Thursday 15 July 2010

Persian Counterattack is Crushed

This is the initial deployment for the most recent campaign battle.  After forcing the Macedonians to retreat from with a successful river defence, the Persians try their luck with a counter-offensive.  My daughters rolled up the terrain, which turns out to be quite unpleasant: a long steep ridge on the Macedonian left, with a large central low rise.  The Persians have one small low hill to their centre right.

The Persians (in blue above):
Right Wing: 12 Skirmish Javelinmen; 18 Hillmen (light infantry); 8 Persian Light Horse; and two units of 18 Persian Medium cavalry in columns
Centre: 12 Skirmish Javelinmen; 3 units of 36 Militia Grade Kardakes Medium Infantry in three ranks; and the Guard Infantry, 24 Elite Heavy Infantry in two ranks.
Left: 3 units of 12 Skirmish Archers; 4 units of 8 Skythian Light Horse Archers; 1 unit of 8 Persian Light Horse; 2 units of 16 Persian Light Horse in four-rank columns; 1 unit of 16 Armenian Heavy Cavalry; and 4 units of 18 Colonist Militia Grade Medium Cavalry.

The Macedonians:
Left Wing: 3 units of Psiloi Javelinmen (one of 10, two of 11); 4 units of 12 Thracian Peltasts; 2 units of 8 Thracian Light Horse; and 2 units of 12 Companion Elite Heavy Lancers.
Centre: 1 unit of 8 Elite Agrianian Skirmish Javelinmen; 1 unit of 10 Cretan Skirmish Archers; 1 unit of 24 Hypaspists Elite Heavy Spearmen; and 4 Phalanxes of 24 Veteran Heavy Pikemen.
Right Wing: 1 unit of 12 Agrianian Skirmish Slingers; 1 unit of 10 Cretan Skirmish Archers; 1 unit of 24 Hypaspists Elite Heavy Spearmen; 1 unit of 12 Elite Thessalian Heavy Cavalry; 1 unit of 18 Peltasts in three ranks; 1 unit of 12 Greek Mercenary Medium Cavalry; and 1 unit of 12 Prodromoi, Veteran Superior Light Horse.

Gordon chose and deployed the Persian army; I chose and deployed the Macedonians.  Given the terrain, I thought about having a powerful cavalry punch on the right with the phalanxes en echelon, but decided that would be far too predictable.  Instead, I made sure that the steep hill was infested with Thracians and I then placed the Companions next to them, with a screening force of Thracian light cavalry to protect the heavies from the expected Persian firepower.  The centre was an extended shallow phalanx, and the right was refused, comprising the rest of the army's cavalry.  Skirmishers were deployed as far forward as possible to soak up the coming missile storm.  My intention was to attack rather than wait for the Persians to come to me.  I commanded the left punch and half of the centre; Billy was in charge of the right centre and the refused flank.  From the Persian deployment, it seemed as though Gordon had been expecting a right hook, and had deployed two waves of Colonists interspersed with columns of light horse on the Persian left.  There was a powerful missile force of light horse next to that, mainly comprising Skythians.  A strong unit of Armenian heavies was poised in their centre left, ready to go wherever it was needed.  The Persian infantry was in position in the centre right with the hill advantage.  The army was anchored on the steep escarpment, with some light infantry and mixed horse placed there.  I thought that Gordon was hoping to bring out the Persian cavalry to threaten the extreme left of the usual Macedonian echelon attack, but I could be wrong about that.  The usual horde of skirmishers was out front.

