In some ways concerning fiction, I’ve become far less judgemental. In others, I’ve become far, far more so. In some cases, it’s authors I used to like becoming bad, in others it’s me changing in tastes and sophistication, and seeing them as bad.
Three “rules” remain for me:
- The more something is hyped, the more skeptical I become.
- If something aims low, I will be less critical than if it aims high.
- I will find criticism of everything, even stuff that I like. But fiction without pretense is critic-proof.
The subject of generals killed in action post-1900 holds a bizarre and somewhat morbid interest for me. It’s a period where personal presence on the battlefield was theoretically less important thanks to the use of the telephone and later radio. It’s also a period where fighting formations became exponentially more powerful.
Not surprisingly, the World War II Eastern Front takes the cake. Although there were exceptions, American general officer casualties were surprisingly low-they were comparable in both World War II and Vietnam despite the lower casualties of the latter war.
For a later period hypothetical WWIII/high intensity peer war, I have a tentative list of dead generals that mainly includes air/missile strikes (including a corps commander and some of his high-end staff taken out by a hit on their badly sited HQ). Besides those and maybe a few shot-down ones, there’s an example I made of the commander of an airborne division killed by a tank raid on a forward helicopter base he’s visiting.
Earlier, I have considerably higher casualties among general officers. This is because there’s often more divisions and because worse C3 means the generals have to be at the front more often.
I’ve been looking at surplus military manuals from various time periods to give me the important information of where a formation commander would physically be during a battle.
Obviously, the answer is “it depends”. Especially at lower levels, the rule of thumb (at least according to American military manuals) is “behind the lead subunit, so you aren’t at the very tip, but can still control the march and battle”. Of course, what the lead subunit is depends on the formation and the circumstances. The manuals themselves do not give a set location for where the command post should be (for very good reasons of both safety and flexibility), and throughout decades of major updates and technological changes, are adamant that the commander personally move often to the best location, which is frequently not the main command post.
Thus this gives me a feel for writing. The nuts and bolts of every specific engagement matter less than general details like where the commander would (in-theory) be. There are exceptions to the norm, for better and worse, which many of the manuals cover to their credit. Naturally, these won’t stop me from putting commanders into very weird situations, because I like weird.
It also doesn’t hurt that I’ve seen in my numerous forays into bad fiction examples of rather dumb commander placement, on all extremes. Many of which are not justifiable in either a tactical or literary sense.
And of course, pre-mechanized command is an entirely different story.
The term “hardest boss fight” is used far too commonly. However, I have found one that takes the cake.
It started when I was watching Saltybet, and noticed (repeatedly), a character called “General”. Looking up the origins of the general, I found that he was from a game called Kaiser Knuckle (known as Global Champion in a small US release), an unsuccessful and otherwise unspectacular Street Fighter knockoff.
Stylistically, the General is nothing but a cheap imitation of the legendary M. Bison, but in gameplay terms is so hard that it took twenty years for proof of a legitimate victory to be posted.
This is the proof of the victory over the General.
The boss got so hard that the developers nerfed him in a subsequent (and never actually released) update to the game.
The General is a relic of an era of less-strict game design-only stronger to his cheap-boss compatriots in relative terms, but overwhelmingly stronger nonetheless. Whether due to rushing the game or just horrible quality control, what should have been dialed back in testing ended up as this footnote in history.
Sometimes a limit can be reached, and the General was apparently that limit.
One final note: It’s a sign of MUGEN munchkin arms races that the General is not on the absolute highest tier in Saltybet.