Thursday, June 1, 2017

Heirs to Empire: Battle Report- Eumenes vs Neoptolemus

This is my latest game I have been working on.  I have always enjoyed the Diadochi or Successor period after Alexander the Great's death.  There are a number of interesting characters, political intrigue, and lots of battles between skilled commanders.  What is not to like for a wargamer?  This is an attempt to create an ancients wargame that is focused exclusively on this Diadochi period.  It doesn’t even include the Epignoi so it is hyper-focused.

The bulk of the rules are a riff on my Men of Bronze rules for Greek Hoplite warfare. However, there are various tweaks to match the strategy and tactics of the time.  For example, this is a game of battles and units.  Things like in and out of Phalanx and battle formations are abstracted.  It is assumed all unit commanders have put their troops in the right formations for the job. 

Instead, this game focuses on unit vs unit in order to get the best unit combined arms formations to win.  It is about charging, supporting, and flank attacks.  In addition, there is an element of command and control by using the Commander’s Gaze dice to influence the flow of the battle at critical times and places on the field. 

The units in the game tend to be abstracted.  Most armies of this period had similar elements and components.  The trick was when and how to use them.  The abstraction of units allows for the players to focus on other aspects of the game play such as supporting and flanking.  In addition, armies were organized into wings and the armies in these rules are intended to mirror this approach.  

 The game also take inspiration from Warmaster Ancients, Hail Ceasar, Lion Rampant, Sword and SpearDBA, and various other ancients rulesets.  This game is so new that it is not even in the Work-in-Progress section of the Blog for you to try yet.  I am still working on the mechanics and deciding what I want it to do and how.  Once they are fleshed out further, I will make a WIP available for you to try.  In the meantime, I figured I would let you in on the play-testing.  You can find the simple templates I used here.   

Eumenes had once been the secretary of Alexander himself.  He was not Macedonian, but his position provided him great privilege and respect amongst the troops.  He was a well-known general in his own right. 

After Ptolemy stole Alexander’s body and spirited to Egypt The Regent Perdiccas organized an expedition to punish the upstart Diadochi.  He gathered an army and marched towards the Nile.  Perdiccas charged Eumenes with protecting Asia Minor from the greedy Antipater and Craterus from attacking out of Macedon and Greece.  To aid him, Perdiccas placed Neoptolemus the Satrap of Armenia under Eumenes’ command.

However, Neoptolemus had his own ideas.  Instead, he had sided with Antipater and Craterus.  Instead of joining Eumenes, he intended to attack him.  Eumenes learned of the Satraps plan and marched his army out to punish the upstart.  The battle for Alexander’s empire was about to begin.       


Eumenes of Cardia
Silver Shields- General
Bronze Shields
2 Thureophoroi

Left Wing:
Companion Cavalry- General: Eumenes

Right Wing:
Epilektoi Cavalry- General

54 Points

Neoptolemus, Satrap of Armenia
1 Bronze Shield- General
2 White Shields

Left Wing:
1 Asphract (Javelins)
1 Epilektoi- General: Neoptolemus

Right Wing:
1 Asphract (Javelins)- General
1 Archer                              

54 Points

This is a standard battle.  The object is to break the enemy force by the end of turn 8. 

Today we are using a 6x4 table.  It is set-up as the steppe of Turkey.  Historically, Neoptolemus was supposed to support Eumenes in the defense of Asia Minor from invaders from Macedon.  Instead, he turned to Antipater and Craterus in Macedon.  In response, Eumenes marched to face the Satrap.  Today’s battle is to re-fight this battle, but few details survive other than the outcome. 

The center is relatively flat and open, and good place for Phalanx combat.  The North has a series of rocky outcroppings to block LOS and make movement more difficult.  The South flank has an oasis and the ruins of an old town.  This will also serve to block hinder or block movement.       

At this point, it is more likely that the Silver Shields would have been deployed with Perdiccas in Egypt.  However, to avoid confusion I am placing them with Eumenes, the commander they followed after Perdiccas’ death.  I addition, Thureophoroi were probably not developed until a later date, but they serve essentially the same role as Hypaspists in Alexander’s army with slightly different gear.  Therefore I am using them here to represent the Hypaspists likely found in Eumenes army instead.  Beyond these details little is known about the actual composition of either army in the historical battle.

Eumenes deployed with his Thureophoi positioned on the outside of the center just ahead of his Phalanxes.  His wings were deployed close to his center to support. 

Neoptolemus had his phalanxes in a line with the Bronze Shields in the center.  His right wing was in echelon and ready to support he center, while the left was deployed outwards for a flanking attack. 

 Shall we begin?

Turn 1
Both sides determined their Commander’s Gaze for their wings.  Neither side chooses to bid for initiative so they roll-off to see who goes first this turn.  The roll off goes to Eumenes.

Eumenes’s army moves forward with the center moving first.  The Cavalry on the wings stays in formation by reducing their movement.  Neoptolemus does not try to interrupt. 

