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Wednesday, 10 May 2017

The Chariots

So, the chariots, what do we know?  Firstly, chariots were an innovative military technology that enabled the Aryans* and their imitators to dominate the battlefield wherever they went.  Making and maintaining chariots was complex and expensive.  Providing, training and feeding the horses was equally so.  Each chariot had a long tail of technicians and specialists behind it, all of whom needed reward and bed and board and that’s before we get to the specialist crew.

Chariots were fast moving and durable, the horses and crew were trained to have high stamina.  Some protection was provided to the crew by the vehicle itself although as it was of light construction more was needed.  Various armours were provided to the fighting crewman, thin bronze plate for the Mycenaeans and full length bronze scale coats further east.  The expensive investment of time and resources was being protected.  The horses were more vulnerable and couldn’t be up armoured in the same way without compromising speed and stamina.  

The consensus is that chariots fought by shooting down their opponents from outside the effective range of return fire of most opponents.  This was enabled by using the more effective and very expensive composite bow.  Against other chariots they dueled until one side prevailed.  There may, or may not, have been a convention among charioteers not to harm each other’s valuable horses which could then be taken as prizes by the winners. This all seems to work for middle eastern armies.

To model this on the table, what we need is a fast - moving missile platform whose crew can out range all opponents not similarly equipped.  Invulnerable except to equals unless they get caught in melee or stray into enemy effective missile range.  Not too hard to achieve within the Lion Rampant framework.  First, as a special rule, use the existing skirmish rule shoot/move/move /shoot as an ordered action. Second, and trickier, the charioteers bows should out range all others and be more effective.  We could just do away with the long range shooting penalty for chariot troops using composite bows.  Otherwise, its increasing the range for composite bow fire or reducing the range of non composite bows. 

If, and it’s just an if, Mycenaean chariots were intended for close combat we need a different model.  Missilery is now a javelin much shorter ranged than the composite or indeed any other bow or sling. 

The chariot is just as swift but now the charioteer must bring his warrior into prime position to spear their chariot borne opponent. There is absolutely no requirement to envisage such combat as a ‘joust’.  An Arial ‘dog fight’ might be a better comparative image. 

Against spear armed foot this model of chariot squadron could simple pass along the opposing frontage hurling javelins or swiftly dismount a band of heavily protected heroes who would make mincemeat of anyone in front of them.

Some of this is straight forward, an ordered 'dismount' move to taxi the heroes in and another 'remount' to pick them up.  This gives us two newly dismounted Mycenaean heroes in Dendra armour who will each throw 6 attack dice, heroic indeed.   Likewise javelin throwing, an ordered skirmish move and shoot at a range of ''3 works for me. 

I'm going to use two chariots per unit, since they can take 6 hits I'm adding 4 non fighting chariot runners who can be removed as casualties mount.  A nicer aesthetic than my usual markers I think.

To try this out using Lion Rampant I'm going to use Mycenaeans versus a Sea People and Libyan alliance in a Hammer and Anvil scenario.  All I'm waiting for is a delivery from Warbases.

*Not to be confused with any 20th century politically ideologized concept of Aryans.


  1. Impressive and beautiful chariots, well done!

  2. Thanks Phil, I've 4 more to do and then I'm charioted.