Deadliest Warrior: Redux. Episode I.

January 8, 2011

Greetings!  This is the first installment of my Deadliest Warrior Redux series, where I'll be redoing the matches you've seen on the show with arms and armour of my own choosing.  Hopefully, this should get a more accurate representation of all cultures featured.  As you may now, I was previously planning on doing several matches per article.  However, I lost patience with that, and am going to do them more traditionally; that is, one at a time.

Unlike other articles, I'll be using a ten-category grading system divided in two parts:  Offense and Defense.  Both of those divisions will have four sub-categories and one X-Factor that the warriors featured will be graded in, found below.

Offense; Defense.
-Close; Head
-Medium; Torso
-Long; Limbs
-Special; Blocking

All of the regular four sub-categories will be worth ten points each, with the X-Factor being worth twenty points.  Without further ado, let's get started with the Apache Warriors versus the Roman Gladiators.

Apache Warriors

-Native Apache warriors typically fought the same way - that is, as hit-and-run guerrillas. They mainly used the bow and arrow, as well as the war-club and knives.  The iron tomahawk was introduced by Europeans, but a stone variant was used for centuries before its appearance.  They were light, fast killers that were effective in both tracking and raiding their targets.  Warfare for the Apache depended on such qualities, given their low population and high death to birth ratios.  They literally could not afford to make mistakes in combat situations, and would spend hours meticulously planning out a battle one stage at a time.

-Close; War-club.  The Apache war-club was made of wood and stone, and weighted towards the striking end.  It was a powerful weapon easily capable of shattering bones and outright killing enemies - when they were near enough for it to be used.  Due to this, it receives a paltry four (4) out of ten points.
-Medium; Tomahawk.  The tomahawk was popular across the North American continent with Native Amerindians, and for good reason.  It had a long slashing edge and was also weighted in order to be thrown - it was very effective with good practice.  A versatile killing tool, the tomahawk was also a very utilitarian device when used in various and sundry services around the camp.  It gets a strong eight (8) out of ten.
-Long; Bow and Arrow.  Almost wherever people have been, so has the bow and arrow.  It is accurate and effective at many different ranges.  Additionally, the Apache were some of the most skilled archers from the North American continent, and together these qualities give them a perfect ten (10) out of ten.
-Special; Knives.  Apache warriors carried as many knives as they could comfortably place on their bodies at all times.  They used utility knives, fighting-knives, throwing-knives, and long hunter's knives.  All of these variables combine into a score of seven (7) out of ten, only held back my doubt of their effectiveness against Roman iron.

-Head; none.  Apache warriors relied far too heavily on their senses of sight, hearing and even smell to restrict themselves with head protections of any kind, but they did wear distinctive scarlet headbands to distinguish themselves from other warriors when in ambush situations.  This lack of protection, but great bonus of freedom of the senses results in a score of five (5) out of ten.
-Torso; Leather Vest.  Leather vests were popular among Apache warriors as a simple, but effective method of protecting the vital torso and abdomen without restricting movement or slowing them done.  However, leather is relatively easily penetrated compared to most other methods of protection, so it gets a five (5) out of ten.
-Limbs; none.  As with the rest of their defenses, the Apache did not rely too heavily on body armor to see them through combat.  As such, they get no (0) points in this category.
-Blocking; disarming.  Apache fighters were incredibly skilled at disarming their opponents, whether with their own weapons or their bare hands.  However, they were at a serious disadvantage at mid-ranged combat, which could prove dire in the fight to come.  Four (4) out of ten points.

-As has been said, the Apache were specialists in fighting at the close- and long-ranges.  They were great ambush-planners and improvisers, and were very efficient when in their element:  surprise.  They aren't going to attack the gladiators in full daylight; they're going to wait for night to fall, when the shadows that they're at home in are deepest, and then they're going to strike.  For them defeat is not an option, as this is a duel to the death, not an economically-minded raid.  With all of these qualities in mind, I'm going to award the Apache an X-Factor score of fifteen (15).

Roman Gladiators

-Rome, the self-perceived center of civilization in the Old World, had a thing for death.  They glorified it by paying tribute to their ancestors with the bodies of slain slaves - that would fight each other for survival.  This tradition spread and became a public sport, eventually one of the staples of Roman culture - the arena-slaves, the gladiators, were themselves glorified and lusted after much like modern sports icons.  Despite their lowliest class, that of slaves, they were seen as the epitome of masculinity whenever they entered the ring.  Despite popular conjecture today, the mortality rate of gladiators was much higher than might otherwise be thought - it was considered far more crafty of the man to simply neutralize his opponent, not outright kill him, as that proved greater skill of arms and respect for the crowd, whom would then choose whether the defeated lived or died.  There were several different types of gladiators, each paired to another - the murmillo and hoplomachus, and the retiariusand thraex.  Each had a weapons set that was suited to defeating his opponent, and when faced against other enemies, this would make for a very varied arsenal to plan for.

