Monday, September 1, 2014

Asculum at Pacificon

The second battle that I ran at Pacificon was Asculum.  The rules were Scutarii from Hoplite Research.  There were six new players for this battle and one who took part in Raphia.  The scenario was slightly modified from the original in the rule book.  The values for the Macedonian phalanx were changed to match the rest.  For this scenario all the phalanx formations are treated as double wide and double deep formations instead of two units by two units.  Also, the Italian and Mercenary infantry should probably have a defense value of 6 instead of 5.

Although this battle will fit on an eight food wide area for 40mm bases, it was fought on the same ten foot wide set of tables used for Raphia.  Once again the outcome of the battle would not reflect history.   At the start of the battle Pyrrhus shifted his guard cavalry and elephants to his left flank.  Neither army was able to gain an advantage in the cavalry combats on either flank until the elephants arrived and helped break the Roman right wing.

Mean while the infantry of both armies had advanced.   The Roman light infantry had moved ahead and began pelting the opposing infantry with their javelins.  They were able to get a couple of turns of missile fire before withdrawing behind their heavy infantry.  The Romans had moved obliquely towards their right while advancing.  The Seleucid battle line then advanced into contact with the Romans.   As the fighting in the center continued the Romans withdrew some of their exhausted Hastatii from the front line and replace them with the Princepes.   Part of their light infantry was sent to help support the flanking cavalry.  Much of the Italian infantry on Pyrrhus' left flank eventually fled, though enough remained to protect the left flank of the phalanx.  Both sides infantry had taken a beating, with one Hastatii unit in the Roman center at the breaking point.  The Roman's won the initiative and chose to have Pyrrhus move first.  Initial ,orale checks saw some of the pike formations break and with the rest likely to join the Romans won.   If the Roman's had moved first it is quite likely that part of their center would have routed, possibly causing other units to rout, causing a Roman defeat.   However, with the Greeks routing they would have received a morale bonus when they checked.

There are about 4500 figures for this battle.  They are a mixture of Rapier, Baccus, Irregular, and Heroics and Ros.  All the phalangites and almost all the Romans are from Rapier.  The battle started about 2 and finished about 5.  The following are pictures from the battle:

 Initial deployment from Pyrrhic right/Roman left.
View from opposite end.

 Start of battle.  Greeks on right Romans on left.
 Pyrrhus (Ix) contemplating the battlefield
The Roman commanders.
 Turn 2.  Roman light infantry annoying Pyrrhic infantry.
 Roman light infantry withdraws
The Greeks advance to contact

 Cavalry action on the Pyrrhic right/Roman left
Tarantine phalangites hold back.
 View of the middle of the battlefield from behind the Roman lines.
 Right wing Greek cavalry contacts Roman left wing cavalry.
 Right end of Pyrrhic infantry turns in on Roman left flank
 Most of the allied Italian infantry routs.
 Cavalry and elephants on the Roman right/Pyrrhic left
End of battle as phalanx starts to rout.

Raphia at Pacificon

Raphia was the first of two battles that I hosted at Pacificon.   The rules used were Scutarii from Hoplite Research.  There were six players who had never tried the rules before.   I would like to thank Mike O'Brien from the Miniature Wargaming Society of Sacramento who came by and assisted with running the game.  I was a bit concerned about this battle as there were over 150 units per side and all the players had not seen the rules before.  Each unit represented 500 men or 4 elephants.   Even though many of the infantry formations were deployed in depth the armies occupied almost ten feet (3 meters) of frontage using 40mm bases.  It probably would have been better to have another 2 1/2 foot wide table added to this.  Ten feet is slightly over 4.5km wide.  Another 2 1/2 feet would increase this to just over 5.6 km.   There were 5000 figures used for this battle with about 4000 of them being phalangites.  The figures are a mixture of Rapier, Baccus, Irregular, and Heroics and Ros.   All the phalangites are from Rapier.  The Arabs and Asiatics are from Baccus.  Thracians, Gauls, and Lydians from H&R.  Elephants and cavalry from all four.

Polybius is the main source for this battle, providing detailed numbers and dispositions for both armies.  The Seleucid army had 62,000 infantry, 6000 cavalry, and 102 elephants.  Ptolemy had 70,000 infantry, 5000 cavalry, and 73 elephants.   There were 35,000 phalangites in the Seleucid army and 61,000 in Ptolemy's army for a total of 96,000 phalangites.   The point an combat values for both armies are as below:

Unit TypeAttack DefenseMoraleCostPtolemySelecucid
Guard Cavalry5511111144
Settler Cavalry4510105080
Mercenary Cavalry351110400
Guard/Mercenary Phalanx36119234270
Macedonian/Settler Phalanx36108448320
Egyptian Phalanx36972800
Arab/Asiatic Infantry35950200
Indian Elephants4610130325
African Elephants3610122160

Historically, the right wing cavalry of both armies defeated the opposing left wing.  Ptolemy left his guard cavalry and moved to the infantry center.  Anticochus pursued the opposing cavalry instead of turning on their center.  Ptolemy's right wing cavalry did not pursue and turned on the left wing of the Seleucid infantry causing them to flee, this caused all the other Seleucid infantry to rout.  The infantry of both armies had held back from contacting the opposing infantry.

