Help support TMP

"Consul versus King" Topic

3 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.

Back to the Ancients Battle Reports Message Board

Areas of Interest


567 hits since 21 May 2018
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

The Membership System will be closing for maintenance in 1 minutes. Please finish anything that will involve the membership system, including membership changes or posting of messages.

Eggbert21 May 2018 1:57 p.m. PST


As it is apparently my "process", I went through a number of frustrating false starts before deciding, finally, around the middle May, to make a return visit to the ancient battlefield of Pydna. Here too, a number of rough drafts were produced, as I wrestled with my specific angle and particular purpose. Did I want to stage another refight? If so, what rules should I use? More importantly, how could I make my refight stand out from those already in existence? Should I worry about making my scenario stand out? Did I want to use the historical engagement as a springboard for something else? (Readers might recall that I did something similar in late June of 2015. Please see "Playing Around With Pydna". Here is the link: link To relieve some of the perceived or self-inflicted pressure, I decided not to attempt another refight of the historical contest. I would, however, try to remain true – as much as it was possible – to the look of the landscape. With regard to the composition and size of the opposing forces, well, that was a different matter. Before I explain my thinking on that topic, I should like to briefly consider the terrain at or the terrain of Pydna.

Should a River Run Through It?
In Chapters 40 and 41 of Book 44, Livy provides some information about the nature of the battlefield at Pydna. (The online translation was found here: link In 40.2, one finds that "there was a river, not very large, nearer to the enemy's (the Macedonian) camp". Livy also explains that the river was not very deep, as "it only came up to the knees of the Roman soldiers". While the course and length of the river is not specifically described, it seems that one could infer that this particular water course was not very wide, nothing like the Rhine for example, or even very swift. In 40.6, mention is made of the pre-battle shouting and cheering "echoing across the neighbouring hills", so perhaps one could imagine that the battlefield was located in some kind of slight valley. In 40.8, Mount Olocrus is mentioned. This elevation was evidently rather near the Roman lines and encampment, as some of the Roman troops retreated to this identified terrain feature. In 40.9, Livy explains the the "ground was uneven". The ancient author also suggests the either the length of the field was rather extensive or that the length of the enemy line was rather extended. It is difficult to determine exactly which. Sufficed to say, the Macedonians, especially their phalanx, had problems keeping their line together and uniform. In 41.3, Livy takes the interested reader back to the river. He explains that "the fight began on the right wing, at the river". Furthermore, he informs that this was where the elephants and allied cavalry were deployed. Their advance forced the Macedonian formations on the other side of the water "obstacle" to withdraw. To be sure, my reading and annotating of the translation of the relevant sections of Livy's narrative does not make me an authority on this ancient battle. I am not making any such outlandish claim. I do find it interesting, however, to note how others have interpreted Livy and how others have decided to model the terrain of Pydna in their respective reconstructions.

In the April 2014 issue of Wargames Illustrated, the well known author, rules writer and accomplished wargamer Mr. Simon MacDowall provided a report on wargaming the battle of Pydna. The full-colour and spectacular photograph on page 65 shows both 28 mm armies deployed and ready for battle. Interestingly, a small river (or is it a stream?) starts on the Macedonian right and meanders in front of a good portion of the Macedonian army until it exits off the long, 10-foot table edge. There is no evidence of a river or similar water feature on the Roman right, where the model Numidian elephants stand, waiting to advance. In the scenario offered on his website, Mr. MacDowall shifts the position of the river. (Please see link For this scenario on a six by four-foot table top, the river appears to bisect the Roman left wing. I am guessing that it is the Roman left because of the indication of rough ground and a low hill on this side of the table. Reviewing the simply stunning photographs of Mr. Simon Miller's presentation of Pydna at Partizan in 2014 (please see link I did find evidence of higher ground and of rough ground, but did not see anything resembling a river. In another spectacular effort, I noted patches of what appeared to be rough ground or terrain, but did not see any hills and did not see any kind of water course on the table. (Please see link A fourth return of a Google search for "wargaming Pydna" turned up another large and lovely table. (Please see link In this scenario, a river "frames" the Macedonian right but appears to end in the approximate middle of the model battlefield. However, I could detect, just barely, what appeared to be patches of rough ground behind the Roman lines. Continuing to mine the Internet for information, I stumbled upon this site: link This detailed map (I will leave it to others to debate its accuracy) shows the Macedonian army and encampment bordered by two rivers. Additionally, there is definitely an indication of the higher and rougher ground just behind the Roman battle lines. This particular map also diagrams how each army was arranged for battle. (Again, I leave this topic to others more experienced and expert to discuss and debate.) A final bonus is the presence of a bar scale. The interested reader or ancients wargamer can determine the length of each army's line of battle. By my amateur measuring, the Roman lines extended, apparently, for just over 3.5 kilometres.

