Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Baggage Trains in Warhammer Fantasy Battle

Baggage trains are one of richest elements in 3rd edition Warhammer. In my view, no fantasy army is complete without a colourful array of camp followers. And yet, it is an oft-neglected element of the hobby: I could find only a few references to baggage trains on other Oldhammer sites (the best of which was Mouse's Flo's Field Kitchen). 

In an effort to fill in the gap, here are some pictures of the baggage for my 1000 point Wood Elf Army.



Baggage trains add three things to any game of Warhammer game: realism, conflict and creative modelling. 

The realism is simple. Most ancient armies couldn't exist without baggage trains: food stores, armourers and cooks, not to mention the sick and wounded. In the Late Middle Ages (the period corresponding to Warhammer's Old World), camp followers were not merely servants, but the wives and children of the soldiers. A chronicler of the Thirty Years War described the baggage train like this:
A regiment of three thousand men usually had not less than 300 vehicles, and each wagon was filled to overflowing with women, boys, children, prostitutes and  plunder.
This massive impedimenta (as the Romans aptly called it) didn't just vanish the moment the fighting started. Unfortunately for everyone, it was part of the battlefield.


Palu Wildcat Keeper, Citadel Miniatures (1987, sculpted by Jes Goodwin, painted by M. Sullivan)

Thus, the second thing that baggage trains add to the gaming table is conflict. A baggage train gives even the most aggressive army something to defend. But even for a victorious army driving the enemy back to its camp, the baggage train can be a peril. 

As written in the 3rd ed. Warhammer Rulebook (pages 102-103), a unit close to the enemy's baggage train will be compelled (by a failed Leadership test) to charge into the wagons and start looting, even if self-preservation would dictate a wiser course of action. What a great rule! This sort of ill-timed plundering was common in the ancient world -- perhaps the most famous case being the first Battle of Philippi, when Brutus' victorious troops dallied after capturing Octavian's camp, giving Octavian and Antony time to rally their troops. No biggie, Brutus. It's just the end of the Roman Republic.



Elf Wardancer, Citadel Miniatures (1987, sculpted by Jes Goodwin, painted by M. Sullivan)

Other interesting (and perhaps overlooked) rules about baggage include the fact that halflings go apeshit when defending baggage (+2 to hit and strength - page 103); armies get extra victory points for keeping their baggage intact (page 142); civilians in the baggage are the only units in the game to use improvised weapons (page 84); and mercenaries are more liable to bugger off when they get too close to either side's baggage train (page 125 of Warhammer Armies).
Talisman Satyr, Citadel Miniatures (1986, sculpted by Aly Morrison, painted by M. Sullivan)

And lastly, baggage trains are grand because they're an opportunity for creative modelling. This is because Citadel never released any official miniatures for the baggage train (although there are some tantalizing unreleased models). The lack of anything official means that we have to take matters into our own hands, selecting from Citadel's beer-carts, townsfolk and villagers -- or going outside of Citadel. My favourite source for extra-Citadel miniatures is Wargames FoundryAs the Ansells' reincarnation of Citadel, Foundry models will replicate the scale and sculpting style of any Oldhammer force.

For my army, I decided that baggage wagons were inconsistent with elvish mobility. Instead, I used pack horses, combined with Jes Goodwin's elves (slightly converted to transform them into messengers and grooms). To add flavour, I threw in a piping faun (the Talisman Satyr) and a pudgy halfling chef (Samwise from Citadel's original Lord of the Rings series). 


Elven Baggage Train (painted by M. Sullivan)

As brilliant as they are, baggage trains were only with us for a short time. They didn't exist in 2nd edition Warhammer, and were dropped from 4th edition. And yet, baggage can be so much fun. As a Welsh soldier cries at the Battle of Agincourt in Shakespeare's Henry V, after the French despoiled the English baggage: "Kill the poys and the luggage! ... 'tis as arrant a piece of knavery, mark you now, as can be offer't." For my own part, I love to commit arrant knavery whenever possible.


Warhammer Elf Baggage Train (painted by M. Sullivan)



***UPDATE: If you have any pictures or posts about your Warhammer baggage train, please let me know and I'll gladly link to this page.


21 comments:

  1. Wow!!! Great and startling job.
    I will steal that idea.
    "Saludos"!

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  2. I think there are two parts to answer the conundrum of why Oldhammer blogs lack baggage trains.

    Part one is that as kids we just didn't buy the carts or convert the figures. Limited budgets and skill meant another unit of orcs was more on the cards than the orc camp.

