Tuesday 24 September 2019

Parthia vs. the Early Sassanid

The Battle of Hormozdgan marked the eclipse of the Parthian Empire by the Sassanid. In this engagement, an all cavalry force of Sassanian met the Parthian army and her allies. Composition of the forces for this test are listed below. Both sides field 24 elements making one large command. As Parthia are initially defending, terrain pieces are selected from the arable list, but are limited to what one can expect in the arid region of the south.

Game 1 saw both sides manoeuvring bringing some units into position to skirmish. On the fourth turn, casualties began to mount and with the loss or Sassanid levy I realized I fielded the incorrect sub-list. Ardashir I had no horde. The game was played out in either case, with the Parthians ending the game with a fine 6 – 8 victory.

Game 2 saw the Sassanid with a corrected army composition which improved their game. This did end in a Sassanid victory, but game three demonstrated better deployment and tactics and report can be read below.

Game 3
Parthia, as defender, deployed first placing its militia archers forward with horse archers covering their flanks. Behind them were the noble armoured cavalry and further back were single units of horse archers positioned to support the cataphract cavalry or protect the rear area from enemy activity.

Sassan formed its main battle line in three divisions with left and centre groups comprised of asavaran cavalry and the right division formed by the majority of tribal horse archers. Each division was supported by an equal number of noble or asavaran cavalry forming a second line.  

Parthia moved slowly forward keeping pace with the militia archers. Sassan responded by probing the Parthian left. Easily repulsed, this may have been a distraction to mask the real assault developing in the centre as the asavaran moved forward. This caught the Parthian horse archers off guard resulting in a few casualties. 

Parthian militia responded by showering the asavaran cavalry, who recoiled back from the fire storm. Undeterred, the centre division renewed their assault bringing them into contact with the Parthian armoured cavalry led by their subordinate general. 

Buckling under the asavaran charge, the Parthian subordinate general fell sending a wave of uncertainty among the Parthian in centre. Sensing an opportunity to widen a gap in the Parthian line, Ardashir (CinC) moved his reserve line of nobles (recognizable by their flags) to add their weight to the combat.

As the combat continued in the centre, the Parthian commander moved his armoured cavalry but noted the Sassanian entire left wing and its reserve were moving forward to engulf the Parthian right. In a quandary, the Parthian commander’s choice became clear as all that could be seen of his centre were the Sassanid cavalry regrouping with Ardashir at their head. 

Unable to continue the fight, Parthia signalled a general retreat leaving the field to the Sassanid. Score 4 – 9, a victory for Sassan. 

Double the number listed below will bring the total to 24 elements for each command.

1 x General (4Kn), 2 x nobles (4Kn), 7 x tribal horse archers (LH), 2 x militia archers (3Bw).

1 x General (3Kn), 2 x nobles (3Kn), 6 x asavaran cavalry (Cv), 3 x tribal horse archers (LH). 

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