Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Seven battles in seven days - Cyrus the Great battle reports

Introduction
Halfway though November (2012) I realised that last year's November was solo gamers month - the 11 month of 2011. So for this year (2012) I decided to do something I had wanted to do for a long time - play some battles from Cyrus the Great's creation of the Persian empire. This post is quite long. I was tempted to split it into a number of posts, one for each battle, but in the end left it as a really long post.

This other post has the background, rules etc in it.  This post you are reading below has seven battle reports:
  • Cyrus Vs the Medes
  • Cyrus Vs Lydians in the Battle of Pteria
  • Cyrus Vs Lydians in the Battle of Thymbra
  • Mazares Vs Ionian Greeks
  • Cyrus Vs the Babylonians in the Battle of Opis
  • Cyrus Vs the Indians
  • Cyrus Vs the Massagetae
Army Generator
I used a random generator for all the army lists and terrain based on the army lists - it picks random units, subject to certain limitations, general rank (0, 1 or 2), army tactics and deployment to use, terrain, and attacker. It is a very large excel spreadsheet. Here is the result for the first battle:



The images are still a bit too small to include in the blog post, which was what I was originally going to do.  Ah well.  I just copied the troops description from the excel sheet for each battle.
Battle 1 Cyrus Versus the Medes
 
Persian
1 Heavy cavalry
1 Immortals, high fortitude
7 Sparabara
2 Skirmish infantry, bow

Medes
1 Heavy cavalry, bow
5 Spearmen, heavy infantry
2 Heavy Archers
1 Light Infantry
3 Skirmish infantry, bow
1 Horse Archer 

View of most of the Medes
Cyrus defended his flanks very well and manged to either drive them off (the left flank) or contain them (right flank).

View from the Median left of Cyrus, Immortals and some Sparabara (on the right of the picture) charging in
But the centre was touch and go.

Immortals (on left) and Sparabara fighting the Median spearmen.  Green marker = disorder.
The Median skirmishers managed to disorder some Sparabara before the skirmishers fled the field.  And so it was down to the Immortals to carry the day.
The Immortals that broke the Median line.
It did not help that the lone Median heavy cavalry managed to get disordered, then roll a 1 and rout.  The unfortunate bit was the Median general was attached and was captured.  Median breakpoint reached.  It was a close game though - the Persians were only one heavy unit away from reaching their breakpoint too.

Cyrus and his cavalry looking victorious.
Battle 2 Cyrus versus Lydians in the Battle of Pteria

Persian
1 Heavy cavalry
1 Immortals, high fortitude
8 Sparabara
2 Skirmish infantry, bow

Lydian
2 Heavy Cavalry
1 Light Chariot (bow)
1 Light Cavalry
3 Hoplites
1 Skirmish infantry, javelin
1 Light Infantry

Deployment overview - Lydians at the top, Persians at the bottoms.  Note the two unit reserve to the bottom left - this was the undoing for the Persians.

This battle did not end well for Cyrus.  While he put up a good fight with his cavalry on his left flank, outnumbered 2 to 1, it eventually proved too much and he was carried away from the battlefield.

Cyrus and his single cavalry unit faces the Lydian cavalry (two units) and the general!

...and the predictable result.  Cyrus carried from the field.  The Sparabara at the right came too late to save Cyrus.
The Hoplites on the Persian left flank managed to break through the Sparabara holding that flank although it was touch and go for awhile.
 
Hoplites advancing on the Persian right.
The Persian reserve came late to the battle (rolled poor orders dice - anything but a 1 and they would move; they rolled a 1) and never really made the saving attack they were supposed to.
 
Hoplites break through and melee the reserve.
The Lydians really gained the upper hand in this battle - the Persian deployment was not a great one and the reserves not arriving on time did not help.


Battle 3 Cyrus versus Lydians in the Battle of Thymbra

Rather than generate random forces, I modified my previous battles troops slightly:

Persians

The Persians.  The missile tower does dominate a little.

1 Immortals, Heavy Archers, bow, high fortitude, missile protection +1
6 Sparabara, Heavy Archers, bow, missile protection +1
2 Skirmish Infantry, bow
1 Heavy Cavalry
1 Camels
1 Missile Tower
1 Scythed Chariot

Lydia

Lydians - Cavalry on the flanks, Hoplites in the centre with skirmishers and light chariot in front.

