Iceni Champion, by Sandra Duchiewicz

champ1Iceni Champion, by Sandra Duchiewicz, for Total War: Rome II

“The fury of the Britons resulted in widespread torture and mutilation as they massacred the entire population of [Camulodunum]. In the following weeks Verulamium and Londinium suffered the same fate. Archeologists have discovered a thick layer of burnt material on each of these sites dating to the Boudiccan revolt.” —Adrian Goldsworthy

As an avid fan of the first Rome: Total War by the Creative Assembly, I found myself regularly following updates when Rome II was announced, and even pre-ordered the game through Steam. While I don’t find II as infinitely captivating as the original, it’s still a well-put-together game that I would recommend to anyone into computer war gaming. I actually got kind of stoked when I ran across Sandra’s concept art for Creative Assembly on Rome II a while back and knew that I’d have to add her Iceni Champion to Sartorially Smart Heroines.

champ2I like that CA saw fit to include female agents in Rome II, in contrast to some of their previous games. The Greeks, Romans, and some of the Eastern and African kingdoms have women spies to deploy against their enemies, while the Greeks occasionally get noblewomen to manage their provinces. Many of the Barbarian factions, however, may recruit warrior maidens for their Champion agents. Defensively, Champs are able to improve local security, manage recruitment, and train troops. Offensively, they can scout, assault patrols, rally slaves, incite unrest, wreck supply trains, and knife enemy agents. Experienced, smartly deployed Champions can subvert enemy cities or halt enemy offensives, functioning as an all-around pain in the ass to enemy factions.

There are stories, myths, and legends throughout history discussing the exploits of Celtic women warriors, particularly among the barbarian tribes of Iron Age Europe. While I’ve yet to read anything confirming how common these battle maidens were, I’m proud of CA for including them in the game. Queen Boudicca of the Iceni led over a 100,000 warriors against the Roman occupation; it would be interesting to know what percentage of these were women.

champ3Torso armor has always been and should always be the most important type of armor. Period. It’s the biggest target in a fight and contains most of the body’s vital organs. Though only somewhat proof against arrows, our Champion’s chain mail is excellent, flexible protection against Iron Age swords, axes, and maces. Since the Celts invented Western chain armor, it’s most likely that this is a local set, crafted by Briton smiths. However, as Roman chain mail had a similar design to the Celtic, it’s not unlikely that this set is a trophy taken from a slain legionary.

The rest of her ensemble looks good as well. The woven wool dress is an excellent choice, durable for adventuring or combat, and warm against Britannia’s frigid winters and rainy springs, summers, and autumns. Additionally, the dark earthen tones are useful when ambushing legionary patrols on the woodland roadways. Similarly, her  wrapped fur and leather boots keep her feet warm and help her move quietly through the marshes and fens.

Our battle maid’s weapons are of efficient make, and appropriately Celtic design. Made by the best Iceni iron smiths and pole-turners, her spear should pierce the sturdiest Pictish brigantine and offer a reach advantage over the average Roman Auxiliary patrolman. Her broadsword is of excellent Celtic make, longer than the Roman gladius and just as sharp and sturdy. Her battle horn could be used for mustering warriors, calling others to the hunt, or simply intimidating cautious foes.

There’s a warrior’s pride in the expression and stance of our Iceni Champion here. Her face bears that uniquely Britannian defiance that so few of Rome’s enemies could match, and her face and arms bear the woad warpaint that less-experienced legionaries found so daunting and even rattled Caesar a bit. All around, a very effective concept painting.

Thanks once again to Sandra for letting me borrow her champion. Feel free to check out her blog and Tumblr as well. As always, thanks so much for reading, folks. Take care and stay awesome!

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