Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Battle of Magnesia 190 BC



The Battle of Magnesia has remained on our ‘to do’ list for quite some time as our primary obstacle was reconciling the troop strengths for the DBA big battle option. Ancient and modern historians are in conflict to the actual numbers as Livy and Appian quote 70,000 Seleucid which seems high by modern historians against a total of 35-40,000 for Rome and Pergemon. We decided to use the Seleucid Army by Bar Kochva for his detailed analysis of the deployment and battle. Using the figures quoted above, this works out to a ratio of 7:4.

Regarding the strength of the Roman force I am not convinced that this exceeded 35,000 as anyone familiar with Livy’s history of the War with Hannibal are aware that consular armies were relatively fixed at 20 to 25,000 troops. This gives us two Roman legions, two Latin legions, each with its component skirmishers and cavalry. Following the end of the Second Punic War there is little evidence of any reforms that would generate an increase of troop strength for the consular army. For this project we will use the figure quoted above and plus the 10,000 Pergamene troops led by Eumenes.

Historical numbers to elements
Readers who regularly follow this blog are aware of the number of historical refights we have done with unequal sized armies. Most however, seem small incomparison to Magnesia, but we were up for the challenge. Using our ratio of 7:4, Rome/Pergamene would consist of three commands of 12 elements each, For the Seleucid, this produces a total of 63 elements which will be deployed among four commands.  

While researching the army strengths for both sides, I found Luke Ueda-Sarson’s website extremely helpful as he lists the various contingents for a DBM game. Using Livy and Appian as references and the DBM historical scale, this came to 236 elements. Dividing this quantity by four for DBA we arrive at a total close to our original abjective. 
 
Number of Commnads
The decision to organize the Seleucid in four commands is based on the historical account of the battle. The Seleucid engaged Rome successfully on their right while incurring an opposite result on their left and the latter resulted in a cascade of setbacks for the Seleucid army eventually leading to the collapse  of the army. Fielding four commands for the Seleucid felt about right as both wings would have higher pip priority than the two central commands. The following list is tentative as the comporsition of left center and left wing commands may change slightly.  

Composition of the Seleucid army:

Right Wing
1 x Dahae horse archer (LH)
6 x Argyraspides (Pk)
3 x Cyrtian and Elymain skirmishers (Ps)
1 x Antiochus (3Kn)
1 x Agema (3Kn)
2 x cataphracts (4Kn)
3 x Mysian archers (3Bw)
17

Right Center
2 x mercenary foot (4Ax)
2 x Galatian (4Wb or 4Bd)
1 x elephant (El)
1 x Philippos (4Pk)
15 x phalanx (4Pk)
21

Left Center
1 x levy skirmishers (Ps)
2 x elephant (El)
6 x Cappadocians and other peltasts (3Ax)
1 x Mercenary foot (4Ax)
1 x Galatian (4Wb or 4Bd)
1 x mixed levies (7Hd)
1 x Seleucus (3Kn)
1 x Companions (3Kn)
2 x cataphracts (4Kn)
17

Left Wing
1 x Zeuxis (3Kn)
1 x Galatian cavalry (Cv)
1 x Tarantine cavalry (LH)
2 x Elymain archers (3Bw)
3 x Cretan, Cyrtian, Tralian skirmishers (Ps)
1 x Scythed Chariot (SCh)
9
Total elements = 64


Each Roman command lists both Roman and Allied (Latin) types. This is done for the convenience of players wishing to duplicate the historical deployment of troops. Do note, the totals may be subject to change following our test games.

