Aide-memoire – Persian uniforms

From Duncan on the DBMM List:

I think the intention is that the Guard are all Persians – the original hypaspists having been sent back towards Macedonia. Luke at http://www.ne.jp/asahi/luke/ueda-sarson/AlexImpDBM.html http://www.ne.jp/asahi/luke/ueda-sarson/AlexImpDBM.html said:

“Melophoroi and archer guards: Persian guard spearmen and archers were used, and it is possible that these were used in a mixed formation as in the earlier Achaemenid empire, like the old Immortals, hence the provision for Bw (X). The archers at least seem to have been divided into 3 companies (Polyainos gives three differing uniform colours).”

Polyainos has “Stationed round the pavilion within were, first, five hundred Persians, dressed in purple and white vests: and next to those an equal number of archers in different dresses yellow, blue, and scarlet” –https://sites.google.com/site/alexandersources/polyaenus/polyaenus—alexanderhttps://sites.google.com/site/alexandersources/polyaenus/polyaenus—alexander

Ailian’s version is “first of all 500 Persians called apple-bearers (melophoroi) dressed in purple and quince-yellow; then came 1,000 archers dressed in flame-colour and scarlet”.

So your front rank is Persian “apple-bearers” probably with bronze hoplite shields, hoplite spears with the “apple” on the butt, purple tunics perhaps with the central white stripe of the royal tunic, and yellow caps – Sekunda in the Persian Osprey reconstructs one, under Darius, with yellow belt and red-and-yellow lozenge-patterned trousers. The rear ranks are archers in uniform yellow, bright red, and probably blue tunics. As Peter said, this matches the uniforms that Sekunda reconstructed from the Sarcophagus.

 

Not, obviously that I would ever do anything as bad as fielding the experimental phalanx, but useful guide for painting LAPs as well.

Guildford batrep

A cracking time at the Guildford on-day competition last Saturday, especially since I came away with two trophies.

The competition was a Book 1 theme and the army I took was Libyan Egyptian, chosen because I hoped that in a one-day format it would have the necessary win big/lose big to get the number of points that normally seems to be required to do well at a one-day competition.  My normal Book 1 army is New Kingdom Egyptian, but I think that it is too susceptible to long fought out draws and lacks a punch, which can work over 4 rounds, but I think leaves you in the middle of the pack in a two round comp.

The army was:

Command 1: Reg Cv(S) C-in-C, 6 Reg Bd(O), 9 Irr Wb(S), 4 Reg Ax(O), 4 Reg Bw(I), 18 Irr Ps(I), 4 Irr Ps(O).

Command 2: Reg Cv(S) Sub, 8 Reg Cv(S), 2 Reg LH(F).

Command 3: Reg Cv(S) Ally, 18 Irr Wb(S).

Baggage Command with 6 Irr Bge(I).

The first game was against Ch’u Chinese (Western Chou and Spring and Autumn Chinese).  My opponent was Oren Taylor, who I hadn’t played before.  We found ourselves invading China in summer.  The only relevant terrain was a waterway on my right flank, then a 5 base width gap, then a patch of rough going, then a 6 base width gap then a rocky hill.

The Chinese formed up first. On their right on the reverse slope of the rocky hill was a large block of Reg Pk(F), with a chariot general behind and an Expendable on the far flank.  In the centre, also behind the rocky hill was some more Irr Pk(F), then a line of Ps(O) in the open, with two Reg Kn(O) chariots behind them, then another block of Irr Pk(F) facing off against the scrubby flat, then some Irr Kn(O) chariots, then the waterway, which had 4 Bts(I) on it.

I deployed with the main mass of the Wb(S) facing the hill, flanked by the Wb(S) from Command 1, then a line of Bw(I) backed by Ax(O) in the open, facing the Ps(O), then the Bd(O) in the rough facing the Pk(F), backed by the huge block of Ps(I) and (O).  The chariot command was deployed as a second line.

