Parthian Wars AAR: Caesar's Revenge

Alea Jacta Est is a series of Ancient Strategy Games using the renowned and proven AGE engine. The first in the series is Alea Jacta Est, which features the Roman Civil Wars. Other games in the series are Birth of Rome and Parthian Wars. The latest entry, Hannibal: Terror of Rome, highlights the Second Punic War.
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Parthian Wars AAR: Caesar's Revenge

Post by Philkian »

This AAR has been made by Philippe Thibaut.

This scenario is a hypothetical situation which simulates the campaign that Caesar had planned against the Parthians, before his assassination during the Ides of March 44 BC. Roman forces are positioned or arriving in the East, Caesar himself at Byzantium (he has just completed his planned campaign against the Dacians)

Caesar's strategy to crush the Parthian is based on a long study of his future opponent's art of war. He learnt a lot from Crassus' defeat and has decided to focus on getting to Rome the tools required for fighting this enemy, in particular archers and cavalry. Similarly, the importance of logistics and local diplomacy has not escaped to the master of Rome, an art that he excels in since years.

I know Rome shall be receiving events in the coming months that will give more reinforcements in archers, cavalry and allies, as well as more of those units to build. I am planning to develop my war machine to match my opponents’ while still building up on the power of the Legions to give the decisive blow.

Where to go is thus critical. My strategy is to follow the idea of Caesar: move the main army and its legion on the northeastern part of Mesopotamia, where hills and mountains can handicap the mounted forces of my opponent, and supply is easier than in the steppes. I can also receive support from Armenia when they enter the war.

But, at the same time, I need to threaten and fix the Parthians along the main rivers, especially the southern one. So I plan to capture Apamea quickly, which will give me the possibility to build a river fleet to support a Mesopotamian campaign with a force where I can put most of my cavalry to match the Parthians.

We are also aware (and regularly informed) that there are poor weather conditions (or sometimes epidemics or mosquitoes) striking southern Mesopotamia: we better be prudent, those heat waves and those similar other issues may be crippling forces down there.

Turn 1
I first start to put all my allies (at Samosata, Melitene and Jerusalem) inside cities, as I know the Parthians can make swift raids and take them out in the open. Better keep them alive till Caesar arrives.

I shall play some subversion at Nisibis to upset the Parthians. Caesar will move all the way down to Zeugma where he is expected in 2 months (Prince Bogud will move to Antioch with his Numidian horsemen). Let’s use the time to build a few troops locally to.

The turn execution shows that my fears were justified, as a huge Parthian force has jumped onto Samosata: if my allied had stayed in the outside, they would have been wiped out. Parthian allies are also besieging Zeugma, Caesar’s current destination.

Turn 2
I make sure Caesar forces rushes to relieve Zeugma and catch the Adiabeneans there by surprise. I shall order Dolabella forces (my second Roman main force) down from Antioch to Laodicea, to collect reinforcements (the forces that have sailed from Smyrna are supposed to land there safely) and start moving south toward the Euphrates

The Gods of wars are with Rome: the battles are all victorious, and the Adiabeneans at Zeugma were all but annihilated by Caesar’s surprise appearance on the battlefield. However, the subversion of Nisibis failed. Let’s keep political warfare for later, during the bad season.

Our building strategy will continue, focusing on archers, as they take longer to train.

In the meanwhile, it’s politics as usual back in Rome (the game has some positive events, but there might be also intrigues, which are impacting negatively the Roman morale)

Turn 3
Dolabella move caught the Rhambae Arab allies of the Parthians in the open, and they were crushed. Their village is seized, and we shall soon garrison and reinforce it (e.g. by building of walls via a decision card).

The Fleet at Laodicea is sent by to Byzantium, as I expect some reinforcements from the rest of the Roman world to reach at the start of next month.

Caesar will cross the Euphrates to Apamea, which should be seized and turn into a shipyard for our future river fleet.

Good news, Caesar wealth is active and more funds are available!

Turn 4
I shall use the opportunity to sell some of the prisoners made last turn, which will help also our finances and building strategy.

The main fleet has been delayed, so the Byzantium forces will have to wait one more month. No need to have them traveling through bad lands in the winter.
I have kept on the Syrian coastline all those units which are ‘Amphibious’ trained: my plan is to send them to Apamea later (if the assault I just ordered with Caesar is successful), to board the river fleet once built and be able to support the land forces (blockade of cities) or do raids.

My Arabic allied horsemen and mounted archers will move towards Palmyra, ready to create a cavalry reaction force that I intend to build in the center of theatre in order to counter or catch future Parthian raids.

Some leaders (Vetus, Turius) are sent back from the main forces to pick up reinforcements expected to land as well as new constructions.

My last (but not least) important decision is to offer concession to my ‘mistress’ Cleopatra: Roman politicians will be upset and agitated (NM et VP loss) but the gains for the campaign (legions release) are worth it.

