The Last Samurai

It did. But the Chinese invented it first.

Oh, alright. Maybe you can answer my next question, why did I think of Italy when Case mentioned gunpowder?


Marco Polo brought gunpowder back to Italy from China.

No, no, no. I’m thinking of something, someone later in Italy (I think) who has important in the development of guns (yeah I know, not specifically) gunpowder. I think it was fifteenth century, I remember not being able to remember about this in a guns vs. swords argument about a month ago and its so irritating! Does anyone know what I’m referencing here?


DaVinci did some interesting things with gunpowder.

Are you mocking me? ;) If so, that’s not very gallant!

-Kitsune, happy to derail the thread from The Last Samurai. :twisted:

No, I’m not. DaVinci did a lot of cannon design.

The Chinese also tried to use gunpowder as a weapon, but with mixed success. They used crude, spear-tipped rockets, or would launch gunpowder bombs with catapults.

I can’t recall if Marco Polo brought the secret of gunpowder back with him, but Roger Bacon published a recipe for gunpowder in Europe some time in the 13th century. It took about another 50-100 years before the Europeans began using cannon regularly.

Oi, no, I’m saying one generally knows about DaVinci, but I’m still thinking of somebody else. Oh well, I’ll remember some day.

Just so we can derail it more…

What’s better in a “the ideal weapon” kind of way (not obviously in technology), guns or swords?


Ideal for killing people? Clearly guns. I mean, we had swords, and then guns came along and swords became irrelevant.

Swords are more stylish, though. An elegant weapon, from a more civilized age. Or something like that.

Hacking someone to pieces is more civilized than shooting them in the face?

I have seen this movie before. Except it was Costner as another poster mentioned. Bad ole’ white guy sees noble foreign culture. He sees the error of his ways with his industry and progress and gunpowder. He turns his back to his evil raping and pillaging brethren to embrace the Kinder Gentler Noble Foreign Culture™. Who are in tune with the Earth, and their traditions, and buffalo… or whatever. Bad white guy becomes good white guy and saves the day leading the Noble Races against the white onslaught.

Dances with Samurai. Or perhaps Dances with Stereotypes?

Where the fuck is Cleve when you need him…

twosixteen- Uh, that kinda did happen. Didn’t you play Nobunga’s Ambition? Westerners brought firearms to Japan, and a Western soldier with experience in modern warfare would be useful for training. I don’t understand the complaints with the premise here, it’s pretty interesting. New guy brought it to each new model but finds that he prefers the old model despite it’s lack of efficiency. It’s not quite Dances With Wolves, at least I hope it isn’t, because that movie really was shit. I really hope they don’t let Cruise’s side win, completely negating the entire point of the movie.

Kitsune- Guns all the way. I can’t really get into KoTOR because of the absurdly stupid swords(regular swords!) being more effective than blasters thing. Guns are cooler, too, mostly because there is more room for difference between given guns than between swords. Swords have size and shape, but guns have all kinds of wacky shit you can put on them.

Gunpowder as a militarily effective weapon is definitely an European thing. I believe the first effective handheld firearms were Dutch.

Guns didn’t make swords obsolete. If they had, cavalry swords would just have been for show in the Civil War. They weren’t.

Guns which could easily fire multiple times made swords obsolete. Starting with (IIRC) the breech loading rifle around the same period.

(Sorry, my history of warfare is a bit rusty. However, I’m pretty sure about the efficacy of trying to reload a musket while running versus trying to swing a sword while running.)

That’s what Bayonets were for.

Well do I have the Half-Life mod for you!

Throw that in at a LAN party. When we played it was pretty unbalanced and, well, kinda sucked, but in that good sort of way that it’s funny and you play for a hour or two before you go back to CS or the Specialists.

It depends on how you define “efficacy.” The primary appeal of guns, at least early on, were that they were easy to use. You could train unskilled soldiers to fire a gun very quickly, whereas training them to use a sword (or similar weapon) was expensive and time-consuming. Guns were much more “efficient,” by that standard. Swords didn’t disappear overnight when guns came into use, certainly, but they did start a long, slow decline into obscurity.

Gunpowder was one of the many nifty things to come out of the Han dynasty in China. The alchemists of the time were researching the “secrets to eternal life”, funded (naturally) by the emperor, Wu Di. They messed with sulphur and saltpeter and made kinda-sorta gunpowder, but not the classic black stuff as we know it. This is BC here - maybe 80 or 100 years BC.

When they were combined with charcoal to make “huoyao” (gunpowder) is under a bit of contention. Some say it wasn’t until the 8th century AD. Some say it was actually done earlier in the 3rd century, at the end of the Han dynasty. Certainly it’s true that it started being used as a weapon in the 8th century, during the Mongol invasions.

Hey, would you look at that! My Asian Studies degree was useful for something! Sorta. Okay, making a forum post isn’t really useful. Okay, I have a useless college degree.

The movie does actually look pretty good, though. And I hear really great things about the performance of Ken Watanabe (that Japanese actor guy who was referred to earlier).

Right you are. Guns were a replacement for spears - easy-to-train weapons that were given to the mass recruits. Of course, the other nice part about a spear is that they’re really cheap to make, which guns aren’t, but guns have that whole range and killing power advantage. I mean, back in those days you could get shot in the foot and die because it would get infected. You’d certainly not be able to fight anymore.

Once you get right up next to someone, a gun that can only fire one shot before being reloaded (or a gun that takes two hands and has a really long barrel) is really not that useful - a sword is. But swords are expensive to make AND hard to train people to use without hurting themselves and all the other “friendlies” around them. :)

Historically, guns replaced crossbows. People hadn’t been throwing spears for centuries by the time guns were introduced. Long pikes were used against cavalry but ranged weapons (other than siege weapons) included just bows and crossbows. Crossbows were effective and easy to handle, much like guns and unlike bows (ineffective) or longbows (very difficult to handle).

How and when firearms replaced crossbows is an interesting subject. I’ve yet to read a comprehensive treatment but from what I understand, kings started switching their armies to muskets at a time when crossbows were still more effective, not to mention safer and cheaper. Just for prestige and frightening the horses?