So, I've been giving some thought to how 5e's magic system(s) would affect large-scale warfare, military strategy and the balance of nations.
Obviously, the degree of prevalence of magic makes a huge difference–if the world has ten wizards in it, you can throw all these ideas out the window. But if magic is as widespread as it is in, say, the Forgotten Realms (nevermind Eberron), you can bet that national military policy has adapted around it. Here are some ideas regarding what those adaptations might look like.
The Rule of Five
Every state military has a school for training spellcasters, and the focus is getting as many students as possible to caster level five–large-scale engagements are disproportionately affected by Fireball, Lightning Bolt, Hypnotic Pattern and especially Counterspell. Illusion magic is also very powerful, but easier for non-spellcasters to train to deal with. The spellcasting might of nations is measured by how many casters capable of level three spells they have.
Massed infantry tactics are carefully limited by the number of spellcasters available to Counterspell, most infantry tactics involve smaller, more maneuverable units.
Armored knights and other metal-wearing VIPs always fight in groups with Counterspell support and have special training and countermeasures (arming doublet of fire resistance?) in place to account for Heat Metal.
Weaker (apprentice?) spellcasters are used mostly for Fog Clouds and low-level AoE spells, then rotated away from the battlefield.
Casters out of spell slots are immediately taken off the battlefield, cantrips not being worth the risk to their lives.
Single target spells are only used against enemy spellcasters and VIP targets, AoE spells are the ones commonly known and used.
Mass casting Silence is a known tactic, but considered desperate because while it does negate spellcasting advantages, it also makes mundane communication between martial characters extremely annoying.
What other effects could you see magic having on statecraft and the art of war?
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