Roman and Pergemene allies
 
Allied Left Wing
2 x velites (Ps)
2 x Hastatii (4ax)
2 x Princepes (4Bd)
1 x Triarii (Sp)
1 x aliied cavalry (Cv)
Roman Left Wing
1 x velites (Ps)
3 x Hastati, Principes (4Bd)
1 x Triariii (Sp)
1 x Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus (Cv)
14

Roman Right Wing
1 x velites (Ps)
3 x Hastati, Principes (4Bd)
1 x Triariii (Sp)
1 x Lucius Cornelius Scipio (Cv)
Allied Left Wing
2 x velites (Ps)
2 x Hastatii (4ax)
2 x Princepes (4Bd)
1 x Triarii (Sp)
1 x aliied cavalry (Cv)
14

Pergamene
 
1 x Eumenes (3Kn)
1 x Xystophoroi (3Kn) or Galiatian cavalry (Cv)
1 x thureophoroi (4x)
2 x Achaeon thureophoroi (3Ax)
4 x Peltasts, Cretan, Traillian, Masdyene skirmishers (Ps)
9
Total elements = 37
 

Illustration: Hellenistic bronze plaque, discovered during the German archaeological campaigns in the Acropolis of Pergamum at the end of the 19th century. The piece, which was lost and of which there remained only a pen-and-ink illustration by Alexander Conze (1913), likely depicts the Battle of Magnesia in 190 BC. The Roman infantry, the Seleucid phalanx and the Attalid cavalry are shown. – Wiki (public domaain)

Thursday, 25 April 2019

More Mauryan Indian


This final batch of figures complete the Classical Indian collection. There are sufficient elements to field the first three lists of book II – Republican, Mountain and Classical. All figures are Old Glory and although the infantry are similarly dressed the cavalry show slight differences in colour.

There were some minor conversions; spears were shortened to a javelin length and reposition to bring an animated look to them and Milliput helmet with turban was sufficient promotion to make a standard javelinmen into a general.

The Mauryan can now field three commands for a big battle option with their most likely historical opponent of matching size being the Seleucid. A game is planned during next month’s flurry of holidays. 



Infantry for three lists; Classical, Republican and Mountain.


Cavalry for the Classical and Mountain army list.


Elephant and chariot corps


The Classical Indian in battle array.




Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Mauryan Indian vs. Graeco-Bactian (cavalry option)


We followed up our previous set of games with a second set using the Bactrian all cavalry option. Historically, such a force would most likely counter the nomadic incursions of the northern regions of the kingdom but an unlikely encounter against the Mauryan Indian seemed too good to pass up.  The Graeco-Bactrian are invading the tropical region of the Mauryan kingdom which in this case had woods and marshy ground. Army composition can be found below.


Game one.
After reading the Byzantine treatises Strategikon by Maurice I decided to impress the Mauryan with a bit of fancy deployment. The Mauryan placed their troops in the  ‘hammer and anvil’ formation which had served them well in the past.


The Bactrian began the battle with a left hook by the cavalry wing with the Iranian lancers in support. The Mauryan were prepared for such a maneuver and countered the assault with their chariot corps supported by their cavalry. 


Unfortunately, the Iranian lancers fell foul of the Mauryan archers leaving the Bactrian spearhead powerless to continue with their assault. Blunted and broken, this was a fine example that some treatises should remain on the book shelf. Score 4 – 0 Mauryan Indian.




Game two
The Bactrian humbled, now deployed in one large group with Iranian lancers in front flanked by cavalry and to its right a small column of light horse archers formed up to support them. The Mauryan infantry formed the center with the mounted troops evenly divided on both flanks. 


In successive waves, the Bactrian assaulted the Mauryan left flank committing two-thirds of its total force to the effort.  


The Mauryan countered this threat by wheeling the archers left to pelt the supporting lancers with arrows.


This action developed into a desperate struggle with both sides losing heavily. The gods smiled on the Bactrian as they were able to claim a narrow victory in the final moments of the game. Score 4 - 3 Bactria.




Game three
With a victory for each, both sides were eager for the final engagement. The Mauryan anchored their right near the marshland area leaving the open ground for the infantry and elephant corps. Facing them in one long extended line were the Bactrian with lancers in center flanked by their cavalry. Bactrian light horse formed to the far right beyond the wood. Their task was to encircle the Mauryan force and immobilize the elephant corps.


