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Thread: [EB II] Rich Land of Plenty - Baktrian AAR (updated daily)

  1. #1

    Default [EB II] Rich Land of Plenty - Baktrian AAR (updated daily)


    Battle of Ipsos
    301 BCE


    "Majestic beasts, aren't they?"

    The rough leathery skin of the elephants was glowing like marble in the hot Asian sun. For the first time Demetrios was able to have a good look at them. He was struck by their poise, that such gentle movements could come from a lumbering war animal. Even from a distance they were pungent to the ears and nose; they moaned to each other while their tails whipped the infested air around them in brisk strokes. "They're alright," he muttered before he proceeded to gulp of his flask and white wine trickled through his beard in a fruity rain.

    "Alexander hated them," the king quipped from the side of his mouth, "he thought they were showy and repulsive."

    Demetrios raised an eyebrow when nothing more was forthcoming. "And you?"

    The king impassively exhaled through his nose and made a point to scan the battlefield. "They have their uses..."

    The elephants on both sides charged each other; they locked their tusks together, and each tried with all their might to topple their opponent, while the whole while they made horrible groaning and grunting sounds. At intervals they would reel backwards, as if stunned, only to lower their necks and charge again. The sound of bone gnashing bone echoed across the plain. Demetrios watched as one beast yanked his tusk free and drilled it into the throat of his opponent in two sharp movements. Blood poured liberally from the wound and the creature's legs buckled beneath it.

    The elephant duel went on for some time. Then the king seemed to tense up and he squinted his eyes. With one hand to his brow against the sun he watched clouds of dust whip into the air; amidst the detritus, bronze gleamed as bright as sunshine. "Antigonos!" the king cried, "he moves!" The elephant combat had been a ruse to disguise the Macedonian cavalry.

    He whipped his horse around. "Fly Demetrios!" he called over his shoulder, "be ready!"

    Demetrios hurried breathless to the left wing, where he was in command of the household cavalry. The Macedonianhetairoi - companion cavalry - were whipping in a wide arc around the elephants. Ahead a thunderous column of radiating dust and dirt the standard bearer forced their insignia into the furious wind. Gold shone from belt buckles, shoulders, scales, and metaled disks. In the corner of the scene, the terribly exposed flanks of the phalanx captured his attention.

    Demetrios furrowed his brow; he thrust his sword into the air. "Soldiers!" "Ride to me!"

    Like a knife they swept into the Macedonian cavalry from the side; they were wrapped up, cornered, and forced to fight from the side or behind their back by the flanking position of the Seleukid cavalry.

    Demetrios hacked the lower spine of a first opponent and slit his throat on the backswing; he cut bone on the arm of a second horseman and then finished through the flesh; and he nearly put out the eyes of a third but the swing missed - by a hair's distance - the fleeing opponent. They locked eyes, for just a moment. The expression on the companion's face was so powerful, he never forgot it.



    The Present
    272 BCE




    Demetrios' fingers ran once again across the coarse and dusty surface of the parchment, which held those touching words of praise Seleukos had given him - words that had made him a satrap. Even just the coat of dust on the paper was enough to take him back to that sunny day in Asia, and that brilliant battle between brothers.

    With heavy footsteps a soldier entered. "Praise you master, I have news from Sogdia."

    Demetrios never took his eyes off the parchment. "How fares my dear son in Marakanda?"

    "The Sakae are on the move again," the soldier replied. "They have already raided several villages."

    "What news from Syria?"

    The soldier reached to his belt. "The King submits his orders to you by this address..." and he took out a rolled length of paper scroll.


    Demetrios snorted and tossed the thing to the table. "And what help may we expect from the Arche Seleukia?" he grumbled

    "My lord, you are the help from the Arche Seleukia," the soldier remarked dryly.

    The lord supped some wine. "Indeed. Let us see then what we are capable of." He turned to the war room, and the map on the table.


    The Baktrian satrapy was laid out before him. To the north was the land of the nomadic raiders, the Sakae, who were ruthless pillagers. It was they who were the enemy of this coming campaign.


    The armies were summoned together to spend the winter in drill before advancing into Sogdia in the spring.




    In the army of Demetrios there were three elements. The first was the infantry, the hoplites. They fought with shield and spear, and clustered tightly together, so wherever they went they were like one force, guarding and attacking with the strength of dozens of men.


    Demetrios also made very good use of archers. His vassal, the Marspan of Marakanda, had on retainer several hundred elite archers who supposedly could strike a mosquito from several meters. They were native to the land and they had a long tradition of being warriors, even back to the days of Darius.


    Cavalry was also a strength of Baktria. Their horses were nimble and spry, well-designed for the rocky terrain, which the riders knew well and exploited to their advantage. They eschewed armor and they were quick, best at striking abruptly into a flank or formation and dashing away again.


    By the grace of Apollo the Baktrian Greeks were skilled in shooting as well and cultivated the art in the mountains beneath the sky. The companions of Demetrios were all expert archers, capable of firing even three arrows at once.


    Demetrios took another look at the sun-bleached buildings beneath his perch on the edge of the ridge.


    He was in Sogdia inspecting the defenses that had held back the nomads thus far. They were beginning to enter states of disrepair, most built by Cyrus or some successor, and not enough remained functioning to stop the movement of raiding bands back and forth. He needed a way to control the problem immediately.

    At the urging of the king Antiochos, Demetrios decided to strike into nomad territory.
    Last edited by Beckitz; February 29, 2016 at 07:55 AM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: [EB II] Rich Land of Plenty - Baktrian AAR

    Nice Beckitz, right on to the next one!

    Baktria - my all-time favorite faction. Cool to see some quality AAR about them. Nice immersive start, I like the mention of the war table and its map before showing the campaign map screenshot, as well as the intense intro. The opening dialogue from The Present felt a bit rushed though, I think. Good job though, looking forward to more.

    I will certainly follow this one!
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  3. #3

    Default Re: [EB II] Rich Land of Plenty - Baktrian AAR

    Quote Originally Posted by Zeion View Post
    Nice Beckitz, right on to the next one!

    Baktria - my all-time favorite faction. Cool to see some quality AAR about them. Nice immersive start, I like the mention of the war table and its map before showing the campaign map screenshot, as well as the intense intro. The opening dialogue from The Present felt a bit rushed though, I think. Good job though, looking forward to more.

    I will certainly follow this one!
    Thanks! Yes, for a long time I was very wordy in my posts, now ironically I deal with the opposite problem of not finding enough to say!



    Screeching birds darted overhead before a perfect blue sky. The Baktrian army continued its march far below, their long column snaking in bends and curves around hill and boulder. The ground shook from the heavy footsteps and loose pebbles jumped, skipped, and ran all over.

    Demetrios was at the van with his son Diodachos and the Marspan of Marakanda. The Marspan was pointing out features of the terrain; paths which led to villages, through tricky mountains, or to valuable streams and freshwater lakes. Out to their left and right, sentries on horseback navigated beds of shattered rock and kept the lookout.



    They were looking to do battle with the Sakae raiders. Border scouts had reported an encampment in the area, high in the mountains of Sogdiane. The raiders had done significant damage but now they were in trouble – they had trapped themselves in the hills and could not escape without facing battle against the armies of Demetrios.

    “Eyes up!!” a sentry called – the signal for enemy movement. Demetrios squinted and saw on the horizon fluttering dragon banners; the Sakae were here.

    “Form up ranks!” the satrap cried over his shoulder; his son had already turned to go organize the men; the Marspan drew a javelin from his side. Very quickly however he lowered the weapon and indicated to Demetrios. “Peace – they come to parley.”

    Indeed it was a small party; only a few hands and retainers accompanying a noble. The enemy rode uncomfortably close, drawing up their horses’ just mere feet from their Bactrian prey. The noble was richly adorned, in brilliant scales and with a magnificent bronze thimble helmet. He paced to the left, then to the right. “Where is the Greek Demetrios?” he demanded.



    The satrap bowed his head. “I am here. Who do I speak with?”

    The Saka noble had an expression very much like smelling something foul. It did not seem certain that he was going to respond at all before he shrugged. “Ryakae,” was all he said.



    “You are brave to come looking for us Greek,” Ryakae assessed with thin lips.

    Demetrios shifted in the saddle. “You are braver to have come here where there is no escape-“

    “We are not to run from you, with our tail between our hind legs,” the Saka scowled.

    Demetrios nodded impatiently. “Indeed. The fates will decide who flees this day and who triumphs.”

