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Monday, 13 May 2013

Battle of Raphia





The Ptolemies right flank

The Seleucids left flank

Ptolemy IV Philopator

Antiochus III The Great

Packed ranks of 'newly raised' Machimoi




Last Sunday in my garage, Garry, Craig, Bern and I played a Hail Caesar refight of the Battle of Raphia 217 BC. Here are photos of the game and a report of how it played out between the Seleucid and Ptolemaic armies. There were three large divisions a side and Garry (Ptolemy) and I (Antiochus) faced off with two divisions each while Craig and Bern fought it out on the Seleucid left flank with a division each. There were a few commander casualties, before the game started, due to Mother's Day commitments!

The battle began with the larger Seleucid Indian elephants (Elephas maximus) fighting the smaller Ptolemaic African forest elephants (Loxodonta africana cyclotis) on both flanks. This elephant fight proved to be hard fought and protracted. The Ptolemies, particularly on the Seleucid right flank, were surprisingly resilient and despite being forced to give ground were able to give as good as they got and hang in there.

The cavalry clash on the Seleucid right flank resulted in the Ptolemies totally broken. However the Seleucid horse were hampered by the elephants fighting and before they could turn the Ptolemaic defeat to advantage, promptly rolled a blunder and went off the table! This put an end to Seleucid hopes on the right flank. Back on the Seleucid left flank the battle had evolved into a chaotic slogging match with both sides unable to deliver the finishing punch.

Meanwhile in the centre the Ptolemaic pike, who had deployed two phalanxes deep in order to fit on the table, were finding their superior numbers and the extra support this provided very handy indeed. They slowly but surely drove the Seleucid phalanxes back. Back on the Seleucid left flank Bern (Themison) had shown great timing and tactical skill by delaying fighting with the Arab and Mede levies until they couldn't avoid it.

On the Seleucid left flank, by this stage of the game, both Seleucid and Ptolemaic divisions were broken while Seleucid central and right flank divisions were on the verge of breaking. Using the victory points system at the end of the game, it was a hard fought minor victory for the Ptolemies and a case of missed opportunities for the Seleucids.

In case anyone is interested, here is a pdf of the army lists we compiled and used for the game and a map of the order of battle from Bezalel Bar-Kochva's The Seleucid Army:

Battle of Raphia - HC lists



Ptolemaic skirmishers take on the Seleucid elephants

Thracian mercenaries surge forward

Massed ranks of Ptolemaic pike advance

Seleucid elephants and cavalry attack on the left

Elephants and cavalry close on the Seleucid right flank

Seleucid Indian elephants fight the Ptolemaic African elephants

Action on the Seleucid left flank

Ptolemaic mercenary phalangites supported by xystophoroi

The two lines close

Seleucid xystophoroi break their opponents

Antiochus urges on his troops and an elephant!

The pike get stuck in 

Back on the left flank the carnage continues

In the centre the Seleucid phalanxes are driven back

Seleucid Argyraspides (Silver Shields) bloodied but unbroken

24 comments:

  1. Looks terrific, what a huge game!

    FMB

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    1. Thanks FMB, the table was literally groaning under the weight of all the lead.

      Mike

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  2. What a game - magnificent!

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    1. Thanks Caliban, I'm not sure how this Google Drive thing with the list works but will sort it out.

      Mike

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  3. Incredible! Now that is a game!

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    1. Thanks Jonathan. The Aventine African elephants would look good in your Carthaginian army!

      Mike

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  4. Looks fantastic, and on such a grand scale! A game close to my own heart. :-) Simon

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    1. Thanks Simon, really looking forward to your epic Raphia game at Partizan.

      Mike

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  5. Thanks for showing us some beautiful pictures of great, great looking figures!! Elephants and pikes are so impressive!!
    Phil.

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    1. Thanks Phil, there is something about masses of pike and elephants.

      Mike

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  6. An spectacular looking game!!!

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    1. Thanks Ray, it was a Mother's Day special!

      Mike

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  7. Now that's an impressive amount of well painted figures on the table!

    Christopher

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  8. Thanks Christopher, we had a hard time fitting all the Ptolemaic pike on the table!

    Mike

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  9. Great to see such a big mashup! So many hours were sunk into those great big blocks of pike and all of their shields. Thanks for sharing!

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  10. Thanks Monty, I shudder to think how many hours and wasted brain cells went into paint it all !

    Mike

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  11. That is a cracking looking game. Excellent in all aspects.

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  12. Thanks Grimsby Mariner, we were a bit short of players, two divisions each isn't as relaxing as one but we still finished in under four hours.

    Mike

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  13. Very, very impressive and I love those massed ranks of pike.
    Cheers,
    Pat.

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  14. Thanks Pat, it was tricky fitting them all on the table.

    Mike

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  15. cracking work guys, I really enjoyed that report Mike!!!

    cheers
    Matt

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  16. Thanks Matt, Raphia is a great battle to do, looking forward to Simon and Craig's Raphia game.

    Mike

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