Seleucids in Egypt

8 April, 2011

No, they didn’t meet Ptolemy or any of his mob, but rather they ran into some New Kingdom types. I got over to the Auckland Wargames Club, which now has Thursday night meetings (evenings suit me much more than weekends during the day) and played a couple of games with Philip, who’s taking part in the DBA tournament at Natcon later this month. He hadn’t played DBA since the MEDBAG day at the North Shore Wargames Club last year.

I went with the ‘c’ list for both games, taking the 3Cm and the 4Wb for the optional elements. Philip went for the ‘b’ list of the Egyptians, which gave him a 3Wb. In the first game I was the defender and put down two modest pieces of BGo on the edges (but back enough not to interfere with deployment) and a gentle hill.

The Seleucids deployed in front of a small wood.

The Egyptians deployed on the gentle hill.

This battle got off to a fast start, with the Pharoah advancing on the left flank with archers, drawn to the two 2Ps there like a bee to honey. They shot one of them with their first shot; 1-0 to the Egyptians. I then was attacked in the centre, and lost the Agema (4Kn). 2-0 to the Egyptians. My right flank was waiting to be rolled up, but then we unveiled our secret weapon! The scythed chariot powered into the gap left by the Agema, slaughtered the psiloi-supported blade there (now 2-2). The Egyptians tried to defeat it by attacking it with an unsupported blade; no luck (now 3-2). Antigonus had only one PIP, which he used to send the chariot into the rear of some archers. This was evens, but the chariot was unstoppable, and the game ended 4-2 to the Seleucids all thanks to an inspired bit of scythed chariotry!

The final scene. The swathe cut by the chariot is in the top of the picture, as is the Pharoah, interrupted in his plan to loot the camp. We had forgotten to roll for the camels, but they only recoiled the opposing chariots.

Game One was mine owing to some good luck, as I didn’t have anything to stop the Pharoah. However, Philip may have forgotten about command and control issues a little on his right flank too. All the same, the Egyptians got a lesson in what you do with ‘real’ chariots!

The two sides face off along the banks of the Nile.

For the second game we decided to alternate rolls and make Philip defender. He put down a waterway, a marsh and a wood. I got the edge I wanted, Philip didn’t go for a littoral landing, and I deployed on the far side of the wood in my deployment zone.

The Seleucids.

The Egyptians.

I got very low PIPs for quite a bit of the start of this game, and was slow to advance the Elephant; instead I took the Galatians and some psiloi into the marsh. Unlike the quick first game, this one was much more protracted. Things stalled for a while on the left flank, as the elephant didn’t have the PIPs to move. Eventually we came to blows there. This time the scythed chariot had no puff and the elephant went down to psiloi-supported blades. In the centre, my pike and general were having a hard time against archers (one pike element lost to shooting). I was up on factors, but not getting the doubles. Infuriatingly (from my perspective), a bow element shrugged off an attack by pikes with a warband overlap three times! By contrast in the centre the Agema couldn’t see off psiloi at 2-2 odds and went down straight away when flanked! Meanwhile, the Pharoah had been locked in combat with a pike for four combats, all sticks, and then I doubled him—hooray—only to be reminded he just fled!

It was balanced at 3-3 on the last turn; at great effort I’d destroyed two bow and the warband, but had lost the elephant, the Agema and a pike (and the scythed chariot). On the last turn Philip destroyed a psiloi (that I should have withdrawn) and a pike to take the game 5-3. It was a fun game and a deserved win by Philip, who broke up the battle lines to his advantage (there was only one ‘group’ on either side at the end of the game). Also I didn’t get the most advantageous match-ups: his blade avoided my cataphracts, and his chariots my camels. Good fun, and I’m keen to get to the AWC again soon for a similar evening.

At game's end. Note the sole 'group' in the marsh.

  • Review:

I’ve had a few games with the Seleucids now, but I’m still getting used to them. In particular, I may want to find ways to deploy the mounted that gives them more options. In the first game the scythed chariot in reserve worked well, but in the second my deployment of the cataphracts kept them from being terribly effective, or mobile. Also, where they were deployed, the pikes might just as well have been in single rank, as they didn’t get the back rank bonus against 2/3rds of the Egyptian army. Still learning how to use pike (and elephants, and …).

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Last Sunday MEDBAG, the Middle Earth DBA Gamers, had their first meeting. We’d organized a DBA event at the North Shore Wargames Club. John had had a couple of games there with Philip the week before to create some interest, and on the day two others joined Philip from the North Shore Club (it was the third meeting of the month that falls on the fifth Sunday, so not a busy day); along with these ‘locals’ John and I got Joel along, making six of us. We each played four games in slightly over four hours starting around 11.30 and finishing around 3.30.

