When Daenerys is scouting for an army, the Unsullied are initially made out to be an extremely strong and fearless force. However, they get their butts kicked each time by the Harpies - particularly in the scene in the alleyway. How is that ? Are we made to think the Harpies are better fighters than the Unsullied ?

  • 4
    The arena battle & others depicted in Season 5 did NOT occur in the books, so we must assume that the Unsullied have been nerfed somewhat for dramatic effect on the show. – Omegacron Jun 24 '15 at 15:52
  • 7
    Hey! Grey Worm was outnumbered and still survived, unlike his Harpy opponents. I think the idea is that the Unsullied are trained for war (i.e. thousands marching against another army on a big field), not policing or fighting guerilla insurgencies. – Paul D. Waite Jun 24 '15 at 15:56
  • 1
    @PaulD.Waite I think it's probably more to create a sense of drama. If all of the Unsullied were as good as Grey Worm, (and they should be pretty close, they're all Unsullied after all) none of the main cast would have been in any danger. – Daft Jun 24 '15 at 16:03
  • 6
    the biggest issue is the show keeps showing the unsullied in numbers fighting by themselves, they are a trained war machine and would never be fighting solo when they have a whole company together, they would get together and fight as units, we keep seeing them get stabed from behind or their throats slit, but they would run together and form spear formations which are essentially unassailable from people with just swords, and daggers which the harpies have. – Himarm Jun 24 '15 at 16:03
  • 4
    This has already been answered at Movies & TV, with the same explanation @Himarm gives here. movies.stackexchange.com/questions/33928/… – PrisonMonkeys Jun 24 '15 at 16:19

The books do talk a bit about this:

The unsullied are field warriors and only fight well when organized in ranks and fighting with sufficient numbers. Unsullied don't do well when only a few of them are fighting together and aren't in open territory.

They can be easily "jumped" and outnumbered when alone or in small groups (as seen in the alleyway scenes).

Taken from the wiki:

Unsullied battle tactics are based on the legions of the old Ghiscari Empire, involving large groups of them fighting in lock-step phalanxes using spear and shield, though they are also trained to use shortswords for close-quarters combat. Slave-eunuchs who have been trained from birth to fight, the Unsullied are renowned for their utter discipline on the battlefield, both in their usage of incredibly coordinated large unit phalanx formations, and because they will never break in the face of overwhelming odds, even to the point of death.

Phalanx formations don't work if you don't possess sufficient numbers or are surrounded by the enemy.

It's also worth pointing out that the unsullied are poorly equipped to fight in these tight situations. They are all armed with spears, when they should be equipped with short swords for tighter situations.

  • 1
    Why would Daenerys surround herself with these useless soldiers when she spends most of her time in a crowded city? – Daft Jun 24 '15 at 16:08
  • 1
    @Draft: These are the soldiers she trusts, and really the only soldiers she has to use. She doesn't have much choice in the matter. – onewho Jun 24 '15 at 16:09
  • @Daft: plus where else is she going to get an army from at short notice? She is only young and attempting to shake things up. – Paul D. Waite Jun 24 '15 at 16:19
  • @Daft when she acquired the Unsullied, the plan was to use them in open battle or siege (with the eventual goal of taking back the Iron Throne). For this they are great. Unfortunately she decided to conquer and rule Meereen instead of continuing to attack. – kuhl Jun 24 '15 at 18:58

The unsullied are very similar to our world's Roman forces and when they came to Britain they had a hard time fighting against the guerrilla tactics of the Celts. This was partly the reason Hadrians Wall was constructed to keep them out and so they don't have to deal with them. Being a similar force to the Romans the Unsullied also prefer to fight in groups in phalanx formations in open fields. As we see in scenes of them attacking Casterly Rock:

Note that when the Unsullied are getting killed most of the time they are alone or in small patrols and so with the advantage of surprise the harpies win 9 times out of 10.

Note that when the Harpies don't have the element of surprise the Unsullied individuals fighting training kicks in and they do very well solo. This is shown with Gray Worm's fighting scene with Baristan Selmy, although Gray Worm may be a better fighter, as he was elected leader, any difference should be negligible as they all undergo the same training.

  • 2
    Good point in noticing the similarities with the combat formations of the Romans, their armament (lances and small shields) make them very similar to the Greek Hoplites in a Phalanx as well – Sekhemty Sep 25 '17 at 14:55
  • @Sekhemty I'd seen that commented on before but I don't know much about the Greeks. I suppose because of their armour as well they are probably more based off of the Greeks than the Romans though. – TheLethalCarrot Sep 25 '17 at 15:43
  • They're actually far more like Greek hoplites (in particular, Spartans) than they are like Romans in terms of their fighting style. Hoplites were armed and armored much like the Unsullied in the books (8' spears, short swords, shields; show seems to leave the shields out much of the time), while Romans typically would start a fight with javelins in mass (which would bend easily past the tip; making it hard to throw them back and possibly depriving enemies of shields if they stick in one and then bend), and then most of the h2h fighting was shields and short swords (gladius). – Paul Sep 25 '17 at 18:52
  • Relevant links to hoplites and Roman legionnaires – Paul Sep 25 '17 at 18:55

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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