Saturday, 8 September 2012

Battle of QarQar 853BC using Ancient Warrior Battles (004)

This is game 4 in playtesting my rules Ancient Warrior Battles rules (AWB) by replaying all the Peter Sides scenarios from his Historical Battles books.  AWB is designed to finish in under an hour on 2'x2' tables.  It is the last of the non-Chinese chariot battles.

Battle of QarQar
The Assyrian king Shalmaneser III defeats an army of twelve kings while conquering Syria.

This battle is not in the Peter Sides books, and will be basing the scenario as found in Bill Banks Ancients. Here are some links of interest:

Wikipedia article
QarQar scenario for Vis Bellica

Changes to the Bill Banks Scenario
I have halved the number of units so it works on a 2'x2' battlefield.  The scenario has free-form deployment.

2 Chariots, HCH, archer, heavy armour
2 Cavalry, LC, bow
2 Spearmen, HI, heavy armour
2 Bowmen, HI, archers, light armour, low fortitude
2 Skirmishers, SI, bows, light armour
1 General (Shalmaneser III)

Breakpoint: 7

Allied Kings coalition
2 Light Chariot, LCH, bow
1 Cavalry, LC, bow, low fortitude
1 Camel, Cam, archer
2 Spearmen, HI, light armour
6 Foot troops, LI, light armour
3 Skirmishers, SI, bows, light armour
1 General (King Hadadezer)

Breakpoint: 7

Bill Banks Ancients has only one type of Chariot.  Here I have given the Assyrians Heavy Chariots and their opponents Light Chariots.

It is free-form deployment so I rolled on the AWB army tactics to deployment.
Assyrian (Missile): Skirmish - light troops first, then the heavier one go in.  I have taken this to mean that as the lighter troops are on the left half (bows and horse archers), they will advance quicker than the chariots and heavy infantry.  This proved to be a bad choice for the Assyrians as they missed out of using their heavy units effectively.

Assyrian deployment

Allies (Missile): Defend along the line.

Allies deployment

The battlefiield::

Deployment, with Allied on the left, Assyrians on the right.

The Game
Assyrians go first.  Heavy chariots and spearmen advance 6cm while the bowmen and horse archers go their full distance. The Assyrian horse archers are in range of the light chariots so the latter now fire (in the Allies turn) and cause both horse archers to retreat.

The victorious Allied light chariots

Ally battleline advances along all along the line (it sort of fits with defend - they all advanced) but the camels failed their order roll.

The Allied battleline, mostly light infantry.

The Assyrian army tactics are to let the lighter troops soften the blow so their heavy chariots move to within their missile range of the enemy, but do not charge.  Note that if chariots did not have bows they would have been subject to mandatory charge against the enemy.

The Assyrian heavy chariots advance.
 An Assyrian skirmisher fires on an opposing foot troop (light infantry), who pass and charge. Skirmishers fire back, retreat though the archers behind them and rout. The light infantry unit is pushed back due to the fire and disordered.  An Assyrian bowmen fires at allied skirmishers that then fire back at two bowmen (the retreating Assyrian skirmisher exposed the other bowmen and so it now a valid target for the Allied skirmisher.  After two rounds of fire and counter-fire with only 5s and 6s rolled, the allied skirmishers roll low, retreat and rout.

The exposed Assyrian bowmen (at right) facing the Allied light infantry after the protecting skirmishers are stripped away.

The Allied light chariots move up to hopefully remove the opposing horse archers.  Allied spearmen bolstered by King Hadadezer, charge the bowmen. The bowmen stand and fire at the chargers for no effect.
Close combat sees one bowmen rout and the other retreat.  The retreating bow unit is then routed in the subsequent combat occurring when King Hadadezer and his heavy infantry pursued.  The camel gets to move real close to the chariots.

The Camel is very close to charging the chariots.

