Saturday, December 17, 2011

Magnesia Refight

Last week several of our regional gamers got together for a Battle of Magnesia refight.  All of us are members of the New England Ancient Wargaming Network, and some are also involved in our Hartford Area Historical Gaming Society group.  We ended up with 6 players in total, 3 representing the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on the Seleucid side, and 3 representing the State of Connecticut on the Roman side.  We used the Field of Glory rules for this battle, and with approximately 2700 points of Seleucids against approximately 2400 points of Romans, it was a good thing that we had that many players. It worked out very nicely with one player from each team playing either one of the wings or the central command of their army. Since all the players had quite of bit of experience at playing Field of Glory, the game moved along quickly, coming to a conclusion in about 5 hours, including all the time spent socializing and consuming pizza.

The game ended in a Seleucid victory, instead of the historical Roman one.  The Roman left wing fought a pretty good delaying action before collapsing under tons of cataphracts and walls of superior pike (close to a historical outcome), while the Roman center had an easy time of it, chopping through a mob a poor quality pikes and hoplites (very much the same as what happened historically).  The Roman right wing was completely demolished though, while in the actual battle, the Pergamene allies of the Romans easily won this action. Given the order of battle we used though, it is difficult to see how this could be replicated, since the Roman wing was completely outmanned. Supposedly, the Seleucid scythed chariots went out of control at the beginning of the actual battle though, routing through and disordering their own forces, while our Seleucid player wisely held his chariots in the rear. It is really amazing to dwell on how often these Ancient battles, even huge affairs like Magnesia, had their outcomes, and the future course of history, decided by such capricious turns of fate.

Here is a layout of the historical deployment for Magnsia:

And a photo of our deployment at the start of the game:

The Roman battleline before the battle commences:

Seleucid Phalangites:

Romans at the start line:

The central Roman advance on the Seleucid Phalanx:

Romans killing phalangites:

Cataphracts killing Romans, and then Romans fleeing from the same:

Roman right wing in a fight with elephants:

And finally, a photo of the entire battlefield at the kickoff:

Playing Field of Glory over the last several years, it seems that the games had fallen into a pattern of constant repetitions of 800 point, tournament style matchups. We all wanted to get back to having a game based on an actual historical battle that allowed for more socializing and camaraderie. Everyone had a great time, it seems, and it confirms that Field of Glory is not just a "tournament" game but is also very appropriate for scenario gaming. It is probably too complex a system to teach newcomers in a convention environment, but with reasonably experienced players, even very large scenarios play out just fine. I think our group will be looking forward to more of these kind of games in the future. And of course, there will be the HAHGS Hail Caesar campaign kicking off right after the New Year, I hope.


  1. Great game and great post! That is an amazing amount of lead. Makes me wish I lived on the east coast!

    Our FoG club had fallen into a bit of a rut too with perfectly polished lists played over and over. We too have delved into scenario battles and trying to agree to field less than perfect lists.

  2. Nice epic battle. Magnesia is one of our local favorites. Romans and Selucids - how can you go wrong?

  3. Very nice figs and pictures...and a wonderful table!
    I do like elephants and seleucid phalangites...

  4. Great looking game, we also did this refight using WAB. Like you mention, because of the number of figures involved it was a good excuse for an all day social game.

  5. Looks great, Peter. Where was the battle (the miniature version, that is) actually fought?

  6. Great to read that the FoG rules play out so well. I am busy painting a second army and working on the rules. Your post helps with inspiration on doing this so thanks

  7. Just posted my own game (played in 1997) of Magnesia using the Die Is Cast rules