We have just completed the second turn in our Empire Campaign campaign, which covers the period from 310 BC to 301 BC. The following should provide a brief overview of the events as they unfolded. One of the interesting features of the campaign is the sequential nature of the turn sequence which in the closing poption of the decade resulted in a very dramatic turn of events. The outcomes of course determined by the order of player offensives, modified by battle outcomes.
The cities of Sicilia were most unsettled following the failed Carthaginian campaigns of the previous decade. As a result a number of cities determined to take advantage of Syracue’s weakness and revolted against Syracusian hegemony. In 310 BC Xenodicus was elected general in Akragas and immediately embarked on a limited campaign to liberate the nearby Sicilian cities from Syracusian domination. Argathocles, tyrant of Syracuse, was determined to bringing Xenodicus to battle and in the Autumn of 309 BC they arimes clashed. Both armies comprised a large number of hoplites and were supported by cavalry. However, Argathocles had a slight advantage in the mousted arm and was further supported by light cavalry and bolt shooters. Xenodicus was more concerned in keeping his revolt alive and as such deployed behind a river with his right flank resting near the coast.
Argathocles determined to attack the enemy right with his mounted and some hoplites while other hoplites, as well as bolt shooters, pinned the Siciliot centre. The battle lines swirled back and forth for most of the day as first Syracusian and then Siciliot troops attacked across the river. Finally, unable to achieve an outcome Argathocles ordered his troops to disengage. Argathocles had clearly failed to defeat Xenodicus, the rebellion would continue to gain momentum. While Syracuse had clearly lost its domination over Sicilia it was far from defeated.
In the east Eumenes determined to launch an offensive into India in an effort to secure his supply of elephants. By the summer of 308 BC Eumenes finally deployed against the Indian hordes in a area interspersed by areas of forest and marsh. In the ensuing battle his light troops suffered in the initial skirmishes but soon the main battlelines clashed. It was now the Greeks, and Persian subjects, gained an advantage destroying many Indians cavalry and chariots. Sensing an opportunity to finish off the Indian host Eumenes committed his cavalry against the lightly armed Indian archers. Now the archers drew their fearsome swords and wreaked havoc amongst the invaders. Encouraged by their inferiors, the elephants and chariots redoubled their efforts and slaughtered the phalangites in front of them. Eumenes was now forced to fight and rearguard action and begin the long journey west. His invasion of India had failed. Yet, this defeat had even greater consequences. Eumenes, far from his capital learnt that in his absence Seleucus, previously satrap of Mesopotamia had returned from exile and seized control of the capital and treasury. Eumenes, never the most trusted of commanders, was handed over to Seleucus by his veterans in return for their long overdue pay.
In Macedonia Polypechon launched an offensive into Graecia in 307 BC to bring to heal Cassander. While a number of Greek cities opened their gates to Polypechon others gathered to support Cassander. The two armies manoeuvred until finally they faced each other in Attica near Dekelea in 306BC. Cassander positioned his mounted on his left while extending his line to the right with his phalangites in the centre and the majority of his mercenary peltasts on the right. Polypechon, having a numeric superiority in phalangites, massed these along with his xystophoroi in the centre while his Greek cavalry and elephants extended his right and his light troops were positioned on a rocky hill on his left. Both armies advanced with their right, with their centre and left in support.
Cassander hoped to gain the advantage against the outnumbered Macedonian left but failed as Polypechon light troops fell back. Meanwhile on the opposite flank and centre of both armies were soon engaged. Here Cassander routed Polypechon’s Greek cavalry while the phalangites of both armies pushed back and forth inconclusively.
With his right flank shattered and desperate for a result the Macedonian centre attacked. While Polypechon, at the head of his xystophoroi charged Cassander’s Greek hoplites, his phalangites attacked Cassander’s outnumbered phalangites frontally and from the flank. However, Cassander’s troops were well motivated and repulsed first the phalangites and then routed the xystophoroi after Polypechon fell mortally wounded. Demoralised and leaderless Polypechon’s army broke with many troops now deserting to Cassander. Aware of his own tenuous hold in Greece, an amalgam of diverse political interests at best, Cassander advanced in the following weeks into Macedonia and secured Pella, leaving the fractious Greek cities behind.
