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Did Barbarians lack common sense teamwork tactics (I distract him,you backstab him)?

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An interesting post I found online.



Although the writer focuses on criminal activities and civilian violence, he does have a point.

I mean if drunkards in a bar are able to work together in such coordination that one angry customer pins you down while his drinking buddies are stomping on you.......

It makes me doubt the notion the barbarian tribes who lost to Roman Legions such as the Celts lacked any notion of team work. I can understand the Romans being far superior in their coordination and team-based tactics.

But after reading the link's statements about lower class civilians able to work together in riots-despite typically being individual brawlers in most fights they participated in and lacking ANY TRAINING what so ever- it makes doubt that barbarians fought completely as individuals who only knew how to battles as one-on-one duelists.

If civilians like prisoners, angry farmers in a riot, and even some people drinking at a bar could work together to surround youa nd hit you from blind angles  or stomp you on the ground while you try groundfighting with BJJ , I find it ridiculous  barbarians wouldn't think of something as simple as "my friends throw javelins at those Roman legions to distract them while I attack the from behind their shieldwalls where they are exposed!"

I mean not just many movie but even many history books even describe barbarians as lacking the common sense to do something as basic as dogphile a Roman Legionnaire who was knocked to the ground and stab said Roman soldier to death.

Which is sounds utter BS to me because guys at bar do such teamwork all the time. Hell even high school jocks (who tend to be egotistic enough to prefer one-on-one fights) can call their friends to surround you should you prove too tough to take on!

So I seriously doubt warriors who fight for a living couldn't think of something as simple as  "I duel this Roman Legionnaire" while other Celt warriors sneak behind him and cut the Roman soldier from behind.

I have no doubt Barbarians tend to train more as individuals and Romans are far better organized in their teamwork. But to claim barbarians only knew to fight as individuals and lack any sense of teamwork is a slap in the face against human nature because even untrained civilians who never been in a fight before could work together to overwhelm a much tougher opponent using basic "common sense" teamwork moves like my friend  rearchokes that jerk from behind while I beat him up.

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I am probably the least knowledgeable here to comment on military matters.

It would be wrong to describe "barbarian" tactics as monolithic. More precisely, a group of combatants (such as the Celts) would have been diverse in their tactics, differing among specific subgroups and evolving over time. Through military contact or assimilation over the years, the many disparate groups would coalesce,  while developing Roman tactics and technologies.

That said, a more loosely organized and less disciplined force such as the Celts would be better at improvisational fighting or fighting in small groups. 

The early Roman legions were well-organized and tightly disciplined killing machines. Possibly the best chance at defeating the Roman legion was by ambush in unfamiliar terrain. Examples of this would the complete defeat and annihilation of legions at the Battles of Teutoburg Forest or Abritus.







guy also known as gaius

Edited by guy

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It depends which time we are talking of. I'm not sure about the early imperial period, but during the late Roman era, one of the things that made the Germanic tribes so dangerous was their degree of Romanisation. Also many of them had served as soldiers in the Roman army. As the smaller tribes coalesced to form the super-tribes of Goth, Allemanni and Frank, larger forces were mobilised. I believe Ammianus Marcellinus (I cant be sure some of my books are packed away) made references to Germanic tribesmen using illegally sold Roman weapons, and employing tactics against the Romans that some had learnt when in service with the Roman army.

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A lot depends on certain aspects. Who was leading the barbarians? Did they prepare for battle? Which barbarians are involved?

Men who live by the sword evolve a certain survival instinct hard won by experience. No guarantee they wouldn't be killed of course,  but fighting is a skill that requires long practice to be any good at it (though most of us blokes don't like admitting it).

Common sense tactics? Whether something is common sense often depends on perspective. Charging headlong at the enemy line might not be sensible but it could get results if you rattle the enemy or break his morale quickly enough. It's also favoured by the wilder warrior types for that very reason. Of course, there are examples of barbarians getting very clever against Rome - witness the Varian Disaster of ad9.

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