Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Battle of Fort Panion - Flats Battle Part I

Argive strategos Memnon watched the enemy phalanx finish deploying into line, sweat already trickling beneath his armor in the morning heat.  Things would get even hotter soon he thought, as he cursed that detestable knave Timaios yet again for bringing affairs to such as pass.  Inviting conflict with Aquilonia through gross dereliction of duty, unforgivable.  Memnon almost wished that he'd plunged his sword into the man's guts instead of sending him packing to Messantia in disgrace. 

Milo, tyrant of Argos, had always shown more interest in his merchant empire and fleet, content to leave control of the army and affairs on land to his advisors. After all, the strong walls of Messantia would still be the ultimate arbiter if things went badly wrong.  But still, in turbulent times for Hyboria, one had to at least keep up militarily and the coffers were full enough to maintain a respectable army.  And at the urging of his counselor Damianos, to build several frontier forts along the northern border where Aquilonia had made the rich pasture land formerly belonging to Ophir their own.  

Thus things stood with an uneasy peace between neighbors, and with the Aquilonian king Epeus busy fending off Cimmerian incursions to the north and campaigning against Nemedia to the east, Fort Panion represented no real threat to Aquilonia.  That is until Timaios was sent to command the garrison.  Brother to Milo's new wife Artemesia, she set about badgering the tyrant to give the wastrel something to do.  A small command far from the temptations of Messantia would be harmless enough, it seemed.  Certainly better than dealing with the aftermath of his debaucheries in the capital.

But upon taking up his new command, Timaios sulked at being consigned to such a backwater posting, spending his days and nights consuming many a kylix of unwatered wine. And rather than seeing to the mundane duties of a garrison commander, the dull routine of laying in supplies, digging a well, drilling the men - all these paled in comparison to the thrill of cross-border raids on wealthy Aquilonian land barons.  Indeed, more than allowing his troops license to steal cattle, Timaios soon took to leading these raids himself, extracting contributions, insulting their women, kidnapping slave girls, and when sated with this, looting and burning estates. 

From his campaign tent on the Nemedian border, King Epeus read the dispatches from court with dismay and rage.  Summoning his lieutenant Bardikkas to his tent, Epeus dispatched him forthwith to ride hard for Tarantia, collect the rest of the royal garrison and take the high road to Argos.  Tyrant Milo, informed by his spies in the Aquilonian capital of what was afoot, mobilized the hoplites and ordered his strategos Memnon to make haste for Fort Panion.   

If you survived the backstory long enough to read on, we're now closer to battle. There's a lot of pictures, so I'll break it down into three parts.  Part 1 will introduce all the troops. Parts 2 & 3 will cover the fighting.

Forces of Aquilonia

Here is the line of battle, from right to left.  Please excuse the somewhat jarring insertion of flash photography here and there.  I started the battle fairly early yesterday morning, on what began as gloomy and rainy day. The ambient light wasn't sufficient, although things brightened up as the morning progressed.  And a mixture of un-based and based figures.  Didn't have time to base them all, nor does the cardboard show to advantage. It did cut down on the falling dominoes effect though.  Eventually I'll re-base all these.

Young Companions (AQ):

Commanded by the king's youthful and hot tempered son Alkestis.  The figures are from Carl, very nice castings from the classic Battle of Issos set.

2nd Royal Horse Guards (AQ):

Commanded by Gallanos. Factory painted Romans, don't know the editor.  A recent eBay acquisition and quite appealing castings, don't know the editor.

Eruk Infantry (Merc):

Kieler's bizarre take on Carthaginians come to life as warriors of Shem.  The haughty noble Tiglath couldn't bear to part with his horse.  At 20 men, I teased out the formation a bit with my painted Assyrians.  I actually have enough unpainted castings in this grouping to finish the unit at some point.

Mercenary Phalanx (Merc):

A real hash of phalangites of all sorts, but mostly Wagner and Golberg. I've got enough unpainted castings to eventually tame the unruly pikes but they're over-sized relative to the Heinrichsens.

4th Foot Companions (AQ):

Anchoring the Aquilonian battle line.  Good old Heinrichsen.

