Who would have thought that I would need to wait for a year to play another game of MeG, yet alone write another battle report. But that's exactly what happened and in fact, I am very lucky to even play a few battles at all.
I played this game against Paul, one f my regular opponents. It was more or less the time where we would normally be visiting Sydney for the annual event called Mother of All Battles (MOAB). I played one of the games against Paul last year and if you are interested, here is the link to the battle report from that game:
This time Paul brought a completely new force: Muslim Indian Sultanate. And as his custom, tries to play with it for some period of time against different opponents and armies. Here are the details of his army:
Muslim Indian Sultanates
I have never played against this faction so it was great to have an opportunity to do so. Even though the armies we both used were separated by 1500+ years, I had a feeling I am playing against another version of Classical Indian force. I did not know the composition of Paul's army prior to the battle and I think I mistakenly assumed he would be fielding a force from different list. But it was of no issue at all as my general assumption was correct, I was to fight against a lot of shooting and Elephants! :)
After MOAB in 2019 I thought about potential changes to the army and I also expanded my collection slightly. Shortly before the battle was even planned, I was contacted by Tommy Worden on FB and he had some very valuable suggestions as to what I could try out next. In particular, the low breaking point of 4 was something I wanted to address and Tommy kindly provided an army list for me to try out. I was really excited because it included Cataphracts! Thanks Tommy!
In comparison to my previous army, I lost horse archers and Tarentine cavalry, had Silver Shields replaced by regular Phalangites but added Cataphracts and upgrades one of the Line Cavalry TuGs to Superiour. Also two of the sub-commanders were now talented. In this way I had break point increased to more comfortable 5 and a few more command cards. This army requires a more aggressive approach due to smaller size and single unit of skirmishers. It also needs close co-operation between cavalry and phalanx for maximum damage in melee. I was very eager to try it out!
I believe I chose to be an invader in this battle but achieved strategic intercept with a lucky skull roll. I chose mountains as a secure flank and we also got three pieces of the terrain placed in addition to the hills on the right flank. Paul was kind enough not to remove the village/town scenery I chose as one of the terrain pieces, even though he rolled a 6! It was good to have it on the battle field, at least for the nice look and a bit of 3d effect too.
|Early Seleucids vs Muslim Indian Sultanate|
As is often the case, my smaller army occupies narrower front and I need to protect the flanks of the phalanx as it approaches the enemy. I could do that on the right flank with Cretan Archers and Thracians, especially that the opposing enemies there were unprotected archers and skirmishers. But it was good to have the village on the left that helped to protect the opposite flank for time being as well.
I expected shooting to have an effect on the speed of my army and many times in the past the phalanx was significantly slowed down by the incoming fire. Thus I decided to deploy all phalagite TuGs three bases wide to limit the slowing effect of fire. In this way I was also able to cover a bit wider front and such formations would still be effective against Indian cavalry.
I decided to position both superiour cavalry TuGs in between the phalangites for better support. The idea Tommy suggested was to charge together if possible and benefit from any Shatter effects Charging Lancers can contribute to the phalanx itself.
Cataphracts and average Line Cavalry both acted as a second line and small reserve. And were positioned in the centre to be able to attack frontally if needed too.
Paul positioned the centre of his army a bit further back. Swordsmen and cavalry in front of the phalanx were chosen opponents for my pikemen as I was confident they would win the grind match. However, the presence of the Elephants was a problem as I may not be able to add cavalry charges to help as intended.
At the same time there was a strong contingent on my left flank and it was clear that Paul's plan was to slow down and keep the phalanx busy while this part of his army outflanks my army. Hence, my plan was to prevent that with one TuG of phalanx or at least buy enough time for the rest of the army the get into melee and grind its way through.
(Please note that the unit A1 should have been third unit of Swordsmen. My apologies for the mistake I only noticed after the maps were prepared for the report).
|Deployment of the Armies|
Seleucids - Turn 1
|Turn 1 - Sequence of Actions|
|Phalangites vs Jagirdars|
Seleucids begun their march towards the enemies, Phalangites on the right flank forming wider front by joining together and facing approaching Jagirdars. The phalangites on the centre left advanced in a staggered formation, aware of the superiour numbers of the enemies on their flank. The cavalry stayed a bit behind to wait for the enemy to reveal their plans in more detail. At this stage the opposing army was only advancing with selected units, keeping quite a significant percentage of the army in reserve.
