Category Archives: Lost Battles

Cayster 317BC

Following his recent defeat Antigonus reformed his Macedonian army and sort out Eumenes the two armies finally meeting on the banks of the Cayster River. Antigonus was hopeful that this time he would get the advantage of his foe with his 22,000 foot and 5000 cavalry. The core of his army was his phalanx and comprised 12,000 phalangites. This was reinforced by 6000 mercenary hoplites and 4000 Thracian all in close formation as well as 4000 light infantry. His mounted arm comprised his 2000 Companions, survivors of his last encounter with Eumenes, supplemented by a further 1000 Greek heavy cavalry and 2000 light cavalry. In Lost Battles terms Antigonus’ Macedonian army had a fighting value of 63 while Antigonus, rated as inspired leader increased this by a further 12 points.

Eumenes, despite his recent victory, had also reorganised his own army. As a result his army comprised some 32,000 foot, 4000 cavalry and 40 elephants. His phalanx alone now numbered 16,000 phalangites. The core of the phalanx was the 4000 veteran Silver Shields which were supplemented by a further 4000 drilled phalangites. However, no less than half the phalanx, some 8000, comprised a recently raised eastern levy. The ability of these troops was considered variable. Supplementing the phalanx was 4000 mercenary peltasts as well as 4000 eastern heavy infantry. Finally a swarm of no less than 8000 Asiatic light infantry completed the infantry. Eumenes mounted arm was less substantial. Along with 1000 Companions and 1000 light cavalry his Asiatic subjects provided a further 2000 heavy cavalry. Finally, and unlike Antigonus, Eummenes fielded 40 elephants. In Lost Battles terms Eumenes’ army also had a fighting value of 63 points, to which Eumenes added a further 12 points as an inspired leader as well.

The battlefield was open except for a portion of the Cayster river that flowed along Eumenes’ right wing. Nearby his army had encamped his army, far further forward than Antigonus’ camp and a wooded area on the Antigonid right rear. Realising that Antigonus was near, Eumenes deployed moving rapidly forward. This was especially the case in front of his camp and in his centre where the phalanx was massed in great depth. Antigonus countered massing his own phalanx opposite. His centre was however far weaker as he extended his line. To his left however some of his Companions and light horse deployed forward clearly threatening the Eumenid levy heavy cavalry positioned between the river and Eumenid camp. The Antigonid phalanx extended right until the right centre where the hoplites and Thracians were placed. Antigonus’ eastern light cavalry held right wing and overlapped the Eumenid line.

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Above, the Antigonid army is deployed on the left while Eumenes is on the right with his left wing in the foreground. This photo was taken at the end of the first turn. Visible in the top right is Eumenes camp on beyond is the river.

The battle opened on the Eumenid left where Eumenes’ elephants, light infantry and light cavalry launched a series of attacks on the outnumbered Antigonid light troops shattering them in the process as shown below. The advanced Antigonid light infantry were shattered in short order.

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Eumenes followed up the attacks and pressed forward from his left centre on the withdrawn Macedonian troops. The situation can be seen below.

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Below, a view of the Macedonian right centre held by Greek hoplites and Thracians. In the top right Antigonus centre comprising 6000 phalangites and further 2000 hoplites. Numerically the Macedonian centre was considerably weaker than the Eumenid centre.

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Below, another view this time from the Antigonid centre looking towards the Eumenid centre. A massed screen of Asiatic light infantry screen the Eumenid foot. To the left Macedonian light troops can be seen engaging the Eumenid right centre which was immediately in front of the Eumenid camp.

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It was here that Antigonus pressed forward. The general situation on the Antigonid left can be seen below.

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The Antigonid left wing 1000 Companions advanced towards the Eumenid levy cavalry. The river limited the available frontage for deployment. Miraculously the levy cavalry withstood the first charges gaining Eumenes crucial time for the infantry battle to develop. Above, 6000 Macedonian phalangites and 2000 supporting hoplites have been heavily engaged.

