Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Syro-Cannanite & Mitanni Armies

The Mitanni, who are obscure enough that archeologists have not yet even identified their main cities which were roughly around present day northern Syria, were the first people to establish a 'chariot' empire in the region. The DBA army list gives them a stonking 6 chariot elements (out of 12 elements), the most awarded to any chariot army by the army lists-making them the chariot period equivalent of a blitzkreig 'panzer' army. The DBM army book notes that around half of these would be the chariots with armoured warriors (the elite of the 'Maryannu'), the rest unarmoured chariots including Syro-Canaanite vassals.

The various Syro-Canaanite city states were a fractious lot, often under the influence of a larger empire (Mitanni, Hittite and Egyptian) and frequently appealing to their overlords to help them in their squabbles and petty wars. Under Mitanni influence they acquired chariots. At the battle of Meggiddo (aka 'Armageddon') in which an alliance of Canaanite states, with Mitanni allies, took on the might of the Egyptian empire, Egyptian records of booty taken indicate that probably about half the charioteers were armoured. The DBA army list gives these armies 4 chariot elements.

Close-up of a 'Mitanni' chariot

So for these armies, I've produced three types of chariots, shown in the first two shots. One is the Caesar Miniatures 'Mitanni Maryannu' chariot with armoured crew, which can be used in just about any army. The set has more crew than chariots so it can be used to equip Atlantic Egyptian Chariots (which come six rather than two to a box, so are the most economical way to buy chariots) for added numbers. The second type of chariot is one with unarmoured crew, again Atlantic chariots, with good old Airfix 'Robin Hood' figures, which actually do a good job of impersonating the look of Foundry's unarmoured charioteers. The third is a set of crew drawn from Hat's Roman Auxiliary set, using 'Eastern archers' in scale mail, who I think make passable armoured 'Maryannu', again in Atlantic chariots. In fact, I might not need to use as many of these as anticipated as the 'Mitanni' set gives me plenty.

With several boxes of Caesar Mitanni painted up, and several boxes of Atlantic Chariots, and numerous crews, all that remains is to assemble them, something I've put off just because I'd also like to base them, but based up chariots take up a lot of storage space, and I've run out of storage boxes.
Here's a close up of an unarmoured charioteer. I might add reins made out of thin plasticard:

The other main troop type in a Canaanite army is the Canaanite militia, classified as auxiliaries in DBA. Having closely studied various sources, including Foundry's interpretation of them, I've come up with the following force.

Its made up of a motley collection drawn from some figures in Caesar's Sea People set, plus some of Caesar's Bedouins and various figures from Atlantic's Egyptian infantry set given a 'paint conversion', generally more colourful kilts, and painted on wrap around tunics which are roughly based on some Egyptian images of nomads who drifted into the delta region.

The figures are largely painted and in that awkward stage that you get with painting 'irregulars' of needing to add a bit more colour/detail but not wanting to do too much and spoil the 'look' of the unit.

In addition to these I've got some more Atlantic Egyptians that I 'paint converted', with a view to fielding a Hyksos army, themselves a wave or waves of invaders into Egypt from the Canaanite area in an earlier period, which can easily 'bulk up' this force.

I had originally come up with a small force based again on that good old 20mm standby the 'Robin Hood' set, with pins added for spears, cardboard shields and headbands painted on. I actually quite like the figures, which I modelled on several pictures I'd found of Elamites, and I'm sure could well have been a common dress, but decided fairly arbitarily to just these as 'Syrian' spearmen for the northern states and the Mitanni.

These are similarly 'Robin Hood' figures painted as auxiliary archers, again in the 'Elamite' style which quite frankly could be used in plenty of middle-eastern armies.

Finally, these are some archers taken from Hat's 'Assyrian Auxiliaries'. They are again likely to be typical of troops from the general Syrian area over a wide time period, and useable with lots of armies, although I'll probably use them with the Mitanni. I've also got various other skirmishers and light troops from the Midianite Arab army and some figures in the Caesar Sea People set believed to be Shashu Bedouin based as skirmishers.

The main question with these armies is just how many elements to make up. I have the chariots to assemble, the militia to finish, more 'robin hood' figures to convert, and I've started on another batch of 'Assyrian Ally' archers. Do you want to fight a little campaign based on Canaanite city state struggle? In which case you want several armies, and Philistines and Hebrews could be added to the mix. If so are standard 12 element DBA armies enough? Twelve chariot elements could equip three different city state armies, but if you wanted the Mitanni involved that rises to 18, and if Hittite/Egyptian armies got involved they might need allied light chariots too. If you want larger armies, how large do you want them and how many do you want? For 'Double-based DBA', I only need twice the number of chariots than in a standard DBA armies-so 8 for a Syro-Canaanite and 12 for a Mitanni, but could need three times that for a triple command DBA army (ie, 12 and 16). At Meddigo, the Canaanites relied on Mitanni allies, so for a 'Big Battle DBA' fight I'd want two commands of Canaanites, and one of Mitanni, probably with more armoured charioteers in it -ie, 14 in total. If I fight Mitanni versus Hittites, I could bulk up the Mitanni with Canaanite allies, but what if I want to fight Mitanni against Canaanite on a big scale? That would be 20 chariots in total for double based and 38 if triple command 'Big Battle'. What about 'Impetus' where the army lists appear more 'chariot heavy' but require fewer infantry....

...all told the 'Chariot stash' or 'pool' consists of 36 chariots all painted (although it seems you can always keep adding detail to chariots!) with another six unpainted in reserve, with lots crews painted up - Mitanni from the Caesar set, unarmoured robin hood figs, armoured Eastern Archers, Egyptians armoured (Caesar) and unarmoured (Atlantic), Hittites and some Myceanean Greeks/Trojans waiting to be painted. Eight I've earmarked for the Myceanean greeks/Trojans, four provisionally for unarmoured Egyptians. The rest are all waiting on a decision on who gets what, and some bases to be cut and terrained...

Pic of the 'Chariot Stash'

All these decisions partly rely on the input of future wargaming partners...and having enough storage for all those chariots when based up...

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