Friday, 23 August 2013

More about Sumerians

So it had become time to try out the Sumerians on the Monday Night Group. We have had some short conversations about what we expected and some exchanges on our Yahoo group. I was definitely not happy withe the AMW rules played without amendment and had found Neil Thomas' article in Slingshot referred to in an earlier comment. This was in response to an article by Steve Neate where he had made similar comments to me about the Biblical lists and the Sumerians in particular. Neil's main response was to amend the chariot random movement table to stop it being so random.

Before the game we discussed what we thought the battle carts/chariots were intended for. My view, based on nothing but prejudice and spending a career working with economics, is that they could not just be a "prestige weapon" used purely for show. With the paucity of wood in Mesopotamia and the cost and difficulty of controlling the draft animals I do not think that any culture would sink that amount of resource into a weapon that was ineffective on the battle field. And I've never liked the concept of "battle taxis".

So my view for this game was that the chariots would be a skirmishing weapon, split moving and throwing javelins. Having decided upon this we took a look at the combat factors. In the standard game light chariots fight light infantry on even terms. We tweaked the factors to give the chariots and advantage. We also reduced the effectiveness of heavy Biblical infantry when fighting chariots as well.

Ian got here first and took the Akkadians, leaving me with the Sumerian basic list. For the set up Ian drew my attention to the lack of trees and hills in Sumeria, and then we took it in turns to deploy one unit at a time.

Ian deployed his units in a block, with his chariots in the middle. I was a little more expansive, hoping to occupy the anachronistic wood on my right, and send my chariots round Ian's flank by putting them out wide on the right.

Neither of us showed a lot of tactical finesse, which may be in keeping with the armies of the time.

My flanking chariots had a effective battle, winning out against Ian's right flank guard, whilst the infantry tried to close.

The action on the left flank proved to be decisive as I broke Ian's light infantry and then was able to "gang up" on his chariot units and achieve local superiority.

We traded infantry units in the middle, and my slingers in the wood saw off their heavier opponents because of the terrain. My chariots also succeeded in winning their match ups, and I ended out winner.

Phil had arrived part way through the game and declined the offer to take over my army (clearly thought I was going to get beat!) which added another informed observer for the post game discussion.

All things considered we were mostly comfortable with the changes I had made. As a group there was a feeling that the armour class of chariots should be increased, as should that for the heavier infantry, - although we did not reach a full consensus on whether we should differentiate between cloaked and shielded infantry. Ian also remarked that slings are more effective against chariots/horses than bows. We're also in favour of some sort of terror effect caused by the chariots.

So, much food for thought, but a promising start. Think I might get a couple of more boxes of infantry.


  1. Ian looks like this in that first picture; "I had fun was awful." LOL!

    Sounds like a fun time. It is extremely cool you are putting so much work into this build.

    1. I can assure you that Ian is most normally a very jolly fellow. He just wasn't sure what to do with the army.

      As to the "wrok in the build" it started out as a simple plan to paint the army and play the simple rules. As ever, like most of my ideas like that, we end up being dissatisfied with something or other and producing some hybrid.Having a Biblcial expert like Ian in the group is a great hel pon this subject.

  2. Thanks for posting this:
    a) it reminds me that I need to play AMW. I still haven't, call me slack :-)
    b) and anything Mesopotamian is always a good read.

    1. Shaun,

      a) You ARE slack. The rules are so simple there's no excuse. A typical game can be over in an hour.
      b) Just discovering that.