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Variant Armies

Trojan - 10a (1250-1150 BC)

Homer's Illiad and Odyssey recounts the struggle of an Achaean army led by Agamemnon of Mycenae, and comprised of such great Greek kings and heroes as Menelaus of Sparta, Achilles and his Myrmidones of Phtia, Nestor of Pylos, Ajax, Patrocles, and Ulysses, who sought to reduce the city-state of Troy, ruled by King Priam and his sons Hector and Paris. The purpose of their war was to honor a pact with King Menelaus to recover his bride Helen, who had been seduced and kidnapped by Paris. In Homer's account, the tide of war swayed back and forth for over nine years, and heroes such as Hector and Achilles fell, until the Greeks finally resorted to a strategem, the fabled Trojan Horse, to capture the great city.

The Trojan war should not be thought of as a siege, since foodstuffs and Trojan allies came and went without apparent difficulty and Homer's accounts have the Trojans regularly issuing forth from their gates to give battle, once even besieging the Greek invaders behind the ramparts thrown up to protect their ships.

Homer's poetry, written five hundred years after the fact, and the speculations of archaelogists such as Henry Schliemann are hardly conclusive history. Still, it is somewhat disappointing that DBA does not provide an army list to represent the Trojans and their great literary pairing with the Achaeans. This variant list attempts to fill that void. Obviously, it assumes that there was a Troy, that it was a prosperous city-state strategically situated on the Aegean Sea near the mouth of the Propontus, and that it had commercial trade and was subject to influences from Greece in the west, barbarian Thrace in the north, the Sea Peoples in the South, and the petty Kings of Anatolia and the great Kingdom of the Hittites in the East.

Enemies

Achaeans (Mycenean & Minoan #10), Hittite (#9), Sea Peoples (#14a). There is no DBA Thracian list for this period, which explains its absence here. As Thracian tribes such as the Cicones fought as allies and mercenaries with both the Trojans and Greeks, it is assumed that at some point in time, Troy and the Thracians would have found cause for conflict if left to their own devices.

Composition:

3 x LCH Nobles/Heroes of Troy, Dardania, Anatolia, and Lykia
4 x 4Sp or 4Aux Trojan and Dardanian Spearman (MI)
2 x 3Aux Carians/Anatolian Highlanders
1 x 3Aux or 3Wb Lykians
1 x 2Ps Trojan/Dardanian (mix of slingers, archers and javelinmen)
1 x 2Ps or 3Wb or 3Bw Anatolian psiloi, Cicones/Thracian warband or Paeonian bowmen

Notes:

If the existance of a Trojan army is highly speculative, then its composition must be even more so. This list is adapted from a WRG 7th edition list developed by Tom McMillen and published in the Spring 1994 issue of The Courier. It assumes that the Trojans employed allies from the neighboring Dardanians and Anatolia, as well as Lycian pirates, Thracians, and others. Since Homer gives an account of Memnon, an Eithiopian King who fought with Priam of Troy, then an assumption that the kingdoms of the immediate region would join with Troy to repell the foreign invader can be excused. The Amazons are also reputed to have contributed to Troy's defense.

McMillen classifies the Trojan/Dardanian spearmen in WRG 7.0 edition terms as Regular C, MI with JLS or LTS and Shield. Because of the Regular classification, I have characterized them as Spear with Auxilia as an option. McMillen classifies all chariots as two horse, hence Light. Since McMillen characterizes the Lycians (Lukka people) as barbarians and notorious pirates, I have given the option of fielding them as warband. The Cicones of Thrace are classified as irregular B, LMI, which sounds like good warband material to me.

I hope you enjoy this army list. And if you should happen to lose with it, then take solace in the Homeric notion that your opponent's Greek army will become lost and all but forgotten in some dark closet for at least ten years.


Tom McMillen Responds

Many thanks for publishing the Trojan variant. As I got a credit as author of the Courier article cited, thought I would respond.

The Trojan List in DBM is really unfortunate (line 1-mucho Aux (o) , line 2- mucho more Ax(O) under different names. )

I like the DBA List, but would beef up the Lykian presence. These were clearly a signifigant part of the force-when Sarpedon tells Hector he'd better get fighting or the LyKians are going home, it appears as a very serious threat. (Unlike the comical Thracians, for example.) I'd like to see 3 Lykian elements, a quarter of the force, so nobles and warriors could be represented.