After reviewing the various interpretations of the landscape at Pydna, and after rereading the narrative of Livy, I decided to landscape my table top so that it looked like the map offered in the last link or site. To be certain, my completed landscape looked nothing at all like the landscapes fashioned by Mr. MacDowall and Mr. Miller. I wasn't trying to replicate their masterpieces. I was trying to create something functional, within my current financial means, and representative of my level of "talent". This accomplished, I turned my attention and energies to drafting the respective orders of battle and producing the opposing armies.

Pumping Up The Numbers
According to the "detective report" filed by Mr. MacDowall in the April 2014 issue of Wargames Illustrated, "the Romans had close to 35,000 infantry, 4,000 cavalry and just over 30 African elephants" present on that fateful day in late June of 168 BC. On the other side of the field, he explains that "the Macedonian army is said to have included 21,000 phalangites, 17,000 other infantry, and 4,000 cavalry". Although Mr. MacDowall admits to "taking some liberties with the orders of battle in the interests of playability and to ensure that each player had a good coherent command", these choices did not impact the miniature wargame. In fact, by all accounts, it was a very enjoyable and exciting contest.

Being a confessed enthusiast of large battles, initially, I considered tripling the size of the forces used by Mr. MacDowall and his colleagues. This borderline megalomania would have required the production of 12 legions (6 Roman and 6 of Italian allies), around 60,000 phalangites, and close to 100 African elephants. While staging such a spectacle, albeit without miniatures, was rather appealing, I had to be more realistic in my approach. After studying both the orders of battle provided in his Wargames Illustrated piece and those offered on his website (again, please see link I decided to take advantage of the detailed information found on the pages of the glossy publication. To satisfy my apparent need for solo wargaming larger actions, I decided to double the numbers of troops involved. Therefore, instead of just 4 legions (2 Roman and 2 Allied), there would be 8 legions (4 Roman and 4 Allied) in attendance. Instead of approximately 21,000 phalangites, there would be 40,000 of the pikemen present on my table top. Though I am not fluent in Civitates Bellantes, I had no difficulties translating its terms and words into the language of L'Art de la Guerre or ADLG, the rules selected for this particular scenario.

The Macedonians
The Reserve –
King Perseus / unattached, competent commander
The Royal Ile – 3 units (600) of elite heavy cavalry
Notes) King Perseus leads the Royal horse, but he may assume command of any corps in his army.

The Right Wing –
King Kotys / unattached, ordinary commander
12 units (2,400) of Thracian heavy cavalry
07 units of Thracian skirmishers (2,800) / light infantry armed with javelins
07 units of Thracians (5,600)- divided into 04 units of LMI javelinmen; 02 units of medium swordsmen, and 01 unit of medium swordsmen 2HW
07 units of Illyrian skirmishers (2,800) / light infantry armed with javelins
07 units of Cretan archers (2,800) / light infantry armed with bows [02 units were rated elite]
11 units of Mercenary thureophoroi (8,800) / medium spearmen
1. For this scenario, I established a unit scale where: 1 unit of cavalry represented 200 riders and their mounts; 1 unit of light infantry (skirmishers) represented 400 men, and 1 unit of heavy infantry (to include medium as well as light-medium types) represented 800 soldiers. (Please see the ‘Figure' section on page 6 of the ADLG rules.)
2. With regard to command and control, King Kotys was the overall commander of this formation. The Thracian cavalry had a commander. The Thracian foot had a commander. There was a leader for the Illyrians and Cretans. There was a commander for the Mercenary thureophoroi.

The Right Phalanx –
Milo / unattached, competent commander
08 units of "Agema" (6,400) / elite pikemen
16 units of "Bronze Shields" (12,800) / pikemen
Notes) There were individual corps commanders assigned to each "division" of pikemen.

The Left Phalanx –
Euphanor / unattached, ordinary commander
12 units of "White Shields" (9,400) / pikemen
16 units of "Bronze Shields" (12,800) / pikemen
Notes) As with the Right Phalanx, there were individual corps commanders leading each colour of "shields".

The Left Wing –
Phillipos / unattached, ordinary commander
09 units of Tarantines (1,800) / light cavalry with javelins
12 units of Macedonian heavy cavalry (2,400)
06 units of Greek heavy cavalry (1,200)
11 units of Mercenary thureophoroi (8,800) / medium spearmen
07 units of Cretan archers (2,800) / light infantry armed with bows [03 units were rated elite]
Notes) With regard to command and control, the Tarantines were in one corps, while the Macedonians and Greeks operated together. The Cretan archers worked in conjunction with the Mercenaries, so there were just 3 corps commanders on this wing.

If my sums are correct, the Macedonians would field 151 units for this interpretation of the battle of Pydna. How many units would the Romans deploy for action?

The Romans
The Reserve –
Consul Aemilius Paullus / unattached, competent commander
06 units of Roman equites (1,200) / 02 units of medium cavalry; 02 units of heavy cavalry, and 02 units of elite heavy cavalry
Notes) Consul Paullus commands the Roman cavalry reserve, but he may assume command of any corps in his army.

