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Thread: Elves vs Men

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While reading Tolkien, I get the general sense that men are better fighters than elves, at least in general. I am sure there is a definite quote that will prove this, but I am to lazy to find it right now. However, that's not what this thread is about. If men are better fighters than elves, than the best fighter from the ranks of men should be better than his elven counterpart. Húrin is the most valiant man, but I feel like if he had to do what Ecthelion, Glorfindel or Gandalf did and slay a Balrog I don't think he would be successful. Does this mean that the elves are weaker in general but their heroes are insanely strong? How do you think Húrin would do against Ecthelion? Feanor? I Have been wondering about this for a while, but how do the heroes of men and the heroes of elves compare? Thanks.

Well Curufinwe,v you are partly right. For the Noldor or Doriath would be stronger than your normal Man army. The Gondorians would be better fighters vs the Mirkwood elves(not in the movies) because of their hardiness and background. Fingolfin could wound a Vala but i do not think Hurin could touch part of his mace in defense. The Vanyar led by Ingwe could easly overpower ghan ghan buri even if he was overwhelmed 100 to 1. so therefore friend i think that it would be what race sqaured off against eachother.

If it's about the average Men vs Elves, we still have to take a lot into consideration. Let's take away the elves' "special" abilities, fast healing and stamina. This would be easier. Then we must break it down to the particular groups. Then let's just consider the inhabitants of middle earth, anytime after the return of the Nolder. For instance, the Nolder born in Aman would be at the top. The Numernarians would be second or tie with the Sindar and middle earth born Nolder. Next would be the Dunedain or the Silvan elves.

There are different kinds of Men. If we're talking about Men in the First Age, the Edain for instance, some of them really stand out, from royal lines. However, generally Elves are hardier, stronger, and it takes more to kill them. It gets even harder to kill them as their spirits consume their bodies and they in a real sense become deathless. I believe that Elves can be every bit the warriors as men and that Men can best Elves and vice-versa.

Could someone like Hurin take on someone like Fingolfin? It seems like he probably would not be able to, but he might be able to. Although when I think about how Finrod had to be the one to fight the wolves and Sauron to spare Beren it makes me wonder that maybe there are in fact some Elves who're simply out of the league of ordinary and even extraordinary men like Turin and Tuor and Hurin and his brother.

The High Men, who're kin to the Edain, seem on another level themselvs and these seem like they would have more of a chance against such powers as Finrod. Even deep into the 3rd Age there were High Men who were diminished who Sauron's greatest servants feared, like Boromir the Steward.

I get the impression that men are the strongest fighters between dwarfs, elves, orcs? Dispute if you thought something different.

I don't want to bring dwarves into this. Aule made them for war, this is between elves and men. About those quotes...

The Silmarillion, Chapter 12: Of Men

Of Men little is told in these tales, which concern the Eldest Days before the waxing of mortals and the waning of the Elves...

In those days Elves and Men were of like stature and strength of body, but the Elves had greater wisdom, and skill, and beauty...

Their (Elves) bodies indeed were of the stuff of Earth, and could be destroyed; and in those days they were more like to the bodies of men, since they had not so long been inhabited by the fire of their spirit, which consumes them from within in the courses of time. But Men were more frail, more easily slain by weapons or mischance, and less easily healed...

The elves were better fighters in the first age. But, men did not come to their full might until the days of Numenor.

Therefore they (Numorians) grew wise and glorious, and in all things more like to the Firstborn than any other of the kindreds of Men; and they were tall, taller than the tallest of the sons of Middle-earth; and the light of their eyes was like the bright stars.

That shows that men in the first age had not yet achieved their zenith. So while men in the first age were valiant indeed, I think that if Numenor had been presented a foe such as Morgoth even greater heroes would have arisen. Perhaps they would have even have had a chance to defeat Morgoth in battle?

Wow Galin! I must really say that  your Posts are really pieces of art!! You worded that perfectly. As you were saying That men peaked at the noontide of Numenor, and still maybe fell to a lesser degree of strength by the ending of the long Third age. Numenoreans fell apart during the swift waning of the Years of the Sun and only many almost pure blooded men had faded, except for Aragorn, Faramir, and Maybe Imrahil, Denethor, and the Rangers of the North.

Hmm. I haven't posted in this thread... well, until this post 

So you agree with me that the Numorians could have been the worlds best fighters?

of the children of eru a Bronze medal after the Vanyar and the Noldo.

I agree with you about the Vanyar, but they don't live in middle earth and I was not really considering them. This is how I see the Numorians at their height vs the Noldor at their height.

Physical strength: Men are clear winners

Weapons and armor: Noldor, but less so than before

Endurance: Noldor, but less so than before

So if there was serious fighting it would probably go something like this. Noldor win the first battle, their superior tech is more of a factor then the strength of a man. After that, armor scavenged from the Noldor is used by the men. The mens superior strength and the elves superior endurance give them both logistical advantages. Men can carry more, meaning more weapons (including seige equipment) more food, and more shelter. The elves do not need to sleep as much, and can afford to carry less food and shelter since they don't need it. In the following battles men can get more and more elven armor and weapons, and any captured elves can craft it for them. The strength of men matters more than the endurance of elves, especially since it is a larger gap, and these gaps can't be closed. So after a while men start to win.

On a smaller scale, like  no more than 20 on each side, the elves probably win. The superior strength of men is simply not enough to defeat the armor of the Noldor. However, if neither side wears armor, the men win. In the end, Men lose the battle but win the war.

well the Battle would end the way you said. But they would be so decimated that the numenoreans would become like the Druadan. Stunted and small.

well the Battle would end the way you said. But they would be so decimated that the numenoreans would become like the Druadan. Stunted and small.

