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Author Topic: Archers in Westeros armies  (Read 7067 times)

Offline Harry von Fleischmann

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Archers in Westeros armies
« on: May 16, 2015, 08:40:47 AM »
I'm idly toying with the idea of using a mix of GW LOTR and various Perry WOTR / medievals to make some Lion Rampant armies for Starks, Lannisters etc. Some figures leap to mind - the Gondor fief clansmen are great for northerners and the dunlendings make good hill men. I'm obviously using Boromir as Ned Stark.......

But I'm curious as to how people see Westeros armies, there doesn't seem to be much massed archery a la medieval England. Perhaps the default is large blocks of pike/pole arm foot with missile men being more bidowers?

Just curious as to how others see it?

Offline Captain Blood

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Re: Archers in Westeros armies
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2015, 09:24:32 AM »
Interesting, isn't it?
Unlike in Tolkien, where the big set-piece battles are related in a lot of loving detail, GRRM tends to gloss over them or avoid them altogether.
You get the build-up to battles and the aftermath - you don't get many descriptions of large-scale warfare itself. For a series of books that are deeply concerned with violence, force of arms, and war as the political tool par excellence, the focus is very much on brawls, scraps and duels. On swords and single combat, and hardly on warfare at all.
You have the jousting nobility, and you have scum of the earth militias slitting throats in taverns.
You have loyal parties of guards - Stark and Lannister - usually fairly sketchily drawn. Spears are mentioned and crossbows.
I'm wracking my brains to think if there are longbows in there anywhere - I think probably not... Ygritte obviously has a bow, and other wildlings, so maybe The North is more 'bow-orientated'.
The Dothraki have bows in the Steppe nomad tradition too - I'm pretty sure I didn't imagine that, but it's been a few years since I read the first couple of books where the Dothraki feature...)
Anyway, I've decided to give a mix of longbows and crossbows to my Stark forces (mainly longbows), and crossbows only to my Lannisters - as befitting their character as the forces of oppression.

In pretty much all myth, literature, and indeed some would say in history, the bow or longbow is painted as the lovingly hand-crafted weapon of the honourable, skilled, freewheeling, noble-hearted individual. While the crossbow is the unskilled, cowardly henchman's mechanical, mass-produced weapon of choice... So I'm sticking to that. Bows for goodies, crossbows for baddies.  ;)

Offline Harry von Fleischmann

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Re: Archers in Westeros armies
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2015, 09:29:00 AM »
Good points Captain, thank you. I should apologise - I didnt mention your heroic efforts in plastic! I'm off to the FLGS today but can't face the multiple sprues!

I may follow your lead with the crossbow/longbow split but then only use archers as bidowers. I've already labelled my rangers of the north as "the huntsmen of tumbledown tower".
« Last Edit: May 16, 2015, 09:32:54 AM by Harry von Fleischmann »

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Re: Archers in Westeros armies
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2015, 09:53:31 AM »
Interesting, isn't it?

Bows for goodies, crossbows for baddies.  ;)

 lol

 ;)

Offline Harry von Fleischmann

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Re: Archers in Westeros armies
« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2015, 09:59:22 AM »
It's a bit like the way they've done the cultures in GOT - it's shorthand but works. It does mean that I have rather a lot of evil crossbow men who were previously honest mercenaries.......

Offline Gandalf the G

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Re: Archers in Westeros armies
« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2015, 10:00:46 AM »
Since the books are written from the points of view of a single character at a time, it is not strange that the big picture of battlefield affairs are missing.

However, one detail that I seem to recall is from the Battle of the Green Fork, where the Boltons stay in the rear of the northern host. Their longbowmen loose volleys into the melee, worrying little about who is friend and foe.

Offline Captain Blood

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Re: Archers in Westeros armies
« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2015, 11:32:28 AM »
Since the books are written from the points of view of a single character at a time, it is not strange that the big picture of battlefield affairs are missing.


Fair point.
The Battle of the Blackwater is the only major battle where you get a sense of the battle unfolding. Most of Robb's battles in the west of Westeros are not described in any detail.
The Boltons having longbows would certainly play to the idea of the bow as more of a northern weapon, whilst the big, wealthy houses of the south like Lannister and Tyrell are more likely to employ crossbowmen.
Like England and France  ;)
(Or Robin Hood vs the Sheriff's men... )

Offline Gandalf the G

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Re: Archers in Westeros armies
« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2015, 04:08:26 PM »
My own vision of the northern armies is a mix of mounted raiders and scots-ish halfpike schiltrons. I actually quite like the look of the Stark soldiers in the tv-series, with their pseudo-brigandines and visorless helmets. I imagine that any kind of articulated plate armor would be a hassle in cold and damp climates.
Then there are the mountian clans and houses like the Umbers and Mormonts that invoke a much more feral image, almost viking age, in my imagination. The crannogmen are skirmishers, loathe to engage in open battle.
And then the Manderlys, shining knights and mariners both.

I'm really looking forward to the next book.

Actually, there are som details of Robbs "battles"(nightly campsite ambushes) that would suggest quite a bit about the kind of army he commanded. Also, it is the infantry that goes with Bolton to the Green Fork, while the mounted troops follow Robb.