5 Hoplites, HI, long spear phalanx, MP+1
2 Skirmish infantry, javelin
1 Light Chariot
2 Heavy Cavalry, high fortitude
1 Light Cavalry, bows


A revisit of the battle I recently played using an older version of the rules (see this blog post) for the writeup of this). But this time there is only one missile tower, one scythed chariot and a few more Sparabara. The Lydian cavalry bounced off each Sparabara flank.
 
Lydian cavalry caught up with Sparbara while Cyrus (at right) begins charging up the (now open) right flank.
 The hoplites managed to chew up the Persian centre.

Hoplites managing to pushback the Persian heavy archers.
Cyrus managed to get around to the rear of a Hoplite unit of the right flank and win the game by routing a couple of units.

Cyrus and cavalry charge the rear of a hoplite already engaging in battle.  Did not end well for the hoplite.
The Missile tower looked great but never got a chance to effect the outcome of the game.  The camel did play stand-off with some light horse but that was about it for that gimmick.

Battle 4 Mazares versus Ionian Greeks

Persian
1 Heavy Cavalry
1 Immortals
6 Sparabara
2 Skirmish infantry, bow

Ionian
2 Heavy cavalry
6 Hoplites, low fortitude
1 Skirmish infantry (javelins)
The Ionian hoplite battleline

This one was very interesting.  The Ionian Greeks were 6 hoplites in the battleline with one heavy cavalry on each flank, holding back (as tactic was centre attack).  Persian attacked along the line.

Turn 2, I think, and a hoplite (with general) has already charged and broken through the Sparabara battleline (to the centre left at the bottom).
The Sparabara in the centre were mostly wiped off the field by the Hoplites, but there were some surprises.
Closer look at the victorious hoplites.
The "roll anything but a 1 and the Hoplite will be OK; rolled a 1" happened a few times, unluckily for the Greeks.  The right flank Greek cavalry managed to hold its own for a while against Cyrus and the two cavalry, but eventually succumbed.

Cyrus and cavalry (on the right) in melee with the Ionian cavalry.  Cyrus eventually won.  Both cavalry are disordered (green marker).
Each army reached its breakpoint during the same player turn, and the game continued for another turn when the Persians managed to rout a Hoplite (using the "anything but a 1" tactic).

Persian cavalry charge a disordered hoplite and manage to rout it.  Lucky.  I am too nervous to unbend those spears; another time maybe.
Battle 5 Cyrus versus Neo-Babylonians in the Battle of Opis

Persian
3 Heavy cavalry
1 Immortals, high fortitude
5 Sparabara
2 Subject infantry (light infantry)

Neo-Babylonian
1 Heavy chariot, bow
1 Heavy Cavalry
8 Heavy archers
1 Skirmish infantry, bow

The Neo-Babylonian heavy archers
Archers Vs archers.  Both battlelines are made up of heavy archers. The armies were close enough to images of each other with minor variations.

The Persian deployment (from their front).  Immortals on the left, Cavalry to the right and rear.

The Babylonians set up with the Heavy chariot in front of the hill for something different.
Babylonian Heavy chariot and general (The chariot is suspiciously like my Neo-Assyrian ones).
Setting up the chariot here was a good risk (retreating into the steep hill would have destroyed it). It was a good thing and the Neo-Babylonians won that flank...

Babylonian heavy chariot in combat with Persian cavalry.  The latter routed.  The Persian light infantry in the foreground looked on helpless.
...but lost the other one that had two heavy cavalry units vs one. archers vs archers makes for a fair bit of dice rolling as they fire and counter fire.  The Persians managed to break up the Babylonian line, charged in and manged to break enough units to gain a victory.

The Persian Cavalry, with Cyrus, victorious on the left flank now turns and help break up the battleline.
I think the Persians had some good die rolling in the missile combat but as I am not recording die rolls it could just be perception.

Battle 6 Cyrus versus Indians

Persian
The Persian setup.  Immortals on the right.
1 Heavy cavalry
2 Immortals, high fortitude
5 Sparabara
2 skirmish infantry, bows
1 Subject infantry (light infantry)

Indian
The Indian setup - chariots on the flanks, elephant in the centre, cavalry in reserve. Note that the Indian archers are light infantry archers, while the Persians are heavy archers.  Similar missile effect, but Indians are poorer in melee. 
1 Elephant
2 Heavy Chariots
1 Heavy cavalry, low fortitude
8 Light archers
1 Skirmish infantry, bow

More enemy archers!

