It happened that the next game of Mortem et Gloriam was a rematch! Once again, I was to face the army of Muslim Indian Sultanate commanded by Paul. I fielded the exact same army as last time but Paul was experimenting with different units available for this faction. This time he increased the percentage of the cavalry and based his army around TuGs of Turkish Cavalry.
What is more, Paul included only TuGs in his force which allowed him to increase the break point from six to seven! As a result, I had to find a way to defeat an army that is more difficult to catch, has better shooting and would take more effort to break. Here are the details of the army Paul brought this time:
Indian Muslim Sultanate
As mentioned, I used exactly the same army list as last time and here are the details:
Unfortunately, this list turns out to be incorrect. It is because all TuGs of the Line Cavalry would need to be converted to Cataphracts. I have realized it only after this game. However, I decided to write the battle reports from both regardless. Mainly because I think both were really good battles for both of us and it would be a waste of a good material for some stories!
This time I was the defender and I was not able to get to a more dense terrain during the pre-battle part of the game. As a result, we ended up on an empty battle field with a secured flank with a river only. This was still helpful as I could keep the camp a bit further away from the enemy and anchor one flank. It was still a challenging situation where I had to fight against a much more mobile foe with good shooters on an empty battle field.
|Early Seleucids vs Muslim Indian Sultanate|
I noticed that the TuGs of Archers are smaller though so I hope to get to these units fast and eliminate them because of two main reasons. First, they seemed to be the easiest to rout and second, every shooting unit less is better for my own army.
However, Paul was fully aware of that and kept his more fragile infantry further away. He also deployed three TuGs of Turkish cavalry in front of my Phalanx. As is very often the case in our battles, Paul is using such force to slow down my main battle line. It is also to inflict as much damage as possible before the clash of the infantry lines.
Once again, there was a strong contingent on my left flank. The flexibility of Turkish Cavalry would also lie in the fact they started the battle in skirmishing formation. It would allow them to race around the flank much easier and reform later to get ready for melee.
As in the previous battle, I deployed each TuG of the Phalanx in wider formation to limit the slowing effect of the incoming fire. I still kept the majority of the cavalry in the second line to be able to send it where it is needed the most. This time, however, I also placed Cretan Archers in between the TuGs of the phalangites to allow them to shoot at the incoming enemy cavalry. I hoped they would inflict some damage with their ranged attacks.
The general plan was to march across the plain and engage the enemy infantry as soon as possible. That would, of course, depend on the cards and the foe, in particular how effective the Turkish Cavalry would be with their bows. The central formation of the Phalanx would most likely need to turn towards the left anyway as the enemy infantry was not directly in front of them.
The forces on the left, in particular the flanking TuGs of cavalry and phalangites, would be hard pressed to hold against the overwhelming forces of the enemy. I thus planned to advance cautiously and postpone the fight as long as I could. It was to but time for the rest of the army and prevent the enemy from attacking the camp.
|Deployment of the Armies|
Indians - Turn 1
|Turn 1 - Sequence of Actions|
|Defending the flank!|
Both armies advanced mainly on their respective right flanks. The Turkish Cavalry raced across the empty plain to outflank the slower Seleucid phalangites, closely followed by the Elephants and the contingent of Mamluks.
Seleucids mirrored this manoeuvre by sending their own cavalry and phalangites along the river but have already encountered more Turkish cavalry sent to slow them down.
|Cavalry gambit by the army of the Sultanate.|
Seleucids - Turn 2
|Turn 2 - Sequence of Actions|
|Cretan Archers prove their worth.|
Seleucids were determined to get rid of the harassing enemy cavalry on their right flank and begun dealing with this problem by chasing one of the groups with their own horsemen. But it was the Cretan Archers who really proved their worth when in the show of marksmanship they shot down a very significant number of the enemy horsemen. That clearly unnerved the Turks, who quickly turned around and withdrew.
The rest of the army kept advancing while the contingents on the left started re-arranging the battle line to stop enemy horsemen from sneaking to the back field.
|The game on manoeuvres intensifies.|
Indians - Turn 3
|Turn 3 - Sequence of Actions|
|The Phalanx starts taking damage from the enemy shooting.|
Seleucids decided to charge the enemy archers on the right flank. It was supposed to be a quick fight that would put pressure on the nearby Turkish cavalry. Unfortunately, the stubborn Archers proved to be much more difficult foe and the Line Cavalry was now engaged in melee with their flank exposed.
The Turkish cavalry contingent on the opposite flank reformed to get ready to engage Seleucid horsemen facing them. However, the phalanx managed to re-arrange its formation too and at the moment no gaps in it were present to be exploited.
|First fights on the Seleucid right flank.|
Seleucids - Turn 4
|Turn 4 - Sequence of Actions|
|Protect the flank!|
Despite the initial drawback in the form of early loss of the cavalry unit on the right flank, Seleucids continued the fight as planned. First phalanx engaged enemy swordsmen and with the help of the Cretan Archers, started thinning down enemy formation. Tharcians raced to get ready to join the fight.
