Mithridates V’s Sulla Summer 85bc
Mithridates VI having been buddled out of Greece by Sulla prepares to defend his own lands from the Romans.
Archelaus the Pontic general and Sulla the Roman general encountered each other around 10am on a clear summer morning. On a battlefield bounded on the Pontic right by woods and wooded hills running down into the flat where some orchards lay.
See photo. [the RH was placed by Sulla while the 2 WH and the 2 O were mine, the wood had no space on the right to be laid.]
As the defender Archelaus deployed first. In front he had his command of light foot. 4,500 Javelin, archers and slingers [9Ps(0) & 7Ps(S)in a double line, with the 2,000 Thracians and Javelinmen [2Ax(S) & 6 Ax(O)] hiding in the two wooded hills, the 1,000 javelin in the left most ambush were facing towards the right while the Thracians and javelin in the right wooded hill faced forward. Behind on the left were the Armenian’s under Mosissian with his horse archers thrown out to tempt the Romans into the trap. Kinas the subordinate general to the left with his light horse thrown out wide and the Thureophoroi ready to attack the Roman flank. Behind all of this was the Mithridatic baggage in some wagons.
Sulla moved up and deployed his army, he had two commands and they deployed side by side. To the Roman right was Sulla with 2,000 legionaries [8Bd(S)] including Sulla in a double line, with a few local elephants behind and his 400 Thracians [2 Ax(S)] on the flank of the legionaries and his 1,500 mixed javelin and archers [3 Ps(S) & 3 Ps(O)] on the rocky hill. His master of horse deployed on his left, again his just under 2,000 legionaries [7 Bd(S)] deployed 2 -3deep reaching to the orchard, the master of horse was behind them with his supporting velites [Ps(S)] behind, then in the orchard some 1,500 light troops [1Ax(S); 3 Ps(O); 2 Ps(S)]. Covering the left rear and the camp was his light horse 600 Thracians [3 Lh(O)].
Archelaus started the battle rolling by moving his light horse on both flanks forward, the Armenian’s on the left to tempt the Romans lights of the hill and the Pontic’s on the right to threaten to turn the Roman line. Sulla’s response was to push his legionaries forward ignoring the light archery and moving quickly towards the skirmish screen in front of them. The next ½ hour had the Romans continue to push forward into contact while Archelaus left his lights and took the Thureophoroi on a wide curve to flank the legionary line and threaten the orchard. At the same time he ordered the left most ambush to attack the Roman lights on the hill in the flank.
Now battle was joined along a wide front, in the centre over the next hour the legionaries tried to smash through the fleet footed lights in front of them, many fled having run out of ammo but the line gave back slowly. Meanwhile the horse archers had hit the Thracian’s covering the Roman right flank in the rear overrunning it but being scattered by some archers hitting it in the rear from the hill. These lights were then engaged by the remaining horse archers and the ones still one the hill by the javelinmen from the wood. As this was going on the other ambush charged into the remaining Thracians and in a back and forth battle both sides lost many men as the legionaries flanked the combat. On the Pontic right the Thurephoroi engaged slowly the legionaries peeled off to face them. This left the main Roman push in the centre vulnerable to flanking by the lights they were fighting and in due course both flank units fell to the pressure.
By now the Roman centre was quite broken up with its right flank failing and the master of horse, having to cover to cover the rear of Sulla and his men. At this point Archelaus moved to join the Armenians in a charge into the broken legionary line ridding down more men and then more. With the loss of most of the Roman right flank guard and now the losses in the middle Sulla’s command was disheartened and started to doubt victory. So Archelaus pushed himself and the Armenian heavy horse onwards and this pressure broke the Roman will to resist.
The Roman Thracian horse covered the retreat of the remaining Roman units to the camp and the battle was over. Again Sulla escaped but this time many over Romans didn’t. Pontic loses were light, in fact mainly light troops who had gone home looking for ammo and a number of the Thurephoroi as well as all the Thracians and a few horse archers. [6 spend Ps; lost – 1 Lh(F); 2 Ax(S); 4 Ax(S)] a decisive victory for Archelaus…..
Amry List Mithridatic 85bc 240pt
If using a 2 command regular army average the die if they are side by side. The Romans found they could only work one flank or the other each turn due to die differences.
Trying to hack through double ranked Psiloi with heavy foot is hard going if the front ones are superior.
Having 1 elephant isn’t much help if you don’t have the pips to move it.
Sometimes my plans do work even if the die wants it to be otherwise.
Ambushes work best if there is something to tempt the enemy with.
Fast Light horse don’t kill psiloi, not sure why though.
You can’t overlap a rear you have to hit it, again not sure why.