Category Archives: II/17 Lysimachid

Campaigning with Seleucus Nicator

The shifting alliances of Alexander’s Successors are best described as complex. However, with the recent defeat of the Antigonids it was now that Lysimachus and Seleucus fought the brief yet critical campaign in 300 BC. It comprised two great battles.

The first battle was in the Spring of 300 BC when the cunning Lysimachus moved rapidly against the Seleucids. Seleucus offered battle on an open plain where he deployed traditionally. His mounted were mostly concentrated on his right while extending his phalanx with contingents of pachyderms which he reasoned would otherwise be countered too easily by his enemies Thracians. Yet soon after deploying Seleucus was faced with the reality that the cunning Lysimachus had weighted his deployment against the Seleucid right. Further, he now advanced generally in echelon with his left leading and his right withdrawn.

Above the Seleucid right is overlapped by the advancing Lysimachid left. Seleucid light cavalry, not shown, provided a degree of protection.

Simultaneously Lysimachid light infantry are thrown forward to slow the Seleucid centre. Yet, these were unsupported and countered. Now the Seleucid centre advanced. Below, the Lysimachid centre comes under pressure as the Seleucid elephants press forward.

The battle now hung in the balance as Seleucus sought advantage in the centre while fighting a delaying action on his right. However, with his line under pressure Seleucus ordered forward his companions who, with great valour, drove back the treacherous Greek. Yet these manoeuvres had created a hole in the Seleucid line which Lysimachus was able to exploit. Soon the Seleucid right collapsed with Seleucus himself narrowly escaping death. Lysimachus had secured a decisive victory.

Yet, Seleucus was not deterred. By the Summer of 300 BC Seleucus, having reformed his army, struck at Lysimachus. This time Lysimachus was caught relatively unprepared and as the Seleucid host advanced Lysimachus deployed his army with his right resting on the walled town Colophon.

Effectively ignoring Colophon and it’s high walls Seleucus massed his elephants and phalanx in the centre and his mounted on his right before ordering an advance.

Above, the Seleucids advance with a number of pachyderms supported by phalangites. Below, a view from behind the Lysimachid lines.

Lysimachus now dithered first moving his companions near the walls of the city in one of his overly complex plans. Finally he realised the threat posed by unfolding disaster that would soon envelope his left. Yet, repositioning his xystophori was almost impossible and while he desperately tried first his left and then his centre would collapse.

Above, a view of the centre, while below the Lysimachid left is about to collapse.

With this stunning victory Seleucus had bought the campaign of 300 BC to an end. Yet victory can be fleeting and even as this campaign season is complete we can be sure Lysimachus will be plotting his revenge and another campaign will not be far away.

As to the miniatures the Seleucids are mostly 15mm miniatures from Tin Soldier’s ranges. The Lysimachid forces in contrast are from Essex Miniatures. The battles form part of a four game series fought between myself and my son during a weekend visit.

Ariarathes of Kappadokia

One of my regular opponents had recently taken ownership of a new army – Ariarathid Kappadokian. Some DBA gaming on Friday evening provided him the perfect opportunity to take the field. For my part I quickly searched through possible historical opponents and in due course opted to use my Lysimachids. Given my lack of posts of late I thought a few photos and a brief summary was in order.

With a low aggression it was likely that the the Kappadokians would suffer an invasion by Lysimachus, yet it was not to be. Instead Ariarathes II invaded Lysimachos’ domains in the Spring of 299 BC at the head of an army comprising both mounted and foot in similar proportions. Lysimachos countered but with an army composed predominantly of infantry and with only a small mounted component.

Lysimachos deployed on a relatively open plain in a traditional deployment with his phalanx massed in the centre and his Thracians on the wings with his limited light horse massed on the right. However, Lysimachos had been negligent in his scouting and assumed he would be faced by hill tribesmen was somewhat taken back when Ariarathes instead deployed a considerable mounted force including a solid core of heavy cataphracts supported by light cavalry opposite his right flank. I really should check possible options for my opponents army!

