Tuesday 18 May 2010

Deadliest Warrior Returns To Boil My Brains

Oh Lord.

See, Deadliest Warrior could be a fun show. All they have to do is go "let's you an him fight!" and let them go at it. Maybe talk a little about history and whatnot. Finally end it up with the big fight at the end. That's what everyone wants to see. But they commit the cardinal sin: they bullshot us. (Yes, a euphemism: I enjoy them)

Deadliest Warrior gives the impression of being educational. They pretend to be doing scientifically sound analysis, balanced experiments and top-of-the-minute research. They claim to have "experts" (who are in fact usually actors or stuntmen) spout a bunch of nonsense about their chosen Warrior, while they talk smack to the opposing team.

And sometimes they have to cheat.

Take Viking vs. Samurai. The Viking had superior armour and superior weapons, even taking the time difference into account: a katana won't do anything against mail, and the viking's shield will make combat completely one-sided. The only way the Samurai won that fight is they cheated, plain and simple. They gave the Samurai the kanabo - a mythological weapon - as the Special Choice. The Viking? He got a shield. Apparently, standard equipment counts as a "Special Weapon." Not only that, but they deliberately weaken the shield: instead of two layers of wood, it had only one, and it didn't have the strengthening room. And you know what? The kanabo still did barely anything! Half the studs flew off, and it only broke off a bit of the shield. Against a real viking shield it would've been useless.

Then we had William Wallace against Shaka Zulu, a fight so laughably one-sided that even cheating on Shaka's part couldn't help. First of all, they gimped Wallace's armour: instead of wearing normal mail, they posited that Wallace would have worn "unriveted mail" - something that wasn't used in Scotland for a thousand years. They had Wallace wearing ancient mail armour which would've provided too little protection to even justify the extra weight, so that Shaka could stand a chance. Then in the "ranged" category, instead of giving Wallace a longbow - which is the weapon he is most associated with, not the claymore, a recent romantic invention - they give him that ridiculous ball-and-chain that he had in Braveheart.

Ah, but the Knight vs Pirate... that was a thing of beauty. First of all, they didn't use a knight from, say, the early Crusades, wearing mail and iron helms: no, they used full-plate clad juggernauts. Then, they decided to nerf the Knight a little and gave him an iron breastplate - which the knights wouldn't have been using in that timeframe. And the pirate's blunderbuss didn't work! What a surprise, seeing as one of the first tests armourers do when buildings a suit of armour is to shoot it. That's where the term "bulletproof" comes from. The only way the knight lost the battle was - again - cheating, though this time in the final battle, where he basically does everything to prolong the fight except drop his weapons. Oh, and this is after the pirate somehow survived two direct flail-blows to the head.

So, did they learn from this for Season Two? Did they hell.

I didn't catch SWAT vs GSG9, though no doubt people acquainted with them will be fuming. I caught Alexander the Great vs Attila the Hun, and for this round, they do something interesting: they have the two commanders leading a small force with their guns.

And... they cheat.

First of all, Alexander is severely held back. His ranged weapon is not, say, one of his Scythian or Persian mercenaries, or even native Greek slingers/archers: his is the gastraphetes. Which is probably the least effective ranged weapon available to him, of course. Then, for "Special Weapon," Alexander gets the ballista. Ballistas are pretty useful in pitched battles against thousands of foes, or in siege situations, but in what's essentially a duel? Pull the other one.

As well as that, they quite clearly had a disadvantage, in that Alexander's experts were leagues less competent than Attila's. Attila's experts showed pretty impressive swordplay, while Alexanders' were barely competent. Again, they're judging the weapon's strengths on the wielder, not the weapon itself: if they had one man using both weapons in each experiment, we'd get a far better idea of what weapon was better.

All put together, combined with the fact that Alexander was undefeated in battle while Attila wasn't, Alexander was notorious for diving into the front lines and surviving, and Alexander also practised Pankration... seriously, who on earth would have Attila victorious over Alexander?

