Thursday, 28 July 2016

Uriah the Hittite Reminisces

Many years ago, when the Petains were young and followed the path of Phil Barker’s WRG, I owned an Egyptian army.  I use the word “army” with some reservation here since this was a DBA army bought off the shelf as such from Essex miniatures.  They were rather nice.  I still maintain that in 15mm Essex set the standard for sculpts.  These Egyptians came as a set army, constructed to Phil’s list, four chariots, four bases of spear, two of bow and two Psiloi bases.

The Essex Pharaoh, just not mine!
I built and painted the chariots and the foot, based it all on 40mm wide artist card bases, and used sand that I had acquired from the shadow of the statue of Ramesses in Karnak to texture the bases. (not entirely sure that I should have admitted that last bit) They were some of the tastiest figures ever seen on the Farthingdale table.  

These were quickly followed by Early Libyans, and let me be quite clear here, they were even better.  I added a Sea Peoples chariot to these, swapping it's crew for a Libyan Chief and one of his swordsmen.  These are some of Essex miniatures very best, and I painted them quite well, an unusual occurrence for a man whose normal technique is to dawb.

I quickly formed a cunning plan.  The basis of DBA was matching six historical “enemies” in a campaign.  I intended to complete my ancient Near East set by adding Sea Peoples, Nubians, Caananites and Hittites.  Both Nubians and Sea Peoples are small and inexpensive (ok so cheap) being foot forces needing only a few figures.  I hesitated at the last two since they were armies with large numbers of chariots.

And so the campaign began, between four armies rather than six.  On my painting tray there only remained a pack of Sherden guard, unusable until the Egyptians defeated the Sea Peoples, and the crew of that Sea Peoples chariot, a bowman and charioteer handling the reins.  The charioteer was given charge of some baggage camels, based with them as a camel wrangler,  surely a come down for one of the elite Kedjen.  The warrior, wielding a hand axe and wearing bronze scale was painted up but remained unused.  This is the fellow who would become the legend that is Uriah the Hittite. Well legend to me anyway.

The first battle was in Libya, the Egyptians meeting a coalition army of 8 Libyan and four Sea Peoples.  After a hard fight the Egyptians won and I decided that this would allow the New Kingdom to field a force of Sherden guard.  I'd been reading my Stillman and Tallis!  Uriah the Hittite was based up as my Commander of the Sherden Guard, a great title but really it was only him and three of his mates on a single 40 by 20mm base.

The figure I used for Uriah, a Hittite chariot warrior. 
The campaign continued, with the Egyptians invading Nubia.  Uriah was quickly adopted as the leader of my assault force, whilst my Pharaoh zipped about in his two horse power chariot.  It was around this time that I discovered that I'd painted the Pharaoh's headdress the wrong colour.  I never did repaint that!

I realised quite quickly that this campaign was essentially an Egypt against all comers one.  At a push the Sea Peoples could attack the Libyans but it would be unhistorical, or unrecorded in any event.  With Egypt fighting in every game Uriah lead his spears and bows in battle after battle.  He didn't always win, but he seldom lost.  

The most memorable game was the Egyptian civil war, where a Nubian backed rebel Pharaoh fought Seti of the wrong headdress, dicing for which parts of the New Kingdom host would remain loyal.  Uriah and his Infantry mainly favoured the Nubian Pretender, and this was the first game in which he had faced mass chariotry.  Poor Seti was felled by the Nubians, but poor Uriah was buttocked to death by Prince Ahmose the new Pharaoh.

At this point I decided to halt the campaign and rework it in more depth.   I wanted to involve the ancient gods of Egypt, giving each city a Patron God who earned prestige when the forces of his city won.  The New Kingdom actually used something like this, with each host being dedicated to their base city’s god, and carrying the god around as a standard or portable shrine.

Megalomania set in, and I decided that it had to be 28mm, and specifically 28mm Foundry, whose biblical ranges are the best the Perrys have ever done.  To start the ball rolling I sold the 15mm guys (yes even Uriah, though I suspect he still leads the Sherden Guard somewhere)   

Clearly I hadn't costed it correctly, because I never did manage to gather the cash to buy those Foundry Biblicals.  The Petain’s abandoned DBA, and I didn’t look back, except with a vague idea of a “oh I'll do that when I retire.”

Well here I am, about to claim my pension for early retirement, and after listening to the Club Secretary's Trojan War plan over a beer the madness is back.  I have a plan, and I even have my campaign notes from "back in the day,” and a hero to resurrect.

So while there are Petains out there plotting the destruction of Troy, I am intent on raising up the Ancient Empire of the Sands, and creating a new Uriah to serve the Pharaohs, and who may one day be called home to Wilusia to defend his Hittite homeland against Mycenean Pirates.

From a funeral Stele found in the Valley of the Nobles, Luxor (Uriah always ended his reports with a formal poem):

Uriah, Mighty Sherden,
Mighty in BattleKilled by the Buttocks,
Of Unreliable Ahmose

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