Sunday 27 March 2016

An eastern battle – 221 AD.

Inspired by Anthony Riches’ Thunder of the Gods, I fashioned a game between a similar compositions of troops but constructed as an open battle.

Two Roman commands (II/64b) would meet the King of Adiabene (II/22e) supported by a Parthian ally (II/37) led by the 22nd son of the King of Kings. The King of Adiabene as defender of his realm (Dry) set up a position between patches of rocky ground and difficult hills. The initial deployment had the Romans marching toward the foothills to meet the two armies.

Adiabene fielding more infantry than cavalry would position its force on the left to take advantage of the rough ground while Parthia, positioned on the right would have plenty of open ground to maneuver and outflank the approaching Roman force.

Having a homogeneous army, the Roman general deployed a smaller command of nine elements (Ax and Cv) to support the main effort comprised of all the legions, archers, cataphract and light horse. The main body would focus their attack on the Parthians while the smaller command would keep the snake-charmers occupied.

The Roman main body performed their task well enough despite a few turns with low pip scores. With a steady advance their archery fire frequently disrupts the Parthian battle such that any thought of a cohesive assault would not be possible. If an attack were to be launched then this would be executed piecemeal.

At the very moment Parthia did reform their battle-line Rome struck (turn 3). Roman legionnaires pushed back vassal knights leaving their King exposed. The King faced archers, but supported by blade were able to best the general bringing the score 2–0. The next unit of vassal knights recoiled for their effort and next to them the light horse were crushed by the Roman Cataphract, bringing the score 3-0. A last melee saw two more Parthian light horse succumb to encirclement by legionnaires and Roman light cavalry score 5-0 and Parthia demoralized in one bound.

Seeing the Parthian banner fall, the King of Adiabene called for a general marathon run back to the city fortress.

Reading the entrails.
Since starting the Severan Project, this was the first opportunity I had for Rome to meet Parthia and I was pleased with the results especially as the composition of the two commands took on a different form than I was used to. Generally, I like to have some legionnaires supporting each command, however, this time a small command of six auxilia support by three cavalry and the remainder of troop types grouped in the main body.

Interspersed between the blade the two archer elements could effectively deal with enemy cavalry and this mix of troop types (Bd + Bw)  flanked on either end by Cataphract created a battle-line of eight elements, a very solid looking front which Parthia could not hope to match if they made use of LH columns which they did.  

This would be interesting to follow up on this with Adiabene hiding behind its fortress walls hoping for a relief force. That relief force would contain the remnant of this Parthian force reinforced by a new Parthian army under the command of the 21st son of the King of Kings. Roman strength would remain the same.  


  1. Nice looking battle...and great hills!

  2. Thanks Phil,

    I am experimenting with a number of scenarios for the Severan campaign in the east and Ardashir's rise to power and toppling the Parthian Empire. A few Persian Sassan battles will take place in Armenia with more hills. : )


  3. lovely looking game and games report....and yes indeed, more Parthians on the field the better chance of a deceive victory! :o)

  4. I have enough Parthians for a big battle game, but the more I research the early 3rd century the more I note how fragmented the command was. Parthian armies at this time would depend on a gathering of allies and in some cases they were not very enthusiastic.

    The next battle for Rome will meet an increased number of Parthian cavalry.