The Left Wing –
Attalus Philadelphus of Pergamon / unattached, ordinary commander
06 units of Italian heavy cavalry (1,200)
06 units of Pergamene lancers (1,200)
06 units of Italian medium cavalry (1,200)
07 units of Greek skirmishers (2,800) / light infantry armed with javelins
07 units of Cyrtian skirmishers (2,800) / light infantry armed with slings
07 units of Achaian archers (2,800) / light infantry carrying bows
07 units of Italian allies (5,600) / divided into 05 units of Italian LMI with javelins, and 02 units of Italian medium swordsmen
Notes) The Pergamene lancers were classed as heavy cavalry with impact. These troopers were actually xystophoroi, and were found on the Pergamon list, Number 73 on page 120 of the ADLG catalogue.

The Legions under Scipio Nasica –
Scipio Nasica / unattached, competent commander
Roman Legions
04 units of Velites (skirmishers) (1,600) / light infantry armed with javelins
04 units of Hastati (3,200) / heavy swordsmen with impact
04 units of Principes (3,200) / heavy swordsmen with impact
02 units of Triarii (1,600) / elite heavy spearmen with armour
Italian Legions
04 units of Velites (skirmishers) (1,600) / light infantry armed with javelins
04 units of Hastati (3,200) / heavy swordsmen with impact
04 units of Principes (3,200) / heavy swordsmen with impact
02 units of Triarii (1,600) / heavy spearmen with armour
1. The first bullet-point note for the Republican Roman list (Number 53 on page 108) reads: "The Roman army is organised in legions that each contains [sic] 4 units of Hastati-Principes, 2 units of Velites and 1 unit of Triarii". As I was interested in testing a rule amendment governing the line-relief of legions, I separated the Hastati from the Principes for this scenario.
2. There will be an individual leader for each pair of legions, so there will be 2 corps commanders for this formation, in addition to Scipio Nasica.

The Legions under Consul Lucius Albinus –
Consul Lucius Albinus / unattached, competent commander
Roman Legions
04 units of Velites (skirmishers) (1,600) / light infantry armed with javelins
04 units of Hastati (3,200) / heavy swordsmen with impact
04 units of Principes (3,200) / heavy swordsmen with impact
02 units of Triarii (1,600) / elite heavy spearmen with armour
Italian Legions
04 units of Velites (skirmishers) (1,600) / light infantry armed with javelins
04 units of Hastati (3,200) / mediocre heavy swordsmen with impact
04 units of Principes (3,200) / mediocre heavy swordsmen with impact
02 units of Triarii (1,600) / mediocre heavy spearmen with armour
04 units of Other Italian allies / medium swordsmen
Notes) I went back and forth on whether or not to reduce the ability of the Italian legions. I hope the decision to downgrade 2 of them will not come back to haunt me.

The Right Wing –
Misagenes the Numidian / unattached, competent commander
06 units of Italian medium cavalry (1,200)
16 units of Numidian light cavalry with javelins ( 3,200) [04 units were rated elite]
07 units of Numidian skirmishers (2,800) / light infantry armed with javelins
06 units of mediocre elephants (60)
1. The Numidians were drafted from List Number 56 on page 110 of the rule book.
2. I opted for a representative scale of 1 "model" elephant equaled 10 "real" animals.

Adding up the Roman, Italian, and other contingents, I arrived at 141 units in the army of Consul Paullus. King Perseus has a 10 "point" advantage then. At least it appears so on paper.

Scenario Specific Rules – A Work in Progress
1. Consul Paullus and King Perseus may assume command over any corps in their army. If they engage in actual fighting, the melee bonus to the involved unit is increased to a +2 modifier. Consul Paullus and King Perseus may exert their command influence at double their standard range. As a competent commander, King Perseus benefits from a 12 uds (units of distance) leadership range.
2. Wing commanders or named personalities may also assume command over any corps in their formation. Further, just like their bosses, these leaders have a doubled command range. That is to explain: If an ordinary wing commander is within 8 uds (units of distance) of a formation in his wing, he may issue orders to it without having to pay a command point penalty.
3. Commanders of allied contingents (the Numidians, the Thracians, etc.) are not considered allied or unreliable leaders for the purposes of this scenario. They do not have to achieve a certain die result before they can order or commit their troops into action.
4. The permitted frontage or width of a group is increased to 8 units.
5. Roman and Italian legions may conduct "line relief". This process is accomplished in a couple of ways. First, a unit of Principes may move to support a unit of Hastati engaged in melee. This is done by aligning the front of the Principes unit against the rear of the Hastati unit. In the next melee round, a +1 melee modifier, for being supported from the rear, is applied to the combat roll for the Hastati unit. Second, when activated, a unit of Principes, as long as it is within a normal move of a Hastati unit, may swap places with that unit. This switch may take place even if the Hastati is currently engaged in a melee. Units of Hastati may return the favour if they find themselves in temporary reserve. Units of Triarii may also conduct "line relief".
6. The distance covered by routed units and rampaging elephants is increased to 3 uds (units of distance).
7. Demoralisation rules will be applied to wings and or "large divisions" of each army instead of to the entire force. For example, there are 45 units in the Macedonian Left Wing. When the formation under Phillipos has suffered 45 points or more in lost commanders, routed units, disordered units, or units leaving the table, then the entire wing is routed off the field. As there are 4 major formations in each army, when 2 of these commands are routed or lost, then the other side has won the day.
8. The river does not present an obstacle to movement. All unit types may cross without penalty. A unit that stands on the opposite bank, however, does earn a melee advantage in the first round against an attacking/charging unit.

