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15mm Review: Essex Miniatures, Mongol Conquest

The entire army, ready to dance like butterflies and sting like them as well.
The entire army, ready to dance like butterflies and sting like them as well.

A few years ago, Essex Miniatures had one of their "buy 3 DBA armies, get the cheapest for free" sales. Since their army deals are far from expensive to begin with, I sent an order together with a club mate, and one of the armies was a Mongol Conquest army. Who can resist the temptation of potentially filling 9 out of 12 bases with light cavalry? Someone who might want to win in close combat, possibly. So the army has its ups and downs, but how are the miniatures?

General and cavalry

The miniatures were decently casted, and the heavier cavalry looked threatening enough. I added a pack of camel mounted banner bearers, which made the general's base even more unique. You might notice the distinct lack of one item that might be the first thing you associate Mongols with. That's right, not a single one of them is holding a bow. But still, they're heavy cavalry, I can accept that they are armed with lances, and most of them have bows in a quiver on their back.

Light Cavalry

Mongol Conquest: The Clone Wars
Mongol Conquest: The Clone Wars

This is where it gets worse, with the light cavalry. First of all there is very little variation, with one third of the miniatures being identical. What irks me more is that only one third has an actual bow. It does seem that Essex simply put some random lance and javelin armed steppe miniatures in a bag and called them Mongols.

Historically this is sort of how the Mongol army was made up, with a majority of the army being other subjugated steppe tribes. But archery was still the main weapon for gaining their impressive victories from China to Hungary. Pushing bases of identical javelin dudes with silly caps forward doesn't feel quite the same.


Artillery and crew
Artillery and crew

The same goes for the last element, which looks suspiciousy similar to a Roman era ballista. The Mongols used Chinese and Korean engineers in their sieges, but it would be far more reasonable to include a trebuchet. I would never guess that the crew had anything to do with the Mongols either.

Final verdict

But it's not all doom and gloom. To be frank, it was a very cheap army to buy, as Essex produce affordable miniatures, and a light cavalry focused army is less expensive by default. So it feels wrong to complain too much, as I got a very unusual DBA army that plays completely unlike anything else that I have. If you just think of it as a random steppe army and not a Mongol Conquest army, it helps a lot.

And the miniatures are not bad in themselves, even if they are not the most impressive 15mm miniatures that I've seen. Instead it is the number of identical miniatures combined that bothers me. I don't mind "clones" as much in a uniform infantry army, such as a Roman legion or a Macedonian phalanx. But in a horde of charging steppe cavalry it rubs me the right way, personally. This seems to be a recurring issue with Essex, as the variation of miniatures and how well they suit the name of the army pack seems to differ a bit from one army to another, making blind Internet purchases something of a Russian roulette. In contrast, my club mate's Scots Common army looked absolutely stunning, with plenty of variation.

To sum it up, this army pack might be a good option if you want a cheap DBA army of light cavalry, and don't mind to have a lot of doubles in your army. But if you want to represent a Mongol Conquest army on the tabletop, and if you are prepared a premium for that, there are several better options out there.

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The earliest known culture of Japan is called Jomon after their special kind of pottery.
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