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Thread: Eastern Hegemony: Pontus AAR

  1. #1

    Default Eastern Hegemony: Pontus AAR

    Starting a Pontus campaign, and will try to keep up an AAR thread along the way. I see folks talking about Sparta, Carthage, Suebi, Arverni, but no one mentions playing Pontus. I don't know anything about the faction, other than that they're labeled Hellenic but have some Eastern characteristics.

    I have Hooah's Suebi AAR as an example, at least first few installments will be similar.

    Part I

    A poor people aspire to greatness...or at least, survival...

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    I am Mithridates, King of Pontus. This may seem, to the ill-informed, a high and mighty state of being. Those who have been to my lands, however, know the poverty of my people and the weakness of my armies. My great capital Amaseia is a mere hamlet, and our wealthy port city of Sinope but a decrepit wharf. Pontus must grow in might, wealth, and land. Not for my own aggrandizement, but for the survival of my people. If we aspire only to cling to this sliver of seashore, we will not cling to it for long.

    All is not, however, so bleak. We are a Greek people, and our brethren across the Aegean and Euxine Seas look favorably upon us. Bithynia to our west is an ally, and Trapezos to our east a Grecian friend. We have secure flanks, and a sea upon which Greek trade may flow to Sinope, however small its docks may yet be.

    Pontic homeland

    Enemies we have as well. The grubby Cappadocians hold lands to our south, and have been at war with us for generations. A fragile peace holds with neighboring Galatia, but ere long the rattle of spears will doubtless be heard in this direction as well. So be it. Pontus must have land. Galatia et Cappadocia it must be. Pontic armies have only Eastern spearmen and slingers to fill the ranks. This is just as well, as these meager wages are all my treasury can support.

    I place our soldiers under the command of my kinsman Praxiteles and charge him to recruit more men in the countryside. He styles his host the Scions of Sinope. A fine-sounding name for such a rabble. At least it IS an army of sorts; I remain at Amaseia in command of "the Lykoi"...which consists only of my personal bodyguard. All others I've stripped away for Praxiteles. Our hopes are pinned on the Scions...our only army.

    After two seasons' recruitment, Praxiteles marches south through the passes into Cappadocia, and falls upon the town of Samosata. The small garrison valiantly sallies forth to defend their homes, but the Scions easily overwhelm them with numbers. Praxiteles has done well, and the Scions of Sinope have won a fine victory.

    The armies meet outside Samosata

    In Amaseia, meanwhile, I secure a formal alliance with Trapezos. Long friendly with us, they readily agree. Bithynia, heretofore merely a defensive ally, enters into full military alliance with us as well. The Bithynians, of course, take this opportunity to pull us into war with Galatia. A bit annoying, but Galatian lands have been our object in any case, it fits with our plans. War it is.

    Mazaca is Cappadocia's only remaining settlement. Praxiteles, however, cannot march there directly from Samosata without traveling through Seleucid lands. The Seleucids are friendly enough with us, their Greek heritage derived from Alexander. Not so friendly, however, as to allow Pontic armies to march through their fields without a prohibitively expensive toll. I bid Praxiteles return home to find another path through the mountains to Mazaca. I am concerned that Samosata will try to rebel without our spears patrolling their streets, but the Scions are Pontus' only host, I must have them home. Praxiteles returns to Amaseia, and prepares to march west.

    Praxiteles, I am pained to say, fails me. Bithynia promises a reward to our treasury for the capture of Ancyra, the Galatian capital. My kinsman seeks glory, and proposes to march direct on the Galatians. I must confess I allow myself to be swayed. The Scions debouch from the mountain pass and upon the plain before Ancyra. Praxiteles has neglected to send spies ahead, and knows not the Galatians' strength or nature. It is to be his undoing.

    I have heard of peoples far far to the west, called "Kelts". The chroniclers and poets speak of their valor and fierceness. Apparently the Galatians are of this ilk. As large a host as the Scions of Sinope may be, the Galatians' Wandering Warriors horde is still larger, and supported by another substantial army. They march forward from Ancyra and fall upon the Scions on the plain. Spears and slings they have as well, much like our Pontic levy...but theirs are a fiercer variety, and are supported by some horse. This bodes ill for the Pontic cause.

    Praxiteles vainly endeavors to retreat, and falls back to the foot of the mountain pass. The Galatians pursue and bring him to battle on unfavorable terms. The Scions pick a small hillock as the best ground available - meager though it is - for their stand. The Galatian host, however, overwhelms them. Our spearmen break, our slingers rout. Praxiteles' bronze phalanx guard fights hard, but cannot be everywhere at once. My kinsman falls on the field, the Scions of Sinope are no more, destroyed.

    The Scions of Sinope await their fate on the Galatian plain, their foes approaching in the distance

    Our plight grows grave. We have always been we are poor and without an army. My family retains unquestioned power...but the Battle of Ancyra causes murmuring among our nobles. I must confess before Zeus that they have valid cause. Praxiteles, my kinsman, led our only army to ruin, and I as king allowed him to do so. Amaseia is virtually defenseless, without even walls for its small garrison to man. Philotheos, first among equals in the noble circle, remains unswerving in loyalty and offers his services to the Pontic state. I am gratified, of course, but also see that other men of wealth and power (such as they are in impoverished Pontus) may come to view Philotheos as a leader...perhaps a king.

    The gods, however, smile upon us, as the Galatians seem content to remain in their own lands. No doubt the threat from our Bithynian allies plays no small part in keeping them close to their capital. We have time to rebuild our armies. I post our spies in the mountain pass, and charge them with keeping an eye on Ancyra and the activities of the Wandering Warriors. I begin recruiting spears and slings in earnest for the Lykoi, my own (soon-to-be) host. I also charge our philosphers and armorers to focus their knowledge and wits upon developing tactics and weapons, so that we may achieve a more hardy soldiery than that available to us now.

    I can see, however, that for the foreseeable future, I must meet the Galatians with such troops as we can produce. I cannot beat them man-for-man, so I must outnumber them. The Lykoi will not be sufficient in and of themselves. A second host must be raised. Reluctantly, I bid Philotheos to raise such an army in Samosata (which, as foreseen, has meanwhile grown progressively more unruly). While not hardened for battle, our citizens are loyal, and they flock to our banners. Pontus will soon march again.
    Last edited by Bramborough; 11-01-2013 at 17:44.

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  2. #2

    Default Re: Eastern Hegemony: Pontus AAR

    Very nice!
    What difficulty are you playing?

    I started a Pontus campaign but I never finished - I seem to have faction ADD and can't complete a campaign.
    I'm looking forward to reading more.

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  3. #3
    Stranger in a strange land Moderator Hooahguy's Avatar
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    Jun 2007
    The Fortress

    Default Re: Eastern Hegemony: Pontus AAR

    Great! Cant wait for more!

    And it comes at a time when work is overloading me, giving me little time to play the game, much less write an AAR.
    On the Path to the Streets of Gold: a Suebi AAR
    A man who casts no shadow has no soul.
    Hvil i fred HoreTore

  4. #4

    Default Re: Eastern Hegemony: Pontus AAR

    Part II

    The short but heroic reign of Prokopios, Savior of Pontus

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    I am Prokopios, lately Prince, now King of Pontus. Proud family heritage though I have, I bear the dubious distinction of being son to Mithridates I. I bore Mithridates love for my father, and loyalty for my king...but the chronicles record how he and Praxiteles endangered our realm. During the ill-conceived Galatian campaign during which Praxiteles fell, Mithridates had sent me with a small squadron of ships to navigate on the Euxine Sea. My object was to make contact with peoples on its northern shore and establish trade. In contact I was successful, encountering Cimmeria and the eluded us, however, as these peoples far too high a gift to open their ports. Our ally Trapezos fell into war with Armenia. By terms of our treaty, we were compelled to declare against Armenia as well. I knew that on land Pontic forces could spare no men against Armenia, so I took my modest fleet to Trapezos to render what aid I could, if needed.

    At Trapezos I learned of the death of Mithridates, then in his 72nd year, and I assumed the throne. No time for pageantry, as the Pontic kingdom was in peril from large Galatian and Cappadocian armies having crossed into our territory. I could not remain with my fleet with this threat upon us. Upon my father's death, command of the Lykoi had fallen to Choeros, an aristocrat. Philotheos, first among nobles, was raising a second army, the Sentinels of Hyperion, at Samosata. It was imperative that as the new king, I must lead Pontic armies in the field. I transferred command of my fleet, the Heralds of Triton, to the noble Euanthes, and took command of the Lykoi at Amaseia. Both armies, after several seasons of recruiting, were ready to take the field and reverse our fortunes opposite the Galatia-Cappadocian threat.

    None too soon. The Galatians' main field army, the Wandering Warriors, had descended to the Euxine coast and was marching on Sinope. Philotheos and I concentrated our forces and marched to meet them. Flooding delayed our progress, as well as causing destruction in the Sinope region, but nevertheless we reached Sinope before the Galatians could besiege. Upon our approach, The Warriors fortified an encampment on the small plain just above the town. We attacked, both Lykoi and Sentinels of Hyperion advancing in concert. The hour was at hand to avenge the Scions of Sinope.

    We had learned from Praxiteles' defeat the value of missile fire volume. At Ancyra our troops had broken under a hail of stones much heavier than that which our army could administer. We did not make this mistake again. Our armies now featured a much higher proportion of slingers, and we used them to deadly effect against the Galatians massed within their palisade. The Lycoi attacked the south gate of the fort, the Sentinels the east. From both directions our hordes of slingers unleashed a hail of stones, decimating the Celtic troops before our spears advanced to take the gates. The Galatians fought bravely at both gates for quite some duration, but eventually could not withstand the fire and the press of our spears. They broke, and began to stream out the north gate of the encampment. The few horsemen of our generals' bodyguards ran down what survivors they could. Ten Galatians died for every Pontic soldier...Ancyra was indeed avenged. Remnants of the Wandering Warriors retreat along the coast. The flood conditions prevent us from quickly following to finalize their destruction, but the threat to Sinope is thwarted.

    Sentinels of Hyperion storming the Galatians' east gate, while the Lykoi assault the south gate in background

    Despite our light losses, this victory was marred by the death of Philotheos, who rashly threw himself in the midst of the heavy fight at the east gate (that's what I get for letting AI control one of the armies...oops). He was a valiant and noble general, and I mourn his passing...but cold calculation dictates that this is not altogether a tragedy. I confer command of the Sentinels upon Ariobarzanes. While not Mithridatic blood-kin, he is related by marriage, his fortunes firmly tied to our dynasty's. I now have both Pontic field armies firmly under the throne's control.

    We cannot pursue the weakened rump of the Galatian force, for an equally dire threat emerges from Cappadocia. While we have defeated one enemy, another has left the roads and marched unseen through a forested mountain pass toward our capital. The Cappadocian host, the Scions of Xerxes, has emerged just above Amaseia, clearly intent upon besieging our capital. Ariobarzanes force-marches the Sentinels back to the capital. It is a risky maneuver, but otherwise the capital is defenseless. Ariobarzanes enters the city just in time, and the Cappadocians encircle Amaseia. I follow with the Lykoi at a normal pace, trusting that Ariobarzanes can hold until we arrive at full strength. The gambit succeeds.

    Both Pontic and Cappadocian armies are weakened, although Ariobarzanes has taken the worst of the attrition. He cannot sally forth and take the brunt of the assault. The Lykoi, replenished during our march, engage the Scions of Xerxes to lift the siege. We press ahead in a rainstorm to attack our foes. The Cappadocians have made their own organizational mistake, the reverse of our earlier over-reliance on spears...slingers they have aplenty, but far too few infantry. Our lines press ahead with our own slingers in front, but the Lykoi don't tarry long to await the results of extended missile exchange. Our spears advance to rout the under-supported Cappadocian slingers. Their few infantry put up a spirited defense on their right flank, anchored by a small hill, but the Cappadocian left quickly crumbles, and the remaining Scions of Xerxes are enveloped and routed. Unable to retreat, their destruction is complete. The main Cappadocian field army is eliminated.

    Lykoi slingers open the engagement against the Cappadocians, lifting the siege of Amaseia.

    Pontic fortunes are on the rise. One enemy field army is gravely weakend, another destroyed. Sinope and Amaseia are delivered. We must follow this success by taking the battle to our enemies' lands before they have opportunity to levy more large hosts. We march on Mazaca immediately.


    To me, Ariobarzanes, falls the sad duty to report the death of Prokopios. On the very night of his triumph on the field before Amaseia, a Cappadocian assassin stole into his tent and shed the royal blood with poisoned blade. Short though his reign was, Prokopios delivered Pontus from dual foreign threat. No nation ever had a better king at such a perilous hour. We mourn his passing, and celebrate his valor.

    The young king died without heir. The throne passes to me. I can aspire only to a dim shadow of Prokopios' brief but spectacular greatness. I begin by continuing my predecessor's vision. We must capitalize on our enemies' momentary weakness. The size of our armies, moreover, is straining our small treasury; the bounty of new territories is imperative. On to Mazaca!
    Last edited by Bramborough; 10-17-2013 at 07:29.

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  5. #5

    Default Re: Eastern Hegemony: Pontus AAR

    Quote Originally Posted by phred View Post
    Very nice!
    What difficulty are you playing?

    I started a Pontus campaign but I never finished - I seem to have faction ADD and can't complete a campaign.
    I'm looking forward to reading more.
    Only playing on Normal. After 2 campaigns with Rome at Normal, I was definitely feeling like stepping up to H or VH...but didn't really know what to expect with Pontus. The faction change alone was enough. You've already done the Pontic start, so you know they get the short end of the stick.

    Rome starts with four settlements, including 2 provincial capitals; plenty of slots to work with. Roman starting infantry (hastati), moreover, already have a substantial qualitative edge over neighboring troops, an advantage which Rome never relinquishes even if one doesn't aggressively pursue military tech-up (never even built a Level IV barracks in my first campaign, and rarely recruited troops from my Level III barracks). I had become accustomed to just mowing through everybody with my starting armies. It was fun...but wasn't much of a challenge. I won't play Rome again on Normal.

    Pontus is a whole different ballgame. Only two settlements to start, both of them minor. The province in which they're located, furthermore, is populated with friends and allies (Trapezos and Bithynia), and it's probably a bad idea to turn on them to fill out the province, since Pontus is already at war with Cappadocia and soon Galatia. So the initial challenge is to expand into and establish Galatia et Cappadocia as Pontus' first full province. Which means supporting the initial effort with two small towns, neither of which has all its available build slots yet. Then there's troop quality. Eastern spearmen and slingers are the only troops available, and they're pretty much bottom of the barrel, only a step above Mobs. They have to suffice for quite a while too, because even when the first couple of barracks are researched and money available to buy them, one still has to find a scarce building slot or wait for one to grow. However one slices it, the first couple of armies are just entry-level spears and slings. Admittedly, neighboring enemies have the same issue, but that's kinda my point. Pontus may not be at a huge disadvantage, but neither does it enjoy any quality edge. It's our spears/slings vs their spears/slings. Comes down to maneuver and numbers, not troop quality. It's a bit harder vs Galatia, because their Celtic versions (levy spearmen) have better melee, armor, and morale stats...not hugely better, but enough to make a difference when there's no number disparity.

    This is all compounded by my noobish Roman experience, which is to just plow my high armor/morale melee infantry into whatever they run into, and they (almost) always win with impunity. Obviously that doesn't work here. I didn't really know how to use these spear guys (not sure I do even now). Mithridates may have fobbed off the defeat responsibility on Praxiteles, but the truth is that I played like an idiot for that first battle. I just pounded my one stack toward Ancyra without looking ahead, or even looking at the encyclopedia to see what kind of early troops Galatia had available. Didn't even know they were Celtic. I was surprised that they had already built a full 20-unit army in just a few army that proceeded to thoroughly bushwack me.

    So anyhoo, yeah, I've got my hands full on Normal with Pontus, at least in the early going. Which means, frankly, that I'm having probably the most fun with R2 I've experienced since release. I'm actually worried right now about the potential ramifications of pretty much every move I make. It's awesome.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Eastern Hegemony: Pontus AAR

    I had hoplites in my army when I first battled Galatia and it was still a messy battle. (you do want hoplites ASAP)
    After the battle, Bithynia mopped up the remaining partial-stack while I was besieging their city.
    They saved me from having a second battle against the remainders plus the garrison.
    After that I made sure I kept Bithynia as an ally and always declared war on their enemies.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Eastern Hegemony: Pontus AAR

    Yay! Pontus is actually my favorite out of all of them. (Rome not included in comparison of factions) Looking forward to this!
    Lets play Divide et Impera, Ptolemy Campaign. Link to full playlist down below!

  8. #8

    Default Re: Eastern Hegemony: Pontus AAR

    Part III

    The Triumph of Ariobarzanes: Cappadocian conquest, the Galatian War, and the Peace

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    I am Ariobarzanes, third king of Pontus. Mithridatic blood flows in my heirs' veins if not in mine. I had hoped one day in the future one of my descendants might sit the Pontic throne...but certainly had not expected to mount the dais myself. Young Prokopios' untimely death at Amaseia has thrust the crown upon me. So be it. Mithridates founded this kingdom and fostered the vision of its future greatness. Prokopios preserved Pontus in its hour of danger. It falls to Ariobarzanes to fulfill Mithridates' vision. We have served our enemies with severe defeats, yet Galatia and Cappadocia remain hostile and rebuild their armies.

    My cousin Ameinias served as deputy commander to Prokopios the Lykoi and performed brilliantly in lifting the siege of Amaseia. Upon the king's death, Ameinias assumes command of the Lykoi, while I retain direct charge of the Sentinels of Hyperion, still recovering from the siege. I immediately send Ameinias through the very mountain pass through which the Cappadocians had descended upon Amaseia. Striking Cappadocia before they can raise another large host is imperative. The following season, I move to support him, the Sentinels traveling a different route through Galatian territory. I shall not see my Amaseian court again for nine years.

    Alas, both Galatians and Cappadocians prove to have substantial reserves despite their recent defeats. I nearly repeat Praxiteles' folly on the Galatian plain at the hands of the rapidly reconstituted Wandering Warriors, and am forced to retire. Likewise, Ameinas is unable to advance on Mazaca unsupported; the Cappadocian forces are already too robust to justify such risk. The Lykoi and Sentinels must regroup and act in concert. The following year, we advance once more through the mountains upon Mazaca, now with both Pontic armies in tandem. The town lies before us, heavily defended, but its armies now a poor match for our combined strength.

    We descend upon Mazaca for the assault. The entire Cappadocian host, both garrison and field army, sallies forth to meet us in the field before the town. My Sentinels of Hyperion face the enemy directly, while Ameinas maneuvers the Lykoi to envelop the Cappadocians from our right. Once both armies are in position, we advance simultaneously to destroy the Cappadocians. Their forces boast an unusually high number of cavalry due their consolidation of generals' bodyguard detachments, but to no avail. Our massed slingers take a frightful toll before Pontic spears close straight ahead on the left to shred the defenders. The Cappadocians are utterly destroyed, their capital fallen into our hands. They are a threat no more.

    Lykoi moving into position for the Pontic advance at Mazaca

    Word comes from allied Bithynia that the Galatian Wandering Warriors have once again marched to the Euxine coast, this time to threaten Nicomedia. A fatal mistake...they have left Ancyra undefended. Unrest in Mazaca is a concern, but is balanced by tranquil Samosata, by now under Pontic rule for a generation. Every spear will be needed for the assault on Ancyra's walls. We move north at once with all our forces. The Galatian general abandons his threat to Nicomedia, and returns to defend his capital...but we have stolen a march on him, and the Pontic armies reach Ancyra before the Wandering Warriors. We invest the city.

    We must take time, however, to prepare the assault; we'll need ladders to mount Ancyra's walls. The Warriors draw closer during this interval. Despite the Galatians' strategic mistake, Ancyra's garrison is substantial indeed in its own right, and this promises to be a bloody affair regardless. I cannot allow the Warriors to influence this assault, but as they emerge onto the Galatian plain, it appears they have returned in the nick of time. Has Praxiteles' old nemesis, destroyer of our fathers among the Scions of Sinope, once more thwarted Pontic designs?

    Statecraft hinges on more than armies...and it is not only the prerogative, but the duty, of a king to employ less-than-honorable means in service of his people, however distasteful. I turn to the Eye of the King, Dioscuros, a shadowy figure of whom I prefer to know as little as possible. This wraith has performed admirably in keeping us apprised of enemy movements, but the man has darker talents. I charge Dioscuros to stop the Wandering Warriors by whatever method he deems best...and send him into the night. My Eye does not disappoint. Dioscuros steals into their camp and poisons ration wagons, spreading sickness and death throughout their ranks. The Wandering Warriors will not move this day. Well done, Dioscuros. I lament that we live in a world where a such a man can and must exist...but since the gods will it so, I rejoice that you employ your wicked arts in Pontus' service, and not to her detriment. On to Ancyra!

    Not so fast, Wandering about you just sit here for a bit and watch?

    Ladders prepared, Warriors neutralized, it is time to assail Ancyra's walls. Ameinias' Lykoi are on the field to support if necessary, but I prefer to keep him unengaged, as the Warriors will not be long immobilized and we will soon need to deal with them. My Sentinels of Hyperion lead the assault. Spearmen move the ladders forward, coming under slinger fire from the ramparts. Our own slingers answer. Men in both Pontic yellow and Celtic green fall. The ladders reach the wall, and the spears ascend. A short nasty fight ensues on the ramparts, but Galatian slingers are no match for our spears at such close quarters. We gain the wall and the local towers.

    The Galatians regroup for a stand within the town. By now our success is assured, but more blood must be spilt. A band of Galatian nobles puts up a stout defense among the houses of Ancyra, their eventual death certain, but wildly and savagely taking ranks of our spearmen with them. The nobles are overwhelmed, at a high cost of Pontic blood. I admire their valor, mourn the blood cost, both ours and theirs, and chafe at the unnecessary sacrifice. The Galatian capital, however, is fallen. Ancyra is ours...Pontus' first walled city. Amaseia will forever be the ancestral and spiritual capital of Pontus...but fortified Ancyra is now the locus of our power.

    Sentinels of Hyperion storming the walls of Ancyra

    Last stand of the Galatian Nobles

    Typically, a resounding Pontic victory does not mean the end of threats. During this Cappadocia/Galatia campaign, our ally Trapezos has endured difficult times. Already at war with Armenia, they have also fallen under Cimmerian attack. Trapezos city itself has fallen to the Armenians, and Trapezan Phasis is under Cimmerian blockade. Our eastern border opened, an Armenian host now advances upon Amaseia. The Wandering Warriors, moreover, are once more mobile, weakened but still strong, and remain close at hand near conquered Ancyra. As always, we must move quickly.

    The Wandering Warriors had force-marched to prevent the assault on Ancyra, and would have succeeded had not Dioscuros impeded their progress. Thanks to the Eye of the King, the Warriors remain strung out along a forest road in vulnerable order. The Lykoi, unblooded at Ancyra, fall upon them in an early morning fog. The Wandering Warriors, long the bane of Pontic arms for the past three decades, are finally caught in a Pontic net from which there is no escape. A recounting of "tactics" here is of little value, as it is not so much a battle as a massacre. Praxiteles' nemesis is no more, and his spirit may rest easy.

    The Wandering Warriors die in fog at the hands of the Lykoi

    In the meantime, my Sentinels force-march back to Amaseia to meet the looming Armenian threat. Their host has crossed into Pontic territory and the capital would surely fall without such a measure. I reach Amaseia in time, and for now the Armenians move no further. The Sentinels of Hyperion, however, are essentially immobilized at Amaseia, as I cannot afford to leave the capital unprotected as long as Armenia threatens. This is of relatively small concern for the near future, however, as Galatia is near extinction, with one small rump of an army caught between the Lykoi and Nicomedius' Bithynian host. The Galatian Mountain Men will doubtless be crushed by either force within a season.

    Or so it would seem...but the Galatians do not go quietly into the night just yet. The Mountain Men, abandoning their homeland, search for a new one...and one wonders if not perhaps with some secret connivance at the Bithynian court. The Galatian remnant marches back down to the Euxine shore, passing directly before a strangely inactive Bithynian army. Odd. The unhindered Mountain Men then continue their march along the coast, headed straight for undefended Sinope. Our Lykoi, having expected Nicomedius to handily dispose of the last vestige of Galatia, belatedly give chase, but will not arrive in time.