Closeup of the elephant in the centre.  Sparabara got lucky with the dice and routed it.

Elephant in the centre I thought was going to be tough for the Sparabara but lucky dice rolling saw it routed in close combat.

Elephant charges into the Sparabara line.  It subsequently routs.
The heavy chariot on the Persian right flank was rout with some unlucky die rolls (only on a 1 or a 2 will it be bad.  Oh, a 1).  Anyway, so long as the Persians does not roll a 6 on their turn, the chariot will survive.  Oh, a 6.  Eventually the Persian heavy archers managed to deal with the lighter Indian archers (in this period, it seems they were of a lighter version than found in the "Classical Indians" lists).

The Indian cavalry come out of reserve to try an exploit a gap in the line
For the entire game, from turn 1, both generals were locked in combat with each other, effectively blocking the Persian left flank.

 It also meant the Immortals were also stuck on that flank for the entire game.

Immortals, with Cyrus, in combat with the Indian heavy chariot and Indian general.
Battle 7 Cyrus versus Massagetae
 
Persian

2 Heavy cavalry
2 Immortals, high fortitude
6 Sparabara
1 Subject infantry (light infantry)

Massagetae
Massagetae army - infantry archers in the centre and loads of horse archers on the flanks
12 Horse Archers
1 Heavy Cavalry, bow
5 Foot archers (heavy archers)
1 Tribal foot (light infantry)
2 Skirmish infantry, bow

I am amazed I have 12 horse archers across different armies.  I've never played a game in my life against a horse archer based army.  I have read a lot of rules do not handle them well. Note sure if I handled them well under my rules, but mainly due to inexperience with horse archer armies rather than the rules.  Of course, after a few more horse archer games, I may think my rules are crap with them too, but we are not their yet.

Archers in the centre for both armies, with heavy cavalry on the flanks for the Persians, and loads of horse archers on the flanks of the Massagetae.

The game started off slow with lots of disorders being handed out. But then suddenly the Persians managed to force lots of horse archer to rout on the right flank, and also clear some off the left flank too.
The Persian left flank after managing to make a lot of the opposing horse archers retreat.

The Persian right flank.  More horse archers in good condition over this side.

But then the lone Massagetae heavy cavalry rips down one side of the Persian archers.

The Massagetae heavy cavalry, and general, manages to break through on an edge of the battleline.
 Cyrus and  the immortals does the same thing in the centre - and keeps going to the hills.  He nearly pursues off the board!

Cyrus and the Immortals rout and pursue some light cavalry almost to the edge of the table.

However, a Persian heavy cavalry unit gets the Massagetae archer battle line in the flank, and routs two units.
Persian heavy cavalry flanks the Massagetae heavy archer battleline.  This shot is after two units have routed already.

Next turn, the Persian left flank cavalry unit does the same and gets one.

Amazingly, the other Persian Heavy cavalry gets into a position to do the same to the other flank of the battleline.
Massagetae reached their breakpoint and game over for a Persian win.  Different to history where in one version of events, Cyrus  lost his life in a battle like this.

I did not play the horse archers very well - I should have been a little more aggressive in disordering the enemy to allow for some breakthroughs with the heavy cavalry earlier, or at least used some archers for the breakthrough.  Anyway, a good learning experience.

End note
A fun and fantastic experience, even if I did have to ignore some other non-gaming duties to get it done.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Liebster Blog Award receipt and pass on

Having received two Liebster blog awards, I have decided that, even though they scream "chain letter!" at me, I cannot help myself and will submit to passing it on.  It is human nature after all.

A few words from the sponsor: when I started this blog, it was really because I was looking for some ancient rules and I really wanted to know, in detail, how the mechanisms worked before buying.  I could find very little on the internet to inform me.  So I decided to start with some of the rules I owned and post a replay in excruciating detail.  And use the dame battle for different rules to allow for some comparison.  When it starting, I thought I would be lucky to get more than 10 followers and a few thousand hits a year.  But here I am, 2.5 years later with 50 followers, nearly 50,000 hits and now running at about 100 day.

Getting a award reminds me of some comments form other people I have got over the years. Three quick stories on real life perceptions of this blog:

Mentioned to an acquantance, also a gamer, that I do a blog replaying ancient rules with the dame battle.  His response: "Yeah, I used to run a vanity website too, but gave up."  Made me think for a monent: is it vanity I do this.  Possibly a little, but really, I love this hobby and I feel I am filling a gap.  The number of hits vasty exceeds any expectations I ever thought.

