Friday, 23 July 2010

The Battle of Cunaxa - 401 BC

This was another battle played using Phil Sabin's Strategos (or Lost Battles) rules.  The historical battle was fought between The King of Kings, Artaxerxes II and his brother Cyrus who had risen in revolt in order to try to grab the throne.  Althought most of the troops present were Persian levy units, Cyrus had engaged a force of Greek mercenaries which were represented as 10 Veteran Hoplite units. 

A good source for the is Xenophon's 'The Persian Expedition' which devotes a chapter to the battle.  I highly recommend this book to anyone with even a passing interest in the period - very readable and real 'boys own' adventure stuff!

I played Artaxerxes and Martin Rapier was the revolting Cyrus.  All the toys were Baccus 6mm from my collection.  Photos were all taken from Artaxerxes' side of the table.

Below - The King of Kings army is already deployed with scythed chariots on the left and the King himself top right.  Cyrus is still arriving.

The King of Kings (in the chariot) with cavalry bodyguard.
Hoplites advance screened by Persian light troops.
Battle is joined.  The black counters mark the 'key zones' for Cyrus (left) and Artaxerxes (right).  Red counters mark 'spent' units.  The King's left wing is looking OK although the centre and right are under pressure from hordes of Hoplites.  Cyrus has died a traitor's death leading his bodyguard against the King.
The King of Kings leads his bodyguard against some rare veteran cavalry and more hoplites.

Crisis!  Artaxerxes has perished heroically at the head of his army and the enemy advance into his key zone.  Quite a few of the King's units have by now been eliminated of run off.
Victory!  After hanging in the balance (and looking pretty bad for the King's Army), the rebel force finally disintegrates.  The Persian troops flee while the Greeks march off in good order.
Historically Cyrus was killed during the battle and his Persian troops fled while the Greeks stood firm.  The Greeks, refusing to surrender,  offered their services to Tissaphernes (a leading Persian noble and 2ic of the King's Army).  He turned them down but after inviting the Greek leaders to dine, the King had them killed.  As the Persians knew they couldn't defeat the Greeks in battle, they were allowed to march northwards and (eventually) home. 

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