Monday 28 December 2020

Mortem et Gloriam - Game 57 - 2020/12/28



In my next game (and the last battle of the year 2020), I had a great pleasure to play against Dean (frequent organizer of various MeG events and a highly dependable provider of all things necessary for games via his fantastic Olympian Games shop). He was kind enough to bring the army of Armenian so that I had a rather rare opportunity to play against historical opponent.

What is even more interesting was the army composition itself. In addition to expected Cataphracts and Horse Archers, there was also contingent of infantry, mainly Phalangites and Roman style armed soldiers. That together created a very diverse and flexible force and here are the details of the army's composition:

Armenian (Tigranes) - Army List

Apart from the fact it has a variety of units, it is also a bit different to the last two armies I played against as it has a significant percentage of skirmishers. That means more manoeuvrable are harder to catch horse archers but also the same break point as my force, despite having more units in total.

I had to correct the composition of my own army as well. I wondered how to do it and I actually ended up with including all three units I have painted in the meantime, i.e. Javelinmen, Cataphracts and Elephants! I believe the list is now correct but please let me know if you spot any issues.

Early Seleucids - Army List

Edit: Unfortunately, it seems I made some mistakes in list building again. I have corrected them but that brought the army above 10,000 points. My sincere apologies to Dean in particular.

The core of the army remains the same with four TuGs of Phalangites and TuG of Companions. As I do not have enough models at the moment to have more than one small TuG of Cataphracts, I wanted to find a way to have a mix of them and Charging Lancers. I achieved that by taking superiour Agema instead of average Line Cavalry. However, I was still one TuG short if I wanted to keep the break point of 5. 

This is when I decided that I am going to include Elephants as well! I came to the conclusion that they would be the same as Line Cavalry from the point of view of resilience (4 bases as well) but would add another element to the army. I often need to deal with the fact that my army has its flank exposed so I thought the Elephants should be a great option to keep it protected, especially against cavalry. 

It all came at a price of downgrading one of the sub-commanders to Competent, so I hoped I would not miss that very useful extra card. I also decided to try two units of skirmishers instead of single Cretan Archers. I am sure I would miss their green dice to shoot with but I would have two units to protect the phalanx from the incoming fire.

I was very excited about trying this new version of the army and could not wait to see what I can do with it, especially against such a challenging opponent!


Once again I ended up in an empty battle field, this time as an invader. Dean was kind enough to let the villagers be (for now!) and did not "remove" their houses after a roll of 6! I also got a river on a secure flank but that's all I could do to have a bit of help from the terrain. I had no doubt I would still be facing a challenge of the enemy cavalry units attempting an outflanking manoeuvre.


Early Seleucid vs Armenian - Seleucid's point of view.

Early Seleucid vs Armenian - Armenian's point of view.

Because I was also facing enemy infantry, in particular Phalanx, I decided to deploy my own phalangites in the deep formation. At the same time, I didn't want the infantry to be slowed down by the Horse Archers so each group of two Phalanx TuGs was assisted by skirmishers. 

I positioned all cavalry units in the front line as well in order to keep any Horse Archers in check. Because Charging Lancers are superiour and Cataphracts are fully armoured, they also had a better chance to limit the efficiency of the enemy shooting. Even skilled shooters would need white dice instead of green versus average Phalanx.

I was concerned with Thracians in the open so I placed them in a second line, hopefully able to follow the path cleared by the cavalry and aid the Phalanx. Last but not least, I kept the Elephants in the second line as well. This is because I did not want them to be the early target for enemy shooting. At the same time, they would be in a good position to discourage and outflanking attempts by the enemy cavalry.

My plan was to move engage enemy infantry phalanx with my own and use cavalry to repeatedly charge the Roman style infantry to aid my own pikes. Either to help with the potential shatter effect or add more rounds of combat. In order to protect the units fighting enemy infantry, I needed to either keep the cataphracts at a distance or engage them with pikes and elephants. 

Deployment of the Armies

Seleucids - Turn 1

Turn 1 - Sequence of Actions

Seleucid Infantry vs Armenian Cavalry

Seleucids begun with sending their skirmishers forward to distract enemy Horse Archers. At the same time, phalangites manoeuvred to hopefully intercept some of the enemy cataphracts advancing on the flanks. Elephants moved to reinforce the right flank in doing so as well.

Seleucids expand the battle line.

Armenians - Turn 2

Turn 2 - Sequence of Actions.

Armenian infantry - a worthy opponent!

Armenian Horse Archers covered the advance of the main forces, but were not able to inflict much damage on the enemy just yet. Perhaps their efforts were spread over too many targets. Seleucids used that to their advantage by advancing and expanding their battle line without unnecessary delay. That, in turn, slowed down the Armenian Cataphracts, reluctant to charge the wall of pikes frontally.

Battle lines close the distance.

Seleucids - Turn 3

Turn 3 - Sequence of Actions

Pikes and Elephants vs Cataphracts.

In an attempt to chase off enemy horse archers, impetus Seleucid cataphracts did not slow down in time and were now forced to charge a wall of pikes. Fortunately for them, the casualties were not yet dramatic and they managed to withdraw from a dangerous fight. 

Seleucid infantry closed the distance to their counterparts and were preparing to engage, trusting their companions on the flank to keep the cataphracts distracted.

First combats on the left flank!

Armenians - Turn 4

Turn 4 - Sequence of Actions.

Massive scrum in the centre and left.

And no less important combat on the right flank.