Mentioned to a friend, not a gamer who runs a very well known wildlife sanctuary, that I have this blog.  He laughed and said "A niche of a niche blog, gotta love it." He then got a bit more serious and said "No, really, keep going.  Blogs like yours are the reason the internet make sense."

Lastly, my wife of 25 years when telling her a while ago I actually get hits, comments and followers replies with a very stunned "What? People actually read the shit you write!".  She is actually very supportive, but finds it hard to believe there are so many gaming geeks out there. 


Back the the Liebster Award:

The rules:

  • Copy and paste the award on your blog, linking it to the blogger who has given it to you.
  • Pass the award to your top five favorite blogs with fewer than 200 followers by leaving a comment on one of their blog posts to notify them that they have won the award and list them on your own blog.
  • Sit back and bask in that warm fuzzy feeling that comes with knowing that you have just made someone's day.
  • There is no obligation to pass this onto anyone else but it is nice if you do.
My nominations are all blogs where when I see a a blog update I will almost always read them.  There are in no particular order:

John's Wargame Page
John does great reviews of lots of ancient gaming rules, and has useful insights into other gaming mechanisms, and writes his own rules.

Dale's Wargames
Dale does reviews and replays of lots of rules and loves getting to the heart of the mechanisms that make rules tick.

Here's no great matter
Aaron is the Lost Battles king, and always has interesting posts about other games as well.

Solo Nexus
JF always has an interesting post about various solo games and solo snippets. And he introduced me to Rory's Story cubes that has been a hit with my children, and I've also starting using for solo Traveller.

Caliban-somewhen
I currently play one-off 15mm ancient battles on a 2'x2' table, Paul plays 28mm goodness on large tables using Phil Sabin's empire as framework to generate the battles.  The fun and excitement of all this comes through.  When I get back to playing on large table, I want to have as much fun as he does.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Seven ancient battles in seven days background; using newer own rules

Introduction
Halfway though November (2012) I realised that last year's November was solo gamers month - the 11 month of 2011.  But why not do something solo again this year?  With only a few weeks to go, I set myself a challenge to play about 4-6 loosely linked ancient battles on a 2'x2' table.  For many years, I have been interested in retracing some of the Persian King Cyrus the Great as he builds the (Achaemenid) Persian Empire.  So after reading some books and searching the internet, I came up with 7 battles to fight.  And hoping to do them over 7 days with only a short writeup for each.  So not the usual battle reports for me - just a few pictures and an overview for each battle.  The blog post became too large as I was adding pictures - even I was getting overload by the end! I have created two blog posts - this one with all the background, and another with 7 short reports and pictures.

Note: The battle reports are in another blog post.  This is just background.
 
The Battles

The 7 battles I chose were:
  • Cyrus Vs the Medes
  • Cyrus Vs Lydians in the Battle of Pteria
  • Cyrus Vs Lydians in the Battle of Thymbra
  • Mazares Vs Ionian Greeks
  • Cyrus Vs the Babylonians in the Battle of Opis
  • Cyrus Vs the Indians
  • Cyrus Vs the Massagetae
The Rules (small diatribe here on rules writing, feel free to skip)
I was planning on using different rules for each game but that would take too long.  And then I was going to stick with my own set that I am writing - Ancient Warrior Battles;  a sort of mashup between Rally Round the King, Justified Ancients and Bill Banks Ancients.  They take about 30-40 mins a game.
BUT
I was becoming dissatisfied with my own rules.  No surprises, happens to many rules writers.  I will write a longer post on it sometime, but I was finding it hard to remember modifiers in combat, and I wrote them!  The problem was the interactions between troops types - Loose Order Vs Close Order, Heavy armour Vs light armour etc. And the results were still a bit too random for my tastes. So I dug out another similar set I was working on last year  - converting Bill Banks' Ancients to miniatures - and used that combat system instead.  I always really really liked that combat model, and used them for some rules I wrote back in 2001.  And it worked, and it worked well.  Combat was smoother, and I tweaked the other mechanisms to fit into the same model.  And it worked too.  So now I have a much better set of rules that have evolved from Ancient Warrior Battles.  Much work was not wasted, although I thought it would be and was prepared to throw them all out.  Anyway, the rules now run faster and are easier.  The QRS fits on one page too!  Tentative title is Ancient Battlelines Clash (because in my blog, I always seem to caption every second picture as "..and then the battlelines clash", "the clash of the battlelines" etc.  I need to write the rules up properly and then will post them - which I have done - see this page.  It is basically similar to Bill Banks Ancients but with reaction tests similar to Rally Round the King to make it solo friendly.