While the dynamic situation in Graecia was unfolding equally dramatic news arrived from Italia. The relatively unknown city state of Rome had successfully consolidated their position over Italia. Heavily populated and now commanding a united Italia rumours of Roman expansion filled many trading ports.
Watching these developments with renewed interest Carthage pressed on with her own territorial expansions. Following the defeat of her previous invasion of Sicilia Carthage prepared for another invasion of the islands now disrupted by revolts by cities seeking independence from Syracusian hegemony. Carthaginian forces landed on the west of the island from where her forces quickly expanded and consolidated their control. However, Carthage was soon in direct conflict with the much expanded Akragas League which now controlled much of Sicilia in a loose alliance of city states. This finally came to a head in 305 BC when the Akragas League dispatched Xenodicus to arrest Carthaginian arrest expansion.
The two armies met on a relatively open plain north of Heraclea, a site chosen by Hamilcar, son of Gisco. Hamilcar selecting the field to ensure his heavy chariots would benefit from an obstacle free battlefield. Hamilcar deployed with his Punic and Libyan infantry in the centre his auxilia and cavalry on his right and his heavy chariots on the left.
Taking advantage of what looked to be an unusual deployment by the Greeks Hamilcar pressed forward with his centre and left while refusing his more vulnerable right. He further moved his cavalry from his right flank to his left to gain further advantage. The Siciliot Greeks countered and repositioning some of their centre to attack the Punic right flank.
However, such deployments take time and the Carthaginian heavy chariots and cavalry, supported by Punic infantry, eventually gained the advantage on the Punic left and centre destroying the Greek flank. The surviving Greeks fled and as word of the victory spread cities opened their gates to Carthage. Sicilia had been finally secured for Carthage.
However, it was in the Syria and Aegyptus that the most dramatic events of the decade unfolded. In 303 BC Antigonus dispatched his son Demetrius against Ptolemy in a war that had now been fought for many years. Moving south a number cities offered little or no resistance to the Antigonid invasion. Now the very survival of Ptolemaic rule seemed in question. Ptolemy finally offered battle in the Nile Delta, again using a major distributary to strengthen his position.
Demetrius launched his attack across one of these rivers while landing Greek hoplites on the coast. Ptolemy counted the landing with his mounted while his the smaller phalanx and elephants advanced to defend the river bank opposite the mighty phalanx of Demetrius. A long but determined clash over the river and marshes no took place the details of which are not known. The result however was that headway gained by the Antigonid phalanx was lost when it was finally forced back across the river and the Greek hoplites along the coast were finally over-run. Once again the Antigonid invasion of Aegyptus is repulsed.
Seeking revenge and taking advantage of the Antigonid defeat Ptolemy now launched his own invasion of Syria. Several cities opened their gates to Ptolemy as he marched relentlessly north. As these cities fell the economic cost to the Antigonids increased. Antigonus, unable to accept continued economic destruction being inflicted on Syria assembled a large army to defeat the invader.
Antigonus, having executed a night march, was able to catch the Ptolemaic host breaking camp in the summer of 301 BC. Ptolemy had deployed with his right flank anchored on a fortified position and his left an area of marsh. Having recovered from the surprise attack Ptolemy moves against the Antigonid flanks. This includes a raid against the Antigonid camp, though this attack fails. In due course the phalangites of both armies are engaged, with the aging Antigonus, now 80, fighting in the front ranks of the Antigonid phalanx. As the battle develops victory seems within Antigonus’ grasp until a series of disasters combine. Firstly, Antigonid xystophoroi fail to achieve a breakthrough and then a portion of the Antigonid phalanx, attacked frontally and from the flank, is destroyed with the loss of Antigonus. While Ptolemaic casualties are heavy the Antigonid defeat is complete. Syria has fallen to Ptolemy and two decades of determined engagements have, at least for the time being, provided a rich reward.
At the end of the decade the various states control the following provinces, the first being the home province:
- Carthage: Africa, Numidia, Iberia, Sicilia
- Rome: Italia
- Macedonia: Macedonia, Thracia
- Antigonids: Asia, Pontus
- Seleucids: Mesopotamia, Persia, Parthia, Armenia, Bactria
- Ptolemaic: Aegyptus, Syria
Independent states currently comprise: Gallia; Cisalpina; Magna Graecia; Illyria; Cyrenaica; Scythia & India.