Ophellas & Eumenes  

The following outlines the first two battles of our Empire Campaign, specifically the invasions of Ophellas and Eumenes.

Ophellas’ Cyrenian Expedition:

Ptolemy determined on an offensive against Cyrenia, a critical state for which would cement his power in Aegyptus. The forces of Cyrenia were deemed to be defending, their province was being invaded after all. A player was found to command the Kyreneans and the Ptolemic player opted to command his invading army rather than risk his invasion to the mercy of some mercenary. 

Thimbron a Lacedaemonian who murdered Harpalus, the Macedonian satrap of Babylon before Alexander’s death, had recently secured his position in Cyrenia. Ptolemy, frustrated with the situation determined to secure Cyrenia and therefore ordered Ophellas, one of his generals, to invade in 319 BC.

Thimbron determined to make a stand near the coastal city of Apollonia. The city, on the Mediterranean coast, has  difficult hills immediately inland. The Colonist forces (I/56a) included hoplites mounted in chariots (as HCh//Sp), and a core of infantry hoplites supported by psiloi. Thimbron, along with his bodyguard, deployed on horseback (Cv Gen). The colonist camp was established on the western side of the city, away from the approaching Ptolemaic forces. The Greeks deployed to meet the invaders with chariots on the inland flank on the coastal roadway and a garrison of hoplites were stationed in Apollonia. Thimbron used a cunning ruse to suggest reinforcements were on triremes off the coast. The cunning Greek stratagem was sustained as the Ptolemaic infantry forces, accompanied by their elephants, deployed for battle on the plains east of the battlefield. The entire Ptolemaic mounted corp (Kn Gen, Kn and LH) remained at sea on their horse transports.

The Greeks moved rapidly forward on the inland flank with the mounted hoplites (HCh) eyeing up the Ptolemaic mercenary troops (3 x 4Ax) deployed opposite the flanking steep hills. Psiloi moved to engage the elephant corp and Ptolemaic pike phalanx, while the hoplites on foot maintained their battle lines and echeloned forward of the city on the coastal flank. Much manoeuvring ensued, the Ptolemaic mercenary troops proved exceptionally resilient in the face of charging chariot forces.

Ophellas eventually led his companions in a charge into the middle of the Greek hoplites. Ultimately his personal success was too late for the invading army. Heavy casualties amongst the mercenaries, elephants and pike formations forced Ophellas’ army to withdraw back to Egypt.

The final result a 4-2 loss for the Ophellas.

Eumenes in Armenia:

The next invasion was that by Eumenes who commands Mesopotamia and the Eastern Successor provinces. Like Ptolemy he wished to expand his influence over independent provinces rather than invoke an invasion. He had several options but decided on Armenia.

Mithranes (II/28b) had exercised a degree of independence in his satrapy since death of Alexander, however in 317 BC Eumenes (II/16d), having escaped Antigonus’ grip, determined that the territories known as Armenia should be subjected to Babylon’s control. While Eumenes pressed deeper into the country, harassed by the hill people’s at every turn, Mithranes drew his various vassals together in preparation for the eventual deciding battle of the campaign.

Selecting his field of battle with care Mithranes determined to attack the Greeks as they emerged from a narrow defile. With his  infantry were drawn up in the centre and flanked by light horse, Mithranes with his reserve of cataphracts was confident of victory.

Eumenes, aware of the desperate situation selected an unusual deployment which found his army deployed on a narrow frontage astride a road in a defile. In front was his elephants supported to the rear by phalangites and xystophoroi. On his left his few light troops advanced over rocky hills while yet more phalangites prepared to expanded his line. Below the defile between a series of difficult hills.

Despite Mithranes confidence the Armenians were far from united. Indeed, no sooner had the armies deployed that it became apparent that many contingents were reluctant to advance (a series of low PIP dice). His plan to dominate the high ground astride the defile now seemed unlikely. Despite this setback more motivated parts of the army advanced and a number of Armenian infantry were thrown forward to harass the Greeks, though they failed to secure the critical high ground. The Greeks seizing the initiative advanced relentlessly with pachyderms and xystophoroi leading the advance. As the battle reached a climatic decision in the centre isolated Armenian light cavalry advanced towards the Greek camp before being driven back. Victory, or defeat would be decided in the centre.

Eumenes himself was soon in the thick of the fighting and was, for sometime, surrounded by Armenians to front and flank. Reinforcements were thrown in by both commanders, and yet the battle remained on a knife edge. Finally, with Armenian casualties mounting Mithranes ordered his last reserves forward. It was now that Eumenes, in a last desperate effort secured a final breakthrough and in so doing shattered the Armenian foot.

This was a fascinating battle and one I, as the Armenian player, expected to win. However, a complete failure in PIPs combined with a complex strategy was my undoing. That said Eumenes, at the head of the xystophoroi, was locked in combat for four turns due to evens on combats. As he was attacked in front and side anything less than a tie would have seen him cut down. As it transpired Eumenes secured a 4-0 victory and Armenia! 

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