Brief intro to how some units interact under the rules
This section gives an overview of how the rules interacted in the context of these seven games.
  • Units are either ordered, disordered or destroyed.
  • Units have a combat value for ordered and disordered states.
  • Units may also have high or low fortitude that give a +1 or -1 to the combat dice.
  • Heavy mounted unit get a charge bonus for the first turn in combat.Missile fire is 1d6, and at most can disorder a non-skirmish unit (i.e. cannot destroy units by missile fire)
Combat is a 1d6 + difference of combat values and some modifiers with results similar to Bill Banks Ancients:
  less than 0: Attacker destroyed
  0-1: Attacker disordered and retreats; if already disordered, attacker is destroyed
  2-5: Both unis disordered.  If already disordered, this has no effect on the unit
  6-7: Defender disordered and retreats; if already disordered, defender is destroyed
  greater than 7: Defender destroyed

A +1 or -1 can be significant.

The Immortals are archers with a CV of 3 (2 when disordered) but high fortitude giving a +1 in battle.
Sparabara are archers with a CV of 3 (2 when disordered) but only average fortitude.
Hoplites are CV of 5, but reduced to 2 when disordered.  They also only get disordered by archers on a firing d6 on 1, so only a small chance of disordering them on the way in.  If the Sparabara manage to inflict a "both disordered" on the first turn (1/3 chance) they then have an equal chance in future combats, else they will not last long.  If the Hoplites are disordered on the way in, they have a good chance of defeating them.
The Indian archers are CV of 2, 1 when disordered and so once the Sparabara got into close combat, they had the upper hand.  But there are more Indian Archers than Sparabara....
The horse archers were CV 1 so not great in close combat.  But they managed to inflict a lot of disorder. The trick was to get the Persian units on the flank as well as the front and gain a +2 modifier in close combat - with the horse archers on a 1 +2 on flank 3, and the disordered Sparabara on 2, the horses have a chance (here close combat represents the horse archers getting up close and personal with the infantry, rather than actually attacking in melee).
  
The troops
I created army lists for each force and them randomly created an army for each battle (unit selection is based on Milgamex Tactical Armies if anyone is interested, and army units loosely derived from DBM, Armati and WRG 6th army lists).  I did think about how the Persian forces may be affected from one battle to the next if they lost a key unit etc, but that was going to stretch my capacity too much, and the battles usually took place at least a year apart from one another.  So I didn't.
 
Achaemenid List
The Achaemenid list would be reused 7 times, here is the army list for the Persians that was used to randomly generate forces for each battle:
 
Required (at least one of these units must be used, and unlimited extra units)
  Heavy Cavalry
  Sparabara
Standard (none are required, but unlimited may be acquired)
  Immortals
Limited (up to 2 units maximum of each Limited unit type may be acquired, and no more Limited units acquired than Required+Standard units)
  Skirmishers
  Subject Light Infantry
 
Sparabara units deployed must be greater than Immortal units
Heavy infantry units must be at least double the number of Heavy Cavalry units

For Thymbra, Cyrus will also have 1 camel unit, 1 missile tower and a scythed chariot.

Personal Diary
Just a short section on how I managed to play the battles in seven days.  Once the army lists and random generator was in place, it took about 1 minute to select forces and about 15 minutes to get the figures, and set them up.  I played all the games after my children had gone to bed so not that much time in between all the other non-gaming stuff going on.  But I did it!

16 November - Day 0
Decided I would run seven battles in seven days.  Did some reading and came up with the plan.
 
17 November-22 November
Rules Crisis. Decided to rewrite rules so project on hold.
I decided to move the Ancient Warrior Battles combat system to be more Bill Banks Ancients like.  This had flow-on effects to the rest of the game.  After a few dead ends etc, most of the actual content for the rules are the same, but combat is more streamlined and works much better, I also converted all of the test to be in the same format.  And as an added bonus, the reference sheet is one side of a A4 sheet.  And I changed the army lists and army list generator for the new rules.