With only a few light units operational, the Assyrian moves in with the heavies.  First the chariots charge the camel and a couple of  light spearmen.   The camel fires back for no effect but forces the heavy chariot to retreat in close combat; the other chariot fairs a bit better with one opposing light spearmen retreating.

The Camel defeating the chariots.
Camel pursues in a straight line into the other chariot.  It is not a flank attack as the camel must be at at 90 degrees to the chariot front.   Chariot pushed back.

The Allied light chariots and horse archer fire on the Assyrian horse archers who test for being fired on.  Any result other than a 6 will see them rout.  Rolls a 6 for each of the three fired-on tests!  They return fire and force the low fortitude Allied horse archer to retreat.  But the other light chariots return fire and rout the Assyrian horse archers.

The very victorious Allied light chariots after routing their opposition.

The Allied heavy infantry rotate in place ready to tackle the Assyrian heavy infantry.

The Allied Heavy infantry, all of them (two) turn to be able to charge the Assyrian Heavy infantry (to the back of the picture)
The camel forces fitsopposing heavy chariot with Shalmaneser III to retreat.  It then pursues into the other heavy chariot that then routs (it was badly hurt form the previous combat round with the camel).

The camel that caused so much grief to the Assyrian chariots.
Assyria has reached their breakpoint and have lost.  Historically they won.  The Camels being overpowerful did not help, neither did losing the bowmen early on.  The army tactics were not kind to the Assyrians either.  If they had advanced with the heavy infantry first, they could have cut though a lot of the enemy light infantry and evened up the odd a bit.  As it was, the Allied side lost almost no units.

Game end. Allied side to the left, although the own the flank the the bottom of the picture as well.

I had a mini-crisis of faith with the rules during the replay.  There was a 5 week gap in the middle of the game (real life intervened) and when I can back to it, I was not sure these really were the rules I was looking for.  I got better and these are the rules I am looking for.  I have made two minor changes to the rules - Camels and a slight change to combat:

I have not used camels before in these rules, and I realised during the game Camels were too powerful.  They are +1 against all cavalry so are actually always better against all mounted opponents..  In (my) reality they were poorer in combat but could easily disrupt horses.  Making them equal in combat value to the mounted to accomplish the same thing but then loses that which makes them Camels . My possible other choice would me to make them less effective in combat (e.g. -1) but have a roll for when they contact cavalry and if the roll is a 1-3 they are +1. I like that.

The other change was a slight one to the combat table.  To make the game fast, the table often gives a fairly decisive result over half the time for first combat (it uses an opposed d6 dice and a difference of +2 or more is bad for one side, and gets worse with even higher differences).  This means that the winner emerges from combat often with no damage at all.  This was highlighted in the camel Vs chariots where the Camels consistently seemed to get +2 over the Chariots and never a bad result back.  The +2 and +3 result is the same (retreat), so now a +2 will disorder the victor just as +1 does. +2 still causes the loser to retreat; +3 causes the loser to retreat and the winner is not disordered.  This has been niggling at me for awhile in that the fast combat produces very asymmetrical results.  Finally I think I have eased the niggle but will need further playtesting.  It may be that the game is longer as you try and rally all the disordered units.  Possibly not as after combat,the winner will often pursue, so does not have a chance to stop and rally.  And rally is very iffy (50% chance).  I have toyed with the extending the table so -5 is a different result and/or adding in times the winner is actually depleted but I think that is going to far overboard.


  1. Very nice batrep! Your assyrian chariots are really impressive...

    1. I would love to take credit for them but a acquired the Assyrian army from a person in Germany last year. The whole army is quite impressive.

  2. Always nice to see rules firming up. Sounds like they give a good game. Nice one!

    1. Yes, interesting how rules writing goes. Any other I've written end up as dead ends but have persevered with these. And I thought they were nearly done, but I have read how important playtesting is, so 100+ battles across history should see them right by the end.

  3. Nice blog if you are looking for a miniature painter or sculptor check out my blog/website @ Thanks