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Subject: Raphia times three rss

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Philip Sabin
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On Saturday, we ran another Lost Battles figure game at the Warfare show in Reading, England. This time we used my big 50 centimetre square carpet tiles, with Eric and Alan's lovely 28mm figures, as shown below.



We easily managed the usual three refights. The first one was the closest, and lasted all ten turns, partly because the southern end of the two lines did not even clash until turn 7. Despite berserk elephants on both sides, the phalanx clash bogged down into a 'broken backed' slogging match between entirely spent forces. On the very last Seleucid attack of the game, Ptolemy's guard phalanx unit on the left was finally shattered, and the king took the risk of trying to rally it so as to save 4 victory points and avoid another morale test. Unfortunately, he was hit himself in the attempt, and the resulting morale penalty and double morale test carried away his whole left and centre! What would have been a pretty close result turned into a clear Seleucid victory by 111 points to 76, but this result was still one short of the margin of 36 needed to achieve a major victory at this fairly evenly matched engagement.

In the second refight, Ptolemy got his revenge as everything went wrong for the Seleucids, not only on their weaker left but even on their strong right, where Antiochus was hit during a failed rally attempt on turn 4 (having joined his right centre as he did in the first game). His army held on without him for a while, but on turn 6 Ptolemy's light horse occupied the enemy camp while his victorious right launched a devastating flank attack on the now surrounded enemy centre, putting it to flight. This time Ptolemy did win a major game victory, by 94 points to 52.



The third refight looked set to be the most similar to the historical 'revolving door' battle. Ptolemy pushed forward straight away with his right while sending a second cavalry unit to bolster his left flank. Antiochus took the risk of rallying the very first hit of the game, but he succeeded, and he soon broke both enemy cavalry units while his own remained unscathed. Ptolemy's infantry meanwhile pushed forward en masse, and he himself joined his central phalanx just as in reality, to try to win the main battle before Antiochus could exploit his cavalry breakthrough. Unfortunately, this left nobody to guard the left rear as in the previous refights, and the omission proved catastrophic as the Seleucid horsemen surged round quickly into Ptolemy's rear and left rear zones. When a fourth Ptolemaic unit was shattered on turn 5, a poor morale roll carried away the whole surrounded left and centre of Ptolemy's line. The following turn, the Seleucid cavalry charged out of the captured enemy camp into the rear of Ptolemy's right to complete the victory. This produced the most one-sided result of all, with the surprisingly unscathed Seleucids winning by 106 points to 30.



With just 4 points separating the initial fighting values, Raphia is a battle which can easily go either way, as our experience on Saturday showed. Antiochus's strength on his right flank can be stymied for a while by a single unit in the enemy left rear, since it takes a long time to bring a flank attack to bear on the enemy's left centre, and doing so increases the attack limit in that zone and exposes the flankers to being flanked in turn from the enemy left wing zone. The two Seleucid victories in our refights owed much to enemy mistakes - the dilatory advance of the Ptolemaic right in the first game and the failure to guard against cavalry encirclement in the third game. When such tactical errors are avoided, the Ptolemaic forces are likely to win a battlefield victory, though the handicap penalty may make this a closer result in game terms. As usual, the dice will also have significant influence in individual refights, even when using the Fortunes of War option as we did throughout. Rally attempts can be catastrophic, as both sides discovered, but sometimes (as in the third game) a bold approach to rallying can be decisive in swinging the delicately balanced contest in one's own favour. In Lost Battles, there are no sure things, and victory does not come without taking some pretty uncomfortable risks.

Phil
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Helmut Apel
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WOW!!! wow
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