Monday, May 25, 2020

Battle Report: Wars of the Republic- Anabasis of the Seleucids

Anabasis of the Seleucids

The Seleucid Empire was founded by the successor’s of Alexander the Great.  These successors fought a series of wars with each other for control of his empire.  Eventually, the Successors and their children were able to establish their own stable empires.  All though smaller than that of Alexander, they were regional power players. 

The Seleucid Empire covered much of the Middle East and Eastern parts of the known Ancient world.  They were a major player in the Hellenization of the Near East.  Their main power base was in Syria but their empire extended into the East and even came up against the Mauryan Empire of India. 

When Antiochus the III came to power, he went eastward and restored various vassal states back under Seleucid control.  This included Parthia and Greco-Bactria.  During this process, Antiochus defeated the leader of a Greco-Bactrian king named Euthydemus at the battle of Arius.  Interestingly, this man was also Greek and previously aligned with the Seleucids.

After the Battle of Arius, the Bactrians retreated back to their capital.  Antiochus III put the city under siege for three years before they came to a negotiated truce.   

Today’s battle will be using the Wars of the Republic rules, but again I am using the lists creatively to simulate other ancient combat to test what they can do.  Today will be the Seleucid successor list vs. the Lesser Satrapy list to represent the Bactrians.  We will be using a Scout the Area scenario to represent the advanced forces of both armies scouting out the geography. 


1 Heavy Cavalry
1 Bronze Shields- General
1 White Shields
1 Agema

1 Heavy Cavalry Cataphracts- General
1 Bronze Shields
2 Light Infantry
1 Archers

Seleucids will have 5 Commander’s Gaze, while the Bactrians will have 6

The Secure the Area scenario has 6 tokens scattered across the board, and is set-up by the defenders after terrain is set-up.  As a unit puts a token into their Zone of Control, they have scouted the terrain there and can put the token on their side of the board.  The side that uncovers the most tokens wins OR if they can force the enemy to collapse in 8 turns. 

Today’s game is using 1 inch as an MU, and is being played on a 72 by 48 MU board.  

For terrain, we used the terrain placement rules straight from the rule book.  The Seleucids got to place terrain first.  In the center terrain on their side of the board a small wall was placed towards the left corner.  The Satrapy matched it on the opposite side with a grove of trees in the forward right corner.  This left the center a bit congested.  On the left corner in the Satrapy's side of the board the Seleucids placed a 1 level rocky hill in the center of it.  On the Satrapy's left flank grid space they placed another rocky, one level hill towards the front of it, again blocking up the center of the board.  The Seleucids placed a wall on their right flank grid space to act as a defensive location for the flank.  Finally, on the Seleucid left flank the Satrapy placed a small rock hill in the center of the grid space.  

The Exploration tokens were then placed in on these terrain pieces.  The battlefield was somewhat congested in the center of the board, and that would make capturing objectives there a bloody pushing match.  The Seleucid Phalanxes liked there chances there.

For Deployment, the Seleucids were the attackers and began to deploy first.  This was an alternate deployment process so the Defenders could react to where the Attackers were located.  Interestingly, the Seleucids decided to put their Phalanxes in the center, across from the enemy light infantry.  The Greco-Bactrian Phalanx and Archers were on the right, and facing the Agema.  The Cavalry forces were facing each other on the left flank.  Some interesting match-ups.  

Most of these two armies have miniatures EXCEPT the cataphracts are paper templates!  Boo!  Hiss!

Turn 1
Both sides collect their Commander's Gaze, and weigh their options.  The Seleucids gets 5 to the Greco-Bactrian 6.  The Seleucids opted to make their Phalanx unit their commander for extra resilience, while the Greco-Bactrians choose the Cataphracts for mobility and power.

The Greco-Bactrians choose to bid all of their Commander's Gaze to get initiative.  The Seleucids do not bid any, and decide to try to interrupt whenever they can.  However, none of the interrupts actual succeed, and the Greco-Bactrians move out undisturbed.  The Bronze Shields in Open Order move to the foot of the rock outcropping but can not claim the objective there yet.  The Cataphacts also fail to get to their objective as they are shy due to difficult terrain as well.  The middle troops move forward.

