The BATTLE OF RAPHIA
Unfortunately I ran into pictures of the Partizan Raphia game awhile back and my wallet is once again taking a hit.
Aventine Miniatures make a great comprehensive line that can be used for the majority of a Raphia OOB. The balance, plus some variations for leaders and command, can be filled out with Polemarch, Relic, Crusader and Foundry figures. Bar Kochva is my main OOB source, with a ton of help from Simon over at Big Red Bat Cave and Keith at Aventine. Of course The Miniatures Page is invaluable for diverse comment. Finding a site such as Simon’s and then getting his feedback is really what makes this type of project possible for me. Once again my decisions on painting issues are helped along by finding really well painted figures online and simply copying them – greatest form of flattery. Since I’m not ashamed to just copy what I think is good, there is very little re-inventing the wheel for this project. In addition, Le Soldat Lagide de Ptolemee ler Sotar a Cleopatra, while in French, is excellent for uniform samples.
So the plan is to do the entire Raphia OOB for both sides. Then once that is completed, I will look at adding missing pieces and Romans so that I can do Magnesia as well. Again, Aventine has much of what is necessary for the core of the Republican Roman army. Might also look at some battle of Pyrrhus, but that’s a ways away, since the figures should be usable for both.
Why Raphia? First, it’s big and the Partizan game looks too good not to try. I also don’t have Successors (although I do have Republican Romans, Carthaginians and Pyrrhus Macedonians in 15mm).
Second, it’s big. Biggest ancient battle in history according to what many say. Around 65,000 men per side. Lots of horses, a mix of foot and big blocks of phalanx. I think it will require a table around 6×18, which is similar to the Marlborough and Napoleonic games I’ve run at cons (2×3 tables). I’m thinking 6 to 8 players per side.
Third, elephants. Over 170 elephants, Indian and African, and who won’t like 28mm elephants arrayed on the field?
Speaking of elephants at Raphia, there is some debate about the exact type of “African elephant” in Ptolemy’s army. Polybius states that they were smaller than the Seleucid Indian Elephants that Alexander had first encountered in invasion of India then brought west. Some argue an elephant that was from modern-day Eritrea in East Africa. Others argue a now-extinct Forest Elephant.. Others claim they were the same African savannah elephants you would see at a current zoo, which would be larger than the modern Indian elephant. I think Polybius is too specific on this issue to be ignored, hence a smaller beast.
That’s the big issue at the moment. I’m building the OOB at around 1:100 scale and basing for WRG/FoG, but I will likely put each separate unit on movement stands. This will give me a lot of rule options.
At the moment, I have been considering and/or testing To The Strongest, Sword & Spear, Might of Arms (which I really like for my WotR), Field of Glory, Impetus, a Lost Battles conversion, a conversion of GMT’s Great Battles of Alexander – Expanded Deluxe Edition rules (including the upcoming Simple GBoH Rules – 2nd Edition), Hail Ceasar, L’Art De La Guerre and even the old Shock of Impact. I want something that I can teach quickly at a Con, something that will run in a way that all players are active and don’t have a lot of individual sitting around waiting on someone else, and perhaps most importantly something that provides a level of unit differentiation. Shock of Impact is the extreme on level of differentiation, and I tried to streamline that with limited success.
Once the rules are determined, I will put unit ratings on the bases so players can have easy access to separate unit ratings.
At the moment I am leaning toward a modified version of GBoG and To The Strongest. I like TTS use of cards instead of dice for making combat move faster, but I also really liked GBoH when I played those boardgames years ago. In addition, GBoH is a bit more period specific, been playtested for over 20 years, and has a new Raphia scenario booklet that seems very well thought out. So I will likely move around a bit before I settle on something. At the moment though, I am going to try out GBoH at MillenniumCon20. I will post results. At the moment I am missing figures for most of the Greek mercenaries and a few Levy Phalangites, so it is going to be cutting it close.
In continuing to look at GMT’s GBoH, since they have the newly revised Raphia scenario, I am conforming my OOB to that setup and basing. It closely follows my OOB already, but I am modifying as I see fit. One thing that is troubling is their decision to rate some horse as Light Cavalry. Perhaps this is to reflect differentiation in the battle. So the MillenniumCon game, and perhaps some playtesting before then will settle that for me. I am still debating whether to use the basic or the Simple version of the rules. I may settle on a merging of the two. At the moment it looks like a 6×16 foot table is going to be needed.
We tested out the Simple GBoH rules on a reduced version of the game (since my dining table is not long enough). We hope to have a fully OOB game soon. Meanwhile, here is our mini-test game.
