Saturday, 13 March 2021

Battle of Tigranocerta 69BC using Ancients Battlelines Clash


This is game 55 in play testing my ancient rules by replaying historical battles.  I am using my rules Ancient Battlelines Clash.  I am in the process of writing up some revisions to the rules.  I am play testing the rules by replaying all the Peter Sides scenarios from his Historical Battles books.  ABC is designed to finish in around 30 minutes on a 2’x2’ table.

 Battle of Tigranocerta

Mithridates has sought refuge in Armenia. Lucullus, on behalf of Rome, demands that the Armenians give up Mithridates.  The Armenians refuse to do so and so Lucullus invades Armenia.

Here are a few internet links of interest I used for this replay:


Luke Ueda-Sarson's DBM scenario:



Romans (with some Armenians in the foreground)

3 Legions, Heavy Infantry, elite, line relief, medium missile protection

3 Allied Legions, Heavy Infantry, line relief, medium missile protection

3 Velites, Skirmishers, javelin

2 Heavy Cavalry

1 Light Cavalry, bow

1 +1 General with the Elite Legions.


All trained.

Breakpoint: 9



Armenians (also in shot are some flanking Romans on the hill)

2 Phalanx, poor

2 Allied Heavy infantry, poor

6 Medium infantry, poor

3 Skirmishers, javelin

3 Cataphracts, poor

6 Light Cavalry, bows

1 -1 General with the Cataphracts in the centre.


All trained.

Breakpoint:  16


Scenario changes

The Peter Sides scenario had all the Roman units on the flank on the Armenians.  For this battle I followed the two internet sources above and had them mostly facing each other with some Roman legionaries on a hill on the flank.


Deployment – Armenians at the top, Romans on the left hill and a the bottom


The Romans advance their right flank, the centre but leave the left flank cavalry in defensive mode to protect the flanks of the advancing centre legions.

The flanking legions charge into the Cataphracts

Overview of Roman first moves.

Cataphract routs.  The Roman legion pursues into the next one

Roman pursues into the next Cataphract unit.

This one also routs.  Onto the next one. And then the next one.


All Cataphracts routed.

The Legion continues through the all the light cavalry.  The game is not over yet but has certainly turned into Rome’s favour.

Elite legion with general at the end of stunning flanking attack sequence.

The Armenian right flank light cavalry advance onto the centre legions and the opposing heavy cavalry.  Both are disordered and the Light cavalry evade.

Light cavalry inflicts some damage and evades

The lone legion on the Armenian right is disordered by skirmishers and then subsequently attacked in the flank.  But they stay in melee at the attacking Armenian infantry is disordered.

Legion attacked in the flank.

Roman right flank cavalry charges in, all are disordered.

Roman cavalry (right flank) V Armenians

Centre advances, the left flank heavy cavalry charges the light cavalry that cannot evade as did prior.  Locked in melee.

The Phalanx meets the centre legions – skirmishers wipe each other out.  The phalanxes are poor, there are more legions than phalanxes so melee will be slightly in favour to Rome.  All are disordered.

Phalanx Vs legions.

The right flank light cavalry disorders an opposing infantry unit that advances into the adjacent legion but they are locked in melee.  The Roman cavalry is routed by the opposing infantry!

The Roman right flank. 

The flanked legion on the left flank routs.

The Roman left flank

The left flank Roman heavy cavalry routs the light cavalry, pursues into another infantry units, routs that and pursues into another infantry unit but is held in melee.

Heavy cavalry stopped by an infantry unit

Light cavalry charge into the rear of the legion.  Won’t do much as they are light units but it will give the advantage to the Armenians.  But alas, not in time.  The other phalanx –legion melee sees the phalanx routed.

A routed phalanx

The Armenians have reached their breakpoint and flee the battle.



This felt like an epic!  I think it was the number of small engagements that happened- normally there are just few melees going on – 2 flanks and the centre.  This one felt like the battles were a lot more localised.  The superiority of the Romans was offset by the larger numbers of the poorer Armenians.  So even after seeing off the Cataphracts, the battle was still a hard fought affair.   It was a great game and one I enjoyed more than the others for some reason, probably the variety and variability of the troops.

If I was to replay it I would only have one Roman legion on the hill.  There only really needs to be one, and it was only 3 cohorts that were on the hill in the actual battle.

This was the last of nine games in the timeframe I loosely called “Republican Roman games”.  I started organising these scenarios (reading, converting troops numbers etc) to replay in March 2020!  I have started looking at the next block of 13 historical games “Early Imperial Roman” for Vosges 58BC to Mons Graupius 84AD.  If past experience is anything to go by these will take me into mid-2022.  My mojo is back so maybe faster, who knows?


  1. Another nice looking game Shaun, with an impressive flanking legions attack...

    1. Thanks Phil. The flank attack result was the best that has happened so far in my replay of historical battles.

  2. 55 play test games - an achievement in its own right. A nice match-up of armies, ideal in face to face games for swapping sides and replaying.

    1. Thanks Norm. I agree - the Armenian army Vs Late Republic Roman are good historical army pairs.

  3. That certainly did feel like an epic encounter, with so much going on in a small space. Keep up the good work:)

    1. I did not think it would be epic but it certainly turned out that way!

  4. Pretty cool Shaun, but that constant droning you hear in the back of your mind is the siren's call to WWII. I swear it's not me ;)


    1. Yesterday I played a game of 6mm WW2 on a 3x4 grid (if you remember that from 4 years ago). Likely become a 1944 campaign with a British company. Blog post to come. Because you can never have too many projects :-)

    2. Excellent! Yes, I recall, and I believe I’ll enjoy a British 1944 campaign even more than your Soviet campaign. Too many projects? Don’t I know it!