Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Mithradates v. the Romans

Jim's Pontic army v. Steve's Marian Romans

Having just read He Died Old, Alfred Duggan's book about Mithradates it was impossible not to put the Pontic army on the table again.  You have to love a bloke who hates Rome as much as Mithradates.  From the day he murdered his Mum to get the throne until his son had him knocked off 48 years later he was on a mission.  Even Hannibal didn't make speaking with an Italian accent punishable by death.

Both armies were 500 pts.  The Romans in 2 infantry divisions and 1 cavalry division, the Ponts 1 infantry division & 2 cavalry divisions.  The table was diced up and had a hilly end and plain end.  Not surprisingly, the Romans deployed on the hilly end and the Ponts on the plain end.
The pics are taken from behind the Pontic line.  The core of the Pontic army was its phalanx supported by Thorakitai & bowmen. but it had strong cavalry on each wing.  The Roman legionaries were supported by Auxillia foot and horse, but this time Steve had very few light troops.
The battle was a revolving door.  The Romans withdrew their horse behind the woods on their left and their legions steadily advanced and swung left.  The Ponts sent skirmishers forward to wear down the advancing Romans while their phalanx ponderously wheeled right and their right flank cavalry charged off after the Roman horse.
The cavalry fight was won by the Ponts, but their heavies were badly mauled and had to spend time rallying while the light cavalry tried to take out the Auxilla foot now forming the flank guard of the Roman foot.
The Auxilia flank guard stubbornly gave ground, but would not break as poor command dice held up the Pontic right flank cavalry.  But the Romans knew it was only matter of time before their flank was turned and despite the disruption of the enemy skirmishers charged the phalanx in a ragged line as soon as they could.

The phalanx looked impregnable, but alas for Mithradites, as so often in real life, the dice gods decided it was the time to give the Romans a break.  One phalanx broke, then another, shredding the solid front.  The Romans then got in some flank attacks and the infantry division broke.  Unfortunately, the Pontic commander was so dismayed at the goings-on on the table he forgot to take any pics of the sad events.

But as they do, the dice gods eventually relented.  The Auxilia flank guard finally broke and the Pontic cavalry smashed into the Roman left rear.  The other Pontic cavalry division, which had been withdrawn to support the phalanx, counterattacked before the Romans could sort their line back out after beating the phalanx.
With the dice now turning back in their favour, the Pontic cavalry broke both Roman infantry divisions giving Mithradates victory.

Once again we had a battle with wild swings of fortune.  The Ponts certainly outmanoeuvred the Romans, but then a period where they couldn't throw a hit, couldn't throw a save, & failed every morale throw, while the Romans did the opposite, nearly turned it around.   But, at least in Pontic eyes, justice prevailed in the end.

We tried out new counters I bought in Launceston last week after seeing them at the games club meeting.  We used green for casualties, orange for one off shaken, yellow for shaken, blue for disordered.  They did the job nicely.


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