Neoptolemus’ troops also move forward.  The center advances and their line turns to an echelon with the Bronze shields in the center.  The Left wing rides out wide.  On the right, the Archers stay with the infantry and the cavalry units range ahead towards the town. 

Turn 2 
Each side again determines Commander’s Gaze, and wager none for the first turn.  Eumenes wins the roll-off.  Again, he starts off by moving his center forward, the Thureophoroi first.  Neoptolemus does not interrupt.  The Epilektoi move up with the center, but the Companion cavalry holds back. 

Neoptolemus has his archers move up to support his main advance, and they rain arrows on 1 of Eumenes Thureophoroi.  The arrows rain down with surprising effectiveness and reduce them to 2 Courage!  The unit passes a Disciple check.  The Commander decides to rally them with his Gaze, and uses 1 point to move them back to 3 Discipline. 

Neoptolemus’s left flank the Javelin Asphract goes out too wide and loses cohesion.  They are Wavering until they get back into cohesion with the general.  However, the rocks may make it tough. 

Turn 3
Neoptolemus gets some bad Commander’s Gaze rolls.  This time, Eumenes bids 1 Commander’s Gaze token from the Center to move first.  The Thureophoroi move forward and attack with their Javelins.  They return the favor on the archers and hit them three times.  The archers pass their Discipline check.  On the other side of the line, the Thureophoroi pepper the White Shield phalanx and reduce them 1.  Eumenes Phalanx moves forward ready for the big push. 

Neoptolemus’ right wing tries to interrupt with their 1 Commander’s Gaze token.  However, Eumenes beats him in the roll-off.  The Epilektoi move forward.  The Companion Cavalry turns to get behind the Phalanx units. 

On Neoptolemus’ left his Asphracts stay wavering as they can not get back to the general.  With the Companions moved, it is hard to see who they plan on fighting out there.  On the right wing, the Asphract cavalry turn and move into contact with the Thureophoroi.  The Commander of the Center spends a point Evade.  The Evade is unsuccessful as the Asphract can still get them within 1 BW.  The Asphract inflict a hit and lock them in combat.  The infantry pass their discipline check. 

Turn 4
This time, Neoptolemus bids 3 of his Commander’s Gaze to win initiative.  Eumenes bid 2 of his.  Neoptolemus gets to go first.

He spends 1 Gaze to charge with his Bronze Shields into the Silver shields, with the White shields in support.  They inflict two hits, but the Silver shields hold.  The archers fire on the Epilektoi Cavalry but fail to cause an injury.  The Asphract cavalry causes one more hit on the Thureophoroi, but they also hold.

On the far left the Asphract and Epilktoi of Neoptolemus get back into cohesion. 

The Silver Shields fight back and cause two hits in return but the Bronze shields hold.  The Epilektoi of Eumenes charge the archers, but they manage to evade the charge.  The Companion cavalry charges into the Asphract cavalry flank and combined with the Thureophoroi manage to route them along with the Neoptolemy right wing general.

 Turn 5
This time Eumenes out bids Neoptolemus 3 to 2 for first turn.   The Thurephoroi move forward and hit the unengaged white shields for a hit.  Neoptolemus tries to interrupt from the Center, but fails.  The second Thureophori does the same and hits the White Shields for another one.  Eumenes Bronze Shields charge home on the last White Shields unit for another 1 hit to Courage.  However, the unit passes its Discipline check.

The Silver Shields push the Neoptolemus Phalanx and cause 1 more hit, but the enemy is shattered by the charge of Eumenes and his Companion Cavalry.  They Phalanx is destroyed and both the White and Bronze shields are routed completely!  Eumenes Epilektoi Cavalry also manages to charge the injured archers and obliterates them as well.

With over half of his army routing, Neoptolemus decides to retreat with the troops he has left and join up with his ally Craterus.  He vows vengeance on Eumenes for the defeat.              

Final Thoughts
If Neoptolemus and his left wing had actually stayed to fight in the battle instead of going on a scenic ride around the rocky bluffs of Asia Minor they might have actually helped his center stay in one piece!  Only being able to turn the cavalry up to 45 degrees once per turn really put the left wing way out of position during the battle.  Eumenes was  able to use his veteran center units to pin the enemy center for a Cavalry charge finish, how Alexandrian!  This led to a historically accurate victory for Eumenes. 

As for the game rules themselves, I think the movement rules need some tweaks for light infantry and cavalry.  Plus, during the opening moves the Commander’s Gaze doesn’t do too much for you.  I kept forgetting to use extra Gaze for re-rolls in combat.  Finally, the Morale rules need a bit of a tweak as units tended to fight until all their Courage was spent since no one failed a Discipline check.  Eumenes Thureophoroi took a pasting and stood firm as did Neoptolemus’ archers.  Perhaps I need to reduce some units’ discipline? 

More to come as I develop the game further.    

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