    It becomes clear that this Galatian general absconded with his nation's treasury before Ancyra's fall, and has used it to employ every soldier of fortune in the Anatolian peninsula. The surprisingly strong mercenary army quickly overhwelms the small Sinope garrison....somewhat annoyingly, with the assistance of a Cimmerian fleet. In the hour of triumph, we lose our only port, and now-landlocked Pontus loses trade income from Bithynia, Trapezos, and Cataraoi. Will these infernal Galatians never cease to injure Pontic fortune?

    More alarmingly, now the Bithynian host moves quickly...and Nicomedius' stratagem becomes apparent. Why spill Galatian blood on an empty plain one already owns...when soon one may spill the same blood for a worthy prize? The Bithynians would be happy to conquer "enemy" Sinope and incorporate it into their own territory. I must not only retake Sinope, but do it fast enough to beat my "friends" to the city. Peace is made with Armenia, so that the Sentinels of Hyperion may be free to march once more. They exact a hefty price...but nothing to compare with the prospect of Sinope permanently under the sway of another power. The price is paid, and the Sentinels march, as do the Lykoi.

    Three armies - two Pontic, one Bithynian - arrive before Sinope together. Even mercenary-bolstered as they are, the Mountain Men...last Galatian force in the no match for the combined host. The Sentinels of Hyperion lead the assault, Sinope is retaken, and the Galatian menace is at long last eradicated. Pontic and Bithynian have fought shoulder-to-shoulder in this last chapter of the Galatian War...but clearly Nicomedia will need closer scrutiny in the future.

    Ten years have passed since Prokopios fell to the assassin's blade. This decade has seen Ariobarzanes continually in the field...I have not actually sat upon my throne or conferred with my civil ministers since crossing into Galatian territory nine winters ago. Now for the first time since Mithridates founded independent Pontus 50 years ago, the realm is at peace on all its borders. The court heralds and chroniclers (hopefully not prematurely) have already proclaimed the "Peace of Ariobarzanes".

    A state of war remains with Cimmeria and their fleets are worrisome, but their seat lies across the Euxine, and their attentions much more focused on Trapezan Phasis. Armenia to our east is no doubt an eventual enemy, but quiescent for now. Our western border touches allied(?) Bithynia and friendly Sardes, while to the south lies the Seleucid Empire, no enemy to Pontus. Cyprus bears watching...they have taken Inconium from Sardes. The Hellenic Cypriots are friendly enough with the Pontic court...but they are a satrapy of Egypt, and eventually war with seemingly every independent state with whom they come in contact. I will send Dioscuros to keep me apprised of Cypriot intentions.

    But for now the Peace reigns, and I must use this time to strengthen Pontic coffers as well as its armies. My armorers and tacticians have pointed the way to Greek methods of war, now the barracks must be built. Eastern spears and slings sufficed for the Galatian War, but Pontus will need Grecian armor and pike for the future. Fields must be planted, temples erected. Sinope trade must be re-established. May the Peace of Ariobarzanes be one of enduring substance rather than ephemeral fragility.

    Last edited by Bramborough; 10-17-2013 at 07:29.

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  9. #9

    Default Re: Eastern Hegemony: Pontus AAR

    Part IV

    The Cimmerian Threat - Ariobarzanes' Peace marred, Ameinas crowned

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    The Peace of Ariobarzanes has endured these last twelve years...within its limits. None of Pontus' peaceful neighbors have turned on Amaseia. Sinope has reopened its rebuilt wharves to trade, not only with previous partners, but now wider through the Hellenic world. Pontic merchantment carry glass, iron, and wine to Macedon, Athens, and even barbarian Cataraoi. Farms have flourished in Galatia, a wine market under construction in Ancyra. Most important, our armorers and tacticians have constructed a new barracks, that our armies may avail themselves of the Greek way of war. Pontic hoplites begin to fill our ranks for the first time.

    War clouds once again loom. Cimmeria, our lone active enemy, has waxed powerful. Their longstanding blockade of Trapezan Phasis has finally broken through and conquered the city. With our ally now eliminated, the foe casts its baleful gaze about for a new conquest...and fixes upon our shores. Our armies' hoplites join the ranks just in time to deter a Cimmerian invasion fleet from landing at Sinope. Ariobarzanes soon receives word, however, that the Champions of Nike, led by Theophilos, advance through Armenian territory (with their acquiesence? One wonders...). Amaseia is once again under dire threat. Like Prokopios before him, Ariobarzanes must move quickly to defend the capital from an invading army.

    Ariobarzanes' Sentinels of Hyperion move directly to the capital to meet the Cimmerians. I, Ameinias, follow closely with my Lykoi. Dioscuros, the Eye of the King, reports a large number of hoplites among the Champions. Ariobarzanes cannot meet them alone; the Sentinels remain a host of Eastern spears and slings, no match for the well-armored phalanxes. My own Lykoi are leavened with Pontus' first hoplites as well as a sizable contingent of powerful javelin skirmishers, but not yet in numbers sufficient to face Cimmeria's more numerous hoplite infantry without ample support. Once again Sentinels and Lykoi must meet the foe together.

    The Champions of Nike approach Amaseia over the mountain road leading from Armenian Trapezos. Our armies surge forward to meet them to the east of the city. Strong as his army may be, Theophilos recognizes our superior numbers and retreats back up the wooded pass. We pursue, and catch the Champions among forested foothills. They have no avenue of further retreat, and must make a stand among the trees. Our numbers presage near-certainty of Pontic victory...but the Cimmerian hoplites will ensure it will be a hard-fought and bloody one. The Champions establish their line astride a wooded slope. We advance side-by-side, Sentinels to the left, Lykoi on the right. Forest obscures a large portion of our advance, but not entirely. The lines meet in broken terrain, the Sentinels making contact among low scrub, Lykoi engaging in the midst of a wooded hillock.

    The forested slope makes for a confused melee. On both sides, all semblance of formation is lost as each unit gropes among the trees for an enemy, the battle devolving into a dozen isolated struggles. The Cimmerian hoplites do not break easily and put up a very stubborn defense. Our slingers and javelins find it difficult to concentrate fire. In the confusion, Ariobarzanes' bodyguard detachment runs afoul of a hoplite unit emerging from the wood, and the king falls. Our numbers, however, eventually prevail as Theophilos himself falls on the field and Cimmerian morale begins to ebb. Our own Pontic hoplites give a good account of themselves in their first engagement, proving equal to their Cimmerian counterparts. The Champions of Nike are defeated, then destroyed. Once more, Amaseia is the cost of a valorous king. As Prokopios, so Ariobarzanes.

    The battle opens: slingers exchange fire

    A king falls: Ariobarzanes beset by Cimmerian hoplites

    The scrum: Opposing hoplites meet on the wooded hillside

    The rout: Cimmerian hoplites, now under fire from their rear, begin to break

    Pontic casualties are suprisingly light given the chaotic nature of the battle, although Ariobarzanes' demise is a grave loss indeed. Our warrior-king showed valor in the defeat of the Cappadocians and Galatians, then wisdom and judgment during his Peace. The one blemish of his reign is that, like Prokopios, Ariobarzanes fell without leaving direct heirs. I, Ameinias, must assume the Pontic crown. We have little time to mourn. Blunted though it may be with the loss of the valiant Champions of Nike, the Cimmerian menace shows no sign of abatement. Word comes that the Cimmerian fleet blockades Sinope, throttling our trade routes once more. Euanthes' small Heralds of Triton naval squadron is no match for them and cannot raise the blockade. Lykoi and Sentinels must march again.
    Last edited by Bramborough; 10-17-2013 at 07:28.

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  10. #10

    Default Re: Eastern Hegemony: Pontus AAR

    Quote Originally Posted by phred View Post
    I had hoplites in my army when I first battled Galatia and it was still a messy battle. (you do want hoplites ASAP)
    After the battle, Bithynia mopped up the remaining partial-stack while I was besieging their city.
    They saved me from having a second battle against the remainders plus the garrison.
    After that I made sure I kept Bithynia as an ally and always declared war on their enemies.
    Phred, I re-read your post now with a bit of amusement, as for me "allied" Bithynia acted a bit differently in a similar situation. See Part III, near the end. It was probably just some random AI nonsense upon which I'm building an imagined storyline...after all, I can't just let Nicomedia remain unmolested forever, and will eventually need a pretext. Still, it was somewhat suspicious....

  11. #11

    Default Re: Eastern Hegemony: Pontus AAR

    Quote Originally Posted by Bramborough View Post
    Phred, I re-read your post now with a bit of amusement, as for me "allied" Bithynia acted a bit differently in a similar situation. See Part III, near the end. It was probably just some random AI nonsense upon which I'm building an imagined storyline...after all, I can't just let Nicomedia remain unmolested forever, and will eventually need a pretext. Still, it was somewhat suspicious....
    I saw that. You had the exact opposite experience.
    A couple of weeks or so ago I had a crash during the AI turn and I had to replay the same end turn 5 times in a row.
    Each time was different - once it was 2 factions declaring war on me, another was one enemy offering peace and a large payment, I can't remember the other variations.
    But I thought the differences were pretty interesting.

  12. #12
    Floating Man Member Wilbo's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Surrey, UK

    Default Re: Eastern Hegemony: Pontus AAR

    I'm really enjoying this - thanks for writing!

    I recently started a Pontus campaign too, and have been amazed at how many trade agreements, defensive & military alliances I've managed to pick up! I've only got four territories, but everyone seems to love me. Except for the Romans, moody sods.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Eastern Hegemony: Pontus AAR

    I've mentioned diplomacy/trade a couple of times in the AAR, but really not at the level of importance it deserves (lol, because the diplo/eco stuff is boring). Yeah, that Hellenic culture faction trait is really pretty potent, and is probably Pontus' key unique attribute. I've come to realize that it makes the small/poor starting position much stronger than first appears. First is the obvious benefit of substantial trade income from the many nearby Hellenic factions. Second, once the Galatians and Cappadocians are taken care of, it's quite a secure position, with friendly Greek trading partners and allies locking in the western and southern borders. I think a viable approach to Pontic "grand strategy" is to forge a sort of "Pan-Hellenic Alliance" with all these folks as eventual military allies...whose territories count toward Pontic mil- or eco-victory conditions. Provides a safe "back door" and Pontus can focus entirely north and east. At least, that's how I see myself evolving this campaign.

    Cimmeria is an interesting minor faction to me. Ostensibly Hellenic, they seem programmed as the "Greek Mavericks". I'm wholly ignorant of actual Cimmerian history; were they known as some sort of "Black Sea pirate state"? I've noticed in my Rome campaigns that they always seem at war with other Greeks, and experiencing it firsthand now. Implacably hostile and refuses to discuss peace regardless of BoP...while the new Patch4beta diplo-attitude map overlay shows that they get along quite well with Eastern and nomadic cultures such as Armenia, etc. They have a pretty nice start position, the full province of Bosporus (with its 3 port settlements) at their disposal. I would not be unhappy if Cimmeria became a playable faction in some future patch/DLC...I would give them a try.

  14. #14
    Member Member Kamakazi's Avatar
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    Mar 2008
    Dont You Wish You Knew?

    Default Re: Eastern Hegemony: Pontus AAR

    I just started a campaign with Parthia after beating the Spartan campaign. I thought I had it covered after my normal first run so I kicked it to hard. Holy different war. I went from a melee basis to a horse complete army structure. Not to mention you get total screwed to start. The Dahe (your only ally) ended up pissing me off so I ended our alliance and then ended them. Gave me the expanding room I needed to get started.
    If living is nothing dieing is nothing then nothing is everything and everything is nothing

  15. #15

    Default Re: Eastern Hegemony: Pontus AAR

    Part V

    The Reign of Ameinias and the Cimmerian War: From Independent Kingdom to Euxine Sea Power

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    It has been 26 years since King Ariobarzanes, my predecessor, fell in battle against Cimmeria. From the founding of our kingdom, our very existence had been repeatedly threatened by one invading army after another. Ariobarzanes died defending Amaseia from the latest of these malevolent incursions. With the throne now thrust upon me by events, I, Ameinias, resolve to ensure once and for all that this threat is the last that will approach our capital.

    After the battle of Trapezos mountain pass in which Pontic armies defeat the Cimmerian invasion, our port of Sinope remains under Cimmerian blockade. We hasten to break it. I retain command of the Sentinels of Hyperion (still at this point Pontus' only hoplite-armed host). My brother Carenos takes charge of the Lykoi. Both armies force-march to Sinope. Upon our arrival, the blockade is easily broken by Euanthes' Heralds of Triton with the armies' support. Cimmerian sea forces are swept from the southern Euxine Sea for the time being.

    We Mithridatics are fierce...but not bloodthirsty, striving to balance strength with magnanimity and generosity. Despite the dire threat to our interests, we have been careful to leave open the possibility of peace with Cimmeria, freeing all captured enemies that they may return home and perhaps soften their countrymen's venom towards us. A peaceful Euxine Sea would be prosperous indeed, with room for both Pontus and Cimmeria to share its bounty of trade and fish. With their Champions of Nike defeated and their remnant fleets chased from our shores, I extend the olive branch north to the Cimmerian Bosporus. I am disappointed that the Cimmerian King refuses this entreaty...war must continue. It is a sad pattern which will be repeated for a generation. Hostile though they may remain, for now Cimmerian forces lick their wounds to the north and we are left in peace for a few short years. Pontus may turn its attention to other matters.

    Cyprus is a concern. Greek in culture, Cyprus is well-disposed toward us, even to the point of sending envoys to open trade. My advisors urge me to embrace them as friend. I cannot afford to be so short-sighted. The Cypriots war with other Greeks, assailing Sardes and the Seleucids. An Egyptian satrapy, it is clear they do the bidding of their Pharaohic puppetmasters. Egypt and Seleucia have warred for generations, since the time of is not a resolvable conflict. The Seleucids have long been a reliable Pontic neighbor to the south, and I choose to take up their cause. More immediately practical, my treasury minister points out that possession of Cypriot-held Iconium would enable us to consolidate the Galatia/Cappadocia plateau as a unified province. So be it. Duty, strategy...and admittedly, avarice...compel me. Cyprus is an Egyptian cancer which must be eradicated on the Anatolian peninsula. My Sentinels of Hyperion march while Cyprus' attention is diverted elsewhere with their war on Sardes.

    Iconium falls easily to the Sentinels, who quickly overwhelm its small garrison. Fortune smiles on Sardes as well, who defeat a besieging Cypriot host in their territory...Cyprus now has no field army with which to respond to Iconium's capture. Meanwhile, Hellenic Knossos captures Cypriot-held Ephesus on the Aegean coast. Carenos marches his Lykoi to Pessina in the hilly hinterland of Asia, Cyprus' last settlement. Its garrison puts up no harder a fight than had Iconium's few defenders. In a short sharp strike, Cyprus has learned the folly of subservience to Egypt. It should be noted...disinterested Pharaoh is perfectly content to leave his Cypriot minions to their fate. While formally obligated to declare war on the enemies of their satrapy, Egyptian envoys are happy to immediately re-establish a state of peace, without even a token price exacted for their acquiescence. Cyprus is forsaken...and destroyed.

    Sentinels of Hyperion approach Iconium

    With Iconium's capture, I establish the Pontic province of Galatia et Cappadocia, with Ancyra as capital. The services of noble Aristodemos are enlisted, to serve as civil administrator for this province...I trust the man's efficiency to fill Pontic coffers. I proclaim an edict throughout the province; bread and games to celebrate Pontus' fortunes. The unified populace is inspired. Hostile foreign territory only two generations ago, Galatia et Cappadocia is today a new Pontic homeland, and a central basis for our power. Mithridates' vision is fulfilled.

    War breaks out between our Seleucid neighbor and Armenia. The duration of our uneasy peace notwithstanding, it has long been clear that the "Armenian problem" must be met. Despite Pontic expansion, the Armenian border remains perilously close to Amaseia, as well as neighboring Samosata. As long as the capital remains within a season's march of foreign territory, a repetition of earlier invasions will always remain a possibility. The Seleucia-Armenia war offers opportunity to permanently alter this strategic reality. The Lykoi strengthen their ranks with a core of newly recruited hoplite infantry...and then our armies march for the Armenian border, intending to simultaneously strike the Armenian-held cities of Trapezos and Arsamosata.

    It is not to be. Cimmeria, now resurgent on the Euxine, meddles once more, and threatens Sinope with blockade. I cannot ignore this, and move to prevent. The Cimmerian ships retire north, yet their envoys continue to refuse an entreaty of peace. I move once more toward Armenia...the Cimmerian fleet returns, and I must counter-march again to Sinope. This cannot endure...Pontic fortunes held hostage to the whims of a Cimmerian naval squadron. I am not free to act against Armenia...or anyone long as this threat to our seaborne lifeblood remains. Five decades of hostilities notwithstanding, the Cimmerians are Hellenic brothers, and I attempt one last time to bury this animosity between us. I go to the Cimmerians and offer the entire contents of the Pontic treasury in return for cessation of this ruinous war. No more generous and sincere guarantor of peaceful intentions can I provide.

    The Cimmerian king refuses even to counter-offer. His course is set. Clearly the Euxine Sea can never be at peace as long as both Pontus and Cimmeria exist upon its shores. Very well. Extinction it will be, for one or the other. I have humbled myself, as have previous Pontic kings, for the last time. They care not for Hellenic solidarity, preferring to war upon fellow Greeks, while cozying up to the Eastern and nomadic foreigners on the steppe beyond. Cimmeria brands itself a bandit state, eschewing prosperous trade for piracy. Enough. Armenia must wait.

    We'll need sea power for this effort. Euanthes' Heralds of Triton are reinforced with additional ships, expanding from a surveillance squadron to a proper war fleet. Bordered mostly by solid friends and Armenia occupied with the Seleucids, I decide to risk using the entire weight of Pontic arms for this oversea effort. If we are compelled to crush Cimmeria, we will do so with overwhelming force. The Sentinels and Lykoi embark at Sinope for the expedition, joining the Heralds. Euanthes, after decades of sterling service to the throne, dies of natural causes on the eve of sailing. My son Sokrates takes his place, destined to lead the Pontic Navy into its first true naval campaign.

    The campaign proves surprisingly easy and rapid. It appears that Cimmeria had not reformed a full first-rate army since the defeat of their Champions of Nike near Trapezos. I lead the Lykoi transports, supported by Sokrates' Heralds, to Phasis and assault the town from sea. Its garrison fights valiantly, but are no match. Pontus now has a second Euxine port, as well as another fine barracks to support our arms. Meanwhile, Carenos' Sentinels steer for Phanagoria to the north. Phanagoria is in Bosporus province, the Cimmerian homeland, and I expect a heavier defense...but the Cimmerians are equally weak there and Phanagoria succumbs quickly as well. With the armies ashore, Sokrates' Heralds begin sweeping the Mare Cimmerium, hunting down the smaller Cimmerian fleets and embarked land forces, eradicating them one by one.

    Pursuing the routed defenders of Phanagoria

    Sweeping Cimmerian naval power from the Euxine Sea

    Tanais falls the following season to Carenos. Only Panticipaeum remains. Land approaches to this city are lengthy and difficult, and pass through Scythian territory. It must be another seaborne assault. Lykoi, Sentinels, and Heralds mass into a single armada, the largest concentration of Pontic power to date. Panticipaeum falls. A mere Cimmerian vestige remains afloat upon the Euxine. Remembering the example of the Galatian Mountain Men in my youth during Ariobarzanes' reign, however, we ruthlessly hunt it down; Sokrates destroys it the following season. The Cimmerian pirates are no more.

    How Pontus' fortune and power have grown during the Cimmerian War. Rich Bosporus is now unified under our rule. I appoint Agelaus as civil governor, trusting in his ability to administer the new province as ably as his colleague Aristodemos in Galatia et Cappadocia. Bosporus brings maritime wealth, every one of its cities a port. Indeed, the majority of all ports on the Euxine Sea are now in Pontus' territory. In addition, we inherit Cimmeria's fine well-developed barracks system. Pontus now has structure and economic means necessary to develop the further armies soon to be required, no doubt. Indeed, before even the final destruction of Cimmeria, the aristocrat Euphion had begun raising a third host, Mithridates' Chosen, at the newly conquered Phasis barracks. Word comes of old Dioscuros' death...surprisingly enough given the man's occupation, of natural causes. The Eye of the King rendered faithful service for decades to four Pontic monarchs. His demise is regrettable...but there are more such shadows; a new Eye will soon peer into unfriendly territory for the Kings of Pontus.

    The long-persistent Cimmerian threat is eradicated. I found Pontus a strong but small and virtually landlocked we dominate the Euxine Sea, a true naval power for the first time. New armies are raised. Gold begins to fill coffers in streams rather than trickles. Armenia remains to be dealt with, and Pontic arms will soon go to the aid of our Seleucid friends. I am, however, in my 66th year, and do not expect to see the end of this campaign. It will fall to another to claim final triumph in Armenia. It is well, I have done enough, and am content. My task during the few years left me is to prepare Pontus for the coming struggle. My one regret is that I have yet to fulfill the earliest goal of my reign. Despite nearly three decades of marching armies, triumphant fleets, and doubled Pontic power...Amaseia still lies within a short march of an unfriendly foreign border. Another will have to conclude the coming war against Armenia...but I resolve to see Trapezos taken, and our capital forever secured, before I pass from this world.

    Last edited by Bramborough; 10-17-2013 at 07:27.

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  16. #16

    Default Re: Eastern Hegemony: Pontus AAR

    Part VI

    Note: For anyone who might actually be keeping close enough track, you will notice that the generals commanding armies don't align among the more recent chapters. Reason: I got the Lykoi and Sentinels backwards while writing Part V, but don't particularly feel like going back and changing it all. The armies, and which generals are commanding, are correct now, and will endeavor to keep it so during future installments.

    Note 2: The "King" at some points will not always be the "faction leader" in-game. Up through Part V, I've been able to juggle things to match, with heir-less kings, etc. But with the game designating the longest-serving (and therefore usually older) family member as leader, it's difficult to reflect a direct-male-line dynastic succession. My seeming propensity to get Pontic generals killed in battle doesn't help. So I had two choices: 1) Ignore the game's "faction leader", and just make up my own family tree and king, or 2) abandon the idea of a dynastic monarchy altogether, and instead invent some sort of "family-oligarchy" type of government for the narrative. Both approaches are reasonable, and I may employ either/or in future AARs (if I do another one). In this case, I've chosen Option 1. So in Part VI, Sokrates is King, but he doesn't actually become "faction leader" ingame until Carenos gets bumped off.

    The Armenian Wars: Pontic homeland secured

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    My father Ameinias wins great glory in the Cimmerian War, and much deserved. The turmoil on the Euxine ceases, and trade now flows reliably through Sinope. Ameinias chafes, however, at not addressing Pontus' eastern border. Its close proximity to our capital of Amaseia worries him, with good reason. Immediately upon the conclusion of the war to the north, Ameinias begins positioning our forces for the long-delayed invasion of Armenia. He and Carenos (his brother, my uncle) sail home with the Lykoi and the Sentinels of Hyperion. The noble Euphorion's newly-raised Mithridates' Chosen prepares to cross into Armenian territory from Phasis. My own fleet, the Heralds of Triton, takes station at sea near the Armenian-held port of Trapezon. Aging Ameinias is determined to fulfill this last promise of his, to secure Amaseia's eastern approaches, before death takes him. The capture of Trapezon is to be his last gift to the people of Pontus.

    Alas, it is not to be. On the eve of our march, Ameinias takes ill at the Lykoi encampment outside Amaseia, and journeys onward to meet the boatman. Peace be with him. The aristocrat Bacis takes temporary command. I, Sokrates, am now King of Pontus, must further Ameinias' cause, and fulfill his last promise. My uncle Carenos, also advanced in years, retains command of the Sentinels of Hyperion near Samosata. Carenos is the most distinguished man in Pontus, commanding enormous respect - and not a little fear - among the nobles and populace. Many see him as the true power in Pontus, the de facto ruler. So be it. It matters little, for Carenos and I are of like mind on all questions. Most important, he is loyal, both to his family and to his King. [Such is my ham-fisted way of reconciling two different folks as "King" and "faction leader".]