The battle opened with the light horse executing their orders prompting the Mauryan to drop troops back to cover their exposed left. The remainder of the army wheeled right and closed the distance between the two armies.


Bactrian cavalry on the left effectively neutralized the Mauryan chariot corps isolating the archer group of its right wing support. The havoc created by the Bactrian light horse forced the Mauryan commander to feed more troops to hold the Bactrian threat to its flank. 


Mauryan archers moved close enough to inflict damage among the lancers, but this was poor compensation for the heavy loss to the right wing forcing the Mauryan to abandon the field. Score 4 – 2 Bactria.




Army composition:

II/36a Graeco-Bactrian (all cavalry option)
1 x General (Cv), 3 x Arachosian/Saka horse archers (LH), 4 x Iranian lancers (3Kn), 4 x Bactrian (Cv).

II/3a Classical Indian 500 BC – 175 AD
1 x General (El), 2 x elephants (El), 2 x 4 horse chariots (HCh), 2 x cavalry (Cv), 3 x archers (4LB), 1 x javelinmen (4Ax), 1 x wild tribal archers (Ps).


Note:
The latest edition of Armies of the Macedonian and Punic Wars by Duncan Head has rejected the Iranian lancer figure as being Graeco-Bactrian but possibly a Chionite Hun or similar of a later period. The figure originally thought to have come from a Bactrian Silver cup was wrongly dated and is actually from the 3rd to 5th century AD. This begs the question who were the lancers and what did they look like?

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Graeco-Bactrian vs. Mauryan Indian

This series bringing pike armies to the game table features the Graeco-Bactrian army and the Classical Indian army of the Mauryan dynasty. W.W. Tarn in his book, The Greeks in Bactria and India (1966) describes in chapter four the campaigns conducted by Demerius, his son Demerius II and Menander. The book is available online and worth a read. 

In our test games, the Indian army have an imposing array of bow, chariots, elephants and cavalry and defend their tropical homeland against the Greek invaders. The game board is 80cm x 80cm and terrain pieces selected for all three games were two woods and two marsh areas. 


Game one
The constricted nature of the battle field forced both sides to deploy in deeper formations. For the Mauryan, all infantry were positioned to the right with their entire elephant corps and chariots taking the left hand position; all the cavalry formed up behind them.


Facing them, the Greeks amassed their pike opposite the infantry leaving the Greek cavalry to deal with the elephants and chariot in front of them. An assault would be in echelon with the pike formations leading and cavalry in support. 


The Greek pike columns did performed their task well but the Mauryan were quick to exploit the moment to mount their attack against the supporting units.


Casualties fell heavily on both sides eventually reaching an even score of 4 – 4. 


The fatal blow came when the Mauryan cavalry helped seal the fate of the Greek lancers to end the score at 5 – 4.




Game two
Battlefield two offered the Greeks ample room to extend their formations with the infantry securing their left along the marsh and wood leaving the open terrain for the cavalry to operate in. Mauryan infantry formed up against the Greek foot leaving enough space for just the elephant corps to deploy leaving all the cavalry and chariots took a reserve position behind the main battle line.


In range, Indian archery proved effective at sending a few Greek formations back on their heels while the elephant corps struck the Greek cavalry.


Both lines became heavily engaged and the battle line now broke up into isolated combats. Disaster struck the Greek side as their general became wounded and was carried off the field (2g – 2).


Despite the lose of the general, the Greeks surpassed themselves by redoubling the efforts (good pip scores). Casualties fell on both sides to bring the score to an even 4g – 4. The final blow came when the elephants trampled a unit of Greek lancers to end the battle. Score 5(g) – 4 India




Game three
The presence of woods and marsh did not hinder the armies as both sides could deploy their formations in an extended line. The Greeks used their standard formation while the Indian army placed their infantry in center with units of mounted covering both flanks. 


Greek infantry spearheaded the attack leaving the cavalry to cover both flanks. The Mauryan responded by advancing only their infantry and elephant corps forward with the chariot and cavalry held back in reserve.