Oren took the first bound, and his ally general, in the centre, was unreliable.  This constrained his C-in-C, on my left, who had to use 3 of his five PIPs to try and activate him.  He used the rest to advance the Pk(F) in his command over the brow of the rocky hill, and to move the elephant Expendable up on the flank.  On his left, he expanded the Kn(O) from column into line and advanced the Pk towards the scrubby flat.

My ally wasn’t unreliable, so I advanced all the Wb(S), from his command and the C-in-C’s, up onto the rocky hill. At the outside end we were matched up, by on the inside I had an overlap because he hadn’t been able to move up the Pk(F) belonging to the unreliable ally.  On my right I advanced the Bd and Ps into the scrub, and the line of Bw(I) in the centre.  In the reserve line, the LH went left to deal with the Expendable, while the Cv(S) went right to face off against the Kn(O), which was a daunting prospect for them.

On his turn he was unable to activate his ally, so just continued to develop his attack on his left and moved the expendable forward, spending 3 PIPs again to try and activate his ally.

On my turn, I continued the general advance, halting in the centre to avoid activating the ally.  My Ps(I) started skirmishing with a screen of Ps(O) that we in front of his Kn(O).

On Oren’s turn he again failed to activate his ally, but did reveal an ambush of Kn(S) behind the rocky hill.  The Ps skirmish continued on the right flank. The expendable attacked my LH(F) impetuously and imploded.

On my turn I decided to attack before the ally got involved, even though it meant activating him.  The warband ploughed into the pike on the hill over a frontage of 8 elements, and, starting at the end with the overlap, won the first 6 combats (or drew, and converted them to wins with the S bonus).  The last two lost and recoiled, but that was still 12 Pk(F) dead and 12 ME off that command.  The blades charged into the pike in the scrub, but couldn’t achieve the same effect, killing no-one.  The centre advanced and shot at the Ps(O), breaking them up.

In Oren’s turn, he drove the Wb(S) that had already recoiled further down the hill and fought the others, bring up the rest of the ally Pk(F). His chariots in the centre came forward to fight the bowmen, and also advanced by the waterway.  The Kn(S) worked their way around the hill.

In my turn, the warband continued to mop up Pk(F) on the rocky hill, including some of the ally ones.  The blade also started killing some pike in the scrub, and we traded Ps on the far right.

In Oren’s turn his chariots came in in the centre and killed one of the bow, but another one fled from them.  The chariots on his left also advanced, but their formation was at right of getting disrupted by their own Ps in front of them.  The pike on the rocky hill killed four Wb(S).

On my turn I was able to turn some Wb into the rear of the winning pike blocks and send up the LH to provide overlaps as well.  On my right, the Ps protecting the flank of the line of chariots had been killed, so I was able to throw a Ps(I) into the flank of the Kn(O), with another as an overlap.  The Wb killed the remaining Pike on the hill which broke that command.  The Kn(O) who had killed the Bw also died because his wingman had fled so he had been hard flanked.  On the right another Pk died, and the Kn(O) who was flanked by the Ps and couldn’t recoil also died on a 6-2 (becoming 8-4).  This, plus the broken C-in-C’s command came to more than half the army, and it broke.  My loses were 4 Wb(S), 1 Bw(I) and 1 Ps(I), making it a 25-0.

Oren was very unlucky that his ally was unreliable and that prevented his C-in-C from using his PIPs to get the Kn(S) out from behind the hill.  As it was the best troops in his army fled without ever having fought.  I was lucky that the uphill attack on the Pk(F) was so successful, but a lot of that was down to the S bonus breaking the draw.

My second game was against  Steve Bainbridge with Neo-Assyrian Empire.  This time I defended and we ended up with a very cluttered battlefield, with the waterway down my right flank, with a rocky flat next to it, and then an enclosed field about 8 base widths away and running all the way back to my base edge at an angle.  I had to either split my army or deploy it all on one or other side of the field system.  I opted to deploy it all between the fields and the Nile, with the Wb(S) in column on the rocky area, as close to the edge as they were allowed, then the mixed foot of the C-in-C, then the Cv(S) chariots crammed in next to the field system desperately trying to fit in.