-Close; Sica, Gladius.  Some types of gladiators used the sica, and others the gladius.  The sica was a short but powerful slashing sword that resembled nothing so much as a sharply-bent gladius, and was used by the thraex and retiarius types of gladiator.  The gladius was a short thrusting sword used by the murmillo and hoplomachus types.  Together, these swords score a nine (9) out of ten.
-Medium; Trident and Net.  The trident and net combination was made famous by the retiarius.  The trident was a long, three-pronged spear that featured great penetration abilities and reach.  The net could be used on offense or defense, catching opponents and their weapons and disarming them - or entangling them to be skewered by the follow-up trident.  This combination of weapons gets a ten (10) out of ten, owing to the reach and numerous options available to the user of both of them.
-Long; Sling.  Along with the bow and arrow, and the atlatl and javelin, the sling and stone was one of the first distance-killing technologies created by man.  It consisted of a simple mechanism - a long leather cord would have a shaped stone fitted into a small cup formed into the middle of it.  The two ends of the sling would be held in the hand and spun around the head of the user until it reached a certain velocity - then it would be loosed upon its target.  However, the sling was phased out by more effective weapons, due to its lack of accurate range and outright killing power.  These qualities net it a very poor three (3) out of ten possible points.
-Special; War-Hounds.  One of the most exciting gladiator matches was to put a man up against a beast - most commonly a lion, bear, or other large carnivore.  Interestingly, the Romans bred war-hounds for use against "barbarian" enemies that were unused to such beasts, and like many other things they spread to the gladiator games for use against and alongside the slaves.  The unpredictable nature, but obvious boon of having a massive war-hound at one's disposal, grants a score of six (6) points.

-Head; Helmet.  Gladiator helmets were typically made of iron or bronze, and provided great protection to the face and neck, especially those worn by the murmillotype of gladiators, though less-specialized variants were used by the thraex andhoplomachus.  Regardless, the protection and visibility offered by all kinds of gladiators is great enough to deserve an eight (8) out of ten points.
-Torso; none.  Gladiators wore little to no chest coverings, considering wounds and their powerful builds as symbols of their experience and strength to opponents and spectators.  However, that will definitely hurt them against a distance-focused opponent like the Apache, giving them a very poor rating of no (0) points gained.
-Limbs; Manicae.  Manica(e) were arm coverings made of a linen sleeve covered by iron plates.  It was worn on the right, un-shielded arm with the purpose of protecting the arm from attacks.  The manicae were originally invented for use in the Dacian War, when the dreaded falx proved too formidable for traditional Roman armour to contend with.  It soon spread to the gladiators to provide more protection for them, and thus longer combats between them.  Due to its great protection and dexterity, I give the manicae a rating of seven (7) out of ten.  It doesn't score higher because of its lack of protection of the hand, and only covering one arm rather than both.
-Blocking; Shield, Net.  Different types of gladiators used different types of styles, obviously.  The shield typically used by gladiators was based off of either the Romanscutum or the more-common Gaulic oblong shield.  Regardless, all gladiatorial shields offered protection for the user from mid-thigh to the chin, and featured an iron boss for offense.  Besides shields, gladiators of the retiarius type used a large net to entangle and disarm their opponents.  Overall, I'll give the blocking ability of the gladiators an eight (8) out of ten.

-The Roman gladiators were more combat-simulators than real killers, honestly.  They were trained to neutralize opponents and let the crowd or Emperor (or both) decide whether or not to finish them off with a mercy kill, typically a downward thrust of the sword through the trachea and into the heart through the chest cavity.  However, almost all of them were either former soldiers, prisoners of war, criminals, or other undesirables, so they would know very well how the human body works and how to shut it down.  Despite their arena theatrics, in a combat situation they would not hesitate to stoically destroy an enemy.  Above all, they wanted to survive to see another day, and would do anything to accomplish that goal, all bravado aside.  That in mind, I'm giving them a strong eighteen (18) points.


Flamma crouched in the undergrowth next to his other escapees.  He touched his forehead-brand as he contemplated their situation.  They were Roman Gladiators, all of them.  Each man among them had fought and killed in the arena - not the grand Coliseum in Rome, but in arenas nonetheless.  There had been ten pairs of fighters, some the traditional slaves, such as Flamma himself, others freeborn Romans who had wanted to win some glory in the ring.

Two nights before, they had been inside of a trade caravan that their ludus had been traveling with.  In the middle of the night, when they had set up camp, their camp had been set upon by men that seemed like ghosts - they drifted silently through the night, never stepping into the light of their fires.  In the confusion, Flamma and five others had managed to escape - taking much of their fighting-gear with them on the way out.

Now they were setting out alone, trying to find some kind of Roman civilization.  Their odds would be better there than out here in the wilderness, something which Flamma knew and which Marcus, an old Roman soldier that had lost two fingers on his right hand, agreed with.  He bore a gladiusscutum, and chained a massive war-hound that he had come to love to his hand.

Flamma himself had been a retiarius before his escape, but now had a sica in addition to his traditional net and trident.  He had been using the trident as a walking-stick to supplement his old foot wound.