    I cannot remain with my Heralds of Triton. It might have been feasible to do so with a sea war such as we fought against Cimmeria. The Armenian conflict, however, will be wholly an affair of armies, not fleets, once Trapezos is taken. I turn command over to the aristocrat Aristeides, and travel to take command of the Lykoi. Bacis returns to the capital...I hope not to cause too much trouble in council while we are away in the field. Meanwhile, as I journey ashore, I decide to improve our position before entering Armenian territory. The Kartli city of Mtskheta [way too many freakin' consonants] beckons. Its capture would expand our hold on the Caucasian country beyond small Phasis, and would open another route upon which to approach the Armenian capital of Armavir. Mtskheta itself, largest city in the area, would increase our prosperity.

    Mithridates' Chosen, led by Euphorion, is our newest - indeed, yet unblooded - Pontic army. It lacks the history, experience, and traditions of the Lykoi or Sentinels. Even so, Euphorion commands what is probably Pontus' strongest host. It has been raised from the newly-acquired barracks systems of Phasis and Bosporus. The Chosen boast a higher proportion of hoplites than either Lykoi or Sentinels. Its missile troops are archers and peltasts, rather than javelinmen and slingers. Noble Cavalry ride amongst the ranks, the first Pontic horsemen other than occasional generals' bodyguards. Finally, a newly built workshop in Phasis has built ballistae for Euphorion...another new development for Pontic arms.

    I desire to see this new Pontic "model army" in action before we march against Armenia, and so bid Euphorion to defeat the Kartli and capture Mtskheta for Pontus. It is but a short march from Phasis to the Kartli capital, and the general promptly assaults Mtskheta the next season. The Kartli garrison, strongly organized but weakened by apparent economic problems, sallies forth to the plain before the capital to meet Mithridates' Chosen. These defenders valiantly march toward our lines, but the new ballistae and recently recruited archers and peltasts take aim with deadly effect. The Kartli are decimated and routed by flaming projectiles large and small before they even reach the hoplite phalanxes. Their remnants retire behind the walls, and Mtskheta then promptly falls to a rather easy assault. The Caucasian capital is ours, the Kartli destroyed. Mithridates' Chosen have done well in their first action.

    Ballistae in action before Mtskheta

    It is now time to open the war with Armenia, and at long last come to the aid of our Seleucid friends. Carenos marches from Samosata and quickly captures the Armenians' lightly defended Arsamosata. So far so good. My Lykoi advance upon Trapezon, while the Heralds of Triton approach from the sea under Aristeides. Trapezon is Armenia's only port, and there are several fleets in the vicinity...individually small, but together a not-inconsiderable naval force. The city, moreover, boasts a fairly robust garrison considering the town's non-capital status. The Lykoi can easily capture Trapezon, but I fear it will cost more blood than recent conquests of Arsamosata or the Cimmerian port towns. Before the Lykoi enter the town to engage the defenders, I charge Aristeides to attack Armenian ships outside the harbor...our object being to prevent the Armenians from landing as many troops as possible to support the land defense.

    The Heralds' twelve ships are constructed of fairly strong hulls, and manned by archers and javelin troops. Rather than ram and board, our naval doctrine is to overcome enemies with flaming missile fire. The Pontic fleet, however, is yet without means to put true artillery to sea. The Heralds do not have this capability at their detriment. Aristeides, rather than engage all Armenian ships in view, steers for the rearmost Armenian squadron, farthest from shore. His hope is that the Armenians nearest the wharves will land their troops for the city's defense and therefore not factor in the naval battle. Aristeides aims to destroy the outlying squadron before they can reach shore, and then close toward the docks to render what missile fire support he can for the Lykoi assault.

    Events do not transpire this way. The Armenian ships initially move toward shore, but upon seeing Aristeides' threat, come about to meet the Heralds. Our ships close with the targeted enemy squadron and missiles begin to take their toll upon the Armenian crews. Our volume of fire in the absence of seagoing artillery, however, is not sufficient to quickly overwhelm the initial targets, while their crews answer with their own fire. The other Armenian ships close as well, at least one artillery-equipped vessel among them. More ominously, some Pontic ships begin to run low on ammunition. The battle is quickly evened...and then goes against Aristeides. One ship is destroyed, then another. The Armenians take a beating as well, but it saddens me to report that Herald ships begin to lose heart. Aristeides orders his ships to withdraw, and the rowers turn about for the open sea. Some vessels make it, others do not. Six Pontic ships are destroyed in the fight, the admiral's flagship among them. An inauspicious beginning. Aristeides has partially fulfilled his mission by eliminating some of the Armenian crews, but at far too high a cost, including that of his own life. [wish I'd gotten a screenie of this fight, but was too busy clicking and forgot to save replay afterward]

    Disheartened by Aristeides' failure, I am nevertheless confident that the Lykoi will yet gain Trapezos for us. I arrange the hoplite and pike phalanxes in a compact column, three phalanxes abreast, the better to advance through the town's streets. We advance, our javelins and slings ahead of and flanking the column. The Armenian defenders, composed primarily of spears and slings, concentrate to meet the Lykoi in an open courtyard-type area near the edge of the city. It is as decent a defending position as they have available to them, but our slings and javelins take a horrific toll upon them as they try to maintain it. Armenian troops fall in droves before the phalanxes advance. As Pontic hoplites march forward over the recently fallen corpses, the few remaining Armenian garrison troops flee. Our phalanxes march toward the city center.

    Delayed though they may have been by Aristeides' failed attack, the Armenian naval missileers are now ashore, a second force with whom we must contend. They begin raining fire upon the Lykoi. Well-armored, the phalanxes continue to advance, and come to melee with the hapless Armenians. The struggle does not last long, and more Armenian blood runs in Trapezos' streets. The port city is ours. Ameinias' final promise is fulfilled. The Pontic shore of the Euxine now extends unbroken all the way from Panticipaeum in the north to Sinope in the south. It is a great victory for Pontus and the Lykoi...but the accompanying naval misadventure takes the joy out of triumph.

    Pontic phalanxes move toward Trapezos center, past the scene of initial contact

    Trapezos: Clearing the second force of Armenian naval troops

    The battered Heralds of Triton moor alongside the newly-conquered wharves to recover, now under command of Cyncus [does one detect future ill omen in the admiral's very name? Hmmm...]. I look forward to their reconstitution, but it is clear to me that fundamental naval reorganization is imperative. Without such, I can never again consider to commit a Pontic fleet to battle even a similar-sized foe. We cannot hope to reliably prevail with missile and javelin alone; it is not enough to wear down enemy crews. We must quickly destroy the ships which carry them...Cyncus must have artillery. I had originally planned to develop Trapezos' wharves to carry yet more Pontic trade, but I now order the construction of a naval port instead. We enjoy the commerce of the Euxine Sea because we are its masters...but we will not long remain so without a sufficiently strong fleet. [Note: this isn't merely Sokrates' opinion that I'm putting in his mouth for story purposes. I've come to the conclusion that spamming arty ships is really the only reliable means to construct a navy in R2, if one actually wants to fight naval battles rather than AR them. The fights are just too chaotic to go with assault ships trying to ram/board. Maybe others can manage it. I can't.]

    The Battle of Trapezos proves to be the most difficult of the Armenian it appears they prioritized naval development. We do not meet a strong Armenian field army in the future. Carenos marches upon the town of Tushpa, which falls easily to his Sentinels of Hyperion. Euphorion moves south from Mtskheta to besiege Armavir. Leaving Cyncus as temporary military governor in Trapezos, I march the Lykoi toward the Armenian capital from the west. We come upon a rather large army near the city's outskirts. No mere local rebels, this host is apparently made up of deserted slaves, who style themselves Volumna's Faithful. I know not from whence they come, but in any case, I am not about to allow their continued presence on what will soon be Pontic soil.

    I leave Mithridates' Chosen to invest Armavir, and march the Lykoi upon the slave army. They retreat before me, but the Lykoi pursue and bring the slaves to battle on the plain south of Armavir. Withdrawal no longer possible, Volumna's Faithful line up before us. As at Trapezos, our phalanxes advance, and cannot be withstood. Their lines fixed by our hoplites, the slave ranks are easy prey to flanking attacks by our pikemen. Many slaves die, the remainder rout. Volumna's Faithful are utterly destroyed. Their uprising, wherever it may have begun, ends here. It saddens me a little to see their fate. These men want only freedom, and to be left alone in peace. The philosopher in me does not hate the cause for which they fight. Perhaps in some future millenium, their vision of widespread - perhaps universal - freedom among mankind may be realized. But not in this world, in this time. It cannot be tolerated. Sokrates the dilettante philosopher might sympathize. Sokrates the King must be merciless, and ruthlessly crushes the revolt without remorse. I have done my duty.

    Lykoi phalanxes advance upon the slaves of Volumna's Faithful

    The remainder of the Armenian campaign is anticlimactic. Armavir falls to Mithridates' Chosen the following season; my Lykoi are on hand to support, but their assistance is not needed. With the capital's fall, all of Armenia is now under Pontic control. I designate this territory as a formal province, under the same name. I would like to appoint a civil governor here as my father did in Galatia et Cappodocia and Bosporus, but none are currently available. (Aristodemos and Agelaus, it must be said, have been doing quite nicely in their provinces. Efficient chaps.) Our triumph at Armavir is marred by news of old Carenos' death at Arsamosata, of natural causes. My younger brother Evelthon takes command of the Sentinels of Hyperion. Our campaign, moreover, is not quite complete.

    I choose to end this war by consolidating our control of the Caucasian area just to the north of Armenia. The Ardhlan town of Gabala there remains independent. This town boasts some local gold mines, and is a potentially lucrative addition to Pontic territory. My Lykoi march. As we approach, the Ardhlan garrison sallies out to the hilly plain before the town. Both forces make for higher ground, but make contact before either reaches a crest. We meet upon an open hillside, first with an exchange of flaming javelins, and then shield upon shield. The Ardhvan fight bravely, but not long. Lykoi phalanxes are once more triumphant, and the Ardhvan retire to Gabala. I elect not to burden my men with yet another assault, and am content to simply encircle the town. Gold-rich Gabala soon surrenders without a fight. The Pontic province of Caucasia is established, and the Armenian Wars are over.

    End of the Armenian War: The Lykoi meet Ardhlan outside Gabala

    It is just as well that open hostilities have ceased. Unlike earlier foes such as Cimmeria and Cyprus, Armenia and the Caucasus factions were of a wholly different culture than our own. Pontus is perhaps eastward-leaning (our own Mithridatic dynasty arose of Persian stock, I am told), but we are firmly Hellenic. Our new territories, however, are of Eastern culture, and do not readily accept us as new rulers. The populace are unhappy. I am compelled to tear down a great number of Eastern temples and facilities to replace them with our own. This will take time. I am compelled to use my magnificent field armies as garrison troops in these provinces, perhaps for some number of years. A rebellion even arises near Arsamosata. I decide to let the rebel army grow for a few seasons, that I may catch the most malcontents possible and destroy them all at once. The ploy doesn't come to fruition, however, as the still-small rebel force rashly attacks Arsamosata's garrison. Small though it is, the town's defenders easily dispatch the disloyal rabble. So be it.

    Pontus is not only stronger now than it has ever been before, but also more secure. To the west, we border our ally Bithynia and the friendly Greek world, tied to us by mutual trade. To our south, the Seleucid Empire, now bound to us through a military alliance due to the common struggle against Armenia. To the east, a vast expanse of Seleucid satrapies are also well-disposed towards us. Pontus is at the center of a Hellenic (and Hellenic-controlled) world. Only to our north do nomadic Scythia and Sirace range even remotely close to our borders.

    This good fortune does present a dillemma. My court seer once recounted a dream of his to me, in which many centuries hence people call such a situation "Catch-22" (whatever that means). Pontus is wholly protected in nearly all directions by friends and allies....friends and allies whom we do not desire to attack. How can I and my successors further expand Pontic power? North seems a possibility, but opportunities there are limited, with only a boundless wilderness beyond Scythia. Whither next the Lykoi?

    Last edited by Bramborough; 10-17-2013 at 07:27.

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  17. #17
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    Default Re: Eastern Hegemony: Pontus AAR

    There's even an official form of inheritance that favours the eldest surviving member of a dynasty: It's called Agnatic Seniority. So it's not that unreasonable to do it that way.

    This is presented to you by Things you learn from Crusader Kings 2!
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  18. #18

    Default Re: Eastern Hegemony: Pontus AAR

    Part VII

    Southern troubles and opportunities: The Peace of Sokrates and a new war in Syria

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    The Peace

    Following the end of the Armenian Wars, Pontus enjoys nearly two decades without war, a period longer than even the Peace of Ariobazarnes. It is my good fortune to reign during this time, which allows me to focus on much-needed reforms too long neglected (out of necessity).

    Political Cohesion: As projected, it does take time to fully assimilate the provinces of Armenia and Caucasia. This has the effect of essentially immobilizing the armies for some number of years. At long last, however, this goal is reached, and today the formerly Eastern provinces are every bit as Hellenic and inspired as any of the other Pontic provinces.

    Military Reform: The success of Mithridates' Chosen at Mtskheta and Armavir pointed the way to the future of Pontic arms. I order that the "model army" structure be adopted as standard for all our hosts. The Lykoi and the Sentinels of Hyperion march to the Bosporus to reform. In addition, a new fourth host, the Champions of Amasis under the aristocrat Cleombrotos, is raised. Long-serving slinger, javelin, and Eastern spear units are discharged. It pains me a little to see this, for these men valiantly served a succession of Pontic kings, and much of the proud glory of Pontic arms rests upon their shoulders. Their experience will be missed. In the case of the slingers, in particular, I hope I am not making too rash a decision. Our new archers and peltasts are far more potent in dealing damage quickly, particularly with the use of fire. None can match, however, the slingers' long range and capability to deal missile damage over an extended time period (over twice the ammunition capacity). I hope I have no future cause to regret sending our slingers home.

    New "standard" Pontic military structure. There are still slight variations among the different armies.

    Naval Reform. The naval debacle at Trapezos starkly illustrated our shortcomings in doctrine and organization. Having begun an effort at Trapezos, it quickly becomes clear that a larger facility will be required [somehow I made it through two Rome campaigns without realizing that the military wharf line can only go in capitals]. A new military wharf is built at Panticipaeum, and at last the artillery-equipped vessels so desperately needed are available to the Pontic navy. At my direction, Cyncus scraps all existing hulls, and a new, much larger and more robust Heralds of Triton is launched from the Bosporus ways. The core striking power of our new fleet is a strong contingent of seagoing ballistae, covered by a more powerful screen of archer-manned vessels. Pontic naval doctrine has always been to engage at distance, to destroy or rout the enemy before ships' gunwales can crash together in melee. Now for the first time we have a fleet that can make this doctrine reality rather than theory.

    New Pontic fleet structure...these guys might have done better at Trapezos

    Economic development. The newly raised and reformed Pontic forces are not inexpensive. A steadily increasing stream of gold is vital. Every Pontic port (aside from the military establishments at Panticipaeum and Phasis) is commercially oriented. Every provincial capital boasts a wine market once growth can support. Small market towns remain small, but Pontus is rich in trade resources, and every town producing such grows to the highest extent possible. The countryside is filled with grain fields and cattle ranches. Such activities produce inevitable squalor, but the Amphitheaters and Sacred Groves of our capitals, as well as the Bread and Games of Galatia/Cappadocia and Bosporus, more than counteract its negative effects.

    Internal Politics. However much foreign threats may have receded during the Peace of Sokrates, domestic threats remain...indeed, increase. The Mithridatic dynasty remains in unchallenged control, but each passing year the other noble families wax in power. Euphorion, commander of Mithridates' Chosen, is first among time, his influence grows to a level even higher than my own. Euphorion has been loyal and his army performed well during the Armenian Wars...but I cannot allow this state of affairs to continue. I send my spies to assassinate the man. Alas, he is only wounded, and soon continues to exercise his leadership in council at Amaseia. The attempt on his life, moreover, is transparent, and Mithridatic influence falls as a result. My only consolation is that his wounding removes Euphorion from command of the Chosen, in which he is replaced by Endios.

    I make other, more successful, internal moves. The aristocrat Cleombrotos has raised the Champions of Amasis, who are now campaign-ready. Sterling service indeed, but I need more Mithridatic generals at the head of our armies. My son Charidemos relieves Cleombrotos as commander of the Champions. Meanwhile, Cyncus has excelled in rebuilding the navy, and I desire to retain him as head of the Heralds (if only because such a name as an admiral amuses me to no end). I need Cyncus, however, firmly in my control, and offer him riches and influence to entice. He accepts, and I may now count Cyncus among the Mithridatic loyal. Good news arrives from the Eye of the King....Euphorion has succumbed to a second assassination attempt. Murmuring against the throne continues, but no clear leader now focuses the anti-Mithridatic party.

    Seleucid Woes: A New War to the South

    Pontus' increased economic and military power is realized none too soon. Two decades ago, I had thought to one day expand north toward Scythia. Suspicion of Bithynia's long ago treachery during the Galatian War had not been forgotten either. Northern steppe and the rich port of Nicomedia were to be my final gifts to Pontus in the winter of my reign. The world, however, has changed during this peace. Egypt, once vanquished by Seleucia during the time of Ameinias, has reappeared in the desert capital of Petra. They, along with their Nabatean and Saban kin, war once more upon the Seleucids....with a worrisome degree of success. The Seleucid emperor asked me during the peace to declare war upon Saba. I did so for diplomatic reasons, to keep the ally happy for a time...with no real intention of actually hazarding Pontic blood among those desert sands.

    The Seleucids' deteriorating situation, however, gives me pause to reconsider. Seleucid Petra and Palymra have fallen to Egypt, Jerusalem to Nabatea, and Tyros to Saba. Antioch and Tarsus are threatened. The "secure" southern border of 20 years ago now appears a bit more brittle. Charidemos' Champions of Amasis, stationed near Bithynia for a potential march against Nicomedia, are ordered south. The Heralds of Triton, I now feel are the match of any single fleet in the world; they too begin a long voyage from Panticipaeum to the Mediterranean Sea. Our fleet will need a base upon arrival; Charidemos secures Tyros, taking it from the Saba. The Champions of Amasis perform well in their first action, light though it is. In addition to their strategic value, Tyros' dye shops promise a lucrative boost to Pontic coffers.

    Meanwhile, however, Seleucid fortunes continue to wane. Antioch falls to Nabatea, who also put the Seleucid capital of Tarsus under siege. Our ally is in severe disarray. This can be no mere expedition...I decide to bring the full weight of Pontic arms to bear. I march south with the Lykoi, as does Endios with Mithridates' Chosen. Only the Sentinels of Hyperion under my brother Evelthon remain in the north...and even they perhaps not for long.

    Mithridates' Chosen beseige newly-Nabatean Antioch. I would perhaps prefer that this city remain Seleucid, but that can only be idle wishfulness now. It is paramount that this key capital be regained for the Hellenic world...and if that means Pontic rather than Seleucid, so be it. Endios begins constructing siege ladders for the assault. Meanwhile, I lead my Lykoi to the aid of Seleucid Tarsus, endeavoring to help them keep their capital. Charidemos remains at Tyros, so that the Champions of Amasis may prevent any further Nabatean incursion from the south.

    Nabatea sallies out against Endios. Their garrison army is well-reinforced by a Nabatean field army styled The Dread Nomads. We shall see just how Dread they may be. The Nomads march upon the plain before Antioch amidst a raging thunderstorm (somewhat rare for these parts?), and advance towards Mithridates' Chosen over wet ground. Endios prepares a strong defensive position on a hillcrest, obliging the Nomads to advance up a muddy slope towards our lines. Our archers and peltasts cannot avail themselves of flaming shot in the rain...but their fire is no less deadly for that. Valiantly (though perhaps not so intelligently), the Nabateans mount the slippery slope. Their ranks are thinned by our peltasts' fire, but still they advance. Our peltasts retire to the flanks, and the Nabateans meet our hoplites on the hillcrest.

    Our archers continue to fire, secure behind the hoplites. Endios bids them use whistling shot to rend the Nabateans' ears and cause them to lose heart. The Nomads fight bravely for a time, but as so many foes beforehand, can do little against our magnificent hoplites. The attack soon falters, and the Nabateans begin to rout. Their missile troops (archers and slings, it has been reported to me) are now exposed. Endios' Noble Blood Cavalry, having annihilated a weak Nabatean cavalry probe toward our right flank, now charges forward toward the missileers. It is a slaughter. Many a Nabatean, however valiant, falls in the mud of this day. Their remnants, few in number, retire behind Antioch's walls.

    Antioch: The Nabatean Dread Nomads assault Mithridates' Chosen

    Antioch: Eastern spears are no match for hoplites, regardless of valor or nationality

    Antioch, the final phase: Noble Blood Cavalry ride down Nabatean archers on the muddy plain

    Endios, assisted by a Seleucid fleet, immediately follows up this success with the assault upon Antioch's walls. The decimated defenders put up little fight. The Syrian capital is once more in Hellenic - now Pontic - hands. With two Mediterranean ports now under our control, Pontus' destiny obviously will unfold very differently than I had foreseen in my youth. Endios and the Chosen have once more excelled. There is, however, little time to celebrate. The Seleucids remain besieged at Tarsus.

    I briefly consider, at my war council's urging, a rather cold maneuver. We could stand aside and allow Nabatea to capture Tarsus...and only then march upon its walls. Pontus could gain this rich prize for its own, without making war on an ally. I remember, however, tales of the nearly identical Bithynian ploy before Sinope. Are we no better than them? Is Pontus such a devious "friend" to our allies? Shall I allow whispers of Pontic treachery to fester in the Seleucid court for generations to come? No. The Lykoi march now to Seleucia's aid. The siege of Tarsus will be lifted while the Seleucid banner still flies above it.

    We descend upon the plain before Tarsus and immediately march upon the Nabatean lines. Tarsus' garrison, heartened by our approach, sallies forth upon the plain to support. Indeed, such is their newly-invigorated zeal that they insist upon taking the lead position against the Nabateans. Weakened though they are by siege, and in any case a garrison force rather than proper army, the Seleucids nevertheless surge forward to engage, while we are still forming our lines for the advance. No deliberate assault for them.

    The result is predictable. Nabatean and Seleucid clash on the plain before us. The lightly armored Seleucid troops are nearly annihilated...but their aim is true and they slay many a Nabatean themselves. I admire their valor, regret their needless sacrifice, and am gratified how they have weakened the foe. The Lykoi now advance. Nabatean infantry move upon our phalanxes in spread-out fashion, and the lines dissipate. Each phalanx finds itself in an isolated struggle upon the sand. Nabatean missile units roam the field, taking targets under fire as opportunity permits. Our archers and peltasts do likewise. Pontic armor prevails once more over Nabatean zeal, and the hoplites rout their foes. Only a line of Nabatean archers remain. The hoplites reform and advance in formation upon this final line of resistance. They do not even close for melee. The mere sight of the long unbroken line of well-armored spears approaching causes the final Nabatean units to break, and to melt away into the desert. The siege of Tarsus is lifted.

    Tarsus: Lykoi hoplites advance upon the final Nabatean line

    I fear this may be the last Lykoi triumph I am blessed to witness. I am in my 69th year, and soon I will make my journey across the Styx to join Ameinias and my forebears. Soon Charidemos must take the throne and guide Pontus' fate. I am content. It has been my good fortune to gift Pontus the provinces of Armenia and Caucasia in my youth. I have given her long peace, stronger armies, and a powerful fleet. And now I bequeath Mediterranean ports and an opening to vast new territories. Finally, I leave a strong son worthy of the Pontic throne.

    Charidemos will indeed need such strength. Such open fields before us are infested with many a foe. The Saba and Nabateans are beaten back, but not vanquished. Their allies the Qidri and Ma'in war upon us as well. Although open hostilities are not yet commenced, it cannot be long before Egyptian spears join the fray. The deliverance of Tarsus notwithstanding, our Seleucid ally remains weak and disjointed...who can foresee how long they will be able to maintain sway over their vast eastern satrapies? Another desert folk, the Nasamones, have waxed powerful and have taken Athens...this does not yet concern Pontus directly, but it is another substantive threat to the Hellenic world. Among the Greeks, only Knossos (somewhat surprisingly) is in the ascendant rather than decline, having recently conquered the rich port capital of Alexandria. This promises to be a long war, with much Pontic blood yet to be spilt.