Steve couldn’t or didn’t deploy his army only facing me.  On my right was a line of supported Ax(S) with some LH(F) on the flank, then three Kn(O) chariots, then his Libyan Egyptian ally (turncoats, collaborators) with Wb(S) and some Bw(I), then more Kn(O), then another Ax(S), then more Kn(O) then some Ax(O) and Ps(O).  But this point though, that flank of his army was facing empty space and the field system.

My initial PIPs were good so I expanded out my Meshwesh as quickly as I could to try and fill the gap to the Nile before Steve sent his LH(F) around it.  In the centre we advanced, although I tried to bring my Bw(I) and Bd(O) across from the right to the left to face the Kn(O).  On the left, I was tempted by the extra PIPs to throw my Cv(S) out as wide was possible to try and roll up his Ps(O) and Ax(O), who looked weak.  However I managed to restrain myself, and reminded myself that most bounds they wouldn’t get 4 PIPs, but only 1 or 2, so it wasn’t a good idea to start on a complex plan.  Instead they braced themselves for the onslaught from the Kn(O) and deployed to stop themselves being outflanked.

Both sides then advanced for a general ding-dong.  We hit first in the centre, and basically it didn’t go very well, as the Kn(O) ground their way through the Wb(S). My Cv(S) kept fleeing from Steve’s Wb(S) as well, and I was getting pretty desperate holding them up flinging Cv(S) and Bd(O) back in, although I did kill a couple of Wb(S) with Bd(O).  The Bd(O) were also having a rough time from the Kn(O), as were the Bw(I), although they held on longer than I expected.  The Ax(S) in the rocky area also held on well, until suddenly they started crumbling, and of course didn’t have any reserve ranks to plug holes, so started being hard-flanked and losing even more.

By this time my centre was disheartened though, then broke, and it looked like it was all over, as the Cv(S) on the flank were completely broken up and had Kn(O) bearing down on them.  However, I decided to keep going and see how many victory points I could salvage from this, to try and deny Steve a complete victory.

In order to stop the Wb(S) on the right flank, Steve had to throw across all the ancillary troops from the ally command, including its general, in order to form a new line at right angles behind his main line.  These were troops like Ax(O) and Bw(I) though, that weren’t happy fighting Wb(S) and they rapidly went down, disheartening the ally command.  The right hand command that the Ax(S) had been in was also disheartened, so I was looking at at least 4 victory points back here.  On my left, Steve’s Kn(O) were caught in a colossal traffic jam, and the few Cv(S) that were holding the line were fighting heroically, including one that was flanked and contacted in the rear and still threw his opponents off, then survived another rear attack from an Ax(S).  Steve was getting increasingly frustrated by this, especially when in desperation I threw a Cv(S) into a Kn(O) there and the Cv(S) ally general into a LH(F) on the far right flank, which was a very desperate move by me as it exposed his flank to another LH(F) if I didn’t kill it straight off.  The Cv(S) killed the Kn(O) with his S bonus, and in my jubilation, I didn’t realise that we hadn’t fought with the Cv(S) general on the other flank.  Just as Steve was about to roll his PIPs I realised, and stopped him long enough to resolve it. The result (4 vs 2, S vs F) was fortunately predictable, and the LH died.  Steve checked and this was enough to break his right command. The 2 ME from that was enough to break the Libyan Egyptian ally, and those two commands, plus the casualties from the intact commands, was enough to take him 1 ME over his army break point.  From a point about an hour earlier where my army was in deep trouble, I had managed to dig in and turn it around, although I had lost well over 40% of my army myself (42 ME out of 90).  So Steve was able to grab 8 victory points from me, but that was unfortunately scant consolation for a game which had looked like a 23-2 is his favour an hour earlier.