There was the snapping of a stick some yards off.  Flamma and two others sprang to the source of the noise, weapons bared, and the other three spun around to cover their backs with their shields.  The gladiators were silent for a moment, tense and ready to defend themselves in this hostile country.

An arrow flew in from the darkness, silent, and buried itself in Crixus' side.  The young thraex shouted out in pain and surprise as Marcus unleashed his baying hound.  He and the other retiarius followed it into the night.  Crixus covered himself with his shield as his former enemy, Oenamus the hoplomachus, did the same.  Flamma had moved a little ways off from them, and spotted the shadow of a crouching man flanking them.  He said nothing as he lowered his helmet and struck out with his trident, leaping forward as he did so.

He found something - a youth, wearing the skins of animals with a club in his hands.  One of his prongs nicked the boy's thigh.  He spun around, faster than he out to have, and tried to strike Flamma's shoulder and ruin the socket.  Having anticipated that, he had shrugged a little, stretching his manaca above to absorb most of the blow.  The club bounced off of it with a resounding crash, and Flamma used the temporary lull of shock in the youth to pierce his stomach, his trident sliding through the stiff leather jerkin he wore and teared the muscles of his stomach.  He screamed in pain and grabbed at the trident, which Flamma jerked in and out repeatedly until he collapsed to the ground in a growing puddle of his own blood.  Readjusting his grip, Flamma slammed the points into the boy's chest cavity, killing him as they pierced his lungs and heart.

From the corner of his eye Flamma saw the hound leap onto a man, bringing him down and snapping its crushing jaws at his throat as he thrust a long knife into its heart.  The other retiarius, whom Flamma had only briefly known as the Syrian, tried in vain to immobilize his quarry with his net as he danced around it.  The leather-clad man hamstrung him with the ax in his hand and cut his throat with a knife as he fell down.

Flamma cursed under his breath.  This was going very badly - Crixus was bleeding out from a second arrow that had taken him full in the chest, somehow bypassing his shield.  The boy must have left his guard down for a moment, and was now paying the ultimate price for his lapse in attention.   The sounds of more fierce fighting surrounded them.

Something crashed into the back of Flamma's helmet, sending him to the ground as he staggered from the blow.  His already-sore left shoulder throbbed more as it was struck a second time.  He realized dimly that he had lost his trident, whether he had dropped it or had it taken from him he did not know.

He spun away from this new attacker, whom he realized was another of their ambushers, this time wielding a short ax and a war-club in unison.  Drawing his sicawith a bitter rasp of steel on worn leather, he faced his opponent and threw his net at the man's face, following up on it with his sword swung at his foe's neck.  The Apache leapt around the net, his ax-blade smashing into Flamma's armored forearm.  It bit through the plates a little to break the linen and skin beneath, thankfully lightly enough to not seriously injure him.

Flamma turned, too, and brought his leg up and into the Apache's stomach.  The powerful body-blow lifted him off of the ground.  However, the man used his momentum to draw a knife and then draw a line across Flamma's unarmored chest.  He grit his teeth against the flashing pain, and cut the man's hand off at the wrist as he overextended it.  He fell away, moaning at the loss of his limb, and tried to fall back further.  But Flamma caught up to him, and brought his sica down on the crown of his head.

Two arrows soared in from out of his field of vision, one bouncing sharply off of his neck-place and another nicking his thigh as it sought for his stomach.  Grunting past his wounds, Flamma ran back to where Oenamus and Marcus stood, their weapons bloody.  The gladiators held their ground as the Apache broke off, not bothering to waste more arrows or lives on the hardy defenders.  This night, anyway, victory was in the hands of the gladiators.  But it was a hard-fought one.

-Apache Warriors.
TOTAL OFFENSIVE SCORE:  twenty-nine (29) points.
~TOTAL DEFENSIVE SCORE:  fourteen (14) points.
~TOTAL X-FACTOR SCORE:  fifteen (15) points. 
=Total Score for the Apache Warriors:  fifty-eight (58) points.
-Roman Gladiators.
~TOTAL OFFENSIVE POINTS:  twenty-eight (28) points.
~TOTAL DEFENSIVE SCORE:  twenty-three (23) points.
~TOTAL X-FACTOR SCORE:  eighteen (18) points.
=Total Score for the Roman Gladiators:  sixty-nine (69) points.

-It seems to me like the gladiators were just more well-balanced than the Apache, despite their lacking at ranged fighting - which would have been fully nullified in night-fighting, as was shown.  While I don't doubt that the Apache would have easily defeated the gladiators at a distance, which they did, they lacked the staying power necessary to a stand-up confrontation such as this.  I do doubt that they would have taken as many risks to eradicate the gladiators as they themselves would have taken in order to survive the conflict.  Additionally, no planning could have prepared them for the tricks that the gladiators brought in their arsenal and their proficiency in all levels of melee combat.  Congrats to the victors, and, alas, "Vae victus," to the losers.