Terrain and Troop Arrangement
On the evening of 16 May, I landscaped my table for the coming battle/wargame. In something of a departure from my usual routine, I took photographs as the model field was being prepared. To represent the hills on the Roman side, I used hexagons in various sizes cut from green foam sheets that were secured from a local crafts store. To represent the patches of rough ground, I used hexagons, again in various sizes, cut from specialty paper that was purchased at the same store. For the river, I cut over 100 hexagons from blue and light blue foam sheets. I followed but did not duplicate the nature of the terrain indicated on the map found at link The finished product was not tremendously pleasing, at least in the traditional or expected sense of historical miniature wargaming, but it was financially feasible and it was functional. I could tell, at a glance, what was a hill, what was a patch of scrub or brush, and where the river flowed. In sum, I thought the finished battlefield looked rather good.

As for arranging the opposing armies, well, I must confess that I was a bit worried about the numbers of units present and the size of my tabletop. I started on the Roman left, with the formations under Attalus Philadelphus. The Greek and Cyrtian light infantry were placed forward as a screen. The Italian cavalry units were in two lines on the far left. The Pergamene horsemen were positioned as a local reserve. The Italian allied foot and Achaian archers were behind the skirmishers and to the right of the Italian cavalry. The eight legions were deployed in the center, with the Italians on the outside and the Romans in the middle. Consul Paullus and the Roman cavalry were stationed well to the rear, behind the solid lines of Nasica's troops. Each legion was arranged with the Velites and Hastati in the first line, the Principes in the second line, and the Triarii as a reserve. On the immediate right of the right-most Italian legions, there was a small formation of Italian allied foot. The Roman right was assigned to Misagenes. The elephants were deployed next to the Italian allied infantry. The Numidian cavalry were next. One command was in a line and the other was positioned in two columns on the far right of the formation. The Italian medium cavalry waited behind the Numidians; they formed a kind of reserve.

The cavalry of Phillipos waited across the shallow river. The Tarantines acted as a screen. The Greek and Macedonian heavy horse formed the main strike force of this wing or command. A strong infantry "division", composed of mercenary thureophoroi and archers formed a third line behind the massed cavalry units. The phalanx was, of course, in the centre of the line. Due to space constraints, I had to deploy the various formations of the phalanx in two lines. The "wing" under Euphanor had 6 units of "White Shields" and then 8 units of "Bronze Shields". A few yards behind these bristling-with-pikes formations, there were another 6 units of "White Shields" and 8 units of "Bronze Shields". A similar "stacking" occurred on the "wing" supervised by Milo. Here, the first line was held by 8 units of "Bronze Shields" and 4 units of "Agema". The second line included the same number of troops. The Macedonian right wing was assigned to King Kotys. A screen of Thracian skirmishers was reinforced by even more Thracians. The Thracian cavalry were posed to the far right. The mercenary thureophoroi waited in reserve.

Even though there was not a single painted miniature on the table, the overall effect, at least to me, was rather pleasing. The troop formations were readily identifiable, the counters were colourful, and they were easy to handle. Additionally, I did not have to worry about chipping paint, bending spears or swords, or worse, getting impaled by pike points. To be sure, my units lacked the beauty, feel, and heft of 28 mm figures, but my interests lay in the game, the rules, and understanding the history. Anyhow. While the armies were being placed into their starting positions, photographs were taken for possible future use as well as to create a visual record.

How It Played
Deciding it would be substantially less messy as well as much simpler to flip a coin than conduct a number of sacrifices (in 40.2, Livy reports that "favourable auspices were not obtained by the first twenty victims . . ." [Sidebar: Would these animal victims have been sheep, goats, or some other quadruped?), I declared "heads" for the Romans and "tails" for the Macedonians. The result? King Perseus and his formations would start this mostly historical "dance".

Usually, I offer summaries of the action every three or four turns. Sometimes, I divide the contest into sectors and relate what happened on the left, right, and in the centre. For this wargame, I thought I might try to emulate Mr. Priestley and narrate the action as it unfolded. (See the seven colourful battle reports in the Hail Caesar rule book.)

TURN 1 –
A general advance was ordered and in large measure, it went well. On the right, troops were almost to the river bank. The phalanx marched forward slowly, of course. The bronze shields on the left wing of the formation were hampered by a poor command roll. The Tarantine light cavalry splashed across the shallow river. There was additional cavalry in support. Given the presence of enemy elephants, I wondered if I should have deployed my infantry forward. In the role of Consul Paullus, I toyed with the idea of ordering all of the legions forward, but decided to wait a bit. On the right flank, the Numidians and their elephants advanced. The Numidian light horse came within javelin range of the Tarantines and so, missiles started flying between the open order ranks. First blood of the day went to the Tarantines, as they managed to bring down a score of Numidian troopers. Over on the Roman left flank, the skirmishers trotted forward, and the cavalry and allied foot followed.

