Sunday, August 12, 2018

Heirs to Empire: First War of the Diadoch- Eumenes vs. Craterus

Craterus vs. Eumenes of Cardia
Here is another Heirs to Empire battle report featuring the armies of Eumenes of Cardia vs. his rival Successor’s in Anatolia.  These battles took place early in the Diadochi wars between Alexander’s successors, and helped shape the political map of the wars to come.  As such, the armies were probably similar to those that Alexander himself used in his great campaigns. 

After Neoptolemus’ defeat by Eumenes, he fled and joined up with Craterus.  Craterus was crossing the Dardennelles from Greece to pressure Eumenes and force the Pro-Perdiccan loyalists out of Turkey.  Meanwhile, Perdiccas himself was assembling and leading an army to face off against Ptolemy in Egypt after Ptolemy stole the body of Alexander. 

Most of what remained of Neoptolemus’army from his Satrapy in Armenia was easily absorbed into Eumenes’ army to absorb losses.  However, Craterus’ force had much greater numbers than Eumenes could muster.  In addition, the core Phalanx was made up of reliable Macedonians from Europe. 

The two forces faced off.  The details of the battle have been lost to ages.  We only know the outcome.  In a daring attack, the outnumbered Eumenes managed to smash the larger army of Craterus.  Craterus himself was killed in the battle.  Neoptolemus was also killed in a duel between himself and Eumenes.  It is said that Eumenes and his cavalry unit squared off against Neoptolemus’ cavalry on purpose to face the treacherous enemy general personally. 

The Forces:
The forces are pulled from the sample armies in the rules.  They are both 54 points.

Craterus’ Army
2 Bronze Shields- 1 Led by Craterus
2 Irregular Peltasts
1 Thureophoroi

Right Wing
Asphract Cavalry- Neoptolemus
Asphract Cavalry (Javelin)

Left Wing
Archers- General

Eumenes of Cardia
Silver Shields- General
Bronze Shields
2 Thureophoroi

Right Wing
Epilektoi Cavalry

Left Wing
Companion Cavalry- Eumenes

During this battle, it is probable that the Silver Shields were probably deployed with Perdiccas for the Egyptian campaign, and not with Eumenes of Cardia.  However, for simplicity and uniformity of the campaign I am going to keep them with Eumenes. 

In addition, it is likely that Thureophoroi were not a distinct and established part of the army.  Such troops played a role of that of the Hypaspists in Alexander’s army.  Since the main difference between these troop types is the Hoplon versus an oval shield they are interchangeable this early in the Diadochi period.   

It is unclear how this battle actually took place.  Some scholars believe it must have occurred during a river crossing or similar situation for the victory to have occurred as described in the sources.  It is unclear as the sources that remain spend little time on the actual battle, only the aftermath.  To that end, we rolled a random scenario and came up with Raze and Loot. 

In this scenario there are 5 markers placed on the board to represent valuable items such as wells, supplies, sacred sites, etc.  The Defender tries to protect them while the attacker tries to destroy them by attacking them in melee.  Craterus was determined to be the defender. 

To match the situation, we changed he deployment a bit.  We made sure that Craterus and his army was by the river, to help match the potential historical match-up.  Also, this scenario allows Craterus to deploy a bit seperated based on the location of the objective counters.  This also probably helps match the situation Eumenes and Craterus faced. 

The objectives were watering holes spread across the desert, and the river crossing Craterus and his army used.  Eumenes’s deployment was pretty standard.  He was on the right flank with his Companions.   The center was his phalanx flanked by Thureophoroi on each side.  The Epilektoi were on the left.  Nothing fancy and fairly compact and in a straight line. 

The Left wing (of Archers and Skirmishers) deployed forward to protect the watering hole, but also potentially harass the main advance of Eumenes army.  The Center was deployed just past the river ford in an arrowhead formation.  The right flank was the Asphract cavalry units and they deployed out near another watering hole. 

Turn 1:
Both sides determined their Commander’s Gaze.  7 for Eumenes and 7 for Craterus.  Craterus bids 5 while Eumenes bids 0.  Craterus goes first. 

His Left Wing and Right wing stays put, while the center moves up to join them and try to form some sort of battle line.  The center jostles around abit to try and let the Peltasts move slightly ahead of the phalanx units.  Eumenes does not try to interrupt at all. 

Eumenes’ has his Epilektoi pivot and race towards the farthest objective over the ridge line.  He also turns his Companion cavalry and rides closer to his center.  Meanwhile, the center forces move towards the center objective.  The Bronze Shields are lined up to run over it. 

Turn 2:
Both sides determine their Commander’s Gaze for their wings.  Eumenes has 7 and Craterus has 9, he has the advantage in Commander’s Gaze.  Craterus bids 3, while Eumenes bids 1. 

Craterus’ forces move forward and form a battleline with their left wing.  Neoptolemus uses his Javelin Asphracts to ride forward and throw their Javelins at the Epilektoi, but they are just out of range!  The other Asphracts follow suit.  Eumenes does not interrupt.

