Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Project Rome – Seleucid vs. Parthia

Having suppressed a coup attempt and brought to heel a number of less than enthusiastic satraps Antiochus III could now contemplate a campaign to bring the eastern satraps of Parthia and Bactria back within the empire. Historically, Polybios gives us no specific details other than the campaign lasted two years and it was successful.

The three test games bring a predominately infantry force against a highly mobile enemy consisting of cataphract nobles and tribal horse archers. Recalling Alexander’s campaign against the Scythian, Antiochus III led his troops to meet the elusive tribes of Parthia.

II/19c Seleucid
1 x general (3Kn), 1 x cataphract (3Kn), 1 x elephant (El), 1 x scythed chariot (SCh), 4 x phalanx (4Pk), 2 x thureophoroi (4Ax), 1 x Cretan archer (Ps), 1 x slinger (Ps).

II/37 Parthia
1 x general (4Kn), 2 x cataphract (4Kn), 9 x horse archers (LH).

Game one
The satrap of Parthia is one vast area of steppe is this is where the Seleucid confronts their enemy. The remains of a vacant hamlet resting on a gentle hill served to anchor the Seleucid right flank so the phalanx and other foot could extend their line 400 paces across. Echeloned to the left rear were all the mounted troops supported by the thureophoroi.

Parthia split her forces into three groups with the centre facing the Seleucid army and horse archers were positioned on the wings to take advantage of any flanking opportunities.

By turn three a general battle ensued with the Parthians attempting to push the Greeks back on to the hamlet.

The Seleucid flanks held against the horse archers, but the pike units were crushed by the charge of the heavily armoured cataphract.

Parthia took advantage of the Seleucid broken line and to see Antiochus carried off the field, scores 3 – 4 for Parthia.

Game two
The Seleucid, now defending chose a battle ground with a stretch of river. This particular crossing area provided good ground for light troops to operate in against the horse archers and a gentle hill to serve as a rally point if things became difficult.

Parthia approached the river line and seeing the Seleucid was inviting them to cross and accept battle gladly obliged.  

The river was fordable, but deeper than expected and consequently troops had to form columns to cross. The Seleucid moved forward at a steady unhurried pace.

Those riders who lost their footing or slipped off their horses made the river crossing torturous and so the passage slowed giving the Seleucid time to close the distance.

Reaching the bank in time, the phalanx repelled the Parthian crossing, yet on the right flank, the thureophoroi and Cretans held their own but could not stop a third column from slipping through. In two bounds these managed to encircle the Seleucid position to threaten their rear from the hill.

Due to the prolonged period to cross some units panicked only to be swept away by the rapid current and the scythed chariot took care of the horse archers at the rear of the army, score 4 -  0 for the Seleucid.

Game three
Following up their victory, Antiochus found the Parthian ready for battle on a cavalry plain.

As the Parthian centre moved steadily forward, the horse archers on the flanks moved rapidly forward to encircle the Seleucid force.

Confident that the cataphract to make short work of the Greek phalanx the Parthians struck.

Gaps appeared up and down the line with each subsequent bound revealing isolated combats with troops on both sides recoiling or fleeing or dying, with the casualties mounting evenly for both sides, 2 – 2, 3 – 3, 4 - 4.

The battle ended when the Parthia warlord was surrounded and struck down by the members of the guard cavalry and Galatians. Score 6 – 5 for the Seleucid.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Project Rome – Seleucid vs. the Pre-Islamic Nomad Arab.

Rebelling satraps were not the only threat to the empire of Antiochus III but it had to contend with marauding bands of tent dwellers, usually dealt with by the local governors who marshaled their militia and local mounted levy. Such a sub list does not exist, so the nomad Arab now face the guard formations of foot and cavalry complete with phalanx, elephant, scythed chariot and xystophoroi cavalry. Leading the army would be one of the local governors while Antiochus III remained in his palace to await events.