BUILDING THE ARMIES
At the moment, I have 95% of the whole OOB on hand in terms of painted figures. Overall I am really pleased with the progress and look thus far. I’m using Little Big Men for the shields, with a few custom banners.
Basing will be on 60mm frontages, with the larger phalanx units 120mm wide. My depths are too much for the scale, but allow for more figures, look good on the table, and should not effect play. Again, these above frontages and basings should allow me to use most rulesets.
As I get things painted, I will continue to post samples as the OOB fills out. For now, here are the figs I am using –
Antiochus (Command Stand – 3 figures) – Polemarch “Antiochus”
Antipater (Command Stand – 1 figure) – Relic “Pyrrhus”
(For all the Horse units in the game, they are split into smaller units as shown to match up with the GBoH scenario, but for other rulesets I will be combining them into 9-12 figures units) Also Aventine is releasing new Agema and Companion horse soon, so I may substitute out some of those below for these figures for even more unit differentiation.
Seleucid Horse (4x units – 6 figures each, 2000 men total) – Aventine Horse – Note: These are the units rated as Light Cav with Javelins per the GBoH scenario. Not sure whether I will use lances or javelins with shields yet.
Hetairoi Companions (2x units @ 6 figures each, 1000 men total) – Aventine “Agema” Horse – based as a Wedge
Hetairoi Guard (2x units – 6 figures each, 1000 men total) – Either Polemarch horse – based as a Wedge.
Philip and Zelys of Goreyyna (Command Stand – 2 figures) – Foundry “Macedonian Generals and Foundry “Alexanders Generals”
Indian Elephants (6x stands @ 1 animal and 4-5 foot figures each – 60 animals) – Aventine “Indian Elephants” PLUS Neocretans escorts (1500 men) – Aventine Archers – NOTE: I had originally thought of making the screens separate, as Bar Kochva and other sources indicate that, but in the end I like the look and it makes things simpler for my rules and ultimate table layout.
Hippolochus (Command Stand – 1 figure) – Foundry Macedonian Generals
Greek Mercenaries (5x units @ 16 figures each, 4 ranks deep, 5000 men total) – Polemarch Thorakites [You can see that I still lack some figures for these 5 units)
Byttacus of Macedonia (Command Stand – 2 figures) – Aventine Foot Generals
Daae / Carmanian / Cilician “light armed phalangites” (3x units @ 16 figures, 5000 men total) – Aventine Thureophoroi
Theodotus the Aetolian (Command Stand – 1 figure) – Foundry “Alexanders Generals”
Argyraspides – Silver Shields (3x units @ 32 figures each, 120mm wide, 4 ranks deep, 10000 men total) – Aventine “Guard Phalangites”
Nicarchus (Command Stand – 1 figure) – Foundry Macedonian Generals
Theodotus Hemiolius (Command Stand – 1 figure) – Foundry Greek Foot Command
Phalanx (9x units @ 32 figures each, 120mm wide, 4 ranks deep, 20000 men total) – Aventine Phalangites
Zabdibelus (Command Stand – 1 Figure) – Crusader “Numidian Prince”
Arabs (7x units @ 12 figures each, 10000 men total) – Crusader “Numidian” Bows, Javelins and Bows – Note: This is motley looking unit that will have both Javelin and Archer Missile capability but fight as formed Lights. While mainly Numidian figures, these are painted as figures from the Palestine area with some Greek shield symbols. That seems to be what “Arab” meant.
Arpasianos the Mede (Command Stand – 1 figure) – Foundry “Alexander and Companions”
Medians / Cissians / Cadusians / Carmanians (4x units @ 12 figures each, 5000 men total – 120mm base frontages) – Crusader Persian Spearmen and Javelins – Note: This is a motley group of many weapons types. These will have Missile fire ability and be treated as a formed light type of unit.
Menedemos of Alabanda (Command Stand – 3 figures) – Relic “Thracian King”
Thracians (1x unit – 3 bases @ 4-5 figures each, 2000 men total) – Crusader Thracian Bowmen – NOTE: The Thracians during this period would most likely not have the traditional Thracian clothing seen in earlier Greek periods as they were Thracian settlers in Eygpt. However, I have chosen to use the traditional dress for appearance purposes.
Agrianians (1x unit – 3 bases @ 4-5 figures each, 2000 men) – Crusader Persian Bowmen, Aventine Slinger
Lysimachus the Gaul (Command Stand – 3 figures) – Crusader Mounted Gaul Command
Lydian Javelins (1x unit @ 8 figures, 500 men) – Aventine Thureophoroi – NOTE: This unit (the one in Black with Yellow cloaks) is what Thracians during this period would look like according to my research. But since I put the actual Thracians in traditional dress, I used these for the Lydian Javelins.
