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). 

Tuesday 17 September 2019

Arab Conquest vs. the Sassanid

Continuing the larger command test series (24 elements) the Sassaniid now confront the Arab Conquest army of the ‘b’ sub-list. The army now include a complement of Jund cavalry which effectively increases their mobility in battle. The later Sassanid generals are now cataphract cavalry, with the remainder of the army comprising of the usual asavaran cavalry, elephants and levy.

Game one proved a narrow victory (7 - 8) for the Sassanid and the Arab Conquest rebounding the following turn with a 5 – 8 + Hd, victory to even the score. 

In game three, feeling confident, the Arabs deployed their infantry in three groups leaving sufficient opening between for supporting cavalry to move through. As defender, the Sassanid deployed first forming a more conventional battle line supported by two reserve formation. Light horse was positioned on the flanks to extend the battle line. 

The Sassanid moved cautiously forward leaving the Arabs to seize the opportunity to strike first. Arab archers moved through the village while infantry advanced against the light horse of the Sassanid army. Driving them back would open a gap for the supporting Jund cavalry to fall on an exposed flank.

The Sassanid assault on the Arab centre destroyed several units of infantry prompting the Arab commander to commit his reserve to stem the tide. On the right of centre, Jund cavalry fell on the open flank of the Sassanid levy dispersing them to the four winds. 

The Jund cavalry quickly followed up their success to engage the elephant on that wing, On the opposite wing, the elephant wreaked havoc among the Arab infantry whiel the conflict in-between remianed in question.

Gaining the upper hand, the Sassanid opened gaps in the Arab line prompting the Arab general (SG) in that sector to move forward. 

Smashing its opposition, the elephant moved to attack the general. Seeing the conflict nearby, Asavaran cavalry joined the melee to bring down the subordinate commander breaking the Arab resolve to continue the battle. Score 9 – 5 + 2 Hd for Sassan. 

Sassaniid Army 404 – 651 AD
1 x General (4Kn), 6 x Asavaran (Cv), 2 x vassal horse archers (LH), 1 x elephant (El), 2 x levies (7Hd).

Arab Conquest 639 – 660 AD
1 x General (Cv), 4 x Jund cavalry (Cv), 1 x Muslim archers (3Bw), 5 x swordsmen (4Bd), 1 x javelinmen (Ps).  

Double the above quantities to bring the total to 24 elements.

Tuesday 10 September 2019

Late Imperial Rome vs. the Sassanid

Those of you who have regularly followed this blog may remember the games played between armies with uneven numbers or those between commands comprising of 18 elements. Following a tip from the Fanaticus Forum, I continued my experiments with an even larger command size and moved the scale to 24 elements.

For these tests, Rome invaded Persian territory giving the Sassanid choice of terrain features from the arable list. Aside from the obligatory BUA, the other features, two difficult hills and scrub, seemed appropriate for an arid clime. The gameboard was increased by half producing a area measuring 120 cm x 80 cm.

In the first game, the Sassanid deployment formed a crescent curve with the levy and elephants forming its tips and Asavaran cavalry forming its base. The Immortals and generals formed a central reserve behind the centre and tribal light horse took positions on both flanks. 

Rome countered this by placing its legions and auxilia to contain the levy and elephants and the clibanarii, equites and generals formed a central reserve to deal with the Asavaran cavalry. The battle opened with the levy supported by elephants surpassing all expectations by crushing their opposition leaving the asavaran to pick off isolated units. Rome could not respond well enough which ensured a Sassan a decisive 8 – 2 victory.

Rome, now defending, revised its deployment to fit the constricted open ground between scrub and difficult hills. This meant all the cavalry were positioned in the second line. Opposing them, the Sassanid formed two wings with its levy and elephants on the right and on the left the majority of the Asavaran cavalry. Behind them, the Immortals and generals formed a reserve. This novel deployment had the opposite effect for the Sassanid as the legions and auxilia made short work of crushing the Sassanid cavalry to earn and 8 – 0 victory.

while attention was devoted to one sector. I decided to modify this and utilise the second general to pass on commands thereby extending the CinC’s control a further 8BW. (Note, only the CinC could benefit from the +1 bonus for combat). This small change help speed the game in the subsequent two tests. Each game became less chess-like and developed as actual battle would with assaults stalling, regrouping of elements to continue an assault or concentrate an attack elsewhere. Game three proved another victory for Sassan (Sassan 8 – 3 + Hd) which took seven turns to complete. However, game four was exceptional and here follows an expanded report.

Late Imperial Rome vs. the Sassanid.
In the final battle, Rome placed its legions in centre and on either flank were equal numbers of Clibanarii and auxilia. Archers were placed to extend the battle line further. Each were supported by the equites and both generals and the remaining cavalry formed a central reserve. The Sassanid matched their opponent placing an equal number of levy and elephants on its flanks filling the gap between them with Asavaran cavalry. The Immortals and both generals formed a reserve and more Asavaran cavalry and tribal light horse were placed to support each flank.

Roman plans to destroy the levy and elephants went astray as the Sassanid right struck first. Casualties fell evenly on both sides but the severity of the fight blunted any further effort to continue leaving both commanders to look elsewhere to gain leverage. The centre was next.

In the centre, the Asavaran cavalry made repeated assaults against the legions and heavy fighting caused casualties for both sides. Nonetheless, gaps appeared in the Roman line with the Sassanid intent on widening the gap between the Roman centre and its left flank. Sensing the treat, both commanders moved their reserves forward as the score reached an even 6 – 6.

To further relieve the danger to the centre, the Roman commander ordered the uncommitted right flank to engage the enemy. Here, the auxilia swept over the hill to threaten the Sassanid line while the remaining troops engaged the levy and elephants. This had the adverse effect as the Sassanid demonstrated greater fortitude and mauled the Roman cavalry and archers. This tipped the balance forcing Rome to call a retreat leaving the field to the Sassaniid, score 8 – 6.

The Roman army was twice the following: 
1 x General (Cv), 2 x clibanarii (4Kn), 1 x equites (Cv), 2 x light horse (LH), 3 x legionnaires (4Bd), 2 x auxilia palatina (4Ax), 1 x archers (4Bw).  

The Sassanid also doubled the following for its single command:
1 x General (Cv), 6 x Asavaran cavalry (Cv), 2 x tribal horse (LH), 1 x elephant (El), 2 x levy (7Hd).