The hubris and folly of Darth Vader at Hoth  SARAH PAVIS  ·  FEB 12 2013

Wired's Spencer Ackerman breaks down Darth Vader's military strategy in Empire Strikes Back showing how, what could have been a trouncing of the Rebels on Hoth, ended up as an Imperial pratfall.
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The defenses the Alliance constructed on Hoth could not be more favorable to Vader if the villain constructed them himself. The single Rebel base (!) is defended by a few artillery pieces on its north slope, protecting its main power generator. An ion cannon is its main anti-aircraft/spacecraft defense. Its outermost perimeter defense is an energy shield that can deflect Imperial laser bombardment. But the shield has two huge flaws: It can't stop an Imperial landing force from entering the atmosphere, and it can only open in a discrete place for a limited time so the Rebels' Ion Cannon can protect an evacuation. In essence, the Rebels built a shield that can't keep an invader out and complicates their own escape.

When Vader enters the Hoth System with the Imperial Fleet, he's holding a winning hand. What follows next is a reminder of two military truths that apply in our own time and in our own galaxy: Don't place unaccountable religious fanatics in wartime command, and never underestimate a hegemonic power's ability to miscalculate against an insurgency.

For more meticulous skewering of Star Wars' logic, check out the incisive Red Letter Media reviews of the prequels.

Update: Spencer Ackerman held a roundtable discussion of experts & nerds with dissenting opinions on the what, why, and how of Hoth.

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