Tuesday 30 August 2016

Project Rome – Seleucid vs. Armenia

The kingdom of Armenia is the latest opponents for the Seleucid. Historically, the Satrapy of Armenia was part of the Seleucid Empire and at times the Seleucid kings would need to remind them of their allegiance. These conflicts involve primarily the royal houses of the Orontid and the Artaxiad. Readers wishing to dig deeper in the period I would recommend the CambridgeHistory of Iran, volume 3; the Seleucid, Parthian and Sassanid period, part 1.

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/28b Armenia
1 x general (4Kn), 1 x cataphract (4Kn), 4 x horse archers (LH), 4 x tribesmen (3Ax), 2 x archers (Ps).

Game one
Armenia as defender placed three difficult hills and two woods. As attacker, the Seleucid denied the Armenian the better ground and both sides deployed for battle.

Armenia had split her infantry into two wings with objectives to seize the high ground and flank the Seleucid line. Her cavalry would move forward when those objectives were reached. On the hilltop, Greek skirmishers were kept busy by the Armenian javelinmen and their archers managed to slip past to set up position to shoot at the phalanx. The Seleucid moved the chariot forward to extend the main line.

Armenia timed her assault well breaking up the Seleucid battle line; this action did cost some light horse but opened opportunity for the javelinmen to work around exposed flanks. Armenia gained full possession of the hill and the phalanx were feeling the danger from above while having their attention held to front by the light horse. Despite the losses being even for both sides (2 - 2), the loss of the elephant opened a huge gap now quickly filled by Armenian cavalry.

The battle quickly turned into a brawl which the Greeks would not regain their control; subsequent losses to both sides gave the Armenian a victory of 4 – 3.

Game two
The tables were turned and the Seleucid placed terrain which Armenia selected the most advantageous for her deployment.

The Seleucid line wheeled to the left leading with a mixed brigade of scythed chariot and auxiliaries while the phalanx wheeled on the spot to form an oblique formation. The Armenian light horse moved to a flanking position but the Seleucid reserve cavalry were ready.

The Seleucid right connected and did the job they were expected to do. One the Seleucid left, the elephant met an early death from Armenian bow. Score was still even 2 – 2.

The scythed chariot ground to a halt and was taken out by javelinmen, but the Galatians were experiencing a “blood lust” and two enemies to end the game, 3 – 4 for the Seleucid.

Game three
As attacker, the Seleucid deployed with two difficult hills anchoring her right which altered the usual deployment; the elephant and scythed chariot formed up to the left of the phalanx. The Armenian positioned at the end of the valley placed all her cavalry in the centre and split her infantry into two wings.

Securing the hill on the right, the Galatians and lights were position to support the phalanx when it moved forward. The Armenian light horse threatened the Greek left flank, but to their embarrassment, they were surprised at the tenacity of the Cretan archers.

As a tightly wound spring the entire Seleucid line surged forward; the phalanx crashed into Armenian javelinmen sending one tumbling to its death, the elephant dispatched the cataphract cavalry while the Armenian general breached the Greek wall by destroying the scythed chariot. The Cretans smartly moved away from the Armenian light horse to let the Companions and Agema move forward.

The phalanx made short work of its opposition while the elephant was herding its enemy in the direction of the Armenian camp. The Armenian general having no support nearby was quickly encircled and met his death ending the game, 1 – 4 for the Seleucid.  

Friday 26 August 2016

Project Rome – Civil unrest in Media.

Continuing the series of test games this set reflects the rebellious period experienced by Antiochus III. After the death of Seleucus II, Molon, satrap of Media proclaimed himself king in 222 BC. This placed the young Antiochus III under severe pressure to put down an immediate revolt within the empire before pursing any campaign in the east to recover lost territory.

The composition for both armies was identical, but would winning a game be a question of luck?

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/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).

Test game one.
The Royal army rests its left near the outer wall of the village and the infantry formations including the phalanx extent to the hill on their right. Perched on the crest is Antiochus with the majority of the mounted formations supported by thureophoroi and Cretan archers.
Centering his phalanx across from the Royal army, the Usurper has split his mounted units on either side of the phalanx, auxiliaries and light troops are deployed to either wing. 

Both sides attempt to wheel to their left, Antiochus is planning to pin the rebel forces against the wood and the Usurper is intent on drawing the Royal army off the hill.

The rebel right flank strikes first sending the royalist back on their heels and in the subsequent bound the rebel left follows up their success by sending Antiochus wounded back to his camp. 2 – 0 for the rebels.

The phalanxes were now operating in smaller chiliarchia while the elephants trundled about creating havoc for both sides.

The Silver shields levelled their pikes to send the enemy elephant back on to its own pike unit. This was the final touch to bring a 4 – 2 win for Antiochus who receives news of the victory while having his wounds dressed.

Test game two.
Both armies deployed over ideal terrain for their phalanxes, while the line of hill and wood offered modest protection for both sides the open flank is where both generals positioned themselves and their mounted formations.

Moving forward at a brisk pace, the Royalist right would strike first followed by the phalanx and support troops.

Royalist chariots cut down the head of the rebel cavalry column only to fall victim to the Usurper and mounted guard. Antiochus and Agema swept their opposition and would halt their pursuit the fall on the exposed rebel flank.

The rebel elephant unit threatened the Silver shields open flank but the timely interdiction of slingers drew the attention of the elephants elsewhere. Elsewhere, the combined effort of the pike and elephants destroyed half the rebel phalanx and the final stroke finished the rebel usurper bringing the battle to an end. Score 7 – 1 for Antiochus.

Test game three.
For the final game of the series, both sides formed their units in near mirror image of one another. Would this help the Usurper?

Both sides moved against one another with equal ferocity.   

When the dust finally settled, both sides were three down and the battle shifted toward the hill, here both generals were trying to bring the battle to its conclusion.

With both sides experiencing low pip scores the infantry of both sides were content to become spectators to the cavalry action taking place on the slopes. The Royalist with a pip score of “2” moved the elephant who trumpeted their delight to help bring the usurper to his death. Score 5 – 3 for Antiochus.

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.