More Elephantomachia (Carthaginians v. Classical Indians)

26 May, 2010

Last night I got to use my Carthaginians after quite a break. Joel was able to get some time for a game. He asked if I wanted to face the Marians, or would I like to try something else. Rather than offer him my Ancient Britons, I suggested he try out his Classical Indians.

In this encounter I was the aggressor; not sure how that would have happened, unless the Carthaginians turned mercenary themselves and went way way east; or perhaps Hannibal won the Second Punic War (or the Second Roman War, if they got to write history!) and expanded east, again, way, way east!

Joel laid out a pair of woods and a marsh for the terrain. I got the edge I wanted, and set my camp behind a wood, which seemed a good idea at the time. Joel then deployed, with the elephants in the centre, flanked by archers and his cavalry in reserve.

My deployment was to put the spear in the centre, flanked by one elephant, the Spanish in the woods, the Numidians behind the marsh, and the commander in reserve with an elephant. I had reservations about using an elephant in reserve, but the battleline seemed too short to fit the spear and the elephants. In response to my deployment, Joel shifted his HCh to his right flank.

Initial Deployments: Carthaginians on the left and Indians on the right.

Very quickly I started to see problems with my deployment, as Joel’s cavalry advanced on my right flank, threatening my camp. It was hard to protect, and it blocked access in GGo past it (well done me!). He also threatened the other wing with his chariots, and I had only the Numidians to oppose them. I decided to retire the Numidian cavalry to buy me time and to send the general and his elephant across to stop the Indian cavalry (and hopefully attack some of his archers). This took me quite a while, and as I was doing it Joel advanced an archer to shoot at my Numidian foot; on the first shot he got 6-1 and they were off; my left flank now looked very exposed.

The Carthaginian general moves across to the right flank, cursing the subordinate who positioned the camp!

Indian archers prove too much for Numidian psiloi.

I finally managed to get my general and elephant around to face his cavalry, who began to back-peddle. But by then I had an archer and some chariots to the rear of my spear. I did my best to launch an all-out attack. Unfortunately, my Spanish were not terribly valiant, and the Scutarii were recoiled, leaving the Caetrati overlapped. Like the Numidian foot, they weren’t terribly resilient. However, the general did destroy an element of archers. Yet, when Joel’s archers recoiled my elephant, the spear looked all the more forlorn.

Looking grim as the Carthaginian centre advances against elephants.

Joel in reply got 6 PIPs and he was able to attack on all fronts. His chariots did not manage to destroy the Numidians, who recoiled before them. His archers recoiled the elephant some more, and his elephants ploughed into my spear. His general sealed the victory by leading the attack and destroying the centre spear and its psiloi support. One spear, despite being overlapped, recoiled the elephant in front of it; the other was less lucky.

The Libyan spear are destroyed by the Indian elephants (one spear element is shown as having recoiled, reflecting a level of confusion!

  • Review

I have to confess that I didn’t really have much of a plan, but what plan that did arise in response to Joel’s deployment was reactive to the bad positioning of the camp. If it was more central I could have defended it with psiloi from the woods. I then would have had the elephant and general free to stop any mischief by the chariots. I would have been better to have kept the spear behind the marsh, I think, and had the elephants in the centre. This might have led to something of a stand-off, as Joel would not have wanted to advance between the wood and the marsh. I might have kept the game going another turn if I’d had the PIPs to get the Libyan psiloi in front of the spear to face the elephants. Actually, Joel revealed a surprising confusion about the quality of his elephants, as he’d forgotten they QKed spear. He held off attacking the spear for quite a while because of this. This is all the more surprising as Keith assures me Joel’s elephants have trampled his hoplites many times!

Anyway, this has given me much to think on, as my Carthaginians continue to be winless after five battles, especially as I want to use them for competitions.

6 Responses to “More Elephantomachia (Carthaginians v. Classical Indians)”

  1. TWR Says:

    Interesting Indian deployment with all the elephants on one flank. In some ways I think this was a weakness. It also explains why you thought it possible to engage the Indian foot with your Punic Spear.

    • Mark Davies Says:

      It’s interesting you should see it that way, because in my mind the elephants were fairly central, which was partly the effect of the marsh and the wood. In hindsight the spear would have been better on the flank behind the marsh, leaving the elephants with psiloi support to hold the centre of the line.

  2. Stephen Says:

    I think Joel played that game with a good deal of elan, so it’s pretty hard to second guess what might have happened. But if the spear had been further back, the way it played out they would have been in a better place.

    • Mark Davies Says:

      Well, I was waiting for elephants to attack the spear, but he’d forgotten that they QK spear and was holding back. My spear ended up running away from the chariots—towards the elephants.

      Still, it’s all been valuable learning, and I’ve got some more good advice from the Fanaticus Forum.

  3. Stephen Says:

    Well that’s a great example of the fog of war!

    • Mark Davies Says:

      Yes, I had told him how Brian’s Lydian spear had recoiled my elephants and I’d subsequently lost, which may have helped confuse him!

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