Rajput vs. Centurion

Deadliest Warrior is really letting me down.  I actually watched TV while on vacation to see the Rajput vs. Roman Centurion show.  A few unsorted observations:

  • The Roman Centurion’s weapons were a pickaxe, gladuis, scorpion, and pilum.
  • WTF?  A Centurion is an officer, I seriously doubt he’d even carry the entrenching tool/pickaxe.  A legionary might resort to using this if he were attacked while digging the trench around the camp with it or otherwise unprepared, but who would pick up a tool over a weapon?
  • WTF? A Scorpion (ballista)? Again, shooting artillery is job for peon legionaries, not Centurions.
  • The Centurion SHOULD have been armed with weapons a Centurion actually carried, i.e.: a gladius, a pugio (dagger), a grapevine baton (more for discipline than combat), maybe a pilum or two, and a shield.
  • Shields were decisive “weapons” for the Spartan and Viking last season; why ignore the Roman and Rajput shields?
  • The “armor” used in the tests was that stupid butted mail again.  Cheap and decorative and not used anywhere since before Roman times.  Riveted mail would most likely give very good protection from the katar and gladius both.
  • The Rajput was not really limited to any particular period, and the weapons chosen were flashy but not necessarily the best they had access to.  They had really cool basket-hilted maces and picks, which would be a better choice against a heavily armored Roman, and why use a chackram as the missile when Rajputs also used composite bows and later muskets?  Odd.
  • There was something perverse about having the Rajput demonstrate the sword on sides of beef and pigs, while the Roman weapons were used on humanoid dummies.  And that is not even going into the issues of cows as sacred animals and the Sepoy Rebellion and all that.
  • I was really hoping to see the urumi (whip sword) do some damage but I guess it is not really as good as it sounds.
  • The Rajputs often fought from horseback, the Romans not so much until much later than the early Imperial period depicted.  So they take away the Rajput’s horse and bow and lance from the equation too.
  • A much better match up of weapons to test would have been: Katars vs. Pugio (Katar wins); khanda vs. gladius (khanda wins but it is very very close); pilum vs. chakram (pilum wins but you can carry a lot more chakrams so maybe tie); Rajput small metal shield vs Roman large wooden shield (Roman shield wins)
  • In single combat, the Rajput, with slightly heavier armor and more modern weapons wins overall.  The Roman military model is all about battlefield tactics and discipline, not one-on-one badassery.  There were certainly some badass Romans but engaging the enemy one-on-one was not really the plan.  Romans won glory leading campaigns, not getting covered in the enemy’s blood and viscera.  The Rajputs however did uphold a warrior ideal that included some room for personal glory through combat prowess.

Still, it was enjoyable to see the weapons tested, so there’s that.  And really, isn’t the opportunity to snicker at an uniformed TV show the real entertainment value of 90% of the Discovery Channel, History Channel, and all that?

Anyway, here’s a more even match-up from the Scorpio Diamante papers:

SD: The amount of time you and your brother devote to battle equations is both frightening and intriguing. By the way a friend from Italy, who is aware of our “vs” game wants to know who would win in a battle between a Hairy Greek man wearing only a speedo vs. Hairy Italian man wearing only a speedo. No weapons.    I told him I didn’t think either had a competitive advantage but I would ask you anyway. Modern day Greeks and Italians have essentially the same fighting skills, right?

MM: I agree there is no tactical advantage to either in terms of arms & armor, but their are certainly psychological factors.  The Greek is in his element, wrestling naked or nearly so.  If he thinks the Italian is a Turk, Greek wins hands down, probably covered in viscera.  The Italian may be very formidable too, though.  For one thing, he is not wearing an Italian army uniform which increases his fighting ability by several orders of magnitude.  Jackie Mason has an incisive analysis of this (and the corrollary, that an Israeli man is an unstoppable killing machine in uniform but a pushover out of it).  Anyway the Italian would (possibly correctly) assume the Greek man is attempting to sodomize him and this could provoke a serious beatdown.   I may be biased, of course, being part Italian.

I have a question for your Italian friend, though — is “Fanapola” (fa Napoli?) really a curse?  I was always told it meant figuratively, “Go to hell” and literally “Go to Naples.”  I probably did not spell it correctly.  Italian-Americans like myself generally know only a smattering of pidgin Italian, mainly words relating to food, sex, and swearing, & the vocabulary is usually very corrupt in terms of phonetics and spelling.

SD: My source says it probably means “Go fu*k your uncle.”

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Published in: on June 7, 2010 at 10:14 am  Comments (6)  
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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. It’s an interesting show, but rarely takes into account the tactics that are used. When I watched it it seemed to be about how much damage can a weapon do with some demonstration by the experts how it would be used in battle.

    The first show I saw was a ninja vs. a spartan warrior. It was fun to watch and the spartan won, but that was a head-to-head fight. Just your example of the Romans used army tactic more than individual tactics I would think the ninja would do sneak attacks and not try to get through that massive shield.

    Great write up.

    • Thanks!
      I agree, the basic conceit that all these guys just want a stand-up duel is sort of hokey but how else can they run a computer simulation. Obviously the correct way to settle these fights is to take an extremely realistic RPG system like GURPS and run dozens of encounters between, say, 75 point characters… 🙂

  2. Hmm, I was most likely thinking of /a fanabala/ and interpreted the “b” as a “p” based on the presumed etymology. But the interwebs is also telling me “a-fanabala” is in fact Calabrese slang (and my mother’s father, from who the etymology came, was of Calabrian heritage, so maybe it does in fact mean Go to Naples. FWIW.

  3. Early rajputs are un defeatable with their science and martial arts. But if we take the modern day rajputs during roman time. it will be a balance. Early rajputs are experts in everything. their warfare includes too much of expertise. Those weapons and decepline is too complex.

  4. just look at the different kind of weapons the rajputs had they had a large variety which they cud use according to their enemies weaknesses… the swords— http://www.karava.org/yahoo_site_admin/assets/images/DSC01870.35980251_large.JPG

    The other unique weapons—- http://images.travelpod.com/users/gojoadventures/olecko-2006.1160575440.assorted_weapons.jpg

    i think the rajput can own the centurion on 1v1 as rajputs learn to master every weapon since childhood and know martial arts …. so edge RAJPUT!!!!!

    Although centurion does have the edge when fighting in numbers as their formations were flawless. so there u hv it 1v1 — edge rajput
    WAR— edge romans(although rajput elephants will be tough to handle as alexander also had trouble dealing with them)

  5. if one on one then rajputs will win because of their weapons and battle tactics…if not one on one then chances for romans to win.rajputs were warrior cast who prefered to fight till last man,and loved to accept death instead of dishonour…the romans were large in number which was a positive point for them…


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