Ariarathes moved with speed quickly committing his cavalry in a series of movements towards the Lysimachid right while attempting to pin the Greek phalanx with light infantry and a portion of light cavalry. Lysimachos recovering from his surprise undertook a series of reorganisations of his line. Eventually this would see his right extended and the gaps in the line occupied by the phalangites who progressively expanded their formations.

Above, the view of the battlefield with the Greeks on the left and the Kappadokians on the right. In the centre the Greek phalangites advance against Kappadokian light infantry.

Now Ariarathes hesitated and sensing his own left threatened ordered his mounted back. Lysimachos ordered his forces forward hoping to pin the retiring mounted against successive lines and eventually the rocky slopes of a rising hill to the Kappadokian left rear.

Lysimachos now trying to gain some advantage charged a body of Kappadokian light infantry at the head of his xystophoroi. Outflanked Lysimachos was pushed back but rallied his companions and charged again securing the breakthrough, above.

Charge and countercharge now followed all along the line until Ariarathes was wounded and carried from the field. With their commander wounded panic rippled through the Kappadokian army and its resolve dissipated. Lysimachos had gained a victory, despite his flawed deployment and having completely underestimated the Kappadokians.

Determined to seize the initiative Lysimachos later moved to invade the extremities of Kappadokia. For three months Lysimachos laid waste to portions of Kappadokia. Ariarathes having finally recovered from his wounds took the field in the autumn of 299 BC. Ariarathes advanced swiftly towards the Lysimachos, determined to arrest the threat to his kingdom and indeed his rule – Ariarathes was determined to be the invader. Lysimachos now fully aware of the threat to his infantry by Kappadokian cataphracts deployed his phalanx in shallower formations in a valley with a large town on his left and a series of hills on his right.

Above and below views of the battlefield with the Greeks on the left and the Kappadokians on the right. The basalt rock formations are hand made by the Kappadokian player.

With the Kappadokians constrained somewhat by a series of the steep basalt peaks Lysimachos ordered his army to advance quickly. With the phalangites in shallower formations and supported by his Thracians on the flanks Lysimachos had soon reduced Ariarathes’ options further. Unwilling to engage the Greek phalanx frontally Ariarathes ordered his light infantry to advance against the Greek right, though this was countered somewhat by Lysimachos at the head of his xystophoroi, below.

In due course Ariarathes’ advance by his left wing light troops would be supported by his cataphracts who wheeled as best they could against the Thracians. Simultaneously, Ariarathes ordered his infantry on the right flank to advance through the town and fall on the Greek left where his warriors and mercenaries had an advantage.

The cataphracts advanced and levelled their lancers for the charge.

The Thracians braced themselves and showing great determination for Lysimachos threw back many of the cataphracts. Only in the centre was the cataphract charge successful where Ariarathes, leading from the front, achieved a breakthrough. Yet before he could exploit this Lysimachos ordered forward a reserve of phalangites who soon reformed the line.

On the Greek left the Kappadokian warriors and mercenary hoplites simultaneously attacked and despite their denser formations and numeric advantages were thrown back by the Thracians and Greek light horse. Below, the Greek left pressed by Kappadokian foot including mercenary hoplites.

Demoralised by this reverse the Kappadokians here seemed unwilling to engage further.

Now the focus of the battle shifted to the centre where progressively the Greeks phalangites and supporting hoplites pressed the Kappadokian centre relentlessly while Ariarathes watched passively with his cataphracts unwilling to attack the Greeks opposite his front as he tried desperately to reinforce his centre.

The pressure on the Kappadokian centre was however too great. As dusk approached Ariarathes watched helplessly as his centre collapsed. Yet, making good his escape with the core of his army Ariarathes would clearly remain a thorn in the side of the Greek world.

In DBA terms both games were challenging for the commanders. The vagaries of the dice of course played a part. Several good PIP scores for the Kappadokian commander for example causing much consternation to the Lysimachos. Yet equally poor combat die rolls impacting several combats, particularly during the charge of the cataphracts in the second game. The Greeks were significantly out deployed and on the back foot in the first game. That they managed to recover somewhat continues to mystify me and I can, on reflection, only put this down to the dice gods.