    Last edited by Bramborough; 10-17-2013 at 07:26.

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  19. #19

    Default Re: Eastern Hegemony: Pontus AAR

    Part VIII

    Charidemos succeeds to the throne: A new mindset for Pontus

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    I am Charidemos, son of Sokrates, and sixth King of Pontus. I came of age during the Armenian Wars, and have commanded the Champions of Amasis since their formation. As First Prince of Pontus, I led the Champions into Syria under my father. We took Tyros and Antioch, and Sokrates himself led his Lykoi to assist the Seleucids at Tarsus. Sokrates was an old man when we began this war; he should have lived out his days in peace at Amaseia, enjoying the continued Peace after the glory of Armenia and Caucasia. The Fates, however, had a different destiny for him. Rebels had held Edessa for decades. We had thought for many years that the Seleucids or one of their satrapies would remove this blot from within their lands...they did not do so. After lifting the siege of Tarsus, Sokrates resolved put down the Edessan rebellion himself. The old king succeeded of course; he was always a great warrior and wily general. And it is well that he did so...Edessa is renowned for its silk textiles, and is a profitable addition to Pontic territory. At Edessa, however, advanced age finally caught up with my father. No sooner had the clash of shield and spear subsided, than Sokrates passed away. The throne has passed to me.

    I revere the memory of Sokrates, and of all Pontic kings before him, from Mithridates to Ameinias. They were all men of great valor, and guided Pontus skillfully and well. We are indebted to their success. My forebears built their policies on a foundation of careful expansion and the promotion of Hellenic unity. Beginning with Mithridates, Pontic Kings have always relied upon Greek goodwill, trade, and alliance, to secure our borders.

    The world, however, is different today. Greeks are in disarray...and I fear will remain forever so. The Hellenic world cannot regain its strength through diplomacy, confederation, trade and goodwill....but only through political unification. My forebears built a strong Pontic nation. It is time for us to begin thinking of a Pontic Empire, compassing the lands of the Greeks and beyond. With empire will come perpetual conflict. The days of short discrete wars, alternating with periods of peace, are gone. Henceforward...Pontic armies will always be marching. Indeed, without his own realization, Sokrates inaugurated this new era when we marched south into longer were we defending our homes, protecting our trade, or securing our borders. Now we fight wars characterized by alien lands, foreign entanglements, and no small measure of greed. In truth, it has always been such. Ameinias defeated Cimmeria in the name of safeguarding Sinopean trade, but was not this oversea adventure every bit as much a foreign expedition for gold and aggrandizement as has been this Syrian war? Conquest and expansion have always been the true Pontic nature, despite royal proclamations to the contrary.

    I do not lament this Pontic aggression, but embrace it. Pontus will wax larger...not for protection or for helping allies, but for gain. Henceforth the Lykoi and their brethren will march not because they must...but because they can. Greeks will remain allies when it suits us...and enemies when not. Most important, Greeks will need to earn Pontus' trust through strength and action, rather than common heritage. No longer will we prop up tottering allies. The Seleucids, with Sokrates' help, have recovered for now...but we will not save them again. Bithynia's long-ago stratagem at Sinope is not forgotten...they will be repaid. Pergamon their ally will have to choose. Athens, Sparta, Knossos, and Macedon likewise will soon have to weigh subservience or extinction. Such days are coming, but not yet here. For now, I must resolve this continuing war with Nabatea and Saba.

    A word about the armies and fleets. Evelthon (my uncle) and the Sentinels of Hyperion remain in the Bosporus. The Lykoi, now commanded by the aristocrat Ptolemaeus, garrison Edessa...the Eastern cultural influence there from Mesopotamia is strong. Cyncus' Heralds of Triton have completed their long voyage from the Euxine, and now ply Mediterranean waters, raiding in the Mare Aegyptum, near the Nile Delta. To support my imperial vision, I order the raising of two new armies, the Defenders of Trapezon and the Wrath of Zeus; I recall the nobles Bacis and Cleombrotos, respectively, to command. Both hosts now recruit and train in the Bosporus. This leaves Endios' Mithridates' Chosen and my own Champions of Amasis to march south into Nabatea.

    I besiege Jerusalem, while Endios besieges the rebel-held capital of Petra. Both cities soon fall, Petra itself surrendering without battle. Soon afterward, my Champions ambush and destroy the Lords of War, a small Nabatean army which had marched (too late) to relieve Jerusalem. I continue south the following season, and the Champions of Amasis capture Hegra from the Saba. Only the Red Sea port of Charmuthas, also held by Saba, remains...I further push the Champions onward and take this city during the following season. Nabatea is conquered, and I designate it a unified province. My Eyes of the King have been active in these desert lands, and have convinced a Nabatean dignitary to join Pontic service...I assign the man an administrative post in the new province, charging him to increase its tax revenue. Likewise, a Saban noble has elected to serve us, and I put him to work in Syria. Meanwhile, closer to home, the noble Theodotus is appointed civil governor of Caucasia, and an Edict of Bread and Games is proclaimed there. A veteran Hero (the man's name escapes me) has volunteered to serve the Pontic crown once more, and I enlist his experience to help train the newly forming armies near Phantagoria. [yes...this all means I just hit the 3rd Imperium level...gotta start worrying about that Civil War malarkey soon...]

    The rapid conquest has left little opportunity to garrison these newly won towns, despite the presence of two armies. An Egyptian rebellion flares up near Petra, while a Slave army has formed between Hegra and Jerusalem. Mithridates' Chosen move to put down these threats. The slave host advances upon Endios, rather than wait for his attack. It is a poor decision, as Mithridates' Chosen have a good defensive position on a steep sandy hillside. Flaming missile fire rains upon the slave infantry, who quickly rout. Noble Blood Cavalry then sweep from our right, charging upon their javelin troops. It is over quickly.

    Endios then quickly countermarches to meet the Egyptian rebels on a height overlooking the Dead Sea. Again the rebels advance uphill towards the hoplites. They give a much better account of themselves than the Slaves, and melee rages along the hillcrest for a time. The rebels also make a flank attack which comes closer to success than it should have. The flanking infantry come very close to threatening Pontic ballista crews before the Noble Bloods meet and decimate the attack. In the main, however, the outcome is foreordained...none in these lands have remotely approached a serious challenge to Pontic hoplites. The rebels are crushed. Nabatea remains firmly in our sway.

    Pontic archers and peltasts in action during the Nabatean campaign

    Noble Blood Cavalry charging upon Slave javelineers near Hegra

    Egyptian rebels engage Mithridates' Chosen overlooking the Dead Sea

    Pontic horsemen breaking up a rebel flank attack

    The Nabateans have been destroyed, and Saba pushed wholly out of these regions. Their allies the Qidri and Ma'in, moreover, have been vanquished by resurgent Seleucid satrapies from the east. Our Nabatean eastern border is secure. Across the Red Sea, however, Egypt rises yet again at Myos Hormos, while rebels hold sway over Alexandria...a rich prize indeed. As long as Aegyptus remains in turmoil, a succession of Pharaoic contenders will continue to resuscitate Egyptian ambitions. This rich region must be brought under control...Pontic control. The Pyramids beckon, and the Champions and Mithridates' Chosen march through the Sinai toward the Nile.

    The desert Nasamones blockade rebel-held Alexandria...I cannot assault the city as long as they do so. Cyncus reports that the blockade has been in place for some years, with no sign of resolution. Pontus has had no direct quarrel with the Nasamones despite their earlier wars with Athens and other Greeks...indeed, Sokrates established trade with them, which continues to this day. Nevertheless, I will not permit them to stymie Pontic ambitions in Aegyptus. I order Cyncus to break the blockade, so that our still-marching armies will have access to the walls upon their arrival. Sokrates' naval reforms are put to their first test...and are proven sound. The artillery-heavy Heralds of Triton pulverize the Nasamone squadron at range...only their heavily damaged flagship manages to close the distance to our covering screen of missile ships before it is destroyed. Alexandria will be open to assault once our Pontic armies arrive.

    Heralds of Triton breaking the Nasamone blockade at Alexandria. The famous lighthouse in background.

    In the north, the Defenders of Trapezon have completed muster and are campaign-ready. I have ordered Bacis to take his newly-raised host to Galatia and prepare for the long-awaited war against heretofore-allied Bithynia. Likewise, Evelthon's Sentinels of Hyperion has long remained on watch before the Scythians, and I fear they grow stagnant. The Sentinels are ordered to Galatia as well. The Wrath of Zeus, commanded by Cleombrotos, nears readiness. Newfound wealth in the south supports the recruitment of yet more Pontic forces. With proven naval success at Alexandria, a new fleet organized on the same model is ordered. Missile ships for Scylla's Terror, commanded by Euneas, begin sliding the ways at Phasis; once they are complete, the admiral will take his fleet north for the artillery ships built at Panticipaeum.

    I ponder also the creation of yet another army, for which I will soon have use as Pontus advances on multiple axes. A curious development may here be related. Over a century ago, the Mithridatic general Praxiteles led Pontus' first army to its destruction on the Galatian plain before Ancyra. History records his folly, as well as the nature of this host...little more than a rabble of levied spears and slingers. They did manage to overrun a Cappadocian village before allowing themselves to be slaughtered. Few among the Pontic populace, however, read the histories...while all listen to the poets and singers. The failed general of chronicle has been transformed into the titan of myth. And while his army may in reality have been but an organized mob, the Scions of Sinope in song loom large as a glorious legend of Pontic valor. Our Lykoi and Sentinels of Hyperion date back to this time, and have the record of many campaigns to burnish their names. Pontics indeed revere their proud histories as well...but the Lykoi and Sentinels are extant and tangible. In the eyes of my people, the Lykoi walk among giants...but the mythic Scions march with the gods.

    My kinsman Antiphus is direct male-line descendant of Praxiteles. He seeks to regain glory for his family in the histories as well as the songs, to march towards conquest where Praxiteles met only defeat. He makes supplication to me for command of a new host, and indeed has performed well leading Pontic cavalry in Syria and Nabatea. Very well, I can use a man of his motivations, ambitions, and talents. Let the Scions march again, with the descendant of Praxiteles at their head. They will go forth this time not as a citizen levy, but with the full weight of Pontic military technology and professionalism. Antiphus is dispatched to the Bosporus, there to raise the Scions of Sinope once more. I just hope he proves a better tactical head than his ancestor....

    Meanwhile, Evelthon and Bacis arrive on the Bithynian border, above Nicomedia. If revenge is a dish best served cold, we shall relish this nearly-frozen offering indeed. It has been over three generations since Bithynian treachery nearly cost Pontus its vital port of Sinope. Nicomedus stood by and allowed the Galatian Mountain Men to traverse Bithynian territory towards Sinope, hoping to eventually gain the city for himself. The Lykoi and Sentinels marched quickly to thwart this design...but the treachery of our supposed "ally" has never been forgotten in the Mithridatic court. My forebears' commitment to Hellenic amity have stayed our hand for decades, but that time is over. Bithynia wanted our port...instead, at long last, we will have theirs. I break our alliance and trade agreements with Nicomedia, and then declare war.

    Such a declaration must have consequences. Pergamon, in defensive pact with Bithynia, declares war upon us. Other Greek nations deplore our action. Our Seleucid allies and their far-reaching satrapies have long held Greek Bithynia and Pergamon in high regard, and are forced to choose. I invoke our own longstanding alliance, not just in name but in action. I remind the Seleucid ruler of our common war against Armenia, of Pontic troops responding to the Syrian troubles. Most of all, I recall Sokrates lifting the siege of Tarsus when he could very well have stood by and thereby gained that capital for himself. Reluctantly, Seleucia acquiesces, and follows Pontus into war against Bithynia and Pergamon.

    Our armies promptly besiege Nicomedia, and begin preparing ladders and battering rams. I charge Evelthon to lead the assault upon the walls. The Sentinels of Hyperion have lain fallow in the Bosporus for too many a year; the rust must be knocked away. The garrison is strong and the large Bithynian fleet supports from the harbor, but I am confident the Sentinels will prevail. The assault begins. With ram and ladder, Evelthon's men gain the wall and breach the gate easily enough. Nicomedia, however, is a large city, and unlike most others, boasts a citadel with many interior towers. The hoplites win a bloody struggle at the gate, but then must continue the advance through the city under missile fire from all directions. Our peltasts and archers make their way along the rampart of the curtain wall to subdue its towers, but it is slow going and many fall. The hoplites advance upon the citadel and take its towers one by one, taking missile casualties as well. Meanwhile, the Bithynian ships have disembarked their crews, and hordes of naval missile troops range through Nicomedia's streets. Noble Blood Cavalry hunt them down and easily break them, but it is a time-consuming process. At long last, with citadel and city center captured, the resistance ends when our horsemen destroy the last of the Bithynian archers near the harbor. Nicomedia is the highest cost of Pontic blood exacted in decades. [seriously, this was one of the harder siege assaults I've done. The actual combat wasn't bad, but the city size, interior towers, ramps, and dead-end alleys were a total pain the ass. And whatever their other merits, hoplites don't move that fast...]

    The Sentinels of Hyperion assault Nicomedia's walls

    Nicomedia is won, but Bithynia remains unvanquished, and their substantial armies and fleets will re-engage us. Pergamon marches alongside them. Rebel-held Alexandria and resurgent Egypt await us across the Nile. The erstwhile-blockading Nasamones, moreover, will soon retaliate from the Libyan desert. The tribes of Arabia have receded from our Nabatean border, but they are not all extinguished, and remain at war with the Pontic throne. The Scions of Sinope and Scylla's Terror continue to recruit, and I will soon have need of them.
    Last edited by Bramborough; 10-17-2013 at 07:25.

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  20. #20

    Default Re: Eastern Hegemony: Pontus AAR

    Part IX

    Nascent Empire: The early reign of Charidemos

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    My courtiers and nobles maintain an ongoing fiction that Pontus remains but a kingdom. Strong, fierce, and independent, but just a kingdom. The truth is different...and has been so since Ameinias sailed against Cimmeria. I, Charidemos, am the first Pontic king to embrace the reality that the Kingdom of Pontus is in fact a new Pontic Empire. The aristocrats recoil at the notion; they accept new land and titles readily enough, but they recognize that their political power further wanes relative to the throne's, with the addition of each new territory. The philosophers likewise harangue against "foreign entanglements" and deplore Pontic advances against fellow Hellenes. The merchants, on the other hand, are quite content, actually enthusiastic. The people do not care, so long as bread fills their tables and actors of the Amphitheatron tickle their fancy. The semantics interest me not at all. I care little whether I am called "King" or "Emperor" as long as all do my bidding. The nobles continue to lead my armies, the merchants to fund them, and the people to fill their ranks. Pontic hosts continue to march.

    After Cyncus breaks the Nasamone blockade of Alexandria, Endios and Mithridates' Chosen put the rebel-controlled capital under siege. No army comes to the rebels' aid, and Endios assaults the walls as soon as the ladders and rams are ready. The Heralds of Triton support Endios' assault from the harbor, using their shipborne siege artillery to good effect. Pontic hoplites and archers gain the walls and towers near the main gate, but it is at the gate itself, breached by Endios' ram, where the focus of struggle takes place. Upon breaking the gate, Mithridates' Chosen surge forth through the opening, where the substantial rebel infantry and horse meet them in a concentrated melee. While the eventual outcome of the overall assault is in little doubt, it does appear that this first attempt might be repulsed. Endios sends more hoplites over the ladders to flank the fiercely resisting rebel forces. Archers rain fire on the defenders from the wrested walls. After much slaughter of both rebel and Pontic, the defenders finally give way, and the hoplites march toward the city center. Only the rebel general's bodyguard remains to make a lone stand...but this bodyguard is no easy matter, as it consists of war elephants. Victory is assured, but Endios wisely chooses to expend no more Pontic blood and signals the fleet. Cyncus moves his ballista-armed ships into position and takes the elephants under fire. Fearsome though the leviathans may be, they are helpless against the rain of heavy stone. Alexandria, crown of the Nile, is ours.

    Alexandria: Mithridates' Chosen storm the gate

    Alexandria: Hoplite reinforcements enter the city, tramping over carnage of the recent gate melee

    Rebels have taken over the Egyptian city of Memphis. I lead the Champions of Amasis to dislodge them. The rebel defenders sally forth before the town, and a short sharp fight ensues before they are annihilated. Pontic power on the Nile grows, the Pyramids now ours as well as the Lighthouse.

    Victory at Memphis: Champions of Amasis exult

    The Heralds of Triton had performed well in breaking the Nasamone blockade at Alexandria...but that had been a relatively small enemy force. The Nasamones now send a large invasion fleet along the Mare Aegyptum to threaten Alexandria. Endios is confident of holding the city if they assault, but it would be another bloody battle for his hoplites, still recovering from the gate battle during the recent assault. I order Cyncus to meet the Nasamones and prevent their landfall. While composed of transports rather than proper naval vessels, the Nasamone fleet is every bit as numerous as the Heralds. A large naval engagement looms, and will be a sterner test of Sokrates' naval reforms.

    The Heralds of Trion perform magnificently, and Cyncus wins a heroic victory. The Nasamone transports row hard to engage the Heralds' archer-manned screen, but are overcome by the weight of Cyncus' ballistae. Every enemy ship is sunk before it can reach ram/boarding range. The entire Nasamone host is the cost of not a single Pontic sailor. My father's wisdom is again confirmed; these are not the Heralds of the naval disaster at Trapezos. Cyncus follows up this signal triumph with a blockade of Nasamone Paraitonion in Libya.

    Nasamone invasion fleet destroyed: Heralds of Triton redeem the memory of Trapezos

    Such have been our fortunes in the south, but Pontic power waxes elsewhere as well. After long but uneventful service in the Bosporus, Evelthon triumphed in the winter of his life with the capture of Nicomedia. My uncle then passed over the Styx there, and my kinsman Glaukos has taken command of the Sentinels of Hyperion. Accompanying the Sentinels in Bithynia are the recently-raise Wrath of Zeus, led by Cleombrotos. Upon Nicomedia's capture, Cleombrotos presses ahead to further carry the war against Bithynia. The Wrath of Zeus attack Pergamon, Bithynia's lone remaining settlement. Bithynia and Pergamon are the closest of allies. My court chroniclers are at a loss to explain how Pergamon's ancestral city is under Bithynian control...there must at some pont have been a rebellion there which went unnoticed in Amaseia. I have half a mind to send a few of these "historians" to the executioner's block as an example, but I stay my hand...for now.

    The Bithynian garrison sallies out to meet our attack, and the Wrath of Zeus engage in their first battle. The armies meet in wooded scrubland near the city, and come to grips among the trees. Our newest armies, the Wrath among them, have been outfitted with a larger contingent of field artillery (2 ballistae instead of one), and the weight of fire soon begins to tell. The Bithynians retreat among the groves, and Pergamon is soon ours. Bithynian armies and fleets remain in the field, and they seem to retain a settlement in far-off Illyria, but they no longer hold territory on the Anatolian peninsula. How they must rue their grandfathers' treachery at Sinope.

    Bithynian defenders at Pergamon flee before the Wrath of Zeus

    The implications of Pontus' waxing power is not lost on other nations, particularly our Greek neighbors. Diplomatic envoys flock to Amaseia, seeking accomodation with the Pontic throne. Athens, Knossos, and the Ardiaei propose non-aggression pacts, even defensive alliances. In the past, such entreaties would have been warmly received in our capital, in pursuit of my forebears' vision of a Hellenic brotherhood of equals. Today, I rebuff them. Trade accords are always welcomed (Pontic merchants would have it no other way). The Greeks must understand, however, that henceforth there is but one political relationship which they may have with the Pontic King...subservience. My counteroffers of satrapy are rejected for now, but the envoys leave my capital under no further illusion; Pontus will only accept being acknowledged as master - not mere member - of the Greek world. Whether that object is achieved by treaty or by force of arms, I leave to them to decide. Let Bithynia serve them as example regarding which may be the better choice.

    Possession of Nicomedia offers Pontus a new avenue for expansion. For the first time we have access to march upon the European mainland itself. Pergamon lies its new Thracian homeland, at Pupuldeva and Antheia. Another newly-raised and unblooded army, Bacis' Defenders of Trapezon, crosses the strait into their territory, and attacks Antheia. They oppose both the city's garrison and a nearby Bithynian fleet during the assault. The Pergaman(sp?) defenders initially put up little fight on the outskirts of the town, decimated and then routed by Bacis' artillery and missile fire. Our hoplites advance in strong column, 3 units abreast, into the town. The garrison is soon bolstered, however, by debarked Bithynian troops, and a new line of defense is prepared before the city center. The Defenders of Trapezon close with them, but the enemies fight well for a time, and many fall near the central plaza. Flanking noble cavalry enter the city via another route and fall upon the defenders' rear...only then does their spirited defense give way. Once more a Pontic host tastes victory in its first action. Antheia is ours...and with it, Pontus' first true European territory, as well as yet another Euxine port.

    Defenders of Trapezon at Antheia: Final struggle near city center

    Bacis, buoyed with this success (it was his own first battle, as well as his army's), immediately carries the fight further into Pergaman Thracia, making directly for their capital at Pupuldeva. He may be a little rash in doing so. Antheia remains weak so soon after its fall, and has virtually no garrison worthy of the name. No sooner do the Defenders of Trapezon depart, than a hitherto-undetected Pergaman fleet descends upon Antheia and easily recaptures the port. Embarassed Bacis, now climbing the central Thracian plateau toward walled Pulpudeva, must now consider abandoning this push and retracing his march to the coast. I would not have it so...I want Pergamon destroyed. Bacis will continue.

    I charge Glaukos with correcting Bacis' error. The Sentinels of Hyperion depart Nicomedia and cross the strait. It is a short march, and the Sentinels fall upon the Pergaman naval troops while they are still celebrating their recapture. It is regrettable that Antheia must bear the travail of three assaults in as many seasons...but Pergamon's temporary resurgence is short-lived indeed.

    A humbled Bacis reaches Pulpudeva and puts the city under siege. The capital is defended not only by its garrison but also by Athena's Faithful, Pergamon's last field army. Bacis' engineers prepare for the assault by constructing a new machine called a "tortoise"...whatever that may be. A substantial Ardiaei army enters the plateau as well and offers Bacis aid. While friendly trade partners, we are not seems the Ardiaei seek to curry Pontic favor with after our rejection of their envoys. Perhaps they simply view the enemy of their enemy as their de facto ally, regardless of diplomatic formalities. No matter; their assistance is gleefully accepted regardless. There is no chance that they may gain the city by subterfuge, nor will we change our satrapy-or-nothing stance towards them. Meanwhile, every dead Ardiaei soldier storming the ramparts is a Pontic soldier who lives to fight another day. So be it.

    Preparations complete, Bacis signals the beginning of the assault. The tortoise creeps slowly toward Pulpudeva's wall, roughly 100 meters to the left of the central gate. Bacis is a little annoyed with its slow progress, but impressed at the superb protection it offers, as well as its power once finally reaching its target. The tortoise breaches the wall almost instantly, far quicker than ballista or ram. As events have transpired, however, this opening is nearly superfluous. Bacis has exercised insufficient fire control over the artillery. Our ballista crews, in the absence of orders otherwise, have been pounding away of their own accord toward right of the gate. The ballistae break the wall, having been firing throughout the tortoise's slow approach, at roughly the same time.

    The overeager Ardiaei do not wait for coordinated assault; their ardor carries them into the breach at once. A violent melee, Ardiaei vs Pergaman, ensues within. Bacis' oversight has resulted in good fortune for the rank and file of the Defenders of Trapezon. The general wisely holds his hoplites back for a time, conserving their strength. Let the Ardiaei kill as many of the defenders as possible before Pontic blood need be spilt. Pontic archers and peltasts do enter the right-hand breach themselves (once reasonably safe to do so) in order to lend their missile support to the Ardiaei attack. Rather surprisingly, our fellow Hellenes do well, and defeat Athena's Faithful almost wholly on their own.