To my surprise, 42 points were enough to get me first place, and a solid win in the afternoon from Adrian Coomb-Hoare and two good performances from Dave Mather were enough to get the strangely named West Pinnergate not by the Sea team the team prize as well.

Unfortunately in all the excitement I forgot to take any photographs of the battles.

15mm DBMM armies

So what 15mmm DBMM armies do I have, or am I planning?

  1. New Kingdom Egyptian – done
  2. Libyan Egyptian – half done
  3. Thracian – quarter done
  4. Later Achaemenid Persian – half done
  5. Pre-Samurai Japanese – not done
  6. Han Chinese – half done
  7. Parthian – done but needs re-doing
  8. Late Imperial Roman – done
  9. Patrician Roman – almost done
  10. Early Byzantine – half done
  11. Later Visigothic – half done
  12. Nikephorian Byzantine – not done
  13. Seljuk – half done
  14. Malay – not done
  15. Later Muslim Indian – half done
  16. War of the Roses English – done

Unhappy Seljuks

Miserable game with the Seljuks last night against Mediaeval Germans (actually a fairly historical match up, if I had been Rum Seljuks rather than Merv, and the Germans had been third crusade rather than a century later).

Not really used to the army, got the PIP allocation wrong, allowed myself to be over-stretched, wasted time reforming my Cv(S) and Cv(O) from the optimum formation to a completely rubbish formation – really it was a disaster from start to finish.

The Seljuk list, for what it is worth should have been:

C-in-C as Reg Cv(S), 7 Reg Cv(S), 6 Reg Cv(O).

Sub General as Reg Cv(S), 12 Irr LH(S).

Sub General as Reg Cv(S), 1 Reg Cv(S), 6 mounted Reg Ax(S).

Ally General as Irr LH(S), 12 Irr LH(S).

Feigned Flight and Scouting.

Instead I swapped the C-in-C into the LH command so that he could move them with his free PIP (which he rarely did since he was too slow) and gave the low PIP to the cavalry command which meant they couldn’t reform. Even with the middle dice, the Ax command didn’t sweep through the difficult hill but got bogged down killing 3 Ps(O).

Oh, and the ally was unreliable, which didn’t help. And meant that when I wanted to Feign Flight with the Cv command, I couldn’t as they were too close to the rear of the table, because my advance had been held up trying to persuade the ally general to come out and play.

Late Romans in battle

Got another battle in this week with the Late Imperial Romans and I think I am finally happy with iteration 6 of the roster. Three very different commands, and even with some poor PIP dice I never felt that I had PIPs in the wrong place.

The painting bench this week

Ink some WW2 Russian Zis-3 artillery and staff for Wednesday night’s game of Flames of War against Graham.

Paint up the last of the Old Glory 15mm Gothic archers to give me all 16 Irr Bw(I) for an Ostrogothic or Later Visigothic army.

Assemble the rest of the Conquest plastic Norman 28mm knights for a Norman Saga warband.

The Ridge

As promised, a photo of the ridge for Chalons, taken on some 3′ x 2′ boards for scale. As you can see, it will stretch past the centre line of the table and dominate the northern half of the battlefield. Controlling it will, I think, be critical to the flow of the battle.

image

There will be a total of nine commanders involved in the battle, divided between the two sides.

The Romans and their allies:

  • Aetius, Last of the Romans, Magister Militum, Patricius et Dux.
  • Theodoric, King of the Visigoths.
  • Merovech, King of the Franks.
  • Gondoic, King of the Burgundians.
  • Sangiban, King of the Alans.

The Huns and their subjects:

  • Attila, Great Khan of the Huns, the scourge of God.
  • Ellac, Prince of the Huns.
  • Ardaric, King of the Gepids.
  • Valamir,  King of the Ostrogoths.

Refined battlefield for Chalons

It seems strange to refer to this as the battle of Chalons now, since we are re-fighting it on a battlefield outside Troyes, but this is the more detailed view of the battlefield that we will be fighting on, i.e. the chunk of it that fits on a 8′ x 4′ wargaming table, which (by my calculations) comes to around 4 km by 2 km.