TURN 2 –
Changing back into the ornate (I would imagine it to be so) "uniform" of King Perseus, I watched from a distance as skirmishers on the right started across the river. Their missiles did a little damage to the enemy screen. The Thracian contingent followed behind the light infantry. There was cavalry getting into position on this flank as well. In the centre, the phalanx continued its snail-like advance. The bronze shields on the left were again subject to poor command dice.
On the left wing, I noted – with a bit of concern – the bloody nose received by the Tarantines. An attack on the light infantry screening the Numidian elephants witnessed terrible dice and the loss of 2 units of light cavalry. [Sidebar: During the brief melees, I wondered if elephants should have an effect even if they were no directly involved.] Two more units of Tarantines routed when they were mugged by some Numidian light horse. While this reverse was taking place, half of the Macedonian heavy cavalry was moving across the river, and the Greek heavy horse was moving over to put a damper on any ideas the Numidians might have about swinging around the left and left-rear.

Donning the shiny cuirass of Consul Paullus, I observed as the skirmishers on the left flank returned the shower of missiles against the enemy screen. In order not give the impressive-looking phalanx a free pass across the river, I ordered all the Velites to advance. The assembled legions were now in four separate lines. Over to my right, the Numidians had lost a couple of units in a swirling melee, so things were starting to even out a bit. On a farther edge of this sector, Numidian javelins failed to so much as bother or dent a formation of Greek heavy cavalry.

TURN 3 –
Assuming the subordinate role of King Kotys, I ordered the skirmisher screen to charge the enemy screen. This was promptly carried out and while there were losses on both sides, the Roman/Italian skirmishers appeared to be getting the short end of the javelin. In the centre of the field, the uniform line of the phalanx was no more. The white shields, on the far left of the formation, were the first to get their feet wet, but the bronze shields to their immediate right were still lagging. The other units in the wall of pike-armed infantry were nearing the river's edge.
Over on the left wing, a couple of units of Macedonian cavalry charged the Numidian skirmishers screening the elephants. These light infantry evaded, running behind the grey skinned and smelly animals. The Macedonians could not rein in their advance and quickly found themselves nose to trunk with the elephants. One unit of Macedonians was broken and the other took casualties. [Note: Even mediocre elephants have a +2 melee modifier versus mounted. Cavalry facing elephants have a -1 modifier, so the Macedonians were at 0, while the elephants were at +2.] The Tarantines also lost more men in this phase. They were now at ⅓ their original strength. Even so, a unit of Tarantine light cavalry set its sights on Misagenes. Elsewhere in this sector, the Greek cavalry forced the harassing Numidians to evade.

In the Roman side of this turn, not much more happened on the right wing. Some of the elephants chose to leave their skirmisher friends behind and push forward to get nearer to the enemy heavy horse. The surviving Macedonian unit managed to hold on in the one-sided melee against a fair number of elephants. The centre remained quiet. The Velites continued to wait on their side for the phalanx to step foot on the Roman side. On the left, the confused melee between skirmisher screens continued. More men fell on both sides. Some Italian horse forced enemy light infantry to evade and then carried on into some waiting Thracian cavalry. The ensuing melees saw casualties on both sides, however, there were quite a few ties due to the Thracians armour rating.

Demoralisation Check: At the end of Turn 3, the Macedonians had lost 11 units, while the Romans had lost 8 units. This calculation did not include disordered formations and was taken for each army as opposed to specific "divisions" or wings.

TURN 4 -
Assuming the role of King Perseus again, I sat on my horse and watched events unfold or listened as couriers from various parts of the field galloped up and reported. Over on the right flank, the cavalry contest between the Italians and Thracians continued. A unit of Italian horse routed and in its flight, impacted some friends. The Thracians could not get to grips with the enemy allied foot as the skirmishers screens were still wrestling with each other. [Sidebar: Under the Armati rules, if I am not mistaken, heavy infantry units can simply brush or sweep friendly as well as enemy skirmishers aside in order to get a hold of the enemy.] In the centre, the phalanx continued its glacial progress towards the river. On the plus side, the white shields on the far left had succeeded in getting their first command of pikemen all the way across. These troops were not subjected to any missiles, nor where they attacked. The left wing witnessed the demise of the Macedonian cavalry engaged with the elephants. Evidently, the lesson did not take, as another group of heavy horse decided to try their luck against the Numidian pachyderms. A chaotic melee developed between some Greek heavy horse and some Italian medium horse. The Greeks took the brunt of it. Another group of Greeks continued to press the Numidian light horse. In order to prevent a flanking move, a detachment of mercenaries and some archers were positioned to keep the hovering Numidians honest.

