Saturday, 31 December 2016

Seleukid-Ptolemaic mini-campaign, part 1

Well, it's been a poor year in terms of gaming, but yesterday I managed to get down to Aaron's for three games of Lost Battles. Aaron had stiched together a mini-campaign with him taking control of forces based on 3rd-century BC Ptolemaics, and me with their Selucid equivalents.  Each side would consist of 66-68 FV ("fighting value") of forces, with battlefields taken from the rules book, and simple campaign rules to determine who would deploy first, etc.

The first game used the Paraitacene battlefield, featuring a line of hills along one flank, and open ground elsewhere. The "Aronaic" forces featured a strong Macedonian settler phalanx, with no less than 10 units of average phalangites (APH), plus two of veterans representing the royal agema, etc (VPH). These were supplemented by a unit of mercenary infantry (AHI, average heavy infantry), and numerous levy Engyptian light infantry (3 x LLI). Theer was also two groups  of African elephants (with their integral infantry escorts; AEL); a unit of light horse (ALC), as well as two of settler xystophohori (lancers, AHC). The king (AL, an "average leader") chose to fight on foot at the head of his agema, rather than mounted.

Initial skirmishing; the guys on the big square base are mine.
The "Sarlukids" had a somewhat inferior Macedonian settler phalanx: 8 APH, supplemented by two contingents of mercenary foot (AHI). The Sarlukid infantry argyraspides had eveidently been left at home to guard against potential usurpers... The two herds of elephants were of course Asiatic rather than African (IEL), and in addition to their escorts, further reasonable light infantry was available from the various subject peoples of the empire (2 x ALI). The Sarlukid horse was however definitely stronger than their Aroniac counterparts: two units of settler xystophoroi (AHC), one of Tarantines (ALC), plus the mounted agema and the royal companions (2 x VHC). The Sarlukid king (AL) rode at the head of his companions.

Sarlukid left (foreground) and Aronaic right (distance)
Aaron deployed first, with his veteran phalangites pushing quickly forward on his right wing. The majority of his horse was also on his right, while his left was refused. Since the great majority of my horse was massed on my left, this would lead to a big cavalry fight on my left wing.

Seeing his cavalry inferiority, Aaron skillfuly redeployed his right-most elephant corps even further out to his right (see photo left, out of focus in the distance). This would stymie my cavalry assault for quite a while, giving Aaron time to assault my weaker phalanx with his stronger one, further aided by his commander-in-chief being presnt in person.

However, eventually, my left cavalry wing overwhelmed his right despite his elephants in this zone. However, in Lost Battles, a victorious cavalry wing cannot automatically cease pursuit of broken foes, and the extra turn spent turning my horse inwards to assail his phalanx meant my centre was in dire straits.

Crisis point! 
So, it was a race - would I roll his pahalnx up before he could punch through my centre? To the right you can see my cavalry have just cleared my left wing (the unit furthest from the camera is my light horse, advancing into the now-vacant Aronaic zone), but my central zone is in trouble - every unit there is spent (indicated by the "casualty" markers in use - the little round bases with one or two javelins impalled head-first in the earth). Aaron would repeatedly shatter units in this zone in the next couple of turns, but some excellent morale dice rolling rolling saved my bacon here, and I squeezed out a victory, albeit at the cost of my centre taking heavy casualties. A close-run affair!


  1. It was a very tense game, and ruined my confidence for the rest of the day!

    You modestly fail to mention how your Sarlukids outflanked my phalanx zones in the centre, thereby preventing me from getting the best out of my greatest asset, and also how your judicious placement of the superior Indian elephants negated the influence of my own and provided offensive punch where it was needed. Finally, your king was inspirational!


    1. Well, I look forward to seeing the official Aronaic History of the conflict, then ;-)