Saturday, 31 December 2016

Seleukid-Ptolemaic mini-campaign, part 2

Following on from our first clash, the Sarlukids looked to extend their territorial ambitions. The second battle of the day used the 1st Chaironea battlefield from the rule book. This feature not one but two streams meandering across the battlefield, as well as a pocket of marsh and three hills to congest the field of play.

Both the forces in play were very similar to those used before. The Aronaic horse was definitely improved in quality (1 x ALC replaced by 2 x VHC), while the infantry was somewhat less numerous, with 1 x APH and1 x LLI missing from the previous line up. Overall, the forces consisted of:

Aroniacs:                    Sarlukids:
2 x AEL                      2 x IEL
9 x APH                      8 x APH
1 x VPH + AL             2 x AHI
1 x VPH                      1 x ALI
2 x LLI                        2 x LLI
1 x AHI                       2 x AHC
1 x ALC                      1 x ALC
1 x AHC                      1 x VHC + AL
2 x VHC                      1 x VHC
FV: 68                          FV: 68

The field viewed from my side of the table. Terrain by Aaron (some work still to be done).
My generalship in this contest was not the best. I failed to tailor the forces in each of my zones to properly account for the attack limits imposed by the terrain. As a result, my left, while numerous, couldn't bring its weight to fully bear on the opposition properly, due to the watercourse, while Aaron's opposite force, consisting of smaller units, was able to strike more tellingly. Thus, despite the presence of my king in this sector, I was soon in trouble, and the spent markers quickly added up.

As a result, I was forced into attempting "rallies",  always a dicey proposition, especially if you are a mere "average" leader... Too many rallies, and the inevitable happened: I lost my leader.  Now the army technically survived this loss, but not for long. Morale plummeted, and command and control was crippled, so I was unable to salvage victory from other zones were I had been faring better. It was just left for Aaron to mop of the paralysed remnants of my army (a unit of light infantry in the marsh on my right was doing good work holding off his horse there, but was then overwhelmed, for example).

We were thus on equal honours after two games. The final showdown took place on a battlefield taken from Gabiene. A plain, devoid of significant terrain, but with the wrinkle that "dry and dusty" conditions were in effect. This meant that every turn, there was a 50-50 chance of a turn reversal occurring, meaning the player who previoulsy went second would now go first - which could be good or bad, depending on the situation. Extra fog-of-war randomness!

Sarlukid elephant, with new-fangled tower on top.
Army compositions changed somewhat again. Aaron's forces had only one unit of elephants this time around, and an extra unit of average light cavalry in compensation. Mine had more extensive changes. There were now three contingents of elephants instead of two, and sporting towers as the campaign date had marched on. However, the two units of mercenary heavy infantry had been reduced a single large unit of native levies, and one of the average light infantry units had disappeared. One of the veteran horse units was now only average, but it had an "uninspired leader" accompanying it. Further, my side had an unfortified camp to protect.

This battle was even more closely fought than the other two, and both sides suffered heavily. My sub-general, on my right, should have given me the edge in the cavalry fight there, but Aaron's forces were better man-for-man (VHC against AHC), and prevailed much to my disappointment. They were then able to sweep around the field and threaten my camp. Aaron pulled an excellent move by squeezing a unit of LI between the battered lines to encircle some of my infantry units, making them very nervous. If his victorious cavalry sacked my camp, my by-then precarious morale situation would have shifted over to "sunk", so I pulled back my C-in-C in an attempt to defend it, but this meant leaving my damaged phalanx leaderless, and it was then destroyed. Game lost! So that made for three great games, and showcasing Lost Battles' first-class combination of nail-biting decision points with historical verisimilitude.

Aaron's account here.

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