23 November - Day 1
Game 1 Cyrus Vs the Medes (30 mins)

24 November - Day 2
Not much, Set the forces up for the Battle of Pteria
 
25 November - Day 3
Game 2 Battle of Pteria (20 mins)
Game 3 Battle of Thymbra (25 mins) - actually played this one without interruptions.

26 November - Day 4

Game 4 Mazares Vs Ionian Greeks (30 mins)

27 November - Day 5
Game 5 Cyrus Vs the Babylonians in the Battle of Opis (30 mins)

28 November - Day 6
Game 6 Cyrus Vs the Indians
Played 10 mins of Game 7 -  Cyrus Vs the Massagetae

29 November - Day 7
Game 7 -  Cyrus Vs the Massagetae finished it (remaining 20 mins)


Verdict
Wow - it was fun.  And it did not take up too much time.  Always nice to do something you have been wanting to do for 15 years or so.  While it did stretch my free time a little, I am glad of it.  This November solo thing could get to be a habit.  Hopefully not a bad one.

I did some minor tweaking to the new rules as I played but 95% of the rules for the first game survived until the end.  They need more playtesting for other periods (duh) which is what I was doing with the older - Ancient Warrior Battles - set anyway.  I will debate whether I need to go back and play some chariot games again.  I probably will, I was not 100% happy with how Ancient Warrior Battles handled Chariots, but I think I have nailed it with this version. And I like chariots.  I need to go away, write up the rules properly and start some playtesting in the new year.


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Battle of Marathon 490BC using Ancient Warrior Battles

Introduction
This is game 6 in playtesting my rules Ancient Warrior Battles rules (AWB) by replaying all the Peter Sides scenarios from his Historical Battles books.  AWB is designed to finish in under an hour on 2'x2' tables. Note that due to some major evolution in the rules, Marathon is likely to be the last playtest using this variant of Ancient Warrior Battles.

Battle of Marathon
Athenians and Plataean hoplites under the command of Miltiades defeats the Persians. The Persians then moved (by sea) to attack Athens but were unable to land and went back to Persia.    This battle is very well known so I will not go into it much further.

Here is a link of interest:  Wikipedia article

Changes to the Bill Banks Scenario
The scenario is designed to play on a 33"x33" board but a lot of the area is not really used so all I did was reduce the size of the board to 2'x2'.  The number of units and their deployment is changed a little:
  • I made the thinned line in the centre low fortitude rather than add extra hoplites to the flanks
  • the Persians, in DBA terms, had Bow and Auxilia and I have made them Heavy Infantry and Light Infantry
  • added one extra skirmisher to the Greeks (in AWB, skirmishers are very fragile).

Troops
Greece
2 Hoplites, HI, heavy armour, phalanx
4 Hoplites, HI, heavy armour, phalanx, low fortitude
1 Skirmisher, SI, javelin, light armour
1 Slinger, SI, sling, light armour
1 Poor General (Miltiades)

Breakpoint: 6

Persia
1 Immortals, HI, archer, light armour, high fortitude
3 Median Infantry, HI, archer, light armour
4 Subject Infantry, LI, archer, light armour
1 Poor General (Artaphernes)

Breakpoint: 6

Neither general excelled themselves in this battle so will class them both as poor.  Poor generals give a -1 on all move command die rolls.

Deployment
Deployment:

Greek line to the left (stronger hoplite units at each end).  Black thread is a contour line.  Persian line to the right is Immortals in centre, Sparabara on either side of Immortals and some light infantry on the flanks.

The Game
Greeks get to move first - they will run like hell to get into melee and not stand around getting fired on by arrows.  Just like 2000 years ago.

Hoplite line just before contact.

Lucky rolls see the 2 Greek skirmishers routed with no return fire.  Rest of the firing sees the one flanking Hoplite charge ahead into contact, the other flank disordered.

Hoplite at the right charges in but is disordered.

Hoplites all charge into contact and all are now disordered by unlucky dice rolls (if a low fortitude Hoplite is fired on, it would be OK on a 3 or more, but all 3 rolls were all 1's and 2's.  It does mean the Hoplites will not get a +2 close combat modifier).

Quick rundown on close combat table:  It is opposed dice rolls.  The low fortitude disordered Hoplites have a die modifier of +0.  The Immortals have a die roll modifier of +0 while the Median infantry is -1.  So it is a close battle.