    Ryakae did not even say anything but merely grunted his sentiment. With a booming cry he spurred his horse away from whence he had come.

    Then, more cries from sentries. They pointed in haste. Their fingers drew attention to silhouettes popping up on the ridge all around, north, east and west, warriors on foot and horseback lining the ridges. They were sweeping down the hills and coming right for the Bactrians.



    The army drew up in a three pronged formation. Light spearmen guarded the middle as a screen, and behind them archers were stationed to return fire against the mounted horse archers.



    Meanwhile on either wing, the heavy infantry acted as a screen for the Bactrian cavalry. They would block any attempt at charging and also could pin down enemy infantry for hammer and anvil charges from the Bactrians.



    The whole army as a unit was compact and defensive; the archers would play a heavy role in preventing enemy missile fire while the units on the wings tried to tie the enemy up and keep them from running all over the battlefield, where they would be impossible to catch.



    Before long the Sakae had closed close. They were standing on ridges and ledges, shooting arrows from on foot or horseback. Demetrios ordered the infantry to advance and drive the Sakae off the ridges. Slowly, in lockstep, with shields facing forward and their banner raised high into the air, the hoplites pressed into the enemy. As they got close, they all at once broke ranks and ran at full speed, catching the Sakae by surprise.







    “Let’s go!” Demetrios cried. “Diodotos,” he called to his son, “take the right wing.” The elite armored cavalry of the satrap took off and they started to hack and slash their way through the foot infantry. Arrows were flying in all directions and the battle became confused.





    Ryakae now sounded out a furious warcry and his band charged right into the melee. With force of weight and momentum he scattered the Bactrian ranks like waves against a cliff. There was no stopping this mad dynamo as he whirled and sliced in every direction, breaking weapons and limbs and arms and everything else as he went.

    Demetrios caught the chieftain's forearm with a swing and so jarred the sword out of the warrior’s hand. Ryakae turned in frenzied rage and he drew his dagger. He stabbed and the sharp point chipped flakes of bronze from the satrap’s breastplate. Demetrios swung again and caught Ryakae between the scales of his arm. While the warlord howled in pain, Demetrios yanked the bloodied edge of his blade free and jabbed the tip right into the opening between Ryakae’s collar and throat.



    The warlord fell in a geyser of blood. The elite Bactrian cavalry began to run down the panicked Sakae.



    It was a hot afternoon. In the aftermath, soldiers picked through the corpses for valuables and survivors. Demetrios walked among the casualties, surrounded by his household guards. A pitiful sight caught his eye. A wounded Saka was writhing in a dusted pool of dark crimson blood. He met the eyes of Demetrios; his gaze was full of hate. He tried with a gargling noise to speak. "Bastard," he might have said.

    Demetrios nodded his head unenthusiastically. "Rest now," he dismissed.

    "This is not the end, Greek," the dying man snarled thickly. "There are more of us. These valleys, these mountains...they are all...ours..." and he could go no more; his head dropped the last few inches to the ground and he gave up the ghost.

    Demetrios sniffed. It was true enough that there were more Sakae left rampaging in Sogdiane. But his army had fought well this day. With the luck of fortune, they would prove victorious even in the battles still to come.

  4. #4

    Default Re: [EB II] Rich Land of Plenty - Baktrian AAR

    Hopefully this campaign has a bit more dramatic tension than the Sarmatians. I'm not very good at horse-archers, but people who are tend to be very effective with them.
    ORANGE MAN BAD

  5. #5
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: [EB II] Rich Land of Plenty - Baktrian AAR

    A dramatic battle with some great images. Experienced AAR writers suggested to me that I crop out the user interface in my AARs. They also suggested that, if possible, I avoid taking pictures with a unit selected in view, when we see green circles under the soldiers. Of course, you don't have to do that. It depends what sort of AAR you would like to write. Including the user interface provides readers with more information about your actual game-play, while removing it can help readers to immerse themselves in a story - so it depends whether you prefer information or immersion. I use the free software Paint.net to crop out the user interface. Some TW games have options which allow you to turn off features such as the green circles under the feet of the soldiers in a unit which has been selected - alternatively you can select a unit which is not visible, of course.

  6. #6
    Caillagh de Bodemloze's Avatar to rede I me delyte
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    Default Re: [EB II] Rich Land of Plenty - Baktrian AAR

    This looks like a good start. I particularly like the way you use dialogue to show Demetrios's character. I'll look forward to more!






  7. #7

    Default Re: [EB II] Rich Land of Plenty - Baktrian AAR


    Battle of Ipsos

    301 BCE

    "On me, on me!!"

    The throaty shout from Demetrios nearly broke his voice. With great difficulty, he tried to reign in the ranks of his bloodthirsty soldiers. He raised the point of his blade, caked in viscera, toward the blazing sun; his horse leaped onto two legs and kicked at the air. "Sons of Alexander, hold fast!"

    Horsehair plumes whipped back and forth from gleaming bronze helmets turned too-quickly in the wake of the commander's urgent cry. Horses screeched and snorted at the interruption. Bright red faces of twisted impatience glared back at the captain Demetrios. Behind them, the dust of their more impetuous comrades filled the air in thick plumes as their hunger for gore called them onward to seething pursuit and they vanished little by little.

    "What are your orders, stratege!?"

    Demetrios looked out at the plain. The main lines of the armies were almost half a mile away, drawing inexorably toward each other at an ominous, creeping pace. The commander kicked his horse. "Follow me!" and he set off down the ridge.

    Meanwhile trumpets flared and the banners were raised up to the sky and the drummers now ground down to a clattering pace and up and down the line, like waves breaking against a rocky shore, the manly shouts of battle went up in exuberance.

    "Forward!! Lock the ranks!"

    They were only perhaps forty meters from each other now, maybe less, and the soldiers in the front ranks locked shield against shield and those in the back grasped the long spear firmly in both hands, under and then over, couched hard - painfully - into the gap of the arm and the chest or the shoulder and the neck and as one sparkling mass they advanced, one foot after another foot, firmly planted in the dusted Earth.

    Ten meters.

    "Push!!!!"

    ***

    A chorus of trumpets ended the meditations of Demetrios, Satrap of Baktria. He opened his eyes slowly, feeling himself return to the world. The slight edge of the cool mountain air embraced him again. He stood and gladly emerged from the shade of his tent and into the pale sun.

    The cause of the commotion was a party of Scythian riders. The blood-red banner of the Sakae gold dragon fluttered overhead. From the wings a lieutenant approached. "Shall we admit them lord?"

    Demetrios looked down at his gauntlets; he fixed an errant buckle. "Open the gates."

    The soldier stepped forward and impaled his spear into the Earth. "Open the gates!!"

    Hunchbacked servants, the length of their shoulders knotted and rippled with grotesque muscle, pulled upon taught ropes of hemp and the camp gates scrapped apart. Through the breech the Sakae rode proudly, their heads held high and their hands posed this way or that, on the chest or at the hip or holding the reins in the lap. The scales of their armor clanked and clapped with each bounce of the horse.

    Demetrios stood at the mouth of his tent, pitched atop a raised mound of earth. The Saka fanned out below him like a bloodmoon.

    "Hail to you Greek!" the Saka rider cried crisply, "tested in battle! You banner hangs over this place!"

    "I know that readily enough," Demetrios replied, frowning in the glare of the setting sun. In the following pause he seemed to cock his head. "Do you come to bring peace?"

    "Of course!" the Saka beamed toothily. "The Great Chief acknowledges you over Ryakae. He was weak and so he has died." The nomad stretched out the palm of his hand. "We would have his ring."

    Demetrios sighed imperceptibly. He felt the smooth metal trinket in his pocket. With down-turned face, he retrieved the signet and cupped it in his fist. He alone regarded it: cold, grey, made hard of iron like the Scythians themselves. He closed his fist again, looking up. "I am over Ryakae," he said matter-of-factly.

    The Saka took this incredibly well. "Yes," he replied with a toothless smile inflicted from the sun, "but you are not Saka."

    "Aye," Demetrios returned, letting the ring drop back into his pocket, "but you are not Greek."

    The Saka furrowed his brow; his head cocked to the side; an expression of bemusement occupied his long face. After a silence he motioned to one of his party; they dismounted and from the rear of their steed unclasped an exquisite ornate trunk. With heavy footsteps they marched into the clearing between the parties and placed the box on the ground, opening it.

    "Totems of the hunt!" the Saka cried out with raise-ed hand, clearly enjoying himself. Resting on fine fabric, a carved horn of animal bone awaited its master.