John had made some game boards, and we used preset terrain; Each of the locals played each of us and then we finished off by playing one of the locals again. I used my Komnenan Byzantines for the first three games, and went with the same army for each of them: 4x3Cv (1 = cmd), 4x2LH, 3x4Bw, 1x4Bd. There were a few times when the 3Kn for a 2LH would have been useful or a 3Ax and two 2Ps for the three 4Bw, but until I’ve given this configuration a few tries I’m not sure how to use them, so figured I’d stick with it for practice.

  • Game 1: Early Carthaginians

First up I faced Andrew who had Early Carthaginians. The Carthaginians are one of his favourite armies, I think, though he usually plays in 25mm. He’d not played DBA for a while, and his rules were 2.0, which proved to have a few important differences from 2.2. As the defender, he deployed to protect his camp against my greater mobility.

Initial Deployments: two elements of light horse are mostly out of sight on the right.

I deployed with light horse on each wing and the archers and cavalry in the centre. I soon became uneasy about his heavy chariots on the right wing and regretted advancing my light horse so far. I started to retire the light horse on the other flank for support, but they didn’t get any big burst of PIPs to get into action. Instead, a messy action developed in which I destroyed his cavalry and a HCh at the cost of one 2LH (and a rather exposed right flank. I might have had the edge here, if I’d not advanced my archers against his spear (hardly necessary and scarcely wise!). Andrew had a turn to make me suffer with ugly recoils and it was all over.

Before the end; overlapped Kavellarioi faced psiloi-supported spear and overlapped bow face spear; neither can afford to recoil!

  • Game 2: New Kingdom Egyptians

Next up was Philip with his New Kingdom Egyptians. I think I was the defender, and I soon had cause to regret the deployment of my bow—facing his blade! I also had my light horse facing his archers, and seemed a bit like a possum in the headlights with both!

Initial Deployments: Again there are light horse on each wing.

His archers advanced into range of my stationary cavalry on the left and started recoiling them; I just didn’t seem to have the PIPs to do anything there; I think I was lucky not to lose many elements, only one, I think. In the centre his blade met my archers and to my great surprise I 6-1’ed one of them with supported fire. It would be my only real success, as on the right the combined efforts of my cavalry and light horse were not enough to destroy his chariots, and when he created a ‘buttocks of death’ situation for my general with a warband, it was all over. His chariots had also destroyed a 2LH on the left flank.

The final position; the absence of the warband and the general make a big gap on the right flank.

  • Game 3: Early Myceneans

My next game was with Kendall; we were both playing for our first victory. He was using Myceneans, though his list was for 1.1 (not a huge difference). He ended up with a gully along his deployment area and stuck his camp behind it protected by a pair of pike on each side. After I saw his deployment I used one 3Cv to block the gap between the rough going on my left and had all the 2LH on the right flank, though one was attached to the line of 3Cv because of this element swap.

Initial Deployments: Komnenans on the left.

The game went my way because Kendall didn’t know that 2LH QK spear and pike under 2.2, so he moved his pike out on his left flank to meet my 2LH, who made a fair bit of work eating them up. On the other flank, he stomped a pair of my bow and one of my cavalry. Surprisingly the Turkopouloi survived this combat; in fact, they successfully took out his general, making it a great battle for light horse. The Komnenans got their first victory in a close battle.

The light horse have surrounded the last of the pikes and in the centre the Mycenean general has been destroyed.

  • Game 4: Carthaginian Civil War

For the last game we played one of the home team again. Andrew and I decided that a Carthaginian civil war was in order, so he got his Later Carthaginians out to face mine. This might have been from the Truceless War with the mercenaries at the end of the First Punic War (except for the presence of elephants on both sides). I was the defender, and had to deal with my spear being targeted by his elephants and warbands. I did this by swapping them for the Spanish (3Ax and 2Ps).

Initial Deployment: my spear swap out of the way of his elephants and warbands.

The initial combats went my way, and I had him two down, with the elephants trampling his Spanish 3Ax and I think a spear coming to grief, but the he fought back, and while his warband and my Spanish fought inconclusively, he took out my two elephants with a single element of Numidian skirmishers.

Midgame and things favour seem to favour my side. Despite the beach to my back, Andrew wasn't tempted to try a littoral landing.

It got increasingly desperate, but fortunately my Gauls were able to attack his elephant from BGo (they had a toe on that hill). They recoiled it into another element and he was four down. At the time I thought he could have QKed the Gauls if they lost (and I’d have lost my fourth element); only later did I read a post on Fanaticus that pointed out they were safe in BGo (good to know!). A lucky victory for my Carthos!

  • Review:

It was a very fun day. All the games were played in a friendly spirit, but then you kind of expect that with DBA. I lost twice with the Komnenans, but each time I could see an obvious mistake, and I could certainly do better next time! I’m also getting better with the Carthaginians. I certainly don’t worry about whether they can win or not any more—thankfully.

I’m looking forward to a similar event at the Auckland Wargames Club later this month. Thanks to John for organizing this and to Philip for hosting it. Hopefully it’ll be the first of many more.