Friday, December 30, 2011

Gathering for Thymbra

Thymbra is a pivotal battle of Ancient history but one which is rarely written about. Like so many important ancient battles, we have some brief, nearly contemporary, accounts and little else so there is a lot of surmising and supposing that goes into modern accounts. The most complete account is in Xenephon's Cyropaedia, written close to 150 years after the fact. Unfortunately it seems to mix a lot of contemporary Persian tactics and proposed ideals military, political and philosophical, and it is hard sometimes to tell which is which. Luckily, I'm preparing to play a game not write a scholarly work so I can pick and choose. In the end, I have decided to abandon an original plan of collecting troops towards a recreation based on Xenephon's account for a scaled down game based in part of various accounts including an article in the issue of a wargaming magazine that I ever bought, Gene McCoy's Wargamer's Digest, and in part on what troops I have ready to hand. However, the texts of both Herodutus and Xenephon can be found on line for those with an interest.

One of the interesting bits is that in the preceding battle, the Medes & Persians supposedly outnumbered the Lydians significantly but could make no headway while at Thymbra, the Lydians are said to have vastly outnumbered the Medes and Persians but lost. Apart from the question of Cyrus's brilliant battle plans and  character, it seems that the first Lydian army was composed largely of unspecified mercenary forces while Herodotus lists an army of local and allied troops. I am surmising that the infantry may have been of  lower quality than the mercenary forces. Xenophon has the center of the Lydian army being a vast square of Egyptian hoplites with tall wooden shields, very similar to what he described at Cunaxa. I've been meaning to paint up a bunch of these but haven't so Ionian Greek Hoplites and Phrygian Spearmen will have to fill the gap.  The rest of the Lydian infantry will be largely Thracian and other peltasts backed by a few skirmishers. I'm a little short on Lydian Lancers but various Greek and other cavalry will be pressed into service and given a high Impetus value. Xenophon includes chariots in the Lydian line up but I have none with Lydian-ish crews so will probably skip them

There are several choices to be made for the Medes & Persians, Xenophon is the only one to ascribe a major role to Persian chariots and these are of the scythed chariot type which appear for the first time in Greek accounts at Cunaxa. Since I have some, I figure I may as well use them.   I already have my token tower which I will allow to shoot over head without penalty. The next question is that of the Persian infantry organization. Xenophon describes separate bodies of armoured infantry with bucklers, archers, javalinmen and peltasts. Not what we associate with an early Achaemenid army but not that far from the revised one of Xeenphon's day. I'll base it on the figures in my army and field most units as "T" in Impetus, roughly equivalent to Hott's Shooters or DBA's Bows, troops with both missile and hand to hand capability. The Persian cavalry should probably be mostly medium with many bow and/or javelin armed but I'll allow Xenephon some at least of his armoured horses and spears.

The battlefield should be easy enough, a flat featureless plain!



1 comment:

  1. Happy New Year Ross

    Looking forward to the battle, it will be fun.