Blood on the Sand: Attila vs Alexander

April 27, 2010

It's good to be back. I'm not even sure where to begin - of all the matchups we shot this season, Attila vs. Alexander stands out as the episode where we knew the stakes were higher. There's a reason we know their names today, millennia after the fact.

Alexander the Great managed to forge an empire across what he knew of the world at a pace no general, living or dead has ever been able to match. He was, perhaps, the most perfect commander the world has ever known.

Attila the Hun, who led an empire in his own right, is best remembered as the scourge of the Eastern and Western Roman empires. As if either the armies of Rome or those of Constantinople weren't enough their own. The dude, as they say, had stones.

There's so much history wrapped around the lives of these two conquerors, there was barely time to get past the basics in tonight's show, much less here. But we have enough time to start talking about these two legends as warriors, and how we set about the impossible task of testing their might.

This time around, we've pulled out all (ok, ok, most) of the stops - we've got horses to see how our warriors fought as cavalry, we've got a catapult as a special weapon, and none other than Rashad Evans stopped by to show us how our warriors might have fought (and demonstrate some lethal moves).

Let's take buffet of carnage one bite at a time, shall we?

Consider for a moment how the addition of a horse to a warrior's arsenal boosts combat effectiveness: more speed, more power, more mass, more maneuverability, a better view of the battlefield, and a platform to fight from. These are all elements that add up to more killing power and efficiency in our sim. Also, don't neglect the possibility of trampling damage - any time a warrior on foot squares off against a warrior on horseback, he's at an immediate disadvantage right out of the gate.

As for that catapult - I'm not trying to sell Attila's arsenal short (far from it, when you consider the relative superiority of the metal in his weapons and the fact that he's fighting with a bow that can be used from horseback) - this is the first time we've had a weapon of this size and scale available to use on the show. I don't want to give away too much, but this is the sort of beast where there's so much power in play that if you make a mistake while firing it, you don't lose a finger, you lose an arm.

Finally, Rashad Evans was nice enough to show us what MMA looks like when you take off all the brakes that keep it a sport, making it probably the closest you'll get to seeing ancient Pankration in today's world. For some of those tests, we had to break out a ballistics gel simulant of a full human body, complete with skeletal system.

Which leads me to this: Rashad, I'm sorry you had to wrestle a full-sized gelatin man on our show. It was weird, I know. You probably did not wake up that morning and think to yourself, "I'm going to tear a man made of gelatin apart with my bare hands today," but when the time came to tear said gelatin man apart, you were a consummate pro. On behalf of Messrs, Dorian, Desmoulin, and myself, thank you.

There's a lot more to look for in tonight's matchup, and as always, we look forward to hearing from you during the show on twitter. You can find Geoff, the Doc, and myself there as @GeoffDesmoulin, @DrDorian, and @MaxGeiger, respectively. Shoot us your questions, or leave them as comments here (or on Facebook!) for The Aftermath. While you're online, check out Geoff's sweet website, or the game I'm working on:

Until next time, morituri te salutant and all that,


P.S. Stick around after Deadliest Warrior and for the premiere of Crash Test. Our showrunner last season (and all around awesome dude), Tim Prokop, is helming it up and he gave me a sneak peak. I would say Crash Test is "solid," except way too many things onscreen wind up smashed to bits, burst apart, or hurled around at hurricane speeds for "solid" to really be appropriate. Give it a shot, and it will rock you and possibly your face as well.