    "A gift for the Greek hunter!" the nomad observed smugly, "from the Great King. He confirms you in Baktria as his client, paying tribute and living in amity with him as lord and vassal."



    Demetrios fixed his gauntlet once more. "I do not accept," he replied, flatly and with a shrug.

    The Saka laughed. "He has not offered you anything!" he said with a kind of humor, "he has ordained the way of things!"

    "I will not pay him," Demetrios said again, his voice calm but deeply insistent.

    The Saka made an irreverent noise close to laughter. He seemed to look at his party as if to check reality itself. "Then you will not be safe..." he said at last, quite nearly sounding concerned for the Baktrian.

    Demetrios had the ring of Ryakae in his hand. After a pause, he placed it on his finger and let it fit tightly around the bronze surface. He held up his palm. "I have five fingers," he proclaimed, with the gravity of a sacred oath, "but I have but one ring."

    The Saka nodded deeply, almost sadly. But the smile never wavered. "You are well-decorated," he said at the last.

    Demetrios nodded.

    In his own bumbling barbarian tongue the Saka indicated to his retinue and they galloped from the camp.

    Last edited by Beckitz; February 14, 2016 at 10:01 PM.

  8. #8

    Default Re: [EB II] Rich Land of Plenty - Baktrian AAR

    “What poor wretch is this?”

    An aide of the camp stepped up beside Demetrios, following the Satrap’s eyes to the bloated and diseased body rotting on the open grass. “I do not known my lord,” the servant admitted as a way of saying.

    They were in a whole litter of such woeful corpses, strewn over the plains on either side of the road. The Baktrian soldiers walked among them like shuffling shades, overawed by mixtures of pity, revulsion, and wonder.

    “My lord.” A scout approached on horseback. “We are just miles from a settlement…”

    Still Demetrios regarded the corpse. “The camp of this ‘Great King’ perhaps?” with a dry grimace he flipped the dead man over by his steel-toed boot.

    “Nay my lord, a city…methinks I saw the pillars of Alexandros themselves!”


    Demetrios quickly met the eyes of his sentry. He searched them for truth. “The city of Alexander??” He looked askance. “But this is a horrid country…”

    The scout inclined his neck. “See for thyself, my lord.”


    Demetrios crested the hill. His heart sank and his face grew pale. In the misty morning, a decrepit cluster of hovels hugged the green-brown water of a meandering river, all filled with the corpses of humans and animals. A length of high stone wall staked out an area vastly larger than anything this ruined village occupied. Well alone, overlooking the pathetic sight, a semicircle of marble columns remained perched atop a grassy hill – the rest had fallen, or else been carried away.

    One by one, little by little, the soldiers arrived at the top of the ridge with their commander. The awful moaning exclamations of the horrified Greeks reverberated through the damp mist. Demetrios shook his head. “What evil is this…?”

    Frightened yelps rang out from the mob. Out of the fog, a huge Scythian perched on a massive stallion trotted into view, his retinue appearing behind him like ghosts. He threw out his arms.

    “The Greeks have returned!” He laughed thunderously, “welcome Greeks, aha!!”


    The Greeks whispered nervously amongst themselves upon this greeting. The Saka rode up and down their assembly, reclined lazily in the saddle. “It is good to see more Greeks – having killed them all – so I may have more skulls, on which to wipe my boots! Haha!” he wheezed again, exposing a few good teeth and many not so good.

    Demetrios shifted his weight. “That you have fared poorly without us is plain to see. But I think you will fare little better in light of our return-“

    There was a show of life from the Greeks, who let out low whistles and laughed to themselves. But nobody laughed harder than the Scythian. “Ah, you Greeks, ahaha! You love words, hahaha! I tell you what I think of your words, Greek!” and before anybody could react, the Saka drew a short spear and drilled it through the shoulder-plexus of an unsuspecting hoplite, utterly slaying him.

    Howling cries of shock and rage exfoliated from the scene of the crime; the Scythian laughed outrageously, a strange backdrop to the cries of fury. “Come on Greeks!” he shouted, his veins bulging, barely audible, “come on and wet my sword again, hah!?”

    Too late he was pelted with spears and arrows; he slipped away into the fog, his retainers following after. Demetrios turned sharply to his lieutenant, “give the order to form ranks” – horns began to blare and commands to be issued – “captain, fetch my horse.”

    ***

    “Push!!!!”

    All locked together, side to side and front to back, the many-pointed death machines lurched forward and collided, skewering eyes, cheeks, chins and throats. The men in the front ranks ducked their heads low, low, even lower if they could; like cripples they arched their backs over their shoulders and craned down to push the shield wall with their neck and shoulder, twisting and turning like bulls, pawing the ground, snorting. They exhaled what little air they had as they were crushed from behind; the second rank from one knee sprung forward and dug their shoulder blades into the spines and backs of their comrades, pushing them forward with all their might.

    Demetrios watched the struggle unfolding from their position on the left flank, up on the ridge. He was waiting for his moment. He could sense it coming. Almost, he thought to himself, almost… The phalanxes shuddered and blobbed together in the middle; like a mountain the ranks were packed so tightly that spear and shield and man alike was forced into the air and then all at once the pile collapsed backward onto the Macedonians – the back ranks cried out at the top of their lungs and plunged forward, driving spear points into the gaps of the defenseless enemy.

    “Let’s ride – go!” Demetrios cried and he whipped his horse into full gallop, the whole of the household cavalry behind him, his sword raised far above his head. In a panic, phalangites ditched spears and swords and fellow soldiers to turn in flight, scattering every which way.

    The cavalry crashed into the broken ranks from the side, and like a tidal wave the whole of the enemy army was rolled up, slaughtered from behind.

    ***


    Like a victorious army on parade the Saka rode out from the ruined city of Alexandria, laughing and cheering to themselves though they had accomplished nothing. Demetrios heart pounded in his chest – “soldiers!!” he cried, galloping down the line, “for Alexander!!”

    “Yes!!!”

    “For Father Zeus!”

    “Yes!!!”

    He peeled off and darted for the enemy; his host sprung after him at all speed. With a bout of cheerful trumpet blasts the Saka counter-charged and the lines collided together in a furious melee.

    Scythians shot arrows from point blank range, ending the lives and worldly sight of the Greek warriors; hoplites bashed shield into faces, breaking noses, breaking jaws, collapsing teeth, sockets, brows; men impaled thus impaled their opponent; bloody fingers found their way to clench wrists, to slash forearms, to worm their way inside mouths and nostrils and eyeballs and shred them apart. Broken spears bludgeoned helmets, made black bruises on foreheads on cheeks; horsehair helmet plumes were grabbed, cut, tangled dragging men to the ground alive or dead from a broken neck.

    Demetrios pulled himself free of the chaos; the household cavalry flocked to him. The ember of the spirit of Ipsos was still there as they circled back around and penetrated the Scythians from the rear, slashing at backs and sword-arms.





    Demetrios severed the vein of a Saka throat, and then in haste he cut down the horse as well, sending it to the death-world with its master. A second Saka he ran through from behind, the blade tracing up the inner lining of the rib cage and emerging out the solar plexus.

    He turned in exhaustion; the Saka chief was perched atop a virtual mountain of bodies, surrounded by a thin line of his retainers; he hacked and swung in wide arcs, trying to beat the Greeks away.

    Demetrios spurred his horse forward; an arrow struck through his shield and he cast it away, beaning a hapless savage in the forehead. A Saka noble jabbed a lance for the face but Demetrios beat it away with the broad side of his blade and with the edge he cut the point to the ground; on the backswing he relieved the savage of his jaw, and with a third blow cut short this woeful life of agony.

    The Saka king faced Demetrios; his bodyguards crowded around but he pushed them away. His first blow was for the shoulder; the plate of Demetrios took it and he responded with a slash for the throat of the horse; the beast’s plating absorbed the strike but in fear it reared back and threw its rider to the ground.

    A sickening crack announced the arrival of the Saka chief upon the rusty Earth; disabled, in blinding pain, he tried to raise his arms to defend himself but the hooves of Demetrios came down and the skull of the Saka was destroyed.

  9. #9

    Default Re: [EB II] Rich Land of Plenty - Baktrian AAR


    With a startling ‘bang’ the doors of the throne room flung open. In the doorway appeared an oversized man – an Easterner – with finely threaded garments that warped and stretched in the effort to accommodate him. His face was painstakingly makeuped, powdered, painted, and blushed, and upon his wild growth of curly hair a much-too-small purple felted cap balanced precariously. He threw his arms out, and at once all present were seen to drop themselves to the floor, prostrated in his presence. Clearly satisfied, he walked down the aisle towards his throne.

