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I don't really understand why they had the second line using trebuchets and catapults instead of the last line next to the wall, so they could continue to fire.

Feels like it closes down the retreat path having them close to the wall but I don't know. Maybe someone can explain?

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    Or inside the walls – user20310 Apr 29 at 21:11
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    Because the battle plans were cast aside for knighthoods, sex and karaoke. – Edlothiad Apr 29 at 21:17
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    Feels like inside would be impossible due to how Winterfell looks like, it doesn't have broad towers and the walls are narrow as well. – Starseeker Apr 29 at 21:17
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    Can't they throw dragonglass? – Starseeker Apr 29 at 21:27
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    The battle plans were not the most effective. Plus, from a real-world perspective, it looked cooler. – Möoz Apr 29 at 21:55
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There was a lot I found wrong with the episode but overall The tactics used here make perfect sense.

A catapult or Trebuchet has a long range but also has a minimum range due to the way it throws its payload into the air. This means that within a certain distance the enemy is safe from attack.

Catapults and trebuchets are also imprecise so once the armies clash firing would need to stop in order to prevent friendly fire.

Now if the catapults has been placed at the base of the wall behind they would have filled the space between the wall and the fire pit but would have not been able to hit the dead at all. This would have then created problems for the defenders, the unsullied defensive formation relies on them being positioned as a solid unit. You see this in the way they retreat the central soldiers fall back as the formation narrows down (this was one of the best looking scenes of the episode). if they are forced to retreat amongst fixed wooden structures such as catapults this creates small groups that can be picked off piece by piece and makes it harder to fight. Also if the artillery is near the wall it can be easily used to climb up the walls.

The only other tactic with artillary is to place it far far behind the battle but that tactic suits open battle not a defensive action where the aim is to protect a fixed position.

The tactic I don’t understand was the use of the dolthraki. I would have held them back out the way and used them once the army of the dead had reached the castle to attack the rear catching the army between the castle walls and themselves. Charging them off on there own looked great but was always a waste of soldiers.!

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    Best explanation I've heard for the Dothraki is that they are not disciplined medieval-style cavalry, but a superstitious group of savage raiders. Charging the enemy and overwhelming them is what they do. So give them some magical flaming weapons to feed their superstition, and off they go to do what they do best. The post-credits interviews with the directors indicate that out of world this was mostly done to emphasize that everyone was pretty much boned, that killing the Night King was really the only hope, and things were not going to go as planned. – zibadawa timmy Apr 30 at 5:58
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    It seems a pretty solid in-world explanation to me, all said. You'll notice that the people who had proper military training and good armor survived a lot longer. Brienne, Jaimie, and Podrick spent seemingly half the battle shoved up against a wall by a horde of attackers and were just fine. The Unsullied held the line and protected the retreat just fine, at least relative to how quickly the Dothraki went down. – zibadawa timmy Apr 30 at 6:06
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    @zibadawatimmy Brienne, Jaimie, and Podrick spent seemingly half the battle shoved up against a wall by a horde of attackers and were just fine. The perks of being a named character – JAD Apr 30 at 6:34
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    @JAD Also the perks of having the best arms, armor, and combat training in perhaps the entire army. – zibadawa timmy Apr 30 at 6:42
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    @zibadawatimmy better than the Dothraki, sure. A dash of plot-armour to go with it as well. – JAD Apr 30 at 6:46

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