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I wonder why Cintra's forces preferred to fight on an open field against the Nilfgaardian army in The Witcher S01E01. Is it not advantageous for them just to stay in their castle and defend it, using archers and the like? I thought that was the purpose of castles.

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The whole battle is a horrible example of Hollywood Tactics, however, there might be two good reasons:

  1. Cintra seems to rely on cavalry - heavy cavalry is useless in the siege but works amazingly in the open field (see a real-life example of the Battle of Kircholm where heavy cavalry won against 3:1 odds). However, instead of charging they decided to wait for Nilfgard to attack...
  2. The expected support from Skelige - we don't know the details, but Cintra was expecting 50 ships coming from Skelige, which would bring much more soldiers to their aid. Again, big army fights better in open field than in defensive siege.
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    It's more of a movie devision. In the book Nilfaard stormed the city because there were no one to defend it. And after few day they broke the magic barrier and stormed the castle. – SZCZERZO KŁY Jan 15 at 10:08

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