The re-fight was to take a slightly different path.   The Seleucid right wing defeated their opponents and instead of pursing halted and reformed.   Ptolemy had moved to the infantry.   On the other wing, Ptolemy's cavalry directly engaged their opposing numbers instead of attempting to skirmish and out flank them.  This would result in a drawn out struggle that eventually saw the Seleucid cavalry triumph on the left flank.

In the center both of the infantry lines had held back.  Ptolemy's infantry advanced to engage the opposing infantry.  The fighting was intense.   Part of the left end of the Seleucid infantry broke and fled, but the rest held   Eventually part of the Egyptian phalanx broke, the resulting morale checks caused more units to rout.  At this point the players on the Ptolemaic side conceded as it was quite likely that most of the rest of the army would fail their morale checks for friends routing and join them.

The following is the basic turn procedure for Scutarii.   Both sides dice for initiative with the higher score determining who moves first during a turn.  Any troops for the moving side that have to check morale do so before any units are moved.  Troops that have missile weapons may use them at any point during their movement and continue to move if they still have movement left.   After a side has completed moving, any opposing units in contact will resolve hand-to-hand combat.  Units roll a number of dice based on their attack factor, taking into account any modifiers, and must score higher than their opponent's defense value to cause a hit.   Hits are cumulative and are not removed.    These will cause a unit's morale to decline and represent fatigue, casualties, and loss of fighting spirit.

The following pictures are from the battle.  Unfortunately, I had left the container with the hit markers at home and had to resort to some sticky labels to keep track of the hits.   Fortunately Mike O'Brin found some blank counters at one of the dealers and these were used to replace the sticky labels.   The battle started just after 9 and finished shortly after noon.

 Start of battle as viewed from Ptolemy's right/Seleucid left.
 Seleucid cavalry advance.  Bob Burke commanding left flank of Seleucid army.  Ed Gonsalves commanding Ptolemaic center.
 The elephants and cavalry engage in combat on that flank.
 Cavalry and elephants on the other flank
 Combat continues on Bob's flank
 view of the center of the battle from behind the Ptolemaic lines
 Cavalry and elephant action continues on Bob's flank
 view from behind the Seleucid lines
 Antiochus defeats the opposing cavalry and prepares to move on Ptolemy's infantry flank.

End of the battle as Ptolemy's phalanx starts to collapse


As usual, Pacificon had a wide variety of games.  Role playing, boardgames, miniatures, etc.   It looked like there were fewer dealers than at Kublacon.    The following pictures are from the various games and dealer area in the main ball room at the hotel.   The role playing games were in another section of the hotel.

 The dealer area
 Nick Sterns huge 54mm game
 Memoir 44 Normandy invasion
 Aircraft take to the skies
 WW1 action

 The other airplane combat
 Pirates! game
 Sci-Fi combat
 Board game area
 another view of the Pirates! game
ww2 action setting up
 Pirates!  game master in costume
 Steve Montgomery's ww2 infantry skirmish game
 The large Memoir44 Normandy game

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Raphia Project Part 5

Work has kept me rather busy the past few months leaving little time for painting or blogging.   This coming weekend I will be running several games at the Pacificon Gaming Exposition.  One will be Raphia using Scutarii.

I calculated the point totals for both armies and arrived at the following:

Unit Type Attack  Defense Morale Cost Ptolemy Selecucid
Guard Cavalry 5 5 11 11 11 44
Settler Cavalry 4 5 10 10 50 80
Mercenary Cavalry 3 5 11 10 40 0
Guard/Mercenary Phalanx 3 6 11 9 234 270
Macedonian/Settler Phalanx 3 6 10 8 448 320
Egyptian Phalanx 3 6 9 7 280 0
Arab/Asiatic Infantry 3 5 9 5 0 200
Thracians/Galatians 3 5 11 7 84 28
Indian Elephants 4 6 10 13 0 325
African Elephants 3 6 10 12 216 0
1363 1267

Ptolemy's armie has an eight percentage points advantage over the Seleucid army.  There have been some historians who have argued that the 20,000 Egyptians should be part of the 25,000 man part of the phalanx.   Phil Sabin has shown in his Lost Battles Book that they should be seperate.   The above totals also indicates the same.   If they were removed from the order of battle, the Arabs and Asiatic infantry would have to be reduced to an attack value of 2 and morale of 8 for an 80 point reduction.   In addition the Seleucid settler phalanx would also have to have its attack and morale reduced for another 80 or possibly 120 points.  This would leave the Seleucid army with a very fragile infantry center.