Tanasul Archers (AQ):

Figures by Lampert.  Nice fellow, no English but willing to deal outside of Germany and really has a lot of newer model ancients. I have more castings and this will be a easy unit to complete.  Also have a proper officer figure for them but had to draft a Heinrichsen slinger for the battle.

Daramish Light Horse (Merc):

Numidians pulling duty here as soldiers from Koth.  Berliner Zinnfiguren sells these castings, I don't know the editor.

War Elephants (AQ):

Few citizens of Argos have seen an elephant. Soon more may wish they hadn't.  A mix of editors.

Forces of Argos

And the Argive battle formation, from the left flank to the right.

Samaran Horse (Merc):

Argos lacks cavalry. Turan has plenty, and posted to the right wing in force.  Kieler Persians.

Shahpur Light Horse (Merc):

More Turanians, also Kieler.

1st Peltasts (ARG):

Missile troops, defending the hilltop and backstopped by the fort.  Heinrichsen judging by the bases and very pleasing designs they are.  Factory paint and a prime candidate for repainting down the road.

2nd Messantian Infantry (AQ)

Milo's citizen hoplites help the peltasts defend Fort Panion Hill.  Kielers, not sure on the paint jobs, but probably done by a collector.

3rd Peltasts (ARG):

Posted out front as a forlorn hope. Vibrantly painted by someone, not me.  I like what he did with these, too bad I don't have more. Kieler castings.  Not a great shot but you'll see them again soon.

Argos Guards Infantry (ARG)

The best Argos can field.  Can they stop the Foot Companions ?  Kieler, factory painted but not half bad.

1st Messantian Infantry (ARG):

More citizen hoplites.  Again, Kielers.  Same painter as the 2nd, colorful.

1st Horse Guards (ARG):

Optimistically titled, there is no 2nd, 3rd or 4th.  Kieler Etruscans.  Nice vigorous designs.

And within the fort itself, a small detachment of slingers man the ramparts.

And let the games begin !

Back to work tomorrow. I'll start work on Part 2, will post later this week but it may take a few days.


  1. This getting exciting... a great mix of figures and something quite new for me, not having seen a flat battle before.

    1. I've seen a few postings here and there of wargames involving flats but you're right, it's not a common thing.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks, Tony. Took me about 90 minutes to pack away all the figures this morning. Hope to start drafting the next post tomorrow, should have it done by Christmas Eve, hopefully a bit sooner.

  3. Love it - this post really brightened up my morning - thanks!

    1. I'm very glad to have brightened anyone's morning. Thanks for that, MSFoy.

  4. Great back story. One gets so used to see a medieval look to so many Hyborian armies that its refreshing to see the ancients look again as used by Tony Bath. I love the look of the Assyrians and the Daramish mercenary bow and spear cavalry. A new take on Numidians but I like'em, esp in this context.
    Great stuff!

    1. Glad you liked the backstory, Ross ! Wasn’t sure about including it but I felt the battle report might benefit from a story behind it vs. random fighting breaking out. Once I started down that path it needed enough development to create a coherent narrative.

      Plus I love the Conan stories, and in large part because of Hyboria’s appeal and that they seemed rightfully placed in a more ancient age. Of course Howard himself wasn’t entirely consistent, Conan at times being an ancient warrior but in other stories an Indian (Pict) fighter, even a swashbuckling pirate. But I dislike him placed in a more medieval environment, don’t we already have hundreds of fantasy novels in such a setting ?!

      Yeah, the Kieler Carthaginians (Shemites) are perfect figures for a Hyborian world. Wildly fanciful designs but vigorously executed. With most of the factory painted sets shown here I’ll probably leave well enough alone, but since I need to augment these with more castings in my own painting, probably will wind up reworking the whole lot eventually.

  5. It's great to see more action happening on the Hyborean Continent... Great figures, quite evocative of Tony Bath's fantasy world. Wonderful. (I like the spare battlefield, too. The flat figures are so much the focus of the pictorial narrative anything too elaborate by way of scenery would detract from them. But of course you gotta have the border fort! Is there more on this in your archives?)

    1. Thanks very much, Ion. I'm afraid I can't take credit for staging, the spareness of the battlefield is rather by default due to lack of appropriate scenery. However upon reflection, your observation about keeping the focus on the flats is spot on.