Created By: HaruAxeman on December 24, 2011 Last Edited By: TheHandle on March 24, 2014

Schizo Tactics

Tactics which do not fit the levels of technology or type of combat shown

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
(Note from Haru-how do I put in a picture? I wanted a picture of the Retro Lancer. Also, need people to elaborate on 40k and world war examples, I don't know that much about it and I'm not writing an essay on them. I need to write other examples!)

"Drive me closer! I want to hit them with my sword!"
— In Warhammer 40,000 official art, an officer on top of a gigantic tank's turret draws his saber at the enemy.

When someone invents a new bit of military technology, like a rifle with a magazine that outshines everything else and a high rate of fire, or is just more accurate and with more range, people will be unprepared for it. If it gets adopted by the military, they'll use it like their previous, less advanced rifle, thus resulting in shameful ineffectuality on the part of the rifle or in the countermeasures against the previous rifle. Maybe they're standing too close to each other with the rifles, volley-firing, and both sides are made mincemeat. Maybe the enemy is using cavalry charges against machineguns, which make mincemeat of anything in range. Maybe the soldiers are only accustomed to fighting humans, and thus apply human tactics to an alien enemy and are shocked when the enemy doesn't 'play by the rules'.

In short, this trope is about when the tactics have not adapted to the technologies currently in use, (or possibly vice versa) or are incredibly ill-equipped to the situation at hand. Whenever it's in effect, expect to see frustration from the average infantryman, denouncing the uselessness of a particular tactic or piece of equipment, and the eventual change in tactics. The part about technology is very much truth in television, just see the American Civil War and both World Wars. May overlap with We Have Reserves, if the previous tactics are old enough, and likely to be exacerbated or just made odder by its cousin Schizo Tech. See also Rock Beats Laser.


Examples:

Film
  • The Film of the Book Starship Troopers had Terran troops land on the planet of their enemy, a race of insectlike creatures who seemingly were completely outclassed technologically, and go toe-to-toe with them up close and personal, instead of, say, nuking them all from orbit or just bombing them with various flying craft.

Literature
  • Comes up in Codex Alera during the first Canim-Human war. Tavi, promoted to commander of the First Aleran legion, realizes the ineffectiveness of using Aleran tactics (Which are mostly, if not entirely fury-based) against the Canim, so he is forced to improvise and add in innovations such as mounted infantry, and holding the shield high to deflect the blows of the immense Canim with the blade low to attack the legs.

Tabletop Games
  • Warhammer 40,000. Oh dear Lord, where do we even begin. To say the technology and tactics there are merely schizo is like saying GIR is "a little crazy". You have roughly a million Imperial worlds, to say nothing of the various non-Imperial worlds, each with differing technology levels ranging from stone age to incredibly futuristic, so the local militias are bound to be very different. The Imperial Guard does sometimes use mid 20th-early 21st century weaponry and the like, and they've been flanderised by most media into using world war 1 tactics and We Have Reserves... a jarring example, but that's not getting into the fact that they tend to use something like modern tactics in some of Sandy Mitchell's novels, augmented by their laser and plasma weapons, and the rare bolter. This troper is not a Warhammer player, so if anyone could explain the IG's tactics further it would be much appreciated.
    • Also, the Space Marines. Clad in Power Armor, armed with high-explosive Bolters to be the best soldiers of the Imperium... and they're very melee oriented. Let that sink in, especially when you consider that world war 1 tactics, in the Grimdark future of the 41st millenium, it's frequently just as effective to initiate a Combat Breakdown and start using melee weapons. The Space Wolves are possibly Warhammer's Most Triumphant Example of the effectiveness of melee in the face of alien superguns,(though the Orks may take that title) as they use wolf-mounted cavalry in the grim dark future! Cavalry, I say! I can accept the Space Marine Armor as protecting against most alien weapons other than the Tau, but not the lack of barbed wire. Have other races advanced so far that they forgot about barbed wire and what it does to an animal's legs?
    • The Departmento Munitorum, the people who oversee warfare in the 41st millennium, seem to have some perverse hatred for the Imperial Guard as after 10,000 years of warfare nobody has thought to supply them with body armor with more protection from alien weaponry then a soggy t-shirt that's been half exploded. Their tactics have also remained unchanged.
    • And a whole bloody lot more... 40k probably deserves its own page.

