Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Hittite Army

My wife who pours little but scorn on my hobby, generally asks me just one question when I return from the wargames club, "How did the Hittites get on?'. In fact, the Hittites have never made it onto the tabletop in anger, but 'Hittites' is such a good name, who can resist it?

It is also one of those obscure peoples and empires that few people out there could actually tell you much about. In fact, there empire was possibly as powerful and significant as the ancient Egyptians who everyone knows about, but there climate was not as dry as the Egypt so their have not been such spectacular archeological survivals. They were based in Anatolia (modern eastern Turkey) but exercised hegemony over much of the Middle East, as far west as Troy and the Aegean, as far south as the Canaanite states, over much of modern day Syria, and at various times conquered the Babylonian states in Iraq. They were much more 'feudal' than the Egyptians in organisation, and many of the later practices of 'feudal society' might originate with them.

The distinctive arm of the Hittite army were their heavy chariots, although they used lighter chariots in the earlier period, and their armies included vassals and allies, who also rode lighter two-man chariots. Heavy Chariots are popular with DBA wargamers, because the function like 'Knights', which are something of a 'killer' element.

The Hittite Old and Middle Kingdom army list for 1680-1380BC is as follows:

1 x Light Chariot (General), 1 x Light Chariot, 1 x3Blade or 3Spear, 6 x 3Spear, 2 x 2Psiloi, 1 x 7 Horde or 2 x 2 Psiloi.

For the Hittite Empire, contemporaneous with the New Kingdom in Egypt, there are two period variations:

1380-1275 BC 1 x Light Chariot (General), 3 x Light Chariots, 6 x 3 Spear, 1x 2Psiloi, 1 x 7 Horde or 1 x 2 Psiloi

1274-1180 BC 1 x Heavy Chariot (General), 2 x Heavy Chariot, 2 x Light Chariot, 6 x 3 Spear, 1x 2Psiloi, 1 x 7 Horde or 1 x 2 Psiloi

This is the shot of the Heavy Chariot force in my collection.

At the top of the page is a close up of a Hittite king by New Line Designs. It has a special place in my heart as it was made especially for me. I was discussing stocking New Line Products in my on-line shop, and the owner said, you know I've been meaning to sculpt a king for the Hittites, and he did, and he sent it to me! I'm not sure if its ever gone on general release, but it's nice to know that I play a small part in its creation! Below is a close up of one of the regular heavy chariots. Like all the rest of the Heavy Chariots its made by Caesar Miniatures.

I've not included pics of the light chariots in this force as they are just drawn from other armies, Mitanni/Canaanite for now, possibly also Trojan when I've done them. I have a few unarmoured Hittite figures held back to pop into a stack of Atlantic Egyptian chariots that I have painted. I haven't done it yet because various armies have 'claims' on these chariots, and I keep changing my mind which to go for. But the problem will be easily resolved if I painted up another box I have, and one of the other things holding up the whole operation is running out of storage boxes-chariots when based take up a lot of room.

Next up is a unit of Hittite Royal Guard Heavy Infantry. In DBA 1.0 there was just one Hittite Army list, with these boys in it (classified as blades) but in the much expanded DBA 2.0 army lists, there are three Hittite army lists (all with period variations), and they only make it on to the earlier list, which does not extend to the 'Hittite Empire'.

Next up are the bulk of the Hittite infantry, Hittite spearmen. I've based them four to a base. I personally think the DBA army lists have made a right 'horlicks' of classifying Hittite infantry. In DBA 1.0 they started out as 'Auxiliaries', presumably on the assumption that these were a 'mountain' or at least 'highland' people. At the time most Egyptian infantry were classified as 'Spear', so outclassed them. But the images of Hittites at the battle of Kadesh on Rameses the Great's monuments show them as closely packed phalanxes of spearmen. So when they came to write the DBM army lists (which preceeded the DBA 2.0) lists, they clearly took this on board and compromised making them Aux(X), which is DBM speak for auxiliary light troops with long spears, who clumped together to resist cavalry, like Japanese Ashiguru. Because, DBA doesn't have Aux(X), in 2.0 they get classified as Sp (in fact 3Sp which is just a recommendation to base them 3 to a base - which supposes they are a loose formation), which would be fine if Egyptian infantry had not now been upgraded to 'Blades', which again outclasses them. This would all be fine if there was good evidence that they were inferior to Egyptian infantry. Except there isn't. In fact, Egyptian sources speak very highly of Hittite infantry, saying they are a tough opponent!

So you pays your money and takes your choice...

The Caesar infantry set has some infantry armed with spear, and some with sickle sword and axes. Those with sickle sword I've based three to a base, but under DBA rules they are Sp as well. The Hittite Empire was taken down by a variety of opponents include tribes called the Kaskans or Gasgans, who lived in the mountainous areas of North-Eastern Turkey, and in fact, troubled the Hittite Empire all through its history. Although we don't know much about the Kaskans, they appear to have dressed like the Hittites, but their forces - or at least 5 elements of it- are classified as 'Warband' in DBA, so there is ever call to put together a Kaskan army, these boys are ready to join it!

They infantry is the main thing holding up the completion of this army. I wasn't happy with my original paint job and have been tinkering with it, and as a result not varnished or terrained the bases. Also my various calculation of being able to field different armies with different periods variations in different combinations including Big Battle DBA and 'Double-based' DBA led me to conclude that I needed more figures than I had originally bought and painted up, particularly for the 'Horde' elements (7 figure elements) an option in the DBA 2.0 Hittite Empire army list. I've bought, undercoated and based these, but need to do the fiddly job of attaching weapons before painting.

Reinforcements awaiting the arrival of a paint brush!

Of course, if I wanted just a straight DBA army there'd be no problem getting it ready pretty quickly.

To finish off here are a couple of 'horde' elements and the skirmishers (psiloi in DBA-speak), of which I have plenty for any sort of army- including a Kaskan army which needs 6 elements of skirmishers.

The 'Basic Impetus' army is as follows. It consists of 9 units in total, 5 of them chariots, making it much 'chariot heavier' than the DBA army. Unlike the DBA army the majority are light chariots, which might be more historically accurate. There is also a larger skirmish element, but the list is kinder to the Heavy Foot at least. Taking an 'Impetus' unit to be the equivalent to one of my 'double-based DBA' units, to field this army you need 4 Heavy Chariot Models, 6 Light Chariots, 16 'heavy' infantry figures, 16 'light' and 16 skirmishers.

2S8201short bow B or sling or javelin

CGP= Heavy Chariots; CGL= Light Chariots; CF= Schyted Chariots; CP= Heavy Cavalry; CM= Medium Cavalry; CL= Light Cavalry; FP= Heavy Infantry; FL= Light Infantry; S= Skirmishers; T= Missile Troops, EL= Elephants ; ART= Artillery

M= Movement; VBU= Basic Unit Value; I= Impetus Bonus, VD= Demoralization Value; VDT= Total Demoralization Value

(*) Unit that can include general

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