    This was Khorfarn, the Marspan of Marakanda, known in Greek as Chorapharnes Oarsu Helioklu, but more commonly referred to merely as Sogdios, or “the Sogdian” – although never, ever, in his presence; for he would not abide such vernacular address about his privileged personage.

    As he strode, abruptly he stopped before the submitted figure of a court steward. “Who,” the Marspan demanded, in his high, sing-song voice, looking upward dramatically, “is the greatest lord and master in all of Sogdia, supreme over mortal affairs?”

    From the prostrate figure came the mumbled response. “You are, my lord.”


    The Marspan frowned. “What was that?”

    “My lord, you are the greatest in Sogdia,” the old man repeated.

    The lord shook his head, “what?”

    “You are the greatest my lord-“

    “What’s that?”

    “You are the greatest!!” the steward yelled, his wiry frame trembling

    The Marspan breathed deeply. “Ah yes, thank you,” and he continued toward his regal seat.

    “Methinks you have forgotten someone…”

    Eyes wide, mouth agape, the Marspan of Marakanda whipped around to regard the doorway. There, resting against the stone frame Demetrios, Satrap of Baktria, was looking upon his eccentric vassal with a not-unfriendly dry smile.

    At once the Easterner fell to the ground and put his face to the floor. “Hail to you o basileus!”

    Demetrios laughed. “You desire to be Greek and yet you happily speak of kings!” He approached his subject and beckoned him to rise from the floor, embracing him. “How are you, brother?”

    “I have followed your commands exactly my lord,” the Sogdian fired off with downcast eyes, “the forts are supplied and garrisoned with soldiers. The sentries have been dispatched and the patrols instituted. The army is mustered and has been drilled-“

    “Then all has been done,” Demetrios smiled wryly, “except to do it!”

    The Marspan swallowed heavily. “My lord,” he began again, hesitantly, still regarding the ground, “the men have never been far from home. They have heard the rumors of the Saka; they know their ferocity and lust for blood…many are fearful-“

    Demetrios laughed softly. “Then your task is quite clear.” He seemed to decide that he would beckon the Sogdian to follow him; together they walked through the halls of the palace.

    “Do you know why Alexander was able to conquer the world?” Demetrios asked after a time.

    The Sogdian solemnly nodded. “He was the son of Zeus,” came the answer matter-of-factly, “ordained by the Father of the Gods to punish the Persians for their indulgence and perfidy.”

    Demetrios nodded as he smiled to himself. “Indeed. But what made him a great human was that he was bold, Khorfarn.”

    “Please,” the Sogdian insisted with outstretched hands, “Chorapharnes-“

    “You cannot fear battle and call thyself Greek in the same breath,” Demetrios countered firmly. “Your plays and sculptures and speeches are but the fruit of Hellas, not its roots.” He held up his fists. “The roots of Hellas are in bravery, brother…”

    The Sogdian wrung his hands fretfully. “Ah, perhaps if you were in command, my lord, and I could learn from your example-“

    “I am much overcome already Khorfarn,” the Satrap said, with finality, “and you have seen enough to know the recipe for victory and defeat.”

    The Sogdian despaired. “I fear the Saka…”

    “Ah, but know this,” Demetrios replied wisely; he reached to his finger and pulled off the ring of Ryakae – “they fear thee too. I have made sure of it.”


    ***
    The Sogdian cradled the ring of Ryakae in his palm. He winced as his litter took a drop down a sharp hill. He rubbed the trinket nervously. He was very far into Saka territory now, and he despaired of every returning home.

    His scouts had sighted a horde of the enemy not far from where they were encamped. It was close to the territory of the Pahlava, another race of nomads who, like the Sogdian, ultimately paid tribute to the Seleucid king in Syria.

    While he was on campaign, the Sogdian received emissaries from the Pahlava. They came from the Dahu valley, where fertile grazing fields had bred a mighty race of warriors in the plain between the Caspian and Aral Seas.


    The battles so far had been terrifying. Each one was remembered as a kind of gruesome stage play; Chorapharnes watched from the bed of his litter as out in the distance soldiers clashed and the cries of dying and wounded men wafted over the plains and gentle rolling hills. Afterward, they would carry him through the scene of the carnage, and he would hold his nose in disgust for the smell and the sight of the mangled.

    But Chorapharnes had done well – or at least, his marshals had done. They defeated two hordes of Saka and forced the others to submit. When Chorapharnes returned to Marakanda, he was greeted as a conquering hero, carried aloft in his litter like a triumphal victor. He started to feel like maybe he enjoyed going to war.

    Indeed, he even started to feel like maybe he was a pretty good general after all.

  10. #10

    Default Re: [EB II] Rich Land of Plenty - Baktrian AAR

    BABYLON
    PALACE OF DARIUS III


    297 BC


    Seleukos was flicking darts at the wall. One at a time he plucked them, fresh from the knapsack on the floor, and with sharp little flicks lodged them in the Persian sandstone or else sent them tumbling to the floor. This was just something he did ever now and then, when he was in feeling in a mood.

    To the strongest… Those had been the words of Alexander as he gave up the ghost, bequeathing his empire to the number of them, and to none of them at all.

    Seleukos liked to believe he was strong, strong enough to be heir to Alexander. In the conduct of his days, in how he busied himself, and in the company he kept he was always meticulously ἰσάζω, “in balance”. He was a scholar of the elements and humors, and by vigorous exercise and colorful consumption he cultivated a perfect harmony of the essences.

    Agitation meant an overabundance of the youthful energy, the γονιμότης. It was perfectly normal and healthy to throw darts into the wall to relieve the congestion.

    “Throwing darts into the wall again, my lord?”

    Seleukos, taking it all with a sort of dry humor, turned to grimace at the salutation from his vassal Demetrios. He half-heartedly tossed a dart at the satrap, who winced and laughed to himself as the point struck into the yellow stone.

    “I am practicing my aim,” he corrected, “perhaps I will find the skill to catch you between the eyes next time.”

    “Mmm, I pray not,” the Baktrian quipped from the threshold. He stepped inside, framed against the magnificent sight of the royal gardens unfolding just beyond the porch of the bedchamber. He watched the general chuck a few more darts.

    “What thought you of Lysimachos today?” Demetrios resumed

    “He is obstinate as always.” Seleukos punctured with another dart. “He claims to support the union but he finds cold feet on every concrete proposal.”

    Demetrios nodded. “Do you think he is stalling?”

    “Stalling for what?”

    “You know that he has contemplated talks with Antigonos,” Demetrios reminded severely. “I fear he remains committed to a military solution-“

    “They would be fools to try it,” Seleukos shook his head, “Antigonos’ army is a shell of what it was, and the princes of Anatolia have abandoned the lot of them.”

    Demetrios smiled to himself. “You cannot expect your enemy to share your optimistic calculations. Antigonos is like a mad dog, starving for battle – he either will continue the fight or else take it up with another – perhaps Hellas-“

    “Hellas is the fool’s gold of the empire,” Seleukos quipped, “rustic bones against rich Asian fruit. I will not sacrifice to keep Antigonos out of Hellas.”

    “And what will happen when Makedonia has retaken its strength from Hellas? Then they will ally with Ptolemy and we will be destroyed from both sides-“

    Seleukos dropped his darts. He achieved his full height. “I trust Ptolemy with my life. He is my brother – my friend.”

    “Let us hope your trust is well placed,” Demetrios said as a way of abdicating judgement.

    Seleukos was not to be fooled. “What are your thoughts, Baktria?”

    “Be careful who you count your friends, my lord,” was all the Satrap said, bowing his head in supplication. “And remember who, in the times of greatest need, made clear their worth by vote of presence or absence ill.”

    Seleukos stood with a smile. “I have many friends, Demetrios, and you are not at all least among them.”

    The Baktrian beamed. “Thank you my lord.”

    ***


    ANTIOCH
    270 BC


    “I used to come here all the time,” Demetrios said as he strolled around the perimeter of the room, peering at lone familiar vases and wood carvings. “This was my favorite reading room. I would study Aristotle here…Socrates as well.”

    The Sogdian was excited. “Do you think they still have the books here?”

    “They have been taken since,” said Demetrios, “lost to the petty crime of Antiochos and his cronies.”

