Other commanders who are equal to or better than Thrawn.

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Re: Other commanders who are equal to or better than Thrawn.

Post by NecronLord » 2018-08-26 06:18am

It's hilarious watching people try to justify the art power as something other than what's in the books. "Maybe he reads intelligence reports and just looks at the art when people are coming in to build mystique" is a fucking treasure. :lol:
Thrawn, Chapter 12 wrote:Art.

For some it was a measure of culture. For others it was a measure of wealth. For most it was a matter of simple enjoyment.

For Thrawn, it was an invaluable tool.

The Thunder Wasp's computer library had only a limited catalog of art reproductions, and only three pieces of those were from Umbara. Fortunately, Thrawn had spent the past three years building up an extensive collection of data cards that rivaled the best art archives in the Empire.

He sat in his cabin, surrounded by holograms of sculptures, flats, mobiles, kinetics, interactives, and the other art forms the Umbarans had developed and explored over the centuries. Of particular interest were the subtle changes that had taken place between works created before and after the Clone Wars.

The other Chiss didn't understand. They never had. He'd been asked innumerable times how he was able to build such detailed tactical knowledge from such obscure and insignificant ingredients.

The question carried its own answer. To Thrawn, nothing in a species' art was obscure or insignificant. All the threads tied together; all the brushstrokes spoke to him; all the light curves told the story of their creator.

Artists were individuals. But they were also products of their culture and history and philosophy. The weave of artist and culture was evident to the discerning eye. The fundamental pattern of a species could be sketched, then drawn, then fully fleshed out. Most important of all, the relationships among art, culture, and military doctrine could be deduced.

And what could be deduced could be countered.
It's a fucking savant power. This scene is from his own perspective so it cannot be a front - he is not going to lie while reflecting in his own meditation chamber. Provide evidence that his ability is other than presented here or concede.
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Re: Other commanders who are equal to or better than Thrawn.

Post by Patroklos » 2018-08-26 09:03am

Vendetta wrote:
2018-08-22 02:58pm
Lord Revan wrote:
2018-08-22 02:37pm
I have disagree on the art being a cover, I think it was a part of more complex system but not the only part, essentially you can tell quite a lot about the general values or "mood"(for a lack of better term) from their art, sure it won't tell you exactly how individual in that culture will behave but it will give a very broad general picture which you can use to put intelligence reports into proper context, sure it's not flawless but it's not totally useless either, since people generally are products of the culture they were born into.
Art is almost completely useless for understanding anything other than a snapshot of the current mood of a single nation or region, let alone an insight into the psychology of an entire species.
Do you have knowledge of a lot of non-human star faring civilizations to base this assessment on? Frankly, the idea that the art of another species can't be used as the book says because that's not how human art works just speaks an in the box human-centric bias.

I SUSPECT that in most cases art won't like in HttE, but I have no problem imagining a situation where it does. And in a setting like SW where most species are intentionally written to be niche, example of X of super exaggerated interesting or entertaining trait, it fits in just fine.

As an example (your example, the two pictures, actually), I think you could make a good guess on how a species perceives the world spatially from their art, which in the context of 3D warfare could lead to some interesting assumptions for exploitation. Human art makes it very clear in most cases that we exist in, perceive ourselves within, and where possible impose 2D spatial orientation on our surroundings. If we are smart and deliberate about our actions we can avoid this when its inappropriate, but when we are stressed or distracted (ie combat), our instincts could lead to predictable failure modes. Would an aquatic or avian or subterranean species's art have such consistent spatial biases, but relevant to their perspective?

Another example: The very colors that exist in our art can tell someone a lot about how they see the world, because they may experiance the exact same things wildly different because they can't see black or yellow.

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Re: Other commanders who are equal to or better than Thrawn.

Post by Vendetta » 2018-08-26 10:01am

Patroklos wrote:
2018-08-26 09:03am
Vendetta wrote:
2018-08-22 02:58pm
Lord Revan wrote:
2018-08-22 02:37pm
I have disagree on the art being a cover, I think it was a part of more complex system but not the only part, essentially you can tell quite a lot about the general values or "mood"(for a lack of better term) from their art, sure it won't tell you exactly how individual in that culture will behave but it will give a very broad general picture which you can use to put intelligence reports into proper context, sure it's not flawless but it's not totally useless either, since people generally are products of the culture they were born into.
Art is almost completely useless for understanding anything other than a snapshot of the current mood of a single nation or region, let alone an insight into the psychology of an entire species.
Do you have knowledge of a lot of non-human star faring civilizations to base this assessment on? Frankly, the idea that the art of another species can't be used as the book says because that's not how human art works just speaks an in the box human-centric bias.
It would only work for aliens in scifi stories where they have overriding monocultures.