II/19c Seleucid
1 x general (3Kn), 1 x cataphract (3Kn), 1 x elephant (El), 1 x scythed chariot (SCh), 4 x phalanx (4Pk), 2 x thureophoroi (4Ax), 1 x Cretan archer (Ps), 1 x slinger (Ps).

II/23a Pre-Islamic Nomad Arab
1 x general (LH), 1 x light horse (LH), 1 x scouts (LCm), 4 x camel riders (3Cm), 2 x swordsmen (4Bd), 2 x archer (3Bw), 1 x slinger (Ps).

Test game one
As defenders, the Nomads could anchor their left on a large area of rough ground and with the difficult hills set well to the rear of the Seleucid army the open space between was an ideal killing ground.

With a judicious pip score, the Nomads sprung into action to begin encircling the Seleucid left flank.

On the Nomad bound following, the entire force struck the entire Greek army at one time. This did not have the desired effect as they lost two of their number.

The Nomads were able to even the score at one point, but the scythed chariot cut two camel units in quick succession bring the score 2 – 4 for the Seleucid.

Test game two
The Nomads, again defending, were fortunate with placement of the terrain pieces that neither side looked appealing for the Seleucid.

Both sides were plagued with low pip scores such that the first clash was seen on turn four.

The following turns both sides were giving as good as they got, a Nomad archer downed a unit of pike, both elephant and chariot were lost and the Nomad camel troops were being cut to shreds. The final blow came with Antiochus being carried off the field giving bringing the score 4 – 3 for the Nomad Arab.

Test game three
The Nomads selected ideal ground for their infantry to operate from as their plans would require the mounted troops to support the infantry rather than attempt wasteful maneuvers.

The terrain had the desired effect of breaking up the Seleucid battle line such that Nomad mounted troops could attack isolated units or fall on exposed flanks.

The Nomads capitalized on the lethargic response from the Seleucid side (poor pip scores) to bring the score to 4 – 2 for the Nomad Arab.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Project Rome – Seleucid vs. Nabataea.

Antiochus III ascended to the throne at a young age and spent nearly the entire period of his rule at odds with rebellious satraps or leading punitive expeditions to the farthest parts of the empire. In the histories written by Livy and Polybios, Antiochus III is actively found leading his troops leaving his subordinates to care for themselves. Therefore, the 3Kn option for Antiochus III fits his characteristics perfectly as the implementation of 4Kn cataphracts into the Royal army took place near the end of his reign in approximately 200 BC.

There are six matches planned for this series of which half take place in Asia Minor, two in southern Syria and one in the east against the Parthian. The games do not reflect any chronological order but are conveniently arranged by geographical area.  

II/19c Seleucid
1 x general (3Kn), 1 x cataphract (3Kn), 1 x elephant (El), 1 x scythed chariot (SCh), 4 x phalanx (4Pk), 2 x thureophoroi (4Ax), 1 x Cretan archer (Ps), 1 x slinger (Ps).

II/22a Nabataea
1 x general (3Kn), 1 x horse archer (LH), 1 x swordsman (4Bd), 2 x javelinmen (3Ax), 6 x archers (3Bw), 1 x camel guard (3Cm).

Test game one
Nabataea defend and select difficult hills and wood to place hopefully as obstacles against the Seleucid, unfortunately a wealth of “sixes” gave that option to the Seleucid. Anchoring the right flank on a hill, the Nabataeans battle line stretched nearly 500 paces to end at a wood.

The Seleucid deployed in their customary “sword and shield” formation; phalanx and elephant forming the shield and the sword comprising of the cataphract and scythed chariot, both are supported by thureophoroi and light troops.

The Nabataeans wheeled their archer groups hoping to catch the phalanx in a cross fire while on the extreme flanks javelinmen and horse archers are encircling the Seleucid line.

Placing trust in the support units to deal with threat to both flanks, the two wings struck.

