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Ancient and Medieval History / Re: Testing hoplite combat
« Last post by PMBardunias on Today at 01:04:36 AM »
This was the position for Partisan.
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Battle Reports / Re: A Seleucid Civil War
« Last post by Holly on October 14, 2019, 05:25:13 PM »
thoroughly enjoyed reading that Chris, well done. I have to admit a very soft spot for Seleucid armies both from a historical and wargaming perspective. I did do a double take at the number of units but 'feels' right for such an encounter. I am also glad you opted for historical accuracy rather than gimmicky rules in terms of the lights and what they did. All in all, a great write up
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Ancient and Medieval History / Re: Testing hoplite combat
« Last post by Justin Swanton on October 14, 2019, 09:05:50 AM »
Paul this is Fascinating...   Any chance of an article...

Yes, part of a chapter I am coauthoring right now, and a I will pitch another article with lots of colorful pics to AW next spring. In some ways this ways this was a test run for the great hoplite reenactors invasion of Plataia in 2021 where we should have 100+ men with proper panoply and aspides. We tested the use of drone footage and it worked well. In 2021 you will be able to watch large formations carry out Xenophon's dinner drill, Laconian countermarch, advance and charge at the run in formation. This event was more about actually hitting people with spears, because that had both training and robust protective gear.  I am planning to bring a  range of contraptions that will feel like carnival games to those using them, but give us data on how hard men hit with spears and how accurate they are, as well as my trusty othismos force meter. I am both excited and intimidated to match 12 vs 50 files to show why Spartans were not simply blown off of the field. I will keep you all posted.

Can't wait... :)
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Ancient and Medieval History / Re: Testing hoplite combat
« Last post by Patrick Waterson on October 14, 2019, 07:08:58 AM »
Thanks, Paul: this is really interesting.
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Ancient and Medieval History / Re: Testing hoplite combat
« Last post by PMBardunias on October 14, 2019, 03:17:00 AM »
Paul this is Fascinating...   Any chance of an article...

Yes, part of a chapter I am coauthoring right now, and a I will pitch another article with lots of colorful pics to AW next spring. In some ways this ways this was a test run for the great hoplite reenactors invasion of Plataia in 2021 where we should have 100+ men with proper panoply and aspides. We tested the use of drone footage and it worked well. In 2021 you will be able to watch large formations carry out Xenophon's dinner drill, Laconian countermarch, advance and charge at the run in formation. This event was more about actually hitting people with spears, because that had both training and robust protective gear.  I am planning to bring a  range of contraptions that will feel like carnival games to those using them, but give us data on how hard men hit with spears and how accurate they are, as well as my trusty othismos force meter. I am both excited and intimidated to match 12 vs 50 files to show why Spartans were not simply blown off of the field. I will keep you all posted.
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Battle Reports / A Seleucid Civil War
« Last post by Chris on October 13, 2019, 09:09:51 PM »
Opponents:
As the title suggests, I prepared and deployed two Seleucid armies in order to wargame a fictional battle on my tabletop. These armies were drawn from the Later Seleucid list found on page J of the Armati 2nd Edition rulebook.

Rules:
Armati 2nd Edition.

Amendments, Clarifications, and Variants:
1. I made liberal use of the Armati rule variants found here: http://warflute.org/playtest_rules_en.php. Additional tinkering included adopting the suggestion of skirmisher missiles causing fatigue instead of actual casualties, and extending the rout path to 6 inches instead of the usual 3.
2. I borrowed the scenario specific rules/changes pertaining to light cavalry as detailed in Mark Fry’s excellent and often read Chalons Battle Day Report. (Please see the July/August 2013 issue of Slingshot.)
3. I borrowed the scenario rule pertaining to light infantry interpenetration as detailed in Matt Bennett’s equally excellent Hydaspes Battle Day Report. (Please see the July/August 2015 issue of Slingshot.)

General Orders of Battle:
Being a fan/student of large wargames, I prepared a “Blue Army” that was six times the size of a normal, traditional, or used-in-a-tournament Armati 2nd Edition army. Following this quite unusual line, I granted myself an allowance of 600 points for the purchase of bonus units. The same process was used for the preparation and purchase of the “Gray Army”.  Without going into too much detail, the “Gray Army” had more scythed chariots, elephants, phalanx units, and Galatian warbands than the “Blue Army”. However, the “Gray Army” did not have any Imitation Legion units or camel troops. These formations (six of each type) were found on the other side of the fictional battlefield.

