Monday, 19 December 2016

Battle of the River Thatis 310BC using Ancient Battlelines Clash

This is game 30 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 River Thatis
Bosporan Kingdom dynastic issues (a fascinating bit of history).  Satyrus II, as the eldest son,  became king after the death of his father but his brother Eumelus wanted it.  Eumelus is allied with the Siraces, Satyrus allied with the Scythians. They meet at the River Thatis.

Very little on the internet but here are some articles of interest:

Wikipedia article 
A description of the battle prelude and troops
A descriptin of the battles with diagrams

I do not have it, but Ancient Warfare VIII.3 magazine has a article on the battle that would likely have been useful.

Scenario changes
Reduced by about two thirds the troops due to my smaller sized table. I roughly also then halved the Spear 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.



2 Heavy Cavalry, aux cavalry, long missile
2 Light Cavalry, skirmish cavalry, long missile
5 Foot troops, aux infantry, bow
1 Mercenary hoplites,  battle infantry, phalanx, some protection
1 Thracian mercenaries, aux infantry, high fortitude
5 Psiloi, skirmish infantry, long missile
1 General with Heavy cavalry
1 camp
Army command ability +1

Breakpoint: 6 (this should have been 8 - I did not add up correctly)


2 Heavy Cavalry, aux cavalry, long missile
4 Light Cavalry, skirmish cavalry, long missile
6 Foot troops, aux infantry, bow,
6 Psiloi, skirmish infantry, long missile
1 General with Heavy cavalry

Breakpoint: 7


Eumelus forces on the left,Satyrus on the right. 
The Game
Satyrus advances all his troops.  The left flank and centre  are equal to the enemy, the right flank has less units, but higher quality.

Eumelus advances both flanks and charges into the opposing cavalry in the centre.

First move advances

Close up of the cavalry clash (from Eumelus side)
The result is disorders for the heavy cavalry and the Eumelus light cavalry retreats.

Cavalry clash sees the two Eumelus skirmish cavalry retreat.
The Eumelus left flank has advanced to within range of the Satyrus light cavalry.  The latter fires to rout an Eumelus skirmisher.

The dilemma - should Satyrus advance his right flank - his quality Vs the pretender's quantity? I choose advance.

The Satryus right flank advances within range of the enemy light cavalry bows.

Eumelus left flank light cavalry fires on the advancing bowmen.  This goes well for Eumelus in that is disorders both archers on the enemy right flank.

...that cause both enemy to be disordered, and one to retreat.
This next section discusses a rules gap - ignore unless you are really interested:
While doing the middle melee, i noticed that the Satyrus light cavalry was in contact with the opposing heavy cavalry.  How did this happen? Skirmishers, such as the light cavalry, should not be in contact - they would normally retreat at contact.  But they were contacted by the opposing heavy cavalry and the light cavalry did their charged test against the opposing skirmisher (the rules are silent on what to do in this case but in all other areas of the rules you match up units, so that is what I have been doing), the latter fired and they retreated.  But now reading the rules as written, a skirmisher that is charged normally fires back and then retreats. The last bit in bold is the issue - light cavalry charging light cavalry will have the charged light cavalry retreating, regardless of the result of the fire by the charged light cavalry.  Not my intent - if the charged light cavalry successfully force the charging light cavalry to retreat, then it is assumed the charging unit never made it into contact and is forced back, and the charged unit doe snot retreat, or at least stays to fight the other skirmishers.  It has only been 150 games and this situation has not really come up - or I have been playing it wrong (by the rules, not by intent!.  So anyway, I have updated the rules so the only skirmishers that retreat are infantry skirmishers from other non-infantry skirmishers.

The light cavalry unit that caused me to modify the rules
The centre continues to be locked in melee.  Note that the light cavalry in melee is destroyed shortly after this picture.

Cavalry clash continues will disorders all round,
The Eumelus left flank goes in... OK, they wanted to go in but I guess they are still getting organised to do so (they failed the order roll). Not moving does not stop the light cavalry from firing and a light infantry is routed.  The Satyrus light cavalry gets into the action and an opposing LC is routed too.

Not going so well for the Satyrus right flank - one bowmen routed.
The centre melee continues....Eumelus and his heavy cavalry fight well and Satyrus routs.  This is bad.

It is bad for Satyrus in the centre - he is forced from the field (the gap between the Eumelus heavy cavalry is only as I have bumped the table - they are supposed to be touching)
So all the Satyrus  army performs an army morale test for the loss of the general.  A few disorders occur but the main one that could be bad is the phalanx.  The bad is that one light cavalry routs due to the loss of the general.

Eumelus moves to attack the remaining central heavy cavalry in the centre.  It does not count as a flank attack, but the general unit is better than the opposing heavy cavalry.

Eumelus moves around and now it is two heavy cavalry on one (it ends badly for the one)
Eumelus rolls a 6 and the heavy cavalry is routed. Satyrus's army reaches their breakpoint and history is rewritten.  Eumelus wins the crown!

At the end - Eumelus forces to the left of the while line, Satyrus remaining forces on the right.
A very quick game - low (incorrectly calculated) breakpoints and a cavalry clash on turn one helps! I finished the game when Satyrus could have lost one more heavy, unit before breaking; I think Eumelus and the heavy cavalry  would have charged into the flank of the disordered Satyrus phalanx and thus caused them to reach their breakpoint.  So all I really have done it finished one move early.  I really enjoyed the game - it was a battle I had not heard of before - but took a while to start as I read up on some of the history on the Bosporan Kingdom at this time. I knew it existed, but not much on its history at all.


  1. I liked that the continuing play (testing) brought up the L.cav v L.cav issue. Would that be an area that troop quality might matter?

    1. Troop quality matters. When a skirmisher retreats from being charged (and in my rules they always retreat - retreat in this case being the same as an evade. I used to call it an evade just for skirmishers but it is the same mechanism as retreat for other units so just cal lit a retreat), a d6 is rolled to see which result applies: it can fire and retreat, snap fire and retreat disordered, just retreat and be disordered. Good quality units are +1 to the die (more likely to fire); poor units are -1 (more likely to retreat not firing).

  2. Congrats on 30 fights, buddy!


    1. I have about 150 to go!

      Note I have started on the Operation Jupiter AARs from mid-this year, and am about to start another 6mm WW2 company level game.

    2. Amen brother!

      I had stopped calling you 'brother' for awhile due to you mentioning I was calling you 'brother,' which made me feel like Hulk Hogan ;)

      Anyway, Merry Christmas!!!


    3. I cannot remember calling you on calling me brother. Apologies if it was wrongly received as that would not been my intent. Anyway, it would be good to be brothers as we would get more face to face gaming, and as the older brother I would make sure I win more :-)

      Merry Christmas, younger brother!

  3. Nice. Some venerable and much-loved figures there!


    1. Thanks Aaron. The figures are a combination of some figures I painted in the 90s (mostly Essex) and a whole bunch of already painted 15mm I got from someone in Costa Rica about 5 years ago. Original 15mm likely from the 70s (so small compared to today's figure) and I have no idea of the manufacturer. There are a lot of different poses, wherever they came from.

  4. "Only" 150 battles, eh? Congratulations on the 30 test plays. I sent you a present. ;)

    1. Thanks Dale - I will have a look at it lunchtime at work.

      And with the long list of historical ancient and medieval battles I set myself to play, 30 does not seem like I have got very far into them, but I guess 30 is actually a fair amount!