Thursday, 23 October 2014

Campaign Events, 133-129 BC(E)


Here we go:
 
Autumn 133
  • Roman reinforcements are sent marching overland from Illyria to Macedonia, en route to the new province of Asia.
  • The Sicilian Slave Revolt is finally put down.
  • The Parthians march from the Bactrian border to make a surprise invasion of Babylonia; the Ptolemaic defenders retire in haste to Palmyra.
Spring 132
  • The Roman reinforcements arrive in Asia.
  • The Parthians incorporate Babylonia.
Summer 132
  • Pergamum formally capitulates before the legions of Rome; tax farmers move in en masse.
  • The Parthians move into Assyria.
Autumn 132
  • The Romans continue to mop up chunks of Asia Minor by marching into Phrygia.
  • The Parthians take Assyria unopposed.
Spring 131
  • Rome annexes Phrygia.
  • The Egyptians reinforce Palmyra.
  • The Parthians raid Syria; anarchy ensues northwards as various petty kingdoms emerge to the east of Galatia.
Summer 131
  • The Romans march into Lydia.
  • The Parthians return with treasure to Assyria.
Autumn 131
  • Lydia falls to Rome.
  • The Parthians move into Adiabene.
Spring 130
  • The Romans go beyond the boundaries of the Pergamene Bequest into Caria.
  • The Indians send reinforcements northwards.
  • Adiabene is annexed by the growing Parthian Empire.
Summer 130
  • Caria annexed by Rome.
  • The Parthians move into Sophene.
Autumn 130
  • The Romans march into Pamphylia.
  • Sophene annexed by Parthia.
Spring 129
  • Pamphylia is now Roman.
  • The Parthians attack Palmyra.
So that's it; a period of relative peace as the Romans and Parthians mop up a large number of minor territories between them, and everyone else builds up their forces. The next battle sees a large Ptolemaic army facing off against the might of Parthia.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Romans arrive in Asia Minor

A Roman army arrives to take possession of the Pergamene Bequest, and finds itself under attack by a loyalist army led by the nobleman Aristonicus.  This is the first time our campaign has seen the red tide wash up on the far shores of the Hellespont. I built both army lists and supplied most of the figures. 
First up is how the Roman right looks to the Pergamene commanders: all of their cavalry is here, along with some skirmishers.
Their centre: two Roman legions to their centre right, and two Socii legions at the centre left, all with velites out front.  A familiar sight in the campaign.
Their left flank is covered by auxiliary peltasts, Thracians and Cretan archers.  Billy commanded the right half of their army, Gordon the left.
The Pergamene left: cavalry.
A large but mediocre phalanx in the centre.
The Pergamene right - two large units of peltasts and some blank bases to denote a very large unit of thureophoroi.  I run the left of the army, and Graham will command the right.  He is running late, though, but once he arrives the blanks will be replaced by resplendent wee men.
A long sideshot from our left and the Roman right.  This is how the armies look after the initial move.
A lower photo of the Romans at this point.
How our lot looks from the same angle.
The battle develops on my wing, the Pergamene left.
The infantry centres close. We have superiority in numbers to our right centre, but Romans are tough. Aristonicus expects to lose, but to give the Romans a hard time in the process.
Graham angles in at our extreme right - the thureophoroi have arrived.
Another side shot of the entire field.
A large cavalry melee.
And two very large infantry melees. The Romans have advanced a bit further forward than their allies.
How it all looks from the side now.
Another low angle shot.
At the other end of the field, the Greek-type auxiliaries have all been chased off and the Pergamene thureophoroi are moving into position.
My cavalry are doing okay, but are taking heavy losses at the same tine.
The phalanxes, meanwhile perform badly.  Those legionaries are tough.
The thureophoroi close in on the Latin Hastati.
My cavalry look as though they are about to threaten the Roman flank, but in fact are pretty much exhausted themselves.
Our centre begins to give way.
Our only reasonable success: Graham's thureophoroi.

The Pergamenes collapse without damaging the legions very much, although many of the Hastati were almost broken. After counting up the damage, though, it does indeed turn out that the Romans are not quite able to take the province.  A few reinforcements will soon sort that.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Campaign Events: 133 BC or BCE if you prefer

Major battles are like buses - nothing for years and then three come along at once. After the recent slave war in Sicily and the Indian attack on Bactria, we almost immediately have the Romans arriving for their first campaign encounter in Asia Minor.  This does not bode for the freedom to fight one another that is traditionally associated with that area.  Events are as follows:

Spring 133

  • Rome sends reinforcements to Sicily, while guerrilla warfare rages there.
  • The Ptolemies raise a new army in Alexandria, somewhat concerned about the problems their only field army has been having against the Parthians.  This second one is for capital defence, honest.
  • The Parthians, as predicted, mount a huge raid into Bactria.
  • The Pergamene bequest: Mysia, Lydia and Phrygia now belong to Rome by the terms of the will of the last Attalid king.

