Saturday 12 October 2019

Mortem et Gloriam - Game 42 - 2019/10/12


During the second day of the WinterCon 2019 and third round of the Mortem at Gloriam tournament, I played against the army of Early Sassanid Persians commanded by Steve.

I have played against Steve many times already and I know him as a formidable opponent. I often learn hard lessons in our battles too! 

It was, however, the very first time when I played against Sassanid Persians. This army intrigues me a lot, mainly due to my interest in the period of history that put them as main enemies to Byzantine Empire. 

I was thus very curious how an army of such an opponent would look like and fight. Here are the details of the army composition Steve brought to the tournament:

Early Sassanid Persians - Army List

The first thing to notice, perhaps not surprisingly, is that the army consists of almost exclusively mounted troops. All formidable Persian Cataphracts and mandatory Horse Archers plus Elephants corp. A small group of skirmishing archers was the only unit on foot.

Interestingly, however, I have a perfect counter-part to such units in the form of Phalangites. It created quite an interesting situation because I wanted to get into the fight with the Cataphracts in a frontal assault, while Steve would do everything to avoid it. And hit the vulnerable flanks instead.

Thus the initial plan would be to get into contact as soon as possible and protect the flanks while advancing from the envelopment. I hoped that the Persian army would not be able to evade too easily, as Cataphracts are not super fast and the generals are Instinctive. Hence no opportunity to get the more useful cards from the Army Commander when needed.

Here are the details of my Army for reference:


I was an invader in this game so Steve chose the terrain. I usually try to keep the best cards for scouting so I didn't really push hard to get different terrain. However, we ended up with a secure flank and and a few pieces of terrain elsewhere. I guess neither of us wanted any terrain in the middle of the battle field anyway.


Seleucids vs Sassanid Persians

Deployment of the Armies.

Steve decided to deploy defensively and sent his Horse Arches in a flank march too. It was thus to be the race against time. For me, because I needed to run across the battle field with all the pikes. While Steve needed to hold on as long as possible until the help arrives.

I deployed three units of Phalangites together to be able to move forward at a double with the bulk of the Phalanx. Fourth TuG, Cretans and Thracians where there to guard the flank.

The opposite flank was covered by cavalry units with Companions acting as mobile reserve. 

Seleucids - Turn 1

Turn 1 - Sequence of Actions

Phalanx leads the way.

The Seleucids army advanced towards the enemy with the Phalanx dictating the pace. Some of the units where advancing at a slower speed, especially on the right flank, to be able to react accordingly to any outflanking manoeuvres the enemy may want to attempt.

Persians, on the other hand, did not move at all, with the exception of the skirmishers, advancing under the protection of the cover.

Long march begins.

Persians - Turn 2

Turn 2 - Sequence of Actions

The arrival of the flanking force.

With the arrival of the flanking force of the horse archers, Persians became a bit more active. The whole line of Cataphracts advanced slowly, with a few units moving a bit faster in the first attempt to outflank Phalangites.

Seleucids responded with light cavalry and advanced with the phalangites regardless.

The phalanx is getting closer.

Seleucids - Turn 3

Turn 3 - Sequence of Actions

Phalangites vs Cataphracts

Seleucids sent some of the light troops and Companions to deal with the new threat on their flank. However, it seemed that the new force was not so eager to join the fight after all.

The Phalangites approached the enemy and attempted to bend their formation to be able to better protect the flanks. Although at this moment Line Cavalry was there to cover them as well.

Armies about to clash.

Persians - Turn 4

Turn 4 - Sequence of Actions

Massive fight on the right flank.

Both armies finally committed to the fight and they did that over almost entire battle field. Cataphracts and Phalangites clashed. Seleucids gained upper hand in the middle, even managing to break two enemy units and creating big gaps in the Persian battle line.

However, the fight on the flanks was hanging in the balance with Line Cavalry slowing down the Cataphracts on the left and single unit of Phalangites holding off against Cataphracts and Elephants at the same time.

First successes for Seleucids

Seleucids - Turn 5

Turn 5 - Sequence of Actions

Charging Lancers vs Cataphracts

The fight intensified as more units were not able to hold and broke from combat. First, on the centre left flank the Companions defeated Persian Cataphracts. However, on the opposite flank of the formation, the Phalangites were not able to contain rampaging Elephants and broke too.

The battle enters decisive phase.

Persians  - Turn 6

Turn 6 - Sequence of Actions

The situation just before the final combats.

Although Persians made some breaches in the battle line of their opponents, it was Seleucids who had units in good positions to attack first. They took the opportunity and after the defeat of two more units of Cataphracts, one fighting against Phalangites and one against the Charging Lancers, the Persians were finally broken.


Turn-by-Turn Animation Summary


Many thanks to Steve for a great game! It is not often that I can win against him so I was obviously very happy with the result.

Steve mentioned that it was an uphill battle from the start for him as he could not afford frontal attacks against my pikes. However, I needed to guard the flanks well too so from my point of view the result was not a guarantee either.

It was interesting to see Flank March in play as well. It is not something done often so I was curious how it is going to play out. It seemed, however, that the cards did not allow Steve to move the units faster and the dangerous Horse Archers could not do much to slow down the phalanx or threaten it with timely attacks from vulnerable directions.

Thank you for reading!


  1. Turn 2 was certainly something of a *du-duh-duuuh* moment as the flanking forces arrived. A difficult battle for both of you. One fearing an entirely mobile and elusive foe, the other fearing a wall of pikes! Thanks again for these write-ups, Swordmaster, they're always a pleasure to read and revisit.

    1. Hi David,

      Thank you for your comment! It was certainly a very interesting game for me as I have never used flank attack myself and it hasn't been used against me often so far either.

      It is very tricky situation because you cannot afford to completely ignore such forces (especially when they are flexible, start in skirmishing formation for greater speed and manoeuvrability but switch to regular formation prior to attack). But at the same time you cannot divert too many units from the main attack so that it falters and you are trapped. Quite a mind game! :)