Deadliest Warrior would. Of course.

I don't know if I can watch this show any more. It can't be good for the blood. Coming up is "Roman Centurion vs Rajput" - no knowledge of which era of either Roman or Rajput, of course, which would be crucial. "Persian Immortal vs Celt" - three guesses what kind of "Celt" they're going to use, will it be an actual Celtic soldier complete with mail, helm and sword so good that the Romans copied them, or will it be the frothing-at-the-mouth naked warrior, perhaps with plaid trousers? "Vlad the Implaer vs Sun Tzu" - I don't even know where to begin here. I half expect Sun's team to have crucifixes and stakes. "Ming Warrior vs Musketeer" - oy.

About the only interesting one is "Comanche vs Mongol," if only because their fighting methodologies are so interestingly similar, yet different. Of ourse, they're just going to have them dismount at some point and engage in a silly stunt fight.

I'm not going to watch "Persian Immortal vs Celt." It's just going to be complete bullshot.


  1. yeah this is on one of the worst channels on US TV here.. SPIKEtv. The majority of whom's programing shouldn't even be on TV let alone should I have to pay for the privilege of not watching it..

    I hate this show, I know exactly what you are about too when you say its not good for the blood pressure..

    Between this and "MANswers" not to mention "1000 ways you can DIE!"..

    I miss the HitlerChannel.. err The History Channel back when it was still good..

  2. The only way the knight lost the battle was - again - cheating, though this time in the final battle, where he basically does everything to prolong the fight except drop his weapons. Oh, and this is after the pirate somehow survived two direct flail-blows to the head.

    This maddened me also. When the knight landed his first flail blow I said "crippling injury, fight over." Then he hits him again. Then the pirate gets up and stuns the knight with his grenado and finishes him.

    A bunch of crap.

  3. Well, they seem to depend on the "experts" to provide the correct arms & armor. That is probably the biggest problem. The "staged fights" at the end are not meant to show an actual recreation of what would happen in a particular engagement; the point is they show which weapons are more effective and just represent who "won" the 1000 computer simulations. It would be interesting to see the software.

    Anyway the knight and samurai were both hobbled with out the biggest factor in their fighting styles...horses. Put either on a horse and they should quite handily cut down the pirate and viking.

    Alexander the Great did indeed use catapults (if not Roman ballistas) to drive off the Scythians or Saka (I can never recall which), and decided not to enter their land. So not entirely inappropriate vs. Huns.

    A Hun vs. a Macedonian? Obviously the Hun. Mounted archer beats heavey cavalry or heavy foot, generally speaking. Singling out specific generals/historical characters is very silly. William Wallace would be a mailed knight, not a Braveheart pastiche of highlander/pict/fantasy barbarian. Sheesh.

    I will be watching the ancients, at least. Not to "get the answer" but to see the weapon demonstrations which you must admit are a ton of fun. The whole thing is very silly, of course. But fun, if you recognize that it is a show, not a dissertation.

    Love the blog, BTW.

  4. Gotta agree, guys.

    Mike: well, you can see the software right here:


    Seriously, that's the company that developed the "advanced software."

    I agree that giving the Macedonians ballistas was fine, especially considering their success at the Battle of Jaxartes: however, here Alexander is leading four men against five men. A ballista is of little to no use against such meager numbers (even if they did show one getting lucky in the show).

    And, of course, A Hun vs A Macedonian is beyond the question. Wallace vs Shaka was at least understandable since the two were fairly known as warriors, but Sun Tzu? Pull the other one.

    Sadly, I can't even wholly enjoy it as a show, because the "experts" can be such obnoxious prats. That Samurai jerk... argh.

    Glad you like the blog! The feeling's mutual.

  5. You write quite well, man! I´m agree on almost everything!

  6. Sun Tzu against Dracula is like Aristotle against Rocky Marciano.