Returning to the command suite of Consul Paullus, I had the Velites hold their position, but I ordered all of the Hastati forward. Subordinate commanders sat on their horses in the wide gap between Hastati and Principes. There was still no contact and so no fighting between legion and phalanx. On the right wing, the Numidian elephants absolutely flattened the Macedonian heavy horse, wiping out 4 units and letting the few survivors impact nearby friends. In the all cavalry melee in this sector, no decision was reached, but the Italian officer was speared off his mount. (He would be the first of several leader casualties in the battle.) Quite a few units of Numidians were still putting space between themselves and pursuing Greek heavy horse. A small group of Numidians were still pestering the mercenary foot, but not scoring any hits with their light javelins. Over on the other flank, the Italian medium cavalry suffered a number of reverses in their melee with the Thracians. A few units were routed and caused further disorder when they crashed into friendly formations that had moved too close. A gap having been noticed between the end of the legionary line and troops in this sector, a detachment of Italian allied foot was moved up into a blocking position.

TURN 5 -
In the centre of the field, the formations making up the right side of the larger phalanx managed to cross the shallow river and force the Velites to evade or risk winding up on the wrong end of a pike. The bronze shields on the left side of the larger phalanx, having not responded as well to orders, were just entering the knee-high water. The white shields on the far left were across and had forced the Velites in this local sector to scamper away. Back over on the right flank, the Thracians moved forward to engage the remnants of the enemy skirmisher screen. The melee between the Italians and Thracians continued without let up. The Thracians had some units in reserve, but the Romans still had the full complement of xystophoroi from Pergamon. On the left wing, the remaining units of Macedonian heavy horse were striving to get out of the way of the Numidian elephants. Some friendly foot were moving up to try their luck against the four-legged animals. A very small group of Tarantines was moving through a gap in the enemy line. Evidently, they were seeking out Misagenes as well. The cavalry contest on the outer limit of this flank proceeded without a decision being reached. Sufficed to say, both sides were in rather poor shape.

Assuming the role of the various Roman and allied commanders, over on the right wing, I pushed the elephants forward across the river and almost managed to catch one of the Macedonian heavy cavalry units. I noted the dwindling numbers of Italian horse on this flank. They were not doing at all well against the heavier Greek horse. The Numidians had not really been able to concentrate and harass effectively. I did manage to ride over a unit of Cretan archers, but most of my light cavalry were busy avoiding the sharp end of enemy mercenary foot and mounted units. In the centre of the field, finally, I managed to come to grips with a least a portion of the approaching phalanx. I contested the advance of the white shields; I met the bronze shields with troops from the command of Nasica. The exchange of losses was fairly even.
Checking on the status of my left flank, while the Italians were managing to hold off a sweeping advance by the Thracians, it was noted that the Macedonians had the numbers in this sector.

Demoralisation Check: At the end of Turn 5, there had been losses (both in routed and disordered units) on both sides and all across the field. The majority of the fighting was taking place on the flanks. For the Macedonians, they had lost 34 points out of a limit of 45 on their left. On their right, casualties had amounted to 27 points out of a limit of 51. For the Romans, the Numidians on their right flank had lost 21 out of 35 points. Over on their left, 28 points had been routed or disordered out of a limit of 46.

TURN 6 -
There was no real change in the status of the Macedonian right. Some reserve Thracian horse did move up to near contact with the enemy, but there was no melee initiated. The ongoing melee produced no definitive decision. Men and horses continued to fall on both sides. The Thracian infantry continued to push so as to come to grips with the visible Italian formation, but no contact was established. As they had done since the start of the battle, the Pergamene heavy cavalry remained in place, watching the action unfold. In the centre, the entire front line of the phalanx was now involved in the fighting; the slow bronze shields on the left advanced into the waiting Hastati formations under the overall direction of Consul Albinus. (Sidebar: At the end of the Macedonian phase, there were 11 phalanx units marked with losses versus 10 units of Romans and Italians. However, 2 units of Hastati had been routed versus no units of phalanx.)
On the left wing, the Tarantines continued their pursuit of Misagenes. Another units of light infantry was destroyed by the bent-on-revenge light cavalry. The Greek heavy horse was almost done the Italians. In fact, there were very few Italian horsemen left. The shift of some mercenary medium foot had discouraged the Numidian light horse from pressing this flank further. These enemy horsemen seemed content to demonstrate or try and figure out how they could have an impact with so few squadrons.

Switch leadership roles again, I found myself, as Consul Paullus, reacting more and more to the advances and attacks of King Perseus. Over on my left, the indecisive cavalry melee between opposing heavy units continued. I did order the xystophoroi formation to move forward, however. Somebody had to slow down the Thracians. In the centre of the field, I watched as my Hastati units were ground into the grass and dirt by the phalanx. While many units of the phalanx were wounded (a few severely), more Roman and Italian units were hurt, and more Roman and Italian units had been destroyed. The Velites were recalled to form a screen in front of the fresh line of Principes. The surviving units of Hastati were essentially left to their collective and desperate fate. Over on the right flank, several elephant troops trundled into melee against some enemy foot screened by skirmishing archers. In two melees, the light infantry were trampled and the elephants pursued into the waiting lines of medium spearmen. In two other melees, the archers did very well, inflicting losses on the mediocre elephants. Some effort was expended in trying to get the Numidian light cavalry back together. Here, I had a very small cushion of space, as the Italians were holding on, if only by a thread. Tired of running, Misagenes took command of a unit of Numidian light infantry and encouraged them to hold off a charge from some Tarantine light cavalry.