In the meantime, the units on the left and in the centre kept manoeuvring to keep the enemy in check and trying to maintain cohesion. But the enemy arrows kept raining and the phalanx in particular was losing men.
Indians - Turn 5
|Turn 5 - Sequence of Actions.|
|Seleucids attack through the centre to open the path to the enemy camp.|
Seleucids commenced their attacks. First, Thracians' wild charge broke the fighting spirit of the enemy swordsmen. Next, the co-ordinated attack of the Companions and the Phalangites routed the unit of Archers and opened the path to the camp for the Seleucid elite cavalry.
Unfortunately for Seleucids, despite the efforts and bloody combat that erupted on the opposite flank, another unit of Line Cavalry perished. It looked like the Turkish horsemen had an openings to outflank Seleucids at last.
|Seleucid battle line fragments.|
Seleucids - Turn 6
|Turn 6 - Sequence of Actions|
|Pikes vs Elephants!|
With the battle line fragmented and more and more gaps appearing in the formation, Seleucids had to act quickly before it could be exploited by the enemy. Fortunately, Companions managed to sack the camp and once the news carried throughout the battle field, many Indian soldiers lost their will to fight and fled the battle.
Furthermore, one of the Phalanx units succeeded in driving off the Elephants all by itself, with no support at all. It was very much needed tactical victory as it now helped the nearby Cataphracts to challenge enemy horsemen and keep them away from further outflanking.
However, some of the Seleucid units were exposed to the flank attacks anyway and the foes were already preparing to charge.
|Series of individual combats as battle lines mix.|
Indians - Turn 7
|Turn 7 - Sequence of Actions|
|The phalanx holds the line!|
The battle lines mixed by now completely and it was down to the series of individual combats now to decide the fat of both armies. Many units were badly damaged and at the brink of destruction. It was now up to the resilience of each individual formation and its ability to hold the line a little bit longer.
Turkish cavalry had some good opportunities to charge exposed flanks of their enemies but it all turned badly instead. First, the Companions, despite the heavy losses, managed to inflict enough damage to completely dishearten their opponents and routed them. Even though they were themselves just a tiny bit away from breaking too.
Then the Phalangites prevailed and surprisingly did not suffer much damage from another flank attack. They reformed and got ready for the final push against wavering swordsmen. They were also being outflanked by the Thracians so the help was coming.
On the right flank another phalangites unit was winning against the enemy Archers but the final blow was struck elsewhere. In the fury of desperate combat, badly damaged phalangites on the centre left, managed to rout one more enemy unit before disintegrating due to exhaustion.
That was the last straw for the Indian army and it fled the battle field, not knowing how close it came to defeat their opponents.
|The situation just before the final fight.|
|Turn-by-turn animation summary.|
Many thanks to Paul for yet another fantastic game! This one was far closer and ended up in 15:7 result. However, Companions were just one point of damage away from being routed and all phalanx TUGs sustained significant casualties. It was definitely a very bloody victory for Seleucids.
I must admit that only when creating maps I realized how fragmented and vulnerable the battle line of my army looked like. Especially in the second half of the battle. I am thus very glad I managed to keep the more mobile enemy from outflanking long enough for the pikes to engage and break through.
I wondered if there was any single turning point of the battle but I came to the conclusion that it was a chain reaction of effects that contributed to the overall result. It started with good performance of the Cretan Archers who killed two bases of the Turkish Cavalry. That helped to get into combat intact and faster. The Archers also helped to inflict more damage to the infantry and that resulted in routing them earlier.
It was a race against time as usual so I am glad Companions managed to break through and sack the camp before being charged from the flank too. It was extremely helpful because it resulted in routing one of the damaged cavalry units at the bottom of the battle field and removed one more base from the TuG that charged them soon after. I got lucky not to be routed by that flank charge and in return, I inflicted one more wound needed to break another unit.
Pikes defeating Elephants was also quite lucky as I managed to consistently roll wounds against them and it helped to have more bases to lose. While TuG of 3 bases of Elephants proved to be a bit fragile and sensitive to unlucky dice rolls.
I was also happy that I had units in place to win some more fights if this one did not go well. And to be honest, I did not expect the pikes to win, just to hold a bit longer. It could have been even closer end result but I had units in place to try and rout either Swordsmen or Archers. It would have been still very close call if the battle continued for another turn as Paul also had one of his cavalry units at the back of my phalanx on the right flank.
In terms of things to do better I am considering my two units of line cavalry on both flanks. Perhaps I overestimated the ability of the cavalry to rout a TuG of Archers on their own. Maybe it would have been better to simply protect the flank and stay away from the shooters for the time being, i.e. until Phalangites and Thracians defeated their opponents.
The same with the other unit. While it is always difficult to hold against the enemy shooters, that combat showed that things can escalate quickly. Even when sustaining casualties, I could keep the unit intact a bit longer.
All in all it was a great game for both of us. I also know I need to come up with another plan before we fight again as this battle was really close!
Thanks for reading!