Video Games
  • Gears of War: Given that before the Pendulum Wars humanity had gone through an era of peace (probably what gave them the time and initiative to make all the stunning buildings!) during which military tech advanced but tactics didn't, and one of its 3 rifles, the Retro Lancer, has a magazine just large enough that it could be used for suppressive fire, but it is often equipped with a bayonet... yeah. Bizarrely, the Pendulum Wars lasted 79 years, so if that bayonet was equipped since the year it was adopted as the official COG service rifle, that suggests we may have a 40k 'melee is just as effective!' scenario cause that bayonet's probably been there a long time. Although it's not clear when the Retro Lancer was invented, it could have been during the war, but it's still an example of schizo tactics if they still had bayonets on a rifle that should have made them obsolete.
    • It definitely qualifies for the second part of the definition, the one about the humans being used to fighting human enemies. The reason the Retro Lancer was replaced was because the bayonet wasn't powerful enough against the thick skin of the Locust, and the Locust had a predisposition to melee combat... so they replaced the bayonet with a chainsaw. Which is awesome and all, but... what?

Real Life
  • The American Civil War had soldiers standing in a line in the tactics of the previous wars, which relied on the weapons being incredibly inaccurate and short ranged. Rifles had been developed, and the U.S was using them at musket range... which was essentially point blank for them.
  • World War I had the use of tactics which were incredibly out of date for the technologies, such as cavalry in the face of barbed wire and machine gins.
  • World War II: Nobody really learned from the previous war, and the French command still trusted the tactics of the Great War... thus leading to atrocities like the Maginot Line, which would have been utterly destroyed by Nazi bombers if the Nazis hadn't just gone around it.
  • The Russian Civil War had such moments because of its Schizo Tech nature: Russia's former western allies supported high-tech (by standards of that time) weapons such as tanks, armored cars and light machineguns to both Tsarist Russia before the war started, against Germans, and the Whites against the Reds, but the majority of factions relied on cavalry and infantry formations and pre-WWI tactics (the tactics developed during WWI were proven to be useless because of the very different nature of the war itself, highly mobile rather than entrenched). That's why no one really knew how to use those newfangled inventions fully.
Community Feedback Replies: 26
  • December 24, 2011
    StrixObscuro
    This should differentiate between characters who have just run across the technology and so have some ground for being flustered, and those from whom the technology has existed as long as they have fought, and so even the most incompetent general should know that's what they are facing.
  • December 24, 2011
    Lumpenprole
    Space Is An Ocean leads to the inappropriate application of naval tactics to space combat, most egregiously the idea of defeating the enemy by boarding their ship.

  • December 25, 2011
    HaruAxeman
    @Goldfritha Actually, Arnos is the most incompetent general in Codex Alera and he has jack shit of an idea of how to fight the Canim, dismissing all the strategies Tavi devised as 'untested,' which, cause they actually have been tested, is just another way of saying "It's never been done that way before so I won't allow it!" He might have learned at some point, but considering that Arnos treats war like a giant game of chess with no consequences, it's not very likely. Still, a very good idea, I'll split this into two. Or possibly three.
  • December 25, 2011
    HaruAxeman
    I now suspect that I should rename this "tactical breakdown'
  • December 26, 2011
    aurora369
    Russian Civil War had such moments because of its Schizo Tech nature: Russia's former western allies supported high-tech (by standards of that time) weapons such as tanks, armored cars and light machineguns to both Tsarist Russia before the war started, against Germans, and the Whites against the Reds, but the majority of factions relied on cavalry and infantry formations and pre-WWI tactics (the tactics developed during WWI were proven to be useless because of the very different nature of the war itself, highly mobile rather than entrenched). That's why no one really knew how to use those newfangled inventions fully.
  • December 26, 2011
    JohnDiFool
    The Film Of The Book Starship Troopers had Terran troops land on the planet of their enemy, a race of insectlike creatures who seemingly were completely outclassed technologically, and go toe-to-toe with them up close and personal, instead of, say, nuking them all from orbit or just bombing them with various flying craft.
  • December 26, 2011
    Maklodes
    This probably applies not just to technological settings, but to fantasy too, in which, say, dragons and pegasus-mounted soldiers play a role. (E.g.: building big verticle castle fortifications, city walls, etc, in settings where flight is common, ignoring magic like invisibility, teleportation, etc.) It's funny: I was actually thinking of YKTTWing something along these lines, and had a rough draft ("tactical kitchen sink" was going to be my term for things where every tactic works: flying forces, hand-to-hand combatants, special ops types with cloaking, etc). This also applies to most RTS-type games, like Starcraft. (Protoss are more advanced than terrans, who are more advanced than late 20th/early 21st century real humans, but they still send their warriors into melee combat.)
  • December 26, 2011
    abk0100
    In one of Indian In The Cupboard books, modern guns are sent back in time to a tribe of Indians. They surround their enemies and shoot at them, but they end up shooting themselves because they don't understand how far the bullets will travel.
  • December 26, 2011
    CrimsonZephyr
    All over the place in Star Wars, but nowhere more than in Attack Of The Clones where the clone troopers fight in line formations like armies from the Colonial Period.
  • December 27, 2011
    EvadableMoxie
    Speaking of Star Wars, In Star Wars: The Old Republic, apparently Trench Warfare is still in style on Balmorra. Another example would be prototype flame thrower turrents on Dromund Kaas which are too big to be carried practically, are completely stationary, and have no more range then the flamethrowers bounty hunters carry on their wrists. Why did they even bother designing those things?
  • December 27, 2011
    Maklodes
    Not to mention that in Star Wars, the most feared warriors in the galaxy run around with melee weapons.
  • December 18, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    how to put image? (it's right there in the sidebar on the left, bottom half.)

