Sunday, 8 July 2012

Battle of Megiddo 1479BC with Ancient Warrior Battles (002)

This is game 2 in playtesting my rules Ancient Warrior Battles rules (AWB) by replaying all the Peter Sides scenarios from his Historical Battles books - see the full list.  AWB is designed to finish in under an hour on 2'x2' tables.

Battle of Megiddo
The Egyptian Pharoah Thutmose III defeats a Canaanite coalition before the walls of the city of Megiddo.
I will be replaying this based on the Peter Sides scenario, but here are some other interesting links:

Wikipedia article
A description of the battle
A English translation of the Egyptian account
Another English translation of the Egyptian account
The Battle of Megiddo by Faulkner, 1942 - a great academic view (opens as pdf)
A WAB scenario
A scenario from Standard Wargames Rules (in development at May 2012)

Changes to the Peter Sides Scenario
Map size scaled down from 33"x22" to 24"x24". AWB has much faster movement rates than DBA so keeping the same depth is not a bad thing.
Troops numbers roughly the same as that suggested - they seemed to fit fine onto the reduced deployment map.
Battlefield has quite a few contours and slopes and have streamlined them only a little to make it easier to setup.

7 Chariots, LCH, archers, high fortitude, light armour
4 Spearmen, HI, light armour
2 Bowmen, HI, archers, light armour
1 Axemen, LI, light armour
2 Skirmishers, SI, bows, light armour
1 General (Pharaoh Thutmose III)
1 camp

Breakpoint: 10

Hyksos and Canaanite coalition
5 Chariots LCH, archers, light armour
3 Spearmen, HI, light armour
3 Runners, LI, light armour
3 Skirmishers, SI, bows, light armour
1 General (King of Kadesh)
1 camp

Breakpoint: 7

Follows Peter sides troops descriptions fairly closely but Hyksos has some light infantry instead of skirmishers.  I was tempted to make Thutmose III a better ranked general but Peter Sides has a comment in the book about ranking generals.  So I go with Peter, and have him as the same type of general as the King of Kadesh.  The King of Kadesh is significantly outnumbered, but holds all of the high ground.

One thing I did do, and would do differently if replaying the scenario, was convert the DBM Cv(S) and Cv(O) into non-skirmish chariots.  I believe the battle would have been similar but would make the chariots more fragile.  My rules did allow Light chariots to be skirmish or non-skirmish when I played the game, but have since made LCH only skirmishers.

Follows the Peter Sides deployment:

Megiddo deployment, Eyptian on the low ground, the high ground occupied by the Canaanite coalition (called Hittites in the pic).  Note the small round 2nd level behind the Cannaanite chariots is a steep slope.

View of the chariot face-off from Egyptian side

The Egyptian left

The Egyptian right facing the opposing infantry across the river.

There are a lot of slopes, so to get the right contours for the hilly terrain, I used folded curtain material over some hills and books.  This made it much easier to get the slopes in the right place than using the stepped hills I have. The downside is that it looks great in natural light, but as I only play at night the material is very reflective and the flash makes it look very shiny.  For Kadesh, I have bought some cheap less-reflective material as there are a few hills in that battle too.  Megiddo will just be a piece of brown felt as I have nothing remotely resembling a hilltop town. If only I was more motivated, I would make a hilltop town as I could reuse it for Qadesh.

Steep slopes (basically all the level 2 bits) are impassible to chariots.

The Game
Egyptians go first.
Starting from right to left, archery removes opposing skirmisher and generally breaks up the line. The Chariots advance to within 4cm of opposing forces to trigger a proximity test.  Hopefully the high fortitude will win out on the missile exchange. (the chariots were not within charge range at the start).

Chariots advance

One Canaanite chariots pushed back against the steep slope and destroyed.  A couple of others also pushed back in the missile exchange. Note that I forgot that chariots halve movement moving on a hill so should have only been pushed back 2cm, not 4cm.

Post bow fire exchange

Infantry force on the left is in reserve, just in case things go bad.