    “You mean they were stolen?” The Sogdian was crestfallen.

    “Stolen, sold, and shelved away…no doubt,” Demetrios agreed sadly.

    Sogdios frowned. “Why would they do such a thing?”

    “For the love of money men have done much worse,” Demetrios answered, just in time as Antiochos came into the room with his bodyguard trailing behind him.

    “Ah, Demetrios!” The king held out his hands in a moment of polite celebration. “Too long since last you were seen in this place!”

    “Not since the passing of your father,” the Baktrian said ominously, his gaze falling intensely on Antiochos.

    The Basileus was unperturbed, as if he noticed nothing. “Ah, and this must be the bright Persian prince you spoke of in your dispatch.” He approached Sogdios with simpering posture. “How are thee boy?”

    Sogdios beamed. “Good sir.”

    “So,” Antiochos spoke with clasped hands, “you have performed richly against the Scythian foe in Baktria!”

    “Thank you my lord.”

    “For your achievements, Demetrios you have the enduring thanks of the people of Marakanda.”

    Demetrios froze. He waited. Was that it? He had been almost sure he would be granted lordship of Marakanda as well. This was a huge snub that came on the heels of a long history of similar snubs and injuries that had greatly chilled relations between the two men. Although Seleukos and Demetrios had gotten along famously, the son of Seleukos was much harder to befriend, possibly because of resenting the reminder of his father’s greatness.

    “Of course my lord,” Demetrios said graciously. But inside, he was scheming.

  11. #11

    Default Re: [EB II] Rich Land of Plenty - Baktrian AAR

    The army of Demetrios continues campaigning against the barbarous Sakae. One day in early Autumn, they come upon the city of Oskobara. Held at times by the Greeks, at other times by Scythian warlords, it is the key to controlling the valley plains of eastern Baktria…



    A wall of hungry hands, all bony-fingered and dirty, rose clamorously in the air, reaching for the Baktrian soldiers and the loaves of bread and skeins of wine they held. By the treaty of 297 established between the victorious allies of Ipsos, this land belonged to the Arche Seleukia, and its Baktrian satrap. But in practice, no Greek garrison had managed to hold the area for many years now. Many locals had fled; the remainders were abused, exploited, and wrung dry for tribute by Scythian chiefs who ran amok through the country at will.

    Demetrios threw a chunk of bread as he went; he watched uncomfortably as the peasants shoved kicked and punched each other for the opportunity to rip the tiny morsel to shreds. Hungry, heartbroken eyes gazed wistfully upon the Satrap but he could only stare back in a stupor of dumbfoundedness. It was not often that nobles saw the condition of the poorest people.

    Commands reverberated up and down the marching line. The Saka had sent riders ahead to meet Demetrios and had offered him to parley. Now the savages were arrayed in the field before the gates of the city. Their bright banners snapped and twisted in the gusty wind. Beneath the cloudy sky they were drawn up into a parade formation, eight to ten warriors deep, perhaps a few hundred to a bloc. The Saka king was on his horse, head held aloft, arms crossed, his sworn-men collected about and behind him.



    Demetrios’ army came into the clearing in high spirits, banging spear against shield and hurling boisterous invective against the enemy. The Saka never faltered but kept their strict composure, eyes straight ahead as if fixated.


    The Scythian warlord kicked his horse ahead, visibly excited by the arrival of his foe. “Welcome Greek, who I have heard so much about!”

    Demetrios went ahead from the army with a small party; his brother and his aides of the camp. But by his conduct he showed great bravery. “Thanks to you, Scythian, although I have not heard so much about you…”

    His arms crossed, the Saka presented a smug picture. “I have left few for the telling,” he boasted with raised chin. “All the better that my overproud enemy should place his head in the noose.”

    Demetrios nodded blandly. “You have had your time of sucking at glory from peasant bones. But you are overmatched now. The Greeks have returned!”

    At this a great cheer went up from the Greeks.

    “Ah, but you wound me Greek!” the Saka pretended to bemoan. “I am a king in the city just like you!”

    Demetrios snorted. “You are no king-“

    “Oh, but I am!” the Scythian insisted with wide-eyes. “This is my city, Greek. These are my walls and my buildings. And the people inside, they are mine, just like any other king.”

    “Being a king is not such that any tyrant may stake claim to the office merely by his commanding others. It is in the edifices of office.”

    The Saka squinted. “What do you mean?”

    Demetrios smiled at his own cleverness. “To be a king is to mint coins! To be a king is to raise temples to the gods! To be a king is to collect taxes and confer responsibilities among the lesser people.”

    “Bah!” the Scythian dismissed with a swipe of his huge hands, “you are so much learned, Greek, that you have become stupid! When I take the wheat from the ground, it is worth more to me than a thousand coins with your misformed face! And when I drive the arrow into the flesh of my foes, I hear the gods more clearly than I have ever hoped to hear them in a smoky place of marble and gold! And when I put my peasants into the dirt,” he kicked the stirrup, “then have I conferred upon them the office of servant, to me, as master.”

    “But you are much loathed,” Demetrios observed, “and your people do not think of you as king but as an invader-“

    “How can this matter?” the Scythian asked rudely. “You are so stupid, Greek, you have learned the lessons you made up for yourself and forgotten the lessons taught to you by nature. There are no coins, no officers, no auspices. There is only the sword, and whoever can wield it the best.”

    He whirled out his blade. “By right of this edge I am king of Oskobara! I am king of Baktria! I am king of everything!! And from my sword, Greek, I will tax you, I will appoint you to Hell, and I will make an idol of your corpse for me, my God!”


    He lurched forward without warning. Demetrios kicked his horse out to meet him; he drew out his sword and he slipped his shield off his back, tucking it close to his face. The Saka rode by for the first time, but Demetrios did not strike; he put both hands on the shield and steadied himself, enduring the first blow with a jolt that rattled his teeth.

    “Come on Greek!” The Saka circled back.

    Demetrios simmered to himself and kicked his horse to speed. His heart pounded in his throat as he came closer, closer, and at the last minute ducked the swing of the Scythian and caught him in the face with the lip of his shield.

    The Saka grunted audibly and his helmet toppled backwards off his head. Spurts of blood sprinkled from the savage’s crumpled nose. He whipped around sharply. “Embrace death, cur!!”

    Demetrios turned as fast as he could; he leaned in to the Scythian’s swing and took it; chips of paint and bronze flung in the air. Demetrios swung in a wide arc but the tip of his blade hit the enemy’s plates and was rebuffed. The Saka uncorked a huge backswing and pelted the upper lip of the Satrap’s shield right into the air and down to the grass.

    Sharp chips of bronze exploded everywhere; Demetrios was turned to the side; the Scythian this time stabbed hard down the middle and the Greek shield collapsed, broken like a dinner plate; Demetrios came from overhead in a massive arc and cut the hand off the Saka clean off of its wrist.

    The Saka howled in rage. Snorting for breath, he flung himself forward and with his dagger skewered the brain of the Greek horse; Demetrios waved his arms for balance but there was no stopping his heavy fall to the ground; the Saka rode forward as if to trample the satrap but Demetrios found the hilt of his sword and slashed the underbelly of the beast.

    Demetrios cried out and charged the downed barbarian, looking to finish him in the throat; the Saka ‘blocked’ the attack with his arm and the sword was caught between the plates of his armor; with the right side of his body, the Scythian charged head-down and tackled Demetrios like a wrestler.

    The dagger flashed down but Demetrios caught it with both hands; his face grew purple and veins bulged in his head from keeping the deadly point away. Spastically, he wrapped the torso of his opponent between his knees and flipped him.

    The one good wrist of the Saka was pinned to the dirt; the barbarian tried to bludgeon Demetrios with his stump; the Greek ignored the gruesome blows and with his fingernails pried the dagger free.

    The Saka kicked his opponent away. He stood, wobbling, hemorrhaging blood from his nose, his arm, his wrist… Demetrios, listing hard to the right, charged with one final burst of wild abandon. The Scythian ducked to his left…


    A choked, grunting cry passed the lips of the barbarian. He was stabbed beneath the ribcage. He grasped the back of Demetrios head like a lover; he clenched his hair. “Go…north,” he grunted in pain. “The Great King…expects you…” And his weight went limp and he rolled to the ground.
    Last edited by Beckitz; February 16, 2016 at 11:42 AM.