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/uploadform.php

    even just a link would show an image if it's uploaded there.

    though the form itself will provide you a code to copy so no sweat.
  • December 19, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    Namespaced the examples + did some other formatting.
  • December 19, 2013
    kjnoren
    Given the way the trope is written right now, and the way it's shaping up, I'm afraid this will be a magnet for complaining, arguing in the examples, and natter. It doesn't help that lots of people have firm opinions on things like military history without really knowing all that much (I know, I tend to fall into that trap myself).

    Motion to discard, or a drastic change in trope description and definition.
  • December 19, 2013
    StarSword
    ^Not to mention we already have Hollywood Tactics.
  • December 19, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^ Hollywood Tactics is about inaccurate portayals of warfare in fiction, whereas this one is an In Universe trope where military tactics haven't had the time to catch up with new military technology.
  • December 19, 2013
    StarSword
    ^Then the description needs to clarify the distinction. (I figured that might be the idea, but I wasn't getting it from the description.)
  • December 20, 2013
    kjnoren
    ^^ Thing is, it's not only military tactics and military technology that matters here. There's a whole slew of societal, organisational, and logistical factors that play a part.

    The generals knew at the start of World War One knew that casualties would be high, but their experience from the Franco-Prussion war (1870-71) and the recent reports from the Russo-Japanese war (1904-05) both had shown the success of tactical offensives against fortified or entrenched enemies. But the factors that had driven the large casualties of those earlier wars had increased even further.

    That said, both the French and the Germans had ideas on how to fight in this environment (eg, the French had a borderline practical light machinegun ready, which could enter mass production in 1915). What they failed to factor in was the sheer scale of the war, that France, Britain, Germany, and the other nations on the western front would manage to build a continuous front line from the English channel to Switzerland.

    On the eastern front, distances were larger and troop densities not as high, so there the pre-war theories and ideas worked better. But it wasn't the weapons in and of itself that led to the trench war, but the sheer strength of the socities and their industries in building these immense armies.
  • December 20, 2013
    DracMonster
    Y'know, Real Life is probably going to end up being a list of every single war ever fought in human history. This is something that always happens.

    I'm not sure if this counts or not, but...

    • Last Exile has crews of airships lining up and firing at each other with rifles before they start using cannons. In this case, it's actually a rule of war enforced by the all-powerful Guild that makes the airships: both sides are required to go through this ritual slaughter, see if one side is willing to surrender, and then start damaging the actual ships.
  • December 20, 2013
    kjnoren
    @Drac Monster: Yeah, and for all the wrong reasons (in the examples, that is).

    Your example sounds more like Ritualised Combat / Ritualised War to me. Which definitely is a trope we need.
  • March 20, 2014
    jatay3
    The book Starship Troopers justifies it by acknowledging that it is indeed seemingly better to blow everything up from the skies but there are often pressing potential benefits to be gained by ground attacks.
  • March 20, 2014
    DAN004
  • March 20, 2014
    randomsurfer
    Possibly a supertrope to Two D Space.
  • March 24, 2014
    Mr.Movie
    Supertrope to Archaic Weapon For An Advanced Age? Also, if you're looking for a good picture, the same picture for the Warhammer' meme is the picture on that page.
  • March 24, 2014
    zarpaulus
    • The Warhammer 40,000 Gaunts Ghosts novel Straight Silver features a planet that insists upon trench warfare with bloody charges into machine gun fire and cavalry units that use neural implants to control their mounts. The Colonel-Commissar spends most of the book trying to convince the governor to accept tactics that aren't 38,600 years out of date and use his recon unit like they were trained.

    • The original Starship Troopers averts this. Rather than having a bunch of lightly armored troopers with assault rifles Zerg Rush a horde of Bugs that vastly outnumber them, the Mobile Infantry drops their men from orbit wearing what are essentially walking tanks to drop gas bombs down their tunnels and clear away the defenders with high explosives of varying yields up to micro-nukes. The reason they don't go for Orbital Bombardment much is that the Bugs tend to burrow deep underground and the Federation intends to eventually colonize their planets.
  • March 24, 2014
    arbiter099
    examples have a bad case of Word Cruft and there's This Troper in the 40k one
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=dmcsl2p0gqf1agr2iaeya473