Saturday, 29 August 2020

l'Art de la Guerre - Parthians vs the Kushan

Having suffered rebuttle in the west at the hands of the Seleukids, the Parthian Empire turned its eyes eastwards to Alexander's legacy in Arachosia and northern India. The only thing standing in the way of eastern plunder were the Indo-Skythian Kushan. The stage was set for the next outing of Andrew's Parthians...

The Parthians deployed the same army as last time with a large command of medium and light horse archers commanded by a strategist, a command of seven cataphracts, and a micro-command consisting of two units of light horse archers. Opposite them, my Kushan were feeling very symetrical. The centre consisted of two elephants flanking two mediocre pike units screened by light infantry archers; the commander was embedded in the right flank elephant unit. On either flank were four catepharacts and four light cavalry - Maues the Indo-Skythian king commanded the right where two of the catephract units were elite.

While I was expecting the small command to be on a flank march, it actually sprang out of ambush in the field to the right (come to think of it, can light horse be place in ambush in fields?) in turn one, came off second best in an exchange of horse-archery, and then sped off down the flank enroute for the Kushan camp. 

Across the rest of the battlefield, limited command pips meant that progress was slow. The Parthian centre gradually crossed the central field and the Kushan centre tried to advance to defeat them in detail. The Kushan commander of the left dispatched two units of javalin armed light cavalry to slow down the encircling Parthian light horse archers.

Over on the right, one unit of Kushan cataphracts pulled away from the main line to charge at the Parthian flankers. One unit chose to evade off the table rather than be caught in the flank.

On the left, a line of the Parthain light horse archers engaged the Kushan mounted javelineers who were then supported by Kushan horse archers.

In the centre the pike/elephant formation split in two, the righthand side heading towards the line of Parthian cataphracts, the left units angle into the line of medium horse archers who - contrary to my expectations, recieved the charge rather than evading.

The light cavalry clash on the left saw one Parthian unit destroyed, but the compat go against the Kushan across the rest of the melee. The Kushan cataphracts on the left charged forward - half in support of the pike and elephants, and half headed straight into a longer line of medium horse archers.

On the far right, the remaining unit of Parthian flankers tenaciously held on against their Kushan cataphract opponents.

In the centre, the opposed lines crashed in a clash of cataphracts. I referred to this as the cat fight... the joke went down like a lead balloon.

Everywhere on the left saw the Parthians successful - Kushan units were scattering, whether light horse of heavy cataphracts. 

In the centre and on the right however, the situation was reversed. Almost across the board the Parthians were taking heavy losses.

Simultaniously, the Kushan left wing and the Parthian centre collapsed.

The final reconning saw a pretty comprehensive victory for the Kushan - 15/24 breakpoints for the Kushan against 22/21 for the Parthians. It was a good, well-fought battle which we followed up with a bit of a discussion about the best ways to use these sorts of mounted armies which are fairly new to both of us.


  1. I've seen film where horses were made to lie down, so it is possible that they could hide in grass long enough to conceal them. But with hundreds of horse that may be not so easy.

  2. Thank you for writing!
    These armies and terrain are a delight to see.