The concept that an intelligent alien species would not display just as much psychological variation as humans is nonsense shorthand for writers.

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Re: Other commanders who are equal to or better than Thrawn.

Post by NeoGoomba » 2018-08-27 09:32am

NecronLord wrote:
2018-08-26 06:18am
It's hilarious watching people try to justify the art power as something other than what's in the books. "Maybe he reads intelligence reports and just looks at the art when people are coming in to build mystique" is a fucking treasure. :lol:

*snip*

It's a fucking savant power. This scene is from his own perspective so it cannot be a front - he is not going to lie while reflecting in his own meditation chamber. Provide evidence that his ability is other than presented here or concede.
Well that clears up that hahaha. Magical Chiss wankery it is!
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Re: Other commanders who are equal to or better than Thrawn.

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-08-27 01:16pm

I don't think anyone's saying that he didn't get anything from the art- merely that the art thing could be overstated, and that there are other factors to his approach. And I don't think anyone thinks Thrawn relied only on the art analysis for his intelligence gathering.

I had forgotten the bit NecronLord posted, which at least proves that Thrawn believed he gained valuable insight into individuals from the artwork. The extent to which he relied on that, versus other sources, I can't say.

I still wish we could just handwave the art thing, 'cause its silly as hell.
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Re: Other commanders who are equal to or better than Thrawn.

Post by Gandalf » 2018-08-27 05:53pm

The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-08-27 01:16pm
I still wish we could just handwave the art thing, 'cause its silly as hell.
But in a galaxy of (among other things) magical space wizards, it's not too out there.
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Re: Other commanders who are equal to or better than Thrawn.

Post by Batman » 2018-08-27 06:24pm

The difference being those magic space wizards (and what the hell is a NONmagical wizard?) are explicitly credited with and regularly shown to use magical powers (excuse me, the Force). At no point I'm aware of is it intimated that the Chiss in general nor Thrawn in particular have any special powers. Essentially they're humans painted blue which DOES rather leave one wondering 'how the hell does he do that'?
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Re: Other commanders who are equal to or better than Thrawn.

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-08-27 06:27pm

There's some discussion of Force abilities among the Chiss in the latest Thrawn novel, which *is* canon. Without spoilers (it's not that important to the plot) they do reveal that there are almost no Force sensitives among the Chiss, that they are almost entirely female, and that it fades entirely as the child grows up. But of course they leave it vague, and it could easily be read to imply somehow that perhaps Thrawn has a related ability. Or not; as said, it's vague.
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Re: Other commanders who are equal to or better than Thrawn.

Post by NecronLord » 2018-08-28 06:51am

The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-08-27 01:16pm
I still wish we could just handwave the art thing, 'cause its silly as hell.
I wish we could re-run that scene in Rebels where he manages to beat up Kallus in hand to hand combat despite the latter wearing body armour and being a full time field agent while Thrawn is in a job that mostly involves sitting in a command chair, and have Thrawn get the shit kicked out of him until his body guards have to guard his body. Because while unarmed man vs armoured man can be done, unarmed man who a commander (and thus older) of a ship vs armoured front line ground combatant should only work one way. Thrawn being able to take down a man who tangles with wookie-equivalents in CQB is also egregious and annoys me far more than the art.

Or you know, they could have just had Rukh do that scene.

God I hate ultracommando omnisoldier Thrawn.

Kallus should have wrecked the Marty Stu bastard.
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Re: Other commanders who are equal to or better than Thrawn.

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-08-28 01:11pm

I mean, its possible a guy in an office job could also be a good hand-to-hand fighter, but yeah, I think Rukh doing it sounds better. Thrawn shouldn't be the best at everything.
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Re: Other commanders who are equal to or better than Thrawn.

Post by NecronLord » 2018-08-28 01:49pm

They even animate Thrawn's fist going full speed into Kallus' cuirass. He doesn't even wince. Because he trains vs droids no doubt.

Utter bollocks. The writer (I do not think it was Zahn) should have been made to punch a cuirass until he fucking learned.

