Category Archives: II/19c Seleucid

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.

The Road to Magnesia

The defeat of the Seleucid fleet at the Battle of Myonessus in September 190 BC opened the way for the invasion of Asia Minor by the Romans under Lucius Cornelius Scipio. Soon after the landing Antiochus dispatched his trusted general Zeuxis to engage the Roman invaders while he assembled the main army.

Aware that only a portion of the Seleucid army was advancing on him Lucius Cornelius dispatched Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus to deal with it. The two armies converged in late October. Zeuxis deployed on what was a relatively open plain resting his left on a steep and rocky slope with his army extending to the right. The infantry of the phalanx, some 8,000 in number, were massed in two blocks interspersed by around 2,000 Galatians. To the right of the phalanx elephants, scythed chariots and cavalry extended the Seleucid line. Opposite the Romans deployed in their usual manner.

As the two armies moved forward Lucius Cornelius began to expand his line transferring his reserves to each flank. His strategy clearly focused on a double envelopment of the now shorter Seleucid line. Despite this Zeuxis pressed forward against the enemy centre. Soon the deep formations of phalangites and Galatians were locked in combat with the Roman hastati and principes. The Roman centre soon began to buckle under Seleucid pressure.

On the Seleucid right cataphracts and scythed chariots advanced, pressing the Roman line further. While much importance was placed on the success of the scythed chariots their attacks proved a failure.

Above the Scythed Chariots advance, while below they crash into the Roman lines.

Yet, as the fighting on the flanks slackened that in the centre intensified. As the phalangites and elephants pushed their opponents back the Galatians surged forward breaking portions of the Roman line. Now with no Roman reserve, it having reinforced the Roman flanks, the Galatians overwhelmed the flanks of those Romans engaged frontally by the phalangites. Seleucid success was complete.

Shocked by the defeat Lucius Cornelius reinforced Gnaeus Domitius and ordered him to engage the Seleucids once again. Advancing down the coast it was not long before the forces clashed.

Zeuxis, buoyed by his recent success, again prepared for battle. The coastline was separated from the mountains on the Seleucid right buy a large plain, though broken by a rocky hill near the coast. Unable to deploy his phalangites here Zeuxis deployed his thureophoroi and Galatians on the slopes while deploying his phalangites, pachyderms and mounted to the right.

He reasoned that his lighter troops deployed on the slopes were well able to pin much of the Roman infantry while his phalangites and superior mounted would shatter the Roman left.

The Romans again deployed their infantry traditionally while massing their cavalry on the more open left.

As was to be expected the Romans opened the battle with velites intent on frustrating the Seleucid elephants. Yet, as some velites pressed rashly forward they were ridden down by a body of Seleucid cataphracts. Zeuxis sensed victory.

Yet his hopes were soon tested. His plan called for his cataphracts to be reformed after their initial charge. He had calculated incorrectly as Roman triarii, and unforeseen cavalry swept forward catching the disordered cataphracts. Shaken they fled in panic at this determined counterattack.

Undeterred Zeuxis reinforced his line and pressed forward with his right. Elephants and phalangites were soon engaged, the pachyderms advancing ever further forward. Seleucid scythed chariots were now unleashed. Yet again instead of breaking the enemy to their front the machines failed to achieve a breakthrough.

Now with his elephants surrounded and his only reserve that of his own companions Zeuxis charged forward, determined to secure a final victory.

Above and below the moment of decision on the Seleucid right flank.

Alas, his massed heavy cavalry were neutralised by the numerically superior Roman cavalry and soon Zeuxis, previously so confident of victory, now watched as his army collapsed.

With Roman victory achieved and his army concentrated, Lucius Cornelius Scipio prepared to advance on the road to Magnesia. That critical battle still lays ahead.

These two battles formed the second pair of battles from our themed Seleucid weekend which, like the other battles, proved both entertaining and challenging. The Seleucids are mostly from Tin Soldier’s 15mm range supplemented by Xyston. My opponent’s Romans are mostly from Essex Miniatures supplemented by a scattering of Museum Miniatures to provide figure variety.