  12. #12

    Default Re: [EB II] Rich Land of Plenty - Baktrian AAR

    Following the trail of the defeated Saka, Demetrios and the Baktrians go north into the mountains in pursuit.
    Huddled together, the army braves the foreign terrain and the bitter cold



    Snowflakes swirled through the sharp mountain air. Across the barren peaks, merciless gusts of wind raked the soldiers again and again. Metal was ice to the touch. There was not much cheering or exuberance anymore. The men breathed heavily to themselves, releasing vast plumes of steam, while they rubbed fingers and feet with as much friction as they could manage. Armor clanked heavily and was tiring, cumbersome. Fingers turned white, purple, or horrible black.

    The sun would set soon. For now a dull wintry light illuminated the pass very softly. The Saka were on the ridges, shadowing them. There was little initiative to drive them off. That night, there were few who could sleep. Most gathered around campfire together and drank hot water, wrapped in blankets, staving off thoughts of the freezing cold.

    Demetrios told stories of the golden days. These were the times of Alexander, Seleukos, Lysimachos...most had heard them before but they did not care. The stories were magic. They took them away from the icy mountains and back to sunny places where the vast inheritance of Alexander still waited to be spent.

    The next day, the army came up further into the mountain passes and the country of Mazsakata, the homeland and cradle of the Scythians.







    They had chased the Saka for over a month. Several times they came close, but the savages always retreated a little further, going deeper and deeper into the places where the land could not even sustain the meager existence of a nomad. In anger the Greeks burned the grass as they went and drove off the herds.

    Many of the soldiers despaired. They thought they would not see home again. But Demetrios was patient. He knew the enemy was not as supremely positioned as they wanted to appear. As they retreated, they abandoned more and more of their heard and they left the fertile grasses of the lower parts, when the livestock could survive. Soon, the Saka would have to give battle.

    The moment came at last in the dawn of winter, just when the snow was going to fall in heavy droves and the passes would be closed for the season. Fearing to continue their flight and become trapped in the high part of the mountains, the Saka turned and gave battle.




    "We have reduced them to nothingness!" Demetrios claimed to the soldiers in formation, riding over the ranks and speaking to each segment in turn. "They are in a state of desperation! They only face you now because they know that they only choice they have left is to die like animals or to die like men!"

    The morning had been filled with hard fighting. The Greeks had driven the Saka off from the mountain ridges and secured the flanks of the army, but the struggle was fierce and the Scythians had tried several times to recapture the commanding position. Only well into the afternoon did the savages abandon the effort. Now they massed in a narrow valley, guarding their property and chattel, waiting for the Baktrians to attack.




    "So here you are Greek!" the messenger appeared, riding bravely into the space between the two armies. "You have proven your might, yes? You have taken the rings of many of our brothers. You have cruelly ended the saga of many great nations. Will you not go home now? Are you not cold? Do you too not suffer because of your foolish pride?"

    Demetrios ran his spear into the ground. "No more! There can never be peace with a people as perfidious as you Scythians! For when I was weak you scorned me, when I was growing mighty you pretended to be my friend, when you thought you could defeat me you revealed yourself to be my enemy, and when I come here now to vanquish you you beg to be my subjects."

    "Mark my words Greek!" the messenger cried in fury, "this is not the end of the Saka! Time will heal our wounds and fatten our livestock again! The Saka will return, and they will be everything you feared they would be!"

    Soon after the battle was joined. The Saka were at a horrible disadvantage in the confined space of the valley. Against the Baktrian hoplites they were pushed back, while the archers of the Marspan and the other Iranian allies laid down a shredding volley of arrows.






    For the time being, the Saka were vanquished. The survivors scattered into the plains; many died in the freezing winter, and the survivors did not fare much better. Without herds or clan to speak of, they were absorbed by mightier nomad nations or else melted away into nothing.



  13. #13

    Default Re: [EB II] Rich Land of Plenty - Baktrian AAR

    The 'New Hellenic Revolution' in Baktria
    272 - 240 BCE



    Greek culture was arguably more successful outside of Hellas than in the peninsula itself. By far the greatest legacy of Alexander's 4th Century conquests was the wave of settlers, merchants, artisans, and political elites which followed him deep into the heartland of Asia and in North Africa. The great Hellenic urban centers of Antioch, Seleucia, Baktria, and Marakanda became the loci from whence Greek culture disseminated into surrounding regions. Economic interest fueled social, artistic, and economic changes on the basis of discrimination and expediency; Greek ways of manufacture, architecture, and expressive art were not only adopted by surrounding peoples because they were highly prized, but because they were relatively simple to replicate and modify. A cascade of innovations in ceramics, metalworking, and textiles during the period under Demetrios I (297 - 256) are evidence not only for new, syncretic techniques in craftsmanship but also for booming demand and widening commercial networks across Central Asia under the stable political order of the Arche Seleukia.

    Cultural change was driven by a constellation of factors. Pragmatic considerations, again, doubtless played a role. Local craftsmen could not match the industrialized production methods of the Greeks even with the finest techniques. The artistic merit of Greek styles was admired in itself, and inspired many of the new motifs which appeared in ceramics during the period; realistic human figures began to eclipse stylized depictions and rustic scenes were commonly depicted for the first time. Local political leaders, seeking to curry favor with the new Greek overlords, were enthusiastic patrons of Hellenic styles and contributed to the cultural shift by according the new arts with a sort of prestige.

    The economic boom was enabled by a fortuitous collision of invention and circumstance. The historian Dion Nyasos specifically credited a heroic figure, Milon, with inventing a ceramic-making device called the "pottery vine" or sometimes "pottery rack". The device is briefly described as a kind of mold in which the potter poured the clay into a prefabricated shape. The clay would cook in place and then was cooled by pouring water inside; the vase would shrink, loosing itself from the mold. A single "pottery vine" made as many as thirty pieces in a single batch. The finished products could be painted, or sometimes were sold outright. A dig in western Gandhara unearthed dozens of these unadorned vases, suggesting that they were highly demanded.




    Within decades of the first mention of the "pottery vine", similar devices - not similarly attributed to any inventor - appeared for the manufacture of countless articles: arms, armor, farm tools, even women's jewelry. The mass production may have made the finished products significantly more affordable, partially explaining the widespread proliferation. A village unearthed in Sogdiana found "pottery vine" ceramics in the personal dwelling of slaves and servants. Since the design of the "vine" itself was a closely guarded state secret in Baktria, the find indicates an unprecedented market for these cheap Greek ceramics far outside of the metropolieses.

    ​Metalworking achieved a very high degree of sophistication and proficiency with the first deep-vein metal mines beginning operation in the 260s. Native masters of copper, bronze, and iron brought unique styles to the manufacture of Greek-style helms, spears, shields, and body armor in one of the most interesting East-to-West cultural interactions in the region. Hoplon shields depicted with classical Eastern myths like the journey of Gilgamesh or depicting Greek mythology in an orientalized style have cropped up at numerous military burial sites in Baktria.



    Coins minted during this period were of extremely high quality; they have been found as far abroad as Rome and South China in some places. The style is in classic Greek, depicting the facial profile of the sovereign and on the reverse the lark, the familial symbol of the Demetroid dynasty. Inscriptions on the coins attribute Demetrios with the status of "Archon Baktriai" or, interestingly enough, often laud the Satrap with military titles: "commander", "conqueror", or "victor" - intriguing glances into the politics of the time, in which Demetrios had just capped off a brilliant set of campaigns against the Sakan tribes.

    Local authorities in some cases began to mint their own coins as well. The influence of the Greek style is obvious, and Greek lettering completes the inscriptions. A silver coin found in Marakanda salutes a Chorapharnes 'Philhellenos' (Greek Friend) and has the lord crowned with a laurel and a suspiciously Caucasian face. In Oskobara, coins celebrate the defeat of a Scythian warlord who evidently had ruled the city for some time - the coins celebrate the return of direct rule from Baktra to Oskobara. Political centralization was one of the major movements of the era, with courtly documents recording an unprecedented 150 'magistrates' or 'local governors' appointed by Demetrios for the years between 268 and 262.


    The ethnic Greek population boomed during the period, possibly even doubling from about 350,000 in 272 to as many as 700 or 800 thousand by 250. An influx of foreign settlers, attracted by the wealth and prosperity of the mountain kingdom, certainly contributed. Huge agricultural grants were organized in the neighborhood of tens of thousands of acres, establishing at least 100,000 people across the regions of Sogdiana, Baktra, and Alexandreia-Eschate. Significant-sized temples are recorded at rustic locations in Marakanda (267), Oskobara (265), and Havoumaga (261) suggesting the presence of attached communities of worshipers.



