The Battle before the Gates of Nineveh

The Battle before the Gates of Nineveh

In 612BC the capital of the Assyrian Empire, Nineveh, was sacked by a coalition of its enemies. Whilst this fact is known there is very little on which to base any form of historical recreation of the event. Any how, sieges are tough to do in an afternoon and besides, there was almost certainly a battle before the gates of the city in an attempt to prevent its encirclement. Perhaps. Even less is known about this battle which may not have happened. Consequently it was an ideal pick for an Easter Bank Holiday massive ancient refight. Of sorts.

These refights have been a feature of bank holidays going back over a decade, ever since Shedquarters was inaugurated. I’ve tended to run them using a combination of „Lost Battles“ and Neil Thomas‘ AMW. This is the first one without a true historical prototype. However, the Assyrians have never really had a big showing on the table but it’s Easter and this is the most Biblical Army I’ve got. And I’ve got a lot of it. Really lots of it. Madness. It’ll never all be used. Consequently there’s enough to provide the Assyrians and also a brigade of Babylonians. The latter were supported by my early Achaemenid Persians, masquerading as Medes.

Of course the real reason for doing this is two fold. Firstly to get out as many 1/72 plastic figures as possible and secondly (and most important) to get as many of the MNG into Shedquarters together. Due to ill health and so on this has been more difficult of late, so I’m pleased to say we had Chris K, Phil, Will, Tim and Steve. Alas Chris A had to call off at the last moment for a family emergency but still a good turnout. We haven’t had Will round for an MNG game for quite a while.

Here’s the set up. Nineveh is tucked away in the left hand corner. One of the rivers of Babylon flows in the distance. The Assyrians are to the left, the Medes & Babylonians to the right. The Assyrians are outnumbered 3:2, but they only have to hold on to win.

The part of Nineveh in the game was played by a section of the Great Wall of China and the tomb of Cyrus the Great.

I used AMW for this game with some slight modifications. I nudged up some of the „combat dice rolled „numbers and decreased some of the saving rolls to get combats resolved more quickly. I introduced an „archers shooting over spear unit“ rule for the Medes and we played the normal single base unit morale check which the group added ages ago. I also substituted inches for centimetres due to the size of the table. This was prescient as one side decided to hug their base line for most of the game.

Phil took the Babylonians and Will the Medes. Steve was stuck in traffic and called to say he’d be delayed. I helped clear the jam by starting the game without him. He turned up before the end of the first move. Chris and Tim played the Assyrians.

Any how, Will went aggressive with the cavalry wing near the camera and Phil advanced more cagily at the other end of the table.

Will’s got his horse archers in place, shooting up the auxilia shielding the Assyrian cavalry on this wing. The infantry in the centre rumbled forwards.

The Assyrian auxilia are surrounded and overwhelmed a bit by the light horse, whilst the other unit is hit head on by some Median heavy cavalry.

Tim counter attacks with his cavalry, rather mushing up Will’s light horse. His heavy cavalry are making heavy weather of the other unit of auxilia.

Will sensibly disengages his light horse in his turn. The light infantry in the centre exchange missiles. The Median heavy cavalry have beaten the auxilia.

Tim counterattacks with his heavy cavalry, whilst the remaining auxilia face off with each other.

Down the far end the opposing auxilia are likewise slugging it out. Phil’s heavy chariots come within bowshot of the Assyrian infantry (front rank shields, second rank bows) and suffer accordingly.

Things have moved on apace down this end. Tim has broken a light cavalry unit with his heavies and threatens to break into the Medes‘ rear areas.

Meanwhile Phil & Chris continue to chip away at each others auxilia.

Will springs the trap and catches Tim in the flank with his heavies.

The attack is devastating and Tim’s unit evaporates.

To relieve the pressure Tim charges forwards with his heavy chariots, likewise sweeping away an auxilia unit so quickly I don’t have a picture of them in situ.

The auxilia gone, Phil throws his mounted arm forwards. His general is in the thick of it, attached to the right hand chariots. The other chariot unit comes off worse in its collision with the Assyrian spear/bow unit.

Chris refuses to advance his centre, making Steve lean further and further across the table. This is a trifle unfair as Chris does have the longest arms in the room.

His flank threatened by some Assyrian heavy infantry Phil withdraws one of his chariot units.

Alas it is too late for the other, which rolls terrible dice and is removed. The general retires behind the nearest unit.

Will has the upper hand at this end of the table. The over head shooting of Steve’s archers have stopped Tim’s heavy chariots on the spot, and Will’s cavalry is circling.

Phil is on the rough end of what is happening on his flank, but he is holding on. He has kept Chris pinned back and he has not moved his infantry line forwards, which has an overlap on their opposite numbers if they ever get to grips.

The storm clouds are gathering for Tim. He wheels the reserve infantry round to cover this flank.

Steve pushes up half of his infantry. He hasn’t moved the other half as they are still shooting at the chariot.

The chariots are gone and Phil has a demon dice rolling  turn and destroys one of Chris‘ heavy cavalry units. A quick count up reveals that the Assyrians are at their break point and it’s game over.
Not a particularly sophisticated or mentally taxing game, but it provided three hours of entertainment to a group of old friends on a bank holiday afternoon. It was good to have most of us back in SHQ. pushing plastic and rolling dice.
It’s a great hobby.


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Autor: Trebian / Wargaming for Grown-ups