Seleucid Shock and Awe

By Ace_Cataphract

This strategy is a really specific one that gets the job done when it comes down to it. It’s meant for fighting armies with low archer numbers, so you probably don’t want to go against Egypt, Scythia, or Parthia with it, though it also works well against Armenia for some reason. It’s at its best performance at 20K-25K denarii, and large unit settings.

First it requires you to purchase (based on a 25K denarii budget) 9 units of Cataphracts, 3 units of Silver Shield Pikemen, 3 units of Silver Shield Legionaries, and 5 units of Onagers. For upgrades, your first priority is the Cataphracts. Upgrade their attack and defense first. And remember that often times, giving a unit two bars of valor is cheaper and more effective than giving them +2 Defense and +2 Attack. I upgrade them so that 6 units of Catas get +2 attack and the other 3 get +3. I’ll often boost their defense to either gold or silver for all of them. The general shouldn’t be the strongest unit, three units other than him should have the +3 attack improvement. Next improve your Legions’ attacks, and finally your Pikemens’ defenses.

First is deployment. The initial deployment is just as important as the rest of the battle. First you should deploy your Silver Pikemen. Put them in the most ideal position within your area of control, but within an Onager’s shot of enemy territory. Now, deploy your Silver Legions on either flank. The Onagers now go right in front of the Pikemen, who should be taken off phalanx for the moment. The Cataphracts are to be deployed on the flank opposite to the one where the Silver Legions are. You want to make a box of them 3 units wide and 3 units deep, with the units themselves being 3 Cataphracts deep. The Cataphracts with the +3 attack bonus should be on the first rank, 3 others should be on the second rank, and the General should be in middle unit of the third rank. Now deploy them on the opposite flank of the Pikemen that the Legionaries are on, but a little farther behind the Pikemen. You’re now ready to end deployment.

Now the battle phase begins. With this strategy, your goal is to control your opponent’s actions throughout. The first step is to use your onagers to destroy their artillery. With 5 onagers, you shouldn’t fail at this task if you remember not to use flaming arrows for this part. Now, if they send cavalry, you run your Silver Shield Pikemen in front of the Onagers to form a screen and set them to phalanx. The Legions should cover the Pikemen’s flank at an angle to prevent cavalry from getting around and hitting the onagers. If they decide to charge, they lose their cavalry(you can send Cataphracts to support your Pikemen as necessary). If they turn around, then the onagers are fine. The next threat is archers. They’re the worst, so make sure you don’t fight an army with a lot of archers. If they send archers, send a detatchment of Catas to chase them down, but not into the enemy lines. Now, commence your real bombardment. All 5 of the Onagers should smash the enemy lines with flaming ammo. Now they have the options of taking the abuse, in which case you should inflict significant damage, or more likely, they’ll move to attack you quickly. If they’re really hasty and decide to try a direct assault on your onagers and Pikemen line, just flank and crush them with your Legionaries and Cataphracts. More likely though, they’ll try to run at your lines in a coherent manner and try to fight you down. You should move your Cataphracts now to engage and destroy any of the enemy’s cavalry, leaving the way clear for you. If the enemy uses spearmen, separate your cavalry into groups and while one unit of Cataphrats leads the infantry towards them, the other hits them from behind. Then you use the first one to hit them again from their new flank, assuming they turn to fight the Cataphractss you just sent crashing into their flanks. At this point, you should notice the amount of control you weild over this battle. His men are practically plaing into your hands. After the threat to your cavalry is eliminated, you should focus your attention to your infantry lines. You should’ve had the Legionaries on “Fire at Will” to make sure they do the most damage possible. Now that your Silver Shield Pikemen are engaged(in phalanx formation of course), and perhaps your Legionaries too, they probably are barely managing to hold it down. Here comes the decisive part. You now send every last one of your Cataphracts directly into the enemy’s flank. Don’t worry if they have a unit facing the charge. If they have a unit of Pikemen or Hoplites or whatever facing your charge, just make sure that you order the 9 Cataphracts to attack that one unit. The first unit might be pretty badly hurt, but they’ll be overwhelmed. They will be obliterated, and their morale will be completely broken. This has managed to break 7 units of Urban Cohorts that just engaged my Pikemen within 15 seconds. Now all that’s left is to mop up.

The strategy is simple because it’s so specific. I only reccommend its use against armies that rely heavily on phalanxes, the Romans, and the Barbarians (with the exception of the Scythians and Britons). I highly urge you not to use this strategy against the Egyptians, Scythians, or Parthians, as they will probably tear your Pikemen and onagers apart, who are a critical part of the strategy. Also, if you do fight an army with a lot of archers, don’t panic, but try to get them to fire at a few loosely formed Cataphracts, or some Legionaries in Testudo while bombarding them with onagers set to regular ammo. If you fight Praetorian Cavalry with the Cataphracts, remember to use Alt attack to order your Cataphracts to use their maces and gain a huge advantage.

Happy Hunting, and remember. This strategy is meant to be flexible. There are pleny of modifications if you feel you need them. You can opt for less cavalry, fewer onagers, more Legionaries over Silver Shield Pikemen. It’s also adaptable into a more costly Roman version with 9 Praetorian Cavalry(replace the Cataphracts), 5 Onagers, 4 units of Urban Cohorts(replace the Silver Shield Pikemen), and 2 units of Praetorian Cohorts(replace the Silver Shield Legionaries).

As a disclaimer, this is a high risk, high reward strategy. The only results that this strategy has ever gotten me has been Heroic Victory(mostly), Clear Victory(occationally), Crushing Defeat(very rarely), and Clear Defeat(about as often as a Clear Victory).