Monday, December 10, 2018

Heirs to Empire: Battle Report- Perdiccas at the Nile

After Alexander's Death, a dispute broke out between the foot officers and the cavalry officers over who should rule the Macedonian Empire. The officers of the infantry wished it to be Alexander's half-brother who was rumored to be an imbecile. The Cavalry officers supported the unborn child of Alexander's Persian wife, Roxanne. Through treachery, the Cavalry officers were victorious int eh dispute. This led to the raising of Perdiccas to regent.

As regent, Perdiccas ruled on behalf of Alexander's infant son. In theory, he ruled the Diadochi. However, many of the most powerful men across the new Hellenistic world would not settle for anything less than total power of their own. In a bid to seal his own power base, Ptolemy stole Alexander's body and spirited it away to Egypt. This was a great affront to the regent's power and Perdiccas prepared to march.

However, he could not leave the rest of the Empire undefended. In Turkey, he appointed Eumenes of Cardia to defend the region with the help of Neoptolemus the Satrap of Armenia. This was to protect the fertile heartland of the empire from the scheming and violent Craterus and Antipater in Europe. The results of his efforts can be seen in the battle reports here and here.

Perdiccas himself raised an army and marched for Egypt. Ptolemy drew up his army on the opposite side of the Nile and waited to face his foe. The Nile had traditional been a key strategic asset in protecting Egypt and Ptolemy banked on its help once more. The Nile was prone to flooding and had a strong current. Perdiccas tried to use his elephants as breakwaters in the waterway to allow his troops to cross. However, the footing was unstable. The fording of the river failed and a considerable number of lives were lost.

Angry at this unnecessary loss of life, Perdiccas was approached by a delegation of his officers in his tent. What exactly transpired is unclear, but Perdiccas himself was killed. Soon the invasion of Egypt was canceled and the attempt recover Alexander's body abandoned. Today's battle is an attempt to “re-fight” the battle that never happened between Perdiccas and Ptolemy. It is a great 'What-If” scenario as the following 6 Wars of the Diadochi may have been very different if the official regent of Alexander had lived, Alexander's body restored to Macedon, and the Silver Shields stayed within the loyalist camp.

This battle is a “What if” battle. This assumes that Perdiccas and Ptolemy did have a battle at the banks of the Nile. Instead of a failed crossing, this battle will be a forced crossing where Perdiccas is trying to force his army across the Nile in the face of Ptolemy's resistance. The winner will earn the right to keep Alexander's body as a talisman of legitimacy of rule.

The Forces:

Left Wing:
Epilektoi Cavalry- Seleceus

Silver Shields- Antigenes
Bronze Shields

Right Wing:
Companion Cavalry- Perdiccas

Total Point- 54


Left Wing:
3 Archers

Bronze Shield
2 White Shields

Right Wing:
Epilektoi Cavalry- Ptolemy
Asphract Cavalry

Total Points- 54

This will be a Forced Crossing by Perdiccas against Ptolemy. The objective is for Perdiccas to get 10 points off the opposite board edge in 8 turns. To make the game more like the historical situation, we will be placing a river down the middle of the board. It will be considered dangerous terrain. Nearby are various fields since the Nile valley was a fertile farm land.

For this battle, I am sure that the Silver Shields were in fact with Perdiccas. We know this since one of the officers, Antigenes; that helped assassinate Perdiccas. Therefore, I am 100% sure that the Silver Shields were there with him. We also know for a fact that Perdiccas had War Elephants with him as they were a key component of his plan to ford the Nile.

Beyond the details above, we have no idea what either army was composed of. Since no battle actually occurred, no one bothered writing it down. Therefore, we will need to guess at the organization of the rest of the armies. Since Phalanxes are the core of Macedonian and Successor armies, we can assume they were the core of these armies as well. Ptolemaic Egypt was known for their efforts to raise a native Phalanx, although the White Shields here are probably too soon. In addition, ancient Egyptian armies were well known for their archers so it makes sense that Ptolemy's force would have a strong archer contingent. Finally, all early Hellenistic armies also relied heavily on cavalry to try to mimic Alexander's successes, so both armies need a strong cavalry element.

In this case, the Ptolemaic are on the right side of the river. The Perdiccans are on the left side of the river.

Turn 1:
Ptolemy and Perdiccas both get their Commander's Gaze tokens for each wing. Ptolemy has the advantage, but his strategy is to deny the river crossing. Ptolemy bids all of his Commander's Gaze to go first and beats Perdiccas for Initiative.

Ptolemy's army moves up to contest the potential crossing points. Perdiccas' force also moves forward, with the right wing Epilektoi cavalry holding back.

Turn 2:
No one bids any Commander's Gaze, and the roll off has Ptolemy win.

The Archers move up to take position on the Ptolemiac left to cover the crossing with firepower. On the Ptolemaic right, the Asphract Cavalry get aggressive break into open order and cross the Nile. The Epilektoi move up to support them. However, Perdiccas with his Companion Cavalry successfully interripts and manages to charge the Light horseman with his Companions. The Companions make short work of the light cavalry and send them packing back to Egypt. However, the Ptolemaic Asphracts do cause 1 courage loss to Perdiccas and his bodyguards. The troops of the Epilektoi cavalry sees the Asphracts routed and are Disordered.

The rest of Perdiccas army moves up, with the War Elephants taking the lead. The remainder if the Ptolemaic army stays in place, ready to push back any enemy unit that tries to cross the Nile. The right side White Shields pivot in case they need to repel the Companion Cavalry.