Rebels Thrawn is particularly bad, he operates by the good guys picking up the idiot ball whenever he's around; another example is where he's on foot shooting a TIE Defender prototype piloted by Sabine Wren and he plinks away with his officer's sidearm at it and when trying to kill him with a strafing run she can't because she seems to have the guns on 'disappear and create a small black dot on the target' firepower because seconds before its shots caused large explosions that killed nameless (but armoured) troopers via proximity.

He's not just a good commander, he's personally good at every single part of warfare. He even manages to repeatedly bullseye the fucking Defender with his pistol.

Ta da.
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Re: Other commanders who are equal to or better than Thrawn.

Post by FaxModem1 » 2018-08-28 05:50pm

NecronLord wrote:
2018-08-28 01:49pm
They even animate Thrawn's fist going full speed into Kallus' cuirass. He doesn't even wince. Because he trains vs droids no doubt.

Utter bollocks. The writer (I do not think it was Zahn) should have been made to punch a cuirass until he fucking learned.

Rebels Thrawn is particularly bad, he operates by the good guys picking up the idiot ball whenever he's around; another example is where he's on foot shooting a TIE Defender prototype piloted by Sabine Wren and he plinks away with his officer's sidearm at it and when trying to kill him with a strafing run she can't because she seems to have the guns on 'disappear and create a small black dot on the target' firepower because seconds before its shots caused large explosions that killed nameless (but armoured) troopers via proximity.

He's not just a good commander, he's personally good at every single part of warfare. He even manages to repeatedly bullseye the fucking Defender with his pistol.

Ta da.
I think they were going for a Patton moment there. Like in the first scene after the flag speech when he shoots wildly at the strafing fighter plane with his pistol while his troops are panicking.
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Re: Other commanders who are equal to or better than Thrawn.

Post by NecronLord » 2018-08-28 06:53pm

They dial it up to eleven though, the guns on the TIE-D are just shown to be much more lethal than the planes' machine guns moments before and unlike Patton, Thrawn actually fucking hits, repeatedly. (Albeit the TIE-D is going slower), still, I wouldn't mind if he had some damn weaknesses. More importantly Patton it's showing that he is crazy, or at least given to emotion, doing something that is hopeless; Thrawn stays calm and in control throughout. A very different sort of smug feel to him.

The Kallus fight really takes the biscuit though.
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Re: Other commanders who are equal to or better than Thrawn.

Post by RogueIce » 2018-08-28 08:30pm

NecronLord wrote:
2018-08-28 06:53pm
I wouldn't mind if he had some damn weaknesses.
Hyperspace whales, duh.
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Re: Other commanders who are equal to or better than Thrawn.

Post by Batman » 2018-08-28 09:23pm

I...wouldn't exactly call being unable to counter giant FTL-going spacewhales that can drag a freaking Star Destroyer into hyperspace (from within an atmosphere, no less) much of a weakness.
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Re: Other commanders who are equal to or better than Thrawn.

Post by Q99 » 2018-08-29 12:47am

NecronLord wrote:
2018-08-26 06:18am
It's hilarious watching people try to justify the art power as something other than what's in the books. "Maybe he reads intelligence reports and just looks at the art when people are coming in to build mystique" is a fucking treasure. :lol:

It's a fucking savant power. This scene is from his own perspective so it cannot be a front - he is not going to lie while reflecting in his own meditation chamber. Provide evidence that his ability is other than presented here or concede.

Good quote.


Even so, he doesn't *only* study the art, he does it in addition to other stuff, and would it kill him to explain the nuances of the art that he reads into it to at least his more mentally flexible subordinates? :)

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Re: Other commanders who are equal to or better than Thrawn.

Post by Ave Dominus Nox » 2018-08-29 10:53pm

Q99 wrote:
2018-08-29 12:47am

Good quote.


Even so, he doesn't *only* study the art, he does it in addition to other stuff, and would it kill him to explain the nuances of the art that he reads into it to at least his more mentally flexible subordinates? :)
I think one of Thrawn's greatest flaws as an officer is he's a micromanager, especially in legends. I wouldn't be surprised if his senior and flag officers resented him for his interference. He tends to use his senior officers reality poorly, either keeping them out of the loop regarding information they need to know (Mount Tantiss and his planned counter offensive) or micromanaging an officer in a difference service branch (Covell) on to run a ground assault. These things will not generally endear you to your subordinates. Realistically someone of his rank and ability should be sitting back on Bastion and planning the entire war with his staff officers instead of personally risking himself.