Below, as the battle here progresses, 500 Companions are thrown in an attempt to prolong the Macedonian left centre while attacks elsewhere continue.

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Indeed, on the Macedonian right Antigonus hoped to overwhelm the advanced Eumenid left. Antigonid light cavalry attacked the flank while Thracians and Greek hoplites engaged frontally as can be seen below.

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Amazingly the Eumind left held, though Eumenes was forced to advance 2000 Asiatic heavy infantry to reinforce an increasingly weakening line. However, the breakthrough occurred, but not on the Eumenid left rather it was in the centre where the massed Eumenid phalanx broke the outnumbered Antigonid centre!

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Above, Eumenid troops press forward in the the Macedonian centre rear! Leading the advance are 4000 levy pike and 4000 levy  light infantry. To the rear are more Eumenid phalangites who will soon turn on Antigonus left centre.

Antigonus pressed forward in in one last attack. While his weaking phalanx reformed to attack his Companions advanced. In addition his light cavalry pressed forward towards Eumenes camp. Alas for Antigonus, the camp was now well protected by 4000 levy phalangites.

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Antigonus’ position was now clearly hopeless. Realising this he and his cavalry and a portion of his phalax withdrew from the field. Eumenes had won another battle but Antigonus would reform his army around his veterans…

Before you start searching the history books our game was another fictional encounter between two Successor armies. The game was fascinating with Antigonus attempting to sack the Eumenid camp while completing a double envelopment of a larger army by weakening his centre. Much as Hannibal did at Cannae though with Hannibal having more success!

From a game perspective the figures were all 15mm models based on 40mm wide DBx bases. For this game one stand represented close formation veteran troops while two stands represented average formations. Levy formations and light troops had more stands per unit. As an example above  three light cavalry stands represent a 1000 light cavalry and the Eumenid camp is held by a unit of Levy pike, some four stands. Each sector on the table measured around 20cm square.

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The Indefatigable Eumenes

It has been a while since my last engagement using Lost Battles. Now, while Lost Battles is designed to simulate actual battles, which I feel it does a great job of, we decided on a fictional encounter between two of Alexanders Successors. Where better to start than the untiring Eumenes…

Eumenes commanded a strong army. His phalanx along numbered 20,000 phalangites, of which 4000 were the veteran Silver Shields. These were supported by 4000 Greek mercenaries and 6000 light infantry. His cavalry comprised 1500 Companions, 2000 other heavy cavalry and 1000 light cavalry. Finally, Eumenes fielded some 40 elephants. In Lost Battles terms Eumenes army had a fighting value of 80 points to which Eumenes added a further 6 points as an average leader.

Antigonus’ Macedonian army was of similiar general size, though with fewer light troops. His phalanx contained only 12,000 phalangites but was supplemented by 8000 mercenary hoplites, 4000 Thracians and 2000 light infantry. His mounted troops were even more equal with 2000 Companions, 1000 heavy cavalry and 2000 light cavalry. Like Eumenes Antigonus could also deploy 40 elephants. In Lost Battles terms Antigonus’ Macedoniand army had a fighting value of 68 while Antigonus, rated as inspired leader increased this by a further 12 points.

Eumenes, deployed first and positioned his elite Silver Shields in his right centre extending his right with several units of cavalry. His main phalanx however spread to his left where, on the extreme left he deployed his Tarantine light cavalry. In contrast Antigonus deployed with his Companions on the extreme right along with 1000 light cavalry. His smaller phalanx extended left with hoplites mixed in among various taxis of the phalanx. Antigonus’ left centre was the weakest, though not in numbers. Here 4000 hoplites and 4000 Thracians faced the Silver Shields opposite. Finally, the Macedonian left was held by 1000 heavy Greek cavalry and 1000 light eastern cavalry and unlike his right they were not pushed forward. When reviewing the position of the two commanders and their elite troops both commanders deployed with aimed to attack on their right flanks.

