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Subject: Paraitacene x 3 rss

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Philip Sabin
United Kingdom
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At last Sunday's SELWG show in Crystal Palace, we refought the well documented but historically indecisive Successor battle between Antigonus and Eumenes at Paraitacene in Media, which took place a few years after Alexander's death. The show was open only from 10.00 to 16.00, but we decided to squeeze in three refights regardless, and to dash round the other stalls and displays in the short intervals between them. The two armies in this battle are very evenly matched, with Eumenes having only a slight edge by 73 points to 70 thanks to his superiority in elephants and in veteran phalangites (Alexander's famous Silver Shields). The picture below shows the initial deployment, with my colleagues Eric, Alan and Mark in the background. They provided the figures and commanded or advised the opposing sides, while I recorded command points and helped to run the games.

Our first refight saw Eumenes advancing aggressively on both flanks, while holding back his centre and right centre. On the right, he made two successful rallies and was rewarded by a rapid breakthrough of the four cavalry units facing him, but by the hills, Antigonus quickly drove the enemy elephants berserk and followed up the enemy cavalry as they pulled back round to their rear zone. The fighting became general as Eumenes' right centre and Antigonus' centre advanced to engage. Both leaders turned their victorious cavalry in against the enemy infantry in a classic 'revolving door' battle, as shown in the picture below. On turn 6, Eumenes broke the forces in the enemy left rear, but Antigonus hit back swiftly by smashing the enemy centre from flank and rear. He then took the risk of charging back across the field on a reversed front to decide the issue, and he was rewarded for his boldness on turn 8 as the outnumbered Silver Shields gave way. Thanks partly to his handicap bonus of 9, Antigonus secured 127 victory points against 82 for Eumenes, exceeding the threshold of 37 and so scoring a major game victory despite his own heavy losses.

In our second refight, Eumenes decided to be bolder and to rush his infantry forward into the enemy centre and left centre zones at the outset as shown below, reducing enemy morale at the expense of having to advance his own left once again to cover the flank of his exposed centre. Antigonus exploited this by smashing Eumenes' left on turn 3, and he advanced his victorious cavalry so as to negate the previous morale penalty and outflank the enemy centre after all. However, the lone levy phalanx unit left to guard Eumenes' centre zone succeeded against the odds in shattering the exhausted enemy horsemen, while on the other wing Eumenes and the Silver Shields broke Antigonus' left, swiftly followed by his centre. The few units left with Antigonus himself gave way on turn 6, giving Eumenes a narrow game victory by 102 points to 86.

In the final refight of the day, Eumenes opted for a more nuanced approach, pushing forward with his right and shifting all of the Silver Shields across to join this effort, while holding back his centre and left to play for time. These tactics succeeded admirably in delaying Antigonus himself, who was unable to break through the elephant screen until turn 7. However, Eumenes's own attack was delayed when he narrowly avoided death during one of the many rally attempts made by both leaders. His weakened centre meanwhile was reduced to a single phalanx unit, and this finally gave way on turn 7, allowing Antigonus' centre to advance in the nick of time to escape the imminent disaster they faced from Eumenes' finally victorious cavalry and Silver Shields assailing their flank and rear. Both armies had prevailed on their right and by advancing had broken immediate contact (as shown in the picture below with Antigonus' surviving units in the foreground), so as time was running out we ended the game there and counted up the points. It was a very close run thing, but thanks to his handicap bonus Antigonus just managed a really narrow game victory by 82 points to 78.

All three refights were very tense affairs, with lots of delicate manoeuvring and redeployment to try to gain local advantage. Just as happened historically, both of these evenly matched armies became utterly exhausted, with lots of units shattered and routed on both sides, and with the contest degenerating into a 'broken backed' duel between the few survivors. When counting up victory points, it was easiest to award both sides the points value of the entire enemy army, and then to reduce this by the value of the very few units which remained fresh! (It is interesting that the players in all three games tended to leave spent elephant units in the lead as expendable screens, as in our previous refights of Zama, rather than trying to preserve these more valuable and durable Indian pachyderms so as to save points, hinder enemy cavalry charges and reduce the potential for panic.) Although the handicap system in Lost Battles allows balanced games even in contests so asymmetric that the battlefield victor is almost a foregone conclusion, it is refreshing to refight contests such as this one, in which both armies have to struggle and jockey carefully for advantage if they are to prevail on the field itself.
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