Sunday 21 January 2018

Historical Match up – Old Kingdom Egyptian vs. Early Libyan horde

Throughout the history of Old and Middle Kingdom Egypt, the tribesmen of Libya were a constant nuisance raiding the delta regions and fertile areas along the Nile River. There are instances of Libyans reaching as far south as the Nubian frontier and this will be played out in the coming month. 

In this second match, the Early Libyans are joined by other tribes (6 x 5Hd) eager to enjoy the riches that the western delta has to offer.

Game 1
Libya on the attack caught the Egyptian forces with their backs against one of the tributaries of the Nile. With little space to deploy, the Egyptians used the marshes to protect their left flank and used the conscript infantry to protect their right.

Libyan strategy was simple, overwhelm the Egyptian centre, while all the skirmishers on the right flank would infiltrate the marshes and turn the enemy left. On the opposite flank, Libyan archers would support the main assault.

Egypt elected to meet the tribesmen and so wheeled their battle line to conform to the Libyan advance. Skirmishers on the right flank would hopefully keep the enemy archers busy.

Archery fire from both sides effectively disrupted each other’s battle line.

Egyptian skirmishers on the left were becoming casualties but they still held their ground. Egyptian archery held the first wave of tribesmen in check so conscript infantry was able to fall on their flank destroying a unit.

A second unit of horde fell to the discipline ranks of the Egyptian conscripts leaving a gaping hole in the Libyan line. The Egyptian skirmishers on the right flank now close on the Libyan archers. 

With the Libyan archers destroyed, their general had no option but to call a general retreat. Score 6 (+2 x 5Hd) – 1 for Egypt.

Game 2
Fleeing south, presumably to reach the Fariyum Oasis before turning west, the Libyans continued their pillaging. The Egyptians rapidly caught up with the Libyans ready for battle. With their left flank resting on an area of marsh their battle line seethed with masses of tribesmen.

The Egyptians took up their standard battle formation with the nomarch, retinue and archers in the centre, conscript infantry to the right and skirmishers extending both flanks. The menfat were positioned behind the archers as a reserve.

Both lines moved steadily forward, Egyptian skirmishers on the right were eager for battle and moved ahead of the main battle line.

The Libyans struck first forcing the Egyptian line to buckle, but it held.

After a brisk fight on the Egyptian right the skirmishers fled with both units of tribesmen in hot pursuit. Elsewhere, the Egyptians held the line and in some places were able to force the tribesmen back even destroying a few units.

The battle took a desperate turn as the tribesmen now free of the Egyptian skirmishers fell on the exposed flanks of the conscript infantry. Their opportune aid help destroy the conscripts leaving one unit of menfat to hold off five times its number.

The nomarch assessing the situation knew the only chance of victory was to attack the reserve units where their leader was positioned. The Libyan chieftain gleefully accepted the challenge attacking the nomarch and his retinue. 

Better armed, the Egyptian retinue forced the Libyan chieftain back, but this had the unfortunate result of moving closer to Libyan help. Elsewhere, the Libyan tribesmen succeeding in taking out the menfat and archers that remained of the centre leaving the nomarch with scant few troops to call for a retreat. Score 6 (+2 x 7Hd) - 5 (+ 2 x 5Hd) for the Early Libyan.

Game 3
Pleased with their victory over the Egyptians, the Libyans returned north to continue plundering the rich delta region. Encamped on the banks of the Nile, the Libyans found a smaller force of Egyptians barring their path homeward. In the distance, the sails of Egyptian ships could be seen approaching the encampment and so the Libyans readied themselves for battle.

Leaving a small force to deal with an eventual attack from the water, the Libyan tribesmen hurled themselves at the awaiting Egyptian battle line.

Through poor communication (low pip scores) the Libyan leader witnessed the destruction of his reserve units and the oncoming line of enemy infantry. Further away, the Egyptian nomarch was experiencing a similar plight as he was surrounded by horde of tribesmen.

Breaking out of his encirclement, the Egyptian nomarch could see the standard of the Libyan leader fall announcing his passage to the afterlife. Without a leader, the Libyans fought desperately to survive.

The end came when the menfat destroyed the corps of archers bringing the battle to a close. Score 7g (+3 x 5Hd) – 1 for Egypt.


  1. The horde option did produce a lively game improving the Libyan’s chance of success.
    However, the two losses do make this option a ‘double edge’ sword.
    With more practice I think this could be a formidable Biblical army.

  2. Hi Robert
    Three fun battles. Great write ups and photo’s.
    A gaming colleague of mine has the 6 x 5Hd Libyans, and they’re SO hard to defeat.
    More reports please!!
    ps - in game one, I’m not sure if the Libyans, as invader, are normally allowed to choose ‘opposite the waterway’ as their baseline. Was it ‘standard DBA, or a campaign tweak?

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  4. Martin,
    The series of historical matches did spring from our campaign games.

    And to speed the placement of terrain we kept the ‘homeland’ geography of one side with the role of attacker/defender determined by who was the victor in the previous game.

    Roads are seldom used which offers the attacker a greater selection of their side prompting the defender to become creative. Boards are 20BW x 20BW and with waterways reaching a maximum of 3BW + 1BW of good going there is enough room to deploy.

    Facing the Nile, the Libyan player cleverly denied the Egyptians from using their landing of troops (2 – 3 elements) by water.

  5. Excellent. Linking games by a campaign mechanism is a great idea.....less of a random encounter.
    We rarely use the ‘big boards’, but occasionally do. I guess with infantry armies and no Lah/Cv roaming around there’s less problems with flanks being exposed (?)


  6. Martin,
    Actually more so as psiloi shine in these games.

    They may use a subsequent move to reach difficult ground and this can bring them into rear areas of an enemy. There is less likelihood of discarded terrain pieces due to lack of space.

    They can hamper an enemy’s advance by their mere presence {laying a threat zone (TZ)}; useful when tying down reserves.

    In combat against certain infantry types they ‘flee’ on scores of twice as many.

  7. It's nice to read how the rules play in practice.