Category Archives: II/19c Seleucid

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 Zeuxis aimed to lure the Kappadokians from their withdrawn position by advancing then, almost at the time of contact, retiring drawing the Kappadokians back into the open plain.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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.