What DBA Troop Type are New Kingdom Egyptian and Hittite Close Fighters?

What DBA Troop Type are New Kingdom Egyptian Close Fighters and Hittite Empire Spearmen? Not what DBA v2.2 says. This seems another example, like Viking versus Saxon, where two armies had the same types of troops and DBA classifies them differently.

If you believe the army lists from DBx then you’ll think New Kingdom Egyptian Close Fighters were radically different to Hittite Empire Spearmen. But from what I can tell from the art work – the only reference we have – they were equipped identically. In both cases they were close formation guys with various close combat weapons and a shield. Individuals were armed with spears, swords (usually sickle swords) or axes, but could also be armed with a combination of spear/sword or spear/axe.

I’m not sure what DBA troop type that makes them – Blade, Spearmen or Auxilia – but they should be the same. It seems the authors of the Field of Glory (FOG) lists agreed as they make Egyptians and Hittite the same troop type.

If forced to decide – and I guess I will be very soon if I want to have a game – I think, on balance, that Blade is the best option. This makes them vulnerable against the chariots (compared to Spears), which is a key feature of the warfare of the time. Blade classification also makes them more resistant to Egyptian Bows.

DBA 2.2 Army Lists

The army lists for New Kingdom Egyptian and Hittite Empire were what got me thinking that DBA has it wrong. I’ve thrown the Syro-Canaanite close fighters in as well as I’ve just figured out they feature in the Hittite list. The classifications are:

  • Hittite Spearmen 3Sp
  • New Kingdom Egyptian Close fighters 3/4Bd
  • Syro-Canaanite Spearmen 3Ax

So Spear or Blade for troops that were, as far as I can tell, identical but in different armies. And I’m not sure why the Syro-Canaanite Spearmen are disadvantaged further by being Auxilia. Doesn’t make sense to me.

DBM Army Lists Book 1 (1993)

I thought I’d have a look at the DBM lists as they might add some clarity. But it just got worse. In these lists the Hittite Spearmen and their Anatolian allies are all Auxilia. Dead meat against the Egyptian Blades and not great against the Spear option. And pity those Syro-Canaanite Spearmen who get the option to downgrade to Inferior.

  • Hittite Empire
    • Hittite Spearmen Reg Ax(O)
    • Anatolian Vassal spearmen Irr Ax(O)
  • New Kingdom Egyptian Close Fighters
    • before 1279 BC: Reg Bd(F) or Reg Sp(O)
    • after 1279 BC: Reg Sp(O)
    • with heavy axe – Reg Bd(O)
  • Syro-Canaanite Spearmen
    • Irr Ax(O) or Irr Ax(I)

Field of Glory (FOG)

I’m not a fan of Field of Glory (FOG) but I think it does a better job of army lists. Contrast the Egyptian close fighters with the Hittite spearmen. They are the same.

  • Hittite spearmen, Medium Foot, Protected, Average, Drilled, Light Spear, Swordsmen
  • Egyptian close fighters, Medium Foot, Protected, Average, Drilled, Light Spear, Swordsmen
  • Anatolian spearmen, Medium Foot, Protected, Average, Undrilled, Light Spear
  • Egyptian Guardsmen, Heavy Foot, Protected or Armoured, Superior, Drilled, Light Spear, Swordsmen

I’m less convinced by the difference between the Hittite spearmen and their Anatolian allies. I’d love to know what evidence there is for the different categorisation of Drilled versus Undrilled for these troop types. But in DBA there is no such distinction so I’ll let them off.

5 comments to What DBA Troop Type are New Kingdom Egyptian and Hittite Close Fighters?

  • Nigel Tallis

    I’m the one who classified Egyptian infantry as Bd in DBM, in fact I think i said at the time that all Bronze Age close combat infantry could be classed the same. I recall murmured discontent at the seemingly apparent dullness … The arguments are all on DBM list, around 2002 or so?

    • Steven Thomas

      Hi Nigel. Thanks for commenting.

      The argument does seem to have “historical authenticity” on one side and “Interest” (or “dullness”) on the other. Dull or not I think the Bronze age troops should be the the same, because what little evidence we have suggests they were the same.

      I believe that if players are reliant on variety of troop types for a good game then they are doing something wrong.

      • Nigel Tallis

        Of course, most rules are nonsense, DBM was by far the best available FWIW, and are built around artificial differentiation like this to give a game with some sort of appearance of historicity. The reluctance was understandable in this case (probably it was also the idea of everyone having to rebase). My changing of Egyptian grade probably caused enough irritation!

        Nothing to stop you classing them how you like …

        • Steven Thomas

          Absolutely. My move to big bases signalled my acceptance that I’d prefer to play the game I like (with my kit) rather than play a game I don’t like with (potentially) everybody. This is just another side effect of that.

  • anon

    Equipment does not make the soldier. The hypothesis is that different backgrounds result in different fighting styles. So the player picks a fighting style he likes, and paints the figures for an army using that style.

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