Sunday, 20 January 2019

Coveting thy neighbour's ass

Across the dusty plains, the rival armies faced off. The Sumerians, clad in their goat skins and led by their nobles in onager-drawn battle cars stared across at the army of Pharaoh who, fresh from the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt, was now the Lord of Two lands. The Sumerians were the aggressors, but Pharaoh had it in mind to capture a few of those ass-drawn chariots and see whether the concept would catch on in Egypt.

Of course we can't suggest that Sumer and Old Kingdom Egypt ever fought, but this was the first viably historic clash for Lee's Sumerians. As both armies had buckets of low cost troops - including compulsory mediocre units - this was also the largest game we've played; 27 units each.

The Egyptians deployed in one long line. Their right (upper left of the photo) was made up of levy medium swordsmen supported by javeliners and bowmen. In the centre were a block of heavy swordsmen with some more javelineers and bowmen, while on the left (upper right of the photo) were regular impact swordsmen supported by more bowmen.

The Sumerians were deployed in three distinct divisions with mediocre heavy spearmen and bowmen on the left, regular heavy spearmen and heavy chariots in the centre, and the massed camelry of the Bedouin allies on the right (my command for the evening).

As the two armies closed on each other, the swifter Egyptian foot swarmed forward to secure the fields and gentle hill on the left of the battlefield, as well as the fields over towards the right.

The camelry allies on the Sumerian right sprang forward to commence what was to prove to be rather ineffective archery against the Egyptian regular swordsmen. As the Egyptians attempted to angle their line to defend the flank, the two units of light camelry flew down the outside and found themselves behind the enemy lines with nothing between them and the enemy sphinx camp. 

The Egyptian bowmen and levy swordsmen on the hill continued to taunt (and shoot) the slow Sumerian levies as they plodded across the plain. Pharaoh's javelineers emerged from behind the hill and started making threatening gestures at the Sumerian flanks. In the centre, the Sumerian chariots trundled forward towards the opposing heavy infantry. 

The lines met with the soft thud of thousands of unarmoured chaps with sticks. In the melee on the hill, the Sumerian mediocre heavy spearmen generally got the better of the Egyptian mediocre medium swordsmen. However, the javelineers - encouraged by their divisional commander - swarmed up over the hill to charge the Sumerian bowmen with predictable results (LMI uphill, javelins, overlap, committed general vs LMI in the open...).

As the camels shuffled about trying to soften up the Egyptian infantry, the wee buggers charged at me! Half the camelry line fell back while the rest made the evil eye at the Egyptian bowmen who were looking like tempting targets. Unfortunately, the dice gods were not smiling on the Bedouin command rolls this game and the charge never quite happened.

In the centre, the battle was getting pretty messy. Pharaoh's heavy swordsmen were cleaving through the heavy chariots - if Pharaoh expected any of those onagers to be captured alive, he was to be sorely disappointing. As the Sumerian heavy foot came up in support, more of Pharaoh's javelineers sprang forward to distract and taunt them.

Back on the hill the Sumerians successfully forced the Egyptian levy swordsmen to quit the field of battle, but found their flank under attack from the javelineers which had already driven off the Sumerian bow. 

On what was to be the last turn of the game, the Sumerian levy spearmen were driven back off the hill by the Egyptian javelinmen (definitely the men of the match!); the Sumerian king committed himself to battle in a last ditch attempt to save his last unit of heavy chariots and died as the unit routed (yet another dead king!); and while the light camelry got within a couple of base widths of the Egyptian camp, they could not quite close the gap. With their king joining the great big pile of Sumerian dead, they withdrew leaving Egypt in chariotless peace. For now.


  1. A nice report on a splendid period to play, glad to see this kind of beautiful armies...

    1. Cheers for that, Phil, this Army of Sumer is one I have always intended to field and my first in 6mm.