page id: 194 Battle Report III: Matt's Persian Horde faces John's dead-hard Byzantine army in our first ever Warhammer Ancients battle report!

Ancient Enemies


The next phase of the battle opened badly for the Byzantines as their Turk allies fled the field. Realizing their only opportunity to effect the outcome of the battle was upon them, the heavily armoured Byzantine horse and foot began their long charge forward. Buoyed by the fact that they had all survived heavy Persian fire, they still knew that only a miracle could protect them as they crossed the killing field. The Byzantine crossbow bolts hit the elephant repeatedly to no real effect and the bolt thrower fired harmlessly at the Persian chariots. However, the always-reliable stone thrower crew again shattered the Persian elites with a well-placed boulder in their midst, bringing the once-proud Immortals to below half strength.

The Rampaging elephant heads straight for the Byzantine stone thrower.


Sensing panic in the Byzantine line, King Xerxes closed in for the kill. The chariots smashed into the back of Johnís last unit of infantry, while the elephant charged toward the crossbowmen in the oasis. However, heavy fire forced the unruly beast away, and the mahout lost control of his mount! It made a mad dash away from the oasis, toward the stone thrower on the far side of the river! In the shooting phase, the entire Persian horde unleashed what they hoped was to be a devastating volley of fire on the Byzantine cavalry. But to the amazement and horror of God-King Xerxes, only a single rider fell!


It seemed as if the Byzantineís faith in Christ (and a lot of steel armour and crossbow bolts) had truly served to protect them. Almost 200 bowmen succeeded in killing only one heavy Cataphract. The Persiansí elephant was moving off the field away from the Byzantine line. And the Persian chariots, wounding only a handful of the second unit of Scutatoi, lost one of their own number in the counterattack. With crossbows finding their mark in the breasts of six of the Persian skirmishers and the Stone thrower once again killing a handful of Immortals, it seemed as if the miracle Nikephros prayed for might be granted.

The Byzantine cataphracts charge amid a rain of Persian arrows.


The tide of the battle was quickly turning. If Xerxes didnít act decidedly now, his entire plan was at risk! With a start, the skirmishers finally charged into the crossbowmen they had been trying to reach for the entire battle. The rampaging elephant made its way off the battle field. Ordering the Bactrians into position, the king braced himself for what was sure to be the decisive moment...

Once again, the entire Persian army let loose on the General and his elite cavalry. Almost two hundred bowshots fired at one unit had up till now killed a mere two horsemen. But Johnís amazing luck had run out, and run out fast! Failing armor save upon armor save, the unit was decimated by the hail of bowfire, until it had been reduced to only 6 models!

In hand to hand, what was left of the mighty chariots fought to a stalemate with the block of infantry before them, but surely the battle would be decided elsewhere.


With the best troops in Byzantium lying around him in writhing bloody heaps, Nikephros knew that the fight could not now be won. A charge up the center was a vain hope at best, but it was still the only hope of stopping the Persian horde. As the remaining third of the Cataphracts crashed into the Persian line, the Byzantine army elsewhere defeated the foes it faced. The resiliency and strength of Nikephrosís Scutatoi was clearly shown as they destroyed one chariot, causing the last to flee from the field. Byzantine crossbowmen repulsed their Persian counterparts, causing them to flee toward the center of the swirling battle. The Byzantine artillery completed its shelling of the Immortals, eliminating the last of the bodyguard. Sadly, these were pyhrric victories at best. Now it was the turn of Nikephros and the Cataphracts. Their Kontos impaled only two of the Persian line infantry, protected as they were behind their spara. There was only one thing left for the Nikephros to do, and that was to die well.


Ultimate victory in sight, Xerxes himself excitedly led the final charge against his hated enemy. The Bactrians saw thier chance at last and charged in, spears first. The Marines saw victory as well, and attacked the flank of the few remaining Byzantine cavalry. Xerxes, his moment of glory approaching, challenged the Byzantine general to single combat, only to get beaten to a bloody pulp! Near death, he watched on as the battle continued. Surounded now on three sides, his armour failing at last, the Byzantine battle standard fell at the spears of the Persians before him. Sensing their impending doom, the Byzantines finally fled the battle, only to be chased down and killed to a man, their general himself falling to Persian spears. From his knees, Xerxes viewed the field, astrewn with the broken bodies of his enemy. The battle was at an end.