Canaanite turn from right to left.

A discussion on what might of happened: The rightmost infantry is upslope for an advantage, and does not really outnumber the Egyptian infantry opposite.  However, the lone HI is opposite 2 LCH and should be at an advantage Vs both - heavy Vs light, CO Vs Lo and upslope.  So they want to charge  and take a LI with them for the support.  Note that behind some of this infantry line is a steep slope so it is a well anchored flank.  After all that great discussion, they roll for the charge order - only on a 1 will it fail.  Rolled a 1.  I was looking forward to it, it seemed like a good tactical move but at least it was interesting to have the thought.

What might have been - the Canaanite heavy infantry could have charged the Egyptian chariot with a good chance of success...but failed the order roll.
Arrow fly thick and fast between the opposing chariots. Only one Egyptian chariot is pushed back (and disordered); all the Canaanites are pushed back.  There was quite a bit of fired-on test and return fire - both sides were at +1 (Egyptians for high fortitude, Canaanites for being uphill) so occasionally there were three exchanges before a result other than "return fire".

More arrow exchanges

Egyptian turn sees them try to rally the LI runners at far right - but no.  Bow-fire pushes back an opposing light infantry, but also ensures a charge by a HI unit.

Action on the Egyptian right flank.

The infantry are disordered by fire as they charge in.  Close combat sees the Egyptian archers and spearmen retreat (depleted and disordered) to the edge of the board (both archer and spearmen rolled a 1).  Canaanite spears choose not to pursue (i.e. they failed a pursue move command).

Post melee (rings are depleted, green bushes are disordered)

Rather than arrows, two Egyptian chariots, one with Thutmose, charge into and opposing chariots.  The advantage of this is that the two chariots are supported (+1 in combat).  The Canaanite chariots routs. The chariot causing the rout cannot pursue due to a steep slope in front of it, and Thutmose only inflicted a pushback which means they cannot test for a pursuit.

Thutmose inflicts sone damage but fails to follow it up.

The next lot of Egyptian chariots advance and force a proximity test on the opposing chariots.  Missile fire is exchanged and one Canaanite chariot cannot be pushed back very far due to the camp.  Although not explicit in the rules, the chariot cannot move though or enter the camp so is also depleted.  Another Egyptian chariot is also pushed back.

The Egyptian's get the better of the next round of arrows and combat.

The last two chariots fire on the infantry who counter charge.  One is disordered on the way in and light infantry is routed in subsequent combats.

Canaanite heavy infantry survives the charge, not like the light infantry that was on its left flank.

The Canaanite turn and the Heavy infantry is in combat with chariots.  Chariots now at -1 due to subsequent round of combat.  All combat is ineffective.  The King of Kadesh removes disorder from his attached chariot, and Canaanite HI (on the Canaanite left flank) charges an opposing spearmen unit as they  will be +1 in combat for support.

More action across the river.

Egyptian spearmen are pushed back.  The next Canaanite spearmen charges the depleted units that is didn't pursue last time.  The archers rout, but the spearmen mange to pushback the Canaanite spearmen.

Spear on spear.  The Egyptians, already the worse for wear, are routed.

The Egyptian turn and the luck runs out for Egyptian spearmen that manged to pushback enemy and they rout.  Other spearmen clashes see the Egyptians retreat, Canaanite spearmen pursue, and the subsequent combat again sees Egyptian spearmen routed off board.    The Canaanite spearmen pursue and end up just  millimetres away from edge of the board or they would have gone as well.

Canaanite infantry at the edge of the world

Egypt refaces some chariots so they can come up the main centre of the hill.  Thutmose does not charge opposing chariot as both are generals and would be an equal combat: 50-50 chance is a bit much.  But  the other Egyptian chariots charge the opposing the Canaanite chariots protecting the camp.  One pushed back, the other locked in melee.

Chariots in melee with spearmen are both locked in melee.

Combat in the centre

Chariots are forced to retreat in face of the spears.