Seleucid Adventures

Some years ago I purchased a number of figures to allow me to build several Successor armies, including Seleucids. While many of the armies were built the Seleucids remained incomplete. The months soon turned into years, I am sure many of you know the story. However, over the last few weeks I have plugged away at some of the more specialty stands. Finally, my Seleucids, or a least one of the sub-lists, could take the field. Last Friday they had their first outing…

Zeuxis satrap of Lydia and faithful general of Antichos the Great advanced in the Spring of 201 BC against the unruly Kappadokians in Asia Minor. The mounted of Zeuxis’ army comprised several squadrons of agema and cataphracts, some 1200 in total. The infantry were a more an eclectic mix. The main component was of course the heavy infantry of the phalanx, some three taxeis or 6000 men. This was supported by contingents of thureophoroi, Galatian mercenaries and asiatic light infantry. Finally 50 scythed chariots and 25 pachyderms completed Zeuxis invasion force.

After having a number of cities layed waste by the advancing Seleucids the Kappadokians finally offered battle. The Kappadokian commander deployed his army amongst a series of rocky hills and wooded areas, an area well suited to his army and not at all Seleucids. While his infantry were clearly set to dominate selected areas of rocky slopes the Kappadokian heavy lancers were massed on the right centre and the cavalry, a mix of light and heavy, deployed on the right flank.

Zeuxis deployed in the open plain. His left comprising the phalanx and his heavy cavalry opposite the Kappadokian lancers while the remaining portions of his army, his centre right and right wing, deployed in front of a long ridge that separated much of the two armies.

Details of the resulting battle are unfortunately lost to history, our historian providing just a handful of words on which we can base our record. We do know however that the Seleucid right rapidly advanced to pin the Kappadokian warriors who were relatively quickly ensconced on the long rocky high ground. Here both contingents faced each other for the duration of the battle with minimal manoeuvring.

On the Seleucid left the combatants was far more active. Zeuxis aimed to lure the Kappadokians from their withdrawn position by advancing then, almost at the time of contact, retiring drawing the Kappadokians back into the open plain.

Above and below the Seleucids advance into a narrow gap against a very thin Kappadokian force. The Kappadokian light horse on the left have moved rapidly from the Kappadokian left flank to a central position.

Below, the general situation.

After advancing and just prior to the expected clash, Zeuxis issued the order and his heavy cavalry and a portion of his phalanx retired. The site was too much for the Kappadokians who now charged. Below, the Kappadokian cavalry surge forward.

The battle then became confusing and our sources quiet on the detail. Certainly neither army gained a clear immediate advantage. Kappadokian lancers tried repeatedly to break the Seleucid lines but were repeatedly thrown back. Seleucid cunning resulted in several overly enthusiastic Kappadokian units being cut down. A Kappadokian flanking movement against the extrem Seleucid left was neutralised by Seleucid cataphracts and came to nothing. Instead the fighting continued in the narrow area of good going bordered by a wooded area on one side and the long rocky hill on the other.

Yet casualties slowly mounted and after an epic struggle Zeuxis was forced to retire his phalanx in particular eventually suffering crippling casualties. Yet the Kappadokians were little better exhausted watched the Seleucids retire from the field. No doubt they would return.

Another excellent game and for me a great opportunity to field a new army, even if the outcome was not as Antichos the Great would have wanted…

Clash of the Successors

Over recent months I’ve been playing a good number of DBA games including a semi-regular weekly gaming evening where we typically manage a couple of games on a week night. We recently decided on larger game, specifically a “Big Battle” game with a Successor theme. The table measured 1.2m x 0.6m and each army comprised 36 elements. Jim decided to use Seleucids (2/19c) while I opted to use Lysimachid (2/17b).

Normally Lysimachos is dependent on his Thracian troops, but the DBA 3.0 list comes in two sub-lists, specifically an “a” and “b” version. This second sub-list has a number of additional options which includes limited elephants and additional pike. This represents the later period of Lysimachos’ rule, specifically 302BC to 281BC. For our game the Lysimachid army would deploy 18,000 foot and 1,800 cavalry and 25 elephants. Of the foot 12,000 were phalangites with the remaining foot being a mixture of mercenary hoplites, Thracians and light infantry. The cavalry were equally divided between xystophori and light cavalry.

