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Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Lost Battles Gaugamela Arbela 331BC

Having finished painting and dipping a huge number of 20mm plastic figures I was keen to play a battle with larger forces.
 Gaugamela or Arbela seemed to fit the bill so I grabbed a few books and settled down to some light research. As usual for for the time period, details vary from source to source and numbers range from educated estimates to wild and fantastic guesswork. One thing that quickly became apparent was that the Persian infantry (which may have been present in impressive numbers) played an insignificant role in the actual battle. A lack of quality and poor positioning seems to have been involved.
In fact the "Lost Battles" book has limited the Persians to 4 infantry units in its Gaugamela scenario.
Not a problem, the core rules in Lost Battles are robust enough to allow and encourage the "What if" experiments.  Adding 48,000 persian "Levy" to the battle without significantly changing the course of history turned out to be rather simple.
                               The plains of Gaugamela with Alexander on the left.

 If you are easily offended by amateur butchery on your favourite rules, Look away now!
 As the number of Persian units had increased by 50% and gone far above the normal limit (roughly 20 units for an army) I increased the -1 morale modifier for 4 units shattered to -1 for 6 units.
Attack limit increased from 5 to 6.
With the extra troops being classed as "Levy" the increase to the Persian Fighting value (and therefore their command ability) was insignificant and certainly was not going to make this mass of infantry an easy part of the army to utilise. In the end I left the FV of both armies as per the book.This actually produced just the effect I wanted.
  Last of all I needed an opponent to command the Macedonians, yet again the eldest sprog strapped on the "Sandals of Command" (magic item +50% luck, +300% wisdom, gains "Big head" and "Consume Cider").
We used turn 1 for deployment and with both of us checking the historical setup we ended up as in the above photo. Alexander initially showed more caution than usual but it was part of a cunning plan.
Darius advanced cavalry on both flanks and his right centre. Then the Macedonians advanced all along the line and used Alexanders "Turn reversal" to attack.
        The initial clash. Alexander can be seen urging his "companions" to the attack.

 On the Persian right, Macedonian cavalry and infantry pressed forward. The Persian cavalry absorbed the charge with only 2 units damaged but their return attacks had no effect.

            Persian Right. Green counters mark "levy", red counters mark "spent"

                                           View of Macedonian centre and left.

  Alexander led the charge on Darius left rear and smashed into the Persian line. In the next turn the Persian cavalry scored only 1 hit but Alexander decided to "Rally" it. Of course the dice came up double ones !!!  Alexander was speared through the thigh and unhorsed, dragged from the field by his companions, he would play no further part in this battle.
                                                       Alexander the" not so" Great

 For a few moments it looked like the Persians had gained the upper hand. None of the Macedonian attacks had been particularly devastating and on Darius left flank the Perian cavalry was opposed by a single light infantry unit.
                                       Macedon right just after Alexander falls.

As news of  Alexanders fall spread along the line the Macedonians surged forward thirsting for revenge. The Persian army was savaged everywhere it stood to fight.
                                                    Persian right about to collapse.

                                                   Persian centre under pressure.

         Persian left, not even the threat of cavalry on the flank can slow the Macedon advance.

 The Persians held on for another turn but their attacks failed to shatter any Macedonian units.
In the Macedonian turn the army of Darius started to fall apart.
                                                                        Persian rout.

 Darius had no intention of hanging around to face the Macedonian fury. Leaving orders for his remaining cavalry to fight to the end, the Persian King whipped several teams of chariot horses to death in a cowardly flight. Even though some Persian noble cavalry remained on the left flank we called the battle and ended here.

                                     Persian infantry follow their Kings example.

The pursuit and slaughter lasted well into the night as surgeons and magi worked to save Alexander.

Result by Handicap points. With a massive points boost for Alexander the persians had just enough points for a very minor victory. However even with Alexander being laid low, this did not feel like a Persian victory. Only 2 Macedonian units shattered a light cavalry and a light infantry. I think the Persian army running so quickly helped deny the Macedonians points.

Result by Battle, total victory for Alexander ! He may even recover use of his leg.
With the morale modifiers for levy troops and a timid commander it was a race to see which would break first.  Darius never seemed to have enough "commands" while the Macedonians could spare plenty for combat bonuses. The Persian infantry did not take an offensive role and although they did absorb some damage and deal out a couple of hits, their presence was never a real threat to Alexander.
  Overall the battle was just what I wanted it to be, most importantly Fun but also Fast to play and had a Historical feel. 

There has been a long running discussion on the Lost Battles Yahoo site about the levels of leader mortality. I have never been concerned with the rule "as written" and am more than happy to see commanders bite the dust.  I am playing primarily for fun with the history being a great bonus.
However there is another question, is it wise to risk your leader on a rally test. In this case absolutely not! It was the first hit on a unit in the area and had no chance of causing a morale test.
  BUT !  What would Alexander have done?
My personal opinion is that Alexander would have been right in the middle of this. I don't think he was the type to see his men in trouble and not ride in.
 In Glynns shoes I would do exactly the same thing,
 "Death or Glory"
perhaps even both.

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