Turn 3:
Both Commander's bid 3 Commander's Gaze tokens to try to win the initiative. Perdiccas opts to increase his bid 1, and Ptolemy declines to match it. The Perdiccans go first.

The Regent harangues his troops to increase them back to 5 Courage. He then declares a charge across the Nile at Ptolemy's Epilektoi on the other side of the river. He uses all of his Commander's Gaze to get the charge off, and the enemy cavalry can not counter-charge due to disorder. A swirling cavalry combat erupts on the far side of the Nile, where the Companions get the upperhand and cause 1 Courage loss.

The rest of the Perdiccan army begins to move up to the river bank. The Elephants begin to cross, but the rushing river quickly disorders them and causes them to lose 1 Courage. Seleceus Epilektoi Cavalry rushes across the river with a charge and is also disordered, but they engage a unit of archers. They impact them heavily, but the archers hold.

The remaining archers open fire and pin cushion the War elephants in the river, causing 4 hits and reducing them to 3 Courage left.

Meanwhile, a unit of White Shields moves tie up the Companions if they break through the Epilektoi cavalry.

Turn 4:
Perdiccas has the advantage in Commander's Gaze and uses it to guarantee he gets initiative by bidding 5, to 0. Perdiccas begins to activate first.

With the help of Commander's Gaze, Seleceus routes the first Archer unit. However, he is too far away to push back into the next unit.

Ptolemy uses a Commander's Gaze to try to interrupt, and is successful! A Ptolemiac White Shield Unit charges in and joins the battle against the Companion Cavalry on the Perdiccan Left. The battle is still not decisive even with the help, and the Ptolemaic forces are forced back, with both sides on the edge of defeat.

The Archers that remain open fire on the War Elephants and reduce it to a single Courage point left. The rest of the Perdiccan center rushes across the Nile with no further casualties, but they are all disordered.

The Archers engaged by Seleucus rout, and one of the remaining ones is shaken.

Turn 5:
This time Ptolemy wins 4 to 2 on the bid for Initiative.

Winning is critical for Ptolemy as his Bronze shields rush into the flank of the disordered Silver Shields supported by their White Shield allies. They hit hard, and the Silver Shields are pushed back into the river with 2 Courage left, and the Ptolemaic units are down to 4.

Seleucus tries to interrupt, but fails the roll-off. The disordered Archer unit rallies. They then take aim and fire at Seleucus' unit. The Archers open fire and rout the War Elephants and reduce the Epilektoi Cavalry 1 Courage to 3 total left.

The fight on the Perdiccan left has bogged down as the Cavalry and Pikeman duke it out. The fighting is pushed back into the Nile. Both units are on the brink of exhaustion.

Seleucus and his Epilektoi charge into an Archer unit, and the second unit decides to support. They reduce the Archers 1 Courage, but they all hold.

Turn 6:
Perdiccas wins the Initiative bid and hopes to use his Bronze Shields to save his Silver Shields in the center. It is a risky move, but winning initiative allows him to get in a flank charge on the big melee.

Decisive battle is raging across the board. Perdiccas decides to start with the center melee. The combat in the center is less than decisive as both sides only lose 1 Courage in the swirling battle.

On the Perdiccan left, the battle comes to a close as both the Ptolemaic and Perdiccan forces are exhausted and break away. Both sides retreat away from the battle, taking their Diadochi with them.

The Archers and Seluceus combat is also indecisive as both units lose 1 Courage.

With the loss of the Diadochi's, both sides take a collapse test.

Turn 7:
Neither sides bids, saving the Gaze for re-rolls of combat. Ptolemy wins the roll-off and decides to start in the middle.

In the center, the Ptolemaic Bronze Shields supported by the White Shields manage to see off the Silver and Bronze Shields of Perdiccas and cause them to withdraw from the battle and back across the Nile.

The Archer and Epilektoi battle remains indecisive as both sides again lose 1 Courage.

Turn 8:
It is clear the Perdiccans have lost, but we decide to finish off the battle between Seleucus and the Archers on the right flank. Since the Archers are now disordered, they lose the combat but remain unbroken.

Surveying the rest of the battlefield, Seleucus withdraws back to the Perdiccan camp.

Well, Egypt always was a tough nut to crack. Historically, Perdiccas' army never made it across the Nile, and it looks like if Ptolemy challenged the Perdiccan forces at the crossing they wouldn't have made it anyway. I think we can assume that after the results of this “What If” battle, Perdiccas would still have been assassinated at the edge of the Nile and history would have carried on as it did.

The decisive component of this battle was trying to cross the dangerous river itself. The War Elephants and the Asphracts both lost Courage in the process, making them less effect fighting units. In addition, once troops got into the river they became disordered. The troops never got a chance to re-group and the 5+ Target Numbers started to tell in the combats. Companions, Silver Shields, and other elite units struggled.

In addition, I lost track of the objective. I needed those mobile cavalry units free to get across the board, but instead I let the Companions and Epilektoi get dragged into costly combats on the fringes instead of maneuvering around or away from them. I should have let the push in the center start and then swung Seleucus cavalry around the archers and towards the back of the board and tied up his cavalry with my Companions. Oh well, my opponent baited me with “weak” units and I ended up getting tar pitted when I needed speed to win. My strength was speed and elite units, but I did not play up to their strengths. The Perdiccan/Eumenes forces have won most of the battles they have fought as an elite force, but it shows that playing to the objectives is the key to victory more than army builds. That is a good thing in my mind.

With Perdiccas the regent of the Macedonian Royal family dead, is their any hope to rebuilding Alexander's Empire once more? Is there no legitimacy any longer or is it only a battle between strongmen?

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