From the game Myth: The Fallen Lords
The Legion has come two hundred and fifty miles in little more than two weeks. Not returning west, to safety, but headed north, to toward the melted cities of the Trow and Balor’s fortress.
Back in Forest Heart, Alric convinced our officers that the west was lost. That our small force could contribute nothing to the hopeless battles that would soon be fought around Madrigal, Willow and Tandem. These cities would fall, he said, and all their people would die, whether we sacrificed ourselves or not.
Then he told us what we could do instead.
Interesting, this is not too far from reality: in wars, the majority of the casualties often occur after the war has been definitively lost, when the desperate losing side throw massive amount of bodies trying to halt the inevitable.
Now, Myth is a fantasy game: and as is common in the genre, if you kill the big bad, the lieutenants actually lost their unity and can no longer fight as an organized force, allowing for their defeat and scattering.
That is possible in the more realistic Traveller universe (especially if you use Zhodani mind-control as a useful stand-in for evil witchcraft): but if you exclude high-powered psionics and the more rigid command’n’control protocols, it isn’t very likely. Most times, you just get a new leader with the same basic goal, and still retaining enough strength to get the job done.
So what could a battalion (or a naval task force) on the losing side do, instead of fighting and dying in a hopeless battle?
- In Traveller, it is possible to go to a land or planet outside of the zone of conflict and rebuild.
- It is possible to just dissolve into the civilian masses, to slowly rebuild your side’s strength and keep the memory of the Cause alive, or go guerrilla.
- If the enemy is genocidal, you can help protect some survivors and bring them to safety. Or create hidden sanctuaries, in distant regions the enemy would find difficult to control.
- There may be a unexpected technical solution. Perhaps an ancient weapon, that the battalion could get and use, that could destroy the enemy. Or a way to directly attack the will of the enemy to fight, instead of their hardware and muscle (which you would certainly lose to).
I can’t think of many other alternatives — the universe of Myth: The Fallen Lords universe is a hard place to live in, harder than Warhammer, harder than even my Empty Quarter.
And finally… many, even most soldiers sign up to defend and protect their nation and their people. Having your people’s enemy die as well as your nation is better than having your enemy live and your people die: but this is definitely a Pyrrhic victory at best, and can easily be seen as merely a different flavor of ashes left in your mouth.
Still… a flicker of hope is better than none.
The hard business starts at 22:50
What set me off looking for Myth: The Fallen Lords in the first place.