Friday, 8 March 2013

WAB Armies Of Antiquity Assyrian Empire


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.

I quote.

"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!


CelticCurmudgeon said...

Hi Chrissie,

yes, common sense does work! It might help to base the figures individually on magnetic bases to allow more flexible usage. That's what I have done with my EIR 28 mm plastic army from Warlord and Wargames Factory. I use Tenax for figure assembly - all figures need to have the head, one arm and shield affixed. Using single basing allows skirmish gaming on a one to one basis or the creation of standard bases with multiple figures.
Since you are building this army for your own edification and enjoyment you really have hit on an important element - building something that makes sense and gives you satisfaction.
Jerry A/K/A The Celtic Curmudgeon

Xaltotun of Python said...

Well, I don't use WAB, etc, but I do know a little bit about Assyrians and they tend to be a bit more complicated than rules/army lists suggest....

Granted sieges are different, but look at Assyrian armies at the siege of Lachish:
Top line (missing) then 4(?) ranks auxiliary archers, then at least 3 ranks armoured slingers.

Next row: 4 auxiliary spears, 3 lines unarmoured archers, 6 lines armoured archers, then at least 2 lines unarmoured archers.

Bottom row: 3 lines spearmen, 2 lines unclear, 4 lines unarmoured archers, 3 lines armoured archers, 2 lines armoured slingers.

Can't find it offhand, open battles hard to locate but recall one good example where an extended line of spears is followed at a distance by a separate unit of auliary archers.

Realistically, wargames rules just don't accurately reflect Assyrian useage as shown on their monuments.

Poacher said...

Thanks for the tip on Tanex. I will order some. My Humbrol glue works well but i am willing to try something new.

The real problem is not the the material won;t stick together, but that it is just too damn bendy and brittle.

Yes, I agree the reliefs illustrate, to me at least, that Assyrian commanders had enough common sense and tactical nous to work out the most advantageous unit deployment for each situation.

Even given the artistic licence which will no doubt be present, the details make sense.

In a siege, the Bows are sheltered behind the shield bearers, which in some cases clearly have pavises and in others carry small, round shields akin to those used to defend charioteers.

And in at least one depiction, other men in the unit are shown bringing up supplies of arrows to the Bowmen. It's a classic combination of Firepower and Protection, and very useful in such cases.

The reliefs depicting details of field battles seem to show segregated units acting with a good degree of tactical cohesion, which is what one would expect.

The WAB Armies of Antiquity list allows for this degree of flexibility. The one in WAB Chariot Wars do not. It's an easy choice, really.