(NOTE: This is my first discussion on this forum. I tried posting it once before, it disappeared somehow. To any mods, if my old discussion is still out there somewhere, you can delete it. I'm sorry if I caused anyone any problems.)
ACTUAL DISCUSSION STARTS HERE
So, I’ve been looking through a lot of old GW publications, and I was reading through the Monstrous Arcanum from 2012 (a full book for WFB 8th edition, not the short Age of Sigmar supplement currently on Forge World’s website). To my surprise, I found the first 100% canon description of Estalian soldiers I’ve yet seen.
The description is from an in-universe Tilean account about a war between the Estalian kingdom of Larhgoz and the minor Tilean city of Vedenza. (Don’t bother looking for them on a map; they’re too minor to appear.)
In the story, Larhgoz is suffering a famine, and is trying to conquer Vedenza’s still-fertile farmlands. The Tilean chronicler, Orsini Sardus, describes the Estalian army as such:
The Estalians brought with them their chivalry, the retainers of Larhgoz and free-lances beguiled by promise of fame and vengeance — a thousand steel-clad knights in heavy plate, bright of armor and dark of heart. With them mixed Tercio regiments of glaive- and crossbow-armed veterans, and with them all manner of bandit rabble, spurred on by the hunger in their bellies… (pg. 7, paragraph 4)
The king of Larhgoz, a dude called Vidar, was also a corrupt ****, so the Estalian ranks also included Skin Wolves, horse-riding members of the Mortiara (a heretical sect of the Cult of Morr), and the Strega of the Bone Hills. But Sardus writes that Vidar had a reputation as a vicious guy who consorted with fell powers, so these probably aren’t standard Estalian units.
(To wrap up the story, the Tileans won the climactic battle with the Estalians, but it turned out that the whole famine and war was a Skaven plot to weaken both states so they could conquer them. The already-beaten Estalians get completely screwed by the Skaven, but the Tileans manage to fight them off.)
So, let’s look at the units.
The Estalian knights sound like your standard fare. They’re described as wearing plate, which makes me think that Estalians can make plate armor like the Empire. (Then again, I’ve heard Bretonnian knights described as wearing plate when they really wear mail, so it’s not entirely conclusive.)
The free-lances imply that Estalian rulers use mercenaries like Tileans, although not to nearly the same extent since they can field their own knights and infantry.
Speaking of infantry, the Estalian infantry is more interesting than the cavalry. Not only are they described as veterans, but they’re explicity called Tercios. If you don’t know, that’s the famous infantry formation that Spain used in the 1500s-1600s when they were a superpower. I always imagined the Estalians fielding Tercio-style troops, but having it confirmed in a canon source is awesome.
There is one weird thing about the Estalian Tercios, though, and that’s their weapons: They use crossbows and glaives. The crossbows are a bit odd, since real-life Spanish Tercios were more known for using guns for ranged support, but crossbows were still useful in the early 1500s, so it’s entirely inaccurate. The really weird part is the glaives. Spanish Tercios used pikes, not glaives (to my knowledge). In fact, the image of the Tercio is almost universally of massed pikemen. So where did the glaives come from?
My best guess is that the writers wanted the Estalian troops to stand apart from the other, pre-existing human factions. Tilea already has boatloads of pikemen, so they gave the Estalians glaives so that they’d be different but still use a long polearm like their real-life counterparts.
Personally, I’m okay with this. Glaives are cool weapons, and the image of disciplined ranks of Estalian soldiers clad in breastplates and morions advancing into battle, a forest of blades held out in front of them, ready to hack down any foe in their path, is pretty freaking badass, and it would definitely give their armies a more unique identity than if they used pikes like the Tileans.
What do you guys think?