In contrast the Seleucids deployed fewer foot but an increased number of other troops. As a result, using the same nominal troop representation the Seleucid army comprised 14,500 foot, 1800 cavalry, 75 elephants and 150 scythed chariots. The Seleucid phalanx was considerably smaller comprising only 7200 phalangites, but was reinforced by additional Galatian heavy infantry, thureophoroi and light infantry. The cavalry, in contrast to the Lysimachids mixed cavalry, were all heavy cataphracts riding partly armoured horses.

Clearly the Seleucid commander expected the invading Lysimachid army to field a significant number of Thracian troops who would be well able to fight in rough terrain. As such he selected to face Lysimachos on a reasonably open field which would allow his 150 scythed chariots ample opportunity to smash the Greek invader without the impact of terrain constraining his attacks. The general situation can be shown below with Lysimachids deployed on the left and the Seleucids deployed on the right.


The Seleucid left flank was somewhat constrained by an area of rocky ground which is on the right foreground.

Lysimachos determined to weight his attack on his right, where his xystophori and most of his light cavalry were located and centre which comprised the majority of his phalangites. His left comprised further phalangites. Extending his left, but echeloned back, a portion of his Thracians, a small number of elephants and finally a small formation  of light cavalry completed his deployment. While Lysimachos commanded the right at the head of the xystophori , the commanders of the centre and left deployed on foot in an effort to bolster the phalanx. Below, another view of the Lysimachid phalanx, with Thracians extending the right and psiloi deployed in front of a portion of the phalanx.


Lysimachos’ attack began with a general advance and as the lines closed a series of attacks by light troops both threatened the Seleucid elephants and disrupted the Galatian foot. These light troops were to some degree countered and were forced back. On the Lysimachid extreme right the advance was more successful. Here, Lysimachid light cavalry outflanked the Seleucid line resulting in both the retirement of  Seleucid light troops, to prevent further flanking movements,  and threatened the Seleucid catarphacts who were now deployed opposite Lysimahos’ xystophori.


Soon the Seleucid elephants and scythed chariots were ordered forward against the hinge between the Lysimachos mounted and his phalanx – an area held by 1200 Thracians, 1200 mercenary hoplites and 600 psiloi. Unfortunately for the Seleucid commander these attacks, by 50 elephants and 100 scythed chariots and supporting Seleucid light troops were broken up with heavy Seleucid casualties.

Meanwhile, in the centre phalangites of both armies were now heavily engaged. The more numerous Lysimachid phalanx gained the advantage in several areas, though it was pushed back by the Seleucids in some sectors. Further, the Galatians looked likely to gain the advantage until a portion of their line was flanked by Thracians who now, exploiting their earlier success against the Seleucid elephants and scythed chariots, fell upon the Galatian flank.


On the Lysimachid left flank the Seleucid commander pressed his attack. While much of the Lysimachid left flank was made up of phalangites, and was engaged in the general engagement against the Seleucid foot, the extreme left comprised 1200 Thracian foot, 25 elephants and light cavalry. This section of the line was outnumbered and risked being overwhelmed by 600 Seleucid cataphracts, 25 elephants, 1200 thureophoroi and 50 scythed chariots. If the Seleucid attacks here were successful the Lysimachid phalanx would be exposed to a flank attack.

In an attempt to delay this attack the Lysimachid light cavalry extended the line further. In the following engagements a series of Seleucid attacks were thrown back and counter attacks launched. These various attacks and counterattacks eventually resulted in the Seleucid right flank suffering heavy casualties and breaking.

Now with casualties mounting, and the infantry fully engaged in the centre, the Seleucid commander ordered a renewed effort by his left flank against the Lysimachid right. Outnumbered and threatened by the growing gap between his phalanx and his outnumbered cataphracts, into which Lysimachud troops now poured, the Seleucid cataphracts went forward against the Lysimachid xystophori. While gaining initial advantage the Lysimachid xystophori counterattacked. Now flanking the Seleucid cataphracts the Seleucid commander watched his left flank collapse, unable to change the outcome.

The game was particularly interesting and illustrated a number of advantages of DBA 3.0 over earlier versions. Firstly, the increased movement distances produced a more dramatic game. I found BBDBA using 2.2 slow moving especially for the command with the lowest PIP die. Secondly the additional granularity of fast and solid troops provided a little more depth, without excessive complexity. An excellent game and we look forward to more in the near future.