Saturday, 12 July 2014

The Parthians are coming!

The latest great power to join the campaign makes its mark.  The Ptolemaic Egyptians in Elymais are confronted by an angry host.  I constructed the armies and supplied most of the figures.  I also set up the Parthians, but then took a back seat as there were six other folks wanting to play, making three per side.
The right wing of the invading Egyptian army: a lot of light cavalry and some camels, with skirmish infantry. Commanded by Graham.
Gordon set up the Egyptian army and commanded their centre: a lot of mediocre Machimoi phalangites, somewhat stiffened with a couple of smaller heavy pike units.  Skirmishers out front.  Note the two cavalry units held in reserve.
Their left (Simon) rests on some rough stuff.  The rest of the Machimoi are positioned here, with peltasts, more reserve cavalry, and skirmish infantry.  Gordon has set up the army pretty much how I would have done it: a wall of pikes with skirmish cover, and light infantry, camels and cavalry being used to try to watch the flanks.
The photo of the Parthian left (Billy in command) was too blurry, but basically it comprised a wave of  horse archers in front of some of the cataphracts.  Above is the centre (Willie), composed of a few large blocks of mediocre Greek settler militia, preceded by more horse archers.
The Parthian right (Hughie): more horse archers and cataphracts.
A long table shot taken from the Parthian extreme right.  The Parthians are at the left of the photo, Egyptians on the right.  I hope this picturer shows the relative deployments well. At the far top left a load of Parthian horse archers in front of some rough threatens to overlap the Egyptian right. At the near left, Hughie looks as though he will be able to do the same, with close support from his cataphracts.  On the right, you can make out the reserve positions assigned to the Egyptian cavalry. Since I wasn't playing, I was able to document the battle with quite a few shots taken from this side.
The one above shows the initial stages. At the far top end Graham's cavalry are bowing back away from Billy's encroaching horse archers. In the centre the Egyptian pikemen press forward relentlessly, not too bothered about Billy's cataphracts here.  In the immediate foreground, Hughie's mounted masses threaten to stretch the Egyptian left. I bought plenty of skirmish infantry to protect the front of the Egyptian pikemen, but the massed archery from the Parthian centre and right made short work of them, and the Machimoi are already beginning to suffer.
The photo above shows the same perspective, a couple of turns later. At the far end, Billy is being pressed back, while the pikemen continue their advance in the centre. In the foreground, the flank of the Machimoi is temptingly open. Simon tries a combination of his peltasts and a large ubnit of medium horse to cover it. Hughie has meantime sent forward some light horse, while keeping his cataphracts somewhat further back.
A close-up of the centre at this point as the advancing Egyptian skirmishers have vanished in a hail of arrows. At the left, Willie's Greeks foot await the Machimoi while the horse archers continue to do what horse archers do best.
At the far end of the field, Graham continues to try to protect Gordon's right as his pikemen start to contact cataphracts.  In the centre, we are about to find out if those Greek settlers will hold.  And in the foreground, Hughie's cataphracts have angled inwards, threatening the left of the Machimoi.
Fighting is now general across most of the field. On this flank, Hughie has committed two of his three cataphract units to attack the peltasts and medium cavalry, while swinging his third right into position on the open left of the Machimoi, supported by more horse archers.
The Greek settlers hold the Machimoi in place: a close-up of Hugie's impending charge.
In they go, merrily crushing the left of the Egyptian infantry line.  Being hit in the flank by cataphracts is not nice.
The final photo shows Hughie's horse archers swarming a weakened unit of Machimoi.

Hughie's attack wins the game for the Parthians.  At the far end, Billy's command was really mangled, losing all of its cataphracts piecemeal to Gordon's advancing pikemen, but taking most of Graham's troops with them. The Egyptians are rudely dumped out of Elymais, and the Parthians have made an impact on history, albeit at a cost.

I have continued with campaign events up to the point where we see another battle.  The main events are:

  • The Romans keep pressing the Celtiberians without being able to bring them to battle
  • The Egyptians consolidate in Syria, as the retreating force from Elymais falls back even further to link up with the army that has been annexing bits of Asia Minor
  • The victorious Parthians reconquer Elymais
  • The Egyptians move back east, arriving in Babylon with their large combined army
  • Meanwhile, in Greece the Aetolians throw in their lot with Rome, no doubt influenced by the brutal efficiency with which the western barbarians disposed of the Acahean League's army a few months previously
  • After the winter, 143 BC begins with a bang as the Romans finally corner the last remnants of Iberian resistance in Lusitania.
And that will be the one we fight next.


  1. Not easy to fight against pikes! Beautiful armies, love the Parthians...

  2. Caught outflanked by cavalry rarely produces a positive outcome for the assailed as your Egyptians confirmed.

    Enjoyable BatRep and interesting campaign continuation.

  3. Hi both, thanks for looking. I've made an umpire decision that the Parthians can flee from contact while inflicting some attrition if they don' want to stand and fight for a province. When they do, though, they have the option of taking some medium foot from the Greek colonies. These fixed the attention of the pikemen while allowing the flank assault to take place - nasty. The overall idea is to try to make the Parthians a viable campaign army, which is not easy because they can be problematic on the tabletop. Not on this occasion, though!


  4. Very impressive, Paul! Have always fancied building a Parthian army, m'self.