Last time, we walked (and wargamed) like an Egyptian as we explored their particular brand of Bronze Age warfare, alongside that of some of their principal enemies. This time we’re taking a look at the numerous and belligerent city-states that were to be found spread (both geographically and chronologically) throughout the Bronze Age. If you haven’t read the first part of this series, I strongly suggest you do!

The city-state was a vital part of human societal evolution, and as the name suggests, were nations comprising a single city and surrounding territory. Many such places developed throughout the Bronze Age, waxing and waning in power and vying for dominance over their neighbours, both diplomatically and militarily. Over time they would give way to the larger nation-state and empire, but, particularly in the earlier Bronze Age, most people would have lived in one of these mighty cities.

Light troops probe for gaps in the approaching enemy battle line.

We’ll start with, er, Ur. Ur was a city-state of the ancient Sumerian culture, located in Mesopotamia’s ‘Fertile Crescent’, near modern-day Nasiriyah, Iraq. The Sumerians were the first significant human culture of the region and raised many cities. While records of the exact equipment and composition of armies from the period is circumstantial in the extreme, enough was written and has survived for historians to have a reasonable guess – and more importantly, to wargame it! Our Early City-State of Ur deal gives you two big blocks of Sumerian spearmen, clad in the iconic and mysterious ‘studded cloaks’ of the period, which have been interpreted as a form of armour, alongside light infantry archers, and a host of slingers and javelinmen. There are also a pair of 4-equid battlewagons, the forerunner of the more ‘modern’ horse-drawn chariot to provide some (rather ponderous) striking power. This is a mighty host that can dominate other cities at will, but who will lead it? To help make that decision for you, we’ve included a command team absolutely free, along with a unit of Royal Guard wielding fearsome two-handed ‘epsilon’ axes – just the chaps to keep your leaders safe!

Very similar is the city-state of Lagash, another Sumerian bastion in the vicinity of what is now Al-Shahtrah in Iraq. The foundation of this bundle remains the same as it is for Ur (including the free commanders and Royal Guard!) but swaps out the cloaked spearmen for two blocks of spearmen with tall, studded shields. While this army deal nets you a perfectly fine force on its own, I’d be very tempted to combine it with the Ur bundle to make a truly mighty Sumerian host, perfect for any of the city-states of the region!

When the Sumerian empire began to fracture and collapse, we got… Neo-Sumerians! (Look, sometimes historians don’t have the most imagination when naming cultures…) Three of the most prominent of the city-states struggling to rise out of the collapse of their Mesopotamian empire were Isin, Larsa, and Eshnunna, and naturally we’ve got a deal for them! As a more ‘modern’ force, this looks significantly different to their predecessors, and would also do well for most of the middle Bronze Age forces in the region. Formed around a core of Sabum Kabitum spearmen and Sabum Quallatum light infantry, and backed up by archers and skirmishers, we enter the era of the proper chariot with a trio of them. Because you can never have too many chariots, one of them is even free, as is your command group – it may be a Neo-Sumerian world, but the savings are distinctly old-school!

Finally, we jump over to modern-day Iran, and the kingdom of Elam. With two solid units of medium spearmen with tall wicker shields, and a lot of archers, this force can put out a lot of ranged nastiness. Elite punch is provided by a pair of 4-equid battlewagons, and the (free!) household axemen. Also included for free are the commanders (someone has to tell all those archers what to shoot at after all!), and this army is great for someone looking for a bit of a different early-middle Bronze Age force. If you can’t trade with your Sumerian neighbours, then you’d better go kick their teeth in – why bother having an army otherwise?

Stay tuned for the last article in this series, where we’ll Sumer-ise (geddit?) the rest of the awesome army deals available to Bronze Age wargamers. Now, go forth and… beat each other up in tabletop Mesopotamia, I guess!

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