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Monday, 9 December 2013

Battle of Carrhae




Crassus' Romans deployed in a hollow square

Right flank of the Parthian army

Left flank with camel train and an endless supply of arrows

Parthian horse archers advance

Cataphracts and camel train watch the horse archers 


Last Sunday Garry and I met at the Vikings Club to play a Hail Caesar refight of the Battle of Carrhae (53 BC). Garry was Surena, the Parthian commander, while I was Crassus, about to lead seven legions into one of the worst Roman military disasters of all time! Here are some photos of the game which mainly consisted, of shooting for the Parthian horse archers and, taking break tests for ranged fire, for the Romans…

The Romans attempted to advance and engage the cataphracts but were hampered by poor leadership and repeatedly failed to move. Crassus was rated only 7 compared to the normal 8, while Surena was rated 9. Meanwhile the Parthian cataphracts carefully manoeuvred around the table, avoiding contact with the frustrated legions. We didn't realise until later in the game that shaken troops deduct excess casualties from shooting from their dice score for break tests which means that it tends to get ugly, very quickly once you are shaken. In the actual battle Surena ensured the Parthian horse archers had a massive resupply of arrows from the camel train. In game terms this meant all fourteen units of horse archers were marksmen and had a single reroll for failed shooting each turn.

We played many turns and in the end, neither side was broken but things were starting to unravel rapidly for the Romans. It was definitely a victory for the Parthians, the Romans had lost a legionary unit, the Gallic cavalry, Syrian light cavalry and nearly all of their light infantry. The only Parthian losses were two units of horse archers. The cataphracts had spent the entire game polishing the dust of their armour and reapplying their eye liner along the edges of the table! Although it was a frustrating game from the Roman perspective, it was good to fight the battle, get an historical result and give my Parthians a run, while gaining a better understanding of the ranged fire rules. Thanks to Garry for the game. 


Action on the Roman left flank

Roman right flank

View of Parthian army from the Roman left flank

Surena exhorts his troops

Parthian catphracts who never saw action the entire game 

More cataphracts skulking in a corner & polishing their armour

Crassus' legions face the storm of arrows

20 comments:

  1. I recognise those Navigator Miniatures figures! Incidentally, the camels are really nice (well, as nice as camels can be...) - can you maybe remember the manufacturer?

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    1. Thanks Paul, the camels are by Copplestone Castings but two have been slightly converted from their Bactrian Camels.

      Mike

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  2. Looks very interesting! Lots of lovely lead, too.

    Carrhae is one game I dream of doing (perhaps next year when the Aventien Parthians are out).

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    1. Thanks Simon, it is a bit frustrating to play if you are the Romans but a lot of fun if you are the Parthians! Those Aventine Roman cataphracts look brilliant, look forward to their Parthians.

      Mike

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  3. Great looking game. It's good the rules allowed the game to be fought along historical lines without any real tweaking.

    Wonderful miniatures, as usual

    Miles

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    1. Thanks Miles, the rules - especially shooting - worked really well for the battle and the Romans were up against it from the start despite out numbering the Parthians.

      Mike

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  4. looks great, especially the camels and looks like you had a lot of fun

    Ian

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    1. Thanks Ian, the camels are lovely Copplestone figures. The Parthians enjoyed it more than the Romans...

      Mike

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  5. Excellent looking game, Surena is really impressive and the cataphacts just great!

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  6. Thanks Phil, it was a pity the cataphracts never got in the action.

    Mike

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  7. Very nice! I particularly like that Surena model...

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  8. Thanks Aaron, that's a Navigator/ Magister Militum Parthian king, I think...

    Mike

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  9. Wonderful to look at! I especially love the cataphracts and their colors. I remember an account describing the Parthian arrows as going through Roman shields into Legionnaires. Being "stapled" to one's own shield is truly horrible!

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    1. Thanks Monty. I think Surena had highly penetrative arrowheads made as well as organising the camel train to resupply the horse archers. It would have been horrible facing them.

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  10. Another very nice looking game!

    Christopher

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  11. Great looking game and figures. Love cataphracts.

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  12. Thanks Colin. The cataphracts avoided action the entire game while the damage was done with the horse archers shooting.

    Mike

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  13. Great looking game, good to know that you got a plausible result too. I must get back to my ancients.....

    Steve

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  14. Thanks Steve, it's not much fun being the Romans in this one!

    Mike

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