The Armati 2nd Edition rule book provides for larger games, wherein double-size armies are used. This is accomplished by doubling the control points (both for heavy and light divisions), doubling the core and bonus units available, and doubling the initial army break point. However, the procedures for staging really large games are not specifically stated. (Perhaps with good reason.) If an army is quadrupled in size, does this necessarily mean that its command and control will be increased by a similar factor?

Adding up the various units in one of my coloured-counter armies, I arrived at 64 heavy units and 48 light units. Allowing this Seleucid army to have 18 heavy division control points (six times the original 3 control points in the list) and 24 light division control points would have produced quite a few small divisions or formations and would have resulted in a great amount of command and control. After thinking about this for a bit, I decided to award each army four times the number of control points. Each super-sized force would have 12 heavy division control points and 16 light division control points. I was less confident about my decision to increase the initiative rating of each force to 8 from the original 4. 

Terrain:
Originally, I had planned to stage this contest in a desert setting. I had also intended to use the ADLG rules and armies containing 1,000 points worth of troops. A change of course or thinking led to me to retrieve my copy of Armati 2nd Edition. The initial desert setting and its accompanying features (gentle hills, sand dunes, brush, and a gully) was swapped out for a completely flat and featureless green plain.

Deployment:
Lacking a readily available opponent, I let a series of dice rolls take the place of the curtain or “blind” usually strung across the middle of the tabletop before the start of an Armati wargame. The idea or plan (a work in progress, to be certain), was to ask a series of questions, roll a die for an answer, and then ask another question, roll a die, and so on. For example, the first question each army had to answer was this: In how many divisions will the phalanx deploy? A die roll would produce the answer of 2, 3, or 4 divisions. A follow-up question would ask where the phalanx would be positioned. A die roll would inform the following: centre of the field, left-centre, or right-centre. Another question would ask if the phalanx formations would be arranged in line or echelon. Once again, I turned to the all-knowing six-sided die. This question and answer process was followed for the light-heavy infantry, the Galatians, the elephants, the various cavalry contingents, and the skirmishers.

The “Blue Army” deployed its numerous formations on the near side of the table. It was a fairly traditional deployment. There was cavalry (both light and heavy) on the flanks, and there was infantry (lots of infantry) in the centre. The phalanx was divided into two main divisions. These were arranged in echelon. The pretend legionaries were on the left of the phalanx; the few Galatians and the more numerous light-heavy infantry were on the right. The elephants were distributed in packets across the entire army. The skirmishers and peltasts formed a screen for the pikemen. The cataphracts were stationed on the right, as a reserve for another group of heavy horse. The camel troops and more heavy horse were placed over on the left wing.

On the other side of the field, the “Gray Army” was arranged in nearly a mirror image. The cavalry was on the wings and the infantry (again, a lot - “phalangites, sir - thousands of ‘em!) was in the centre. These blocks of pikemen were deployed in line. The Galatians were on the right; the light-heavy infantry was divided between the left flank and right flank. The elephants of the “Gray Army” were also apportioned between the left, right, and centre. The peltasts were distributed in the same manner. All of the scythed chariots were placed on the left wing, along with light horse, heavy cavalry, and the cataphracts. The right wing of the “Gray Army” had some light cavalry and some heavy cavalry in support.

Narrative Summary from the “Blue Army” Point-of-View:
The enemy secured bragging rights by drawing first blood with a volley of arrows from its light cavalry against our light horse stationed on the extreme left flank. The action in this sector developed rather quickly, as the enemy seemed intent on moving into contact, whereas our formations were more interested in evading - especially when it came to elephants. Yielding the initiative to the “Gray Army” for most of the first four turns of the battle, the action on our left wing saw our light cavalry overwhelmed, and then our camel troops heavily engaged during the next several turns. The Imitation Legionaries were ordered up to assist. These heavy infantry soon found themselves subjected to hails of javelins from enemy peltasts and a few furious charges from Galatian warriors in the employ of our rivals for the throne. Unfortunately, our pretend cohorts did not have the mettle of the Roman originals, and the division was reduced to half strength by the end of Game Turn 8. Adding injury to insult, the veteran unit of this corps was engaged by a few enemy pike phalanxes. These deep formations inflicted serious damage against the hard-pressed imitation legionaries.