The Greeks also had particularly difficult terrain choices due to the ability of the Kappadokians on one hand to dominate steep hills but who are equally able to deliver destructive attacks by cataphracts supported by light cavalry. This provided a quandary for the Greek player to either select an open battlefield or one more broken? Without doubt there are many more interesting interactions worth exploring between these two armies and others around Kappadokia.

The Revenge of Peucestas

Since the death of Alexander a number of his generals had been locked in deadly campaigns each attempting to decide the future of Alexander’s legacy. Two, of these were Peucestas and Lysimachus. Each had recruited armies and despite having a similar core, built around the Macedonian phalanx, differed in several areas.

Peucestas phalanx was bolstered by a strong contingent of mercenary hoplites that ensured superiority in the open against Lysimachus’ army which, though having a similar sized phalanx, lacked the quantity of heavy mercenaries. Instead Lysimachus had recruited a range of lightly armed infantry more suited to broken ground. While both armies comprised xystophoroi and light cavalry, Peucestas supplemented them with a considerable number of eastern heavy cavalry.

Determined to destroy Lysimachus in battle Peucestas had selected a battlefield that he hoped would favour him rather than his devious opponent. The battlefield he selected was relatively open with two gentle hills breaking up what was otherwise a featureless plain. Peucestas planned his main attack with his centre while his mounted would protect his left flank and his light troops the right. Lysimachus however, having seen his enemy deployed, extended his own right and was clearly determined to attack Peucestas’ left.

Lysimachus quickly seized the initiative and advanced rapidly against Peucestas’s left . Peucestas now undertook a realignment moving his centre some distance to the left. In the process of undertaking this complex manoeuvre a significant gap opened in Peucestas line.

Above, the massive gap in Peucestas’ line while below his cavalry engaged on his left flank.

Attempting to exploit this Lysimachus charged forward against Peucestas phalanx at the head of his own xystophoroi, supported by his phalanx.

Alas, in the resulting melee Lysimachus was badly wounded and the attack faltered. Now as Lysimachus was carried from the field Peucestas phalanx pressed forward. Victory was clearly now within Peucestas grasp.

Unfortunately Peucestas left was under pressure and despite his cavalry having the advantage against the Lysimachid light infantry, his eastern cavalry broke. Now Peucestas, at the very moment of victory, was enveloped by enemy light infantry. In the ensuing melee, at the head of his own xystophori, Peucestas was wounded and like his opponent carried from the field.

Above, Peucestas is engaged in the flank and from the front by peltasts and psiloi.

Tragically it was too much for Peucestas veterans who now fell back, surrendering the field to the Lysimachids. Fortunately, their enemy was almost exhausted and leaderless. As such they made no attempt to pursue, thus allowing the bulk of Peucestas army to retire in good order.

Several weeks now passed until both commanders recovered. Both determined to face each other again. Peucestas again selected an open plain. Again he deployed his light troops on his right and massed all his cavalry opposite Lysimachus mounted on his left.

Again the armies advanced towards each other. Initially Lysimachus’ left was most aggressive, a reverse of the previous engagement. Below, Lysimachus peltasts are visible on the right.

However, Lysimachus soon realised that a number of his peltasts would face Peucestas’ phalangites and ordered his advance to halt while he ordered forward his phalanx. The heavy foot of both armies closed for the fateful push of the phalanx. Again Lysimachus hesitated, while Peucestas’ veterans pressed forward driving portions of Lysimachus’s left flank back. Meanwhile, Peucestas mercenary hoplites on his left centre faced Lysimachus’ phalanx and Greek mercenaries. They awaited in well drilled ranks as their opponents moved forward. All soon were locked in combat.

The fateful decisions of the battle however occurred not in the centre but on each flank. Lysimachus right comprised both mounted and additional peltasts. The peltasts here were overwhelmed by Peucestas eastern cavalry, who had previously performed so badly in the proceeding battle. First Peucestas’ cavalry cut down the fleeing enemy foot then turned and engulfed Lysimachus xystophori, who were themselves engaged in a deadly melee against Peucestas’ own xystophori. Lysimachus was mortally wounded despite his personal bravery.