Summer 133

  • A Roman army arrives in Mysia from Propontis to take possession.
  • The Parthians return to Aria, laden with loot.
  • The Pergamene nobleman Aristonicus becomes the focus of resentment against the Romans and leads an army against them.
So that will be the next battle. This is a very late Pergamene army, and will be composed of some good quality heavy cavalry, a large medium phalanx, thureophoroi and peltasts, together with a supporting cast of light horse and skirmishers.  We shall see if they manage to give the legions a hard time.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Elephants Galore!

After a hiatus of some weeks (family commitments), I made it back to the club for the latest battle in the campaign as the Indians attack Bactria.
I chose and deployed the Bactrians Greeks, while Simon brought his lovely Indian army for its first outing in a while, with Gordon deploying them.  First up is the Indian right wing.  Simon reckons that since this army comes a couple of hundred years after Hydaspes, its composition should be somewhat different from the army of Porus.  Only generals have chariots, and there are some auxiliary horse archers, which you can see in the photo above.
The Indian centre right is a shallow line of foot archers, and then a chunk of elephants. Gordon is in command of the forces in the first two pictures.
Billy commands the left half of their army, which as you can see has a veritable host of pachyderms, plus other stuff.  This army sure looks glorious.
Above is the first photo of the defending Bactrians.  This is Simon's command, comprising light cavalry, some peltasts hidden in the wood, and a small unit of heavy phalangites.
Our centre: a massed medium phalanx, commanded by Graham.
My command has pretty much everything else.
A side view down the table, showing the relative deployments.
First move: Simon holds on our left.
Graham advances the phalanx.
I hold.  There's a lot of weight coming in my direction...
How the whole thing looks at this point.
On our left, Simon commits all of his troops, including the sneaky peltasts.
Graham advances the phalanx.
And I continue to do as little as possible.
The usual lengthy tableshot. Much hilarity is enjoyed by the Greek command as the Indian prince is heard grumbling about pesky hidden peltasts, a larger phalanx than expected, and enemy elephants (we have four, they have twelve). In other words, Gordon is convinced he is going to lose.
Simon's large units of javelin-armed light horse attack the smaller auxiliary horse archers on the other side, and his peltasts and phalanx line up against the lone unit of Indian elephants here.
The phalanx grins onward. Just to the right of Simon's force, Graham is about to attack two units of 24 Indian foot with three phalanxes of 32 figures.  That means the Indians are outnumbered two-to-one here.
The phalanx also has superiority against the elephants and infantry in the enemy centre.
I make some judicious attacks to spoil the enemy advance while I have temporary superiority in weight. It won't last, but I hope to hold then long enough here while Simon and Graham win the battle.
Simon's lights sweep away the enemy lights.
Remember the three leftmost phalanxes? The ones who have twice as many troops as the enemy? Well, the photo above shows the sort of thing they are up against.  And that's just one of Gordon's rolls.

 To the left, Simon continues to do well.
Those phalanxes simply disintegrate. Two down, one to go...and that one is shaken and disordered on morale. When it goes, our army will have lost half of its breakpoint.  Gordon suddenly perks up...
\the rest of the phalanx is doing better, but it won't be enough.
The final photo shows my troops just before they are all destroyed.

The Indians win, but at a cost. and they won't be able to hold the province.  Which means the Parthians will do what Parthians do best - mount a gigantic raid, stab the Greeks in the back and then run off with the spoils. At least, that's how we decided it should go, almost like a kriegspiel.

 I did notice one thing about this game and its outcome, which is that we all had a good time and nobody cared about the freaky results.  The reason for this, I think, is that although it was a campaign battle, nobody had much of an emotional investment, and that is pretty much true of the campaign as a whole.  We are effectively using it to generate battles, each of which is a free for all multi-player, all welcome. Since I generate the games almost automatically, no player runs any single state, which removes extreme competitiveness. It also explains the campaign's longevity, following on from the end of the long running Empire campaign. If individual powers are not run by a specified player, then we avoid that well known course of campaigns, player drop-out.  The whole thing is a group effort, and that insulates us against that happening.