    The prosperity of the Baktrian manufactures created a monied society for the first time. Herodotus, recalling the history of Baktria, commented that usury and money-lenders became a public sickness for the first time in this era. The money supply was tightly controlled by the satrapal government, through an economic council called the "
    ἀrkhémporos sinédrion". They additionally had command over the manufactures in Baktra and were charged with publishing strict lists of prices and exchange rates for commodities, in general running the economy by command. In some areas they were considered powerless, but because of the support of the satrap they exercised a police power over sales and money-lending.

    To actually sell the finished goods from the manufactures, the Arkhemporos Sinedrion established what was known as a "visa" or "royal licensing" system. The visas were given to local producers promising them a certain quantity of purely refined, unfinished goods. Once received by the local distributor, they would then be decorated for the first time; to a vase they would apply some painted scene - to a tunic or garment the fine edges of colored fabric and embroidery would be added. The good was then marked up and sold at a retail price. The difference went back to the Sinedrion and was slated either for reinvestment or for a special series of accounts in the royal treasury called "common cheques".



    The members of the council were all wildly wealthy and had control over the supply of many of the economy's primary goods. Membership in the Arkhemporos was through appointment of the satrap (later the king), and because of the widespread culture of corruption in those times no small amount of the profits went right into the pockets of those on the council.

    By the late period of Demetrios' reign the Sinedrion became the most influential political body in the realm....
    Last edited by Beckitz; February 17, 2016 at 10:33 AM.

  14. #14

    Default Re: [EB II] Rich Land of Plenty - Baktrian AAR

    Nice updates Beckitz! Really enjoyable style as usual. I especially liked the last one which provides a bit of a different view on your campaign - well done!
    As someone said before - the only thing this campaign needs compared to your (excellent) Sarmatian one is a bit more stuggle and tension. If you can squeeze that out of your campaign/story, then this is potentially going to be epic!

    Cheers, Z
    Chronicles of Cimmeria - A Kimmerios Bosporos AAR (EB2)
    The Age of Peace - A TW: Warhammer Empire AAR
    Blood Red Eagle - The Sons of Lodbrok Invasion of Northumbrialand [complete]
    Machines - A Sci-Fi Short Story [complete]

  15. #15

    Default Re: [EB II] Rich Land of Plenty - Baktrian AAR

    Quote Originally Posted by Zeion View Post
    Nice updates Beckitz! Really enjoyable style as usual. I especially liked the last one which provides a bit of a different view on your campaign - well done!
    As someone said before - the only thing this campaign needs compared to your (excellent) Sarmatian one is a bit more stuggle and tension. If you can squeeze that out of your campaign/story, then this is potentially going to be epic!

    Cheers, Z
    Thanks Z you rock!






    The Arche Diodotoi

    Diodotos I was the first King of the Diodotoi Dynasty in India. He was originally the younger brother of Demetrios I, King of Baktria. He was also the “Chief Magistrate” of the Sinedrion Arkhemporos, the powerful council of economic and industrial officers who controlled the activities of the state manufactories. He himself became very rich from the profits and was said to have extravagant palatial homes with fabulous gardens and fountains.

    Indo-Greek Cultural Exchange

    Trade between Baktria and India grew rapidly in the age before the Diodotoi Conquest. A stele found outside Oskobara includes a note acknowledging the contribution of the Mauryan governor in defeating an incursion of Saka raiders. Both polities were militarily and politically stable and capable of controlling their borders well. The mountain passes into the northern plain of the Indus became highways of trade.

    Exotic goods flooded back into Baktria like spices, sugar, and grain – endless grain – ported back in caravans of Arkhemporoi pots. The surplus was enough that the Satrap was able to institute “grain holidays” in which the government handed out bushels of wheat and corn for free to the citizens. The urban population boomed.

    In 259 the Sinedrion established the first “external guild” in Taksashila. The company traded mass-produced metal crafts and ceramics in exchange for spices, sugar, and tea – sweet, sweet tea – which trendy Greeks happily adopted as a customary beverage in the morning or after mealtime. The mercantile empire of the Sinedrion soon dominated the Indus River trade and huge barges of Sinedrion goods were a common sight.

    Meanwhile in Baktria there was a craze for all things Indian. The influences of Indian art, dress, leisure, and culture writ large disseminated through the lives of the Greek elite class. Oriental games like chess and backgammon became hugely popular. The cult of the Buddha achieved its first schools of adherents in the city of Baktra itself.

    The Oriental craze culminated in a marriage proposal between the Baktrian prince Diodotos and a princess of the Indian dynasty ruling in Taksashila. When the marriage fell through because of a faux-pas, Diodotos – with the backing of his brother Demetrios – used his personal fortune to raise an army to invade Gandhara




    Last edited by Beckitz; February 18, 2016 at 07:31 AM.

  16. #16

    Default Re: [EB II] Rich Land of Plenty - Baktrian AAR

    The Battle of Orthospara

    Location: Orthospara, Hindu Kush
    Casualties: Diodotoi 2000 , Yazdaban 25000
    Description:

    This was the first major engagement in Diodotos' conquest of India. An initial strike through the Hindu Kush mountain ranges caught the city of Orthospara unprepared; the city was ill-supplied for a siege and could only hold out for several months before the defenders were coaxed into a desperate attack.




    A charge was mounted through the front gates. The defenders lined the walls and provided a hail of covering fire to the infantry troops. The Diodotoi closed the distance quickly and cut the Indians down to a man as they panicked trying to return through the gates.







    The city was taken under arms and a garrison was left behind to keep order while Diodotos advanced ahead toward the Indus River, planning to invade Gandhara and stake his claim to an Indian legacy


    Last edited by Beckitz; February 17, 2016 at 06:32 PM.

  17. #17

    Default Re: [EB II] Rich Land of Plenty - Baktrian AAR

    The Battle of the Indus River
    Location: Indus River, Gandhara
    Casualties: Diodotoi 1400 , Gandharans 7000

    Description:

    The Gandharans regrouped with the remaining forces from Orthospara and acted as if to oppose the crossing of the Indus. In winter, Diodotos cleverly moved his army downriver and crossed at an unguarded pass, in spring being able to approach the Indians from the flank.





    The infantry drove hard on the Indians, making it difficult for them to use their skill in missile weapons. The Indian chariots proved ineffective despite the open spaces, although the elephants were used to deadly effect.





    The Arachosian cavalry of Diodotos fought fiercely all during the day with their Indian counterparts. The flanks held allowing the heavier Greek infantry to push hard up the middle and destroy the much lighter Indian foot soldiers.




  18. #18

    Default Re: [EB II] Rich Land of Plenty - Baktrian AAR

    The Battle of Taksashila
    Location: Taksashila, Gandhara
    Casualties: Diodotoi 500 , Indians 3000
    Description:




    This battle demonstrated the superiority of Greek infantry over their Indian counterparts. Diodotos I invented a new battle tactic for fighting in India scholars apparently called the "wave" or "rush" formation. It used the mainly hoplite-style infantry forces of the Diodotoi army to their full advantage. The soldiers would form up on the battlefield in as long of a front line as possible, sometimes stretching well over several miles. They charged at full speed and closed the distance with the enemy as quickly as possible, with the intention of pressing the line close into the face of the Indians. This forced the opponent to reckon with the Greek heavy infantry right away and made it difficult for them to employ effective archers or missile troops.





    The other prominent element of the Diodotoi army was the light cavalry. Drawn from the region of Arachosia, they were used as deadly skirmishers capable of riding up on the flank of the Indian infantry and peppering them with javelins before they had a chance to respond. When the enemy tried to pursue, the Arachosian cavalry were lure the opponent out and when they had tired themselves and been scattered the cavalry would turn and massacre the exhausted pursuers.


    Elephants made an appearance at Taksashila, inspiring horror in the memories of those present at the battle. Massed formations of heavy infantry were an ineffective solution. Diodotoi armies took up the practice of using loosely-spaced formations of javelin wielding troops; they would allow the elephants to pass wherever they wished and as they went they peppered the beasts and their drivers with missiles to bring them down.






    The Battle of Opiana
    Location: Opiana, Saurymaga
    Casualties: Diodotoi 2500 , Indian Alliance 20000
    Description:

    In 249 Diodotos had conquered the northern plain of the Indus River. He now had a mighty army at his command, and he was positioned to complete the conquest of the whole Indus River. Fearing his power, a last coalition of the Indian polities in the Indus formed to resist the Greek invaders at the Battle of Opiana.