The attacks started on the left flank where phalangites intercepted cataphracts to allow Agema to outflank the enemy infantry formation. Unfortunately for Seleucids, the charging lancers were still a bit too far to join the fight in a co-ordinated manner.

Next, the Companions and Phalangites attacked the enemy infantry and a bitter fight erupted. Phalangites had to win quickly as their flank was exposed to the nearby Hiberians. Some damage was inflicted and Companions withdrew to repeat the charge.

On the right the fights were no less important. The phalangites enthusiastically charged the Armenian Guard cataphracts but were soon defending desperately for their lives. Tigranes' finest routed the Seleucid infantry shortly after. 

Their companions were not that luck fighting Seleucid Elephants head on and eventually broke but half of the Seleucid contingent of pachyderms were killed in the process. 

The collapse of the right flank.

Seleucids - Turn 5

Turn 5 - Sequence of Actions

Agema, Companions and Cataphracts press hard to break enemy infantry.

With the left flank relatively secure, Agema charged enemy phalanx from the side and after vicious melee that followed, managed to rout the enemy and storm into next regiment in line. It caused nearby horse archers to start losing heart.

Cataphracts and Companions also kept on fighting, with Companions using their better training to withdraw from the fight to repeat their charge. The phalangites fighting next to them held their ground although they were now attacked from the side as well. 

The situation was becoming very dangerous for Seleucids, as victorious Guard Cataphracts were getting closer to deliver a crushing blow from the flank. Elephants were not able to stop them as they were busy avoiding enemy arrows and were not in good shape to fight frontally anyway.

The fate of the battle hangs in a fragile balance.

Armenians - Turn 6

Turn 6 - Sequence of Actions

The continued charge by the Agema from the flank broke another enemy unit and Companions quickly followed the example. The ripple effect of wavering line and panicking soldiers further weakened Armenian battle line. The fate of the battle still hung in the balance as Seleucids suffered heavy losses and many regiments were exhausted and at the brink of collapse.

However, with the final effort, the Phalangites in the centre, despite being attacked from two sides, managed to break their counterparts. Armenian army had to concede a defeat in what was a very bloody battle and could have been considered Pyrrhic victory for Seleucids. 

A moment before the last Armenian Phalanx collapsed.


Turn-by-turn animation summary.


Many thanks to Dean for a great game! It was absolute pleasure to play against a fantastic opponent with a beautifully painted army. Once again, I did not quite realize how close this battle was until I started writing this report. It is even more intriguing if you take into account the end result (15:3) and see how many TuGs in my army were just a single point of damage away from being routed.

The elephants avoided arrows for now but horse archers kept pursuing them and in the next round could even charge them to finish them off. Two TuGs of Phalanx were also in dangerous spots, one being flanked by horse archers, the other by Hiberians. I assumed that all three TuGs would have died the following turn. 

Even cavalry TuGs were not safe, each one of them two points of damage away from being broken. Something a round of shooting could have achieved. I am sure you would thus agree that it was far closer and bloody battle than the result suggests.

Naturally, I started to think what I could have done better to avoid such a dire situation and do not rely in luck in breaking enemy units before they broke mine.

I came to the conclusion that I was a bit reckless in some of the attacks and I should have been more strategic in my approach. 

One of the hard lessons was how big difference it makes in the fight when you have infantry TuG charging or intercepting the mounted enemies, especially such dangerous foes as Cataphracts. While the fight on the left flank was acceptable (I had to intercept, otherwise Cataphracts would have charged Agema), then the attack against Guard Cataphracts was bad idea. I should have taken into account the fact that Cataphracts gain +3 to their combat claims because of non-stationary pikes to begin with (one for infantry not standing to receive against cavalry, one for long spears and one for devastating charger). Add to that +1 for being superiour and potential shatter effect and one can be at quite a disadvantage. Instead, I should have waited in front of the unit to force it to charge (I believe Guard would need to play the card to hold the forced charge). If held, that would have played to my advantage by buying more time for the formation in the centre to break through.

I also thought that Elephants would grind through the Cataphracts on their own. However, especially in the case of bigger, 6 base strong TuGs, I need to take into account the fact that they may still suffer casualties. Perhaps better option was to actually position pikes to attack together. In this way cataphracts would have to divide their attacks while in general, the formation would have had more resilience. And would have lasted longer to keep that flank safe.

I did not accurately predict the way the fight would develop between infantry lines and thus placed Thracians on the wrong flank. They would have been very helpful in protecting the flank of the Phalanx against Hiberians.

All these measures would have helped the units in the centre, especially if encountered the infantry TuGs that are all 8 bases strong. I think the Roman style infantry is actually very good, even if not as well drilled as the Romans themselves. If they had 8 bases each, the attack may have failed. 

In general, however, I am quite happy with the new version of the army and variety of units it has. I would most likely play with it more if possible. I need to learn how to better manoeuvre with Cataphracts, Elephants and Thracians that seem to be more difficult to command. I missed that one extra card a bit that I had with two talented sub-commanders but perhaps it is just a matter of experience. 

I hope you found my last game in 2020 interesting! Please let me know if you have any comments!

Thanks for reading!


  1. Always happy to read your comments so says the Belgian MEG Prophet :-)

    1. Thank you! It is always great news when Belgian MEG Prophet approves :)

  2. Really appreciate your including the Army Lists in your game descriptions.

    1. Thank you Paul! I know it is very important so I ask my opponents for their lists or try to recreate them as closely as possible. My sincere apologies for mistakes in my army list in the last 3 games. Hopefully the last time ever :)