The Seleucids respond with the Heavy Cavalry able to reach their objective on the rocky hills.  The Center Phalanx formations march ahead.  The Agema stay in open order and make for the walls and their objective.

Objectives: Seleucids 1, Greco-Bactrians 0

Turn 2
Both sides pick up their Commander's Gaze and bid 2 for first go.  The roll-off has the Seleucids win.  The Agema rush forward and take a defensive position.

The Greco-Bactrians successfully interrupt.  The Bronze Shields secure their objective.

The Light Infantry move up supported by the Archers.  One unit uses Commander's gaze to Skirmish and grab an objective in the Grove.

The Seleucids interrupt successfully.  Now the White Shields go into open order and line up on the objective better as they approach.  The Bronze Shields also march ahead.

The Greco-Bactrians interrupt successfully and the Cataphracts secure their marker on the rocky hills.  The Seleucid Heavy cavalry moves forward as best they can, but judge that it is too early to change into a wedge formation or to successfully charge over the terrain.

Objectives: Seleucids 2, and Greco-Bactrians 3

Turn 3
Again, the Greco-Bactrians bid all their Commander's Gaze to go first.  They are gambling to grab the last objective and get a decisive lead by snagging the last objective.  Seleucids bid 2. 

The Greco-Bactrian plan backfires as the Light Infantry can not use Skirmisher to get over the walls to the objective.  They fall short of claiming it and are in front of the approaching White Shields.  The Archers give the Light Infantry some covering fire and reduce the White Shields 1 Courage due to being in Open Order.  However, the shouts of the Seleucid officers keep the native recruits steady.

The Light Infantry in the Grove stay put.  They are unable to move and shoot or Skirmish due to a lack of Commander's Gaze.  They are in no hurry to approach the Seleucid Bronze Shields closer.

The Greco-Bactrian Cataphracts fall back from their forward position to avoid an enemy charge, as they do not have enough Commander's Gaze to successsfully charge themselves.  They are trying to avoid the Seleucid Heavies getting the drop on them, and possibly get a flank charge on the White Shields.

Finally, the Greco-Bactrian Bronze Shields stumble off their rock pile, but they are still in Open Order.

The Seleucid commander waited patiently for the Greco-Bactrians to try and mitigate the coming battle before taking over initiative and getting ready to put the hurt on the upstarts.  The White Shields form up into Phalanx, and charge the enemy Light Infantry.  The Greco-Bactrian commander thinks for a few moments, and then decides to have the Archers support the Light Infantry.  Their reasoning seems sound as the White Shields have lost 1 Courage all ready, are a weaker unit, and the Greco-Bactrians will have the extra armor of being in cover.

Next, the Bronze Shields use Commander's Gaze to charge the Light Infantry in the Grove.  The Light Infantry can not try to Evade as they do not have any Commander's Gaze left!  However, they do have extra armor for being in Cover.  They might be able to hold out long enough for reinforcements to save them.... from..... somewhere.....

The White Shields charge over the objective and reach over the old walls with their pikes towards the Light Infantry beyond.  There is a desperate struggle, with the Light Infantry supported by close range archer fire.  Both sides manage to reduce the enemy by 1 Courage.  Neither side seems willing to give ground or waver at this point.

The Seleucid Bronze Shields also charge into the Grove and a swirling battle erupts as terrain forces them into open order.  The battle is also fierce as the Pikes are hard to use amongst the trees, however the Phalanxes momentum drives the Light Infantry back 3 MU and causes 1 Courage loss for none in return.  The Light Infantry hold together and dig in for a long fight.

Objectives: Seleucids 3, Greco-Bactrians 3.  it know comes down to a traditional battle and who breaks first.   

Turn 4: 
Neither side has lost any units, so there is no change in Commander's Gaze tokens handed out.  The Seleucids bid 0 choosing to hold onto it for re-rolls in combat.  The Greco-Bactrians bid 1 so get to go first.

Despite going first, difficult terrain is hamstringing the Greco-bactrians ability to respond.  The Bronze Shields on the Greco-Bactrian Left are hung up on a rocky hill, and their large unit is having a tough time maneuvering off it.  They finally manage, and get into open ground.  The Cataphracts also have a similar problem.  The General decides that even with a charge, getting out of the rocky hills will not allow them to flank charge the Seleucid White Shields.  Instead, they again maneuver away and behind the melee for a better position.  The Greco-Bactrians have no more units to maneuver.

