Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Thracians

The Thracians were an Indo European people who lived in the area north of Greece and around the area of modern Bulgaria. They were a numerous people stretching into Asia Minor and north into the Balkans. Thracians were a tribal people with the land of Thrace divided into as many as 40 different major tribes. A warlike and boisterous people, who valued warriors and plunder, they fought for and against just about every civilization they encountered. Seriously, these guys (and gals) were bad asses.

I’ve always had a soft spot for the tribes bordering the more recognized/civilized areas and Thracians are no different. I’ve managed to acquire and paint a fair number of the little guys in 28mm to use as peltasts for my Greek army. But I’d love to give them their own army, their own chance to shine not as some auxiliary arm of slow ponderous hoplites. Each time I think this, I do a quick count of the Thracians I have that are painted (around 60) and think of the amount I would need to finish to give them an army of their own. I then go into a corner and cry myself to sleep where I have nightmares of painting another 120 geometrically patterned tribesmen. I don’t know if I have the stamina to paint all those tribesmen when I know in a straight up fight they’ll still have a rough go at the hands of period opposition.

So what to do? There are already great figures, great lists and great history for the Thracians but I’m having trouble getting them involved in a great game. Then I thought about it some more…and I happened to be flipping through an Osprey and saw this picture.

I was going about this all wrong. Thracians shouldn’t be shoehorned into big linear battle lines. They should be fighting skirmishes and ambushes. They need to be surrounded by the rough ground of their native lands savagely attacking out of the rocks and woods. They needed scenarios that played to their strengths and had them fight the way they did historically (90% of the time). Don’t get me wrong, the existing Thracian list is great, and they are definitely fun and useful to include as allies in a period army. I would love to field an entire 2000 pt Thracian army but I have no delusions of grandeur about its likely performance against the pike blocks and companions of Macedon.

So I’ve created a skirmish mini-game within the Warhammer Ancient Battles system to hopefully make for some fun battles between Thracian tribes and their multiple enemies (starting with the Greeks). I’ll have the basic rules uploaded in the next day or two and then add additional scenarios as I can. They are pretty loose and hopefully fun. The idea is to play a quick game with a friend focusing on just one small part of the larger conflicts in the region. An ambush of a marching column, skirmishes between foragers or even a night raid on a Thracian hill fort will all be covered.

Battles will focus on between 50-60 figures and around 600-700pts per side. Basically, Thracians are a fascinating people on and off the battlefield and I wanted to give them a chance to shine (even if it is just in my own little games).

Comments welcome.



Sitalkes said...

Hi, great posting, makes me feel like having a go! I've got nearly 200 Thracian figures- don't worry, you'll get your army one day! I'm surprised you didn't mention the Osprey book "The Thracians 700 BC-46 AD". I'd like to use your skirmish rules for the Pen & Sword book "The Gods of Battle: The Thracians at War" coming out next year if you don't mind. You may like to join the Yahoo! Thracian group, too. I'm going to use your photos as the background for some Ambush counters for a Field of Glory game.



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