Saturday, 25 June 2011

The Last of the Persians?

The rump of the Persian loyalists have been reduced to one province in our campaign.  This is due to a combination of rebellions and massive Macedonian attacks.  Now, however, they reach out from their bolt-hole in Parthia to regain the Persian region itself.  We used Bactrian Greeks for the attack, and Seleucids for the defenders.  Deployment plan:
The field is relatively open, with a low hill favouring each army.  The Seleucids are in red,chosen and deployed by Simon.  From the top left as you look at it:
  • Right wing command (Billy): a large unit of 20 Companion elite heavy lancers; two units of 8 Light Cavalry with javelins; and two units of 2 elephants, each screened by 12 Peltasts.  Out front are 10 skirmish archers.
  • Centre (Paul): a powerful phalanx composed of five 32-figure units, each deployed in four ranks.  The cream of the foot is stationed towards their right (the Argyraspides) followed by two veteran units and two standard units.  10 skirmish archers provide a screen.
  • Left wing command (Simon): two units of 2 scythed chariots, with two units of 8 Skythian horse archers in support.  10 skirmish archers at the front.
I built the invading army, and Gordon deployed it.  From the left:
  • Left wing command (Gordon): a powerful mounted force with some supporting light infantry.  There are two units of 8 Arachosian horse archers; two units of 12 Peltasts; a unit of 18 Persian medium horse; 2 elephants; 12 Companions; and 10 skirmish javelinmen.
  • Centre: the phalanx.  Not as strong as the Seleucids, we have six units of 24 standard pikemen (3 ranks), with 10 javelins out front.  Gordon and I share this command.
  • Right wing (me): a mirror image of Gordon's mounted force.
Gordon devised his deployment with the intention of advancing one or both cavalry wings, depending on the opposition.  The single unit of Companions is intended to swing into the centre behind the advance to threaten the flanks of the enemy foot.  As it turns out, it looks as though he will have his work cut out for him against the large unit of enemy lancers.  So it's up to me to carry out the plan...
Above is a shot of the mass of the two armies at deployment.  Taken from my usual post on the right of the invading army.  Note the powerful mass of the central Seleucid phalanx on the hill to the right of the photo.
Both sides advance in the centre.  We occupy the hill that favours us (in the foreground of the photo above) and the strong Seleucid infantry advances towards us.  And we thought we were the attackers!  Actually, it makes sense, because they can obviously see their relative central strength, and weak wings.  Their intent will be to crush our centre before we turn the flanks.

Simon throws his scythed chariots forward in an attempt to disrupt my mounted troops.  I respond by moving my horse archers towards the open flank, thus uncovering my peltasts.  They should be able to deal with the chariots, I think.

Unfortunately for Simon, my javelinmen prove to be especially adept at shooting chariots - four hits in one go on one of them.  This reduces it to one-third strength before it has even charged.

Meanwhile, the mounted forces close on Gordon's flank.

More into the centre, Gordon manages to squeeze some phalangites past the end of the enemy foot.  By threatening to turn their line here, he will force the enemy to commit troops at this point instead of sending them to reinforce the struggle on the wing.

The Seleucid phalanx continues its remorseless advance.  We hold our rightmost phalanx unit back a little so as to draw the end of their line further forward - this is to help with the intended attack on their flank in a few turns' time.  On the right of the shot above you can just see the chariots charging into my peltasts.

The forces on my wing at the same time.  I managed to get the horse archers out of the way of the chariots, but this has cost my main force some time.  The Companions in particular are still way out on the extreme flank of the entire army.

However, my peltasts are able to deal quite handily with the scythed chariots.  They easily dispose of the unit that was badly damaged by the prior shooting.

In the meantime, there is a great deal of confused fighting at the link between our phalanx and Gordon's wing.  In the photo above, you will see the endmost unit of the phalanx, which Gordon has pushed forward as aggressively as he can.  It's on its own, for the moment at least, but it is cramping the style of several enemy units.

In towards the centre, the phalanxes are about to clash on the hill.  Will the height advantage cancel out the enemy's weight?

My troops press forward; the Companions begin their move into the centre as the enemy phalanx continues to advance.

The struggle is on for the hill.

With the chariots gone, the flank of the Seleucid phalanx is now hanging in the air, right in front of my Companions.  Only half a dozen skirmishers stand in my way.

In the meantime, I've pressed up against the enemy horse archers with the rest of my forces.  This part of the field is really a sideshow, though.

In go the Companions.  The brave enemy skirmishers have inflicted some hits on me, but they are not enough.

The first phalanx is destroyed, and I line up to go for the second.  Our troops on the hill are wavering, though.

They just hold out long enough for the Companions to complete their charge, taking out another phalanx in the process.  The combination of this attack plus the stripping of both enemy wings means that they reach their breakpoint before they can finish off our phalanxes on the hill.
Gordon's plan worked well, so there's life in the old empire yet.  Next up: The Ptolemies of Egypt attempt to extend their gains by striking northwards from Syria.  We rolled randomly to see where they attack, and it turns out to be Armenia.  If successful, this will split the Macedonians in two, isolating their troops in Mesopotamia from the rest of their empire.  It would also mean that the Egyptian successors would achieve more than they ever did in history.  It will be well into August before this gets played, though - holiday time beckons.


  1. Great batrep!! Long live Persia!!

  2. Good looking battle and the Empire Lives on.

  3. Thanks for another great read Caliban.

  4. Cheers, guys, it is good to see them survive. From what I've seen of other Empire campaigns, it doesn't happen very often.

  5. Another impressive battle, Paul! Great account.