Mithridates VI of Pontus despairing of Roman expansion assembled his army and invaded Greece to free the Greeks from slavery. Archelaus the Pontic general caught Sulla the Roman general encamped at night in the spring of 85bc.
Both sides only had part of there army but the battle was joined with Archelaus lunching a attack at 4 am two hours before sunrise he also managed to make sure that the sun would rise behind him to glare in the Romans eyes.
Sulla was camped around his baggage which was in a fortified camp with his light troops forward as pickets. His force of 6000 consisted of 2 small legions each of just over 2,000 elite legionaries [9Reg Bd(S)], as well as a few hundred javelinmen [2 or 3 Ps(S)] and around 400 German/Spanish horse [2 Reg Cv(O) including gen]. Archelaus had a much more diverse army of around 10,000 which he had organised as follows. Archelaus [Reg Cv(O)] plus 400 Ponic heavy horse [2 Irr Kn(I)]; 400 Skyhians [2 Irr Lh(F)]; 800 Pontic Light horse [4 Irr Lh(O)]; 2000 ex slave pike [8 Reg Pk(I)]; 700 Galatians [3 Irr Wb(O)]. An Armenian ally Gen with 600 nobles [3 Irr Kn(X)]; and 800 horse archers [4 Irr Lh(F)]. With another Greek general [1 Reg Cv(O)] with the lights – 1500 Thureophori [6 reg Ax(S)]; 2000 lights [6 Irr Ps(O), 4 Irr Ps(S)]; and 50 chariots [2 Reg Exp(O)].
The battlefield from the Pontic eastern side looked like this on the right was a marsh by the Roman camp. In fact there camp rested on it and so it was the left flank of the Roamn army. On the Left of the battle field was a small river running from the left flank to the Pontic rear and so shortening the area the Pontics heavy units could deploy in. finally to the Pontic right alongside a road was a string of olive groves. With both his flanks secure Sulla was feeling happy and Archelaus wondered how he was to get around them.
The Romans had put Sulla’s command in front with his javelinmen out front of the legionaries, his other command held its legionaries in 3 columns in reserve while its lights held the marsh. Archelaus put his light command in front from river into the groves with the chariots on the left. Then came the Armenians on the left flank and his own pike and Galatians in the centre flanked by his nobles and light horse with the Scythians out on the far right.
Archelaus moved off 2 hours before sun rise to try to catch the Romans at breakfast, unfortunately there was no moon which made moving difficult but by dawn the chariots were forward ready to charge into the unaware Roman pickets. At the same time Archelaus had moved his flanking light horse through the olive groves and over the river to flank the Roman position. As dawn broke the Roman pickets saw the chariots bearing down on them and sounding the alarm prepared to meet the 2 groups. The scythed chariots spurred on my there drivers crashed into the 2 groups of Spanish javelinmen with one group destroying the group of chariots facing them and the other group falling back in front of there chariots. For the next ½ hour this group of chariots continued to push back the Romans even when legionaries came to help by flanking the chariots. Meanwhile the reserve Roman command became aware of the attack and moves its mounted and the nearest column of legionaries out to cover there right flank.
As the sun came up the Roman right was in a mess but holding with no solid line any more. However the sub general with his legionaries facing the right flank were in position to hold off the Armenian horse archers which the sun rise showed. With daylight the battle now entered its decisive phase with Archelaus pushing his lights and his centre the Armenian nobles and his own nobles forward to crush the Roman line before it could reform from the mess the chariots had made. Unfortunately for Archelaus his sub commander took a rest at this point so leaving the lights in the way for a turn to long allowing Sulla to reform the line before the main crunch came. When it did it was a back and forth fight with the Galatians throwing back the javelinmen back but suffering when Sulla took there place the pike throwing back the legionaries who only held due to there elite morale. Over the next hour Archelaus managed to turn the Roman left flank using Skyhians and javelinmen, in the marsh, and thereby allowing the right flank Thureophoroi to break the legionaries holding the end. However that was as far as the Pontics got as the Romans held everywhere and even killed some of the Armenian nobles who had also charged in. with both sides feeling the effects of a disturbed night and no breakfast the two sides pulled apart to reform for another go later. Both sides had taken casualties and were concerned about taking more but no commands had started to wobble.
An interesting game in many ways, I had put together the two armies allowing my friend to choose which to use, the Roman although smaller had a higher break point and was much more nibble. Again as in other games there were many points were the battle could have gone differently, most of them where superior kept a Roman alive. Not sure a night attack was my best choose but I expect the Romans would have held there box anyway and the night moves allowed me to strike before he could respond. Historical armies fighting to a reasonable historical result. Great fun.