Saturday, 23 July 2011

Battle of Panion 200BC.

Or was it 198 BC, nobody knows. Regardless here is our paltrey attempt to recreate a pivotal moment of Hellenistic history using our own bastardized WAB rules; Mr. Paul Ireland takes the part of Scopas, Ptolemy V's Strategos; I have the dubious honour of stepping into the shoes of Antiochus III.
The forces lined up as follows:

The Ptolemaic right wing with General Scopas, two units of light cavalry, a unit of peltasts in open order, thureophoroi & Aetolian hoplites screened by slingers and archers.
Facing them; Dahae horse archers, Politikoi cavalry, thorakites & thureophoroi screened to the front with archers. The arab levy lurks to one side in the broken ground & an elephant waits in reserve on the hill.

In the centre the Ptolemaic phalanx , Galatians and two African elephants face the Seleucid phalanx flanked by two Indian elephants.

On the left flank two units of Companions face the newly minted Seleucid cataphract arm.

The Seleucid King Antiochus opens the battle by leading his Hetairoi in a charge against the Ptolemaic companions, the Agema cataphracts close up in support. This results in a temporary stalemate as both sides fail to inflict casualties.
In the centre the Seleucid phalanx begins a slow grind forward in line oblique.
A tentative advance onto the hillside occurs on the far wing.

The General Scopas responds with a general advance and a charge of companions into the Seleucid Agema, this too results in stalemate.

 In a pivotal moment, the Seleucid heavies rout both units of Companions facing them leaving the Ptolmeic centre hanging in the wind.
Meanwhile over on the other flank the Ptolemaic lights skirmish tentatively forward taking casualties from the horse archers Parthian shot.
The Seleucid King and his Hetairoi follow up their destruction of the Ptolemaic horse with a successful charge into the flank of the phalanx, but with their blown horses cannot follow up quickly enough to destroy it.

The action on the other flank is less decisive as the river crossing slows down the light cavalry. Skirmishing continues in the broken ground and the Seleucid Thorakites occupy the hill.

The Seleucid cavalry continue to play havoc with the Ptolemaic centre rolling up the flanks of the phalanx assisted by the one Elephant. Scopas's Elephants arrive in support of his crumbling troops.
 On this wing two charges from the light horse break the Seleucid forces on the hill but crucially depleting their own numbers in the process. A charge from the Galatians ruined a unit of Persian Archers, their follow up into the Arab levy was a disaster as they are swept away in turn.

Having broken another pike phalanx Antiochus continues his blitzkrieg across the board leaving his own phalanx & elephant to deal with their opponents, Ptolemaic elephants hold the other cavalry units in check in the lee of Mount Hermon.

 Antiochus arrives on the flank of the Aetolian hoplites and promptly breaks them too.

In another crucial moment the Ptolemaic elephants crush the Seleucid cataphracts & rout the Agema, in the phalanx fight the remaining phalanx come within an ace of breaking the Seleucid line, however they in turn break in the next combat and the battle is lost.

And thats where we finished. The only intact Ptolemaic units being the elephants, and the remnants of the right wing. I've probably omitted a lot of the finer points of detail but in essence we returned a fairly historical result. Each side had a successful right wing and in the centre the Seleucid cavalry rolled up the Ptolemaic phalanx.
It may seem a little one sided but there were points where the result could have been very different, if Paul's right wing could have got into action a little quicker he could have put pressure on my left wing and opened up the flank for exploitation. This would have been particularly serious if his Galatians had broken through the Arab levy, as I expected them to.
In the phalanx clash he came close to breaking my centre, winning the combat by a good margin only to be thwarted by a good break test on my part.
The fight of the heavy cavalry early on was the real killer though, cataphract armour & barding really do make it difficult for wounds to stick.
In the end a good day was had by both of us so all the early mornings and late nights preparing paid off.


  1. Very cool looking game and great scenario. My buddy and I have modified WAB before - most recently with a Samurai skirmish game. We like the basic rules and it's fun adjusting things sometimes. Regards, Dean

  2. Many thanks Dean, I think we may revisit this one at some point in the future. More immediately Sellasia 222BC & Mantinaea 207BC loom large.

  3. Great battlereport on a beautiful gaming table! I am happy to see more reports in the future!