Sung spearmen protecting crossbowmen, shown approximately actual size
These models represent the soldiers of the Sung (or Song) dynasty era of Chinese history. Sung history is separated by the earlier period, during which it controlled much of China (the “Northern Sung”) and the period following the loss of the north to the Jurchen (the "Southern Sung"). The Jurchen continued to be a menace until they were conquered by the Mongols, who then took over the job of menacing the Southern Sung. An epic four decades-long war then ensued between the Mongols and the Southern Sung, until finally concluded by Kublai Khan in 1279. The Southern Sung were the most difficult opponents the Mongols faced during their conquest period.|
This was a period of considerable technical innovation, the Chinese inventing gunpowder and employing it against the Jurchen and the Mongols. Chinese troops generally wore a great deal of armour. The later period sees a dramatic decrease in cavalry because the Jurchen conquest of the north cut off access to pasture land and horse markets.
The provincial cavalry set is made up of four archers and two spearmen – we are told that a minority of the cavalry had spears, presumably instead of bows, and this can be represented by two archers on a base, with a spearman hanging back a bit to protect the archers in close combat. The heavy rope pulled stone thrower is portrayed at rest because of the size limits of the 40x40mm base commonly used by rules sets -- it's difficult to make a model of such a large engine and ensure it fits on its base! In a rare technical feat, the Mongol stone throwers were actually superior to those of the Chinese because they employed counterweights rather than human rope-pullers.
The Zhuang were Southern tribal allies. They are described as advancing close to the enemy, shooting with javelins from behind the protection of large wicker shields carried by some warriors, then falling on the enemy when he had weakened from this shooting. To simulate this method, the models have been made so that the wicker shieldbearers would occupy the area closest to the front edge of the base with javelin throwers further back. However, if you use them multiple elements deep, you might prefer to mount the wicker shield warriors on front rank bases with the javelin throwers behind. Apparently Zhuang skirmishers did not fire from behind the wicker shields.