(The Eshura cavalry accompanied by their chariot-born commander. Minifigs S range Assyrians)
As his great Arriva chariot rattled across the deserted lands towards the battle site, the great Egyptian general Tuckekahmen - undisturbed by the two old women in front of him complaining about the fact the driver wouldn’t let them use their OAP passes because it was before 9am – pondered his tactics for the coming day.
Reading the composition of the two advanced guards, he had been struck by the fact that in many ways this resembled the Korepsis Pass skirmish of many moons before. A force of swift but lightweight troops was about to come up against one that was ponderous yet powerful. With this in mind, Pharaoh Horemhabib’s experienced commander seized upon the notion that to gain victory he must do away with the Assyrian light javelins and cavalry, allowing his own units to peck the enemy’s armoured troops to death at their leisure. However, his own lack of cavalry left him vulnerable on the flanks. His chariots could not be trusted to take up a steady defensive posture anymore than could a swarm of bees. He would have to rely on his skirmishing infantry to guard the exposed sides of his close-order regiments. The chariots and African archers would be set loose, to torment and wrong- foot their lumbering foe.
Meanwhile, the leader of King Pelmaneser’s force, Seena-Kadi was also weighing up his options. Rejecting his initial thought of simply launching an all out frontal assault on the site of the well, he elected instead to approach the battle site from the west, turning the flank of the Egyptians with his cavalry, while keeping his heavy troops safely out of harms way on the high ground of Coptic Hill.
(Assyrian opening position)
Initially then the two armies barely faced one another. The Egyptians had their three close order infantry units in the centre, flanked on either side by a unit of javelins. In front of them were the two chariot squadrons, and in front of them the archers. The Malkata slingers were on the extreme left of this front line, the Kushite archers on the extreme right.
The first two moves saw both sides advancing on their respective fronts. Assyrian javelins scampered across the top of Coptic Hill while there heavier colleagues laboured up its slope and the cavalry advanced onto the plain to the west of North Hill. Seena-Kadi in his chariot had attached himself to the formidable Eshura heavy lancers, a unit that it appeared had been tasked with dealing the Egyptians the knock out blow.
(The Kushite Archers - actually PBs range Blemye)
On the Egyptian side, the Nubian archers crowned the heights of South Hill, while the blue chariot squadron galloped through the gap between that ridge and Manak Hill. The red squadron, accompanied by Tuckekahmen, meanwhile made for the gap between the Coptic and No Name hills.
Move three saw the first action as the red chariot squadron, inspired perhaps by the presence of their commander let loose a volley of arrows at the Zarzi Horse archers. Throwing 4 dice and requiring 15 or more to hit, they struck their target a remarkable three times. On the Assyrian turn the men of Zarzi returned fire, but with no effect.
Emboldened by their success, the red chariots cantered forward and fired again, this time from close range (5 dice). Another two hits. The Egyptian slingers also targeted the unfortunate horsemen, but the range was extreme and both dice failed to register. With five hits, however, Zarzi were already in trouble.
Move five saw the Eshura cavalry advancing dangerously, while the Assyrian light infantry came into range, inflicting casualties on the slingers and Amarna javelins. Unfortunately this success was more than outweighed by the arrival of the Aswan archers whose first flight of close range arrows (3 dice) saw the Zarzi turn tail and gallop north, never to return.
(The Zarzi horse archers peppered by the red chariot squadron and about to break. Nubian archers have crested No Name Hill, while the Aswan bowmen are coming up alongside. All figures are S range)
The red chariot squadron was also heading in that direction, mindful of the danger of getting embroiled with the Assyrian heavy cavalry. It failed to keep out of range of the close order enemy archers however and took its first hits in an exchange of fire with the Hassuna regiment. The Egyptians opening luck with the dice was now off set by some extraordinarily poor rolling – four units of light troops throwing 12 dice between them and not registering a single hit, in fact barely making double figures with any of them. Truly is the great crocodile god of the Nile a mischievous fellow.
Despite that, at this stage Tuckekahmen was feeling rather pleased with himself. His troops had occupied the site of the Apocryphal Well, he had driven off the horse archers, and had hardly suffered a scratch. It was all going rather well, perhaps a little too well…. The final epic installment towmorrow.