Both lines crashed into each other causing immediate casualties. The Greeks lost their elephant to the tribal skirmishers but pike columns took their revenge by opening the Indian battle line.


The slaughter continued with the chariot corps crushing the mercenary units to bring a decisive victory over the Bactrian host. Score 4 – 2 India.




In Retrospect
The Indian army had a greater number of mounted units than the Bactrian side. This advantage was negated some by the constricted terrain in the first two games, Both games ended with narrow victories for the Mauryan that easily could have gone to the other way.

In the final game both sides could extend their lines fully which offered the deploy in extended lines offering the Indian host a slight advantage. Destroying the Bactrian elephant at the outset was critical for the Greeks as they could not regain their momentum.  


Army composition
II/36a Graeco-Bactrian 250 BC – 130 BC
1 x General (3Kn), 1 x Arachosians (LH), 1 x Saka horse archers (LH), 2 x Iranian lancers (3Kn), 1 x Indian elephant (El), 4 x phalangites (4Pk), 1 x militia settlers (4Ax), 1 x Cretan archers (Ps).

II/3a Classical Indian 500 BC – 175 AD
1 x General (El), 2 x elephants (El), 2 x 4 horse chariots (HCh), 2 x cavalry (Cv), 3 x archers (4LB), 1 x javelinmen (4Ax), 1 x wild tribal archers (Ps).

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Beyond the Fifth Cataract (Ptolemaic vs. Meroitic Kushites).


Continuing the test series of pike armies in preparation for the Battle of Magnesia, I have taken the Ptolemaic army on an expedition south to the Kingdom of Kush, see DBA army lists II/20b and I/58. The Greeks are invading the steppe regions and as with all our test series, the terrain for a subsequent game is determined by the defeated army retreating to their home terrain. In this test, the Ptolemaic army have littoral terrain and the army of Kush, steppe.

Army composition.
Ptolemaic
1 x General (3Kn), 1 x xystophoroi (3Kn), 1 x Tarentines (LH), 2 x Macedonian phalanx (4Pk), 2 x Egyptian phalanx (4Pk), 2 x mercenary thureophoroi (4Ax), 1 x Galatian (4Wb), 1 x elephant (El), 1 x skirmisher (Ps).

Meroitic Kushites
1 x General (Cv), 1 x cavalry (Cv), 2 x Meroitic archers (3Bw), 5 x tribal spearmen (Sp), 2 x tribal swordsmen (4Bd), 1 x skirmisher (Ps). 


Game 1 (terrain type: steppe)
To face the invading Ptolemaic army, the Kushite deployed all their spearmen forward with archers positioned on both flanks, further support was provided by swordsmen and cavalry, both were held in reserve. The Greek battle line matched that of the steppe dwellers as the pike maintained a deeper formation. Positioned to the right of the pike were the elephant and cavalry and on the left formed all the thereophoroi, mercenary troops and skirmishers.


Kush moved cautiously forward and seeing the Ptolemaic right wing advance ahead of their battle line countered by moving their own cavalry to cover. That threat was quickly contained as the supporting Kushite archers quickly rained a baggage of arrows causing chaos among the Greek ranks. Despite the confusion the Ptolemaic pike and supporting left wing continued their advance to make first contact against the Kushite shieldwall. To the Greek’s surprise, the shieldwall rebuffed their assault along line leaving the elephant corps to make a solitary impression.


Kush seized this advantage to counter charge and both sides now suffered casualties either through combat or the deadly accuracy of the “archers of a thousand eyes”. Having dealt the death blow to a supporting unit of thereophoroi, the archers joined the combat between the generals to seal the fate of the battle. Score 4(g) – 3 for Kush.




Game 2 (terrain type: littoral)
Following their victory, the Kushite invaded Upper Egypt to encounter a second force encamped along the Nile River. The Ptolemaic force deployed in their manner, but collected all their mounted on the right wing as the army’s left flank was shielded by two dense forests of palms. The Kushite, deployed as before, but positioned all their mounted troops to counter the Greek cavalry facing their left.