The two archer groups held their ground sending a few formations back on their heels and quickly ended the threat of the scythed chariot.

The situation took a turn for the worst when Antiochus was carried off the field leaving the entire right gone. Ignorant of the loss, the phalanx managed to surround the Nabataea King but was saved at the last moment by the timely charge of the camel guard. Score 4 – 3 for the Nabataeans.

Test game two
The Seleucid, now defending a valley deployed in their familiar formation and the Nabataea emboldened by their recent victory formed up in two archer groups on either side of the king with the camel guard and horse archers forming a reserve to support the left flank.

Pelted by arrows the scythed chariot had enough and retired to a safe distance, other Seleucid units were not of like mind and surged forward. Now, one element short of victory, the Greeks looked to their king to gauge the smile on his face – What? Again?

Redoubling their efforts (extra pip cost for no general on the field) the Seleucid phalanx and elephant managed to pin and eliminate the Nabataea king and broke their army. Score 2 – 5 for the Seleucid.

Test game three
The Nabataea, now defending, selected an ideal battlefield which constricted the Seleucid deployment.
This had a decisive outcome for the game as the two Seleucid wings could not mutual support one another and coordination became further exacerbated with a series of low pip scores.

The Nabataea was quick to take advantage of the enemy indecision and moved their archers forward.

On the Seleucid bound, the elephant fled from the hailstorm and the phalanx managed to deflect the descending rain of arrows but nowhere along the line could any unit move forward.

Still aching from wound incurred in two battles, Antiochus deployed his group while under fire and losing one of their numbers for the effort. The action in the centre and right flank became a confused mess with the elephant eliminated by their King and his pursuit sealed the fate of a formation of phalanx. Score 4 – 3 to the Nabataeans.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Historical match up – Rome vs. the Seleucid.

Rome and the Seleucid met at Magnesia in 190 BC and though defeated Antiochus III still held power over a vast empire. For many gamers, the Seleucid army is not an easy one to use as it is pip costly especially when using elephants and scythed chariots, but then wheat is a Seleucid army without them?

In their favour, the changes to 3.0 have made the phalanx easier to handle and cataphract (4Kn) no longer pursue as do their 3Kn cousins. 

This completes the test series for Rome and next week a new series will begin featuring the army of Antiochus III (Seleucid).

II/33 Polybian Rome
1 x general (Cv, 1 x cavalry (Cv), 2 x triarii (Sp), 4 x hastati/principes (4Bd), 2 x velites (Ps), 2 x allied auxiliaries (4Ax).

II/19c Seleucid
1 x general (4Kn), 1 x cataphract (4Kn), 1 x elephant (El), 1 x scythed chariot (SCh), 4 x phalanx (4Pk), 2 x thureophoroi (4Ax), 1 x Cretan archer (Ps), 1 x slinger (Ps).

Test game one.
Seleucid defending placed the terrain, a BUA, two gentle hills and a wood and deployed in an extended line with the phalanx on the left and cataphract on the right. Rome squared off and matched the Seleucid line and interspersed the triarii between the hastati and principes, allied units were placed on the extreme end of the line and all cavalry formed up as a reserve.

The Seleucid moved as two separate wings in echelon, the maneuver would have the phalanx pin the Roman line while the cataphract and scythed chariot would deal the final blow.

That moment came quickly as the phalanx did their job and surged forward while Roman determination sent the cataphract recoiling back. Despite the minor embarrassment, the Seleucid were ahead 2 – 0.  

For some unexplained reason, the Seleucid could do no wrong; the phalanx ground their way forward killing Romans, the Scythed Chariot through the Roman centre and the cataphract finished the job they started out to do, 7 – 0 for Seleucid.

Test game two.
Rome, now the defender, took advantage of the hill placement and BUA to deploy its force between them which positioned their line further back.  

Positioned further back, Rome improved her deployment forcing the Seleucid line to wheel right and break her alignment.

