Monday, January 29, 2018

Battle Report: Heirs to Empire- Forced Crossing in the First War of the Diadochi

Heirs to Empire is a game set in the era of the Diadochi.  This is the time when Alexander’s generals squabbled over the remains of the Empire after Alexander’s death.  This rule set tries to capture the feel of commanding armies in this time period so the scale is an army/battle scale game.  That said it is miniature agnostic and units are abstracted in the gameplay.  Instead, it focuses on the interactions of troops types working together and using the Commander’s Gaze to influence the flow of the battle. 

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 it 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.     

This is a re-fight of a previous battle while I was playtesting the rules.  However, the last time I played I had no scenarios and it was simply a set-piece battle.  Since then, I have built a new set of scenarios and a campaign system for the game. 


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

Today’s battle will be a Forced Crossing where Eumenes is the attacker.  He is attempting to get up to 10+ points of his army off the opposite board edge past Neoptolemus’ troops.  If he does so in 8 turns then Eumenes wins.    

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 represent Eumenes trying to move to his stronghold in Asia Minor, not 100% aware that Neoptolemus is no longer on his side. 

The center is relatively flat and open, and good place for Phalanx combat.  The North has a series of rocky hills to block LOS and make movement more difficult.  The South flank has an oasis.  This will also serve to 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.  In 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 historically.

Turn 1:
To start, each wing of the army rolled to determine their Commander’s Gaze.  Eumenes had 9 points, to Neoptolemus’ 6.  Neither side bid for the initiative, so they rolled off.  Neoptolemus won.

Neoptolmus’ army slowly moved forward, waiting to see if Eumenes would try to interrupt.  He did not.  The Satrap of Armenia’s forces maintained the line waiting to see what Eumenes would try to do. 

Eumenes army also moved forward, with the cavalry wings using Commander’s Gaze to break into Open Order, but staying in the battle line.  This would allow them to maneuver freely when the right time arrived, and reform if needed using Commander’s Gaze. 

Turn 2:
This time, Neoptolemus has the advantage in Commander’s Gaze, and uses it to bid 2 for initiative.  Eumenes bids 0. 

The center of Neoptolemus’ army moves forward, with a Phalanx of White Shields hanging slightly back to act as a reserve infantry force.  The Right flank also moves up to support the advancing Bronze Shields.  Meanwhile, on the Left the Javelin Asphracts break into open order and move to the flank.  Neoptolemus keeps his Epilektoi Cavalry close to the main battle line.  He is hoping to hem and possible turn the flank of Eumenes’ force.

Eumenes again let’s the Satrap move without trying to interrupt.  Instead, he sends his open order left wing cavalry scurrying towards the oasis.  His Companion Cavalry cuts across the front of the main battle line, and uses a Commander’s gaze to re-form.  Meanwhile, the Phalanx moves up behind the cavalry scramble.

Turn 3:
Neoptolemus has 9 Commander’s Gaze to 8 for Eumenes.  He decides to bid 1 for initiative to try to counter the former Secretary’s moves.  Eumenes bids 0. 

Neoptolemus moves his javelin Asphract cavalry to the center and has them reform as they run parallel to the enemies’ Companion Cavalry.  He attempts to Move and Shoot with them, but is disappointed to find he is out of range!  Seeing this, Eumenes decides not to interrupt.  The Epilektoi Cavalry of the Satrap moves up to stay in command radius of the light horseman. 

On Neoptolemus’ right, the Asphract lancer cavalry declare a charge and rush into the Open Order Epilektoi Cavalry of Eumenes.  It is a desperate delaying tactic with the hope that the Open Order of the heavier cavalry will be their undoing.  Eumenes can not react with a Counter-charge as the unit is in Open Order and hence considered “Disordered”.  They can not use Special Rules.  This leaves the Archers disordered as they are out of command range of the Satrap’s right flank general.

In the ensuing melee, the Asphract lose 3 Courage, while the Epilektoi take 1.  Both unit’s used their remaining Commander’s Gaze to re-roll failed attack dice.  The Asphract’s have become disordered and pushed back 2 basewidths by the Epilektoi of Eumenes. 

Neoptolemus’ Bronze Shields and Archers turn to support the flank, while the White Shields form up a solid battle line in the middle. 