    After taking such a prominent role in the assault, it is rather surprising that the Ardiaei commander does not come to Bacis and claim the city for their own. They must be trying quite ardently to find favor with Pontus...and I wonder if perhaps they haven't well earned it. These particular Greeks might indeed deserve status as ally rather than satrapy...I must ponder. In any case, the Thracian capital is in our hands. The nation of Pergamon, moreover, is destroyed.

    Pulpudeva: The Pontic tortoise approaches the wall (finally...)

    News comes from the south of another naval victory. The Nasamone fleet is nothing if not persistent, it would appear. They approach Alexandria yet again, this time with a substantial naval fleet, the Scourge of the Sea. One would presume their intent is to blockade, rather than capture, with such a force...but Cyncus is of no mind to wait and see. The Heralds lift their own blockade at Paraitonion to intercept. While slightly smaller in numbers than the invasion armada so thoroughly annihilated before, the Scourge is composed of proper warships, much sturdier than transports. This will be a final test of Pontic naval doctrine. The Heralds of Triton prevail, but it is a much tougher fight. Our artillery engage at range as before, but the Scourge warships withstand the hail for a much longer time. Nasamone ships succeed in making contact with the Heralds' screen at multiple points, and close combat ensues. Once in this situation, the archers are a poor match for their naval assault infantry. Two Pontic vessels are lost, another routed, before Cyncus' relentless artillery finally breaks apart the last of the enemy vessels. Sokrates' maritime reforms are once more vindicated, but this third battle upon the Mare Aegyptum is a sober reminder that even so, not all naval triumphs will be bloodless. The Heralds of Triton withdraw north from contested Egyptian waters to recover strength at Antioch. It is a rest well-earned.

    And so Pontus has advanced both north and south; along the Nile, upon Thracian plain, and upon the sea. My nobles and courtiers may cling to their notions of what Pontus once was and should be now...but year by year our armies convincingly demonstrate the undeniable reality of Empire. More hosts and armadas spring forth from Bosporus recruiting grounds and are launched upon the Euxine Sea. Euneas' Scylla's Terror has fitted out, and even now sails toward the Aegean, eager to match the glory of the Heralds of Triton. The reborn Scions of Sinope, commanded by Antiphus, likewise marches forward. Aristocrat Evandros has begun raising yet another army, named the Sons of Troy in commemoration of our recent conquest of Pergamon, in which territory that fabled city of legend once lay.

    Not all is rosy. A resurgent Saba appears out of the desert waste once more, sending armies into Nabatea. My Champions of Amasis move to counter them, as do Ptolemaeus' veteran Lykoi marching south from Edessa. We fought once for Hegra and Petra, and appears we will soon have to do so again. Nobles continue to murmur at court...they remain quiescent for now, but Endios gains in prestige. Not since Euphorion has a Pontic leader outside our own family gained such sway, and served to transform mere aristocratic grumbling into a potential for action. He bears watching. Bacis remains unconfirmed in my eyes. The Defenders of Trapezon have performed well in Thracia, but this general's oversight allowed an unnecessary reverse at Antheia and also created potential moral justification for the Ardiaei to claim Pulpudeva. He is fortunate that neither gaffe led to lasting harm...but now I wonder if non-Mithridatic Bacis indeed committed any error at all.

    I, Charidemos, am in my 50th year. The spring, even summer, of youth is past. At this hour of my life, it is plain that the gods do not intend to bless me with an heir. I have adopted Antiphus...let the Scions of Sinope gain for him a more secure claim to the throne than merely an aging king's wish. Barring assassin's blade or the fate of battle, however, I have many a year remaining before it is my turn to meet the boatman. I intend to use them just as I have done these 20 years past: Pontus will continue to hold forth and gain ascendancy over its neighbors. I intend to die Emperor, in fact if not in name.

    Last edited by Bramborough; 10-17-2013 at 08:22.

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  21. #21
    Stranger in a strange land Moderator Hooahguy's Avatar
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    Jun 2007
    The Fortress

    Default Re: Eastern Hegemony: Pontus AAR

    Wow, barely a week and you already have more chapters than I do.

    But now that my terrible week is over, I will be able to update soon!

    And what the hell is that pyramid-like siege machine?!
    On the Path to the Streets of Gold: a Suebi AAR
    A man who casts no shadow has no soul.
    Hvil i fred HoreTore

  22. #22

    Default Re: Eastern Hegemony: Pontus AAR

    Quote Originally Posted by Hooahguy View Post
    And what the hell is that pyramid-like siege machine?!
    Yep, I guess once a day. I play a few turns, and then organize screenies for the chapter. Then write the thing up in the morning before playing a few more turns. Exhibit A for the argument "Bramborough has no freakin' life."

    Behold the "tortoise". Pretty goofy-looking, ain't it? I hadn't used one before, so decided to give it a try. As noted in the AAR, slow as hell, but great missile protection for the guys moving it, and practically insta-breaches once it finally gets to the wall. One thing I didn't mention in the text and is not obvious until you start the doesn't work on a gate, only on a wall. I guess because the ram is so high.

  23. #23

    Default Re: Eastern Hegemony: Pontus AAR

    Part X

    Trouble in Arabia: The imperial march temporarily slows

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    These perverse desert folk annoy me to no end. Both friend and foe.

    The southern Arabian tribes have warred against Hellenes and their satrapies for generations. Indeed, they have been foes of Pontus as well since Sokrates brought us south to these arid lands nearly thirty years ago. Seleucid satrapies dominate from Mesopotamia through the central Arabian peninsula, and have long been in position to crush these tribes and bring order to the Arabian peninsula. Why have they not done so? Irksome Saba and Ma'in remain secure in their desert lairs to the far south, while Mascat has joined them.

    Even more perplexing, why do the armies of Saba now violate the borders of Pontic Nabatea?!? How have they arrived on the outskirts of Hegra and Petra, passing through Seleucid-controlled territory unmolested? I made a mistake before in leaving the final subjugation of these tribes to the Seleucid minions...and now Pontic interests in the region must pay the price.

    A Saban army descends upon Hegra, with no Pontic army within range to intercept. The Saban force, named the Burning Sands, is not large, but has quality troops, including desert Noble Swordsmen. The modest Hegra garrison stands little chance of successful resistance, consisting as it does of Eastern spears, slingers, and a mob of townsfolk. I must laud the valor, if not the professionalism, of Hegra's defenders. The local commandant knows he cannot win, but endeavors to damage the Saba as heavily as possible. The man does well enough. He stations his spears to block a ramped alleyway overlooking the city center, with long-ranged slingers behind. He places the concentrated mob to defend a secondary alley, protecting the rear of the slingers. The garrison missile troops are so placed as to fire upon the central plaza in the town, while the spears guard them. The Sabans advance, as expected, to the town's center to take possession of the city. Our slingers begin taking their toll, and the Sabans momentarily fall back. Another attempt is made, and again the Burning Sands feel the hail of stones. The occupation attempt is abandoned, and they begin to assault our forces instead. The Eastern spears hold for a surprisingly long time, and exact their own price, while the slingers continue to pelt the attackers. However valiant, the spears cannot long hold against the Saban swordsmen, and they are eventually overcome. An Arabian cavalry troop meanwhile engages the mob and quickly disperses them as well. Only the slingers are left, but they gamely stand their ground and continue to fire. One troop expends its ammunition and makes a valiant charge into the Sabans, to buy their colleagues a few more minutes of firing opportunity. Finally only one unit of slingers remains...but the Saba tire of the chase, and are content to occupy the central plaza. Our garrison has indeed lost the fight...but have made the Sabans pay dearly, killing nearly half the invading force. A brave stand indeed...but this does not change the fact that Hegra has fallen to the enemy.

    Hegra's garrison makes a courageous stand

    Hegra will not long remain in Saban hands. Upon the first report of Saban forces, the Champions of Amasis had begun marching east from Aegyptus, and had reached Jerusalem by the time of Hegra's fall. Now Saba will feel the true force of Pontic arms...not spear and sling, but hoplite and ballista. The Burning Sands are still weakened from the price exacted by our brave garrison when the Champions arrive at Hegra. My hoplites form their column, standard for town captures, and wait for word to advance. Ballista, archer, and peltast meanwhile bring the town's defenders under fire, while Noble Blood cavalry scout the perimeter and seek a secondary entrance route. The Saba are decimated horribly by our missiles, and are but a emaciated shell of resistance once the hoplites begin to advance. The few remaining Saba stand fast, resigned to their fate...but are robbed even of the opportunity to meet the hoplites shield upon shield. Our horsemen have indeed entered the city to the west, and now fall upon the Saba rear. The Burning Sands are routed and destroyed. Hegra is once more safely Pontic.

    Hegra retaken: Champions of Amasis hoplites wait patiently while peltasts and archers do their work

    In the meanwhile, the Lykoi have been marching south from Edessa, and are now nearing Petra. Ptolemaeus comes upon two more small but well-composed Saba armies amid the arid wastes. Fortune is with him, however, as both Saba armies are marching quickly, with speed their primary object rather than reconaissance and tactical readiness. The Lykoi are able to ambush and destroy both forces in quick succession, with negligible casualties. As with the Burning Sands, the Children of the Sun and Old Men of the Desert will pose no more threat to Pontic territory. However easily we are rebuffing the Saba, my wrath has grown at the impertinence of their incursion, as well as the delay it has caused me in having to call rearward Pontic armies. I direct Ptolemaeus not to free or even enslave his captives...but to put them to the sword. The southern tribes must understand the fury of Pontus which they have called down upon themselves.

    News arrives from other sectors of the empire (which my nobles and courtiers persist in calling a "Kingdom"...). The old desert dignitary Gulussa dies of natural causes; in his stead I appoint the noble Aclepiades as civil governor in Syria. Even though an incomplete fragment of a province shared with the Seleucids, Antioch commerce and Tyros dye are sources of rich prosperity; Aclepiades is well-placed to make significant contribution to the Pontic treasury.

    Nasamone overtly attacks no more toward Alexandria by either land or sea, but remains in a formal state of war with Pontus. Their agents infest the Aegyptus capital's environs, seeking to spread mischief. Our own spy network, the Eyes and Ears of the King, however, are diligent in blunting their schemes, and have been quite successful in converting some of the Nasamone scoundrels to Pontic service. The original Eye of the King Dioscuros, renowned by poets for his sabotage of the Galatian Wandering Warriors during the reign of Ariobarzanes, would be proud of his kindred shadows.

    A report is received that Cyncus has died of natural causes during voyage to Tyros. My kinsman Artemios takes command of the Heralds of Triton. The old lion of the sea earned great glory and respect. He was unquestionably Pontus' greatest admiral, not only in battle, but in the drydock as well. It was Cyncus who transformed Sokrates' vision into reality, and reformed a powerful fleet following the disaster at Trapezos. He then proved this new naval weapon in recurring sea victories against Nasamone in the Mare Aegyptum. I will miss the old admiral deeply. I will also miss the young nobles' tittering behind their elders' backs, whenever the admiral's name was mentioned in court.

    I have been pondering the case of the Ardiaei, who bore the brunt of fighting at Pulpudeva but demurred from laying claim to the city. I order my diplomats to offer full military alliance to the Ardiaei, as equals. This is promptly done, and the Ardiaei accept. I am content, even a little proud, to count these honorable Greeks among Pontus' friends. My ministers, however, are confused, and approach me for clarification.

    "Sire, you have proclaimed repeatedly to us that the only political accomodation with Hellenes is satrapy, that Pontus is to be the undisputed master of the Greek world. What, then, of these Ardiaei? Indeed, of the Seleucids as well? What other exceptions may we expect?"

    "Very well, hear me now. This is Pontus' policy toward the Greeks.
    1. We will trade with any Hellenic faction with whom we are not at war...which of course is true of most foreigners as well.
    2. Politically and diplomatically, Pontus offers all Greek nations satrapy, to join a unified Hellenic empire under condition of subservience and tribute.
    3. As King, however, I may have desire to offer full alliance as equals, to such Greeks as render enthusiastic and effective service on the battlefield, despite lack of formal diplomatic arrangement. This is what I have done with the Ardiaei, in recognition of their actions at Pulpudeva.
    4. You may see that this is merely different form of the same condition. The Greek chatterers may pay tribute in money and shackled independence...while Greek warriors pay us tribute in voluntarily shed blood. I will accept either.
    5. The Seleucids are a special case, unique among the Greeks with vast eastern satrapies of her own. This should be clear enough."

    Let us return to the Arabian problem. The Saba foray into Nabatea is beaten back, but the meddlesome tribes of the Arabian south remain. It is uncertain whether the Seleucid satrapies have sufficient means to eradicate them...but clear enough that in any case they have little inclination to actually do so. I do not desire to entertain future such incursions into Pontic Nabatea or even Syria, while Pontic armies and fleets are pressing elsewhere. This must be dealt with. And it appears Pontus will have to do it herself.

    Our hosts are not well placed for a quick strike. This will take time to prepare. Mithridates' Chosen are recalled from Aegyptus and cross back into Nabatea. The Champions of Amasis move from Hegra to Charmuthas, to move further south later. The Scions of Sinope are summoned from Anatolia, and march southward. A ninth Pontic army, Ares' Fury led by Demados, begins recruiting in Bosporus. Our current fleets cannot support at all, these are entirely different waters. I order the construction of a shipwrights facility at Charmuthas, our only available port. Even with such, we cannot build the heavy artillery ships with which Cyncus met success on the Mare Aegyptum...but then, neither Ma'in nor Mascat have large enough cities to launch such vessels either.

    This will not be a rapid campaign. The distances are far, and in inhospitable desert. I do not expect many battles, nor for such battles to be particularly difficult. But there will be a great deal of hot dusty waterless marching in between. I am no longer a young King, and expect that the pacification of Arabia Felix will occupy the remainder of my days.

    While these armies march and fleets build, the first step is to conquer the Qidri, lately arisen again and once more making war upon Seleucia alongside the south Arabians. Ptolemaeus marches upon Adummatu and assaults. The Qidri garrison bravely sallies forth to challenge the Lykoi. The armies meet on flat sandy waste near the town. The Qidri charge our hoplites. As so many times before, bravery is of little effect alone against professional cuirass and spear. The garrison is defeated. This dusty desert town is of little value...but it is now ours all the same. More significantly, the Qidri are vanquished, and will trouble us no more.

    Adummatu: Qidri rush toward Lykoi hoplites

    As yet unblooded, the new Scions of Sinope have traveled from their recruiting grounds, and now descend from the Anatolian mountains into Syria. Their route takes them through allied Seleucid Dura. A slave uprising has taken place there (one of several signs that our longtime ally continues to ail), and the slave-manned army Thunderbolts of Tinia threaten the town. A fine opportunity for the Scions to get their first taste of battle. Our Phasis military engineers have not been idle. The Scions are the first Pontic army manned with new large onagers rather than ballistae, and also boast a scythed chariot force. Antiphus is curious to see these new weapons in am I.

    The Scions bring the Thunderbolts to battle, but set a deliberate defense upon actual engagement. Antiphus trusts to the slaves' impetuosity to goad a rash attack. He is not disappointed. Scion hoplites form line and await the charge, while archers post themselves behind, ready to shower arrows on targets fixed in place by hoplite spears. The slaves indeed advance as expected. The new onagers begin taking toll at impressively long range, even as the Thunderbolts barely become visible in the distance. Chariots and noble cavalry await hidden on Antiphus' right flank, preparing to charge Thunderbolts in flank and rear. Winnowed by onager and then archer fire, the slave infantry nevertheless continues to close, and bravely engages the hoplite line. Their missile troops support the charge with well-aimed flaming javelins. It is a courageous attack, but the slave infantry have little chance against the hoplites, while the javelinmen are now exposed. The chariots and cavalry make their charge into the unprotected ranks, against both slave missileers and the now-routing infantry. The slaughter is sickening, the rout complete. The Scions of Sinope have performed well in their first engagement...easy enough test though it has been. The new weapons excel, Antiphus is most pleased. Yet another slave uprising is crushed. Sokrates once spoke with me of his sympathy for these men, of his chagrin at having massacred a similar slave army during the Armenian Wars. I have no such misgivings....dogs they are, and as dogs they die. Thunderbolts of mere Bones of the Desert. Well done, Antiphus.

    Scions' first blood: The slave Thunderbolts of Tinia charge

    Pontic scythed chariots enter battle for the first time
    Last edited by Bramborough; 10-17-2013 at 07:23.

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  24. #24

    Default Re: Eastern Hegemony: Pontus AAR

    Part XI

    Pontus resumes the march, in both Arabia and the Aegean

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Arabian/Syrian Theater:

    Pontic armies converge in Arabia, and we begin to press the fight harder against our foes. The Champions of Amasis, the Lykoi, Mithridates' Chosen, and the Scions of Sinope are all now operating in the desert, where just a few short years ago only small Pontic garrisons first faced Saba and Qidri. During the march from Egypt, however, Endios, most illustrious of non-Mithridatic nobles, fell ill and died. His younger brother Amompharetos takes charge of Mithridates' Chosen. I have usually prized zeal and authority as prime attributes for Pontic generals, as did Sokrates and earlier predecessors. Amompharetos, by contrast, is most known as a cunning man, devoted to the slipperiest of military stratagems. I have my misgivings, but let us see how he may use the Chosen as tool of such deviousness against our enemies. I send Amompharetos south toward the Ma'in via the long and dusty land route.

    Our shipwrights' dock has been completed at Charmuthas. We begin now to form a fleet to establish Pontic superiority upon the Red Sea. Anchialus formally commissions Poseidon's Justice there. He cannot build here the heavy artillery ships of our Mediterranean and Euxine fleets, but I trust that Poseidon's Justice will be more than equal to any naval force the Ma'in or Mascat could possibly hurl against us. I intend to sail with my own Champions alongside Anchialus in any case...should we not be able to overcome with naval weaponry, we will do so by sheer numbers.

    A messenger arrives from Amompharetos. His southward route winds through the territory of the Aria, one of the Seleucid satrapies. During the march, however, it has become clear that the land is no longer held by Aria, but instead has gone over to revolt (another sign that all is not well in the Seleucid lands). The town of Yathrib is now under rebel rule. This is an opporunity for us, as capture of Yathrib would open a direct land route to the southern foes. I immediately order the Lykoi to march upon the town, as they are actually closer to the site than is Amompharetos' host.

    Ptolemaeus moves promptly, and Yathrib is assaulted within the same season. The town's garrison is surprisingly robust for such a remote desert village - 6 units of javelins, and 5 troops of levy spearmen. The rebel commandant himself marches with a Noble Sword guard. Staunch defense indeed...against anything less than a full Pontic field army, let alone one of such tradition and experience as our veteran Lykoi.

    The garrison sallies out nevertheless and meets the Lykoi outside Yathrib. Rebel javelins make the first attack and pelt heavy fire upon the Lykoi phalanxes. The armored hoplites, however, suffer little ill effect. The rebel spears then enter the fray, and engage our hoplites all along the line, bolstered by their commandant's noble swords. A sharp melee rages for a time...but as so often before, courage does not triumph over professionalism and well-made iron. The Lykoi slaughter the rebels, who begin to break and withdraw to the town. The Noble Swords, as expected, last longer than the rest. Inevitably, however, their commander falls, and the swordsmen lose heart as well. Dismayed javelinmen follow them in retreat. Yathrib is taken. And now Pontus has direct access to the south Arabian longer must we consider Seleucid satrapies' tender pride in planning our advances.

    Yathrib: Rebel spearmen engage the Lykoi

    Yathrib: Enemy commander attacks a Lykoi phalanx with his Noble Swords

    Gratifying though this victory may be, the woes of our Seleucid ally continue. Their Syrian town Dura falls to yet another of those ghostly Saba armies which seem to endlessly materialize out of the desert. More ominously, the Seleucid capital itself at Tarsus suffers revolt, and then falls into rebel hands. Mighty Seleucia is but a remnant, claiming only the island port at Salamis (their new capital) and the desert town of Palmyra...even these vestigial settlements endure turmoil and unrest. I am at a loss to understand how this pale shadow of former might continues to command the allegiance of myriad satrapies from here to Bactria...yet somehow they do. In any case, a rebel-held Tarsus cannot be tolerated, and naturally opportunity to strike the Saba at any location must be promptly seized. The Sons of Troy have just completed recruiting; now they march through Armenia toward the erstwhile Seleucid capital. Antiphus moves toward Dura with the Scions of Sinope.

    The Scions make short work of the Saba garrison...indeed, the vast majority of Pontic soldiers do not need to fight at all. However feeble the Seleucid economy may be, they do not lack for agents, and Seleucid spies have been relentlessly sabotaging the Saba. Only a few dozen defenders remain...Antiphus' ballistae quickly scatter them to the winds. Dura is a bloodless conquest....bloodless for the Scions of Sinope, at any rate. The entire province of Syria is nearly in Pontic hands. I expect the Seleucid's decline to continue, and before long Palmyra will similarly revolt, or somehow fall prey to any rabble of desert banditry which may happen along. We will be there to reestablish order...and further extend Pontus' borders.

    Amompharetos, meanwhile, has continued into Saba territory. Mithridates' Chosen now put their desert capital of Marib under siege. Marib is a walled city, and strongest in southern Arabia. It is the key to conquest of the region. Ma'in and Mascat will easily fall once Saba Marib is taken. Amompharetos has heard of the exploits of Bacis' siege engineers in Thracia, and begins construction of his own "tortoise" engine for the assault on Marib.

    Aegean Theater:

    Glaukos, my kinsman and commander of the Sentinels of Hyperion, has been conferring with me. He articulates his view that Pontus need not postpone advances westward...or in any other direction we may desire...due to the campaign against the Arabian tribes. Glaukos believes, and forcefully argues, that Pontus is now the strongest power in the known world. The number and power of our armies is amply sufficient to spread Pontic imperial power in multiple directions simutaneously. Glaukos is indeed a fervent disciple of my own imperial vision, and chafes as much as his king to see the Greeks under Pontic dominion. I am convinced by Glaukos' ardent entreaty, and direct him to take charge of Pontic fortunes in the Aegean. He proposes to bring Knossos and Rhodos under Pontus' rule, even as we continue to prosecute the campaign into Arabia Felix.

    Serendipitously, events in Asia transpire give us an opening. Sardes rebels have sprung up in the country around Ephesus, and torment their recent Knossos masters. The Wrath of Zeus march against the rebels from Pergamon. Cleombrotos does not ask permission of Knossos to march in their territory, nor do our diplomats bother to attempt arranging military access. Our intent is to demonstrate to both rulers of Knossos and people of Ephesus where the true power of Anatolia resides. Cleombrotos advances toward the rebel army, and then pursues their retreat into the hilly terrain above the city. The rebels are brought to battle in a mountain pass leading towards our own town of Pessina. The slave hoplites meet our own, and the melee lasts on roughly equal terms for a while. Cleombrotos' blood is up, however, and he is not content to merely observe and direct the battle. His Bronze Shields play an integral part, first defending the siege artillery against rebel spearmen, and then making a resolute flanking attack upon the rebel hoplites. The Sardes rebels are defeated, and retreat wholly out of the Ephesus region, toward Ardiaei-controlled Side.

    Wrath of Zeus battle with Sardes rebels near Ephesus

    Our intent, of course, was not to altruistically solve the Knossans' rebel problem for them. We have demonstrated Pontic power to eradicate a threat which their own might or other means could not. In so doing, Cleombrotos has also camped the Wrath of Zeus directly outside Ephesus' walls. Having exercised Pontic power against the rebel threat, Cleombrotos now demands the price...Pontic sovereignty. He invites Knossos to accept status as satrapy of Pontus. Not altogether unexpectedly, Knossos refuses. The show of force and diplomatic gambit is over...and have served their purpose. War is declared. Cleombrotos will continue to pursue the rebel remnant (primarily to ensure Pontic Pessina is not threatened), but when he is finished, he will besiege Ephesus.

    Meantime, Glaukos has landed with the Sentinels of Hyperion on the island nation of Rhodos. While not formally allied, Rhodos is closely aligned with Knossos, and they have warred together against other Aegean Greeks in the past. On the same day that Cleombrotos presents the satrapy ultimatum to Knossos, Glaukos does the same with Rhodos. The island nation likewise refuses, and also now finds itself at war with Pontus.