Indians - Turn 2
|Turn 2 - Sequence of Actions|
|Advance on the centre left.|
Both armies continued the manoeuvres in order to gain better positions before inevitable melee. Some of the units were already in range for charges but both commanders approached with caution too. Indians directed the Elephants towards the gaps in between Seleucid units as the cavalry was distracting the phalangites. On the Seleucid left flank the single phalanx unit was about to brace for the first volleys of the arrows.
Seleucids - Turn 3
|Turn 3 - Sequence of Actions|
|Big scrum in the centre of the battle field.|
Seleucids launched their attack with three units of the phalangites and support of the line cavalry. Indians decided to hold with their own cavalry to allow the Elephants to move into the gaps and counter remaining Seleucid charging lancers. The race with time begun as Seleucids needed to break through the centre of the enemy lines before the outflanking force overwhelms single phalangite unit on the left.
The charges and melee saw casualties on both sides and surprisingly, cavalry was holding quite well against the phalanx. Seleucids decided to break with the Line Cavalry fighting against enemy infantry to repeat the charge and increase the chances for a break through.
|The fight begins!|
Indians - Turn 4
|Turn 4 - Sequence of Actions|
|First break through achieved by line cavalry (centre left).|
Repeated charges by the line cavalry on the centre left resulted in a much needed break through for the Seleucids. Nearby phalangites used the opportunity when their opponents started to waver and routed them too and pursued towards the enemy camp.
At the same time it created an additional gap which was exploited by unengaged unit of Jagirdars. Fortunately, Cataphracts were there to keep them in check.
On the centre right the fight between Phalangites and Jagirdars continued with Seleucid pikemen slowly gaining an upper hand. It was thus of outmost importance that the line cavalry somehow managed to hold against the Elephants and even inflict some damage in return too!
|The Indian centre starts cracking down.|
Seleucids - Turn 5
|Turn 5 - Sequence of Actions|
|Holding the Line!|
The desperate fight continued as Seleucid Cataphracts clashed with Jagirdars. Heavily armoured horsemen started chewing through the enemy but at a cost too. Would they be able to rout the enemy before losing too many of their own?
Nearby line cavalry finally broke but still managed to inflict a bit of damage to the Elephants. The Companions on the opposite flank used their greater manoeuvrability and training to avoid the same fate and galloped away from the deadly pachyderms.
Finally, the phalangists pushed one more time and both units of Indian cavalry broke as well. Cataphracts prevailed as well and chased away their adversaries. In the chain reaction of rout and panic, damaged Elephants also decided to flee the battle. That was the last straw and the Indian army had to withdraw and concede a defeat.
|A moment before the Indian centre (and the army) collapsed.|
|Turn-by-turn animation summary.|
Many thanks to Paul for a great game! As always, it was a pleasure to play against him and the final result does not really reflect the flow of the battle (It was 15:2 in the end). My units were almost all badly damaged and it could have all gone in Paul's favour too. For example, the fact the Elephants had to spend some time fighting small TuG of cavalry was definitely not playing according to Paul's plan.
At the same time I had to say that Jagirdars proved to be more resilient to the wall of pikes than expected. It made me quite nervous when the Elephants started moving into the gaps between the units and the only thing I had to stop them was my own cavalry. Having said that, we both wondered what would have happened if Paul's cavalry did not engage early and try to inflict a bit more damage with the shooting.
It seemed to me that the brute force of the attack worked this time, especially with the ability to add cavalry for repeated charges. What it resulted in was extra damage thanks to charge/melee phases in the same turn but also cumulative effect of Kill-a-Base tests. This helped me to break through the Swordsmen quicker and roll some dice against the Elephants.
Fortunately for me the shooting on the left flank was not as efficient as Paul has hoped for and the lonely TuG of Phalangites actually survived the battle despite having no support. I kept the Cataphracts in the reserve but I had to commit them sooner or later.
In general, I was very happy with how the plan worked and that I managed to achieve a triumph in this game. However, I think I didn't use Cretan Archers at all and should have kept them with one of the Phalanx TuG's to shoot at the incoming cavalry or even Elephants. Their arrows would have been far better used this way.
I hope you found this battle interesting and as always, I am curious about your comments. What would you do differently with either army? Were there any missed chances or opportunities for either of the commanders? Let us know!
Thank you for reading!