Issue 117 - A printable Persian shieldwall
One of the features of the Achaemenid Persian armies is their tall rectangular pavise-style wicker shields that we call spara. The troops that carried these are called sparabara. Based on artwork we surmise that these were only carried by the front rank, while archers filled in behind. The shields were constructed out of rods woven into wet or uncured leather strips in different patterns. Once the leather hardened, the spara shield provided lightweight and also very strong protection against missiles. The spara bearer probably had straps to hold it tight. Reinforcing posts that could be pushed into the ground to make the spara wall freestanding are shown in art. The spara wall was very good protection against other eastern and Scythian foes that relied on missiles. However, the single spearman defending the barrier could not match the weight and fighting strength of Greek hoplites, who were much more adept at hand-to-hand fighting. Once the spara barricade was knocked down, the unarmoured Persian archers were at a severe disadvantage against heavily armoured hoplites, and they fled or were slaughtered. Preview of the printable spara wall. You can download a high-res version below.
This spara wall can be copied and printed out and glued onto thin card stock. Fold it over and glue them together. Attach to a base and add support stakes if you wish from wire or spears. Some rules note that the spara may be set up and moved and also knocked over. I use these to show that troops are in spara wall without them having to have the shields attached. One can layer on singletons to add depth. Also, one can cut the wall and angle some of the shields if one wishes to make it look a bit more ragged. This version covers a 150 mm front, so one can cut it down to fit the frontage of your units. Of course, the other way to make these is with plastic or metal shields in a more firm base, but these card stock ones are cheap and cheerful and can be used until more detailed versions are worked up. (Originally published in WS&S issue 117. Text and image provided by Jeff Jonas)