TURN 7 –
Starting on the Macedonian left, a unit of skirmishing bowmen was able to kill off some elephants. Unfortunately, the surviving and panicked animals routed into another group of pachyderms which produced a kind of chain reaction. The second group of elephants stampeded into a unit of mercenary foot, crushing it as well as the attached group leader. There was less drama in the cavalry contest on this flank. Here, the Italians managed to hold on against increasing odds. While a small formation of Tarantine light horse was able to move around at will in the right rear of the Roman/Numidian line (it was at this point that I regretted no placing any camps on my table), they were as effective as the Numidians on the other side of the river. The squadron engaged by Misagenes and his light infantry was defeated and destroyed. In the centre of the field, the phalanxes started to gain the upper hand if they did not have it already. There were 26 units of pikemen facing 14 units of Romans and Italians. There were 26 units of pikemen waiting in the second line. The right wing saw the Thracians beginning to wear down the Italian cavalry, while the opposing infantry formations continued to jostle for position.

In the Roman phase of this turn, the stubborn Italian cavalry on the right wing finally lost heart and routed. This decision left only the Numidian light horse on this flank, and these were fairly scattered. As for their elephants, well, against the enemy foot, they did rather less well than they did against the Macedonian heavy horse. Half of the elephants were dead or panicked, and those that remained were somewhat isolated from friendly support. The centre of the table was almost stripped of Hastati as the phalanx units did some mopping up while keeping in line. There were just 9 units of Romans or Italians standing against the solid wall of pikemen. A minor bright spot was the action of some light-medium infantry and medium infantry against the "Agema". These troops manage to frustrate and hold these elite infantry. On the left wing, some Italian cavalry were able to get behind a part of the Thracian horse and rout a unit in a sharp melee. The heavy cavalry from Pergamon finally joined in the action and charged the Thracian foot. The light-medium infantry were ridden over but the other sections stood up to the attack and inflicted a few losses.

Demoralisation Check: At the end of Turn 7, the Macedonian left was teetering on the edge of dissolving. It had lost 44 points out of its limit of 45. The right wing was in danger as well, having lost 41 points out of a limit of 51. The Roman flanks were also in danger of collapsing. The left wing had lost 44 points out of a limit of 46, while the Numidians on the right had lost 33 points out of 35.
[Sidebar: Curiously and interestingly, neither King Perseus nor Consul Paullus have involved themselves or their cavalry formations in the battle. The Macedonian commander has, however, ordered his royal guard over to the right wing.]

TURN 8 –
Playing the various roles of King Perseus and his subordinates, I hoped that it would not be too late to rally a few units on the left wing and stave defeat in this sector. Fortunately, the anonymous commander of the Macedonian heavy cavalry redeemed himself by rallying two of the slightly damaged units in his formation. (These squadrons were able to self-rally, as they were more than 4 uds from any enemy.) Two more points were added to the balance then. It looked as thought the Macedonian left would be safe for another turn. Without their leader, the mercenary foot could do very little. It appeared as though they would be at the mercy of the 30 or so elephants. Having defeated the Italians, the Greek heavy cavalry turned their attention on the Numidian troopers. These horsemen evaded, of course. In the centre, the left wing of the phalanx continued to push against some very stubborn units of Hastati. Over on the right side of the phalanx, the bronze shields and "Agema" marched forward, gaining more of a foothold on the Roman side of the river. One stubborn unit of Italians held out against a unit of elite pikemen, however. Over on the right wing, the Thracian cavalry made an excellent command roll and put it to good use. A unit of Italian cavalry was taken in the flank and routed. Its survivors caused disorder in a nearby unit. Otherwise, not much else was happening in this sector.

Demoralisation Check: At the end of the Macedonian phase, a quick accounting was made of the status of the respective flanks. It was found that the Numidians were at their tipping point. Therefore, per the scenario rules, the surviving Numidian units were removed from the field. This included the recently victorious Misagenes as well as the isolated but still potent pachyderms.

The loss of the Numidians signaled the beginning of the end for Consul Paullus and his army. In the centre of the field, 2 more units succumbed to the meat grinder of the Macedonian phalanx. On the teetering left wing, an attempt to rally several units did not succeed. Either the die roll was not the right number or there were not sufficient command points. The first unit to rout was the stubborn allied foot fighting against the "Agema". The second unit to run away was, quite surprisingly, a squadron of Pergamene cavalry. In the melee against the Thracian foot, they managed a 1, while the Thracian unit rolled a 6. This loss pushed the Roman left past its tipping point. With his flanks gone, Consul Paullus was forced to quit the field. He ordered his surviving formations to withdraw before the enemy could envelop and pursue from the left and right and before the phalanx could advance and engage the Principes.