Chariot in combat in front of camp retreats into camp edge and destroyed.

Combat in front of the camp.  The depleted chariot guarding the camp is about to be destroyed.
Egyptian chariot pursues into the other chariot who also retreats into the impassible camp and is destroyed.

Combat with the camp and is victorious and loots it for the rest of the game.

Egyptian chariot pursues into contact with the camp, the camp loses combat and victorious chariot enters into camp for looting for the rest of the game.

The King of Kadesh fires at the opposing chariots, who return fire and push back the King and chariot.  In the Egyptian turn, Thutmose charges the King of Kadesh (with support).  Why? Canaan is only one away from their breakpoint and Egypt is 3 away (and likely to be only 1 after the chariots that are likely to go at the end of this turn).  Thutmose chariot retreats - a gamble that did not pay off.

King of Kadesh forced to pursue and charges into a supporting chariot which is pushed back.

Combat next to the camp after the King of Kadesh pursues.

Egypt tries to advance reserve infantry but fails.

The Canaanite spearmen fails to charge the retreating Egyptian chariots. Lots of failed orders for the Canaanites this turn  - the depleted Egyptian chariots are ripe for routing and also the Egyptian camp is undefended but just cannot get any infantry to move over there!

The Egyptian cmp to the left is just ripe for looting.  If only the infantry would pass a move order!

The King of Kadesh forces the opposing chariot to retreat and charges into Thutmose.  Bad dice rolling by the King of Kadesh sees his chariot unit routed.

King of Kadesh's chariot is routed and he is all alone.

Canaanite have reached their breakpoint so game over.

End game overview

Took two hours to write it all down and take pics.  The game itself was 4-5 turns and would have been 50 minutes if just played.  So still quite fast. I did read the rules for some situations to ensure they worked OK, so that took a bit of time too.  I really liked replaying the game.  I got a sense of why the King of Kadesh deployed the troops where he did and a feel of possible tactics on the day.   While the deployments are likely conjectural, it was a fascinating and interesting and made me think a lot.  Always a good sign.


  1. Interesting battle. I'll have to peruse AWB more closely. I've never played DBA but there were a few things about Barkerese and the tumult over this and that version that sent me elsewhere.

  2. The thing about DBx is all the "gotcha" geometrics (Tetris on roids) and the @$$-hats who pontificate on all the forums. I recall an opponenet tripping me up with a 2mm frontage blocking my retreat, and we both died. Thought "that's total bollocks" and lost interest. DBx would probably be a better game on a hex grid (actually for Strategy and Tactics I think PB did develop a hex-based boardgame that was basically DBMM. Funny thing was, the rules were perfectly clear and a third as long!).

    The whole "continuous movement until we fight and there we're on a chessboard" thing is what kills that whole system for me.


  3. Do u know where I could purchase these figurines? My son is doing a school project on this war.

  4. Hello,

    Some of the figures I got from ebay and were already painted, but most of the Chariots are from Essex Miniatures and painted by myself about 12 years ago. The Egyptian infantry I do not know the manufacturer, but I got them unpainted form ebay last year and painted them. They are all 15mm figures.

  5. Thanks for the info. Let me know if you are interested in selling yours.

  6. Briliant replay , I played it in DBA (in fact I played them all in DBA) I intended the books to be a history lesson, a real life simulator on why the battle developed the way it did. you don't understand a battle till you have fought it.

    really glad to see people enjoying the books

    peter sides

  7. Peter,

    Thanks for the encouragement. I have played a few of the battles from your books over the years. The main reason for the replays is exactly your intent - when you deploy the historical battle, you can really see the hard decisions that the generals had to take. It is fascinating. I had always wanted to play a lot more of the battles from your books, and I needed to playtest my rules I am writing... voila, another gaming project was born! At the rate I am going, it may take awhile, but it is fun and interesting.

    Thanks for popping by. The books are invaluable and I appreciate the amount of work that went into them.

  8. War is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

    Your article is very well done, a good read.