Eumenes waits as the flank fight unfolds and lets Neoptolemus show his responses.  Eumenes then continues to move past the front of the enemy lines with his Companion Cavalry, making for the opposite flank edge.  His main battle line moves forward to engage and pin the Satrap’s forces.  Then, his right most Thureophori charge the nearby Javelin Asphract and catch them in the flank.  However, the Asphract declare an Evade, and the infantry decide to try and pursue.  The light troops fail to catch the horseman. 

Turn 4:
Eumenes bids 3 Gaze to 3 to win initiative.  He is half way to his time limit to achieve the objective.  He rallies his Epilektoi Cavalry and reforms them.  They then press the attack to rout the enemy light cavalry.  The Epilektoi take one more Courage hit, but the Asphract cavalry are put to rout and turned around as they are pushed back three base widths.  The Epilektoi pass their Discipline Check and stay Ordered. 

Neoptolemus spends a point to try to interrupt, but fails the roll-off and Eumenes continues to activate units.  The Companian Cavalry continues to run past the flank of Neoptolemus’ army.  Meanwhile, the core units move forward to pin the rest of the force.  The Thureophoroi throw their Javelins at the Archers and Javelin Asphract respectively.  One requires the use of a Commander’s Gaze to Move and shoot.  The Archers lose 3 Courage and are disorderd, and the Javelin Asphract lose 1 and are disordered. 

Things do not look good for Neoptolemus’ army.  The archers turn and fire on the Epilektoi Cavalry to try and break them.  They reduce them a further 1 Courage, they have 1 left.  In desperation, the Bronze Shields use a Commander’s Gaze to charge the Thureophoroi threatening the archers while Neoptolemus’ and his Epilektoi charge into the other light infantry unit.  The Javelin Asphract’s race across the center of the board to try and get in range to finish off the Epilektoi of Eumenes. 

The Bronze Shields reduce their foes two Courage and Disorder them after a failed discipline check.  However, they take 1 Courage loss in return.  The battle is pushed back 2 basewidths.  

Turn 5:
Both Eumenes and Neoptolemus bid 4 Commander’s Gaze for Initiative.  Neither had anymore to up the bid, so it goes to a roll off.  Neoptolemus wins! 

The Archers fire on the Epilektoi Cavalry and get 1 hit.  With armor two, it is not enough to rout them.  In desperation, the Javelin Asphract move into them.  Both units are routed in the ensuing melee. 

From there, the two White Shields charge into the Bronze and Silver Shields of Eumenes army respectively.  The Epilektoi and White Shields trade hits with the Theurophoroi, Silver Shields, and Bronze Shields respectively.  However, Neoptolemus’ Bronze Shields put Eumenes’ Theurophoroi on the center left to rout. 

Eumenes and the Companion Cavalry head for the board edge. 

Turn 6:
Neoptolemus sees that he can not stop Eumenes and his Companion Cavalry from escaping past his troops and to the baggage train behind.  He bids 0 Commander’s Gaze while Eumenes bids 1.  

This allows Eumenes to get to the board edge with his Companion Cavalry.  With this, Neoptolemuus signals the withdrawal and he and his Epilektoi Cavalry flee the field. 

Eumenes wins again, and Neoptolemus escapes with his life.  This is a rather historical outcome as well.  We know few details of the battle except that Eumenes won.  If we look at other Successor battles, they were frequently won or lost when one side managed to get past the other army and into the rear area.  That is what happened here.

Both sides took a beating in this battle.  If it would have continued, the White Shields would have eventually fallen to the better Eumenes’ phalanx.  It is doubtful that Neoptolemus’ Bronze Shields could have maneuvered back around to support their fellows in a timely way.  However, the Theurophoroi of Eumenes would have been routed by then as well, and the freed up cavalry could have led a successful flank attack.  However, by then Neoptolemus’ baggage would have been in Eumenes’ hands too. 

Cavalry is underwhelming as an offensive weapon in this game.  That is by design as they were considered an ancillary part of the fighting in Successor warfare.  Shooting can weaken an enemy unit quickly, but is unlikely to finish them.  Phalanx units can take pusnishment and stick like no other units.  The new Open Order ability with cavalry and light units worked as intended and allowed them to maneuver more freely.  Finally, the scenario seemed winnable by either side in the time frame allowed.  So, I guess it is working as intended. 

After his defeat at the hands of Eumenes, Neoptolemus fled to his ally Craterus.  The allied Successor’s once again marched across the Dardanelles and into Anatolia intent on facing Eumenes.  The campaign for Turkey was not over.      

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