It might be approaching senility, or it might simply be that it has been so long since I played using the Warhammer rules that I had forgotten some important aspects of them.
I rather unfairly suggested that there was not much advantage to using the mixed 50/50 formations of Spear and Bow. I said that it only gave one in Close Combat, but of course I am wrong. I had forgotten that it would also give an advantage from missile fire.
In fact all things considered, it's a pretty useful formation that, for a 25% reduction in missile capability, offers at least a 5+ Armour Save from attacks, and a massive 4+ Armour Save if the Spearmen are equipped with large shields. Compare that to a mere 6+ Armour Save if the Bowmen were alone, and it is a significant benefit. So I was wrong.
However, that does not alter the fact that the Chariot Wars list forces the Assyrian player to field units in that formation, which is something I disagree with strongly. Now I had a vague memory that the early WAB Armies of Antiquity book, from a while back, featured an army list for the Assyrians. I was able to pick up a copy on eBay for less than a fiver the other week. When it arrived I quickly ripped off the paper and flicked through it. Bingo! An Assyrian Empire list. And Lo! The unit compositions are much more flexible that the later Chariot Wars one.
"Half the unit may (my emphasis) have swords, light armour, and bows. The other half may have swords, light armour, thrusting spears and shields."
Yes, may. Not will. Which means, however one reads it, that the unit can consist solely of Spearmen if one so wishes. Obviously the person who put this list together is a bit less, shall we say, controlling than the one who did the Chariot Wars list. This list also clears up the issue of second rank missile fire, stating clearly that it is at full strength. That's something that Chariot Wars leaves unclear. The AoA list also allows independent units of Bowmen or Slingers. The only two Assyrian formations that have to field 50/50 ratios of Bow and Spear are the Cavalry (where it is both historically accurate and unproblematic) and the units of Siege Troops.
This may all seem a bit too legalistic for some, but at the moment I am trying to work out unit numbers, troop types, and weaponry, and one has to have a good idea of what one is aiming for, in order to sort out the figures into units for painting and basing.
I am still not totally happy with the Assyrian list in AoA, and will probably include the Assyrian Auxiliary troops that are found in Chariot Wars but not in AoA. There is plenty of historical evidence for these troops. I will use common sense and count them as normal Infantry rather than Light, only allowing the Bowmen to skirmish if they start the battle as a separate Light Infantry or Skirmisher unit. The Spears will remain as normal Infantry at all times, as will any Bows who start the battle formed in such a unit.
So it is finally coming together!