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Above, Antigonus’ army can be seen on the left while Eumenes is on the right at the end of the first turn. Eumenes deployed first and his elephants and light troops have been pushed forward while his phalanx is yet to move forward. Antigonus countered by pushing his own light infantry forward and marching his right wing cavalry rapidly forward. Clearly Antigonus intended this would be his main attack.

In Lost Battles the battlefield is divided into 20 sectors these sectors are marked by rocks or high grass in our game. Movement and attacks are made from one sector to another. Unlike most Ancient rules this removes geometric ploys and the need to measure troop movements.

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Above, another view of Antigonus’ light cavalry and a portion of his companions. The light cavalry are represented by three stands of cavalry grouped into a unit. In the distance a portion of the Macedonian phalanx can be seen.

While Eumenes pressed forward in the centre Antigonus continued to move forward on his own the right in the following turn. Withdrawing his light cavalry he ordered his Companions forward. Alas, the Companions failed to drive off the Tarantine light cavalry and Antigonus wasted valuable time reforming before attacking again. This time the Trantine light cavalry were shattered and driven from the field.

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Below, another view of the battlefield. This time from behind the Macedonian lines. Antigonus’ cavalry can be seen on the right while the centres of both armies are engaged.

Note how both commanders have screens of skirmishers and elephants forward. Lost Battles encourages the use of light troops and elephants in the initial stages of battle, a feature that models their historical usage.

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On the Macedonian left however a storm was developing. Eumenes, you will recall, was with his elite Silver Shields, veteran phalangites of the campaigns of Alexander. While these veterans advanced he pushed forward his on Companions and heavy cavalry against the Macedonian left wing.

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Below, while Eumenes’ cavalry were locked in combat the Silver Shields attacked the Macedonian left centre which Antigonus had entrusted to 4000 Greek hoplites and a further 4000 Thracians. The attacks were devastating. As a result an increasing number of the Greek and Thracians units were soon spent as a result of the attacks.

In Lost Battles units start fresh and become first spent and then shatter in combat.

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However, Antigonus to was busy. Having finally driven the Tarantine horse from the field he turned to attack the enemy phalanx in the flank. These turned while the elephants and light infantry tried to hold off the Macedonian phalanx. Alas, they failed and the elephants and light troops collapsed allowing the Macedonian phalanx here to advance. Now, as can be seen below Eumenes’ left centre was assailed from the flank and front.

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Below, another view this time from the Macedonian rear. Note the Macedonian light infantry have been withdrawn, having become spent, denoted by the yellow marker, in early stages of the battle. Spent light troops can not be a lead unit and therefore are forced to retire.

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Below, a more general view of the battle. Eumenes’ left is shown being attacked from front and flank in the top right. Visible in the bottom right Antigonus’ own left is itself being attacked from front and flank.

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As much as Antigonus tried however he could not break Eumenes left before his own left broke. Soon mercenary hoplites, Thracians and even elements of his Macedonian phalanx collapsed as Eumenes cavalry swung into the Macedonian rear zones. Eumenes victory was complete.

Interestingly, despite the sudden turn of events, the battle was a very close run thing. With so much of Eumenes own army shattered or spent he could only claim a narrow victory. Clearly the wars of the Diadochi would continue…

Refighting Gaza (312BC) with Lost Battles

One of the appeals of Lost Battles for me is the ability to refight Ancient battles in an evening and feel as if you have actually fought the “battle” while gaining an appreciation for the flow of the engagement. So with little preparation we deployed our figures and set about refighting the Successor battle of Gaza in 312BC recently.

As way of background Gaza, fought in 312BC between Demetrius, son of Antigonus and aged around 24, and Ptolemy. As with most ancient battles there is some debate on numbers, however for our refight we used the numbers defined in the scenario. This means that Ptolemy and his Egyptians have some 21,000 foot and 4,000 horse. In contrast Demetrius fielded fewer foot, perhaps around 13,000, along with 4,400 horse and some 43 elephants.

