Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Sassanids and Romans

First day back from the Baltic and straight into a game. This was a historical action laid on for us by Chris Flowers although he couldn't remember the name of the battle in the end "some foreign sounding place" I think he was heard to mumble in response to the question.

In short though, the Sassanid Persians have cut off a Roman forward Garrison and have troops in the vicinity awaiting the arrival of the great king and his siege train.

The Romans don't like this idea very much so have sent a relieving force to help out said outpost. A river, impassable to all but light cavalry, splits the table with the only bridge passing through the fort.

As the Great King enters the table at one end and the Roman relief force at the other the scene is set for essentially a battle split into two distinct and very different conflicts on either side of the river.

I was to be the Great King and given command of the Persians, a duty which Chris bestows upon me from time to time usually with the added comments "As you have a sense of humour!" I was ably assisted by Dave, Jerry and Simon.

The Romans were commanded by Chris Charlton and he was supported by Richard, Andy and Ken.

As the briefing progressed it became obvious why I needed a sense of humour. Whilst the Persians our side of the river had a lot of quality cataphract cavalry supported by hordes of nomad horse archers, our Elephants, far from the battle winning steam rollers we had imagined were something of an embarrassment. Rather than blundering on a double 6 as normal units and then throwing against a table to see what happens, the elephants would blunder on any double. Unlike other units, if a mob of elephants "moves left" in error and you happen to be in the way there is likely to be a large mess. Clearly I would need to give my own troops a fairly wide berth.
The Romans deployed their cavalry divisions on Jerry and my side of the River to slow down the siege train whilst holding all of their infantry with a very small amount of Cataphract horse on the further bank to destroy the besieging force under Simon and Dave.
In terms of the balance of force the Romans have the quality in terms of infantry with their Elite Legionaries whilst the Persians strength is their Elite Cataphracts supported by hordes of horse archers. This meant that the best troops of both sides would not actually face each other.
This was a big game with the two sides of the table and both ends packed with troops, unfortunately I neglected to pick up the army lists to share with you, suffice to say though there were hordes of figures.
The fort itself whilst small had a number of artillery pieces and could only really be approached along one short side facing the Persians so was unlikely to over run any time in a one day game.
Dave and Si were clearly enjoying the spectacle of the Persian army, until the Romans infantry turned up on their flank that is!

With a lot of heavy fighting down my end I was only able to nip up the other end to snap a few pictures every hour or so and could only keep loosely up with play.

Above are the reinforcements commanded by Chris Charlton moving onto the flank of the Persians, whilst they were not able to destroy many of Dave's troops they did succeed in boxing him in and nullifying the manoeuvrability of his horse.

Below then gives you an idea of the Roman horse divisions ranged against Jerry and I. At first glance they look formidable but their medium horse were no match for our cataphracts and their small numbers of light Javelin armed cavalry unable to compete with our swarms or nomad horse archers.

The command base above is one of the most georgous bases I have ever seen, however it is so big that it does become a bit impractical, the Great King chose to rove the battlefield on his royal elephant instead.
Move one sees little movement from any of the players other than Jerry who sweeps forward with his horse archers. My Elephants immediately throw a double and their blunder sees them retreat one full move off table. Sigh! Its going to be one of those games.

I wont give you a blow by blow narrative but perhaps just a feel for how this game panned out.

Andy's Roman Cavalry fought gallantly charging again and again against the odds to try and stem the Sassanid advance, predictably this did little more than cause a speed bum to the heavily armoured cataphracts. The nomad horse archers were able to weaken the Romans before their charges and then further reduce badly mauled units retreating from combat. There was an inevitability about this side of the battle as the Persians ground steadily forward and the Roman cavalry was forced in ever reducing numbers into a corner of the river.

On the other side Dave was locking horns with Chris and Richard with his room to manoeuvre being steadily reduced and both sides taking steady casualties, whilst Si who amongst other things had a raft of levy infantry tried to make a dent in the defences of the fort with only limited success. Ken even had the cheek at one point to sally out of the fort and cut up a number of Persian archers.

After three blunders the Persian elephants did eventually manage to get into bow range and inflict a single casualty. Thanks Chris, yes my sense of humour is still intact!

With the clock running down there was still a lot left in the game on the far side of the river, Another whole day might have seen the battle fought to a result but with our teas in the oven back at home this was not to be.

The end result saw the Roman cavalry on our side of the river virtually annihilated with little if any loss to the Persians. The way now completely open for the siege train, however with only the light cavalry able to cross the river our best troops would now be unable to play any further part in the battle.

On the opposite side of the river the main force of the Romans and the Persian besieging forces are still coming to grips, the Romans are getting the better of the exchange but the Persians remain a very potent force and the lack of any Roman cavalry leaves no counter to the hordes of tribal horse archers who can now start to sweep around the flanks.

Really it was a two day game and givn the time it seems likely that the historical outcome would have prevailed. In the real engagement the Roman relief army eventually retreated unable to stop the Persians who took the fort, the Garrison being never heard from again.

A very colourful and interesting game, different deployment could see this scenario play out in all sorts of different ways. In the end both sides were left claiming victory.

I hope you enjoyed the short write up of this game. A couple more Units of Swedes still to share and another couple of ports on our wargamers cruise of the Baltic. Keep you posted!


  1. Wow, great eye candy and massive battle. Impressive collection there!

    You don't happen to know just how many figures were on that table by any chance?

    Other than the elephants the Sassinids look to be a tough foe for the Romans. Great AAR.

    1. Joseph not exactly sure how many figures but I will find out for you.

    2. Rough number Joseph 59 units of Horse, 354 figures, 58 units of foot 1,040 figures so roughly 1,400 figures on table.

  2. Yes the sassanid command base is also one of the best We ever seen... We would like to see it in real !😃
    Thanks for report !😎

  3. Wow, great looking game and two beautiful armies

    1. Thanks Neil, the Persians and Romans are so colourful arent they?

  4. A spectacular battle with gorgeous armies and terrain, looks awesome!

    1. Thanks Phil, it is always a spectacle playing at Chris's, glad you liked it.

  5. I agree with L'Empereur zoom: that is a brilliant command stand. Fantastic looking game.

  6. Impressive. Gorgeous. Stupendous.
    How did the HC rules handle the massive battle? Did you use any house rules?
    Are any of you members of the Society of Ancients? I am quite certain that your ancient adventures would make for good reading in Slingshot - the publication of the Society.

    1. Thanks very much Chris, happy to share with the Scoiety if there is some interest, none of us are currently society members. Works really well for big multi player games on big tables with lots of figures. We play nearly all the rules raw, except amended "divisional" morale rules so nothing automatically breaks there is always a test and of course the amended blunders for those pesky elephants.

  7. Replies
    1. cheers David, it was certainly on a grand scale.