Friday, 9 November 2018

Seleucus and I

Friend Matt asked me about the recently completed Seleucid army, what it contained and how that affected its performance on the battlefield. Firstly I play War and Conquest which is a big battle game similar to the old Wargames Research Group rules I gamed with back in 1979 when I left the Navy. I won't get into the whole historical tactics thing, suffice to say when I played WRG and now WAC I feel like I am commanding an army and generally enjoy trying to get it to do what I want, whether good or bad.

Units 1, 2, 3 and 4 are a mix of Crusader, Aventine and Foundry and generally fall into the same category, well armed light infantry, mine are Thureophoroi, Thorakitai, Thracians and Mercenary Peltasts.  These troops are for protecting the flanks of the main phalanx but they can also be used to attack enemy flanks as they are so well armed, however they need protection as only the Thorakitai have armour and can prove vulnerable to enemy missiles so you need to have a screen of skirmishers in front of them for support.

5 are first and foremost escorts for my elephants, however I find they are better used as simple javelin armed skirmishers, they can do nothing about missile troops or bolt shooters targeting your elephants from long range hence their use, for me, as skirmishers. These I got from Foundry and they are beautiful sculpts and are a mix of Thracians and Greeks, the former are some of my favourite figures.

My own bolt shooters or Oxybeles come in at 6, these are very large composite bows set on a frame, these came from 1st Corps, I only take these if I suspect the enemy also have elephants, but they can also be used to whittle down very heavily armoured troops like cataphracts. They tend to either be deadly or useless depending how lucky you are on the day.

The Galatians, number 7, a mercenary warband from Crusader, these do not conform to what Galatians in the service of the Successors really looked like but you will not find any in 28mm so the best you can do is grab some Gauls. I am not fond of the figures as they look a bit wooden and you do not get a lot of variation. However, these little guys are brutal opponents and are garnering a reputation, so much so I would be loathe to change them if real Galatians ever turn up. These troops are shock troops, they cannot be left where they can fall prey to enemy missile troops or left dithering in the rear, to get your money's worth you have to use them. I use them on a flank supported by some of those light troops above, I always give them light armour as well as I want them to give them every opportunity to outclass their opponents in the first clash.

8 is more mercenaries, hoplites this time, Aventine figures, these have to be upgraded with light armour which, in tandem with the WAC phalanx rule (of which I am not a fan unless the figure in question is a real pikeman) means you get a lot of bang for your buck. Unlike the Galatians these guys can sit and take a pounding so sometimes they are a flank guard and at other times shock troops, they work well with the Galatians or the main phalanx.

The Phalanx, 9, all Aventine. I personally do not always lead with the phalanx preferring to use them to pin and threaten the enemy, I do on occasion put all my eggs in one basket and send them haring forward but that is unusual and very much depends on what is opposing them and what is happening on my flanks. If you maintain your flanks these guys can easily win you the battle, once engaged they usually win the numbers game. They also come in all sizes, elite or raw and anything in between, a unit for all seasons.

A bit of fun at 10, scythed chariots, why not, you have to. Historically useless but if used properly on the wargame table they can turn a melee into a rout, the trouble is you have to keep them alive, so if they turn up I keep them way to the rear but with an opening to unleash hell at the right time. I tend to use them aggressively to hopefully break up an enemy attack. These models are 1st Corps.

And of course no Successor army can be complete without 11, elephants from Aventine, I always try and take at least one for the reason I just iterated. I do not tend to use them very aggressively as I am not sure about the unit yet and I have a house rule which states that any unit in contact, friend or foe, is disordered by the monster, in the rules it is just the enemy and I do not think that fair. So I keep Nellie as a threat, usually out of harms way unless I can get rid of the enemy missile troops or cut down their bolt shooters. I do like to have one around when enemy cavalry are about but I tend to forget that it can also have a tragic effect on my own horsemen, I am also always wary of the thing going mad and trampling my own troops.

12, command and control, I do not keep officers at the rear out of harms way, I want my leaders to lead from the front rank. In a large army I will take the king and at least two other officers, in smaller games I will allow the 2/ic to take charge and have maybe one support. I don't tend to take mounted officers and will generally put supporting commanders with mercenary units while the King leads a phalanx unit. I think all these men are Foundry although one or two of the foot command may be Aventine.

I have two further units of skirmishers 13 and 16, the former archers and the latter slingers, I do like archers and at times I upgrade these chaps to elite Cretan missilemen, you cannot not have skirmishers in an Ancient game and I like to destroy the enemy's first, this can be a huge advantage and force your opponent into an advance he doesn't want to make. Slingers are very dangerous in WAC because they get two shots a turn, I do not allow this on home ground as I do not see a good reason for it, so with their diminished range I do not take them very often as killers but as shields. Both of these units are Aventine.

