I have been into Total war series, ever since the release of Shogun in 2000, and naturally it got me interested in military history. However, I have recently noticed that people on the internet like to talk about concepts like "flanking" and "hammer and anvil", both on TW Forums (link) and on reddit (link).

Now, this makes sense in the context of a video game, where you as an omniscient observer directly give orders to everyone, regardless of where they are, and the battles are relatively small-scale and fast. For example, in a video game, it makes sense for cavalry to "flank the enemy and charge them from behind". The issue I have is that I haven't found references to such tactics in the history books I read.

If I return to my example regarding the role of cavalry: a book on Roman history I read describes that roman cavalry was deployed on the wings of battle lines and would fight other cavalry units. In case they would wind (which they rarely did, at least in the times of the republic) hey would harass the enemy flanks, raid the camp or pursue the enemy cavalry, but never fully envelop the enemy lines. I would love to cite the book but I haven't been able to find an English translation.

Another example would be the battle of Agincourt, where there was a small contingent of men-at-arms attack the English rear, but not to attack their battle lines, rather to raid the baggage train.

So I wonder: did video games in last decade affect our understanding of military history in such a way that we are trying to understand history in video game terms?

Read:  Writing fantasy without interest in "weird" worlds.

Source: reddit post


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