Battle of Chalons Map (actually just outside Troyes)
Battle of Chalons Map (actually just outside Troyes)

As can be seen, the main feature is the ridge on the north side. The next post will show what this is currently looking like.

Saga and Saga dice

Tried two more games of Saga while on holiday up in Wales (my second and third) and really enjoying it as a skirmish game that really fits with its period. Bit worried about the forthcoming Byzantine list and also the heroes of the Viking age – would Athelstan have really trolled around with a 40 strong army? And certainly you shouldn’t be trying to model an Imperial Byzantine army with it. But it looks and feels right as a European Dark Age skirmish game for a period where many of the battles were just skirmishes. Hopefully they extend it bsck to the Volksvanderung era and Arthur, because it would fit that perfectly.
Anyway, I decided that trying to use normal dice as Saga dice wss adding another level of confusion to my overloaded brain, so I made some myself with the symbols from the Saga forum and some blank dice from blankdice.co.uk. 32 Saga dice for about a tenner in total. And they don’t look too bad?

image

The Battle of the Catalunian Plains part 1 – where was it

This year’s battle for the Society of Ancients Battle Day is the Battle of the Catalunian Fields, aka the Battle of Chalons, in 453AD. It is regarded as a pivotal battle of late antiquity, stopping Attila’s Huns in their tracks and saving western Europe from them, although actually it doesn’t seem to have really had such an effect, and western Europe was saved more by his marital over-exertion and the inability of his successors to control their German vassals.

Anyway, next post will deal with the two armies. This one will be about where it was fought. It is one of those battles where we just have a few fragmentary accounts of what is going on, all of which seem rather unreliable. The primary source is Jordanes, a Romanized Goth writing in the 6th century. The consensus seems to be that Attila, on a up-til-then successful plundering expedition through Gaul, was besieging Orleans. Aetius, the Magister Militum of the West, came north from Ravenna, assumed command of the relic field army of Gaul and forged an alliance between the various Germanic tribes that had carved up most of Gaul between them by this stage, and who therefore actually had more to lose to Attila than Aetius did.

This combined army then moved on Orleans, forcing Attila to raise the siege. Attila then appears to start retreating back towards the Rhine, presumably happy with the plunder gathered so far and unwilling to risk his men in an unnecessary battle. At some point along this line of retreat, Aetius catches him and forces him to give battle. We are told that the site of the battle is somewhere near Chalons, and the only two physical details we are given about the battle are that there is an important ridge that is fought over at the beginning of the battle, and that after the battle the streams ran red with blood. Given that these streams are not mentioned during the battle, they cannot be one of the major rivers that cross the area though.

Most authorities place the site of the battle on the open plain between Troyes (on the Seine) and Chalons (on the Marne). Retreating from Orleans (on the Loire) to the Rhine involves crossing both of these rivers at some point. I think we can probably also assume that Attila, probably encumbered by considerable baggage, used the Roman road network to move his army around. The obvious initial route is Orleans-Sens-Troyes. At this point you reach the Seine which is the first significant obstacle and which is going to slow down your army as you cross it, probably by a single bridge. If Aetius is hard behind Attila then this is the first place that he can catch up, and Attila might end up in the awkward position of being caught with half his army on the far side of the river and out of action.

This line of enquiry was sparked by an article that Duncan found in an old French journal that outlined a possible battlefield to the west of Troyes. The road from Sens passes through a range of hills before debouching onto a plain in front of Troyes. On the north side of the plain, there is a prominent ridge, with the village of Montgueux on top of it. This seems to be a prime candidate for Jordanes’ ridge. There is also a small stream that appears to rise in the plain, near the modern village of Torvilliers, which would be the stream of blood. A snapshot of the battlefield from Google maps, annotated by me, is shown below, with the potential site for the battle that we have decided to use.

Possible site of the Battle of the Catalunian Plains, from Google maps.
Possible site of the Battle of the Catalunian Plains, from Google maps.