Above, the view of the deciding combat between Peucestas xystophori and this of Lysimachus.

Simultaneously, a body of Lysimachus’ peltasts gave way to Peucestas’ phalangites. As these peltasts routed they exposed the flank of Lysimachus’ phalanx which was now overwhelmed, being engaged to both front and rear.

Above, a view from Peucestas lines with a portion of the Lysimachid phalanx turned 90 degrees and attacked in the front and rear.

With Lysimachus now mortally wounded, and his army attacked on both flanks, it collapsed. Peucestas, had finally secured a decisive victory and with it his hold on his fledgling empire.

The Glory that is Rome

Last weekend we managed a short trip north to visit our son in Auckland. Taking advantage of some wet weather we managed a number of excellent DBA games. In fact we played seven classical games over the course of the weekend, as well as one in the New World which I won’t cover here. Restricted by the limits of carry-on luggage I could only take one army with me so I opted to for my Polybian Romans which, when fighting Joel’s classical armies, the Romans ensured a wealth of historical opponents. I will provide a brief description of the games and a small selection of photos from the weekend.

Our gaming began with a couple of clashes on Saturday between the Romans and Later Carthaginians. The first found the Carthaginians using the two elephants, while in the second the elephants were abandoned.

One of the strengths of the Carthaginians, when not using elephants, is their increased mounted component when combined with troops able to move through bad going. Combining these two however can be difficult. Above, Carthaginians press the Roman right flank in the second game. A lack of PIPs prevented them successfully exploiting the eventual domination of the hill.

Sunday’s games included two encounters between the Romans and Gauls. I find these armies provide very interesting challenges. For the Gauls there are of course decisions on the number of dismounted warriors compared to mounted. For the Romans, prior to the game consideration must be given to taking allied troops, such as Italians or in my case Spanish and how to best use the velites to delay the inevitable charge of the Gauls. These games resulted in a win for the Gauls and one for the Romans showing the balance between the armies.

Above, Gauls engage Roman velites who have been thrown forward to disrupt the Gallic host. Spanish auxilia can be seen on the left. Below, another view of the same battle before the Roman defeat.

However, Rome soon dispatched another army and this time the Roman light troops were on the offensive once again. Below, Spanish auxilia and velites concentrate their attacks on the Gallic left before the Roman hastati and principes surge forward. On the left both the Spanish and velites drove in the Gallic right causing recoil pressure.

Finally, we finished the gaming off with three excellent encounters against a Lysimachid Successor. While not an historical opponent it was not to far from a potential opponent. All three games included some excellent manoeuvres, classic breakthroughs as well as some humorous moments.

Above, the Greeks have advanced over a gentle hill. Lysimachus is deployed in the centre of the Greek phalanx and would punch a hole in the Roman line, shown below.

Now exposed Lysimachus was driven back by Roman triarii, just after his supporting phalangites had smashed Roman principes themselves surrounded. Unable to recoil, being a three element column, Lysimachus was cut down. A fascinating game.

Our final game between Lysimachid Successor found the Romans using a Numidian ally on a battlefield broken by two steep hills, as shown below.

Greek light auxilia eventually secured the hills but were then restricted due to command limitations caused by these hills and raids by Numidians on the Greek camp.

Above, Numidians raid the camp, just visible on the right, while the Greeks prepare to attack the hill on the Roman left. Below, the Roman velites fall back before the main Greek attack in the centre.

In this final clash Lysimachus again broke through. However, a Roman counterattack drove him back on the flank of the phalanx, visible below. As can be seen from the photo the Roman camp is near to being captured. At this point both armies had suffered equal losses. With Lysimachus wounded the Greek command and control was further compromised. The Romans now surged forward breaking the phalanx.

So ends a short summary of an excellent weekend of gaming. It highlighted for us the advantages of DBA. A series of excellent and very dynamic games between historical opponents with victory within grasp of either player.