I do not think so. Unless they were completely surrounded there is no way that they would die on that scale. In most battles, one side retreats when casualties exceed 15%, so a single battle completely decimating the Numenorians (who probably have superior numbers anyway) is very unlikely. In terms of small conflicts yes, the elves are better, but in a war the Numenorians win.

Actually, decimation is a loss of 10%, so they could be completely decimated and still have a threatening army. I will, however, concede this: in a death pit, the elven army wins. However, the reason elves win is not because they are better warriors but because they have better weapons and armor. So in my mind, Men win. And, they also win a serious conflict against elves for the reasons I have already provided.

I would have to disagree. I think the elves would win. After going battle after battle, it comes down to the endurance and healing factor of the elves. After the first battle, if the elves win, they will still be 100% for the next battle. If it's a tie, let's say each side losing 25% of their soldiers, the elves will have all 75% of their remaining soldiers ready at the next battle. Whereas the Numernarians won't have 75% of their remaining soldiers due to the injuries not fully healed yet.

Yes, but the superior strength of the men is, imo, more of a factor. It doesn't matter how much an elf can heal if a man kills him in one super powerful hit.

It's not like the Numernarians have super human strength. So even if men are stronger, elves still have armor protecting them. They are also faster and more agile. Men grows weaker with every missed hit. Also, as the battle goes on, the men will lose strength, while elves will stay the same. If the war goes on, battered men will become weaker in battle. Let's not forget camp fever. In past wars, we've seen soldiers dying from it. Even with the Numernarians' healing skills, not every soldier at camp will survive.
Where are you getting the idea that elves are more agile? Numenorians did not get sick until after 11th king. While the Numenorians are not superhumanly strong, they are considerably stronger than even the men of the first age, who were already very strong. Additionally, they grew more like to the Eldar in all things, meaning their swords and armor are already very good. They cannot compare to the armor of the Noldor, but they can still cause damage. Technology matters less and less as wars drag on, since both sides can steal from each other. So really the superior arms and armor would only influence the first battle or two. At that point, it is the elves endurance vs the men's strength. However, the gap in endurance between the two is less than it was between the men of the first age and the elves, as the Numenorians grew like to the eldar in all things. However, there is a wide gap between the strength of the men and the elves. So IMHO, the men would win the war. Furthermore, if we look at them solely as warriors, the men have a higher capacity than the elves since anyone can put on elven armor but the elves can't just make themselves into a stronger race. I do not think this diminishes the elves, they are simply not a warlike race.

Have we thought about who would deploy smarter tactics, let us not forget that the Germanic tribes fought off the Roman Empire with lesser techs by knowing and using their forests and vales for tactical superiority.

Good point gror, originally this thread was more about the individual warrior and when we started discussing armies I didn't consider all factors. The elves win the war. I still think the men are better warriors because their strength outweighs the elves healing, at least in my humble opinion.
Good point gror, originally this thread was more about the individual warrior and when we started discussing armies I didn't consider all factors. The elves win the war. I still think the men are better warriors because their strength outweighs the elves healing, at least in my humble opinion.

I agree that the technology of the elves would be greatly superior to that of man. Raw strength would mean the men would be victors, but the ability to craft keen weapons would certainly give a distinct advantage, as for healing, I'm not sure whether that would be as relevant?

In the American civil war 100,000 people died in battle, while there were close to a million casualties. A casualty is defined as: loss in numerical strength through any cause, as death, wounds, sickness, capture, or desertion. Wounds account for a huge portion of this, and sickness was another large bit. Elves really don't have to worry about most of this. The men of Numenor did not get sick either, and probably healed faster than normal people, but not as fast as elves. Basically this means that elves will have one tenth the loss in numerical strength as humans would. Additionally, they have quite a lot more stamina, and do not need to eat, drink or sleep at as much as men, meaning they can carry more other things, and that in battle they do not get tiered, which is a huge factor.

The armor and weaponry used by each side are probably the most important of all. However, if one side has it the other side can get it. Once again looking at the American civil war, the north produced 97% of guns and 94% of the pig iron used by the country. However, the south still put up a hell of a fight, would this be true if they could not acquire the north guns on a large scale?

More important than either of these things, however, is tactics. The elves are far wiser, and would have far more experience, so they would use better tactics in battle. So while the superior strength of the men outweighs the elves healing and endurance, and the technological differences don't matter that much, the tactics of the elves would win the fight. The Numenorians never fought a real war, and are not as wise or smart as the elves, so the elves would employ better tactics. However, if a man put on elven armor and listen to an elven captain they would be a better warrior than an elf in their place.

I am not here since.... I cannot remember but today just found a minute to take a look and saw this Post. My opinion about elves and men fighting is simple. I think men use force to get what they wish, to protect themselves and their folk; while elves go to battle when there are no other ways to solve a problem, as a last option. That doesn't mean men or elves are better / worse fighting. They have different perceptions of a matter and therefore different ways to lose it!

Well, the Noldor did go to Middle-earth to fight Morgoth. However, I will agree that that was the only way they could have gotten the Silmarils back. I do, however, agree that men always seem more brutish. Whether or not elves are better fighters they are certainly wiser, and they appreciate things on the long term. Look at Turin, he always wished for war and not secrecy, and it go him nowhere. The men of Numenor eventually grew restless, and when they could have gone to Middle-earth as teachers or kings, they went as cruel men of war.