Turn 5
Cleopatra now feels confident in my future, and the Roman legions in Egypt have been released. The Pelusium force will move to Gaza (to watch the Nabateans that could become Parthian allies) and the Alexandria legions will go to Pelusium, to be met by the Antioch fleet later for further transportation to Syria (I try to make use of naval transport as much as possible as it is faster and less exhausting than land moves). The reinforcements in Byzantium are those loaded upon the fleet just arrived there and ordered to Antioch.

The Parthians seem to be weary of all my moves and raise the siege of Samosata, falling back to Edessa. To disturb them, I shall play 4 subversion decisions in their regions of Osroene…
The siege of Dura Europos is just going nowhere, Dolabella being constantly unactivated and failing to take opportunity of the breach made in the walls: as a consequence I order a special column led by Patisius with one legion and auxiliaries to detach from the main force and assault (red orders) the city.

Our Praetor in Jerusalem also informs us that our allies there are now ready to support us…but let’s wait a moment before calling them; there is no pressing need now.

Turn 6
Patisius succeeded in Dura: the city fell, but the walls were destroyed in the process: we are playing a Walls decision to have them rebuilt. I am playing more decisions to improve my loyalties and development (Public Works in Zeugma) or pacify the just conquered Rhambae Arabs near Dura.
Lucius Conficius and its “amphibious”-able units arrive from Laodicea to Apamea, and I will order one more river fleet there (but not now, the loyalty is not high enough and thus construction is not allowed)

Caesar decides to try to go after the main Parthian force at Edessa, and orders all Roman armies to gather there with him…

It is also time to put pressure on the Armenians: I don’t plan to go through them quickly, but the move will probably upset Parthian strategy

Turn 7
Armenia can now be entered. The Parthians stay quiet there, but I noticed they called their vassals near the area, just in case. Their main force moves from Edessa to Zenodotia, escaping Caesar.
Seeing that, siege is laid, but the city is string (walls level 2) and it could take ages, while our supplies dwindle: Caesar informs the defenders that if they open the gates, the city will be spared (in game terms we decide to play one “Surrender” decision there).
At the same time, orders are given to reorganize the local government at Apamea (“Reforms” decision played): the idea is that with increased loyalty, we can finally make some river fleet and garrison constructions there.

As our treasury is full, we lavishly supply our allies with Roman gold and order them to raise more troops, especially in Judea and Armenia.

Turn 8
Caesar’s magnanimity is renowned: Edessa surrenders to us! We will use the respite to reorganize our forces: Consul Vatia will leave the main forces with 2 legions, the Galatian contingent of Prince Kastor and move towards Tigranocerta in the East.
The Melitene contingent of prince Antiochos will keep a watchful eye inside Edessa (but we command the mountain-capable foot archers to stay with us), and the rest of the army will rush down to Carrhae, then Zenodotia, on an attempt to catch the King of Kings before he evades us once more with his main body…
Similarly, Dolabella will be ordered north across the Euphrates, to assault in a surprise attack the enemy at Phaliga.

Heavy cavalry mercenaries ordered since long by Caesar are arriving on the Pontus Euxinus ports (Byzantium and Trapezus): let’s order them down south (they will ride faster than waiting for boats this time). A Cappadocian phalanx levied early on is now ready and ordered south, for future garrison duty in the conquered provinces (and some more garrisons are also ordered locally).

Orders are then issued…

Turn 9
The Parthians surprised us by launching a raid alongside the Euphrates, towards the coast: all regions there are pillaged, which shall not help our supply situation, especially with the summer months approaching. We shall probably avoid rushing our operations till fall…

Caesar strategic gambit paid off: on its way down to catch the Parthian king, a small force at Carrhae is crushed and the city captured in the ensuing assault: Crassus defeat ground is Roman again and Caesar will make surely good use of it (in game terms, another major propaganda campaign option is now available, plus the immediate gain in morale).

Continuing on the success, the main enemy force is caught nearby Zenodotia and Caesar proper mix of troops (cavalry and archers) prevents the opponents to withdraw, and quite a few Parthians are butchered by Legionaries eager to avenge Crassus memory: Roman honor is back again, the Parthian flee in disorder…and to add insult to injury, Zenodotia falls in the rash assault that follows. Caesar’s speed and talent has struck again…

The great field victory at Zenodotia…

… is followed by the fall of the city!

And for once, Dolabella took Fortuna in his hands (he was activated this turn): his assault on Phaliga is a great victory too. Our enemies now have no cities to shelter and resupply them in the north and will be forced to retreat to the south-center of Mesopotamia, suffering surely for the upcoming August heat.

Vexillatio from Africa also arrived in Laodicea; I order them northwest to meet later with Caesar, while the Legions of Alexandria, fresh from landing there, will try to catch the Parthians on raid nearby. As a precaution, Arab allied horsemen from Emesus will attempt interception too.

I am also ordering back the main bodies from Dura, as the desert region is pillaged and supply there catastrophic. For similar reason, I’ll ask Dolabella to shelter in Phaliga and rebuild his supplies, while Caesar himself will rush northeast to the more supportive hills and countryside around Nisibis…
More garrisons are constructed to ensure all cities will be properly defended until the next offensive.