Perhaps 2xLCh, 4x4sp; 1x4Bd, 2x3Wb (Lykians), 2x3Aux, and 1x2Ps would be a better mix.

I'd like to see the third chariot, the Trojans should have a stronger mounted presence than the Myceneans, but you really need about 15 elements to do it.

I think the bow armed troops are better represented as Psiloi - no representation of anything suggesting massed bow fire. Parotti in his excellent "The Greek Soldiers Speak" assumes the bowmen would be stationed on the wooded ridgeline to protect the flank. However, the above would make a nice mixed force that would be an interesting opponent for the Mycenean spearmen.


Paul Dobbins' Comments and Trojan Variant

As an admirer of Tom McMillan's body of work on the Trojan war, including his wonderful series of "big battle DBA" Trojan war games presented at national conventions for years, and in particular the keen insight evident in his work on Trojan army lists, I thought I would jump in here with some comments. I have been focussed on producing Achaean army lists for various rules sets for years, and indeed the Courier article cited above was a joint effort by Tom and I to share our respective obsessions with the wargaming community at large. Implicit in Tom's comments on Chris Brantley's DBA Trojan list is the opinion that the Mycenaean list is inappropriate for the attacking Achaeans, and I certainly concur with that (I will submit an Achaean DBA list to the Resource Page forthwith).

As regards the Trojan army list, several things should be kept in mind. First, archaeological evidence (assuming the site at Hisarlik, Turkey, is the real deal) indicates Troy's material wealth was founded in three dimensions: woolens, shell fish and horses. Homer's horsetaming Trojan aristocracy were likely horsetraders and chariot fighters (maryannu); one can imagine a Trojan hinterland dotted with the horse farms of these blue bloods. Second, Tom is right in calling for a relative superiority of Trojan chariotry over the Achaean force, certainly in view of the fact that the latter was largely restricted to a relatively small coastal lodgment otherwise unsuitable for feeding chariot horses without the importation of practically all required forage.

It is clear from the Iliad that the Achaeans could freely move about on the plain of Troy during most of the "siege", but routinely pasturing animals inland would likely be too dangerous, especially for the valuable chariot teams the Achaeans tried to maintain. Indeed, a chariot team needs upwards of three acres of good pasturage to sustain itself. In the face of the Achaean incursion, the horsetaming Trojans likely moved their herds further inland away from immediate danger, but certainly Achaean raiders, and especially Akhilleus, remained a problem; presumably the Achaeans could sell (or eat?) whatever horse stock they captured, mitigating somewhat the forage problem created by bringing additional horses into their camps (one could trade captured or even broken-down horses for forage). Ultimately, the argument boils down to holding that the relatively greater burden placed on the Achaeans attempting to maintain more than the barest minimums of horse- and feedstocks in a relatively restricted campsite in a hostile countryside, held down the size of their charitory, while the relatively lighter burden of maintaining large herds on hinterland pasturage in the face of serious, periodic raiding didn't necessarily hold down the numbers of Trojan chariotry.

And, finally, the relatively small but rich city state of Troy is likely to have availed itself of a pool of mercenary chariot warriors available for hire and utilized by other citiy states in Anatolia and the Levant. Ugarit, a Syrian city state comparable to Troy (as another independent city state of considerable wealth), made extensive use of mercenary maryannu chariot fighters. Troy's army may therefore have had a significant component of hired professionals (granted this is very speculative). This must be considered in light of the fact the Trojans apparently had the horses to offer in exchange for service.

The problem one has with this formulation is the proportionality concept that drives all army list exercises. Tom makes the point that a well balanced Trojan list ought not have but two chariot elements out of the total twelve elements allowed by DBA. The only solution I can offer is to allow a limited amount of substitutabilty between chariot and non-chariot elements. The proportionality principle is utilized indownscaling the native Trojan chariot and spear elements to (0 or 1) and (3 or 4), respectively, and allocating two full elements to predominantly Dardanian and mercenary maryannu. Thus I propose the following modification to Tom's variant of the Trojan list:

2 x LCh Dardanian and mercenary maryannu
1 x 4Sp or LCh Trojan nobles in the primary line (Priam)
3 x 4Sp Trojan and Dardanian rank and file
1 x 4Bd or LCh Lykian and other allied nobles
2 x 3Wb Lykian rank and file
2 x 3Aux Non-Lykian Anatolian allies
1 x 2Ps Thracian skirmishers

