Monday, November 19, 2012

Adepticon 2013 Preparations Part 1 - A Look at History

I have always enjoyed the thought of playing historicals.  There is something about the bare bones flesh and iron, and nothing but the weight of it behind your charge sort of battle that has interested me.  We exclusively Warhammer players sometimes become jaded and forget that real life battles didn't work exactly like we see on our tabletops.  Armies did not usually fight until the other side was "tabled" or completely wiped out.  It was more a battle of positioning and timing of charges and the reaction to them.  Indeed if Fantasy were to be more historically accurate, units would fight based on leadership, and not strength.  They would not grind at each other so much as we see.

But that is not to be negative.  There is of course something fun about the style of battles we fight on the table.  It is much like the movies.  Unless we are interested in history a true to the past movie based on battle would be a bit boring for most of the film.

So for me, Empire has always been "that army" that allows me to dip my toe in historicals but at the same time be playing this cinematic rules set and background.  I have also never met anyone locally in my years that plays historicals.

Next year will be my 5th year at Adepticon.  Looking back I have tended toward fun and silly armies that play on an inside joke between us gamer types.  Pirates, Monty Python, Mad Max are all ideas and movies we get behind and cheer when we see someone reference them. However this time I think I want to do something more pure to the background and also the history the Empire was based around.  It will of course be huge as ever, but nothing as silly as a Trojan Stonehorn.

So with all this in mind I have chosen Empire.  The Empire is of course based on a few historical periods including the landsknecht and Swiss mercenaries of the 15th-16th centuries.  The landsknecht are famous for using the zweihander - literally "two hander," a large sword.  They also used the Arquebus and later musket, as well as pike.  The Swiss also used a mixture of weapons but were most famous for the pike square.  They did not use as diverse of weaponry and tactics, but preferred 90% of their army be blocks of pikes that just charged into the enemy.  Until the era of pike and shot, the pike block was a nearly invincible formation.  Cavalry could not touch it, infantry found it hard to move them, and guns were of course effective against flesh but the tactics of the Swiss meant guns were often taken first and quickly.

 But all of these tactics are up in the air because we are of course on a boat. This is the main "melding point" of my army and the theme I have chosen. I love all things nautical, so what better than a giant, scratch built boat for a display.  I have somewhat done this before, but this time around I want to use scratch building and true ship building (in the hobby sense) parts and knowledge to build it.  These armies are always fun because I get an excuse to research something new.  In this case it will be ship scale modelling as well.

So this is where the most thought and research will have to go.  In the time of the landsknecht, what did Navies look like? What weapons would they use for deck fighting and boarding actions?  In this case I will likely have to compromise. Pikes would not be much use on a boat, but rather sword and board, and the musket. The zweihander makes sense, and we have an exact entry for something similar in our army book.