Hail to the King, baby.

That worked out pretty well, now, didnít it? After my first game with John, Iíd lost a little confidence in my Persian battle plan of sitting back with lots of cheap bowmen, but this game certainly proved how effective the Persians are at doing just that. I and John both felt that heíd lost the advantage early on when his Nomads ran in terror from my elephant, then my chariots won the right flank. With his attack thwarted on both sides of the table, it seemed he wasnít sure what to do next, and that indecisiveness may have lost him the game.

As for my own troops, what can I say? The chariots were an unexpected and devastating surprise! I really had little faith in them, but with 4 attacks each plus d3 impact hits, they were able to do more instantaneous damage than I thought possible. The limitations on their movement and charging had little effect, as John presented a solid battle line for me to charge into.

My elephant did itís job well, holding the entire left flank, and driving off those annoying Nomadic Horde archers. It didnít actually get to fight anybody, but who cares? It dictated the entire left side of the board. I finally found a way to use my Bactrian cavalry; after last game my opinion of cavalry in WAB was greatly diminished. Without horse attacks or lances, cavalry in this game is much less powerful than in Fantasy, and thatís something to get used to.

Once again, my general got a little confused and thought it would be a good idea to jump in. My chaotic tendencies got the best of me for the moment, Iíll try not to do that again. He really is horrible at hand to hand, but he did manage to pick off one of Johnís cavalry with a long range bowshot.

What next for me? Iíve got plans for a scratch built battle wagon pulled by oxen. 6 attacks, 4 wounds, 3+ save, T4, 12 bowshots a turn in any direction, thatíll do nicely! Also a light chariot for my Battle Standard, and finally, a palonquin for King Xerxes, complete with palace harem and throne. Add a couple of bolt throwers and some camel riders (!) and my Persian horde will be complete. Now, back to painting.....

Can you say "vastly outnumbered"?

Dead man talking.

Ulysses Grant said donít worry about what the enemy will do, worry about what youíre going to do. I think this battle was proof that he was being flippant. Worry about both!

My plan didnít take into account persistent threats to both flanks, and Matt once again showed how good a general he is by being everywhere he needed to be with the troops that needed to be there. Once his chariots and elephant began their pincer move, I couldnít make up my mind whether to eliminate the threat they posed first or move forward. I made the wrong choice and that cost me the battle.

As it turned out, the chariots turned out to be much worse than I had imagined and the elephant, though it caused no casualties, made it difficult to do anything on that side of the board. And once into short range, Mattís bowmen did what they were supposed to do ó kill lots of the enemy.

Still, the battle was exciting right to the bloody end. My troops performed well even if their general didnít. With a leadership of 8 and BS of 4, the Scutatoi spearmen/archer combined formations are cheaper than full spearman units and much more adaptable. The one that wasnít eradicated by the chariots managed to take a charge in the rear and then destroy the chariots for a loss of just a few models. The BS 4 crossbowman did well as usual ó surprising in troops with a leadership of 6. And luck certainly had its part to play in the incredible success of the stone thrower, which totally destroyed the best Persian unit on the board three and four at a time without a misfire in the entire game. The threat of the cavalry was enough that it drew nearly all the fire Matt had at his disposal. Sadly, I had no other troops at that point to take the battle to the enemy.

The final duel between the generals was a bizarre bright moment of chivalry in what was a truly catastrophic final turn for me. Just wait until next week, God-king Matt ó the Emperor is waiting for you.

Iím looking forward to the completion of the final 1000 points of my Byzantines ó almost done and based. Iím also embarking on the building of a 2,000 point Turkish army for late medieval and renaissance gaming, complete with Jannissaries and the legendary heavy artillery of the Sultan. Now that Fantasy is back, any of you out there with Empire, Brettonian and Dogs of War armies may want to get your army lists modified for ancients as well. Weíll be happy to share lists and information on how to do it. And weíll be ready for you.

Created by: system. Last Modification: Monday 26 of January, 2009 03:07:38 PM EST by ZiggyQubert.

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