Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Battle of the Hellespont 321BC using Ancient Battlelines Clash

This is game 24 in play testing my ancient rules by replaying historical battles.  The latest version of ‘Ancient Battlelines Clash’ is on its own blog page. I am play testing the rules by replaying all the Peter Sides scenarios from his Historical Battles books.  ABC is designed to finish in under an hour on a 2'x2' table.

Battle of Hellespont
Craterus (Antipater's general) and Eumenes (Governor of Cappadocia and Paphlagonia), acting of behalf of Perdiccas, fight it out in one of the early succession wars after Alexander the Great's death.

There is not much on the internet on this battle but here are some links:

Wikipedia article
Great Battles of History scenario
A CC:Ancients scenario (opens a PDF)

Scenario changes
Reduced by about a third the troops due to my smaller sized table. I also made Craterus's Pike regular fortitude and Eumenes's Pike low fortitude - the scenario has Eumenes with Pk(S) and Craterus with Pk(I), and my (limited) research seems to lead to the reverse.   I roughly halved the spear and pike units as the scenario units are for DBx that assumes in this case that the units will be rear supported, not the case with my rules.

Macedonian (Craterus)
The Macedonians - Craterus on the left of this picture.
3 Phalangites, battle infantry, phalanx
1 Hypaspists, battle infantry, phalanx, some protection, high fortitude, drilled
1 Hoplite, battle infantry, phalanx, some protection
2 Thracians, aux infantry
2 Psiloi, skirmish infantry, short missile
1 Companions, aux cavalry, high fortitude, disciplined
1 Heavy Cavalry, aux cavalry
1 General with Companions

Breakpoint: 8

I have called them "Macedonian" as the troops were mostly Macedonians.

Cappadocia (Eumenes)

Cardians with more screening skirmishers and cavalry.  Eumenes the leftmost cavalry unit in the picture.
4 Phalangites, battle infantry, phalanx, low fortitude
4 Cappadocians, aux infantry
6 Psiloi, skirmish infantry, short missile
1 Guard cavalry, aux cavalry, high fortitude
3 Heavy Cavalry, aux cavalry
1 General with Guards

Breakpoint: 10

I have called this side Cappadocians as Eumenes at this time was the governor of Cappadocia (and Paphlagonia)

Note that I have omitted the light cavalry that Eumemes had.  There was no room.  Eumenes has 4 heavy cavalry and Craterus two; this is more than enough of an advantage for Eumenes.


Macedonians on the left, Cappadocians to the right.  Fairly standard deployment and as per scenario
The Game
Craterus moves first. In the actual battle, Craterus charged with his cavalry and this lost the battle.  To simulate this, I can use my programmable opponent system and force the Macedonian side to use the "envelop flanks" tactic.  This means they have to advance with the cavalry first.  This may seem forced, but Eumenes would just charge with his cavalry (as he has more of them) and hold his infantry back. The end result is the same.

The heavy cavalry on both flanks.

The first turn sees the Macedonians advance

The Macedonians advance.
Eumenes and another heavy cavalry charge at the Macedonian heavy cavalry opposite, the latter is routed (a 6 rolled against them).   Both cavalry units pursue.

Eumenes and Co. engage the enemy cavalry (that subsequently routs)
The Eumenes infantry is not as good as the Macedonians and so they choose not move.

The two heavy cavalry on the Cappadocian left flank charge into Craterus and all three are disordered.

Craterus engages the non-Eumenes flank.  Grey spears are disordered markers.
The Macedonian battle line splits off a Thracian on their left to hold the Cappadocian heavy cavalry while the rest advances.

Hard to notice, but a lone Thracian unit is left behind on the right to protect the battleline from Eumenes.
Eumenes and the heavy cavalry do a complex wheel and charge the Thracian.  Only one heavy cavalry contacts, the Thracian retreats, the heavy cavalry pursues, routs the Thracian,  heavy cavalry continues to pursue.

The Heavy cavalry accompanying Eumenes charges the Thracians (who rout).
The Cappadocian skirmishers want to advance by fail (rolled a 1).  Craterus and the Cappadocian heavy cavalry continue in melee and Craterus routs one of the opposing heavy cavalry.

Craterus (to the rear of the pictures) routs one of the opposition (the other shown here is routed next turn)
The Macedonian battleline advances and sees a few skirmishers rout after missile exchanges.

Skirmish skimming - most the the skirmishers disappear in a flurry of missiles
Eumenes and the heavy cavalry are moving round the back.  Craterus routs the remaining opposing heavy cavalry and charges the Cappadocian light infantry on the edge of the flank; it retreats.

After routing the cavalry, Craterus (at the left) charges some light infantry and forces them to retreat
The Macedonian battleline moves up. Appalling Macedonian dice rolls sees all the Macedonians disordered bar one and no retreats on the other side.  This despite being of higher fortitude giving them a combat bonus.

Ancient battlelines clash.  Despite the disparity in combat values, mostly both sides are disordered.
Eumenes moves but the other Heavy Cavalry fails its order roll.  Two rounds of battleline melee see Cappadocian losses of 3 Light Infantry and 2 phalangite units routed.

The Cappadocian batteline is failing (only a couple of pike units remaining at centre left).  Eumenes can been seen in the distance at the rear of the Macedonian line.
The good news is that Eumenes is poised to charge into the rear of some Macedonian phalangites.  The bad news is that his army has reached its breakpoint and so will flee.  Craterus, unlike history is victorious.

Game end positions - Eumenes and his other Heavy cavalry on the left, The battleline to the right (with only two Cappadocian pike units)
I played this game over several sessions over several months, but enjoyed it nevertheless.  It did not go quite like history.  It was when Craterus was in melee I noticed I had removed from the rules the possibility of generals dying in combat (currently the only way to kill a general is to kill the unit; this is not easy)  It was there but accidently removed in the great version 2.0 rewrite in September 2014.  I have now added it back in.


  1. Brilliant Shaun! Really loved it! I'm scared to read these any more in case I start longing to buy into it

  2. Hello John,

    Thanks for you comments. I am constantly torn between ancients and WW2 and would be hard pressed to choose between them. Resist! resist!

  3. A nice (and bloody!) looking battle Shaun, well done!