Saga Thracians vs Successors

The Tracian models shown in the Age of Alexander book are in their traditional tribal dress but looking at evidence from modern Bulgaria there is a good case for running selected Greek figures as Thracians. The historical thread is that as Macedonian and Successor influence spreads then the Thracian tribes adapt Greek weapons and costume. It can even be argued that to provide sufficient ‘loyal’ manpower the Successors hired Thracian mercenaries and settled Thracians in military colonies; resulting in Successor and Thracian equipment influencing each other.

This assumption is based on a number of tomb paintings in Bulgaria dating around the 3rd century BC that give a good idea of at least how some Thracians looked like around the time of the Successors. Possibly the mother load is at Kazanlak but there are other tombs with military and domestic images from the same period. The images from the tombs indicate an obvious Greek influence and show that Greek or Successor models can be repurposed as Thracians in Saga. In particular those with lighter armour and bearing Thoreophoroi (θυρεοφόροι) style shields together with shieldless cavalry.

The Thoreophoroi style of weapons and armour is nicely described with original illustrations and modern interpretations at ‘ancientbattles‘. This all seems a fair match for the later style Thracian javelin warriors. The 28mm Polemarch successor Thoreophoroi and Thracians with rhomphia seem to the same base sculpts except that the Thracians wear greaves. The Aventine Thoreophoroi can also be converted to rhomphia wielders by swapping out weapons with the only major difference from their Thracians also being a lack of greaves.

The Rhompia (ῥομφαία) is still good to go (possibly more so if it is a more recent weapon development) for the later Thracians. We have this from Plutarch of events about 168 BC but written around 110 AD and quoting an earlier source possibly Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica Corculum who was there:

First the Thracians advanced, whose appearance, Nasica says, was most terrible,—men of lofty stature, clad in tunics which showed black beneath the white and gleaming armour of their shields and greaves, and tossing high on their right shoulders battle-axes with heavy iron heads.

Plutarch, Aemilius Paulus Chpt 18, section 3

Looking at the original Greek we have at the end of this section ὀρθὰς δὲ ῥομφαίας βαρυσιδήρους ἀπὸ τῶν δεξιῶν ὤμων so rhomphia rather than battle axes.

The Thracian board is unusual in that it depends on plunder. The gist is that a Thracian unit without plunder wants to get some so is looking to attack. A Thracian unit that already has plunder is keen to hold onto it so is better in defense. In Saga terms some advanced abilities are better with plunder and some better without. Luckily Thracians can remove plunder with ‘We Obey’ (instead of moving) or their INSATIABLE ability.

To keep with the timeline of Greek influenced Thracians here they will face up to Asian Successors in a similar match up to the game at Iron Man in Leeds. In that game the Tracians did not make optimal use of plunder (assuming such a goal is possible) and were run over by the Successors. There have been a couple of clarifications to the Successor board in the latest FAQ but only to confirm what had been the most logical interpretations. The Thracian board has a clarification to top row Saga combat dice bonus.

Thracian Warriors can run with rhomphia or javelins. The rhomphia are buffed by RHOMPHAEAE and the javelins by ELUSIVE so having 1 unit of each makes best use of the board. On the other hand javelins get a free missile shot and melee attack at +1. This seems a better deal than the heavy weapon +1 in attack or defense as both types are penalised -1 melee armour.

The Thracians are the defenders here and have attempted to maximise terrain to disrupt the Successors. There is a large patch of uneven ground, small areas of woods, rocky ground and marsh. The phalanx do not like poor going, the levy and elephants don’t care so much.

The Successors are using the scroll variant and can fairly shift with HEGEMONY which will activate 3 units, 1 of which must be a phalanx. They shift up as far as they dare.

The Thracian plan is to get round the Successor flanks and harry their centre. The Successor levy have unwisely moved to the edge of the uneven ground and a rhomphia unit catches them but only kills 5 so they still generate a Saga die. Worse still as Levy the Thracians do not gain a plunder for winning. The Thracian javelin and bow units shoot with limited results.

One phalanx charges the Thracian mounted warriors and beating the odds manages to lose. The other phalanx and elephant send the foot javelin unit off for an early bath.

The rhomphia units fancy their chances but one bounces off the elephant although leaving it with 3 fatigue. The other unit pushes the Successor Levy further back. The mounted javelins knock out 2 mounted cataphract Hearthguard.

The Successors tidy up. PANTODAPOI will remove a fatigue at the end of a turn, resting (which could be part of HEGEMONY) will remove another at the beginning so the elephant can drop back to 1 fatigue.

The Thracians finish off the Successor Levy and with some exceptional dice rolling and a couple of Saga dice combat bonus wipe out an entire phalanx by bow shooting.

The Successors are running out of targets so about face and go after the Thracians to their rear.

Some mounted Warlord and Hearthguard action ensues. The rhomphia unit has a go at the elephant and whiffs it.

The Successors tidy up their fatigue again and have a go at the Thracian Warlord. This does not work out and the Thracians get their first and only pillage marker of the game.

The Thracians make a bold move with their 2 remaining Saga dice and take out the opposing Warlord.

Running through the massacre points:

Thracians: 4 (Warlord) + 4 (HG) + 6 (W) + 4 (L) + 4 (units) = 22

Successors: 10 (W) + 3(L) + 2 (units) = 15

A Thracian win although the Successors could probably have pulled it off if they had finished off a lone rhomphia model and pulled back when they had smashed the Thracian centre rather than turning and trying to take them all out but what would be the fun in that?


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