The battle opens with the Macedonians shaking out into their leftwards attack en echelon.  The Persians are content for the Kardakes to occupy the hill, and advance along the steep ridge with most of their forces there, the cavalry being slowed down by the terrain.  The missile exchange begins.
On Turn 2 the Macedonians continue as before, as do their opponents.  The skirmishers begin to jockey for position.
On Turn 3, the skirmishers on the escarpment disperse as the Light Infantry clashes.  The Thracian light horse keep in line with their compatriots on the hill as the Companions drop back a bit to allow room for manoeuvre; as the Macedonian commander I want to be absolutely sure of the long ridge before launching the Companions.  In the meantime, I am content with the Kardakes being peppered by my skirmish javelinmen.  In the centre, the Agrianian javelinmen vanish in a hail of arrows.  On the other side, the Persians wait for their missile fire to start to take its toll.
On the large hill to the Macedonian left, some of the Thracians go wild and run towards the Persian Medium Cavalry after destroying the Hillmen.  The leftmost Thracians attack the end unit of Persian light horse.  The phalanx advances en echelon as usual, and the Thracian light cavalry use the space at the extreme left of the line to wheel slightly.  Elsewhere, the exchange of missiles continues.

Still wanting to hold the main assault until the ridge is cleared, I retire the light infantry in front of the Persian cavalry there; the latter advances slowly.  In the meantime the phalanx holds position, and on the Macedonian extreme right another unit of skirmishers is destroyed by Persian firepower.  The rest of the Persians stay put.

The end Thracians and Persian light cavalry on the ridge mutually disappear in a cloud of dust and the rest of the Thracian light infantry turn about and advance towards the first Persian Medium Cavalry unit.  I decide that the moment is right to bring up the Companions, and retire the Thracian horse behind the Hypaspists to make room.  Elsewhere, the Persians are disappointed that their shooting is not having the desired effect.

The fight intensifies on the left as the remainder of the two armies awaits the outcome.  Again, the Persians are frustrated by relatively poor shooting.  The Persians lose one of unit of skirmish archers, and move some Skythians forward to compensate.  Not enough damage is being done to the phalanxes.

On the Macedonian left, the Thracians destroy the first of the cavalry units.  One unit of Thracians dies at the same time and the other rushes forward in vain pursuit.  Deciding that the moment is right, I unleash the Companions against the Kardakes on the hill.  The Thracian horse start to fill in behind the attack.  On our right, the holding cavalry moves up to cover the rightmost unit of Hypaspists in preparation for the infantry attack to come. The Persian skirmishers and light horse advance into shooting position as the last unit of Cretans is wiped out.  The Greek mercenary cavalry is particularly badly hit by Persian fire.  Finally, it is beginning to have an effect, but will it be too late?
Now it gets really nasty.  There is more fighting on the escarpment as the last unit of Persian cavalry comes forward, to be met by Thracians on foot and horseback.  The phalanx advances across the line and up the hill into the Kardakes, who begin to waver under the onslaught.  The rightmost phalanx starts to take serious damage from shooting and the Greek mercenary cavalry is destroyed by archery.
The Kardakes facing the Companions go down bravely, but the latter maintain composure and break through.  The next unit along is disordered by a failed morale check, and so it is only a matter of time. 
The Persian holding force in the hill is is finally wiped out, taking some Thracian infantry with it.  The Kardakes begin to crumble on the ridge.  The Persian left decides that all is lost if they do not charge now.  The Armenians hit the damaged phalanx; and the Thessalians attack the first unit of Persian Colonists.  The Prodromoi are wiped out by shooting.

The Macedonians have now cleared the hill.  The Persian Guard Infantry quails in their boots at the sight, doing what elites usually do and failing their morale test at seeing militia troops run.  The rest of the Persian army wades into the rightmost troops of the Macedonians.
The phalanx hits the Guards and routs them, so it is game over for the Persian army.  Almost every Macedonian unit is badly damaged by the end, but the Persians just couldn't get the hits they needed.  If their shooting had been decent, things could have been very different.  Afterwards, Gordon said that he wasn't expecting to see so many Light Infantry in the hills, and that the plan was to hold back the Colonists until sufficient shooting had been done.  My decision to hold the assault until the big hill was safe was correct, but hard - missile damage could so easily have turned the balance for those turns as the Companions and the phalanx waited.  As it was, though, a major victory for the Macedonians.

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