Welcome to another blog in the series “History throughout the Ages” about historic elements, such as units and weapons, from the AoE series.
While last week’s blog explored the history of the famous siege weapon ballista, this week’s featured unit is a bit more obscure. Facebook user Bérnard Baker suggested that I should write my next blog on the Korean Hwacha, so I decided to give you a brief overview over war carts throughout time.
In Age of Empires, war wagons can be found in Age of Empires II HD, in the form of the Korean War Wagon, and in Age of Empires III, where the Germans have War Wagons. Both War Wagons count as Cavalry units. The German War Wagon in AoE III contains a rifle and you can get it from the Stable, while the Korean War Wagon from AoE II HD shoots a bolt and is created in the Castle.
Take a look at the screenshots below. At first glance, both the War Wagon in AoE II HD (first screenshot), as well as the War Wagon in AoE III (second screenshot), look very similar. They are both large wooden carts with 2 or 4 wheels, pulled by one or two horses. However, as you will find out, there are historical differences between the two.
The literal translation of the Korean Hwacha means “fire cart”. The way this weapon works is that it shoots a set of arrows in tubes all at once at its target. For illustration of the setup, take a look at the below photo.
Image author: Kai Hendry
The invention of the explosive arrow lay the foundation for the Hwacha. Fire arrows were originally a Chinese invention but were perfected by Koreans. Other than traditional arrows, explosive arrows had small packages of gunpowder attached. Not dissimilar to today’s fireworks, they had a fuse. However, the fuse was not used to shoot them off but only to make the powder explode and set fire on impact. The arrows were still manually shot with a bow, until in 969 CE a scientist to the emperor had the idea that allowing the explosion to thrust the arrows would make them much faster. The rocket arrow was born. It was not until 1407 that the actual fire chariot, as a hand-pulled cart that could shoot 100 rockets at a time, was invented by Choe Haesan.
The Hussites, a Czech Christian movement, had their own version of the war wagon called Tabor. However, the word Tabor does not just refer to the wagon itself, but also a type of military convoy or camp called laager or wagon fort. Tabor were mostly used in open battlefields. Developing from coverable baggage carts, they played an important role in the battle of Sudomer in 1420, also known as the battle of the Tabor. The photo below shows the slits on the side of the wagon that were used for shooting with cannons, handguns or crossbowmen from behind reinforced wooden cart walls. These walls slanted slightly upwards to reach beyond the wheels, which were protected against damage.
Image author: Ludek on Wikipedia
While I can’t show you firsthand what the Tabor looked like in action, the below image should give you a pretty good idea.
Image source: Peashooter85 on Tumblr
How often do you use War Wagons? Which AoE War Wagon, the Korean or the German one? Is there any other weapon or unit that you would like to see featured? Share your feedback below.
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