlight shall not fear the outcome of one hundred battles, while one who masters none shall be in very grave danger indeed.
The battlefield of the Halora is in the sky. The sky has two main attributes: one extremely important and the other somewhat less important. Gravity is the most important attribute. Without gravity, manuevers would be meaningless, and direction itself would be meaningless. Therefore, the birds would concentrate really much on the "high ground".
The aerial high-ground advantage has a much different set of bonuses than the ground-based ones. In the air, there is only potential and kinetic energy. A balance of height (potential energy) and speed (kinetic energy) is necessary, and an intuitive mind for how to balance these factors are also necessary.
However, there is another, though smaller, bonus in this fight. In the air, there is also the sun. The sun is a tool one can use to blind your enemies, as no one can discern a small, dark-colored bird from the blaze of the sun. Therefore, in aerial attacks, there is also "sunside" and "shadeside": attacks are almost all conducted sunside, while defenders attempt to maneuver so that the attacker is on their shadeside.
On the Offensive
The experienced escort fights with no weapons: talons are her weapons. The experienced attacker is like a bomber, flying high and diving at top speed. An escort-attacker unit is a element: this is the basic unit of any attack. If the escort is disciplined and the attacker is fleet, the enemy capital will burn. If the escort is distracted or the attacker is sluggish, the element flies to its own death.
A common misconception is that the Halorin can or will fight in the air with their weapons. Maneuvering in-flight with any melee weapon would be near-suicidal, and a simple stun in-flight could be enough to induce death. Similarly, missile weapons would be ineffective. Firstly, while the wing-arms of the Halorin are strong, they are occupied in flight, and they would be forced to use their beak, which can't draw a bow, or their legs, which are similarly torque-limited. Therefore, most attacks emphasize mobility, with fast swoops and flurries of attacks.
Due to this issue, the attackers can be thought of as a flight of bombers. The most basic unit is not the single bird, but the element. While the bird can see in a hemisphere ahead in-flight, it cannot see behind, and is therefore vulnerable to a dive-attack by an enemy bird from behind. Therefore, the element consists of two birds: the element leader and the escort. The element leader often carries a payload, and flies at an endurance pace, unless they encounter their target or enemy scouts, in which case they fly at top speed.
The escort, on the other hand, flies behind the element leader, approximately five hundred feet behind the element leader, approximately sixty degrees from the leader's direction of motion. The escort is to detect if there are any birds attempting to intercept the element, from below or from behind. If the element is attacked by a lone bird, the escort is to intercept the bird and occupy it as the leader goes on towards the target.
Back to the leader. The leader has a payload, often torches or other flaming material, or sometimes kinetic weapons like flechettes or a dropped spear. The leader's goal is to drop this payload on enemy nests or settlements. Offensive action often consists solely of "bombing", as fighting in melee is much more risky.
A note of importance is that holding any melee weapon intended to hurt an attacker is likely detrimental
to the bird's fighting ability in the sky, as talons are more than enough to strike one from the sky. Some cultures experiment with dropped flechettes for air-to-air combat, counting on sheer numbers of darts to take down the enemy from above.
On the Defensive
Defense is like defense against bombers: bombers, laden heavy with payloads, must be defeated as quickly as possible after detection. Detection is like manual radar: reports are relayed by torch. Those that have their torches at the ready and water in every house will survive; those that have none of this preparation will perish.
While offensive action is like bombers, defensive actions are like ground-to-air artillery. The first thing of importance: forewarned is forearmed
. Intelligence is key, especially if your enemy will fly at over fifty kilometers per hour when sighting the target, and near 150 kph in a dive. Therefore, for each city-state, there is a network of farming communes around the area, dedicated to the important role of sighting attacks. Scouts are dispatched 24/7, to scout the area around.
As with offense, situational awareness is key. Once an attack is seen, beacons must be lit to scramble all available soldiers and prevent destruction of a settlement. In fact, one important city's name translates directly to "flaming torch" in English. Once beacons are lit, ground-to-air weapons are aimed, while any scouts already in the air engage the enemy element leader(s).
This engagement is key: the defenders must chase down enemy leaders at speeds of up to 150 kph. Ground-to-air weapons like ballistae help, but the enemy is traveling fast enough the chances of a hit are slim. In the meantime, defenders on the ground mobilize water to put out any fires that an enemy hit could start. If the defenders fail and the attack goes through, all remaining defenders take shelter and prepare to deal with aftermath.