Hoplites pushed back on one flank, won on the other and the middle mostly holding.

Persian left flank and centre holding, the right has gone.

The next round of combat sees good luck for the Persians on the left - two Hoplites retreat and so are badly damaged, and the Hoplites on the flank edge is routed (a 1-6 roll with the allied infantry). 

The left flank is won by the Persians, the middle is looking good and the Greeks are not taking advantage of thir win on the right.

Another round sees a median Sparabara on the left gone and a Sparabara on the right gone as well.  The Persian right flank is wide open.

The centre collapses - of the 4 units that were in the centre, two are gone. Victory to the Greeks.
The Hoplites that managed to be victorious on their left flank.

And at this point, the Persians have lost 50% of their army break value and so the Greeks carry the day.

Verdict
Very fast- line them up, charge, bowfire, then a few rounds of melee.  I can well see how the historical outcome could have been achieved, however in this game the Greek right flank just did not hold up.

While still fun to play, after this game I became disillusioned with the close combat modifiers. As I write, I am playing a sequence of battles involve the Persian King Cyrus the Great in which I test out an evolution of the AWB rules with streamlined troops classifications and a different combat mechanism.  Marathon is certain to be the last playtest using this variant of Ancient Warrior Battles.


Battle of Thymbra 547BC using Ancient Warrior Battles (005)

Introduction
This is game 5 in playtesting my rules Ancient Warrior Battles rules (AWB) by replaying all the Peter Sides scenarios from his Historical Battles books.  AWB is designed to finish in under an hour on 2'x2' tables.  It is the first in a line of Battles involving hoplite or hoplite-type units.

Battle of Thymbra
The Lydian King Croesus defends his Empire against the Persian King Cyrus the Great. Even though outnumbered, Cyrus defeated Croesus and soon after all of Lydia became Persian.

This battle is actually not in the Peter Sides books, and I will base the scenario from Bill Banks Ancients. Here are some links of interest:

Wikipedia article
An animated overview of the battle (in Powerpoint)
 
The Gathering of Hosts blog has orders of Battle for Thymbra using Basic Impetus and a replay:
Thymbra orders of battle and deployment 
Thymbra battle report

Changes to the Bill Banks Scenario
I have roughly halved the number of units so it works on a 2'x2' battlefield.  The scenario deployment is based on the animated overview of the battle rather than Bill Banks Ancients - both are similar but the units are a bit different from Bill Bank's. For a start, Bill Banks does not include Missile towers.  So I built two towers (turned out OK - I was not looking for a masterpiece) and used them based on the Thymbra animation.

Troops
Lydia
2 Light Chariots, LCH, bow, light armour
4 Heavy Cavalry, HC, heavy armour
2 Light Cavalry, LC
4 Spearmen, HI, light armour, long spear, phalanx
2 Skirmishers, SI, javelins, light armour
1 General (Croesus)

Breakpoint: 10

Lydians deployed


Persia
2 Scythed Chariots, SCH
1 Camel, light armour, low fortitude
2 Heavy Cavalry, HC, light armour
1 Immortals, HI, archer, light armour, high fortitude
4 Sparabara, HI, archer, light armour
2 Missile Towers (warwagons), archer, heavy armour, average fortitude
2 Skirmishers, SI, bows, light armour
1 +1 General (Cyrus)

Breakpoint:10

Persians deployed
 Notes
I could not help myself and changed some of the deployment around - Croesus had only light cavalry for instance, there were no chariots for each side and no camels for Cyrus. And of course I added in two missile towers. Missile towers I am treating as heavy armoured warwagons.  I get to try out the war wagon rules, scythed chariot rules and revised camel rules with this game.

Deployment
Deployment:
Lydians on the left, Persians on the right.


The Game
Croesus goes first, right to left and advances across the field but leaves the Hoplites in reserve.

Sparabara on right fires at the oncoming cavalry who charge and in subsequent combat force the Sparabara to retreat.

Lydian cavalry charges a Sparabara unit.

Cyrus unleashes the Scythed chariots at the advancing light chariots.  The first combat sees the Light chariot fire and evade.  The Scythed chariot shrugs this off, continues charging and recontacts the light chariot who rolls badly for the charged test and routs.  The chariot pursues into a Hoplite and the chariot is routed in the close combat. Second scythed chariot causes light chariot to retreat but is routed by the parting missile fire.  This is what I like about reaction type games for solo play.  Fast, interactive and with a degree of  unpredictability.