    Unlike Cleombrotos, Glaukos has no lingering rebel problem of which to dispose. The Sentinels of Hyperion immediately assault Rhodos. I would prefer, perhaps, that Glaukos had more prudently waited for one or both of our Pontic fleets to arrive...the Heralds of Triton have already sailed and even now draw close. Glaukos is hungry for glory, however, and does not wait. He advances with the help only of a Pontic spy. The Ears of the King does her job well enough...a Rhodan army is sabotaged, and rendered helpless to assist the garrison.

    Despite the immobilized Rhodan army, the Sentinels of Hyperion are still heavily outnumbered. In addition to the robustly sized garrison and small garrison fleet, there is also a second Rhodan field army (the Hammers of Hephaistos) and fleet immediately at hand. Taken all together, Glaukos is outnumbered roughly 3 to 2. Rhodan military technology, moreover, is not so far behind Pontus' own. They count a fair number of hoplites among their garrison and defending field army. Glaukos is undeterred. He may face hoplites, as well as a much larger total force...but he also knows that the Rhodan numerical superiority comes primarily from naval missile troops who will land to augment the garrison. This throng will be dangerous indeed if they have opportunity to loose their javelins and arrows from secure position, but will be readily dispersed once their own infantry is broken. Glaukos pitches forward against seemingly long odds, but confident that in fact it is the Sentinels who have the advantage. We shall see....

    The initial stage of the assault do not go well. Glaukos forms the hoplites into an assault column, and then seeks to open the battle by wearing down the Rhodan defenders with ballista, arrow, and javelin. The siege artillery does well enough, causing significant casualties among opposing infantry. The peltasts and archers, however, have markedly poor effect...rather unprecedented. Perhaps it is because the militia hoplites have stronger armor than most foes we have faced before. Or it may be a result of the deceptively steep slope of the approach into the city outskirts, which leaves our missileers firing from a lower elevation and reducing the effect of plunging fire. Most likely a combination of both factors. As it may be....the result is the same. Our missile troops have been ineffective in reducing the numbers and morale of the more numerous Rhodan defenders.

    Glaukos has acted rashly in taking on superior numbers without waiting for soon-available naval support. His missile troops have uncharacterstically failed to help even the odds. Now he will stake his fortunes (and indeed, perhaps his head...this was all his idea to begin with...) on the nine phalanxes of Pontic hoplites and two squadrons of noble blood cavalry, who must enter the city and overcome the by-now 4-to-1 numerical odds. There is one saving grace, however, from the initial missile barrage. The Sentinel ballista early felled the Rhodan general...a crucial stroke of luck, which will no doubt be of great value.

    The Sentinels of Hyperion march forward into Rhodos, initially climbing a small rise to reach the outskirts of the city and the waiting Rhodan infantry. Rhodan javelins begin to fly as our hoplites advance within range. Undeterred, Glaukos' hoplites continue to close the distance, and melee battle is joined. First three, then four, then five phalanxes are engaged. Additional Rhodan infantry, primarily militia hoplites but also sword-armed melee infantry, continue to appear, previously hidden amongst the buildings. Huge numbers of Rhodan javelin units, heavily augmented by disembarked naval troops, rain fire upon the Sentinels. Soon all nine phalanxes are engaged...Glaukos has no more infantry reserves.

    The Sentinel hoplites prove their worth this day...probably the sternest test ever placed before them. Outnumbered or no, their armor is superior, deflecting the vast majority of hurled javelins landing amidst them. The hoplites' morale is buoyed, moreover by Glaukos' presence among their ranks with his Bronze Shield guard. The Rhodan infantry's own commander, meanwhile, had already fallen before the melee began. Individual units begin to break, but are replaced by more infantry behind. The battle continues to rage, but slowly the Sentinel phalanxes begin to push further into the town. The Noble Blood cavalry has looped to the west of Rhodos, have entered via alternate route, and now begin charging into the massed Rhodan missile troops behind the weakening infantry wall. The horsemen's appearance is a breaking point, for both Rhodan melee and missile infantry alike. Their will breaks en masse...even among units previously only lightly engaged. Resistance collapses, and Rhodos is surprisingly little cost given the scale and odds of the battle. Glaukos has walked up to the edge of the precipice...his own head forfeit with one misstep...and has triumphed.

    Sentinels of Hyperion hoplites advance into Rhodos, up a small but deceptively steep slope

    Rhodos: Initial point of melee contact

    The Sentinels and Wrath are not the only Pontic armies besetting Aegean Greeks. The Defenders of Trapezon have sailed from Thracia to join Glaukos' campaign. At the time war is declared upon Knossos and Rhodos, Bacis' army is encamped outside Hieraptyna, the Knossan capital on the island of Crete. The Defenders of Trapezon promptly assault the town. The Knossan garrison is not insignificant, but no field armies or seagoing fleets bolster the defense as at Rhodos. Pontic missile troops, moreover, achieve their customary effectiveness here, while ballistae decimate the garrison. The hoplite phalanxes enter the city and quickly rout the weakened defenders. Knossos' capital is conquered. I have been somewhat leery of Bacis in the past...but the general has certainly performed without blemish here in Crete.

    Defenders of Trapezon ballistae in action at Hieraptyna

    Hieraptyna: A birds' eye view of Bacis' assault disposition

    And so Glaukos is fulfilling his ambitions in the Aegean. Knossos has lost its capital, and will soon see its largest city taken by Cleombrotos, who even now besieges Ephesus. Perhaps they will see now the wisdom of accepting Pontic satrapy...although I'm not sure I will again extend such offer. Rhodos has not even that possibility, reduced to a few orphaned remnants afloat in Mediterranean. In Arabia Felix, armies converge upon the Saba, Ma'in, and Mascat. Mithridates' Chosen will assault as soon as Amompharetos' tortoise is completed. I, Charidemos, am now past my 60th year...only fate will tell if I will live to see the destruction of these enemies fully completed. I am satisfied, however, that such destruction is now inevitable. With men such as Antiphus, Cleombrotos, and Glaukos...and perhaps even quirky Bacis...I am content that Pontic imperial power will continue to expand.
    Last edited by Bramborough; 10-17-2013 at 07:22.

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  25. #25

    Default Re: Eastern Hegemony: Pontus AAR

    Part XII

    Pontic imperial power expands: Key conquests in Anatolia and Arabia Felix

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Several walled cities now stand before Pontic armies. Amompharetos has completed his tortoise, and is ready to assault the Saba capital of Marib in Arabia Felix. In Asia, Cleombrotos likewise has finished his preparations for attacking Knossos-held Ephesus. Evandros, with the Sons of Troy, is but a few days' march from arriving at rebel-held Tarsus, the recent Seleucid capital in Cilicia. Meanwhile, Poseidon's Justice nears the end of recruiting at Charmuthas, and will soon begin establishing Pontic dominance on the Sinus Arabica. I make preparations to begin marching with the Champions of Amasis down the long western coast of Arabia toward the Ma'in port at Eudaemon. The south Arabian factions have begun making repeated entreaties for peace....and, of course, are rebuffed. These impertinent desert folks have remained a thorn in the Hellenic flank for far too long...if the Seleucids have not been able to resolve their banditry, Pontus will.

    Mithridates' Chosen are assisted by a Drangianian contingent for the assault upon Marib. The Saba have overcommitted to campaigning elsewhere in the Arabian peninsula, and Amompharetos finds the city rather under-defended. The attack is straightforward, uncomplicated, and of modest cost. As at Pulpudeva, the tortoise ponderously approaches, but then quickly breaches the city's wall. Mithridates' Chosen hoplites pour through the opening, the relatively small garrison quickly routed. The capital of Arabia Felix is now Pontic territory; the smaller Ma'in and Mascat settlements cannot further withstand us for long.

    Things do not go quite so smoothly at Ephesus. Cleombrotos sets his onagers to destroy missile towers in the vicinity of the targeted breach point. The siege engines accomplish the task, but come under Knossan scorpion fire themselves. Loss of life is very light, but two onagers are destroyed. More troubles follow. With missile towers neutralized, the tortoise begins moving toward the wall...but becomes fouled in a small grove of trees. The hoplites maneuver the engine to and fro, but cannot break free. The tortoise is out of the fight. Cleombrotos had intended to hold the onagers' remaining ammunition for use against the city's defenders, but is now compelled to use them for initial breach. Once the mishap is thus resolved, the remainder of the assault proceeds as steadily as at Marib. Ephesus is ours....and most important, Asia is now unified under Pontus' rule. Establishment of the Pontic province is formally proclaimed.

    [Lesson learned: when using a tortoise, ensure the terrain in front of the damn thing is completely flat and open. It hung up here on just a couple of skinny trees...not a "forested" area at all.]

    Mithridates' Chosen tortoise breaches the wall at Marib

    Ephesus: Wrath of Zeus hoplite column approaches the breach lately opened by their onagers

    Meanwhile, Evandros with his Sons of Troy arrives at Tarsus and begins preparation for assault. As is becoming Pontic "standard" siegecraft, his engineers construct a tortoise as well. The odds are not against Evandros, but are much more even than faced at Marib or Ephesus. The Sons of Troy are the equal of any Pontic host in quality of arms and barracks training. The Sons, however, are but lately formed, unblooded in battle, and lack the veteran experience of such armies as the Lykoi or Mithridates' Chosen. The composition of the Sons of Troy, moreover, is somewhat experimental. Evandros has eschewed Pontus' standard missile troops, and opted instead for the increased mobility and flexibility of horse skirmishers. Perhaps this innovation would indeed prove its worth in the open desert of Arabia or Africa...but I fear that a city assault may not be the most advantageous debut for these mounted troops. We shall see.

    Rebel-held Tarsus, meanwhile, is strongly defended, not only by its significant garrison but also a full-sized rebel army, equal in numbers to the Sons of Troy. The rebel host consists of some quality troops, featuring some strong pike units and, most interestingly, a very high proportion (roughly 40%) of Citizen and Tarantine melee cavalry. It remains to be seen whether the rebel commander can use these horsemen to full effect within the confines of city streets, but it is clear regardless that the Sons of Troy have a hard fight ahead of them.

    The assault opens according to plan, with Evandros' tortoise dutifully opening a breach in Tarsus' walls. Onagers widen the breach, so that the Sons of Troy may enter the city three phalanxes abreast. The hoplites then move forward. The rebel garrison does not contest the hoplites' actual entry over the wall's rubble, but wait to engage another few hundred yards within. Once joined, the battle is fierce. Citizen and Tarantine cavalry fall upon the hoplites' front. Tactically disadvantaged vs spear infantry, the rebel horsemen are nevertheless well-armored and stout-hearted. Our hoplites are able to avoid heavy casualties, but neither can they break the cavalry's morale nor make forward progress in the restricted space filled with horsemen. Temporary tactical stalemate.

    Evandros sends a contingent of three phalanxes left-ward, to find an alternate route through the city streets and flank the cavalry defense. These hoplites find such a route, and move in upon the struggle. They are met by yet more rebel cavalry, and a similar situation ensues. Hoplite vs cavalry in two locations, neither inflicting many casualties nor breaking in spirit. The struggle continues. Meanwhile, Evandros' horse skirmishers have entered the city, attempting to help break the stalemate. They do not perform well. Their javelins have little effect against strongly armored rebels. Our skirmishers themselves are lightly armored, and suffer at the hands of rebel missile infantry. The greatest challenge, however, is the confined nature of the battlefield. The horse skirmishers cannot use their high mobility to good effect, and the size of their spread-out formation proves overly cumbersome, constantly mixing with Pontic hoplites and interfering with our own forces' movement. The new horse skirmishers prove quite adept at taking casualties and sowing confusion among Pontic movement...but little else. Evandros orders the skirmishers back outside the city walls, if only to simplify his own tactical problems.

    Meanwhile, the hoplites begin to make some headway against their mounted opposition. They push forward just enough to gain a small space on the right, and begin a flanking attack to envelop the rebel cavalry. Their position turned, the rebel horsemen begin to crack. The secondary rebel position begins to crack as well, and soon both hoplite fronts converge and advance into a common small plaza. At this point the rebel commander commits a strong force of pikemen to the fray. Another melee, this time spear-vs-spear, ensues. These pikemen, however, while well armed, do not possess quite the same spirit as their mounted colleagues. This struggle, while fierce enough in nature, does not last as long. Soon the hoplites advance yet again, but now face only a few missile infantry remnants, easily disposed of. Tarsus, the capital of Cilicia and recently capital of the Selucid Empire, is now ours.

    Tarsus: Sons of Troy meet cavalry opposition in initial contact

    Tarsus: The hoplite flank movement meets additional rebel cavalry

    Tarsus: Rebel pike infantry enter the fray

    Tarsus: Evandros and his Bronze Shield guard during the final stages of the assault

    It has been a hard-fought battle, and the Sons of Troy have taken unusually high casualties. One hoplite phalanx, stationed on the far right to guard against a flank attack, escaped Evandros' attention for a time, and was destroyed by missile fire. The horse skirmishers proved ill-fitted to city assault (predictably enough), and their lack of capacity robbed the hoplites of effective missile support during the critical stages of battle. I remain open to the likelihood that these troops may yet excel in open terrain, and we will fight often in such circumstances. The cold truth, however, is that Pontic imperial power ultimately rests on the subjugation of walled enemy capitals; every Pontic host must be well-organized for this crucial task. I order Evandros to remain at Tarsus long enough to establish some order and allow his most heavily-damaged units to recover a bit...but then to disband his horse skirmishers and march the Sons of Troy back to the Bosporus for reorganization.

    This last item brings up a growing problem. In the days of my predecessors, Bosporus was a fine recruiting ground, with our capture of excellent Cimmerian barracks facilities. Even today, Phanagoria and Tanais produce superior armies, while the building ways of Panticipaeum and Phasis launch powerful ships for the strongest navy in the known world. This world-class "mother of armies", however, remains on the northern fringe of our territory. As the Pontic empire (my nobles persist in demanding only a lower-case "e" in such a term) expands, our new armies must march (and new fleets sail) further and further to the active frontiers. I desire a more central location for the raising of new hosts.

    Nabatea may be is large but not overly rich; I don't believe I would impact Pontic prosperity overly hard to convert this province into a vast desert training ground. From Nabatea, armies can march either east toward Mesopotamia, west toward Libya/Africa, and have ready access to the nearby ports of Alexandria and Tylos. This must remain but a vision for a while, as Nabatea's settlements must grow further to reach the capacity to support. But the vision is articulated, for successors to implement. As for a new naval power base, the centrally-located Mare Carpathium seems ideal. I take the decision to establish such now, ordering the conversion of Ephesus and Hieraptyna to military ports.

    Many seasoned Pontic leaders are by now advanced in age, and this year in particular the boatman culls deeply. Stalwart Cleombrotos, redeemed Bacis, and the admiral Euneas all travel onward to the next life. My nephew Dmetor takes command of the Wrath of Zeus, while the aristocrats Hippolytos and Anytios ascend to leadership of the Defenders of Trapezon and Scylla's Terror, respectively.

    We enter a period of "mop-up" for a short time. Pontic armies continue to engage small but irksome Saba forces ranging the Arabian desert. My Champions of Amasis defeat the perhaps ill-named Warriors of Fortune near Charmuthas, while Ptolemaeus' Lykoi destroy a second Burning Sands host near Adummatu. My Ears of the King, Aspasia, keeps the largest Saba force, Apedemark's Pride, immobilized by sabotage for several seasons, suffering attrition in Seleucid territory, before the Scions of Sinope advance from Yahtrib to ambush and destroy this Saba host as well.

    The Heralds of Triton, led by Artemios, pursue and destroy the landless Rhodan's remnant fleet, the Champions of Amphritite. The Defenders of Trapezon embark at Hieraptyna for a seaborne attack on Rhodos' last army, the Harpy's Claws, off Crete. The Claws are likewise destroyed, and the Rhodos faction dies with them. Meanwhile, the persistent Sardes rebels near Ephesus have reappeared, now much larger, and taken to ships. They now raid in the Mare Carpathium, presenting an opportunity to finally rid ourselves of this substantial nuisance under favorable circumstances. Anytios sails with Scylla's Terror to engage the Sardes. Once more the power of Sokrates' and Cyncus' naval wisdom is demonstrated with terrible clarity...the entire Sardes transport fleet is destroyed without loss of Pontic life.

    Sardes rebel fleet destroyed off Ephesus

    At last we are ready to proceed further in Arabia. Amompharetos leads Mithridates' Chosen towards the Mascat port of Maas-gat, and raids the countryside upon entering their territory (my treasurers rejoice at this). Marib remains restless, and Arabia Felix will no doubt undergo further turmoil during our campaign, so the Lykoi occupy the city to maintain order. After a long sojourn in Charmuthas overseeing our naval developments and guarding against southern attack, I finally begin marching south with the Champions of Amasis toward Ma'in Eudaemon. Finally, our new fleet Poseidon's Justice sails forth upon the Sinus Arabica.

    Poseidon's Justice encounters two large Saba naval fleets (hmm where did they build them...Marib is landlocked...). Our fleet is sorely bereft of heavy artillery, but as foreseen, the same is true of the Saba armadas, composed primarily of light missile ships. Poseidon's Justice' advantage lies primarily in moderately stronger hulls...otherwise the fights are equal. This advantage is enough...Poseidon's Justice prevails in both battles, and the Saba are destroyed. Victory has come at Pyrrhic cost, however, and our fleet is gravely weakened; the durable hulls have withstood the test, but are now manned by skeleton crews. New seaborne forces from Ma'in advance into the Sinus Arabica and Poseidon's Justice is compelled to retire back to Charmuthas.

    If the Ma'in continue to voyage toward Charmuthas, there is little our fleet could do. Instead I must compel them to reverse course toward home, by continuing the land advance upon Eudaemon. The Champions of Amasis march well, and reach the port settlement in good time. My Eye of the King Dakka (a Ma'in turncoat...sordid folk, these spies...) has reported substantial Ma'in forces at Eudaemon, and indeed upon arrival, I find a challenge similar to that faced by Glaukos at Rhodos. Eudaemon has a worthy land and naval garrison, reinforced by a field army and a large sea fleet, the Spice Masters. Dakka wrecks the Ma'in field army's baggage train and renders them incapable of reinforcement, but a large force remains...larger than the Champions of Amasis.

    I know, however, that the large Ma'in defense will be disproportionately manned by disembarked naval missile troops, as at Rhodos. My hoplites outnumber the garrison's melee and spear infantry...once these are broken, mop-up of the javelineers will be easy enough. The Ma'in, of course, also have no siege artillery, while my ballistae, as always, will have their say about the course of the battle. Finally, the Ma'in ships will need to disembark their missile hordes on beaches outside town...I resolve to let the Noble Blood cavalry loose upon them. The Champions of Amasis, outnumbered in total as they may be, are in fine shape for this fight. The assault begins.

    We begin the assault using standard Pontic tactics. The hoplites form their usual assault column, 3 phalanxes abreast, and await the order to advance. Peltasts and archers stand ready to take the central Ma'in defense position under fire. The ballistae begin lobbing heavy stones into the Ma'in defenders. As expected, the enemy ships beach themselves, and additional javelineers disembark to stream into the town. The majority of ships beach well north of the city, and their crews have a relatively long - and exposed - distance to cover before reaching the safety of the town and support from their infantry. No more enticing target could possibly be imagined for my bloodthirsty cavalry...the Noble Bloods charge.

    Not knowing which flank in advance the Ma'in javelins would disembark, I have placed the Noble Bloods on the far side (south) of the army...they themselves have a long distance to cover. I must also confess that I give the order to release them perhaps a few moments late. As a result, a few javelin troops enter the city before the Nobles reach them. Even so, the slaughter is immense, and the ravenous Noble Bloods eat their fill of hapless javelinmen this day. The cavalry charge impacts just at the town's edge, and soon several Ma'in javelin units are isolated and utterly destroyed. Hundreds of javelineers lie trampled on the outskirts of Eudaemon.

    Meanwhile, we begin the central advance. Peltasts and archers rain fire on the Ma'in defenders, while the hoplite column advances. The phalanxes advance under missile fire, but are well-armored and, shields held high to deflect, escape serious damage. Events proceed according to plan. The missile fire weakens and disheartens the Ma'in infantry, who soon break once the hoplite front makes contact. Noble Bloods' devastating attack notwithstanding, substantial missile troops have made their way into town from the wharves and the south beach. Without infantry protection, however, they are soon cleared. Eudaemon, with its fine port, is conquered. The strong Ma'in forces afloat in the Sinus Arabica are now orphaned, with no safe haven.

    Eudaemon: Noble Blood cavalry begin their slaughter of missile troops on the northern outskirts

    Eudaemon: Pontic peltasts in action against the Ma'in

    Eudaemon: King Charidemos leads the Champions of Amasis' hoplite column into the assault

    And so Pontic imperium continues to advance. With Amompharetos advancing upon the last holdout settlement at Maas-gat, soon the Arabia Felix campaign will be complete. I am an old man, and this may be my last war. That is, however, for the Fates to decide. Until the boatman calls for me, I shall continue to lead the Champions of Amasis, and push our other armies, towards further Pontic conquest. Whither that may be, I do not yet know. The long-suspended Nasamone war may be rekindled. Perhaps it will be time to complete our assertion of primacy throughout the Greek world, by compelling Athens and Macedon to go the way of Knossos and Rhodos: satrapy or war. Alternatively, the time may arrive to finally dispel the long-tenuous fiction of Seleucid "empire" and expand towards the east.

    One much-less-welcome conflict looms...perhaps still far distant, but approaching nearer nevertheless. Pontic aristrocracy is restless. Heretofore a mere semantic nuisance, political friction deepens daily over this question of "Kingdom or Empire". So much emotion in mere words. My noble generals continue to serve loyally and lead their hosts with ability (well...perhaps with the exception of Evandros...). The aristocratic class at large, however, is reactionary, and opposes continued Pontic expansion. The very word "empire" serves as lightning-rod for heated political discord. Aging as I am, I will be dead before this discord is transformed into action. Yet I foresee a day when a successor, perhaps even Antiphus himself, must contend with a threat graver - and more saddening - than any faced by Pontus since the days of Prokopios: Pontic Civil War.
    Last edited by Bramborough; 10-17-2013 at 07:20.

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  26. #26
    Senior Member Senior Member Ibn-Khaldun's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastern Hegemony: Pontus AAR

    This is interesting to read. Might even buy the game just because of the story.

  27. #27

    Default Re: Eastern Hegemony: Pontus AAR

    Quote Originally Posted by Ibn-Khaldun View Post
    This is interesting to read. Might even buy the game just because of the story.
    Haha, maybe CA should give me a kickback. Seriously though, thanks for the thumbs-up. Much appreciated.

  28. #28

    Default Re: Eastern Hegemony: Pontus AAR

    Part XIII (Two Sections)

    Final Years of Charidemos: Triumph in the Mediterranean

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    The Arabian campaign approaches culmination, as Mithridates' Chosen continue toward Maas-gat, raiding enroute. Glaukos continues to push forward against Knossos. Our fleets sweep enemies before them. I am in the deep winter of my reign, but my heart is gladdened at the march of Pontic armies. Mascat makes a final entreaty for peace...and only now have the scales fallen from their eyes. They offer to submit to satrapy. It is too late; Mascat is rebuffed.

    Despite our capture of Eudaemon, a few Ma'in forces remain at large. Their host Merchants of Death lands upon the western Arabian shore and marches inland towards the desert. Antiphus ambushes this army near Yathrib, and the Scions of Sinope utterly destroy the Merchants. Meanwhile a remnant naval fleet, the Sea People, lies off Eudaemon itself. I embark the Champions of Amasis in transports and engage the warships; they too are swept away. This leaves one final army afloat in the Sinus Arabica; the last Ma'in host are the Dread Nomads. With their destruction, the Ma'in will be fully exterminated. A recovered Poseidon's Justice sails forth from Charmuthas. Archilaus' missile ships easily destroy the remnant Nomads. The Ma'in are vanquished.

    Destruction of final remaining Ma'in forces upon the Sinus Arabica: the view from Anchilaus' flagship

    Pontic forces achieve multiple victories in the Mediterranean as well. A Knossan army afloat, Might of Heracles, threatens Hieraptyna and Rhodos. Aptly-named Scylla's Terror intercepts and annihilates the transport fleet off the easternmost cape of Crete. Pontic fleets surge forward into the Ionian Sea, while Pontic armies embark to cross the Aegean to mainland Hellas. Military access is arranged with Athens to facilitate attack into Knossos-held Sparta.