Eumenes forces respond by moving forward steadily and confidently.  His Companion Cavalry moves up to be next to his main battleline.  The Epilektoi ride up the ridgeline towards their objective.  Will the Asphracts pursue them? 

Turn 3:
Craterus has 7 Commander’s Gaze across his front, compared to Eumenes’ 7.  Eumenes bids 1 and Craterus bids 0. 

Eumenes’ Epilektoi continue to move down the ridge towards the watering hole.  Craterus does not interrupt.  Then, the Companion Cavalry go into open order and head towards Neoptolemus.  No enemy interruption.  Finally, the center moves up.  The Bronze Shields secure the objective while the rest of the army moves to support. 

Craterus waits patiently to respond, allowing his opponent into his kill zone.  The Left wing starts the fighting.  The Archers open fire on the Thureophoroi.  In addition, the skirmishers move up and move and shoot.  One is out of range.  However, the Thureophori are reduced two armor. 

From Crateru’s center the Thureophoroi move up and hurl their javelin’s as well. Eumenes’ Thureophoroi are reduced to two Courage and start to waver.  One of Craterus’ Irregular Peltast units move up and reign Javelins on Eumenes’ Bronze Shields. To soften them up.  A Commander’s Gaze re-roll forces them to lose one courage.  This is followed up by a charge from Craterus’ Bronze Shields, with the second unit supporting the attack.  Eumenes troops counter-charge with a Commander’s Gaze.  This reduces Eumenes’ Bronze Shields to wavering.  However, with the counter-charge the Craterus’ troops are reduced 1 Courage. 

Turn 4:
Craterus earns 9 Commadner’s gaze, while Eumenes has 6.  Craterus then bids 5 Gaze compared to Eumenes 2. 

Archers hit Eumenes’ Thureophoroi for another Courage loss.  Eumenes’ center general tries to interrupt with his last Commander’s Gaze, but he fails.  This is followed up by a charge from Craterus’ Thureophoroi into Eumenes troops. It is enough to break them.  Meanwhile, The Skirmishers move up.  Craterus’ Irregular Peltasts charge into the main center melee.  ON the other side. The irregular Peltast move up and shoot Eumenes other Thureophoroi for 2 courage loss. 

The javelin Asphracts move up and attack the Open Order Companion Cavalry, but fails to cause any courage loss.  Eumenes manages to interrupt then.  He charges into the horseman using a last Commander’s Gaze.  The weaker Asphracts are easily shattered! 

Eumenes Thureophoroi charge the Irregular Peltasts.  No one has any Commander’s Gaze left to try and evade or pursue.  They just start fighting.  The damage is pretty catasprophic as both side fight ferociously!  Both are now wavering! 

Meanwhile, the Epilektoi storm a well.  They change to open order and start heading over the ridge towards the next marker.  Eumenes’ troops just need to hang on long enough for them to get to it.  However, in the center Craterus and his Bronze Shields manage to smash through Eumenes’ Bronze Shields and force them to rout. 

At the end, Eumenes’ army takes a Collapse check after losing two major units.  However, they all pass.  In addition, Neoptolemus’ and his Asphracts take are disordered after seeing their friends get smashed by the Companions.        

Turn 6:
Thinks look bad for Eumenes and his army.  Eumenes earns 8 Commander’s Gaze, while Craterus has only 6.  Eumenes bids 4.  Craterus bids 5 in an effort to win his first turn. 

Craterus uses the first turn to dangerously charges his injured Bronze Shields into the Silver Shields supported by his other Phalanx and Peltasts.  They hit hard, but ineffectively only reducing them 1 Courage.  The return push by the Silver Shields is enough to rout the rest of Craterus’ main infantry force!  Meanwhile, the Irregular Peltasts rout Eumenes’ last Thureophoroi unit.    

The Companion Cavalry with Eumenes charges headlong into Neoptolemus and his Asphract unit.  It is completely obliterated, leaving the way clear for the final well.  Meanwhile, the Epilektoi climb over the ridge. 

Seeing Craterus’ unit collapse, one of the Skirmisher units breaks up and runs for it as well. 

Turn 7:
Craterus has 5 Commander’s Gaze and Eumenes gets 8.  Eumenes bids 5 and Craterus bids 0. 

The Epilektoi and Companions meet on the third watering hole.  With that, Craterus army sees that all is lost and falls back. 

Things looked bad for Eumenes there, but he managed to pull it out in the end.  Again, the Companion Cavalry and Silver Shields lived up to their reputation.  In hindsight, Craterus gambled big by charging with his injured Bronze shields, but his dice failed him in the critical charge and only caused 1 Courage loss.  He should have held back and used his uninjured units as a second wave.  Ultimately, it might not have mattered as Eumenes’ superior cavalry allowed him to win the day.

Ultimately, another historical outcome.  Both Neoptolemus and  Craterus’ units were overwhelmed.  We do not know how Craterus died, but in the main infantry push seems appropriate to me.  We do know that Eumenes killed Neoptolmus in a duel after crushing his cavalry unit with his own, which is what happened here too!  In addition, Craterus had Eumenes outnumbered just like in the Historical battle. 

Overall, a fun scenario and a fun little battle.             

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