Cardaces Javelins (1x unit @ 12 figures, 1000 men – 120mm base frontage) – Aventine Thureophoroi
Themison (Command Stand – 2 figures) – Foundry “Alexander and Companions”
Hetairoi – Seleucid Horse (4x units @ 6 figures each, 2000 men total) – Polemarch Antigonid and Pergamum Companions – Note: These may end up fighting as Light Cav with Javelins per the GBoH scenario; might still base with lances.
Myiscus (Command Stand – 1 figure) – Relic “Companion General”
Indian Elephants (4x bases @ 1 animal and 4-5 foot figures each – 42 animals) – Aventine “Indian Elephants” plus Cretans (2000 men) – Aventine Archers – Note: Again, that the skirmisher screens are being added to the unit.
Ptolemy IV (Command Stand – 3 figures) – Polemarch “Ptolemy”
Polycrates of Argoes (Command Stand – 1 figure) – Polemarch “Antigone”
Hetairoi Household Cavalry (2x units @ 6 figures each, 700 men) – Aventine Horse
Egyptian Horse (2x units @ 6 figures each, 1150 men total) – Polemarch Companions
Egyptian Horse (2x units @ 6 figures each, 1150 men total) – Aventine Greek Style Horse – Note: The Egyptian Horse may fight as Light Cav with Javelins per the GBoH scenario.
Cnopias of Allaria (Command Stand – 1 figure) – Aventine Foot Generals
African Elephants (4x bases @ 1 animal and 4-5 foot figures each – 40 animals) – Aventine “African” elephants plus Cretans as screens (2000 men) – Aventine Archers
Eurylochus the Magnesian (Command Stand – 1 figure) – Foundry Companion Cav Generals
Basilikon Agemata “Royal Guard” (3x units @ 16 figures each, 3000 men total) – Aventine Guard Phalangites – Note: Although bases as 60mm wide Phalanx, these will fight as Heavy Infantry.
Socrates the Boetian (Command Stand – 1 figure) – Foundry Companion Command
Peltasts – pelte shield, 12′ shorter sarissa (2x units @ 16 figures each, 2-3000 men total) – Aventine mixed Phalangites – Note: Although bases as 60mm wide Phalanx, these will fight as Heavy Infantry.
Annonius of Barce (Command Stand – 1 figure) – Foundry Companion Cav Generals
Libyan Machimoi Phalangitai (3x units @ 16 figures each, 3000 men total) – Aventine advancing Phalangites – Note: Although bases as 60mm wide Phalanx, these will fight as Heavy Infantry.
Andromachus the Aspendian (Command Stand – 1 figure) – Foundry Alexander King of the East horse and Ptolemy son of Thraesas (Command Stand – 1 figure) – Foundry Alexander King of the East foot
Pezhetairoi (5x units @ 32 figures each, 120mm wide, 6 ranks deep, 25000 men total)
Sosibius (Command Stand – 1 figure) – Foundry “Pyrrhus”
Machimoi Phalangitai “Egyptian Levies” (4x units @ 32 figures each, 120mm wide, 6 ranks deep, 20000 men total) – Aventine Levy Phalangites
Phoxidas the Achaean (Command Stand – 1 figure) – Foundry Companion Command
Greek Mercenaries (8x units @ 16 figures each, 8000 men total) – Aventine Thorakites
Dionysuis the Thracian (Command Stand – 3 figures) – Crusader Thracian Command
Thracians (2x units @ 12 figures each, 2000 men total) – Crusader Thracians – NOTE: The Thracians during this period would most likely not have the traditional Thracian clothing seen in earlier Greek periods as they were Thracian settlers in Eygpt. However, I have chosen to use the traditional dress for appearance purposes.
Gauls (4x units @ 12 figures each, 4000 men total) – Crusader Gauls
Echecrates the Thessalian (Command Stand – 1 figure) – ???
Misothrophoroi Hippes (4 units @ 12 figures each, 2000 men) – Foundry Thessalians – based in Rhombus formation
Philo of Cnossus (Command Stand – 1 figure) – Foundry Companion Cav Generals
African Elephants (3x unit @ 1 animal and 4-5 foot figures each – 33 animals) – Aventine “African” elephants plus Neo-Cretans as screens (2000 men) – Aventine Archers
Check back for more pictures soon.