    Ares' Fury has sailed from the Bosporus and landed in Attica. Demades now leads his host over the isthmus into Knossos territory. Meanwhile, Glaukos lands with the Sentinels of Hyperion in southern Sparta, near the city itself. An enemy host is in fortified encampment on the Peloponnese, near the Gulf of Corinth. This is the main Knossan force in the region, Sparta city itself held only by its garrison. Demades will march on the encamped host, while Glaukos' Sentinels will advance upon the city.

    Demades Ares' Fury finds the Knossan encampment atop a broad plateau above the gulf. This host is Ares' Terror. We shall see this day whether the war god's Terror or Fury is the stronger. This action will be the first for Demades' newly raised army. Ares' Fury is relatively light in standard hoplites, the difference replaced by several units of Thureos Spears. Demades has made this innovation with the tactical concept of using faster, harder-attacking Thureos on the flanks for enveloping attacks against foes fixed in place by the better armored hoplites. This Battle of the North Peloponnese will be the first time Pontic Thureos see combat...although the encampment attack may not offer opportunity for fully testing Demades' tactical vision.

    Demades' onagers open the battle...and do the vast bulk of the work before any others among Ares' Fury engage. The powerful siege engines bash away well over 100 yards of the western palisade...and kill hundreds of Ares' Terror in the process. Pontic peltasts rain flaming javelins upon the wooden walls and defenders as well. Demades' troops wait patiently, unthreatened, while the Knossan host is engulfed in chaos and terror. When at last the onagers and javelinmen have hurled their last, nearly half the enemy are dead, and the remainder on the verge of flight. The hoplites and thureos calmly advance in line toward the battered fort to finish the affair. A short clash takes place, infantry of both sides struggling with uncertain footing among the strewn bodies of artillery carnage. The melee does not last long before the remaining defenders break and flee towards the Gulf of Corinth. Noble blood cavalry chase down a few straggling routers, and the victory is complete. Knossan military power in the Peloponnese, tenuous to begin with, is now firmly broken.

    Peloponnese: Carnage in the Knossan encampment. The defenders continue to take onager fire.

    Peloponnese: Ares' Fury infantry line advance upon the encampment. First use of Pontic Thureos Spears in battle.

    Peloponnese: Final melee at the Knossan encampment

    With Ares' Terror defeated, Glaukos marches directly upon Knossos-held Sparta. The garrison is clearly overmatched, consisting primarily of spearmen, slinger, and mob. There may be a draft hoplite unit among them, perhaps. Nevertheless, their commander has valor (if not brains). The garrison sallies out and meets the Sentinels of Hyperion outside the town. The brave troops advance upon the Sentinels, who have taken up position on a rather steep hillcrest. The enemy charge is received and broken. Foolhardy Knossan courage ebbs quickly once met with Pontic iron. Cavalry rampage among routed troops streaming back to the town. Sparta is ours...the first Pontic possession in mainland Greece.

    Sparta: Sentinels of Hyperion meet the Knossan garrison's charge

    The Defenders of Trapezon, led by Hippolytos, sail up the western Greek coast toward Knossos-held Apollonia, protected and supported by Scylla's Terror. Hippolytos lands his army on a nearby beach and forms up the Defenders for assault on the town. As events transpire, it is an assault which never takes place. Hippolytos, in time-tested fashion, first bombards the town's defenders with onagers, achieving the accustomed success. Before proceeding with the conventional archer/peltast fire before hoplite advance, however, Hippolytus confers with fleet commander Anytios...and a new naval innovation is born for the Pontic navy. Hippolytos bides time outside the town while the heavy artillery ships and archer-manned vessels of Scylla's Terror are brought to bear. Anytios does not debark his crews, but rather rows his vessels close to shore and then maintains position with bare steerageway. Many of the garrison are within range of his seaborne archers, while all are easily within range of the marine ballistae. The garrison is pounded relentlessly with stone and fire. Scylla's Terror inflict many casualties...but more importantly, cause the remainder of the defenders to break and flee. Apollonia is taken, with the Defenders of Trapezon having only to walk into the vanquished town as occupiers rather than attackers. Only seven Pontic lives have been lost.

    Apollonia: Scylla's Terror bombarding the garrison while Defenders of Trapezon remain in position outside town

    Scylla's Terror have captured Apollonia almost wholly on their own, through the unexpected success of a tactical stratagem improvised on the spot by the army and fleet commanders. When Sokrates and Cyncus reinvented Pontic naval doctrine and organization nearly 50 years ago, naval power at sea against enemy naval forces was their focus. It has since been thought among our admirals (including venerable Cyncus himself) that the new Pontic fleets remained poorly equipped for projecting power ashore, and were capable of playing only a secondary support role in capturing settlements. This may remain true for walled coastal capitals. Anytios gives us ample cause, however, to re-examine this assumption in the case of smaller, less well-defended ports.

    The push against Knossos continues. The lone remaining Knossan settlement is Syracusae, on the island of Sicilia. Anytios promptly grasps the divine opportunity provided, doubtless by Poseidon himself. Despite the Sentinels of Hyperion being only a short sail behind, Scylla's Terror presses ahead in the Mare Ionium, intent on capturing the port town without support. Numerically, the odds are steep indeed, as Syracusae is defended not only by a worthy garrison but a small Knossan field army as well. The soothsayers augur unfavorably, predicting less than 1 chance in 5 for Pontic success. Anytios, however, is a man to place trust in artillery rather than omens. The bombardment begins.

    The admiral divides his fleet into 3- and 4-ship squadrons each under a trusted lieutenant, for purposes of concentration of fire on designated targets. The archer-manned vessels row in as close to shore as possible without beaching. Anytios directs all the archers to use whistling shot...his object being to break morale and rout the garrison rather than inflict the maximum casualties possible. The artillery squadrons range themselves only a little further out, the entire town well within their long reach. Both archers and ballistae fire with superb effect. The town's defenders, with no land assault threatening, focus their defense on repelling expected amphibious assault that does not come. This brings them within range not only of ballista-hurled stones but shrieking arrows as well.

    It is not totally one-sided. The short-range vessels necessarily must be close inshore in order to fire...this necessarily brings them within enemy range as well. Knossan archers take their own toll, and some of the Pontic archer vessels take substantial casualties. Anytios' flagship rows slowly among the forward line of his ships, the admiral maintaining morale as best he can. Nevertheless, the garrison units ashore begin to break, one by one. Anytios' attack is working, his concept sound....the question is now one not of tactics, but logistics. Many of Scylla's Terror, particularly archer vessels, begin to run short of arrows. It remains to be seen whether Anytios can complete this victory before his ships exhaust themselves of ammunition.

    A squadron of three archer ships expends their arrows, and Anytios directs them back to sea at safe range. Then another squadron runs out, and they retire likewise. One vessel which has been closest to shore and has taken the brunt of Knossan fire loses heart. Anytios begins to worry if he will lose this struggle, beaten not by Knossos but by his own dwindling ammunition stocks. And then...the last defending unit is finally shaken...wavers...and breaks. Heroic victory! A roar of triumph erupts in every ship among Scylla's Terror. Syracusae is captured; it is the first time that a settlement has been taken solely by an unsupported Pontic fleet (and it should also be noted, without disembarking a single man until after the enemy's surrender). Anytios has earned an immortal place in Pontic naval tradition, alongside that of Cyncus himself.

    Syracusae: The triumph of Anytios and Scylla's Terror

    Predictably enough, the renown and popularity of the navy steeply increases throughout Pontus. Hitherto every Pontic lad of worth burned to wield a hoplite they desire nothing but to sail in the footsteps of Cyncus and Anytios. Antiphus' own son, Prince Arybbas, clamors for the formation of another Pontic fleet. Youthful ardor aside, there is merit in his proposal. Anytios has shown what Pontic naval power can do...and nearly the whole length of the central and western Mediterranean yet lies before us. The new naval yards at Ephesus and Hieraptyna, moreover, have been completed...shall I now let them lie idle?

    Arybbas is commissioned to form and recruit a fourth Pontic fleet in the Mare Carpathium. The lad has a fine appreciation for Pontic naval heritage...he christens his armada the Argonauts of Cyncus, in honor of the famous admiral. I almost countermanded this decree. However visionary and valiant the old lion of the waves may have been, he could not escape the unfortunate marine pun of his own name, much to the amusement of my courtiers and perhaps even myself. I could not bring myself, however, to dampen my young admiral's enthusiasm in the first hour of his command. Argonauts of Cycnus it is. I shall just call them "the Argonauts".

    Anytios brings Scylla's Terror alongside the wharves of Syracusae to replenish his archers. He confers with Artemios, however, for further naval moves. Neapolis in Italia, has fallen under rule of Latin rebels. Artemios, eager to follow Anytios' example, sails the Heralds of Triton north to take the town...about which little is known. Upon arriving Neapolis, however, enthusiasm is tempered by prudence. Neapolis may not be walled, but is much more strongly defended than either Apollonia or Syracusae. Not only does the port town boast a robust garrison, but is also the headquarters of a full-sized rebel army. Anytios has been buoyed, but not blinded, by Syracusae glory, and he has warned Artemios of the hard limits of naval ammunition stores. Artemios has listened, and recognizes that while he stands no danger of losing his fleet, its almost certain that he would indeed expend all of his missiles before breaking the last of this host, and then be compelled to sail away empty-handed. Reluctantly, the Heralds of Triton retire back to the Mare Ionium.

    Final Years of Charidemos: Victory...and the desert

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    During these naval feats in the Mediterranean, our campaign in Arabia has not been idle, and features some naval highlights of its own (albeit, regrettably, not Pontic). Amompharetus, after raiding throughout Mascat lands, brings Mithridates' Chosen up before their small port capital at Maas-gat. Capture of this settlement will deprive the Mascatis of their only city, and will unite Arabia Felix under Pontic rule...the completion of my Arabian campaign begun so many years before. The Mascat capital is unusually defended. It has a typical garrison and small garrison fleet, as well as a substantial field army (Mascat's last), the Stone Breakers. The odd circumstance is that the Stone Breakers are embarked afloat, and functioning for the moment as a fleet. Amompharetos expects that they will disembark upon his approach and add their numbers to the garrison to resist Mithridates' Chosen. It will be a hard fight, but the general is well-versed in our proven town-assault tactics and is confident of victory. He forms the army outside Maas-gat and readies for the assault. Amompharetos' ballista dutifully opens fire. Predictably, the Stone Breakers' ships begin to approach the beach for unloading troops.

    Assistance comes from an unexpected quarter. Aria, satrapy of Seleucia (oddly enough...Aria being far larger and stronger than the Seleucids themselves) has stationed two strong naval forces off Maas-gat. One of these armadas is naval, the other a strong embarked army of their own. Aria is not directly allied with Pontus, but is very friendly due to our Seleucid alliance, and in any case, is at war with Mascat on their own. The Aria commanders elect to pitch their forces into this battle. It is reminiscent of the Ardiaei's intervention at Pulpudeva. The Aria fleet steers directly for the Mascati ships, while the Aria army itself begins disembarking its troops on the northern beach. Aria spear infantry begin streaming toward the town.

    The Stone Breaker ships abandon their debarkation attempt and turn about to meet the Aria fleet. A wild naval struggle commences just outside the harbor. The Aria manifestly practice a different naval doctrine than our own Cyncus-trained fleets. Their ships close for melee and crash in amongst the Mascati vessels. The naval combat itself is much in doubt...Aria and Mascati vessels alike fight, sink, break, and flee with equal measure. For Amompharetos, however, the crucial point is immediately clear: the Aria naval attack has prevented the Mascati Stone Breakers from landing their troops. Only the garrison itself stands between Mithridates' Chosen and the city center.

    Amompharetos cancels the remainder of his deliberate missile-barrage and immediately starts the hoplite column forward. His infantry find the Mascati garrison already struggling against Aria spearmen in the northern environs of the town. Again, the combat is equal is in no way clear that Aria will prevail. Again, however, it matters little; every dead Aria is a Mithridates' Chosen who lives to fight another day. The hoplites continue their march. Amompharetos' column meets a damaged spear unit and some javelineers who are easily swept aside. Archers and peltasts scurry alongside the hoplite column to provide missile cover. Finally the phalanxes reach the city center, and their nearly-intact formation occupies the city. Belatedly the Stone Breakers once more turn to the beach...they have indeed bested the Aria outside the harbor. But it is now too late. Amompharetos has captured Maas-gat. The Stone Breakers are now homeless and will soon wither away drifting on now-unfriendly waters. Arabia Felix is united under Pontic rule, and my Arabian campaign is complete.

    Maas-gat: Aria-Mascat naval combat outside the harbor

    Maas-gat: Mithridates' Chosen hoplite column enters the town

    The narrow Ormuz Strait connects the broad Mare Indicum from Sinus Persus. Maas-gat lies on the southern shore. Across the strait lies Harmozia, the coastal capital of Carmania. Eastern rebels have taken control of this town, and I sense an opportunity. Charmuthas, Eudaemon, and Maas-gat are all small ports. Accordingly, our naval power is limited to missile support ships, lacking artillery. For this reason, Poseidon's Justice, while hard-fighting and indeed successful, has lacked the true naval supremacy of our Euxine-built armadas...they have triumphed, but have also lost heavily in victory. Harmozia, however, is large enough to support the construction of the sorely needed ballista vessels, and would enable the establishment of true maritime power in the Mare Indicum and the Sinae Arabica and Persis. Surely the bordering Seleucid satrapies could have little cause to protest our putting down some rebels among their midst, could they?

    I intend to make this conquest myself, with the Champions of Amasis. I grow very long in the has been many years since young staff officers' affectionate quips about "the Old Man" became standard banter within my headquarters tents. Yet I still carry my armor-weight with ease and hold a pike true and steady. As long as this is so, I continue to expand Pontus' imperium at the very front. The Champions march quickly through Arabia Felix, and then embark to sail across the Ormuz to Harmozia.

    Meanwhile, I have been considering strategic options following the Arabian campaign now concluded, and have decided to unify Aegyptus and possibly Aethiopia under the Pontic imperial banner. The nobles and philosophers in Amaseia will continue to chafe at further imperial expansion, and will step up their intrigue. Frankly...I'm too old to care. Admittedly, Blemmyes has never given us cause for discord, and have been peaceful neighbors. It would be a tortured pretext indeed to justify marching upon them. Again...too old to care. The Blemmyes have committed crime enough in the eyes of an old imperialist long past inventing fictitious injuries...they occupy land, cities, and ports that I covet. If I covet, Pontus covets. And Pontus is now too strong to be denied, diplomatic niceties and domestic propaganda be damned. I dispatch Antiphus' Scions of Sinope and Ptolemaeus' Lykoi to Aegyptus, in preparation for war against Blemmyes.

    Immediately after embarking for Harmozia, however, events compel a change of plan. The grand Arabian campaign of Charidemos may not be quite complete after all. Aria had long held the old Gerrhean capital of Gerrha on the Sinus Persis. Gerrha is also the largest - and only walled - city in Arabia Magna. Now old Gerrhea arises anew in their historical capital...and the original aims of our Arabian pacification are compromised. While not at war yet, Gerrhea is a long-standing ally of vanquished Ma'in, Saba, and Mascat...they are hostile to all around them, Pontus and Seleucid satrapies alike. I alter course for both the Champions and Poseidon's Justice, steering now for Gerrha. I still intend to bring Harmozia under Pontic rule, and order Amompharetos to cross the Ormuz with Mitrhidates' Chosen to take the rebel capital.

    Mithridates' Chosen land and promptly besiege Harmozia. The capital is held by a strong rebel army bolstering its garrison. Amompharetos is, however, impatient...perhaps goaded a bit by the imperative order of an old and increasingly greedy king who wants to see Pontic banners above Harmozia's walls before he dies. My general orders immediate assault, without waiting for construction of the tortoise which served so well at Marib. Amompharetos is confident that his ballistae can open sufficient breach and suppress nearby towers. Once the Chosen hoplites are inside the city's walls, none will be able to stand before them.

    And so it transpires...but not without complication. The ballistae begin by reducing two missile-firing towers on either side of the northern gate, and then begins pounding the gate itself, nearly breaking it as well...until the specter which haunted Anytios at Syracusae becomes reality for Amompharetos. The ballista ammunition is expended, and Harmozia's battered gate still stands. Unlike newer onager-equipped hosts such as the Wrath of Zeus or Ares' Fury, long-active Mithridates' Chosen retains its original organization of only one artillery unit instead of two. Pontic military administrators (of whom ultimately I am the most senior, and must therefore take most blame) showed wisdom in providing new armies with sufficient engines...but have erred in not updating the organizations of older hosts. And now the butcher's bill for this oversight is laid before us.

    Amompharetos is reduced to the rather primitive tactic of burning down the massive wooden gate with flaming arrow and javelin, as if Pontus' professional soldiery were but a ragged band of half-naked savages mucking about in forested wilderness. Mithridates' Chosen are intact...perhaps prudence would dictate that the general retire for a time and return with properly prepared siege engines. But no, the words of my command remain, and Amompharetos loyally seeks to deliver Harmozia to his King. Now. The archers and peltasts advance.

    Mithridates' Chosen archers and peltasts perform their hazardous task with courage and effect. They must, of course, march within range of the rebel archers on Harmozia's ramparts in order to fire the gate. The importance of their target, moreover, prevents them from returning fire. The rebels loose arrows in safety, while many Pontic missileers fall on the open plain before Harmozia gate. Individual arrow flames are small, while the gate is large and thick...burning it away takes far too long. The gate finally succumbs...but at horrific cost to Amompharetos' peltasts and archers. Those who remain have expended their ammunition, and are shaken to the breaking point. It has been a hard - and perhaps unnecessary - sacrifice, but the missileers have valiantly executed their task. Harmozia's gate stands open.

    Now deprived of artillery and missile support, the hoplite column advances. A hard melee ensues as they enter the gate, and are set upon by rebel spears and horse. It is, however, as Amompharetos has foreseen; once entry is gained, the hoplites are irresistible. Lack of missile cover notwithstanding, Mithridates' Chosen prevail. Harmozia is ours, and Pontus now dominates the Ormuz strait on both shores. Just as important, the future strengthening of our regional sea power from Harmozia's docks is assured.

    Harmozia: Nearby towers reduced, ballistae pound the city's gate...ultimately without success

    Harmozia: Infantry melee inside the gate

    I am heartened by news of Amompharetos' victory. I myself now stand before the walls of Gerrha with the Champions of Amasis. Anchialus' Poseidon's Fury stands offshore. I give the Gerrhae not even an ultimatum nor demand for submission. My only diplomatic overture to these desert ruffians is the stone of a ballista. I may be just as guilty of impatience as Amompharetos; I do not prepare siege engines, while like Harmozia, this city is likewise bolstered by a large field army (albeit waterborne) as well as garrison. Yet the die is cast. I am in my 73rd year, and feel the boatman drawing near indeed. I march with my Bronze Shield guard as I did in my youth...but perhaps not as fast. My eyes are sharp as ever, and guide my spearpoint true...but sometimes the mind's eye is clouded. I cannot wait for siege engineers to tinker away for a year on rams or is a year I may not have remaining to me. I will deliver Gerrha to Pontus, and conclude this Arabian epilogue. Now.

    Mindful of Amompharetos' report on Harmozia, I order the ballistae to break Gerrha's gate first, before commencing reduction of nearby towers. The gate is indeed breached, and one tower neutralized, before the artillery is expended (like Mithridates' Chosen, the Champions are an older army and likewise have only one artillery unit). Poseidon's Justice has attempted to intercept waterborne troops and prevent their landing, but the Gerrhean troops were too close to shore and have debarked before Anchilaus' ships could bring them under fire. Well enough...we will kill them inside the walls. I send the ballista artillerymen to the rear to await news of our victory. The hoplite column, archers and peltasts accompanying, Noble Blood cavalry in support, begin the advance. Gerrha will soon be Pontus'.


    A Pontic army destroyed. A King fallen. A fleet severely mauled. Gerrha remains unconquered. It is the largest military debacle in Pontus' history...greater even than Praxiteles' disaster long ago in Galatia. And the first time a Pontic King has died in battlefield defeat rather than victory.

    I, Antiphus, King of Pontus, remain quite unclear about what happened to Charidemos and the Champions of Amasis inside Gerrha's walls. Only the artillery crews, who did not enter the city, survive. After the gate was opened, Charidemos and the Champions entered Gerrha, hoplites, then archers/peltasts, finally Noble Blood cavalry. The sounds of battle were fierce, with the King's increasingly strident entreaties for additional troops emanating from within. His final message to Archilaus: "We are few in numbers, as is the enemy. Victory still possible. We advance upon the citadel now. Debark and enter Gerrha without delay." No more detail is known.

    Archilaus and Poseidon's Justice made a valiant attempt to carry out Charidemos' last order. The ships debarked the archers along the long beach north of the city. Even if the Champions had truly met their end inside Gerrhae, there was reason to believe that they had so decimated the defenders that perhaps only a ragged handful might remain. The admiral's fervent hope was that his sizable force of archers might be able to overcome this remnant, despite lack of armor or melee weapons. He marched at a safe distance round the walls to the open gate, formed up, and went forward with his archers. Alas, it was a futile attempt, however courageous. The Champions of Amasis had indeed severely wounded Gerrha's defenders...almost mortally. Just enough dismounted horse archers and other missile troops, remained to man the walls near the gate...and were able to deliver sufficient fire to drive Anchilaus' unsupported archers back from the gate's threshold. Archilaus re-embarked the remaining troops and retreated back out into the Sinus Persis, while the lone surviving Champions - Charidemos' ballista engineers and some noncombatant camp followers, began a trek north through the desert toward Seleucid territory. The young aristrocrat Alcides finds himself in default charge of this ragtag band...I suppose he is now the Commanding General of the Champions of Amasis.

    Gerrha: Poseidon's Fury archers disembark for a brave but futile attempt to occupy the city

    Pontus has attacked many a large, well-developed city bristling with towers...yet defended by numerically smaller garrisons. We have likewise successfully captured multiple cities while opposed by hosts equal or even larger compared to our own. As I review the chronicles, however, I fail to find a prior case where a Pontic army, without prepared siege engines, assaulted a city which boasted both formidable layered fortifications AND a vast host defending within. This is the key to understanding what happened to the Champions of Amasis. I believe Charidemos' hoplites met and broke every unit with whom they came in contact...yet there were always more enemies behind them. All the while labyrinthine towers showered them with missiles from all directions. The armored hoplites, well armored and shielded as to be nearly impervious to most missile fire toward their front, vulnerably took fire from their rear as well...and could not rout enemies rapidly enough to dishearten the garrison and win the city. Finally, Charidemos must have found himself deep within Gerrha with but a remnant of loyal spears still standing with him, and led them in a final charge into Gerrha's citadel, hoping against hope that the defenders had dwindled as much as the Champions. It is now manifestly clear that they had not. In any case, it is done...the gods have willed it so.

    Charidemos was the greatest King in Pontus' history. Even alongside giants such as Prokopios and Ariobarzanes, Charidmemos looms larger. Seeing beyond the inherent limitations of Kingdom, he articulated a vision of Pontic empire...and then dedicated his reign to making this vision a reality. Despite his tragic end...he succeeded beyond even his own expectations. Pontus today is more than twice the size of Sokrates' realm. It stretches from Arabian desert to the island of Sicily, and from the Nile to the Euxine Bosporus. Pontic naval power, born of his father's wisdom, realized its full potential during Charidemos' reign. Will he be remembered for these many triumphs, rather than for his fall in defeat at Gerrha? That remains to be seen...but he certainly deserves such. Peace be to the memory of Charidemos.

    Author note:

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    In case anyone is wondering: No, I did not deliberately engineer a defeat just to throw a twist into the story. I straight-up got my butt still kinda dumbfounded by it. It happened pretty much as Antiphus was the first time I'd assaulted a pimped-out Level IV city defended by an approriate-sized garrison AND a full 20-unit army stack. The hoplites kept grinding through units, but more kept coming. Which would've been okay, except for the missile towers all over the place which kept whittling away. I gotta hand it to the AI. Perhaps by design, more probably just dumb luck, the defenders actually played somewhat smart. They didn't ALL rush me at the gate...if they had, I probably would've won. Instead I got led on a merry chase deeper and deeper into the city. Winning each individual clash...but always another group several hundred yards further. The final band of spear infantry and horse archers waited up at the top of the long ramp leading into the interior that point I finally realized "holy crap, I'm probably going to LOSE this thing!?!"