    Part two is that many of the fantasy oldhammer blogs follow people as the paint and/or collect anew their armies of their youth. They just haven't got to the baggage train yet. Most of my armies have the figures collected and ready I just need to paint them at some point.

    Nice collection yourself by the way. You've managed to make the horses suitably elvish which would have been my concern using the foundry pack horses. I think it's the eye liner that does it.

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    1. I thought about adding mascara, but it seemed a bridge too far.

      And Erny, I think you're right about the reasons why baggage trains are so rare. Hopefully we'll see that change as people continue to paint... I'm looking forward to seeing yours!

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  3. Erny is right; when you start working on an army, you want to play with it so the baggage train will be the last thing you paint. Props to you for working on yours! The elf with the horse is really good.

    I started one for a historical army of mine (Thirty Year War), it's fun but I find a proper bagagge train does require a lot of work. Carts and such take a long time to paint. I agree Foundry is your best bet to find proper baggage train stuff. Warlord also has some good stuff in their TYW range (and Warhammer is often closer to the TYW than the middle-ages).

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  4. You're right, Matthew, we definitely need see more baggage trains out there! I really like the one you have put together! And "Taran" seems much happier now that he has traded his javelin for a pony and a wonderful new pair of pants!

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    1. Yeah... those pants... they're not the most subtle paint-job that I've ever done. But I think I painted that mini a couple years ago, when I was still developing my style. Oh well - I hear the ladies like them.

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  5. These I great! I certainly plan on adding baggage trains to my growing Chaos and Undead armies, but as others have said, I'm still trying to get the armies together! I am actually looking forward to modeling these and have already started stock piling bits...

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  6. Excellent work. I'm in two minds about baggage trains but seeing your work might have tipped me over the edge. Add to that the fact I'm headed up to foundry in a couple of days to spend a bucketload off cash (I'm on a family holiday in the UK at the moment) and I think I'll add in some citadel pack animals to my fairly large list.

    Will be interesting to see how baggage affects a battle - fitting a decent baggage train onto the field would be a challenge in itself.

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    1. I was thinking about the space that baggage takes up too. In my last battle with 24_Cigs (chronicled a post or two back), I didn't field a baggage train. And it would have made the battle pretty cramped. But maybe that's the point. It *should* be a pain in the ass. Anyway, good luck at Foundry - I hope you find some great stuff.

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  7. I like the blue pants! Where did you buy them?

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  8. that's a thought provoking blog you've posted here, Baggage Trains really are neglected in WFB, they could be really important objectives on the battlefield.

    I noticed in your right up you didn't make any mention of the early Sharpe's series, there were a number of episodes where the army followers featured, one episode even was the basis for an entire episodes story plot when fever hit the camp....

    I do recommend people interested in it to look those episodes up (sorry can't remeber which ones)

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    1. I haven't read any of the Sharpe series - but now you've really whetted my appetite. Thanks Darren.

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    2. I've read several of the books, I have also watched the entire tv series starring Sean Bean, both the books and tv series I can recommend, it's set in the Napolinic wars during the spanish pensulia campaign to start with.

      I also recommend Bernard Cornwall's Arthur trilogy to read as well, a very relistic apporach to King Arthur. and well worth any wargamer's time to read.

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  9. Nice piece. And Flo thanks you for the compliment on her field kitchen. She does work very hard on it. Totally agree about baggage trains. They were a nice facet of third edition that unfortunately seems to have faded out of site. I've never actually played a game with them, but it does seem like they would add a nice dimension to things, so I'm planning on adding them to all my fantasy armies eventually. Battle Forge makes a nice series of carts and wagons. I used one of theirs for Cookie's chuck wagon, part of my Dwarf army, which is the only other baggage train section I've finished so far. It costs money but it paints up well and looks nice.

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    1. Do you have pictures of Cookie's cart? I couldn't find it on your Big Board, but I may have missed it. Sounds great (and very filling).

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    2. yep. it's under the Dwarves of Thunder Mount label

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  10. Bagage trains were still referanced in the very ealry days of 4th edition as one features in the 1st Empire Army book publish in 1993, which I finally got my hands on this week after losing my copy 15 years ago!

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  11. Hi Matthew! Check you my blog for a high elf baggage train http://vanhaavasarointia.blogspot.fi/2016/07/elf-baggage-train-wip-part-2.html and an index of baggage trains in 3rd ed. WFB http://vanhaavasarointia.blogspot.fi/2016/08/baggage-train-compendium.html

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