Sunday, August 31, 2014

Khitan Cavalry

As SAGA's Crescent and Cross pushes the game's scope geographically eastward, one of my current projects will take my game even more to the east - China, Tibet and the Mongolian Steppes.

Following the collapse of the Tang Dynasty in 907, tribal peoples to the north of China enjoyed a brief respite from imperial interference. The first to dominate this political vacuum was the Khitans. The Khitans (pronounced kit-ens, not key-tans) were not originally steppe peoples, originating in forested highlands, but they eventually adopted the lifestyle and tactics of steppe warriors.

Steppe tribes succeed under a strong visionary leader, and for the Khitans it was Yelu Aboji (r. 907-926). Under him, they conquered a very agriculturally rich strip of northern China called the Sixteen Prefectures, and at the same time extended their control over more nomadic steppe peoples to their north in Inner Mongolia. From the start, the Khitans set up a dual administrative system, with Chinese governance in the sixteen prefectures, and a traditional steppe tribal structure for the rest of their territory.

Predictably, the Khitan rulers gravitated to the Chinese territories and increasingly abandoned the steppe lifestyle in favor of the luxuries of Chinese imperial governance.  They were a formidable enemy to the Chinese for they combined the power of the steppe horse archers with the wealth and manpower of their Chinese cities.

Below, Khitan light cavalry armed with lance or swords. Figures from Essex, horses are from Essex and a variety of manufacturers.  

Another group of four with their bows in cases on the left side. 

The Jurchens were Khitan subjects from Mongolia. Below are four from an auxilliary unit.

Below, sixteen light cavalry for two units of warriors in SAGA

The Khitans were eventually destroyed by an alliance of the Song Chinese and the Jurchens.  The Song never accepted the loss of traditionally Chinese territory to a barbarian people and hoped to manipulate another group of barbarians into destroying them.  A common enough practice throughout Chinese history, but this time the strategy backfired on the Chinese.  The Jurchen attacked Chinese territory and captured the Song capital and the imperial court in 1127.

My next post on the Khitans will focus on their heavy cavalry and command, along with how I plan to use them in SAGA.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Back in the Saddle Again

Taking a break from painting was definitely invigorating.  It gave the eyes a bit of a break, I ran a little more, and got ahead on my lesson planning.  But the call of the paintbrushes could not be ignored and earlier this week I returned to the painting table. While I don't have any finished projects to show, this is my progress so far.

Currently on the painting table is a unit of Steppe nomads.  These are Khitans from Essex.  The Khitans were a semi-nomadic people north of China in the tenth and eleventh century, fighting often with the Chinese and Koreans.  However, it was a subject people of theirs, the Jin, who ultimately destroyed their empire.  

The Khitans will do double duty as Steppe nomads in SAGA and in a related project I am finally moving forward on.

Below are two packs of minis I ordered from Curtey's in the UK arrived this week. I placed the order less than two weeks prior - all in all excellent service and I plan to order more, as this was more of a sample order. These are Tibetan cataphracts and heavy infantry.    

Some of the Curtey's Chinese stuff seemed overly stylized (i.e. disproportionate).  However, the Tibetans looked nice and I took a chance. I am very pleased with the sculpts, and the metal quality is excellent - some of the best I have ever seen.  

So, yes, with the Chinese, Khitans and Tibetans I am now working on more Far East figures for skirmish gaming.  My two options are to modify either SAGA or Ronin for these armies. Ideally, I will play the Chinese and Tibetans on existing battle boards with minimal modification to preserve game balance.  Stay tuned.

And finally, while I was away from the blog I backed this on Kickstarter: Resin Terrain Kickstarter

I have been making an effort to limit my crowd funding budget, but this one struck me as an interesting idea for flexible terrain solutions.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Packing Up - for now!

I am taking a break from painting for about a month for two reasons.  First, I am repainting the room in the house that is the office/hobby room.  It's where I have my painting table and we have the family computer/printer.  So everything will be packed up and moved out for a few days.  Second, I am teaching a new course this year (AP Microeconomics) and want to spend as much time preparing and planning out lessons several weeks in advance.  A couple of weeks without picking up a brush should give me time to this.

I still plan on weekend gaming in the interim and will probably build some terrain boards in the garage, but expect to see few (if any) posts until Labor Day.