Over on the other flank, our light cavalry suffered reverse after reverse. Though they harassed the enemy scythed chariots, they were eventually caught and destroyed in front of supporting troops by the light carts with blades and spikes attached to their wheels and frames. Fortunately, when the chariots tried to repeat their success against units of light-heavy infantry and heavy cavalry, the drivers were dispatched with relative ease, and the vehicles were chopped into pieces. Elephants and cavalry were moved up to keep the enemy formations honest in this sector. The ensuing melees were chaotic and bloody. Our small contingent of Galatians did well against the enemy light-heavy troops, but a third of these fierce warriors were skewered when engaged by elements of the enemy phalanx. At the end of Game Turn 8, the situation on this wing was still undecided. Our cataphracts were in reserve and fresh. We also had a few units of fresh heavy horse. We had some light-heavy infantry and other cavalry as well, but these formations had been fighting for some time and it showed. On the enemy side of the line, there were an equal number of fresh cataphracts and heavy cavalry. They also had some peltasts and light cavalry.

In the centre of the field, our scythed chariots were quickly removed as any kind of threat by some wily and well-trained enemy skirmishers. Again, our moves and counters in this part of the field were the result of yielding the initiative or losing the initiative (move option) to our rivals. After exchanging missiles, their skirmishers sought to defeat our skirmishers in hand-to-hand. Sufficed to say, things quickly got messy. Holes started to appear in each screen. These were filled by light troops (peltasts) and the missile exchanges continued. These were followed by new melees. Our phalanx held back, as we were not interested in exposing our pike blocks to enemy missiles more than we absolutely had to. Fortunately, the centre divisions of the enemy phalanx were slowed down by a prolonged contest between their elephants and our skirmishers, and then their elephants and our elephants. The first contact came on the right of our phalanx, where our best troops were positioned. The melee was desperate, with the advantage swinging back and forth. Many men on both sides fell dead or wounded. The fighting continued as local reserves stepped forward to fill in the gaps. At the end of Game Turn 8, the contest between opposing phalanxes, or sections of phalanxes, appeared to be about even. At the end of Game Turn 8, losses on both sides were assessed and calculated. Our forces had lost 41 units, 10 of which were key units. Fortunately, no commanders had been killed or captured. Our command and control ability had been hurt, however. The “Gray Army” had 43 units destroyed or routed. Of this number, only 6 were key units. Their commanders were all fine as well.

Over the course of the next few turns, the tide of the battle definitely turned against our loyal “Blue Army” formations. The dice gods did not favour us, and poor tactical decisions saw several units moved into the path of soon-to-be-routed friends. This was especially evident on the right wing, where two units of cataphracts were thrown into disorder and then rout by a unit of beaten Thorakitai. In the centre of the field, the struggle between our elite pike blocks and the regular pike blocks of the enemy resulted in the loss of half of our better phalangites and the wounding and exhausting of the rest. We were thrown into disorder by our elephants in the centre of the line when the beasts were turned away by a solid wall of pike points. When the rest of the phalanx joined in the general melee, the dice rolled against us more often than not. The right wing did not offer any solutions to the pressing problem of an advancing enemy who was dictating the pace of the engagement. In fact, a couple of units of “Gray Army” light-heavy infantry had managed to push forward into our left-rear. They were mopping up some skirmishers who had withdrawn prior to the contact between the main lines of battle. Instead of continuing to fight, our commander decided to concede. At the end of Game Turn 11, our army had suffered the loss of 28 key units. The break point was 33. In comparison, our enemy was barely touched, losing just 14 key units out of a possible total of 32.

Comments:
While setting up the armies for this fictional and quite large battle, it became apparent, almost immediately, that the prepared forces were a little too big for the available playing surface. (Well, duh.) The unusually large forces were not overly cramped (all of the phalanx units were deployed in depth), but I could have used at least two or three more feet of tabletop. On reflection, perhaps I should have stayed with ADLG?

To be certain, I meant no offense or slight with the decision to change rules. Having played a few turns of wherein quite a few units of opposing phalanx formations were not perfectly aligned (conformed is the word used in ADLG circles, I believe), I think I could appreciate the “simpler” process of resolving close combats with these colourful and popular rules. Anyway.

I was neither distracted nor put off by the complete lack of terrain on my table. At the same time, I was not dismayed by the overall look of the set up. Admittedly, I have grown quite accustomed to employing functional armies as opposed to fantastic-looking armies.