I get why he was written this way though as having him sit back in war room and plan grand strategy probably wouldn't make for a very interesting book. In universe I suppose you could explain it away by Thrawn not having any faith in his subornate commanders, a not unreasonable thing given the fractious nature of his coalition
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Re: Other commanders who are equal to or better than Thrawn.

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-08-30 08:55pm

That and an overconfidence in his ability to manipulate and control individuals.

Also, this is more an ideological failing than a lack of skill, but I would argue that Thrawn failed because he was unable to see beyond the Imperial paradigm. Remember: the only government that has created a long-term period of relative peace and stability on a galactic scale is the Old Republic, with the Jedi as its guardians. It sure as hell wasn't the Galactic Empire.
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Re: Other commanders who are equal to or better than Thrawn.

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-08-31 01:19pm

The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-08-30 08:55pm
That and an overconfidence in his ability to manipulate and control individuals.

Also, this is more an ideological failing than a lack of skill, but I would argue that Thrawn failed because he was unable to see beyond the Imperial paradigm. Remember: the only government that has created a long-term period of relative peace and stability on a galactic scale is the Old Republic, with the Jedi as its guardians. It sure as hell wasn't the Galactic Empire.
I mean. Compared to the inefficiency and mismanagement of the Old Republic at its very end, surely the Empire looked appealing for some time, no? All the sharp uniforms, big starships, military governors and everybody knows the military is all about efficiency... :wink:
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Re: Other commanders who are equal to or better than Thrawn.

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-08-31 02:52pm

Elheru Aran wrote:
2018-08-31 01:19pm
The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-08-30 08:55pm
That and an overconfidence in his ability to manipulate and control individuals.

Also, this is more an ideological failing than a lack of skill, but I would argue that Thrawn failed because he was unable to see beyond the Imperial paradigm. Remember: the only government that has created a long-term period of relative peace and stability on a galactic scale is the Old Republic, with the Jedi as its guardians. It sure as hell wasn't the Galactic Empire.
I mean. Compared to the inefficiency and mismanagement of the Old Republic at its very end, surely the Empire looked appealing for some time, no? All the sharp uniforms, big starships, military governors and everybody knows the military is all about efficiency... :wink:
Unless you're an alien or a dissident or draw the ire of some random official on a power trip, sure.

Like all dictatorships, it appears safe and secure as long as your the "right" kind of person and don't get in the way of the Powers That Be.
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Re: Other commanders who are equal to or better than Thrawn.

Post by Ender » 2018-09-16 03:11am

Q99 wrote:
2018-08-29 12:47am
NecronLord wrote:
2018-08-26 06:18am
It's hilarious watching people try to justify the art power as something other than what's in the books. "Maybe he reads intelligence reports and just looks at the art when people are coming in to build mystique" is a fucking treasure. :lol:

It's a fucking savant power. This scene is from his own perspective so it cannot be a front - he is not going to lie while reflecting in his own meditation chamber. Provide evidence that his ability is other than presented here or concede.

Good quote.


Even so, he doesn't *only* study the art, he does it in addition to other stuff, and would it kill him to explain the nuances of the art that he reads into it to at least his more mentally flexible subordinates? :)
Yes. Because the point is that what he can do with reading art is that it isn't something humans can do. His thought processes are alien to us, and thus flag him as nonhuman. Novels aren't TV where the forehead makeup constantly reminds the viewer that the character is an alien, it needs to be built into the character at their core so that the reader knows this character is alien, but doesn't consist of every third word being "alien" or a description of appearance.

I'll also throw to it here that people don't understand Thrawn is not some super amazing wtf always win military genius. Zahn is very clear on that. He make a continual thing that Thrawn wins battles but is terrible at politics or one on one interaction. And while tactical and strategic insight and great logistics are how you win battles, politics is how you win wars. War is politics by other means, the point isn't to win a battle, the point is to force a change in the peaceful status quo that adheres to your interests. You can't always fight, you don't want to always fight, the point is reshaping the peace.

And peace is hard. Making peace is probably harder than making war. Because to establish a peace requires addressing the materiel needs of people and navigating the conflicting interests groups of people have in fulfilling those needs. That's politics.

