Friday, 6 April 2018

L'Art de la Guerre - Armenians vs Seleucids

At the club tonight I played another ADLG game, this time not part of our club tournament.  Following a few weeks behind my Tamils I wanted to try out a different army and chose Armenians.  My list is as follows:

71 Armenia (83BC)
25 units

Command 1 (11 units)
CinC (Strategist) - Tigranes the Great
4 Cataphracts
2 Javelinmen
2 Pikes (mediocre)
2 Light infantry archers (represented by slingers)
1 Light infantry slingers
Command 2
Sub-general (competent)
3 Light cavalry bow
2 Medium cavalry bow
2 Bowmen
Command 3
Sub-general (ordinary)
3 Light cavalry bow
2 Medium cavalry bow
2 Bowmen

My opponent Phil, joined by Martin, fielded a historically accurate build of a Selecid army.  These two armies actually fought in history and after the Seleucids had defeated the Armenians, the Artaxiad King Tigranes rebelled and broke free of Seleucid control.

Tigranes in his splendid battle crown.
The terrain when down and was minimal from both of us.  Using my strategist bonus I was able to clear out and move what little terrain their was to create a nice open battlefield.

And so to deployment.  

Goodness!  Its a barren, featureless desert out there...

 The Seleucids deployed in traditional battle order with a massed phalanx at its centre and two mixed flanks of heavy cavalry, scythed chariots, elephants, and medium/light infantry.

There was no way I was going to engage the front of the phalanx - that would be suicide!  

Yeah, taking on this isn't going to go hit the flanks...

So I deployed my two cavalry flanks out on the edges, intending to try to use skirmish, mounted, and foot archery to pick off what I could.

Tigranes himself took what heavy infantry and cataphracts he had in the centre, and offset away from the Seleucid phalanx to try to destroy their left flank.  I put my light infantry and javelinmen in front of the pikemen to screen them and skirmish them out of the game (if possible).

As the "attacker" I got the first turns after deployment and threw my flanks forwards.  On my left, I wasn't confident and expected to lose here.  My plan was to hold as long as possible.

The left flank - "This doesn't look good sir".  "Do your best lads..."

On my right, Phil had gifted my his flank and it would be rude not to take advantage of it.  I threw my horse archers out to take up a position on turn one.  Sadly this meant I had to leave the archers and cavalry in the rear, but I didn't think I'd need them at this stage.

Tigranes advanced as far as possible, to support this outflanking move and to try to pressure the Seleucid left flank early.

After a bit more maneouvering, the first clashes of the game occured.  The brave Seleucid heavy cavalry, faced the more numerous Armenian catapracts, while their supporting light and medium infantry fell back int he face of my horse archers.

A cataphract in all his glory.

On my left flank, our mounted troops faced each other and the horse archers exchanged shooting.

"Don't worry lads, if those Seleucid lancers charge, we'll definitely flee...just keep the arrows flying!"
The first key fight of the game saw the Armenian cataphracts destroy the Seleucid heavy impact cavalry, in a dice exchange that would make Alexander himself weep.  Phil's dice seemed to have nothing bit 1's in them...

And as the Seleucid flank began to fold, the Armenian cataphracts pursued forwards into a position to hit the flank of the pikemen.  The Seleucids would need to react well to stablised this situation.

Meanwhile, in the centre the Armenian skirmishers were showering slingstones and javelins into the pike blocks and inflicting casualties with impunity.  Pikemen are incredibly powerful if fighting solid enemy but all but useless when faced with skirmishers.  The Seleucids would have to do something to remedy this problem.

With things going badly,it came to the Seleucid response, and Phil and Martin made the dice rolls they needed and moved what they could to try to regain some initiative on their threatened flank.

They did this very well, with a shifted pike charge that simultaneously forced the Armenian light troops to flee and brought them into contact with Tigranes' mediocre pikes.  Thes troops are actually deserted Seleucids so no doubt there were scores to be settled!  They also moved their elephants out to keep the cataphracts occupied, and established their light infantry protected by the armoured medium spearmen to try and shoot off the Armenian horse archers (with some success as it turned out).  They also turned more pikemen to head over and take on the cataphracts.

So, I had to react to Phil & Martin's good moves there, and Tigranes used his cataphracts to do it.  I moved to meet the elephant, but was very worried here.  The elephants would cancel all the cataphracts' benefits and I figured i'd lose the battle here.  However, I was also able to hit the flank of the pikes and destroy the elites, relieving a little pressure there.

Over on my left flank, my cavalry have been fleeing and returning ahead of the Seleucid heavy cavalry, and the other elephants had moved out to try to support this.  I countered by bringing as many shooters to bear as possible and try to shoot down the elephants before they got into contact.  It went well.

By this stage, the Seleucid's losses had mounted considerably and theyr were onyl a few points from breaking.  My Armenians had lost one unit (cataphracts destroyed by the elephants as expected) and a few disruptions.  

The battle entered its final phase, and Phil threw his elephants into "the valley of death", where it lost its final cohesion and routed...

It was all over and in the final accounting, losses were:

Seleucids lost 21/21.
Armenians lost 12/25.

Overall it was a very interesting battle.  Phil had his Seleucid army constructed in a manner that the historical generals of the time would clearly recognise.  The pike phalanx in the middle is so scary that I was never going near it and was able to mostly skirmish it out of the game.  This meant the Phil was facing my strength on his left flank and (barring dice rolls) was always likely to lose that fight.  On the other flank, he actually had a quality advantage, but the Armenian cavalry being able to evade and shoot meant he couldn't really get to grips with me here until late in the game (when I had no room left to evade into).  Overall, I was able to avoid the Seleucid strength, pick my fights, and gradually wear down Phil's army with consistent losses across his army.

Pop Quiz
If you were commanding the Seleucids in the above battle, how would you have dealt with the Armenians?  How would you have got your powerful phalanx into the action?

Answer in the comments below...

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