Moving the Tarentine light horse along the bank of the Nile had the desired effect of drawing the archers away which opened a gap for the Xystophoroi to launch their attack. Unfortunately signals were crossed (low pip score) and the main body were slow to execute their advance.


The general engagement that followed left neither side with an advantage leaving both lines unbroken. Photo 47
This changed when the struggle on the Greek right took a disastrous turn. Native archers avoided isolated combats to join the cavalry battle and help dispatch another strategos. Carried off the field, the army lost heart and fled the field. Score 5(g) – 1 for Kush.




Game 3 (terrain type: littoral)
To restore the situation at the fifth cataract, a third army was sent under the command of a new strategos. The Greeks formed their battle line in the usual manner, but due to the constricted nature of the ground they positioned their cavalry behind the center of their battle line.


Seeing a cautious Greek advance, the Kushite forces extended their line to threaten both flanks of the Greek force. This had the desired effect as Greek units were redeployed from the battle line to protect the threatened wings thus narrowing the line to facing the Kushite shield wall.  


On both flanks of the shield wall Kushite swordsmen led the attack on the Greek line and cut up the supporting units guarding the pike formation.


The battle ended quickly as the warriors of Kush destroyed both flanks leaving a newly appointed strategos no option but to call a retreat. Score 5 – 0 for Kush.




In retrospect
To say this was a surprising reversal of fortune for a pike army is certainly an understatement. The Kushite demonstrated an unexpected resilience in holding the Ptolemaic pike to a standstill while giving time for supporting units to do what they do best. The Kushite  shieldwall consisted only of five spear, yet overlapped the pike group with elephant support. Of the Greek units protecting the pike group, the thereophoroi and Galatians could make little impression against Kushite swordsmen and skirmishers. Likewise on the opposite flank, Greek cavalry were hampered by Kushite archers and were effectively countered by the timely approach of Kushite cavalry.

These two are definitely worth a rematch.

Friday, 22 February 2019

The Classical Indian II/3a,b


These took about a month to paint and I am pleased how they have turned out. This is the second time around for the Classical Indians as I sold off the first collection five or six years ago (pre-DBA3.0). I renewed by enthusiasm for the Classical Indians as they are viable opponents for the Seleucid which are currently running through their paces. The figures are for the most part Old Glory and surprisingly have improved over their earlier production, perhaps new molds were made. 

Infantry:
Archers are Old Glory and javelinmen are from the former Black Hat Miniatures now Fighting 15s.



Cavalry:
Cavalry are Old Glory and this pack came with all its troopers in the same position. The lance was shortened to a javelin length and the throwing arm were re-positioned on all the troopers to give them an animated look. The Saka light horse are Black Hat and though slender and slightly smaller in comparison to the Old Glory they do fit well. 



Chariot:
These are Old Glory heavy chariots with the exception of the central model (Black Hat) which represents a  commander. The Black Hat model fits a 40mm x 40mm base but portions of the chariot do project beyond its base.  



Elephants:
Again, these are from Old Glory with the exception of the central model which is Black Hat and this too represents a command figure. The elephant escorts are also from Black Hat.



Some Painting Notes:
All the figures were given a white undercoat. Garments which would remain ‘white’ were painted mid-grey then highlighted white. The skin tone was a mix of GW Kislev Flesh and Mournfang Brown thinned so muscle would seem highlighted. This was later given a coat of GW Reikland Fleshshade.  
  
Horses were painted in varying shade of brown with the ‘grey’ treated in the same manner as garments; painted mid-grey, then highlighted white. A deviation from my standard style, the tails and manes were highlighted mid-blue as were the weapons. I used a similar technique with the Goblin and Orc collection and found this a pleasing change that I duplicated this for the Classical Indians.


Further:  
A final order with Timecast was placed so the collection will expand for the ‘big battle’ option. Extra figures were included to represent the Republican Indian (II/1) and Mountain Indian (II/2) armies, so there will be new opponents for the Seleucid and Graeco-Bactrian to fight.