Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Grudge Match: Parthians against Ptolemies

Campaign battle in Palmyra, 129 BC.  The Parthian host has descended upon Palmyra in the hopes of forcing the decaying Ptolemaic Egyptians even further back.  Simon chose and deployed the defending Egyptians, while I constructed and set up the Parthians.  Terrain was mostly open, with a couple of low ridges and two nice orchards.  Photos are taken from the Parthian perspective, mostly from the Parthian left (my command). The Egyptians:
The first photo shows the Egyptian right, the troops directly opposite mine: some Tarentine styled light horse, two units of Cleruchs heavy cavalry, a unit of elephants, and plenty of light infantry support.  Alan commanded these initially, ably seconded by Graham, who took over when Alan had to leave.
Moving along, a large phalanx fills their centre, Malcolm in command (although he isn't in the photo).  Is that a Roman interloper at the right?  Ave!
Keith in command at their right completes their array: elephants, camels, light horse and a load of skirmishers.
Over to the Parthians.  My lot on our left wing: high quality horse archers and cataphracts.  very Parthian.
A slightly fuzzy shot of our centre, I just wanted to show it for the sake of completeness.  Willy runs our Greek city spearmen, most of whom are on a nice big hill, along with some cataphracts and horse archers.  Skirmisher infantry out front.
Our right: Gordon in command.  More cataphracts and even more horse archers.
The opening moves on my wing.
The centre remains strangely static.
Gordon's troops swarm forwards at our right.
A side shot of the whole field at this point, taken from my wing.
Further developments here: I am being very aggressive with my cataphracts, hoping to get the unit at the top centre of the photo well past the elephants to turn the enemy flank.
Not much continues to happen centrally.
Our right continues to advance.
Table shot at this stage.  Now that the Parthians are committed on the flanks, will the Egyptian phalanx advance in the centre?
Alan and I are having a rather civilised little battle on our side of the field, thank you very much.
The phalanx advances.
Gordon starts to swarm Keith's troops at our far right.
Table shot, with some rather desperate combats on my wing.  The battle has settled into a pattern: will either or both of the Parthian wings break through before the phalanx gets to the spearmen on the hill?
Close up and nasty.
My guys are not pushing through the way I hoped.
The phalanx marches onwards.
Gordon swarms even more.
Side angle view shows the relative positions at this point.
A gap has appeared for the enemy elephants.  Now all my cataphracts need to do is finish those pesky Cleruchs: nine dice, needing a 5-6 to hit.  Two hits will destroy them and get me past the pachyderms.  I should score three.
Guess who missed entirely?  Elephants like canned food, apparently.  My wing will not be breaking through...
That phalanx is getting closer.
Gordon is swarming nicely, but Keith is making him pay for it in terms of precious time.
The phalanx is nearly there - time for a hill assault.
With the camels destroyed, Gordon is beginning to win his flank.
I, however, am rubbish.  With no heavy troops left, all I can do is fall back in skirmish in front of the victorious enemy on my wing.  Fortunately, though, they are in no position to turn the flank of the hilltop troops, who are off to the right of the photo above on the other side of the woods.
Contact in the centre.
The phalanx overlaps Willy's left, but it is now open to Gordon's troops.
The last hurrah, as Gordon's guys get ready to go in.

The game finished almost immediately after this - one phalanx unit was destroyed by Gordon's flank attack and the spearmen on the hill took out another for the loss of one of their own, but the Parthians were forced to retire from the field.  The Ptolemaics, however, are in bad shape too, and this is one army that will not be in a position to mount any offensives for some time.  The Parthians, honour satisfied, will head eastwards to pick up reinforcements and finish off Bactria, I think.


  1. What a great looking battle, phalanx and cavalry are most impressive!

  2. Great AAR. Looks and sounds like a great game. Good idea to put the pint in command (pic 1) but people should really pay attention during the 'oath to the pint' (pic 2). Any Christmas games this year?

    1. Hi Simon, didn't the Egyptians invent beer"!? You do realise you may have begun a new tradition - maybe every game should start with a ceremonial Oath to the Pint. More enjoyable than praying to the dice gods.

      I haven't thought about a seasonal game yet. We do have possible venues aplenty. Perhaps a campaign game, but in grand style - say, double sized?

  3. HUGE battle and great 'in fight' battle photos. Watching the phalanx slowly advance across the field was tension building.

    Very enjoyable BatRep!

  4. "Elephants like canned food apparently" that is a classic line that I will pinch forever!! Great report and sensational photographs of a couple of beautiful armies.

  5. Thanks for the comments, everyone - I lost in grand style...