The Seleucids had managed to get their Heavy Cavalry out off terrain last turn.  They now form up into a Wedge and charge into the flank of the combat between the Greco-Bactrian Light Infantry and the White Shields.  The Melee phase is going to get rough.

The Agema hold their ground behind the wall, ready to throw Javelins at the Greco-Bactrian Bronze Shields or fight them off the edge of the wall if needed.

The Greco-Bactrian player decides to complete the Melee in the Grove first, hoping to burn off some Seleucid re-rolls before the big battle at the wall.  Instead, the GB's use one of their re-rolls and both sides are reduced 1 Courage.  The Light Infantry starts to Waver as they are beginning to see that they can not win.  They are pushed back 1 inch this turn.

Now, the big battle at the Wall.  The Cavalry charge into the Flank is telling, as the Light Infantry is blasted down 3 Courage, to 1 remaining.  In addition, they are pushed back 3 MU from the wall and start to Waver.  They do not have enough Discipline to avoid Wavering.  In return, the White Shields also lose 1 Courage down to 2, but stay solid.

Objectives: Seleucids 3, Greco-Bactrians 3- The winner will be decided by who breaks first.

Turn 5: 
Both sides still have all their Units so they get their full Commander's Gaze, but the Greco-Bactrians look to be on the ropes for this battle.  Neither commander cares who goes first and save their Gaze for Re-rolls.  They were critical in the last turn.  The Seleucids win the roll-off.

The Agema uses skirmisher to get out from behind the wall and in front of the Greco-Bactrian Bronze Sheilds, they form a shield wall Phalanx and taunt them to come and get them.  The rest of the Seleucid army is tied up in Melee.

The Cataphracts realize that charging in and helping the melee at the wall is pointless and will only get them killed.  Instead, they wait to see who wins and then possibly pick off a weakened unit.  The Greco-Bactrian Pike Phalanx has a similar choice.  Do they support the wavering Light Infantry to try and turn the tide there, but at great risk, attack the Agema who are ready and at full Courage, or wait and try to pick off a weakened Seleucid Bronze Shield unit?

When you are a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail.  The Bronze Shields form up and charge the Agema, who promptly Counter-charge.  Looks like another slug fest is forming on the Greco-Bactrian left flank.

Melee: The Seleucids decide to start at the battle for the wall.  The Seleucids look like they have scored enough hits to rout the Light Infantry with their White Shields and decides to hold onto re-rolls.  However, the Greco-Bactrians throw in all three re-rolls to try and break the White Shields and the heavy Cavalry in one swoop!  However, they only score 3 hits, which is 1 short of what they needed!  The White Shields are reduced to 1 Courage and are Wavering!  The Greco-Bactrian Light Infantry and Archers are routed.  They are turned around until the End phase for Collapse and Morale tests.

In the Grove, The Seleucid Bronze Shields use their re-rolls to good effect and route the Greco-Bactrian Light Infantry, and lose another Courage themselves, but do not Waver.  The Greco-Bactrian center has been routed.

On the Greco-Bactrian left, the Agema and Bronze Shields clash together with a dull roar.  The two sides are both reduced 1 Courage and stand firmly.  Now the shoving match will begin.....

The Cataphracts pass their Morale test from seeing the Light Infantry flee.  The Bronze Shields and Cataphracts manage to pass their Collapse tests.... for now.

Turn 6:
The Seleucids collect 5 Commander's Gaze to the Greco-Bactrians 3.  The Seleucids bid 2 to go first.  The Greco-Bactrians hold onto theirs for re-rolls.  Looks like we might finally get that cavalry engagement that was being set-up all game!

The Seleucids form wedge, and charge.  The Cataphracts counter-charge.  The two meet in the plains and a fierce battle erupts.  Meanwhile, the Bronze Shields stay in Open Order, turn, and charge the Greco-Bactrian Bronze Shields in the flank to help finish off that Melee.

The White Shields move back behind the wall for cover.  They stay wavering and at 1 Courage as all the Seleucid Commander's Gaze has been spent.