14 are the Companions, heavily armoured shock cavalry, these are expensive in points so will probably only turn up if I am fighting large battles, they can quite easily run over lesser horsemen and the temptation to smash them into an infantry formation is always with me, it is just possible for the shock to rout the infantry. I use another house rule which allows cavalry to disengage from a fight with infantry, it is dodgy but better than sitting around getting massacred. I think we have only used it once in battles to date. Aventine figures.

More archers at 15, but on a horse this time, elite Skythians, usually very dangerous to enemy skirmishers and other troops as well due to their excellent shooting abilities. I normally always take these guys although on at least two occasions I have lost them to elephant fear. Like the bolt shooters they tend to be either brilliant and deadly or dithering and useless. These too are Aventine, you can see the trend here.

More armoured cavalry at 17,  Line Cataphracts this time, again they only turn up now and again in large games, and like the Companions they generally are used to destroy an enemy flank with that added bonus that they might also take on infantry. The Seleucids also get Agema cataphracts which are elite versions of these guys and Aventine do some lovely figures for them, I have not bought any of these (yet) as I figure I can simply upgrade the line troopers. Fitting them into the army would mean another Really Useful Box as I will not mix troops (Wargamers OCD) so the unit would be very expensive for me. Yes, you got it, Aventine again.

At 18 we have Macedonian Light Cavalry, a lovely little cavalry unit which can be upgraded to what passes for medium cavalry so a very useful unit. These I would normally use to sweep away enemy skirmishers or light troops or have them in reserve behind the main line to deal with any possible breakthroughs. This unit can also be used to represent other cavalry types allowed in the list. Aventine.

Now, 19 is particular to WAC, each army has a rally point to which broken units will run unless they are too close to the table edge. These bring out the artistic tendencies in most players and can range from a simple tent to a sacrificial alter or drunken warriors whooping it up. I was a bit stumped for this army until I found some large, broken Spartan statue heads (Scibor) which fit the bill, to dress them up a bit I bought a range of Greek gods from Foundry and popped Zeus on the top of one. Another fun element of WAC is Strategy Intervention Points, you could easily use a die but again most people go that extra mile and use all sorts, ancient coins, Gods, monks, wolfhounds, civilians etc. my extra Immortals came in handy for these.

So there it is, my Seleucid army and why it looks the way it does and how I use it on the battlefield. It is not an easy army to use and there is a long learning curve, it is expensive and therefore is usually outnumbered by the enemy. You have to be careful of the flanks and rest one on rough ground if possible or decide to throw in your shock troops hoping you can burst the enemy before your flanks collapse. Here at Casa Anderson  they usually fight the Twelfth and the Legion has excellent supporting troops which can cause all sorts of problems for the Seleucid flanks, and although the legionaries are outnumbered by the phalanx they are very difficult to shift.


  1. An interesting post, I was tempted back in the late 70's when Garrison released a range, but nowt came of it, money was tight back then. A most colourful and varied army I always thought.

    1. The first time I ever fought a proper wargame against someone it was against Seleucids, I hadn't a clue what they were. I took a lot of beatings until I got my revenge, but it was sweet. Looking back I didn't really have much of a chance with Medieval French :(

  2. George, thanks for posting that! An enjoyable read that was both interesting and instructive. Looking forward to leading Rome against them some day.

    1. It passed some time as I do not have a lot on at the moment but I believe a new project is winging its way for next week, war in Scandinavia in the 17thC.

  3. And what a grand army it is too George!

  4. A fine looking force, even if the text is a bit technical for me, but I'm sure fans of the rules will appreciate that.

    1. I think people with a Seleucid army would enjoy the tactics even if they do not agree with me, as you know no plan survives once the enemy has been met.

  5. I've been browsing through your blog and came on this, it took me back to the late 70's early 80's and my Seleucid Successor army and the trials and tribulations learning how to use it with WRG rules. Some of the names have changed but it sounds like you have the same positives and negatives with them. This was a great tutorial in how to use them.

    Your figures and painting look great, mine were Minifigs and Garrison and look nothing like as good. I always felt like I was having to work hard with the army and the rules to get a win. In the end I went with a Viking Army which I loved, line them up, whisper KILL in their ears and that was it, they would win or lose on their own, and didn't need my guiding hand.
    Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  6. The first 'real' battle I fought on leaving the Navy was in '80, my Medieval French v Successors, I was massacred and learned it was best to play in period. I have gone with War and Conquest because it takes me back to when I started wargaming and the joy of fighting big battles. Glad you enjoyed the read.