Including the Egyptians gives both armies infantry centers with an equal frontage of 49 units/bases. 
On Ptolemy's side the Settler and Egyptian Phalanx is 32 ranks deep, the other phalanx units are 16 ranks deep, and the Thracians and Galatians are 8 ranks deep.   On the Selucid side the Settler Phalanx is 32 ranks deep, the Argyraspids, mercenaries, Arabs, and Asiatics are 16 ranks deep, while the Thracians and other peltasts are 8 ranks deep. For 40mm bases the armies will fit on a 10 foot wide table, 60mm would need a 14 to 15 foot wide table, and 80mm would need about 18 to 20 feet.

Sunday, May 25, 2014


Today I ran Asculum at Kublacon.   This was the first time that I had attended Kublacon.   The venue was excellent, the staff well organized, and the food was reasonably priced and good.   However, the parking was terrible.   The only way you could park at the hotel was by booking a room there.  Otherwise, there was parking across the street or, if you were lucky, finding a space on a public street.  Since the prices the hotel was charging for parking at the hotel or across the street were ridiculous, I looked for free parking on a public street.  Fortunately, I was able to find a place to park about two blocks from the hotel.   I loaded everything on the hand cart and made the walk to the venue.  9 boxes of figures, two green game mats, and a large box with dice, tape measures and rules.   I am glad I was using 6mm figures instead of 28mm.  The convention really needs to find a place with enough parking for all the attendees.

There were at least a dozen or more historical miniature games going at all times, not including the Flames of War tournament,  The dealer room had a good selection of board, role playing and fantasy games, but little historical.   I didn't see the fantasy miniature area, but did see a lot of board games in the adjoining areas and I understand that the ninth floor of the hotel was set aside for role playing games.

There were six players for the game which started at 10 and ended at 1:30.   The Roman players gathered for a conference to decide their plan of action for the battle.   They decided to attack the Greek left flank where the Latin allies were and hold back their center and left.   Action was joined when the Roman right flank cavalry was engaged by the opposing cavalry.  Their opponents gained the upper hand and eventually routed the Roman cavalry.   Surprisingly, the Roman cavalry commander was able to rally one of the two routing units when there was only a one in ten chance of doing so.

While this was happening the Latin infantry charged into the Romans and were able to contact most of the Hastatii with two units against one.   Though the Romans had a higher combat factor any hits that they caused had to be split between the two opposing units.   As Hastatii units became shaken they were replaced with Princepes.    At one point four cohorts of Latins routed, leaving a hole in the Latin line.    They did have enough cohorts in reserve to plug the gap,  but not enough to cover any further routs.

Pyrrhus had sent half of the elephants to each flank and seeing that the Latins were taking a beating ordered the phalanx units to engage the rest of the Roman infantry.   He then led his guard cavalry towards the Latin flank to help cover any further gaps in the line.  On the other flank the cavalry were trading blows with little result.   The phalanx units were starting to wear down some of their opponents, but the Romans still had two lines of infantry in reserve.

It is quite likely that the Roman plan would have succeeded if they had not decided to rally some of the shaken Hastatii.   A series of bad die rolls caused many of the units behind the front to rout leaving the Romans without enough reserves to replace the front rank.   One option that was brought up during the discussion after the game was possibly having the Princepes move forward between the Hastatii units in order to inflict more casualties on the Latins wearing them down faster.  Not attempting to rally the shaken units might also have given the Romans victory as the Latins were becoming exhausted and the Romans would have had enough fresh units to finally break them.  Two turns later the right end of the Roman battle line collapsed leaving the flank of the center exposed.  At this point the Romans resigned giving their opponents the victory.   The Greeks and Latins had 2000 troops routed and about another hundred casualties.   The Romans had about 8,000 to 10,000 troops routed giving Pyrrhus a better than historical victory.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Raphaia project part 4

After a few weeks off from painting I finished the phalangites for Raphaia plus a few extra for spares.   Raphaia will be run at conventions later this year using Scutarii.  The following pictures are of all the phalangites for both sides in a formation 16 figures deep by 256 wide.   This formation of 4096 men was known as a phalangarchia.  All the figures are from Rapier miniatures.   The back ranks are the phalangites with the vertical pikes and are a mix of Mac002 and Sel002.  The others are a mix of Mac001 and Sel001 with pikes at a 45 degree angle.