Saturday, 23 May 2020

Battle of Magnesia 189BC using D3 Ancients Clash

This is game 48 in play testing my ancient rules by replaying historical battles.  It is the first historical game using my new rules d3 Ancients Clash (the previous games were with ‘Ancient Battlelines Clash’).  I am in the process of writing the rules up from the scribbling it is currently.  D3 Ancients Clash is an evolution of Ancients Battlelines Clash but uses d3s and designed to assist with replaying these historical games.  I am play testing the rules by replaying all the Peter Sides scenarios from his Historical Battles books.  D3AC is designed to finish in around 30 minutes on a 16”x16” table.

Battle of Magnesia
Here is the only internet link of interest I used for this replay:

I also used Sabin’s Lost Battles.


2 Legions, Heavy Infantry, line relief, medium missile protection, elite
2 Allied Legions, Heavy Infantry, line relief, medium missile protection
4 Velites and other skirmishers, Skirmishers
2 Pergamene/Achaian Allies, Medium infantry
1 Heavy Cavalry, elite
1 Heavy Cavalry
1 +1 General with the Legions
1 subgeneral with the legion
1 Camp
All trained.
Breakpoint: 9


3 Phalanx
1 Galatians, Medium infantry, warband, untrained
1 Peltasts, Light Infantry, javelin, untrained
4 Skirmishers, Skirmishers, untrained
1 Cataphracts
1 Heavy Cavalry, poor
1 Light Cavalry
1 Elephant, untrained
1 Scythed Chariot, untrained
1 General with the Cataphracts
All trained except where noted.
Breakpoint: 8

Scenario changes
I reduced the units by two-thirds.


Romans on the left, Seleucids to the right.

Romans all advance – being trained and with a general and subgeneral moving will not be an issue for the Romans.  The Seleucids also all advance.

Both sides advance.

Romans advance the centre force.  The centre will take longer in melee to resolve than the flanks so do not want the flank combats to get ahead of the centre, especially as the flank combats are likely to be close.
The Seleucid right flank moves to within 1” of the opposing Romans.  The skirmishers trades missiles and the Seleucid skirmishers destroyed.  The Cataphracts slam into the Velites that do nothing.  Brushing the Velites aside the Cataphracts hit the two legions.

Cataphracts slam into the opposing legions

The Cataphracts force the Roman legion to retreat but the allied legion force the Cataphracts back.  The allied legion pursues but the Cataphracts are too fast.

The allied legion forces the Cataphracts to pull back.

The Seleucid centre does not move. The Scythed chariot charges in, but does nothing and leaves the field.

The scythed chariot.  A non-event.

The rest of the Seleucid right flank does not move.

The Roman allies and legions in the centre move up to the Seleucid pikes and covering skirmishers.  The Seleucid skirmishers are routed.
On the Seleucid light cavalry move up to align with the Cataphracts.  The Cataphracts are with the general and manage to remove a deplete.  Oops – maybe the legion should have attacked!
The pikes charge in rather than wait to be shot at by the Velites.

The pike units charge to engage the Roman centre.

Two pikes units are shaken and so stop advancing; another pike contact the legion and both are shaken.  The Galatians charge into the allies – one retreats, the other shaken.

Galatian warband charge the allied medium infantry.

The Seleucid right flank finally gets the courage to move the skirmishers and cavalry.  The opposing cavalry charge, the skirmishers fie for no effect and rout and the Roman heavy cavalry continue into the Seleucid heavy cavalry.  The Seleucid cavalry is no match for the Romans, retreats and then routs.

The Seleucid heavy cavalry is no match for the Roman cavalry.

The Allied Roman infantry that is in melee with the Galatians routs, the Galatians pursue into the other allied infantry who also succumb to the charging warriors.

The Galatians are victorious over the allied infantry.

The Roman legion with the general forces his enemy to rout.

Roman General (foreground) in battle with a pike phalanx that routs soon after.

The Cataphracts charge into the legion and are locked in melee.

Cataphracts charge the legion

 They subsequently rout it them.

The legion routs.

The Roman cavalry circling the rear manages to hit a pike block in the rear. The pikes retreat and are routed.

Attacked in the rear.

The Roman cavalry pursues into another pike phalanx.

And pursuit sees the cavalry impact another phalanx.

The cavalry inflict many casualties and the roman legion in the front finishes them off.

The Seleucid reaches their breakpoint and so flee the field.


That went well and no rule changes so the rules are holding up OK.  Some bits still confuse me and have to look them up but this is only game 3 and there were a few changes between games 1 and 2.  In the actual battle, the elephant came to the rescue of the infantry so if I was to play this battle again I would move the elephant over to behind the Galatians.  Also, the Romans won on their right flank which is hard to do with an Elephant facing you!


  1. Nice looking game Shaun, with a courageous and beautiful cavalry!

    1. Thanks Phil, The Seleucid cavalry was painted by a friend and they are gorgeous.

  2. Another great game, even if the scythed chariot was a non event. The Seleucid army is certainly a nice one to look at and with some interesting units to play with.

    1. Thanks Steve. I do have a soft sport for the Seleucids. When my friend and I first started Ancient gaming back in 1979 he started a Seleucid army and I started a Ptolemic. In 25mm. WRG 6th became hard for us teenagers so stopped Ancient gaming for 15 years and never finished the armies.

  3. Hi Shaun, very interesting, thanks for posting.

  4. Beautiful Armies, very cool; and interesting Scenario. As I recall in the actual Battle the Elephants proved a huge liability, disordering their own infantry and turning a defeat into a disaster. I have to admit I share your fondness for the Seleucids, Especially their large cavalry arm. IMHO their army was truest to the Army of Phillip and the Hammer and Anvil tactics he devised.

    1. Thanks!

      Elephants were definitely really good when they worked and seemed to not work just as often. But armies kept using them so there must be something in them. You are right that in this battle they were mostly a liability,and to the Seleucid infantry. One of my favourite leaders from Antiquity was Philip and I had not thought about it before but you are right - the Seleucids are the closest to using the army are it was designed, rather than the phalanx slogfesr of most of the Successor battles

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