Ender encounters many different armies during his stay at battle school. Is there ever any indication of the number of Armies at Battle school?

How many armies were there in Battle School?

  • can you tell me where you find that you put in your conclusion? i mean ~5 weeks, where you get that number? can't remember where it show up in the story
    – Eezo
    Nov 27, 2015 at 8:15
  • The Film concepts show only the armies mentioned in the book
    – Valorum
    Nov 27, 2015 at 12:30
  • 1
    @HenryVarro 1)Bean shows everyone the Deadline after they've have "a battle every day for more than four weeks", the final battle was the following day. 2) During the final battle, Ender remarks that they've "still got a month to go before" the three month training period was supposed to end. Ender "only had his any three and a half weeks" before the first battle.
    – ibid
    Nov 27, 2015 at 15:45

2 Answers 2


At least 20 armies, possibly as much 40

Only twenty armies are actually mentioned in Ender's Game (if you include Dragon). (≥20)

Two teams, Manticore and Asp, had no recent score-- that box was flashing.

Ender tried to guess which ones went with which name. Scorpion and Spider were easy. So were Flame and Tide.
(Ender's Game - Chapter 5)

(Ender's Game - Chapter 5)

We have surprised Rat and Scorpion and Hound, and we are ready to play for leadership in the game.

"Go left out of the door," said the boy on the next bunk. "We share it with Rat, Condor, and Squirrel."

"Wait a minute," she said to Ender. "Rabbit Army just went in, and it takes a few minutes to change to the next battleroom."

The enemy was Leopard Army. It would be easy.
(Ender's Game - Chapter 7)

It was Centipede Army, and they only beginning to emerge from their door when Ender was halfway across the battleroom.
(Ender's Game - Chapter 8)

At the age of nine he was a toon leader in the Phoenix Army, with Petra Arkanian as his commander.
(Ender's Game - Chapter 9)

Dragon, said the form. There was no Dragon Army.
(Ender's Game - Chapter 10)

We worked our butts off in practice today. Not to mention beating the crap out of Ferret Army this morning.
(Ender's Game - Chapter 11)

It was Pol Slattery's Badger Army, and they refused to give up.

(Ender's Game - Chapter 12)

Eleven guys from Dragon Army (5 Toon Leaders + 5 Seconds + Bean) equals half the armies in Battle school (~23) (thanks to @HorusKol)

They graduated half the commanders, and transferred a lot of our guys to command their armies."
"Which guys?"
"It looks like -- every toon leader and every assistant."
(Ender's Game - Chapter 12)

Anderson's complaint to Graff about Football would seem to imply that there were at least twenty-nine armies. (≥29)

"Now that the wars are over, it's time to play games again. It'll be almost like vacation, anyway. Only twenty-eight teams in the league. Though after years of watching those children flying, football is like watching slugs bash into each other." (Ender's Game - Chapter 15)

Also, if we assume that Dragon Army fought every Army exactly once (not sure why we would assume this) then we get about 35-40 armies. (~5 weeks of one battle per day plus Salamander, Griffin, and Tiger)

  • If I remember correctly Dragon is only active during Ender's time as a commander and then broken up again.
    – Styxsksu
    May 16, 2023 at 17:37

The Ansible wikia has it at a minimum of 15 armies - but I do think that number is a bit low (I also think the launchie count is very low - it'd make sense for at least one launch intake per year - with several years before being posted into an army).

Now, when Ender was graduated out of Battle School, almost half of the other army commanders were replaced with his toon leaders and seconds, along with Bean. That's 11 replacements - meaning at least 20 armies (Ender had 5 toons).

Your timeframe of 5 weeks is actually pretty good - Dragon's first game is 9 weeks early (p 197 - Orbit 2002), and the last game with the formation is a month before the regular training period (p 216).

However, they start throwing two battles a day at the Dragon army after only one week. Assuming this tempo is maintained for the whole period, we get 63 battles. On the other hand, this tempo might not have been kept up because of the other armies needing rest (though, there's nothing to say that the other armies were fighting each other regularly after Dragon started) - this would mean a minimum of about 35 games.

Although it isn't mentioned, it could also be that Dragon fights each other army more than once.

So - unless anyone can present more evidence, the best we can say is somewhere between 20 and 60. And probably more like about 40.

  • 1
    The only times Dragon Army fights more than one battle a day is day 8 (Ferret+ Salamander) and the last day (Badger+Griffin/Tiger). Confer the passage when Bean shows then the deadline, "They were tired, yes--a battle every day for more than four weeks, often in situations that tested their abilities to the utmost".
    – ibid
    Nov 27, 2015 at 15:32
  • Their launchie count isn't that low as each group had a maximum of 20 kids, 40 would mean two groups at any given time.
    – ibid
    Nov 27, 2015 at 15:51
  • it isn't clear how many launch groups there are each year - and it seems launchies spend 3-4 training before being in an army
    – HorusKol
    Nov 27, 2015 at 23:26
  • Launchies usually spend 1 year training before being in an army. ("This is room is your home for your first year or so here at the Battle School, so get the bunk you want and stay with it.")
    – ibid
    Nov 28, 2015 at 22:58

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.