The Cataphracts prove their mettle as they smash the Seleucid Heavy Cavalry.  They are reduced 3 Courage, while the Cataphracts lose only 1.  The Seleucids start to Waver and are pushed back 1 inch. 

Even with the help of the Bronze Shields, the Agema start to lose ground to the Greco-Bactrian Bronze Shields.  They lose 2 Courage, reducing them to 2 while the Greco-Bactrians lose only 1 down to 3.  However, neither side starts to waver and pushed back into the walled area up to 3 inches.

Turn 7: 
The two forces get their Commander's Gaze, but everyone is in combat except the White Shields.  Neither side bids any Commander's Gaze.  The Greco-Bactrians go first via the roll-off.

They have no movement, and hold their Commander's Gaze for Re-rolls.  The Seleucids decide to use two Commander's Gaze to remove the Wavering from the White Shields and Harangue them up 1 Courage point.  This makes them 2 Courage.  They stay huddled behind their wall.

The Greco-Bactrian Player starts with the Cataphracts, because a win there, might be good enough to cause a Collapse or open the road to the weakened White Shields in the final turn.  Re-rolls again play a key part in the battle, as they put both sides over the top to cause damage.  The Cataphracts are reduced a further 1 Courage to 3 total and avoid Wavering.  The Seleucid Heavy cavalry is routed from the field!  This will force some Discipline Checks in the End Phase.

Over on the Greco-Bactrian left, the push continued.  The pushing match continues as both sides are reduced 1 Courage.  Both sides start to Waver from the Brutal battle.  The Agema has 1 Courage, while the Bronze Shields have 2!  This will be a close battle.

The White Shields pass their Wavering check as cavalry men stream but their position in a rout.  Being behind the wall gives them confidence.  The rest of the Seleucid force also passes their Collapse test.

Turn 8: Final Turn
This is it.  This is a close battle.  The Seleucids now have 4 Commander's Gaze, while the Greco-Bactrians have 3.  The White Shields need to get formed into Phalanx so the Seleucids bid 1 Gaze to 0.  They win initiative.

The Seleucid player forms the White Shields into Phalanx behind the wall, and spends 1 more Commander's Gaze to Harangue them once more for battle.  They are now Courage 3.  The Seleucids have no other movement.

The Greco-Bactrian Cataphracts predictably form Wedge and Charge into the White Shields.

The Seleucids decide to start with the White Shields and the Cataphracts Melee.  The charge takes the White Shields down 1 Courage.  The Cataphracts lose 2 Courage and are reduced to 1 left.  Neither side Wavers.  The native phalangites held!

On the left, the two sides continue to smash against each other, swinging swords, slashing with spear, and pushing with their pikes.  Both sides are routed in the final push.... including the Seleucid general! 

The White Shields see the Seleucid commander fleeing and they Collapse.  The Greco-Bactrian Commander holds his Cataphracts steady.  The added discipline of these troops allow the Greco-Bactrians to barley win the skirmish. 

Wow, that was a wild ride that went down to the last dice rolls.  Isn't that the way it is supposed to be?  Discipline is what won the day, just like an Ancient battle!

So, I got to try out a few different rules in this battle such as....

1. Using Commander's Gaze to Harangue a units' Courage
2. Supporting Troops going on the side (Archers and Light Infantry) rather than behind
3. Fighting in difficult terrain and pushing through and around it
4. New Scenario

I am not entirely satisfied with the scenario, as both sides ended up just being in a standard battle by Turn 4.  However, it did force us to deploy differently and break up the usual way we do things and that forced the eventual battle to turn out very different.

Unit wise, the Cataphracts did an amazing job against the enemy cavalry, and then faltered in a decisive battle.  Their lack of maneuverability was a disadvantage early but once they got stuck in.  They did just fine.  Their improved Discipline is what won me the match!

I was a bit surprised that the Light Infantry got spanked by the Bronze Shields in the Grove.  I expected that to be a tougher fight.  I also expected the Agema to do a bit better, especially with support from Open Order Bronze Shields, but it ended up backfiring spectacularly as the Seleucids fell into their own trap on the left flank!  That probably cost them the battle.

Overall, everything seemed to work as intended.  Next time, I need to get more Romans on the table and see how they fare.

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