… To be continued

Turn 10
The Parthians are moving fast, and if we leave them alone, we will be endlessly chasing them over the whole theater. So, despite being slightly weakened by the two fights at Zenodotia, Caesar orders are dash move to Nisibis, a key and well fortified city that controls the northern Mesopotamia foothills and can prove a wonderful base for further campaigning

In the meanwhile, Vatia and Prince Kastor’s Galatians will continue besieging Tigranocerta (southwest of Nisibis) and wait till breaches are made.

We are expecting that the Parthians will run away to lick their wounds, which would be the sound thing to do.

Caesar’s speed and talent (in particular the “Assaulter” ability which allows him to launch assaults even if no breaches are made) do wonders at Nisibis: the Parthians were unsuspecting and the cities falls in a brief and bloody assault for the defenders (the losses among the legionaries look relatively small in comparison, thanks also to our vast superiority in archers that have softened the defense right before the walls were escalated).

This is the best news we could expect, as the large walled city can now serve as a supply base for our future offensive down the Tigris.

We have noted however that the Parthian Prince Pacorus has led a foray into Armenia, but was repulsed by Armenian Rex Tigranes. In fact, this is a mistake from our foes: by doing so, they have released the strong Armenian forces before their time (they were still ‘locked’ for the next 9 months): we shall for sure make use of that.

Turn 11
Caesar has decided that, because of the light losses at Nisibis, and despite a supply situation that is starting to be worrying, it would be great to catch the retreating Parthians before they can get out of reach. Here, two of Caesar’s other exceptional abilities are used: his master spy network allows him better information on the theater, ad we discovered the King of Kings has taken shelter in the city of Singara, just less than a month of marching southeast of Nisibis (where they were probably not expecting us!). Second, as a Logistics Expert, Caesar can ‘live off’ the ground much better (25% supply bonus) and can therefore be less worried about supply.

So we shall make another risky decision: let’s rush without rest down to Singara and besiege the whole Parthian force when they expect to quietly recover their supplies inside the city. The region is steppes and could be a risk if we were caught by Parthian cavalry in the open, but we are gambling on their need to recover their loss of strength and cohesion and thus will be inside the walls, not in a position to attack us when we arrive there.

Caesar remains very active also and decides to plan for a major siege and battle at Singara. It is necessary to increase the military control in the region, to ensure proper siege of the Parthians and reduce their logistical status while improving the Roman one. Playing the “Punish” RGD will just do that, as even if the local loyalty suffers (who cares, the Legions are almighty!), the control increases drastically.

Also, orders are given to the whole army to go on a strict defensive. This can help defeat the Parthians if they go out of the city to break away

In the meanwhile, the forces of Aulus Alienus will move from the banks of the Euphrates and try to catch the remaining Osroenian allies of our enemies still wandering on the northern bank.

Turn execution is again surprising and Jupiter still with us (Caesar was blessed by the Gods!). In the north, the Armenians are on the move and catch Pacorus, defeating him but not decisively and suffering a few losses.

Aulus Alienus is also successful and destroys the remaining Osroenian forces in the field

Caesar was right; our enemy tried to sortie, but our tactical position helped defeating them

Turn 12
Caesar hindsight paid: the Parthians are trapped in Singara and failed to sortie. We shall decide to get them now, like we did with the Gauls at Alesia back in 52 BC. We shall first try to bribe some discontent people inside the cities, as gold can always help to find potential traitors. If we succeed, we might get the doors to open or a section of the wall be handed over to us. (sketch below shows success!)

So now that we own some of the walls, the Parthians are doomed. Let’s stay on defense for now, to gather forces for the upcoming assault.

Turn 13
This turns shows the end of the Parthians, with the king of king dead after a 6-days slaughter in the streets of Singara. This was a very bright move of Caesar, as the famous Parthians horsemen are totally useless in street fighting, while the heavy-foot legionary does wonders there.

But they don’t give up without a fight, and the battle was costly.

With their great King dead and most of their army and clans forces eliminated, the Parthians are doomed. Conquering the rest of the realm will just be a walkover (although a defeat is always possible, like the one suffered by Turius – see next picture – if the Roman are careless). Caesar’s perfect timing, logistics and well-laid plans will prevail.


At this point in play, the game will change aspect and will turn more into small guerilla warfare and mopping up operations against the Parthians. It shows like in all Ancient battles, the loss of the main army and the ruler is often decisive and ends up with the losing side asking mercy. Caesar will probably organize the conquest as he did for Gaul, adding another magnificent jewel to the roman crown (and his!) and getting ready, may be, to follow Alexander’s footsteps into Sogdiana, the Indus valley, may be India and who knows, to China and beyond. Julius Caesar would this surpass his model and become the greatest conqueror of all times!

Author’s Notes: I tried to write the AAR in the “spirit” of Caesar’s writing in “De Bello Gallico” (The Gallic Wars), with himself writing about him using the third person and not forgetting to display proudly his great feats! A wonderful historical and propaganda masterpiece.
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