|"Go and get um' lads! There is only one and there are thirty of us, what could go wrong? CHARGE!!!"|
All too often the biggest, the baddest and the most cool units in Warhammer get all the attention. After all that kick ass unit that wins you game after game gets the glory, as it should. But this post is not about those glory soaked units, in fact we're going to talk about the other end of the unit spectrum: levies!
We all know about the High Elf Dragonkin in 3rd Edition Warhammer, the Daemons of Khorne or even the incredible stat lines of vampires (see below) or treemen. So instead, how about levies! In this case a peasant levy from the 3rd Edition Bretonnian Army list in Warhammer Armies.
Before we get into it, first things first, the stat-line for the unit, in this case, Rascals (sorry about the low light photo of the entry):
BBBBLLLLECCCHHHHHH. WS2, BS2, I2, there is no way around it, levies are bad and not in a good way. Their only redeeming feature (if you can call it that) is that they are cheap at 4 points per model. Spears and shields costing .5 points a piece don't really do much to bring them up to even being remotely useful. On top of that they are compulsory troops (yes White Dwarf #137 had a revised page for the Bretonnians, but going with this for now).
Add to this the rules from the Warhammer Fantasy Rulebook on page 99 shows that they have a special mob formation meaning they cannot expand or contract frontage. Basically the unit formation they appear with on the first turn? That's what they are going to go with the whole battle, no changing it.
So the natural question is what are they good for? The answer is really not much. On the battlefield I suppose one could use them to tie up a unit for a round or so, but the opposing player would have to be fairly dumb to get caught up in that. Barring that? They add a lot of character to a game and perhaps that is the best way to look a them.
Painting and unit composition: Aside from one brigand Games Workshop model as the leader, the rest are from the Old Glory Revenge line of medieval miniatures with a fair amount of weapon swaps from various GW sprues like the zombie and empire regiments. In a way these minis capture the look and feel of peasant warriors far better than what I could get from GW when they still did Fantasy Battle in the late 6th through 8th edition days. In fact they are fairly close to the minis of 3rd Edition at the time in terms of look and feel. Hand weapons were a bit to small, perhaps a consequence of GW over-sizing their weapons? But otherwise the proportions are a match.
In terms of color scheme I deliberately kept the color palette limited and muted, trying to make them look muddy and dirty rather than bright. I used a lot of dark washes and slathered it on deliberately, from there it was minimal highlights. Overall I kept it to various shades of brown, tans, a bit of green here and there and black. After I took the photos I noticed a few things and I am touching up the standard/totem banner. Its a bit dodgy in spots and needs a bit more attention in my estimation.
Actual usage: Well... never really on the tabletop. As I was the only "non-evil army" player in the gaming group back in the day, I was the only one that would have conceivably fielded these guys, but as I was just scrapping together models to get a force on the field, I didn't. This is in spite of the fact that the first army I fielded was in fact Bretonnians for a few games before I converted over to Empire (in the early days we ignored the compulsory units to a degree for the first few games as we were assembling armies). Fortunately, I kept all the models and added these guys to the force a few years back.
Looking through Warhammer Armies I did actually use levies once, but never made it to the field. As I note here in our forays into Warhammer Siege using my Empire army, I fielded units of Landestrum, (aka Empire levies) for forage and support. I didn't have models representing the units at the time though as it wasn't really necessary: they were only ever on the strategic map.
Finally, in terms of the armies that can field levies, out of the 12 (the 12th being the Norse in White Dwarf #107) they appear for the following: Empire, Bretonnia, Skaven and Slann in Warhammer Armies. In the case of the Slann, there are the Jungle Braves listed as a levy and the human slave unit which has the same stat line as humans, but a point cost akin to levies. Skeletons and zombies have comparable stats in the Undead army, but their special rules make them a different in terms of play. One could make the argument that goblins and snotlings are close in the Orc and Goblin list, but not quite exactly levies per se, certainly with the snotling rules. Gnomes with their crappy Toughness of 2 for the Dwarf army are likewise close, but I don't think I ever even saw a single gnome miniature from GW. As such highly unlikely anyone ever fielded a unit, definitely not in my Dwarf army which grew to be quite substantial.
In the mercenaries and ally contingents section, the pygmy allies for the Slann are close with their S2, T2. The halfling ally section is similar as they likewise have S2, T2 in their stats, but make up for this with a BS4. If I ever get around to a Slann army and ever get around to a pygmy ally contingent, I'd bump their BS to 4 just like the halflings, makes sense to me for the same point values. The fact that levies aren't a fixture of that section stands the reason: whether hiring mercs or getting allies to your cause, one is usually not getting the dregs of a societies warriors; certainly not in the case of spending coin on mercenaries.
NOTE: From above, vampires in Warhammer? Forget sparkly Twilight vampires; check out the stat lines in 3rd Edition Warhammer, holy crap! Even the Level 5 ones kick ass, wow. Perhaps a post for another time.