Overall, and in my opinion, the wargame went rather well. I was engaged and entertained. The adoption of additional rule amendments helped things along, I thought. To be frank, I did forget to roll 2d6 the first time the Galatians engaged in melee, but I made sure to give these barbarian troops the extra chance in future contests. I thought that the tweaks to evasion and allowing certain troop types to interpenetrate helped alleviate frustrating traffic jams. I found the ebb and flow of the overall battle to be fairly realistic. There was much more action on the wings than in the centre, but when the opposing phalanx formations finally collided, it would be accurate to say that there was much pushing and shoving. I also tried to avoid “gamey” tactics. For example, on a few occasions, I had the chance to throw units of light cavalry into enemy elephants. This would have resulted in the quick death of the light cavalry, but would have placed a number of fatigue markers on the nellies. Instead, I had the light cavalry “dance around” and pepper the animals with javelins or other missiles and then evade when threatened by a trumpeting charge. Additionally, rather than disperse my own light troops with an advance of pikemen, I withdrew the peltasts and skirmishers first, and then ordered the phalanx forward.

To reiterate, I was engaged and entertained. To be sure, there is room for improvement and additional tinkering as well as experimentation.






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Ancient and Medieval History / Re: Early medieval battlesite on Wirral - Brunanburh?
« Last post by Erpingham on October 13, 2019, 09:23:01 AM »


If Aethelstan's opponents had won, there might have been quite a few bodies left on the battlefield, the Norse being traditionally of the view that the cleaning up of battlefields is best left to wolves and ravens.  However, a Christian king and army defeated foes who were at least part Christian, so we can expect a major post-battle effort to give burial, even if only of the mass-production variety, to most if not all of the fatal casualties. 


As an example, here are two accounts of the aftermath of Hastings.  The civilised approach v. the tough approach.

Those who had lain in the open and those who had stayed awake in the fields and suffered much hardship, rose early and made their way through the fields. They  buried their friends, those whose bodies they could find. The noble ladies in the land went to seek their husbands: some went looking for their fathers or spouses, or for sons or brothers, and they carried them to their towns and buried them in the churches. Clerics and priests of the country, at the request of their friends took those whom they were seeking and built mass graves (charniers) and placed them there.
Wace Roman de Rou

The victor spent the night resting among the dead, waiting for dawn to return. … After the brilliant lamp of Phoebus had shone forth and cleansed the world of its gloomy shades, the duke surveyed the battlefield, and, removing his own dead, had them buried in the bosom of the earth. But the bodies of the English that strewed the ground he left to be eaten by worms and wolves, by birds and dogs.
Carmen de Hastingae Proelio

You can square the two by suggesting William marched off after having dealt with his own dead, leaving the locals to sort the rest.  We might also note that the remains of casualties of the Stamford Bridge battle were still on the field 70 years later (when they were collected up and buried).

Archaeologically, though, even the leaving bodies for worms and wolves approach would ultimately provide a scatter of small and broken bones with the big bits eventually cleared away.  These bits of people would be hard to pick up in a field walking survey, even if soil conditions were right for preservation.
 
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Not sure about the UK, but Visby in Denmark (AD 1361) comes to mind.

For a somewhat unusual value of "in Denmark" - the place became Danish as a result of the battle, and hasn't been Danish since 1645.

Oops, my error, very sorry - for some reason I was thinking in terms of AD 1361-2 not AD 2019!
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Ancient and Medieval History / Re: Early medieval battlesite on Wirral - Brunanburh?
« Last post by Erpingham on October 12, 2019, 09:56:35 AM »
Not sure about the UK, but Visby in Denmark (AD 1361) comes to mind.

For a somewhat unusual value of "in Denmark" - the place became Danish as a result of the battle, and hasn't been Danish since 1645.

It also had a career as a pirate base for the Victual Brothers and was conquered and ruled by the Teutonic Knights after that, so changed hands a bit.

On the 1361 Gotland campaign , probably the best example of battlefield locating is actually for the skirmish at Masterby, which preceeded the main battle at Visby.  This website (in Swedish) gives some results of the archaeology and a finds plot.  This is Ok for some members but there is always google translate for the rest of us :)

There is another example of a small 16th century Swedish battle here - in English this time.

There have been numerous surveys of English battlefields, not always successful, which demonstrates the variablity of finds preservation.

Add : Here is a fieldwork map of the Towton site, showing how artefact clusters locate the battlefield.  Note the small cluster to the bottom right, which relates to the skirmish at Dintingdale in which Lord Clifford was killed.
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Not sure about the UK, but Visby in Denmark (AD 1361) comes to mind.

For a somewhat unusual value of "in Denmark" - the place became Danish as a result of the battle, and hasn't been Danish since 1645.
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