The Roaring Northerners are Dave Stewart, John Hill and Iain Robertson; a loose affiliation of tabletop wargamers and figure painters who inhabit the frozen and somewhat soggy wastelands of west central Scotland. Shadowy and secretive, they stoically quest to reduce the scale of the lead mountain that threatens to engulf them all, and perhaps even find the time for the occasional game...
....This is their story

Monday, 7 October 2013

Wednesday’s Game- The Battle of Miletus in 15mm.

Our game on Wednesday at the East Kilbride club pitted Alexander’s Macedonians against the combined Greco-Persian forces of Memnon, in a stripped back version of DBM rules, cunningly devised by John.  John also provided the battlefield and terrain, as well as the beautifully painted figures you see before you (not a shield transfer in sight, either!) I provided the biscuits.

John took command of Alexander’s forces, whilst Dave and I split command of Memnon’s forces, with Dave having command of the centre and right wing, while I took the predominantly Persian left.

The Macedonian phalanxes formed the centre of their line along with some mercenary Hoplites, supported with lighter cavalry and skirmishers on the left, with the heavier donkey-wallopers on the right along with some light psiloi in the shape of javelinmen and Cretan archers and slingers. Also hovering about menacingly were a number of ballistas.

Facing off against that, the centre of the allied line was composed of some lesser Greek phalanxes, Spartan Hoplites and Persian imitation hoplites, supported by a few archers. Clearly, this was going to be the main arena in which a slugging match of epic proportions would be fought. The allied right composed of lighter cavalry and foot including Indian archers, as well as a heavy ballista, emplaced on the high ground. The left wing comprised the bulk of the Persian forces, including the heavy cavalry, supported by light archers, some elite peltast skirmishers and some light horse-archers on the extreme left.

From my point of view, it appeared obvious that as the Macedonian Phalanxes rolled down the centre, their heavy cavalry would be looking to slip down the left and get in behind our opposing heavy infantry, and start reducing them to offal. I decided the best way to combat this would be to send out the psiloi to try and tar-pit the heavies as early as possible, and act as a screen to our heavy infantry. That way, I reasoned that if I held my heavy cavalry back I could either hold them in reserve to then throw in against the Macedonian heavies after they’d eventually chewed through the skirmish screen (hopefully having been thinned out a bit while they were at it) and then destroy them, or alternatively, if things went really well,  and the psiloi held the Macedonian heavies up for long enough for a significant gap to appear between them and the phalanxes, I could hopefully rush them through to the rear of the lumbering pike blocks, and begin doing unto others that which they would have undoubtedly done unto us…

Meanwhile, I reckoned that the horse archers could then use their speed to either close down the opposing heavy ballista if it started to cause a headache, or alternatively, also try and get around the back of either the Macedonian heavy cavalry or phalanxes, whichever was proving most problematic…

And so, battle was joined, and the Macedonians lumbered forwards towards us. Dave then ordered his own heavy infantry out, advancing in echelon with the centre-most unit in the lead. The heavy artillery started thunking bolts and rocks towards the opposing lines, but without much execution. Meanwhile on the right flank, both sets of light cavalry and infantry advanced to meet one another, in an effort to drive on to the sides of the opposing phalanxes. Over on the left, I advanced the light archers and peltasts out to try and lock the flank down in anticipation of the heavy cavalry advance that failed to materialise. Instead, I found myself outnumbered by John’s elite Cretan Archers who, in addition to the ballista, began to thin out my ranks in an alarming fashion.  Seeing how this was going, and my plan already crumbling before my eyes (I should have known that John was too good a general to let something that simple work for me…), I advanced my heavy cavalry up behind the archer screen, ready to repulse the Macedonian charge that I was sure was coming.

Meanwhile, the two opposing infantry juggernauts in the centre continued to roll towards one another, whilst the battle continued to rage on the right between the opposing skirmishers, with both sides managing to cause casualties and achieve push-backs on their opposition in a tidal ebb-and-flow of combat. Dave’s ballistas continued to try and achieve some sort of execution, but without much success.  Eventually, though, both sides heavy infantry barrelled into each other in the centre, and the real slogging began.