Questions and Answers
Did I enjoy the wargame? Was I entertained?
A definite yes on both counts. I confess, however, to being a bit surprised that a conclusion was reached after only 8 turns of play. Then again, I did set some pretty specific victory conditions.

Was I surprised by the result?
In some respects, yes. At one point, it seemed to me that the Macedonian left was going to fail and rout. I imagined that one side would lose a flank while the other side would suffer the loss of an opposite flank. I kind of hoped to see the decisive clash take place between the legions and the formations of the phalanx.

How did the written rules handle things?
I feel that I am getting more and more comfortable with ADLG. Those gamers who have more experience will, no doubt, find fault with sections of this narrative. That is their right. I welcome constructive criticism. I thank these individuals in advance for furthering my ADLG education.

How did the scenario specific rules "perform"?
Funnily enough, less than half of the temporary amendments were tested on my table top.
Neither King Perseus nor Consul Paullus took part in the action. The Macedonian King did, however, move his royal regiment over to the right flank. The Roman Consul never moved.
With the exception of Misagenes, the Numidian commander who was chased by some Tarantines, not a single subordinate was involved in the fighting either. These personalities either remained in place or followed their commands as they marched or rode forward. The increase of group frontage or width to 8 units worked very well, I thought. This change did not have a negative impact on the wargame. Having spent some time thinking about and then borrowing ideas for Roman line relief, it figures that I did not employ it. More about this in the next question about battle plans and tactics. The increase in the rout path/distance for defeated units added a bit to the exercise, I think. To be certain, the Romans and their allies suffered more from this than the Macedonians did. The division of the demoralisation level into four parts worked well and was, I would argue, realistic. Finally, I come to the river, or my representation of it. Though very basic in its appearance, it did add some colour to the model landscape. Neither side took advantage of the melee advantage, however. I am not sure if this was a product of the irregular course of the river or due more to the fact that formations made their way across and onto to "terra firma" before being engaged by the enemy. On this point, it seems that the Romans failed to make good use this river bank bonus. But again, this seems like something better discussed in the next answer.

What were the battle plans of each side and how well did each side do with respect to tactics?
I did not write any specific plans for either army. I did, however, adopt more of a defensive posture as the Roman Consul in overall command. It seems to me, on reviewing the just completed action, that the Romans responded more to the Macedonians than forced the Macedonians to respond to them. There are exceptions to this of course. For example, the Numidian formations, especially the elephants, caused fits over on the Macedonian left flank. As the Macedonian king, I ordered a general attack or advance all along the line. As evident in the narrative, this had its successes and failures. I came very close to defeat on the left. This I attribute to the foolish mounted charges against the Numidian elephants. In the centre, I think my phalanx did very well, but then I think a lot it had to do with the poor handling of the Roman formations. Their Velites never got a chance to deliver javelin volleys. Their Hastati were ordered into melee without supporting lines of Principes. It is not difficult to imagine how things might have gone differently if the phalanx units had been worn down by effective javelin volleys from skirmishers and effective cooperation between Hastati and Principes units.

Was it historical?
With the exception of inflating the orders of battle, yes, I think the wargame was historical.

Is bigger better?
A qualified yes here. Many of the phalanx units and many of the legionary units did not see combat in the wargame. While they added a certain level of visual appeal, it was a bit disappointing to find that none of these formations entered into melee. For my 6 by 4-foot table, I think this engagement was a very good size. It was larger than most I have set up, but it was manageable.

What is my overall assessment/impression?
Overall, I think it went very well. To reiterate, I was entertained and I enjoyed playing each turn.I enjoyed doing the research and setting things up. I stipulate that this wargame looked more like a boardgame, albeit without the hexes, and looked nothing at all like the previous attempts referenced above, but it served its purpose.

What is next on your agenda?
Well, I don't have a set agenda or wargaming calendar, per se. I have been thinking about Telamon, the engagement selected for Battle Day 2019. I have also been thinking about doing something with Scythians, as I have never commanded or faced them on a table top before. In addition, I have also been thinking about setting up some kind of campaign. Something with primitive artillery and firearms perhaps, as I find that I sometimes miss the report of cannon and the smell of gunpowder on my "miniature" battlefield.

How can interested readers see pictures of this Permutation of Pydna?
If you would like to see pictures of this no-miniatures-involved ancient wargame, please let me know. I can be contacted at: I will send you a 9-page pdf with 48 hours of opening and reading your e-mail.

williamb22 May 2018 8:58 a.m. PST

Interesting account Chris. In Armies of the Macedonian and Punic Wars the account of the battle has it starting as a skirmish between troops of the opposing sides gathering water from the river. The Macedonian army was first to deploy fully and advanced quickly forcing the Romans to fight near their camp so the river would have already been crossed by the Macedonians. Is there any provision in ADLG for troops to fall back or be pushed back? The Romans supposedly made a planned retreat. Gaps in the phalanx happened when the phalanx advanced into broken ground. The phalanx pushing the Romans back, as also happened at Kynoskephalai, tends to support Polybius description of the two combat systems in his histories.

Olivero24 May 2018 1:25 p.m. PST

Email sent grin

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.