Category Archives: II/16d Eumenes

Antigonids, Seleucus & Rome

The Christmas and New Year period provided an opportunity for my son and I to play a series of long overdue Ancient games. During the 2020 Christmas break we refought a series of historic Punic Wars battles using DBA this year however we opted for a different theme. In particular the Wars of the Antigonids and Roman campaigns in Cisalpine Gaul.

Starting with the Antigonids we fought a series of games involving Antigonus, Demetrius and finally Antigonus Gonatas against the Seleucids. The first engagement was fought between Antigonus & Seleucus I Nicator. In the centre the phalangites of both commanders clashed, while on the flanks elephants, light troops & mounted were locked in combat.

Above, Seleucus engages Antigonus. In this engagement Antigonus fought with the phalanx causing some confusion for Seleucus, who expected him to be with the xystophori. Finally, Antigonus gained success.

Now the baton was passed to Demetrius who again faced Selecus. Unlike Antigonus Demetrius determined not to use pachyderms and as a result his command and control improved.

Above, the armies just prior to clashing with the Seleucids on the right. Like his father, Demetrius secured victory over Seleucus.

In our third game Demetrius was replaced by Antigonus Gonatas who now faced Antiochus I. Soter, with an even more disparate army Soter put up a determined fight. However again the Seleucids failed to secure a victory. Below, the armies engaged with the Antigonids advancing from the left.

The miniatures above are all 15mm figures and mostly from Tin Soldier supplemented by a few Xyston for variation and, in the case of two stands of Celts, Corvus Belli.

Next we moved to the conflict between Rome & Gaul, specifically that set between the Punic Wars. Some four engagements were fought over two evenings.

Above and below photos of two of the games. While the Romans fielded a similar army in each engagement the Gauls tried various combinations.

Of the four battles three resulted in victories for the Polybian Romans while just one ended in a Gallic victory. The Gauls are Corvus Belli while the Romans are mostly from Essex.

With the holidays ending our final game, the eighth in the series, was set in the Second Punic War. In particular, Polybian Romans engaged against Carthaginians.

Above, on one flank a stalemate persisted while in the centre and other flank, illustrated below, both armies were heavily engaged.

Like the previous engagements the final result went to the wire, with a narrow victory achieved by the Romans.

In all a fine series of games which for us illustrated the strengths of DBA. In particular games involving historical opponents, with very plausible results, all resolved in a limited time frame.

Paraetacene Refought

Friday evening found three of us play testing an historical scenario for the Successor battle of Paraetacene, fought in 317 BCE. The Wars of the Diadochi are a particular interest of mine and given this battle has been the focus of a Society of Ancients Battle Day in 2018 it has been on my radar for a while. After some research, considering orders of battle, reviewing frontages, pondering of various interpretations and even a little painting, I felt my almost DBA sized scenario was ready for the table.

For the evening I was joined by fellow Society of Ancients member Andrew and by another local, Ben. During the course of the evening we managed to refight Paraetacene three times, with each player taking command of either Antigonus or Eumenes once. Therefore after the miniatures were deployed in their historical positions, and the small number of special rules explained, our refights began.

In the first Eumenes seemed overly concerned for his right flank and as a result dithered somewhat first reinforcing his left and then moving troops back as other threats developed. Further, while concerned for his right he order an advance with his left, in an effort to pin the Antigonid right and neutralise this flank using his pachyderms. Simultaneously he advanced with the centre. Somewhat caught off guard by Eumenes actions on the left Antigonus threw caution to the wind and advanced. However the arguably rash actions by Antigonus against Eumenes left would leave him exposed.

Above, the view from Eumenes lines, though not all of his forces are shown. Below, Antigonus is caught off guard by Eumenes cavalry and is wounded.

Meanwhile, Eumenes was pressing forward with his centre where he hoped to breakthrough with his veteran Silver Shields and Hypaspists. His aspirations were rewarded, below the Silver Shields secure a breakthrough in the centre.

With the breakthrough achieved the Antigonid centre would soon collapse – the valour of the Silver Shields in the centre clearly carried the day for Eumenes, while Antigonus was carried from the field wounded.

In the second game Antigonus focused his attack against Eumenes left and reluctantly pressed his phalanx forward. Eumenes, cunning as always, deployed light troops in the nearby hills which somewhat frustrated Antigonus’ advance. However, undeterred Antigonus pressed forward and with great personal valour encouraged his Xystophoroi onward. His victory was secured when Eumenes’ left broke and his centre became dangerously exposed.

Above and below photos from the second refight. Above the light cavalry of Antigonus’ left flank. While below Eumenes’ Silver Shields advance while Eumenes’ more numerous light troops attempt to delay the Antigonid phalanx.

Another view of the Silver Shields pressing forward. Antigonus’s was reluctant for his mercenaries to clash with these veterans.

In our final refight of the evening a new Antigonus tested his theory of the strength of his own left flank, or Pithon became overly aggressive, when Eumenes pressed forward with his own right. However, in doing so Pithon greatly over stretched himself and soon Antigonus’ left flank was crumbling.

This left Antigonus desperately trying to hold off defeat here, while gaining some form of advantage elsewhere. Calm heads prevailed and eventually Antigonus steadied his left flank and found an opening. Indeed, success seemed possible when the flank of Eumenes’ phalanx became exposed following pursuit in part by the Silver Shields enthusiam and the caution of Greek mercenary infantry. As a portion of Eumenes’ phalanx collapsed the pendulum seemed to swing in Antigonus’ favour.

Above the centre, viewed from behind the Antigonid lines, while below the another view later after a portion of the Antigonid left centre has reoriented to halt Eumenes’ advancing phalanx.

Yet while progress was made by Antigonus, it was insufficient and soon with casualties growing Antigonus’ proud army was forced to retire.

By the end of the evening we had been rewarded with three very successful games. All illustrated the characteristics of Paraetacene which of course was particularly pleasing. Further, each had provided much debate among the players around commander’s options and key elements of the battle. However, now armed with these play tests I will consider a few additional refinements to my Paraetacene scenario.

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!