This had the desired effect of exposing the flanks of the phalanx to be dealt with by the heavy troops while the lighter troops kept the Seleucid cataphract occupied. 1 – 4 for Rome.

Test game three.
The Seleucid as defender placed the terrain so as to provide maximum space for the army. The final game saw the first use of an “allied contingent”, the Pergamene (2 x 3Kn, 1 x Ps) and these can be seen at the far right of the Roman line.

Despite being plagued with a series of “1” for pip scores, the Seleucid managed to bring her line forward.

Pergamene have rolled up the Seleucid left flank but the cataphract have made a dangerous breakthrough to threaten the Roman command and the score is even at 3 – 3.

Repeating their decisive maneuver at Magnesia, the Pergamene fell on the exposed centre while the hastati turned the phalanx from the opposite side and now every element was engaged along the battle-line. It was close and the final score was 3 – 4 for Rome.

The closes the series of test games for the mid-Republic and the next series will feature the Seleucid against their historical opponents.


Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Project Rome – historical match up – Carthage

Carthage had bedeviled Rome for seventeen years on Italian soil during the 2nd Punic War and hopefully they would duplicate that in this series of test games.

Looking at the army list below, the Carthaginian have a number of possible options, one can double the number of Cv and LH or forego the advantage and use 2 elephant. You can also add an extra punch by adding the Gallic warband which is the option I used.

II/33 Polybian
2 x Cv (including general), 2 x hastati (4Bd), 2 x principes (4Bd), 2 x triarii (Sp), 2 x velites (Ps), 2 x Latin auxiliaries (4Ax).

II/32a Carthage
1 x general (Cv), 1 x Cv or El, 1 x El or LH, 1 x Numidian (LH), 3 x Libyan (Sp), 1 x Spanish (4Ax), 2 x Gallic (4Wb) or (4Ax), 1 x Caetrati (Ps), 1 x slinger (Ps)

Test game one
Rome as defender placed two plough, two gentle hills and one wood on the board. As Carthage had more cavalry Rome would deploy further back and take advantage of the wood and hill.

Surprisingly, Carthage did not deploy directly in front but positioned her centre on the wood. After two turns Carthage would wheel to the right forcing Rome to come off the hill to conform to the new line.

The Carthaginian spear maintained a steady front while the Gallic warband and elephant were dispatching their opposition poised in front of them.

In a desperate move to hold back any possible breakthrough the Roman consul supported by the principes eliminated the elephant. By then the clockwork destruction by the Gallic warband brought the score to 4 – 1 for Carthage.

Test game two
Note: Reviewing the photos while writing the reports I noticed the two plough should have a space of 1BW between them. This was done out of habit as the fields are used primarily for the gunpowder era battles.

Rome defended and was blessed with a die roll of one; this meant a brief respite as Carthage would plod through the fields at 1BW per turn. This actually turned to an advantage for Carthage as it would give the flanks ample time to position them for the “final” crunch.

After turn four Rome decided to switch from a passive to an active role and launched an attack on the Carthaginian left flank.  Carthage enjoyed Rome’s eagerness to dance and in two bounds eliminated both wings and an element in centre to bring the score to 4 – 0 for Carthage.

Test game three
Rome, down two games, needed to make some changes to save her reputation; an allied contingent was selected from among the historical options – Gallic. These replaced three foot units giving Rome cavalry parity and good troops to use against Carthaginian spear.

Both sides deployed facing one another and Gallic forces for both sides were placed on the right flank. Moving forward, both sides overlapped the enemy right flank but this did not have the desired effect, with the exception of the odd recoil, both sides held their ground.

The following turn both sides turned each other’s flank and by now both sides scored even, 2 – 2.

Roman spear and principes neutralized the elephant’s roll in the game and with good die rolls were able to push forward cutting the spearmen and Spanish auxiliaries to bring the score to 2 – 4 for Rome.