By Jim Rohrer
Articulating why we like the eras we model can be challenging. The reasons may not be the same for all of our favorite eras. I like Dark Ages because I have read accounts of many battles involving Uhtred in the Bernard Cornwell books. But I also have enjoyed the Sharpe series and cannot seem to work up an interest in Napoleonic wars. It is a mystery. I like the 1890s and World War I because they seem to fit with Steampunk and I like Steampunk for no particular reason.
On the other hand, I think I can explain why the Thirty Years War is interesting. First, it was big. Perhaps 30 percent of the population of central Europe died, many of them civilians. Second, it was an extension of the Protestant Reformation but in a strange way; France helped the northern German states despite being Roman Catholic. So, the TYW had more to do with the balance of power than with religion.
Third, national armies were not up the challenge of such extended campaigns so mercenaries were widely used. Mercenary companies worked for whoever paid them so they could and did switch sides. This makes them the consummate professional soldiers in the TYW.
Fourth, the TYW took place in central Europe prior to the unification of the German state. One could argue (and many did) that the German “nation” was composed of people who spoke German. On the other hand, are south Germans really culturally similar enough to north Germans to make this argument? I do not know the answer but north and south certainly fought hard against each other in the TYW. And are the Dutch part of the north German area or not? The Dutch language is related but different from German. Central Germans cannot understand Swiss German so maybe the common language argument falls apart. Polish mercenary units fought on both sides and yet they were not German. Fascinating!
Most people who model this era focus on the ECW. Presumably that is because they are English and so it is part of their national history. But other gamers might find the TYW to be interesting if they tried exploring it. Mars makes 1/72 sets for this era that are affordable.