Offline Miantanomo

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Re: Archers in Westeros armies
« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2015, 05:59:33 PM »
As historically influenced as Martin is, he doesn't follow much of the ratios of your run-of-the-mill warriors to archers. But I agree that crossbows seem a bit of a southern thing. I think what Fireforge has to offer would be best for creating Westerosi armies.

Boromir as Ned? Yes, please!

And Northern armies don't wear plate as much, I feel. I believe they would be more brigandine, leather and such than their southron counterparts.
"If you would take a man's life, you owe it to him to look into his eyes and hear his final words. And if you cannot bear to do that, then perhaps the man does not deserve to die."
-Eddard Stark

Offline Harry von Fleischmann

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Re: Archers in Westeros armies
« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2015, 07:34:11 PM »
I agree with the rarity of plate in t'north. As I am looking at half strength Lion Rampant units and had picked up 6 each nicely painted lossarnach and lamedon, those seemed good starting point despite the breastplates on some. Especially as I have a Boromir I already painted who is of course THE Ned figure. This one is blowing the horn but he does look the part. Annoyingly I painted him as per the GW guide, so he has a hint of red and gold at the sleeves. I'm not going to repaint him because he was the first fig I painted where I was really chuffed with the result.

I have 12 spare Gondor warriors who with a basic red based paint job look quite Lannister. And some WOTR knights to glue up so....it's a solid start.

I've read all the books and, yes, I'd not really thought about how GRRM does brawls and red weddings at one end and then seems to go straight to the politics without really doing the battles in between but it's a good point!

Part of me thinks that I may not follow the sources absolutely but rather go for a Westeros homage as it were - so my "stroppy northerner" army would consist of Westeros sounding names like Tunnocks and Minsterleys, led perhaps by Lord Neddard Sharpe. I like the look and feel of Westeros but don't want to be constrained by it.


Offline Paboook

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Re: Archers in Westeros armies
« Reply #10 on: May 17, 2015, 10:07:29 AM »
I would recommend you to read this topic on the ASOIAF forum. There is huge amount of useful information including quotes regarding battles and warfere :)

http://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/topic/91171-come-into-my-castle-the-ways-of-warfare-in-westeros-updated-and-psa-regarding-troop-quality/

Offline YPU

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Re: Archers in Westeros armies
« Reply #11 on: May 17, 2015, 10:46:43 AM »
That topic does indeed have a very useful collection of quotes.
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Offline Gibby

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Re: Archers in Westeros armies
« Reply #12 on: May 17, 2015, 02:39:07 PM »
Great quotes indeed!

As for archers; good ones take a long time to get good. I suspect that lords from all the different regions would all have some trained bowmen in their personal retinues. Sell-sword bands and such might feature bowmen, and they seem to be everywhere (described in the text as freeriders, but I think that might cover any kind of sell-sword band).

Offline Captain Blood

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Re: Archers in Westeros armies
« Reply #13 on: May 18, 2015, 10:18:48 AM »
That topic does indeed have a very useful collection of quotes.

Yes, maybe...
The interesting thing about the quotes in that wiki entry is that most of them refer to pikes and pikemen.
Now as wargamers, we know that a 'pike' is a 16 - 18 foot long battlefield weapon, used by the Macedonians, their successors, and then in various medieval incarnations (Scots, Flemings) through to its heyday in the era of the pike blocks of the Swiss, Landsknechts, Spanish tercios and the English Civil War. By the end of which, the pike was pretty well redundant, and replaced within a couple of decades by the plug bayonet.

In my experience though, most authors of historical / fantasy novels are talking about something else entirely when they indiscriminately use the word 'pike'. They usually mean a much shorter polearm more akin to a bill, partizan or halberd. They just don't use the right word. Now I'm not necessarily saying this applies to GRRM, who generally seems to know his stuff, but it certainly applies to leading novelists like C J Sansom and Conn Iggulden - both of whom continually refer to 'pikes' when they are quite clearly talking about something else (viz. 'The guardsmen on the door crossed their pikes to bar Shardlake's path')

So, I do wonder, with all these references to pikes and pikemen in GoT, is Martin literally talking about 'pikemen' (as in drilled pike blocks armed with extremely long pikes), or is he just talking about a mass of mixed-polearm-armed infantry? What, in late medieval terms, we'd probably refer to as 'billmen'?

I suspect the latter, but I suppose we'll just have to ask him...  ;)
« Last Edit: May 18, 2015, 10:20:31 AM by Captain Blood »

Offline Harry von Fleischmann

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Re: Archers in Westeros armies
« Reply #14 on: May 18, 2015, 12:30:21 PM »
Good point re the pikes in the shardlake books! It sounds familiar, I suspect I self edited as I read to read half pikes. I've had a look at the post and it's a good compilation. Perhaps this is where we go our ways with our own visions, some of Swiss style pike blocks others more long spears shiltrons and others with serried ranks of assorted pole arms.

Perhaps the thing is that authors don't really need to get the detail of who wore what armour, which had been paid for how and stored wherever because a lot of readers just think "oh that's a lot of men in armour with pikes" and get on with it. Gives us something to chew over though which means that everyone can pursue there own vision of Westeros.

Thinking about visions of fantasy worlds, I always wanted a definitive LOTR range, then when GW produced one it seemed to make the vision smaller by defining it. A bit like the comment that the Big Rubble in RQ seemed a lot smaller once it had been mapped.

Sorry for going off topic a bit there....

 

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