After a couple of false starts we managed to get our good friend Gareth Lane up for a refight of the Battle of Paraetacene 317BC between Eumenes representing the house of Alexander and Antigonus Monophthalmus rebel and empire builder.
The battle is a fairly big one in the annals of the Successors, around 40,000 men per side, and a big one for the collection, which we just about were able to realistically represent.
Historically it was a kind of a draw with both sides claiming victory by the standards of the day. In a purely numbers sense Eumenes was the more successful, inflicting losses of around 8,000 in dead and wounded as compared to 1.500 on his own side. The protagonists at the time and later chroniclers argued the toss about who camped on the battlefield first etc, something that as gamers we can never recreate.
Gareth opted to be Eumenes and as the troops were already laid out more or less historically all that was left to do was for me to run Gareth through the nuances of the rules and then have at it. This may sound a bit glib but inside I was somewhat nervous as this was the first time someone outside of the ‘inner circle’ 😅 had played the rules and I didn’t want them to have a crap time.
The armies were as follows:
Eumenes deployed himself on the right wing to start the battle where Peucestas commanded 2 x veteran lancer Xystophoroi, 1 x Cappadocian satrap cavalry, a unit of psiloi covering the front and a couple of elephants, opposing him was Peithon commanding 2 x Tarrentine skirmish cavalry and 3 x satrap cavalry. Antigonus, along with his son Demetrius, personally commanded his right wing of 3 x veteran lancer Xystophoroi facing off to Asander commanding 1 x Tarrentine skirmishers, 1 x Greek skirmish cavalry, a unit of psiloi and 2 x Cappadocians.
The Eumenid infantry centre was split between on the right the Hypaspists, the Silver Shields, and two bodies of Macedonian pike screened by 3 x psiloi and two elephants all under Antigines and on the left 2 x mercenary hoplite units, and a unit of mercenary peltasts screened by 2 x psiloi and two elephants all under Teutamus. Opposing them, again split between right and left, was Medius commanding the right phalanx consisting of 5 blocks of pike, 1 veteran, 2 normal and 2 levy screened by 3 x psiloi and two elephants and Menander commanding 2 x mercenary hoplites and 2 x mercenary peltasts screened by 2 x psiloi and two elephants.
Coffee consumed we set to and the opening phases mirrored the historical prototype. On the Eumenid right, Peucestas surged forward and although delayed by the harassing tactics of Peithon saw off all the opposition and by games end had captured Peithon and dominated his side of the table. On the Antigonid right, Antigonus took some losses from the opposing skirmishing cavalry and infantry but ultimately routed the Cappadocians and by games end was pursuing them in the direction of the Eumenid camp. On both cavalry wings all 4 commanders were committed to actively leading individual units in order to make progress and so risked death or capture.
In the infantry centre the opening phases were taken up with the psiloi exchange shots and elephants making a mess of things 😂 Overall, the Antigonids had the better of it but eventually the psiloi had been cleared to the rear and despite the fun of elephants charging each other and mauling themselves to death it was soon time for the main event.
When it came to the nitty gritty the gods favoured Eumenes. On the strong Eumenid right the Hypaspists did nothing, being blocked by one of their own elephants being locked in a duel to the death with an opposing elephant, but the Silver Shields proved their worth and smashed the peltasts to their front and had carved a hole in this sector of the battlefield by games end.
On the Antigonid right their own veterans performed equally well and ripped through the peltasts of Teutamus’ command but this was to be the only clear Antigonid infantry victory.
It was in the centre proper that the decision was made. The two pike under Antigines were fortunate in facing off to the Antigonid levy and although there was a bit of back and forth first one levy broke and then the other, already in a mess from fighting off an elephant, broke when charged. Further along, one of Teutamus’ hoplite units held as it gave ground to the opposing pike but then a rampaging elephant hit the flank of it’s opponent and they recovered enough to send the opposing pike backwards who then failed a morale test and broke. There was now a significant hole in the Antigonid centre and with night drawing in (Gareth had a drive home to make 😞 ) we agreed that Eumenes was victorious.
It can’t be a Successors game without an elephant story or two. Of the ten elephants involved (scale wise each is a squadron of about 8) five panicked upon the death of their mahout and ran about the battlefield to a lesser or greater degree; 1 on the Eumenid right ran about on the empty plain causing minor annoyance, 2 ran into their own troops (1 each), disrupting the advance and eventually being killed off and the 2 others ran into fellow elephants and fought long drawn out melees; 3 other elephants died in separate fights or from missile fire.
As a recreation of the battle the game was pretty successful. Both sides’ right wing cavalry put their opponents to flight and by the end of our fight Antigonus was in the more advantageous position with the Eumenid infantry being far off and pushing forward. In the centre however the Eumenids definitely had the better of it and may have surpassed their historical prototypes. All in all then a success.
From a rules perspective this was really pleasing; Gareth is an experienced player and cut his teeth on ancients back in the days of Warhammer Ancients Battles so his take was important. His analysis was that the rules were fairly intuitive, easy to pick up, flowed well and nothing screamed out as a problem which was good to hear. For me, I think they are done now, a couple of clarifications in the fine print and I’m going to call it ‘mission accomplished’ which is a good feeling 😃
So, game over, fun had, satisfaction obtained. I hope you’ve enjoyed the read and until next time, keep well.