Posties Rejects got together on Sunday for an ancients battle featuring the Egyptian verses the Hittites. We fought the fictional Battle of Hammaf using a set of house rules devised by our referee and undisputed Godfather of War, Stuart (aka 'Postie'). The battle was fought in 15mm using a variety of figures from different manufacturers and all painted to a very high standard making this a visually enjoyable game. I tried to make some notes as we went along as well as taking plenty of pictures. From these I have recreated the action as follows. Before the game started the seven players had to randomly pick which units they would be playing. The Armies were divided into divisions with three on the Egyptian side and four fighting for the Hittites.
Egyptians - Excellent and numerous archers with Light Chariot mounted archers in support.
1st Division - Centre - Pharaoh Ramesses II (Lee)
2nd Division - Left flank (Fran)
3rd Division - Right flank (Richard)
Hittites - High quality infantry with heavy chariots in support but little ranged capability
1st Division - Centre - King (John)
2nd Division - Left flank (Smithy)
3rd Division - Right flank (Dave)
4th Division - Far Left flank (Surjit)
Turn One: The Hittite General won initiative and elected to move first. Facing an Egyptian army fielding lots of archers the Hittites best option was to close into melee as soon as possible. Meanwhile the Egyptians held their ground and began to unleash a withering hail of arrows on the Hittites with the intention of weakening them before hand to hand fighting could commence. The Hittite King commanding the 1st Division in the centre unwisely put his chariots forward to shield his infantry units from archery fire and failed to push forward his skirmishers. This latter force needed to get very close to use their javelins and consequently started the game out of range while simultaneously being whittled away by archery fire.
Turn Two: The Egyptian 1st and 2nd Divisions on the centre and left of the line hold their position and maintain their missile fire on the approaching Hittites. Meanwhile the Egyptian 3rd Division moves further to the right, occupying a small hill behind the main line and pushing their chariots onto the extreme right flank of the army. This small force of chariots are positioning themselves ready to face off against a similar chariot unit from the Hittite 2nd Division.
Meanwhile the Hittite 4th Division commanded by Surjit is still way off to the right of the Egyptian line, at least three our four more turns of movement away from making contact. They remain a growing threat throughout the game but it is never clear if they will arrive in time to have a decisive outcome on the battle.
Turn Three: Hittite casualties continue to mount as they bring more and more units close to charge range. In particular the chariots in the centre, shielding the infantry, are wiped out by archery fire. Only the close proximity of the army standard and the king stops panic from spreading to nearby units.
However the Egyptians win the initiative and elect to move first giving them time to dress their lines and bring reserve units to the front. Faced with the prospect of moving second the Hittite generals hold back their charge until next turn. Meanwhile advance troops of the Hittite 2nd Division enter a small town which commands the end of the battlefield. Troop discipline however is poor (or the Hittite Kings bribes are not large enough) and the troops begin to loot the town effectively removing them from the battle for one turn.
Turn Four: On the Egyptian right flank the chariots of the 3rd Division clash with the Hittite 2nd Division chariots. However the wily Hittite divisional commander has also moved a unit of spearmen into the flank of the Egyptian chariots and the result looks inevitable. Despite rolling almost twice as a many dice for damage as the Egyptian commander the result is a draw and all the units involved become disordered and retreat a quarter move.
Unfortunately for the Hittites they fail to recover in the moral phase and remain disordered into the next turn. The disordered units cannot move in the following turn but more importantly halve their damage dice in melee. This gives the advantage to the Egyptian chariots who pass their moral test and prepare to charge again in turn five.
Turn Five: At last the Hittites are able to close the gap and charge into melee. On the Hittite right flank units of the 3rd Division fail to contact with the Egyptian units but in the centre the Chariots of the 1st Division thunder towards the chariots of the Egyptian 2nd. The Egyptians counter-charge and by far the bloodiest melee ensues with both players rolling fists full of dice (I lost count how many). The results are indecisive and the combat devolves into the games first ongoing melee eventually resulting in the rout of the surviving Egyptian chariots.
Elsewhere however the Hittites are loosing the initiative. the battering ram of armoured infantry in the centre of the Hittite line held back by archery fire and disorganised by their own troops fleeing and inter-penetrating in a bid to escape the field. On the Hittite left flank the developing battle for the village ebbs and flows but the Egyptian 3rd Division commander holds his line. Meanwhile the advance elements of the Hittite 4th Division finally reach the town and try to get into the battle. The rest of their column however is strung out and looks increasingly unable to get into the battle fast enough.
Turn Six: Now the Egyptians unleash their own charges into the Hittite ranks, hoping they have done enough missile damage to give then the advantage. The Hittite kings own Bodyguard are the target as they remain disordered after being weakened by archery fire and unsettled by fleeing comrades. As the Egyptian chariots charge in they unleash a volley of arrows inflicting yet more casualties before smashing into the ranks of infantry. Despite the advantage the chariots are forced back and regroup for a second charge next turn.
Meanwhile the ranks have opened up allowing Ramesses II's own Chariot guards to charge through their former lines into a Hittite Chariot squadron that was threatening the Egyptian 3rd Division on their left flank. On the right of the 3rd's position the village is starting to fill up with Hittite Infantry but it is clear now that none of their 4th Division chariots will make it into the battle (it being nearly dinner time!). It is agreed to play out one more turn but by this stage the outcome of the battle seems clear to all the players.
Turn Seven: The final turn of the battle saw lots of melee and a general mixing up of the until now neat lines of the opposing armies. A lot of damage was inflicted on both sides but by this stage the Hittite centre was looking decidedly thin. Meanwhile Egyptian reinforcements (Heavy Chariots with javelin runners attached) that arrived during the 5th turn are starting to get into the battle. With the Egyptian line pretty much unmoved throughout the game their reinforcements have been able to get into play quickly while similar Hittite reinforcements are still racing to get to the front line. Similarly the bulk of the Hittite 4th Division remains strung out beyond the village and effectively isolated from the battle.
Analysis: The relative strengths and weaknesses of the two forces were clear from the start of the battle and pretty much dictated the two sides strategies. Having said that it was definitely in the Egyptians hands to loose the battle. For much of the game we had to hold our nerve, stick to the original plan and keep our line intact. The Hittites knew they were going to have a rough time getting into contact but they could have used their skirmishers better to shield their much more formidable infantry from archery fire.
As this was a house set of rules we took this as an opportunity to play-test them, not just have a game. several good suggestions were made about resolving melee's and the effects on archery units that have taken casualties themselves. Under the rules we played close order archery units get +2 damage dice for massed archery fire (skirmish archers don't get that bonus), but it was generally agreed that a weakened unit should loose that bonus.
The Egyptian leader Ramesses II goes on to depict himself charging into battle at the head of his chariots. This image is carved into and painted on every monument he builds - and he builds a lot during his 66 year reign. It helps solidify his reputation as Egypt's greatest ruler. However the reality is that Ramesses the Great actually spent most of this fictional battle with his chariot parked in the shade of a palm tree. Far from being a glorious and epic charge sweeping all before it, this victory was instead a brutal and bloody battle of attrition.
As always, history is written by the victor.
Egyptians - 33 Points
Hittites - 5 Points