Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Monday, January 2, 2017

Lost Battles campaign day with Luke

Just before New Year Luke U-S popped down from his fastness in Osaka for a day of Lost Battles (his accounts are here and here and should be read as more comprehensive than mine). A little three-battle campaign was on the cards, in which his successor state would combat mine in an attempt to wrest control of a certain neutral territory. Whoever controlled this territory (and its trade routes) after the third game would win the war.

Battle of the Uexine Plains, 286 BC.

In our opening engagement the Sarlukid king crushed the Aronaics with a classic open-flank envelopment. The Sarlukid lancers defeated mine and then turned inwards to catch the phalanx in the flank and inflict a major defeat.

The fight in the centre was extremely close, and it was mainly due to the inspirational leadership of Sarlukis I that the line held long enough for the horse to fall upon the Aronaic flank.

The Aronaic right wing attempts to hold off the charge of Sarlukis I.

It was clear that the Sarlukids had a distinct advantage in horse, and that their Indian elephants were superior to the Aronaic breeds. It was also noted that the Aronaic phalanx could be relied upon to fight well provided that its flanks were secure.

Basic scheme of the battle: Sarlukids red; Aronaics blue.

Aroxus River, 274 BC.

Having added Uexine to their burgeoning empire, the Sarlukids bent to the task of embedding their rule. For ten years there was peace, but the death of Sarlukis I in an eating contest saw his headstrong son Sarlukis II assume the throne and take war into Aronaic territory.

Induced to fight on unfriendly terrain, Sarlukis II met the Aronaic army on the Aroxus River. Facing much improved cavalry and on ground which protected the Aronaic flanks, Sarlukis was forced to rely upon the elephant corps and his personal bravery to combat the superior Aronaic phalanx. The elephants did terrible damage, but the guard infantry of Arochus III Philomater held firm, the centre drove off the enemy and turned onto the Sarlukid right, Sarlukis was killed at the head of his cavalry, and eventually the northerners gave way.

The scene just prior to the surrounded Sarlukid left giving way.

Although Arochus was victorious, his casualties were heavy.

The shape of the battle: Sarlukids top; Aronaics bottom.

Sarkid Corridor, 262 BC.

Pride and prejudice made further attempts on Uexine inevitable, but it was not until 262 BC that Arochus III was able to spare the troops and treasure required to renew the war.

As it was, the aging king was soon met by his Sarlukid counterpart, Dylachius I, and brought to battle in unseasonably dry and parched conditions. Dylachius had trained more elephants and entrusted command of the lancers to his brother Dymenes. For his part, Arochus recruited more light cavalry and left most of his elephants at home.

On the day of battle Dylachius deployed first out of his camp. Arochus was thus able to react to the Sarlukid dispositions and ensure parity or superiority in key areas of the line. The kings deployed opposite each other, Dylachius with his household cavalry, Arochus with his guard phalangites, and it was here that the battle would be most fiercely contested.

Deployment. Sarlukids top; Aronaics bottom.

Dymenes led the right wing, but although his cavalry force was large, he could not bring all his troops to bear at once. Opposing him was the Aronaic veteran cavalry who, being a smaller and more select force, could better utilise their fighting capacity.

View from the Sarlukid left.

The fighting when battle commenced was again furious. The Indian elephants gave the advantage to the Sarlukids initially, but once the Aronaic veteran cavalry overcame Dymenes the battle swung in favour of Arochus. Dust and confusion allowed timely retreats and also concealed the progress of the Aronaic cavalry towards the enemy camp until it was almost too late. Seeing the banners of the enemy approaching, Dylachius himself was forced to come out of the front line (which he had been heroically propping up with successful rallies) to fend off the attack, but his troops were swept away - and him with them - to decide the affair.

Again, the Sarlukid elephants almost did enough to win the day, but the defeat of Dymenes, an unexpected breakdown in Sarlukid morale and the vagaries of the weather were too much to overcome.

It is said that after the third battle an agreement between the two kings granted the Aronaics the province of Uexine in return for the recipe for a particularly good beer. Peace was declared in perpetuity, and the result was a happy one for all concerned.

Many thanks to Luke for a great day of gaming. The battles were all incredibly close and both sides were often just a bad morale roll away from disaster, right up until the final decisive attack. Luke's play is always strong but in trying to find ways to counteract my phalanx (which was very effective in all three battles, elephant worries notwithstanding) he perhaps overly weakened his cavalry arm in the final battle, which meant he did not quite have the quality in horse he needed to carry the flank and ensure the win. His use of Indian elephants was impeccable, and I lost count of the number of times they caused double hits on my poor phalangites. Something for me to learn from there, I think. I was jittery all day after the mauling my personal morale took in the first game, and it never quite recovered. I'm still seeing those elephants in my sleep, just about!

It was a fantastic way to finish the hobby year, and I was quite pleasantly worn out by the end of it. Luke is shifting to a more spacious house in the near future, so our next game will hopefully take place in a new, shiny and fully equipped wargaming den!


  1. Your table is giving some lovely looking results.

  2. Wow, I don't think I have ready anyone actually playing Lost Battles outside of Sabin's group! Good looking game.

  3. Thanks gents! Yes Dale, some people do play Lost Battles :)

    1. I am just jealous because I could not wrap my head around it! :)

  4. A very neat and tidy looking table-top game.
    Some great looking troops,i love it all. BB


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