While this was happening,  I found myself with rapidly depleting ranks, facing off against the Macedonian heavies, having finally managed to thin out some of John’s skirmishers. As the cavalry barrelled into the luckless psiloi, I moved my own heavies up to counter charge, once the Macedonians had chewed their way through the last of the archers.  This happened in fairly short order, and as I moved up the heavies, I noticed that my plan had unravelled yet more, when I saw that whilst I was busy engaging the Macedonian cavalry with my skirmishing archers and peltasts,  the phanalxes in the centre had outstripped me, and a gap had opened up to the front of my Persian imitation Hoplites. A big tempting gap. A big tempting, candy-like gap. And in the midst of this, one of the Macedonian Cavalry units had successfully dispatched its opponents and was now unopposed.  This was of course none other than Alexander’s Companion Guard, accompanied by the man himself. This was all the chance John needed, and Alexander saw his gap and took it, barrelling across the front of the Persian Hoplites, who could only offer a Pythonesque “Hey…” in response, and on to crash into the rear of the nearest allied phalanx. This was going to be the beginning of the end, it seemed.

While the human chainsaw of the opposing heavy infantry blocks got to work in the centre, Dave’s light troops on the right continued to slog it put with their opposing numbers, however, the arrival of John’s heavier mercenary Hoplites and cavalry began to swing the contest in his favour, and the flank began to turn, as the Macedonians closed towards the flank of the raging infantry battle in the centre.

Over on the left, I decided that the horse archer’s time had probably come so I decided to sally forth and attempt to get round the back of the Macedonian line and try and even up the melee in the middle, since Alexander’s Companion Guard were now cheerfully hewing their way through the rear ranks of the allied heavy infantry. The ballista on John’s right was now out of tempting targets since everyone was engaged in close combat, so I felt safe enough to ignore it. However, even here, disaster dogged my footsteps, as I moved the horse archers at their maximum move, it just wasn’t quite enough to clear the flank sufficiently, and the halted slap bang infront of John’s light infantry, who were positioned perfectly to take them in the flank. This was a mistake I had a funny feeling I’d be punished for.

 Sure enough, a volley from the horse archers did little to dissuade the skirmishers from piling in for a square go, thus completely tying down the entire left flank, aside from the Persian Hoplites, who were now too far behind everyone else to achieve much.

In the centre, the infantry battle continued apace, with the superiority of John’s Macedonian pike phalanxes beginning to tell against their opposing Greek counterparts, as every time a Greek element was either pushed back or destroyed, the elite Macedonians automatically advanced to fill the gap and continue the combat. This, coupled with Alexander’s personal guard attacking from the rear, meant the Greeks were being squeezed in an ever tightening human vice.

The battle had now been going on for over three hours, and it was now beginning to become clear that the Combat on both the right and left flanks had become a bit of a stalemate, and that neither Dave’s or my elements would be able to hold off John’s units for ever, but equally, neither would they be able to dispatch them quickly enough to be able to join in the main combat in the centre, where John’s phalanxes were now inflicting serious punishment on the Greeks, whose ranks were being eroded like a tooth in a vat of Coke.

As such, a quick scan of the field and summing up of likely victory points gave a victory to John’s Macedonians, whose superiority as pike armed heavy infantry had really been a deciding factor; contrasting wildly with the artillery (on both sides!) which had proved it still had some way to go before assuming its crown as the “King of the battlefield”.

So all in all, a good, hard fought game, made all the more enjoyable thanks to the cracking standard of the painting on the troops deployed, and many thanks to Paul of the EK Wargames Club for letting us slog on long after everyone else had gone home!



  1. A great report Iain, and superb photos.
    So good to get a 15mm game on the table again.
    Sweeping moves and John's paintwork. Great fun!


  2. Oh and can't beat shortbread and coffee on a gaming night, Lol!

  3. Yup, cheers mate, it was a good night.