We also used the historical deployment as given in the Lost Battles scenario, rather than deploying freely as you are of course free to do. A review of this map will highlight the deployments of the various Hellenic foot, heavy cavalry and of course Greek elephants under Demetrius. Of particular interest is the position of the two commanders, stuck out as they were on the flank opposite each other. Demetrius is defined as an “Avergae Leader” (AL), while Ptolemy is rated as an “Inspired Leader” (IL) for this scenario. This gains Ptolemy some advantage particularly for command purposes on top of his already larger army. Certainly Gaza is not a “equal points” based battle!

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Battle was quickly joined and Demetrius pressed hard in his own sector, soon gaining the advantage, as several Egyptian cavalry units became spent.Demetrius was clearly seeking glory!

Demetrius also order the attack from his own key zone, where mush of his cavalry and elephants were located, against the Egyptian key zone opposite. Here his elephants caused some significant disruption to the Egyptians opposite which in turn was exploited by more Greek Companions. One of the aspects of Lost Battles I particular like is the use of light troops and elephants which I believe models Hellenic Successor battles particularly well. As the battle continued here increasing numbers of Egyptian light infantry and cavalry were disrupted by the Greek attacks and became “spent”. Indeed, it looked increasingly likely that here the Egyptians would crack under the constant pressure.

Elsewhere the main phalanx of both armies pressed forward in the central sectors. Here again the initial Greek attacks, led by elephants, drove in the Egyptian light infantry, which in this case were Egyptian levies. Soon the elephant attacks were supported by the Greek phalanx attacking in dense formations. However casualties on both phalanxes were more even and no clear gain was achieved.

On the Greek extreme right Demetrius moved his wing forward, despite being outnumbered by an extended Egyptian phalanx. This advance was poorly considered. Soon Egyptian light horse attempted to harass the extreme Greek right, though with little result. However, the threat was considerable and Greek light cavalry were withdrawn and extended in a desperate attempt to protect this wing.

Meanwhile, back in Demetrius own sector a series of strong and bold attacks soon cleared much of Ptolemic supporting cavalry from the field. Now Ptolemy himself looked likely to succumb to further attacks which would surely mean the Ptolemaic right would have collapsed. Ptolemy clearly considered withdrawal to the saftety of his cavalry in his own right centre, where he could bolster the now wavering troops for a last push. Instead he opted for a final charge on his own right. Charging the exposed Demtrius all was risked. The gods were clearly with Ptolemy and this charge caught the exposed Demetrius, a result of him being the lead unit, and he fell mortally wounded while his bodyguard was shattered. The pendulum of battle now looked to be swinging to favour Ptolemy.

Yet despite the loss of Demetrius, and the exposed Greek left wing, the Greek left centre continued to press their advantage. However, while the battle continued to rage and victory was possible, defeat was fast approaching. Indeed, when it came it was sudden. The Greek elephant corps, still leading the attacks was shattered under a final Egyptian counter-attack. In an instant potential victory here was replaced by panic. Stampeding elephants disrupted the already spent Greek units and chaos and confusion engulfed what was left of the Greek left. With the Greek left in rout the phalanx of the centre, also aware that Demetrius had fallen, determined to withdraw. Clearly they hoped Antigonus could restore their fortunes, even if his son was dead.

Historically Gaza was a defeat for Demetrius and despite a glimmer of victory at one point, our refight had a similar result. Now however we consulted the victory conditions and handicap system included in Lost Battles to see if Demetrius had achieved more in our refight than he had historically, specifically a “game victory”. Alas it was not to be. Ptolemy had secured an even greater victory than he had historically. No doubt he now retired to Egypt to strengthen his hold on his corner of the Hellenic World, at least for now…