    With a younger general I might've tried at that point to back out of the walls...but Charidemos was old as dirt, so I decided to let him blaze out. Even though I had been expecting his demise every turn for almost ten years, I was still pretty upset about his death. Writing this AAR has really brought that "immersion factor" for me, and Charidemos as a personality (if perhaps not as an in-game general) had become one of my favorites, I guess just because I've been speaking with his voice for several installments now.

    Part of Antiphus' mystery about what happened is story logic...details would indeed be fuzzy when an army is annihilated. As an analogy, much of what happened at the Alamo or Little Bighorn remained conjecture for decades, and even today are subjects of debate. The bigger reason, however, is that I was too busy clicking away, increasingly desperate, to think about screenies, and then at the end was just too pissed off about Charidmemos' defeat and death to plow back through the replay (which wouldn't have gone the same anyway). I actually depend on the screenshots later to help me remember details about the various battles...heh, didn't really have any for this one.

    Last edited by Bramborough; 10-17-2013 at 07:54.

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  29. #29

    Default Re: Eastern Hegemony: Pontus AAR

    Part XIV

    The Reign of Antiphus: Charidemos avenged, and prelude to crisis

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    I am Antiphus, first of that name, and seventh King of Pontus. I sit the throne of Pontus following the death of my adoptive father Charidemos, who fell in the disastrous assault on the desert capital of Gerrha. In a series of great kings, Charidemos' accomplishments stood greatest...yet his legacy will be marred by this last defeat, brought about by an impetuosity which cost Pontus not only its king, but an entire army. It cannot be changed now. As I accept the crown, I have two overriding priorities set before me. First, it is imperative to avenge the defeat at Gerrha. Not just in Arabia, but in the eyes of the entire world, we cannot allow perpetrators of such a Pontic defeat to remain uncrushed. No treaty, even of submission to satrapy, can be countenanced. Gerrhea must be destroyed. Second, and perhaps ultimately more threatening, is a persistent problem which increasingly worried Charidemos into the final years of his reign: the discontent and opposition of Pontus' aristocracy and learned men.

    This political division deepens in intensity. The noble and priestly classes cherish Pontus' tradition as an independent kingdom, separate from neighbors, master of its own destiny but holding no others in thrall. It is a worldview increasingly disconnected in reality. Pontic power has been expanding and assimilating foreign peoples since the time of Mithridates himself. For generations proclamation and complacency served to paper over the differences. With the Syrian War of Sokrates, however, the undeniable fact of Pontic imperialism became too large to ignore. Charidemos embraced the vision of empire throughout his long reign, advocating its tenets at every opportunity...and making it further reality with the march of our armies. He alienated the majority of Pontic aristocracy in the process, driving a divide between throne and nobles. Revolt was avoided, in my view, by Charidemos' reputation. Imperialistic fervor aside, the King was regarded as the greatest Pontic of all time, even above quasi-legendary Prokopios, Praxiteles, and Ariobarzanes. Charidemos, moreover, cared remarkably little for domestic politics, and treated Mithridatic and non-Mithridatic nobles alike with equal respect and reward. The nobles opposed his vision...often bitterly...but respected the man, and loyally served their King.

    I do not have this reputation. While I fully share Charidemos' conviction regarding imperial expansion...I am not my father's son in avoidance of internal intrigue. I make no secret that I hold Mithridatic loyalty equal to Pontic loyalty. All know that I will not betray Pontus, but will do all in my power to advance my family's dominance within. Thus I have made many enemies even before becoming King. I hold respect enough, but am not blind to the fact that it is a respect born of fear and increasingly fraying tradition, rather than the personal admiration which Charidemos enjoyed. So be it. I cannot change this state of affairs. The time is past for trying, as my predecessors did, to avoid open conflict. My task, instead, is to prepare Pontus for the inevitable...and ensure that the Mithridatic dynasty prevails.

    And so to matters at hand...

    The Champions of Amasis...such few as remain...are still in great danger after the disaster at Gerrha. The ragtag band of artillerymen and noncombatant camp followers is stranded deep in the sun-baked wilderness, threatened not only by the Gerrheans but by the desert itself. However decimated the Horns of Gruzil may be from their Pyrrhic defense of the city, they would easily destroy Alcides' miniscule remnant. The young noble, however, has read military history and has remembered it well. Alcides recalls, from accounts of the Galatian Wars, how the battered Galatian Mountain Men hired mercenaries after defeat, and posed an unexpectedly strong threat to Sinope. He resolves to follow the Galatian example. Charidemos' soldiery may have fallen with him inside Gerrha...but their wages remain at hand, in chests of the King's Coin among the baggage train. Once Alcides' offer is proclaimed, news travels quickly, and a surprisingly robust force materializes out of the seemingly desolate desert. Almost immediately, Alcides finds himself leading Arabian spears and cavalry, camel archers, even some sort of desert sword infantry. A small, somewhat motley, certainly exotic manifestation of a Pontic army...but an army nevertheless. Certainly enough to forestall the depleted Horns of Gruzil. Alcides has done well.

    These new Champions of Amasis begin their trek out of Gerrhean territory. Alcides leaves the coastal road north of Gerrha and sets out over trackless waste into the Arabian interior. The desert sun takes its toll among the few Pontics, but has little effect upon the mercenary nomads. They finally emerge from the sands onto the Yathrib road, and Alcides force-marches the Champions for the border. The strange band reaches Pontic territory without running further afoul of Gerrhean forces. [This little episode brings to my mind Stillwell walking out of Burma in 1942.]

    Alcides has intended to hold these mercenaries long enough only to deliver him safely to Yathrib. Upon arrival, he would pay off the desert folk, and then begin the long trek back to Bosporus, there to reform the Champions of Amasis. Events do not transpire this way. Immediately upon hearing of the Gerrha debacle, I had recognized the void of Pontic power in an Arabian peninsula now threatened from hostile Gerrha. I turned to our most time-tested host, the Lykoi, and sent them back eastward from Aegyptus. Alcides now meets Ptolemaeus at Yathrib. The commanders realize that while the mercenary-manned Champions are of uncertain value as an independent army, it forms a powerful desert-mobile force to complement the stalwart Lykoi hoplites. The Arabians will remain in Pontic pay for a while longer yet. Soon after this conference, Ptolemaeus falls ill and dies. My nephew Cleisthenes, son of admiral Artemios, takes command of the Lykoi.

    Despite their victory in defense of their capital, the Gerrheans are not stupid, however hostile they may be. They see that defeat of a Pontic army, however brilliant a feat, is not the defeat of ten Pontic armies. Gerrhea also perceives how a fallen king quickly becomes a martyred king...and can inlame an entire people towards thirst for vengeance. Finally, they know full well that they cannot expect a Pontic general to make the same mistake twice before Gerrha's walls. The appearance of Lykoi co-joined with new Champions of Amasis at Yathrib goads them to action. Gerrhean envoys make entreaties for peace. Refused. Then peace and gold. Rebuffed. Finally...and truest indicator that they accurately recognize their predicament...the Gerrhean diplomats tell me that their lord desires to submit to Pontus, and become our satrapy. I do pause to consider....but no. The example must be set for the world, that none can expect to best Pontus and then live, even as slave. More practically, their strongly-walled capital dominates the western Arabian peninsula, and its port is the largest on the Sinus Arabica. Not only do I want the Gerrheans terribly punished...but I want their city as well. The Lykoi and Champions march for the border. (which doesn't quite sound right in the case of the Champions....what do camels do? Lope? Saunter?).

    Time has not frozen in place elsewhere. One Knossan fleet, the Vengeance of Atlantis, has remained at large, and sails near Syracusae. Artemios and the Heralds of Triton pursue, and bring the Vengeance to battle off the coast near Cosentia. The Knossan fleet is substantial in size, nearly as large as the Heralds. The supremacy of Pontic seaborne artillery, however, is once more demonstrated. The Vengeance of Atlantis are sent to the bottom...albeit not without the loss of several ships among the Heralds' screening force. The Heralds of Triton proceed to the Mare Carpathium, there to replace losses from the shipyard at Hieraptyna.

    Resilient Egypt, repeatedly "destroyed" but then rising anew, appears once more. Yet another Pharoahic descendant has emerged, and a new Egypt materializes at Myos Hormos. Charidemos foresaw this, and is proven correct. The closest Pontic army are my own Scions of Sinope. I march directly to the border, and then upon the nascent Egyptian capital. It is best to promptly excise this Egypt ignored is an Egypt mischievous. Already a small but quickly growing Egyptian army, the Sons of Zeus Ammon, bolsters the city's garrison. The Scions of Sinope assault relentlessly. We do not, as traditionally, wait for the end of siege bombardment, but instead aggressively advance while the onagers fire. I intend to bring the Egyptian defenders under as much simultaneous missile fire as possible to break their will quickly and totally. The hoplite column advances, to bring their menace to bear as well. The hoplites do not need to actually engage...the concentrated siege, arrow, and javelin fire completely breaks the Sons and the garrison. Myos Hormos is ours...and the new Egypt stillborn. Still...I suspect we may see them yet again.

    Myos Hormos: Scions of Sinope lay a heavy missile barrage on the Egyptian defenders

    Somehow I don't think this is the last time I'll be pasting this particular graphic into the AAR...

    With the capture of Myos Hormos, I sense a threshold is reached. It is difficult to quantify or even describe, but one feels a shift in ground underneath. Pontic unity is on the verge of breaking. The aristocratic opponents of empire are driven to their last reserves of restraint. For decades, each territorial expansion has incited increased dissatisfaction (even though all have enthusiastically partaken of the booty...the hyprocrites). Now...I feel that the next province taken, even the next single city captured, may be the final straw, igniting open rebellion. I must tread cautiously.

    Hmm...won't be long now...

    Without conferring or sharing my unease with advisors, I begin taking steps to prepare Pontus for the internal strife I sense near. First, I seek to place Mithridatic generals at the heads of as many armies as possible. I cannot do this wholesale, of family, while robust, is not inexhaustible. The army closest to Amaseia is Evandros' Sons of Troy, lately returned from Charidemos' ordered restructuring in Bosporus after the horse-skirmisher failure at Tarsus. Evandros himself remains under a bit of a cloud from this affair, and I believe I can sack him without too many ruffled feathers. My younger son, Prince Alexius, takes command of the Sons of Troy. He is exceedingly young, not yet 20, but already has wide reputation as a "born leader", and exerts august authority for a man of any age.

    Second, I begin a carefully disguised program of gradually pulling armies back toward the Pontic homeland. One cannot foresee where rebellion may be born...I would be unwise to maintain all our power on the far frontier, hundreds of miles from the capital. Wherever revolt may emerge, I intend to have loyal hoplites between such rebels and our capital, rather than chasing from the far edges of our territory. It will take some time to execute this shift; when complete, however, our forces will be stationed ready at most of the provincial capitals in and near the Anatolian peninsula: Ephesus, Ancyra, Nicomedia, Armavir, Mtskheta. In addition, Mithridates' Chosen will march from far Harmozia to the central Arabian peninsula, equidistant between Marib and Petra. I only hope that its commander Amompharetos remains loyal...aristocrat he may be, but he is certainly an enthusiastic proponent of empire. I myself bring the Scions from Myos Hormos back to Alexandria. Anytios concentrates Pontic naval power in the Aegean and Mare Carpathium.

    Finally, I order the forming of a new army, and proclaim it the Charidemos' Vengeance in honor of the late king, Pontus' greatest. It is to be commanded by Mithridatic kinsman Elephenor, son-in-law to Artemios. Charidemos' vision of shifting army recruitment to Nabatea has remained unimplemented (I really must talk to my ministers about initiating some progress on this plan). The mother of Pontic armies remains the Bosporus. Here the Vengeance will form, as has every Pontic host since the Champions of Amasis.

    Our Bosporus military complex has not lain idle in innovation. Charidemos' Vengeance will be the first Pontic army built around not a hoplite core, but instead Bronze Shield Pikemen, a culmination of phalanx tactics. I remain unconvinced myself...Bronze Shields have long excelled as bodyguard units, but their employment in large numbers seems uncertain to me. The Pikemen offer unprecedented steadiness and defense, but I am unimpressed with attack prowess. Offensive capability is to come from Pontic Swordsmen, I am told. Meanwhile, our Noble Bloods will be supplanted by spear-armed Royal Pontic Cavalry, purportedly with an unequalled, devastating charge. All well and good I long as the Royals are the attackers rather than the attacked. I am reluctant to discard reliance on time-tested hoplites and Noble Bloods. They have stood us in good stead for generations...I hope we are not being too hasty. One thing, however, does not change; this new experimental (in my mind) array will remain backed by onagers...a weapon in which I certainly have full trust and confidence. In any case, it will be up to Elephenor to win renown or embarassment in the fire-baptism of this new host.

    In Arabia, the Lykoi and Champions of Amasis cross the Gerrhean border, and begin raiding. Poseidon's Justice, with ship and archer losses replaced at Maas-gat, reenters the Sinus Persis. I send word to Cleisthenes to proceed very slowly in vanquishing the Gerrheans, even to the point of besieging Gerrha rather than quickly assaulting. Despite the fact that all Pontus clamors vengeance for Charidemos, I am convinced that Gerrha's capture will incense the anti-imperialist nobles, and open rebellion will erupt. I want Pontus' other armies in place before the city succumbs. Even now they sail from locations such as Syracusae and Apollonia back toward Ephesus, from there to spread out amongst Anatolia's fortress cities.

    The Lykoi and Champions proceed slowly along the Yahtrib-Gerrha road, devastating all in their path. There is not much worth destroying or stealing here in the already-desolate waste...but the soldiers garner enough booty to provide a temporary and welcome boon to the Pontic treasury nevertheless. At last Cleisthenes and Alcides arrive before Gerrha's walls. The city's defenders have recovered somewhat from Charidemos' assault (now nearly ten years past). My father's nemesis the Horns of Gruzil are here, embarked shipboard in the harbor. A new host, the Desert Winds, grows inside the city itself. Yet a third small Gerrhean army, Apedemark's Pride, camps outside Gerrha's wall, and then mysteriously vanishes into the southern desert as soon as Cleisthenes and Alcides appear.

    Cleisthenes' Lykoi promptly put Gerrha under siege, while the Champions of Lykoi continue raiding immediately outside the walls. The desert mercenaries prove remarkably adept at this activity...pillage no doubt being their primary activity whenever not under contract for their martial services. Poseidon's Justice moves in from the Sinus Persis and blockades the city, entrapping the Horns of Gruzil in harbor. The encirclement of Gerrha is complete and total. Cleisthenes knows he can successfully assault the city if he so chooses, even builds ram, ladder, and tortoise as prudence would dictate. He is mindful of my injunction to buy time, however, and in any case does not desire to expose his Lykoi to Gerrha's formidable layers of missile towers. Let the Gerrheans come out beyond their towers' protection if they desire decision by sword rather than starvation. Cleisthenes is content to wait for the latter.

    The Gerrhean Desert Winds and garrison indeed sally forth from the walls. Perhaps they would have done better to remain within range of the wall towers. The Lykoi hoplites line up in phalanxes and Cleisthenes' ballista begins hurling. The Gerrhean infantry bravely advance. They would be a formidable force indeed if at full complement, but the units appear understrength. They charge the Lykoi lines, and are met and held fast by the veteran phalanxes. Cleisthenes' peltasts close in from the wings and hurl their javelins into Gerrhean flanks with deadly effect. Desert troops fall in droves, no match for the Pontic (indeed...Hellenic) way of war. Soon they rout, and stream back towards Gerrha.

    Alcides' Champions, summoned from their pillage, arrive. His infantry are far too distant to engage, but most of the Champions are mounted on camel and horse; they quickly close the gap. Alcides' camel archer horde sweeps in from the Lykoi right and begins slaughtering the routing Gerrheans. Squadrons of Arabian cavalry are not far behind, and join in the carnage. Ptolemaeus' and Alcides' wisdom at Yathrib, retaining these unsavory sand folk in Pontic service, is vindicated. The Gerrhean Desert Wind and garrison are annihilated almost to the last man. Perhaps a dozen or so hapless souls manage to regain the safety of Gerrha's walls. The siege continues.

    Charidemos' revenge: Gerrhean casualties, obliterated by javelin fire

    Exotic Champions of Amasis: Alcides' mercenary camel archers on the plain before Gerrha

    However useful Alcides' mercenaries may have proven, it now appears that perhaps Cleisthenes should have sent them south to hunt down and destroy Apedemark's Pride. This Gerrhean host has recruited unseen in the southern desert, and now emerges in Pontic Arabia, threatening Yathrib. Not only this city, but Adummatu, Tyros, Dura, Seleucid Palmyra, even Petra and Antioch are potentially open to its depredations. Apedemark's Pride is but one army, but no Pontic army at all stands between it and these cities. Alcides is closest, but is far behind Apedemark's Pride if this host continues to march north. In the meantime, I had been sailing from Alexandria to Antioch with the Scions of Sinope as part of my repositioning program. I now alter course, land in Tyros, and march directly for Yathrib. The Scions, well trained and goaded on by the hero Anatolius amongst them, march exceeding well, and arrive near Yathrib in one season. It is not quite rapid enough to prevent Yathrib's capture...but the Gerrhean host is strangely inactive in the desert, and does not move to take the city.

    I press onward, and bring Apedemark's Pride to battle in the desert some distance south of Yathrib. I hope to ambush the Gerrheans on the march, but this does not transpire; I find Apedemark's Pride lined up for be it. A century of hoplite tactics has proven sound, and the Scions do not deviate from time-tested formulae here. The phalanxes form line, archers and ballistae in rear, peltasts on wings to provide flanking fire if opportunity permits. I myself take station with Bronze Shields near the left flank, to help protect the ballista crews should the Gerrheans attempt envelopment on that wing.

    Apedemark's Pride advances, and the Arabian infantry engage the hoplite line. The foot melee is fierce for a time, but as so often before, the hoplites easily hold fast, while our peltasts find the opportunity they seek. Arabian cavalry, however, are a bit more worrisome; a large contingent does indeed sweep from the Gerrhean right towards our ballistae, as I'd suspected. There is nothing for it but to engage; my Bronze Shields and I attack into the horsemen. We hold them while our far left hoplite phalanx wheels around to support, and Noble Bloods belatedly cross the Pontic rear from the far right wing to assist (having themselves met and repulsed a similar Gerrhean flanking attempt there). I silently berate myself for not having ordered the Bronzes into phalanx formation...the pikes would have been useful against the enemy horse. Nevertheless, we hold the cavalrymen well, and already have them wavering even before the Noble Bloods arrive on scene to finish them off. Reckless or not as a king, I exult in finding myself in the thick of combat rather than directing it from afar. At such times the life of a king is of little worth...there will always be more kings. I suspect that, however crushing a defeat, Charidemos must have felt a similar warrior's joy and bloodlust during his final moments at Gerrha.

    Yathrib: Scion hoplites clash with desert spearmen

    Yathrib: Antiphus' Bronze Shields meet Arab cavalry. The King himself is obscured here, but his purple-cloaked standard-bearer is visible in center, 2nd rank. Antiphus is but a pace to his left.

    Apedemark's Pride is resoundingly defeated, but not annihilated. A remnant disappears once more into the desert. They can do no harm now, weakened as they are and unable to recruit or replenish in Pontic territory. Even the smaller towns' garrisons could now easily dispose of them. I retire to Yathrib, from there to resume the Scions' role in our repositioning program.

    Further word comes from Gerrha. As Desert Winds before, the Horns of Gruzil also attempt to break out of our stranglehold, this time by sea against Poseidon's Justice. It is a futile attempt, their transports no match for the warships of Poseidon's Justice. The Horns, moreover, are themselves understrength, never having fully recovered from their costly victory over Charidemos, and further weakened by siege. The Horns of Gruzil are exterminated to the last man, just outside Gerrha harbor. A virtually empty city now faces the Lykoi, its defenders having been annihilated in vain sallies both on land and sea. Only the tower archers remain. Even so, Cleisthenes stays his hand. However certain victory might be, triumph is equally assured in continuing the siege. The general is content to trade time for hoplite lives.

    The Gerrheans finally bow to the inevitable...and surrender. Gerrha is ours. Arabia Magna is unified under Pontic rule, and formally established as province. Walled Gerrha dominates western Arabia, and its fine port is crown jewel of the Sinus Persis. Together with the military wharf which Amompharetos has built at Harmozia, Gerrha's shipwright facility ensures that Poseidon's Justice will soon equal the power of Pontus' Mediterranean fleets. Indeed, freed from blockade duty, even now Anchilaus begins to build his long-awaited seaborne artillery. Truth be known...I'm not certain we need such naval power now, having already subdued our enemies in this region. Be that as it may....the admiral would be devastated if I forbid him his expensive playthings, and frankly he has earned them. Let Anchilaus build his ballistae, and let Poseidon's Justice rule these seas as deterrent and symbol of Pontic strength.

    Meanwhile, Alcides' mercenaries have fulfilled their purpose. The young general finally discharges his desert host, and begins a long journey to Bosporus, there to reconstitute the Champions as a proper Pontic army. Alcides has grown fond of his "sand people" as he affectionately calls them, and asks to maintain them permanently. I consider this for a time...Arabia is subdued, but this will probably not be the last time Pontic arms clash in desert wastes. Wherever from Bosporus or elsewhere, Pontus has no prospect of forming such troops on its own. Mercenaries, however, are expensive. An avaricious camel-man demands far more in coin than stalwart Pontic hoplite. My long-suffering treasurer balks at this notion, and threatens to close up his purse. The man is impudent...but correct. The desert mercenaries are paid off...and Alcides' sand people disappear into the sands as if a mirage.

    Rather puzzling to me, the capture of Gerrha does not provoke internal conflict. I have foreseen wrongly, it appears. The political division indeed further deepens. Vocal conflict rises to strident pitch. Nobles throughout the "home provinces" of Bithynia et Pontus, Galatia et Cappadocia, rail at the throne, and formally declare personal opposition to imperialist policy. Many grandees even begin calling local levies of their own freedmen, ostensibly for "protection" of their estates in troubled times. For now, however, the aristocrats stop short of declaring against the throne itself...the fraying thread of loyalty and tradition still holds.

    Meanwhile...another threat emerges (or more accurately, re-emerges). Pharaohic pretenders breed like rabbits, it would appear...Egypt arises yet again, this time at Diospolis, further up the Nile from Pontic Aegyptus. Annoyed, I countermarch the Scions of Sinope once more. Back to Myos Hormos. Will this Egyptian nuisance never be finally put to rest?


    I am Prince, I suppose I am King Arybbas, eighth King of Pontus. My father Antiphus has died in Aegyptus, preparing to march against resurgent Egypt, and the crown passes to me. I'd rather remain simply admiral of Cyncus' Argonauts here in the Mare Carpathium. Duty and precedent, however, are heedless of my wishes...king I must be. Antiphus reigned sixteen years, but was already approaching old age even as he ascended the throne. Nevertheless, he saw Charidemos' defeat avenged, and finally completed his adoptive father's vision of an Arabia unified under our rule. Many expected Antiphus' Mithridatic chauvinism to spark civil war...yet it did not, even with the final conquest of Gerrha. Perhaps fear of Antiphus worked as effectively as respect of Charidemos. In any case all Pontics, anti-imperial or not, were united in lust for revenge against Gerrhea.

    A flag signal has been received from neighboring Scylla's Terror, lying to our north. The cryptic message lacks detail, but the central point is clear enough. Noble are in revolt to the north. Where does that mean? Bithynia? Thracia? Bosporus? How many...are there rebel fleets as well as armies? Details I have not...but I know where to point the bows of Argonaut ships. This time we sail not against piratical Cimmerian, hostile Egyptian, or desert tribesman...but against fellow Pontics, recent comrades. It seems that Antiphus' demise has provided the final spark for what the fall of Gerrha could not: Pontic Civil War.

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  30. #30

    Default Re: Eastern Hegemony: Pontus AAR

    Out for a couple days...going to see my kid at college. Will probably post the civil-war installment on Monday (already played it).

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