Thrawn never did that, he didn't even bother. Both the new canon and the old his response to that was the same - massive military occupation force, cruelty, and fear. He would dump tons of soldiers on the ground to force compliance, or do a trick that made people think he could conduct an indefensible orbital bombardment to slaughter them all. That rather than talk he took the expedient of pointing a gun; the "brute application of colonial measures to the metropole" to quote a certain drunken oaf. Zahn showed he came from an expansionist, exploitative, colonial power, he fit right in with the empire using spaarti clones and the like to continue that. Use fear and brute force to stomp folks into the dirt and micromanage to keep them there so a rebellion wouldn't spring up.

And all of this is because Thrawn is above all else an alien space Nazi, and Zahn is good at his job.
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Re: Other commanders who are equal to or better than Thrawn.

Post by NecronLord » 2018-09-16 08:54am

Ender wrote:
2018-09-16 03:11am
Yes. Because the point is that what he can do with reading art is that it isn't something humans can do. His thought processes are alien to us, and thus flag him as nonhuman. Novels aren't TV where the forehead makeup constantly reminds the viewer that the character is an alien, it needs to be built into the character at their core so that the reader knows this character is alien, but doesn't consist of every third word being "alien" or a description of appearance.
As a point of order, other chiss are also utterly baffled by this ability. It's nothing to do with his alien nature or at least not a nature shared by his species.
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Re: Other commanders who are equal to or better than Thrawn.

Post by Ender » 2018-09-16 12:17pm

NecronLord wrote:
2018-09-16 08:54am
Ender wrote:
2018-09-16 03:11am
Yes. Because the point is that what he can do with reading art is that it isn't something humans can do. His thought processes are alien to us, and thus flag him as nonhuman. Novels aren't TV where the forehead makeup constantly reminds the viewer that the character is an alien, it needs to be built into the character at their core so that the reader knows this character is alien, but doesn't consist of every third word being "alien" or a description of appearance.
As a point of order, other chiss are also utterly baffled by this ability. It's nothing to do with his alien nature or at least not a nature shared by his species.
I'm going from the author's note in the 20th anniversary edition of Heir to the Empire where Zahn talks about this. He grounds things in the human frame and has them grapple with it to convey the alienness, which is why Pelleon (or Vanto or Vader), are the point of view characters in these situations and Thrawn explains the outputs but not the process. Same as in the quote provided - no explanation of how he does it, just the end goal. Because the human readers need to feel the alienness from the character.

And frankly I wouldn't read Thrawn brooding about "nobody understands me..." too literally. Any character describing their internal state is an unreliable narrator. You are shaped by your internal biases and intrinsically can't fully see beyond them. "I'm the only one who can do it therefore I am right to do it and my conclusion is right because I am the only one who can do it". The takeway from that section is that he reduces the wealth of culture of an entire civilization to simplistic points that he uses to as a means solely to power with self justifying rationale. It shows that the arrogant fascist is an arrogant fascist, not a dissertation on xenoneurology. The passage is an exercise in characterization, it serves to show that his is the bigotry of the Hamptons, not the bigotry of the trailer park, and it also acts as a mulligan to provide the characters with an informed frame to move to their next action.
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Ender
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Re: Other commanders who are equal to or better than Thrawn.

Post by Ender » 2018-09-16 12:45pm

let me go ahead and add another bit here - try flipping that passage outside of Thrawn's POV. His complaint is that the Chiss would ask him to justify his actions, and he couldn't. He's wounded by this
The other Chiss didn't understand. They never had. He'd been asked innumerable times how he was able to build such detailed tactical knowledge from such obscure and insignificant ingredients.

The question carried its own answer. To Thrawn, nothing in a species' art was obscure or insignificant. All the threads tied together; all the brushstrokes spoke to him; all the light curves told the story of their creator.
There is a deep narcissism to brood years later about being asked to justify your actions, and the justification is "I'm the special one, I alone am superior, you all just don't get me, how dare you judge me". And of course narcissism is the underlying core of the Dark Side in Star Wars.

This passage reveals nothing about the Chiss, and everything about Thrawn.
بيرني كان سيفوز
*
Nuclear Navy Warwolf
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in omnibus requiem quaesivi, et nusquam inveni nisi in angulo cum libro
*
ipsa scientia potestas est

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Re: Other commanders who are equal to or better than Thrawn.

Post by Solauren » 2018-09-16 03:36pm

Thrawn having some form of Force Sensitivity would also explain the Emperor's interest in him (in both original-EU and Disney-EU)

Part of the Emperor keeping Thrawn around was to study Thrawn, to try to figure out this new, probably previously unknown Force ability.
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