Light chariot in centre after scythed chariot is destroyed.  Green marker is disordered, black ring is depleted.

Sparabara and skirmishers on left fire on the cavalry who end up pushed back and disordered.

Lydian cavalry repulsed on their right flank.

Skirmishers and Sparabara fight off charging cavalry - still holding the flank.

Lydian cavalry on Persian left flank not doing too well.

Lydian skirmisher and light chariot advance to close with the line in front of the towers.  Lydian cavalry forced back on their right flank but managed to rout a Persian skirmisher.


Cavalry face-off on the Persian right.

Persian right flank cavalry must roll for a mandatory charge as they have heavy units to their front.  They roll low and so do not need to charge.  They decide to wait.
The Immortals and Sparabara in front of the missile towers drive off and rout the two skirmishers and light chariots in front.  A bit of missile exchanges went on to achieve this result.  On the left Persian flank, a heavy cavalry is pushed back.

Overview of the battle from the Persian view
It may not be noticeable, but I've angled the missile towers so they can cover the flanks a bit better. I have decided that War Wagons/missile towers can fire over friendly units  so I will need to update the rules.


The missile towers overlook the centre of the battlefield.

Lydian heavy cavalry on their right is forced to charge against the Sparabara, which is bad as they are disordered and depleted, but they are simply pushed back,  Hoplites move up.

On Persian right flank, the heavy cavalry forced to mandatory charge against the Lydian heavy cavalry.  Skirmisher cavalry fires and retreats but does upset the balance by forcing one of the heavy cavalry to be pushed back.

Cyrus and his heavy cavalry charge the opposition..

A classic opposed dice roll of 1 to 6 sees the Persian heavy cavalry routed but Cyrus escapes capture (there was no pursuit).  Cyrus joins the remaining heavy cavalry and charges a Lydian heavy cavalry.  Unbelievable! I rolled a 6-1 for the combat - the Lydian heavy cavalry is routed.  They pursue and get a bonus 2cm to the distance (extra movement occurs if rolling a 6 for pursuit - adds a bit of randomisation and give a occasional chance of faster troops being caught in retreats).  They slam into the light cavalry that retreated earlier.


Cyrus with the other heavy cavalry catches up with some light cavalry


Light cavalry rout.  Cyrus pursues them. He is now halfway up the board.

The Hoplites are now subject to a hail of fire from missile towers and Sparabara.


Interesting.  As the rules are written,  the missile tower fires on a Hoplites that will tend to advance 4cm, then a Sparabara fires, forcing them to advance 4cm.  A Hoplites unit with no support and no damage will advance on anything but a 1 or a 2. Note I forgot I made the hoplites light armour for this battle just because of this and the hoplites should be disordered on a 1,2 or 3, thus negating the phalanx benefit and allowing the Sparabara to fight on a more even footing with the hoplites.  This would have made a difference and the Persian foot may have held on longer than they did (one turn - see below).

The first Hoplites makes it unscathed to the Sparabara and routs them.  The missile tower behind is disordered.  The Hoplite pursues into the tower.

Hoplites attack a missile tower

Missile towers are classed as mounted, loose order, heavy armour.  The melee result is a tie and stay in melee.

The other hoplites advance as well.  Lots of melee, pushed back Sparabara, fighting the missile towers; the end result sees both missile towers routing and a Sparabara unit routing too.  The Hoplites did end up receiving a bit of disorder.

The end result of the fighting in the centre (from the Persian side)

The Persians have reached their breakpoint and I call it a Lydian victory.

End of game.


Verdict
Fun.  I could see how the game could have gone along historically but the dice rolls favoured the Lydians.  Due to a month from deployment to actually playing, I did make the mistake with what the Hoplites were actually classified as, and made it harder for the Persians.  I will try in future to decrease the time between deployment and playing.

Couple of rule clarifications came up that I need to include (which is the point of replaying the battles so all good): need to spell out War Wagons don't get a +2 charge bonus and the proximity test is not taken in pursuit or retreats etc - only moves, but they are taken as a result of reaction tests by the enemy.

Even though I have played about 12 games with AWB now, I still find it hard to work out the combat modifiers.  This is obviously an issue as if I wrote them and still cannot follow them, there must be a better way.  There are too many modifiers methinks and I will think on this.