Rejoiner by Tom McMillen

Friend Paul- some thoughts:

  1. THREE spearmen?? What are ya gonna do in DBA with 3 spearmen? No, I think you have to make up your mind rather than waffle. Is it gonna be two or four? Frankly, you could make a case for only 2 - the Trojan household with a Mycenaen style system, then add 1 more chariot and another aux, making it a classic 'Asian polyglot vs European heavy infantry' rivalry. but I do think the core of four spear makes more sense, and at least gives you a battle line, along with the Lykians.

  2. The moody, sulking Aeneas??? Ex- CUSE me, Myrmidon boy? Oh, there was plenty of moodiness and sulking in the Iliad, for sure, but it would appear your arrows (like those of that little Ajax twerp), are slightly off target ...... I believe an apology is in order, to the noblest spirit of the Dardanians, AND his Roman descendents.

Riposte by Paul Dobbins

Seems things are heating up across the Hellespont -- perhaps we'll catch each other up at Fall-in! Anyway. I know Tom is a stickler for what one would call "straight up" army lists, be it WRG 7.6, DBA, or DBM. By this I mean, as his reply to my suggestions for his Trojan list shows, it is preferable that a list have as few alternative options as possible, to prevent the "waffling" syndrome all-too-common in WRG 7.6, wherein optimized lists (ostensibly backed by serious research) have so many options that they can morph into virtually anything. Such lists deprive an army of a distinct personality, especially in DBA, where small changes can wreck havoc in a tight format.

Tom and I are both romantics as far as our game playing goes (are we not aging Bronze Agers?), but I defer to Tom's sharp insight into pure "play of the game" aspects of army list making. What I did was take Tom's list, and allow one of his four spear elements, and the single blade element, to optionally mount their chariots and fight like true maryannu scum (after all, there are times when spear do just fine when not deployed in double ranks). But he says thanks, no thanks, they've either got to be one or the other, and he prefers that they be spear and blade respectively.

OK, pal, if you don't want the extra flexibility, we'll be glad to slice and dice those four spear elements -- I'm sure they'll go down as easily as three! Just as I'm sure a real Roman, descended from the human whelp of a she wolf, never took seriously the whimsical notion that he was the progeny of a Carthaginian skirt chaser like Aeneas!

Other Notes

  1. The decision to employ the LCh alternatives to either the 4Sp or the 4Bd must be made after terrain is fixed but before deployment.

  2. The term maryannu denotes an aristocratic and possibly feudal (i.e., military service exchanged for land grant) caste of chariot warriors. A distinction made in this list holds that the native nobility of Troy, whether directly in the primary line, i.e. the House of Priam or its supporters, as well as the allied nobility of Lykia (Sarpedon and Glaukos), et al, may very well be of "maryannuic" status, but they are also willing and capable of dismounting to fight on foot as champions and frontfighters -- promakhoi -- as per the Iliadic tradition. However, it is assumed the collateral line(s), including the House of Ankhises, and the mercenary maryannu, perhaps including Rhesos of Thrace, are unwilling to do so in the far more venerable tradition of the chariot warrior caste. The moody, sulking Aineias, aggrieved scion of the Ankhiseids; the outcast Paris, who spent most of his youth exiled in the hinterland, and who is clearly hated by the other Priamids; and the treacherous archer, Pandaros, of nearby Zeleia in the Trojan hinterland, are all exemplars and proponents of the "nonheroic" maryannuic style of combat (these characterizations of several Trojan heroes, in suitably purple prose, while accurately representing the Iliadic tradition, are primarily so drawn as to goad my Trojan friends into combat!).

Miniature Sources

Foundry has an exquisite line of Trojan War figures in 25mm. Redoubt also offers a 25mm Trojan range. Bull Dancer Miniatures (U.S.) offered a well-regarded range of 15mm Trojan and Mycenean figures, but no longer seems to be in business. You can also press figures selected from other 15mm Myceneans, Classical Greek and early Bronze/Chariot Age ranges such as Essex into service.


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Last Updated: December 7, 1999

Questions, comments, suggestions welcome. Send them to Chris Brantley at IamFanaticus@gmail.com.