Friday, 7 November 2014

The fifth battle (at Arbela or Armavir)

Things are rolling, so here is the next episode in our Epic of Alexander vs Darius. The documentation of our Epic was occasionally sketchy so our battle archive is kind of fuzzy. This is probably another battle at Arbela, a highly contested territory (or Armavir, one of the 'corridors'). The macedonians have established control of the two corridor areas, Dura-Europos and Armavir, and moved into persian territory, Arbela, where Darius celebrated a long-sought victory last time. In the aftermath of the previous battle, the opposing armies deploy once again to establish a strategic lever: the macedonians to set a new platform, deep into persian territory, and the persians to reclaim their land and launch an assault on the two critical central areas. (This battle could be such a persian attack to Armavir, in the end it doesn't really matter... :)

The persian army deploys in two great, distant bodies of cavalry on the left and mixed troops on the right. Darius is surrounded by his elite bactrian horsemen and the feared scythed chariots at the left flank. On the right, more bactrians deploy with scythian light cavalry, takabara and psiloi. Between them a long, wide road crosses the woods screening the macedonians.

Bird's eye view from the right side of the field. The hills and the woods create narrow passings and minimize maneuverability.

Macedon is very slow to move, setting all its mounted troops on the right, facing the threat of the scythed chariots and persian cavalry. The greek psiloi enter the hills, rushing for the higher ground against Darius' troops who are doing the same. The greek phalanxes and hypaspists are slowly moving at the centre, two of them going for the rear of the hills. The persian light horse are already farther than the middle of the field on the right.

The camp of Alexander is suddenly threatened by the scythian light horsemen, who galloped fast and far from their own army. Macedonian pikemen are slowly turning to face the threat.

Wide view of the battlefield. On the left, the persian mounted troops have not yet approached the greeks close enough for battle. On the hills to the right, the light foot of both sides are preparing to fight it out. On the far end, the two macedonian pikes form a line facing the light persian horse.

Alexander with his companions join his pikemen to protect the camp and fend off the scythians who are suddenly in serious trouble. They have become isolated from the rest and may be pushed out.

Darius realises his mistake of sending his scythians so far into enemy territory. On unit is routed as it is pushed back and for the other one it seems to be a matter of time.

Everyone seems still, watching the massacre unfold close to the macedonian camp. The persians are losing soldiers for little reason, and the greeks take their time slaughtering them.

After being mesmerized by the sight of the scythians being massacred, both armies seem to awaken and get back to the battle with renewed fervour. Alexander's hypaspists and psiloi are in the forest fighting it off with the persian psiloi, but a unit of persian cavalry is fast approaching from the left to engulf the light macedonian troops.

And it happens! The greek slingers get surrounded and are cut down in the thick woods. Meanwhile Darius tries to seize the opportunity and orders two of his bactrian cavalry to moved from the left to the right.

Overview of the field. The macedonian right has remain static till now and the left is widely exposed. The centre is contested by both armies, as a phalanx is moving to join the hypaspists.

The battle is raging, in the woods and on the hills! The hypaspists rout the persian skirmishers with the support of a phalanx on their right, while the greek auxilia on the hill challenge the persian cavalry but are cut down swiftly. The prodromoi light horse moves away from the greek right and is approaching the hills.

Charge! scream Alexander's companions and rush forward, crashing on persian horses, men and scythed chariots on the left. While both armies were redeploying on the right, with persian cavalry and psiloi moving around the woods and phalanxes approaching it, the formerly static macedonian horsemen went for a risky attack. One unit of greek cavalry fled from the chariots but in the end it paid off...

As the scythed chariots scatter and the takabara on the right are run down by the prodromoi, the whole persian army is in disarray and flees the field.


Both players agreed that this battle's outcome was decided due to a mistake of the persian army. Going for the macedonian camp, two persian light horses went all the way to the other side but, with nowhere to recoil, they were forced beyond the edge of the terrain. After those two losses the battle was balanced, with the persian cavalry making some gains at the centre, in the woods and close to the hills. A sudden attack of the macedonian cavalry on the other side however, with the help of the lucky die for macedon as usual, changed it all. Things are getting more and more difficult for Darius as he cannot secure a decisive victory to push back the hated, barbaric Alexander.