Friday, 25 November 2016

Battle of Ipsus 301BC using Ancient Battlelines Clash

This is game 28 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 Ipsus
In the saga of the Successor Wars, Antigonus One-Eye and his son Demetrius face a coalition of three other Successor emperors – Seleucus, Cassander and Lysimachus.  The three had banded together as they were likely to be destroyed by Antigonus piecemeal otherwise.  This was the last real chance for Antigonus to reunite Alexander’s empire.

There is not much on the internet on this battle:

Scenario changes
Reduced by about a three-quarters the troops due to my smaller sized table. I also roughly halved the Spear or 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.  I also put a bit more cavalry on the Antigonid right flank as the limited information on the battle seems that there was more cavalry here with Demetrius, compared to  the Allies that may have evenly distributed the cavalry.  I also put an elephant on the Antigonid left flank and centre, while the Peter Sides Scenario had elephants on the left and right flank.


Diodachi Allies (Seleucus, Cassander's brother Pleistarchus and Lysimachus)

4 Phalangites, battle infantry, phalanx
2 Peltasts, aux infantry
1 Psiloi, skirmish infantry, short missile
1 Heavy Cavalry, aux cavalry, high fortitude
1 Heavy Cavalry, aux cavalry
2 Light Cavalry, skirmish cavalry, long missile
4 Elephants, elephant
2 Scythed Chariots
1 General with Guards

Breakpoint: 12


2 Phalangites, battle infantry, phalanx
2 Hoplite, battle infantry, phalanx, some protection
2 Peltasts, aux infantry
2 Psiloi, skirmish infantry, short missile
2 Elephant, elephant
1 Guard Cavalry, aux cavalry, high fortitude
1 Heavy Cavalry, aux cavalry
2 Light Cavalry, skirmish cavalry, short missile
1 General with a phalangite.

Breakpoint: 10

I thought about using subgenerals to represent the sons/generals on each side and have the general in the centre. With the small number of units, I decided against this and to put one general on each side - Antigonus in the centre and a guess that the main allied general is on their right wing cavalry.


Allies to the left, Antigonus on the right
For this game I am doing something that someone suggested a few years ago and do double depth for the heavy infantry for visual purposes only.  It looks better.  It does increase the depth of a heavy infantry unit which does mean they would be a little easier to flank.  Not much though.

The Game

The Allies advance the elephants and scythed chariots.

Allied advances
Antigonus responds by advancing Demetrius with the cavalry on the right flank, and advancing his own elephants.

Antigonus advances (view from the Allied side)
The pair of Allied elephants go in.

Allied elephants (on left) on the allied right flank

The two elephants force the skirmisher to retreat and it is out of the game.  But the skirmisher has disordered the elephants.  Both continue their charge into the Antigonid elephant and force it to retreat through the peltasts behind it (disordering the light infantry).  One Allied elephant continues to charge into one of the peltasts and they are locked in melee.

This is why I wrote Ancient Battlelines Clash - all of the above driven by the rules - fast, a little unpredictable but still producing a great narrative with just a few dice rolls.

The result of sending in the Allied elephants (a lot of skimisher casualties)

Scythed chariots hit the hoplites, disorder them but are destroyed in return

Scythed Chariots - at least they caused a disorder

Elephant and skirmishers meet in the centre but all that happened is the Allied skirmishers cleared the opposing skirmishers.

Battle of elephant and skirmishers in the centre.
The other elephant comes in and elephant and skirmisher disordered.

The second Allied elephant joins the fray in the centre
The other scythed chariot charges into some hoplites for no effect and are destroyed.

The second scythed chariot throws itself at the phalanx line for no effect before being destroyed.
Demetrius and associated cavalry charge up the Antigonid right flank into the defending infantry.  The light cavalry exchange missiles before the clash, and both retreat disordered.  The heavy cavalry meet, and it is disorder all round.

On the Antigonid right flank, Demetrius meets the opposing cavalry.
The elephant battle in the centre sees both allied skirmishers routed and the Antigonid elephant in combat with an allied one, but disorder all round and no destruction.

Elephant battle continues in the centre, clearing out the skirmishers.  It is tusk on tusk now.
Through some really great Antigonid die rolling, elephants on the Allied left flank see the Antigonid light infantry take out both Allied elephants.

On the Allied right flank, both Allied elephants are routed by opposing light infantry
In the centre the Antigonid elephant and skirmisher are routed.  The centre is cleared of allied units.and the way is open for the Allied elephants to throw themselves at the Antigonid phalanx.

In a case of brilliant and poor dice rolling,the Antigonid right flank sees one the the Antigonid heavy cavalry routed, but also the lone Allied cavalry as well. Demetrius pursues to near the table edge.

Demetrius routs the opposing heavy cavalry, but losing one of his heavy cavalry as well.
One of the Allied elephants makes it to the phalanx line and disorders a phalanx.  The elephant does not last long and it routed next turn

An Allied elephants makes it into a Antigonid phalanx and disorders them before routing.
The next turn the other charges in to a phalanx unit and disorders an other phalanx but it too is routed in a few turns.

The other Allied elephant makes it into another Antigonid phalanx and disorders them before routing
Across the rest of the field, Demetrius has slowly being turned around, the Antigonid elephant and peltasts are realigning to go against Seleucus and the Allied phalanx has been slowly advancing but staying far enough away for the elephants for if they rout.

Overview of the battle after the initial flank battles and centre skirmishing

The Allies are near their breakpoint (losing 4 elephants and a heavy cavalry) while the Antigonids are still far away from it (losing only one elephant and heavy cavalry).  but now the phalanxes are going to meet...

The moment we have all been waiting for - the phalanx lines meet. The Antigonids have three disordered phalanxes (not good).  The undisordered one has Antigonus with them (that is good).

Phalanx battlelines clash. three of the Antigonid phalanxes (rear) are at a disadvantage as they are disordered.  But the undisordered one has Antigonus with them.
Two Antigonid disordered phalanxes routed.  The elephants did their job in softening up the line.  The Antigonids are now also one heavy unit away from the army breaking as well. Demetrius is closing in on the rear of the Allied phalanx

Two of the disordered Antigonid phalanxes rout.  Demetrius can bee seen botton centre
Antigonus then manages to destroy an Allied phalanx.

Antigonus routs an opposing Allied phalanx
Game over as the Allies have reached their breakpoint.  Interestingly enough, I rolled a die for the other Antigonid phalanx unit in combat, and it routed.  This would have caused the Antigonid army to break if Antigonus had not won his combat.  What a close game!

End game. Antigonid victory

Alternative history - the Allies won this one in reality.

I thought about not using so many elephants, but they were important to the original battle's outcome, so I used quite a few.  They tend to get routed early - before the main battlelines clash - and this did cause the Allies to get close to their breakpoint.  It was fine, although there usually only been a couple of skirmisher-elephant clashes in other battles, this one had lots and it does slow the game game slightly.  Normally skirmishers are one  or two-shot  units before retiring from the game.


  1. Great looking game and nice to see 'Ancients' played on a small table. I plan to use Sword & Spear for my games on a 3' x 2' table.

    1. I actually think 3'x2' is probably the best size for small sized ancient games. But I set my games up in a map drawer and a 3'x2' table would not fit. I think if it did, i would be playing all my Ancient games on a 3'x2'!