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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

Friday, 10 May 2013

Seleucid Elephants

Elephants & Cretans on the Seleucid right flank

Elephants & crew by Aventine, HCH/Tin Soldier & Old Glory

Foundry Cretan archers painted by DPS 

I've just finished painting three Seleucid elephants for our refight of the Battle of Raphia this Sunday. The photos give you a bit of a preview of what the game will look like. Not all of the Seleucid forces are assembled yet and my rickety old table tennis table will literally be groaning under the weight of the combined armies. 

Hopefully the game will look pretty good and it should be a lot of fun. Can the Machimoi win the day for Ptolemy IV or will the Seleucid advantage in elephants and cavalry be telling? I'll post a report and photos of our refight, after the game on Sunday.

Elephants on the Seleucid left flank