    The Diodotoi army was battle-tested and brutally effective. The heavy infantry were like a meat-grinder, which chewed up the lightly-equipped Indian footsoldiers; elite units like the Theurophoroi punched through weak segments in the Indian line and wrecked havoc in the flanks and through the center. Arachosian cavalry cut into the numbers of the units on the flanks and often caused confusion and chaos to great effect. Heavier household cavalry charged at critical moments to destroy enemy lines and cause cascading routs. Phalangites drawn from the population of Macedonian settlers back in Baktria could form a last line of defense and reinforce weakening sections with an immovable wall of spears.


    The Indian Alliance came onto the field expecting Diodotos to attack, as he customarily did. When the Diodotoi held position, the Indians made an attempt to advance on a fortified hill nearby, and take a dominant position on the battlefield.


    Fatefully, the maneuver was exposed by Arachosian scouts. As soon as it was reported back in the Diodotoi camp, Diodotos raised the army to battle positions and descended on the Indian army in the thick woods. Chaos ensued. In the terrain, the Greek heavy infantry had an unquestionable advantage over the Indians. A brutal melee lasted all day but ended in a decisive victory over the army of the Indian Alliance, which retreated to Opiana and a little later was forced to surrender the city.



    Diodotos became Diodotos I, master of the Indus River and the first Basileus of the Arche Diodotoi, the Diodotoi Dynasty in Northern India.

  19. #19
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: [EB II] Rich Land of Plenty - Baktrian AAR

    The Diodotoi army, with their new formations and tactics, are effective indeed. I wonder what the next goal of Baktria will be.

  20. #20

    Default Re: [EB II] Rich Land of Plenty - Baktrian AAR

    Quote Originally Posted by Alwyn View Post
    The Diodotoi army, with their new formations and tactics, are effective indeed. I wonder what the next goal of Baktria will be.
    Let us find out .

    I am also experimenting with new tactics and I am using the same historical style for these next few posts that I used for my Sarmatian AAR. Let me know what you prefer. I can also do a narrative-style as I have mostly used so far, although I must say I find it much harder. Much respect to those who pull it off so well!



    From Herodotus' The History of the Hellenes


    In 239 BC there was great turmoil in Baktria. The Satrap Demetrios died suddenly of a bout of illness. He was an old man, greatly advanced in age and long prone to frailty and ill-health. Still, there were many whispers in the court at Baktra and in Syria that foul play had been involved. Some suspected that the Syrian King had orchestrated the death of his vassal by means of subterfuge.


    The reason for the rumors was this. The foundries of the Sinderion Arkhemporion had become legendary across Asia. They were wildly prolific, and none other could match the speed with which they turned out refined goods and metal-crafts of quality. Many had tried to steal the secrets of the legendary forges, but none had ever succeeded. It was said that only Milon, the inventor of that genius device, knew the blueprints. He lived in seclusion within the walls of the forge, never venturing out or treating with guests. It was therefore impossible for any to replicate the achievement. The King of Syria, by way of replacing his wayward client ruler, could then compel the new satrap to hand Milon over and from him the secret of the forge would be extracted. This is what the cynics said.

    The Syrian king did not help himself by his conduct. He immediately dispatched a new governor in a person named Achaios.


    Achaios was not Makedonian and he was not a Hellene. He had been a royal prince of the Persians and spent some time in Persepolis as a magistrate prior to his post in Baktria. For a time he was master of the rolls in Antioch, and this is when he came to the attention of the King, who found him to be useful. But he was not similarly loved by the people of Baktria, who were appalled that they should be governed by a xenos rather than a native-born Greek.

    Riots and tumults disturbed the country and brought disaster to the cities of Baktra, Marakanda, and Oskobara. The country settlers refused to pay taxes and readied their familial arms and armor, claiming that they should defend the legacy of Hellas even if it were so far away in the fringe of Asia.

    Meanwhile, the Sinedrion convened a meeting of its council members. These were the wealthiest men in the country, who had made fortunes from the bounty of the forge. They unanimously decided that they would not open the gates of the foundry to the new governor, despite direct orders to do so. The new satrap Achaios was incensed, and he commanded his retinue of troops to surround the manufacturer and place it under siege, declaring that no food or sustenance should pass the walls until the Sinedrion complied with the lawful commands.


    In this position of duress, the Sinedrion sent an envoy to Diodotos, the brother of Demetrios, who was now King in India and had been one of the leading members of the council in its infancy. They entreated Diodotos to return to Baktria with his army and expel the Persian governor from the province. In exchange, they would not only welcome Diodotos back into the council (a thing which he had lost because, as the old saying goes, a king in one realm cannot be an adviser in another) but they would make him the Chief Magistrate of the Sinedrion, giving him leadership of the whole foundry and its enterprise all over Asia.

    Delighted by this opportunity, Diodotos at once hastened to assemble his army and he crossed back over the Hindu Kush, as he had done just a decade ago, passing through the wealthy border town of Opiana, where he consulted the priests of the temple of Zeus. There they told him that they sensed a great boon awaited him in the near future, and that by becoming head of a mighty empire he would achieve renown, glory, and wealth beyond imagining. This redoubled the resolve of Diodotos, and hastened his march.

    When Achaios received word of the coming invader he at first resolved as if to fight, and he sent out the order across the province for the levy of troops. But few answered the summons, and moreover many reacted with violence, assaulting the Satrapial envoys and subjecting them to humiliations. Unable to muster an army, Achaios retreated to the safety of the province of Gabiene, where he waited on word from Syria for reinforcements and what he ought to do next.


    In Baktra, Diodotos was received to a joyous procession of his army. The people thronged the streets and threw garlands upon the soldiers; warriors kissed babes and held them high into the air in the sight of the gods. All was exuberant. The Sinedrion opened its great metaled gates to Diodotos and thereafter proclaimed him King in Baktria as well as the Indus, also according him the title of forge-master.

    The foundry at once was put to the task of making arms and armor and all other equipment for the looming war. While this was done, the Syrian king had dispatched another army from the west, which approached the realm by way of Areia. This was a mighty host, with soldiers hardened from the war in Syria against Ptolemy, and lavishly equipped with the finest bronze and iron. Among the ranks, too, were elephants and cataphracts and scythed chariots, all assembled together under the banner of Achaios.

    To meet the Syrian army, Diodotos dispatched his son-in-law, a junior magistrate of the Sinedrion, Kanishka. He was only half-Greek, his father had been a Sogdian. But Diodotos always had a fondness for him, and protected him from the envy of others, so that as he was displayed before the people he immediately won their affection and was met with loud cries of approval and well-wishes for the coming campaign.


    Kanishka set out with a robust army into Areia, aiming to meet Achaios and draw him to battle.


    The army of Achaios was hesitant. They did not truly want to battle and this is why they lost. For the Diodotoi, charged with wrath at the injustices the Syrian king had tried to inflict, were like a mad dynamo that could not be withstood. On the plain of Areia, they massed like a furious mob, and with no regard for the signal-givers or the trumpeters they descended upon the Syrian phalanxes and pushed them back, forcing them to yield ground.


    As they were preoccupied as such, the Diodotoi cavalry swept from the flank and trapped the Syrians in a pocket.



    In close order, the phalanx yielded and began to break. Achaios, seeing the fate of his over-proud army, tried to commit his elephants as a last gamble but they were useless in the dense throng of soldiers, and they could not muster the inertia for a proper charge. They became tangled, and trying to extricate themselves from the melee many perished or threw off their riders and ran amok, causing even greater havoc.



    When the King of Syria received word of the disaster at Areia, there was at first a panic. Wild rumors abounded, that the army of Kanishka would soon invade from the East and lay waste to everything. The Basileus could not temper the fears of his court or his people, who were thrown into chaos. To remedy the situation, he sent envoys to Diodotos in Baktra. He professed to apologize for his previous injuries. Diodotos was made co-ruler in the east, and given himself the title of Basileus - the first time the kingly status of the Baktrian lords was acknowledged by the King in Syria.



    The Sinedrion celebrated the news with a month-long holiday in Baktra. And for the first time, coins were minted bearing the visage of Diodotos, with an inscription lauding him as King of Asia and the Indus. Never before had so lofty of a title been accorded to the ruler of the East. The Syrian king was forced to concede the whole of Areia to Diodotos.

    The peace could not last forever. But with his western border temporarily secure, Diodotos turned his eyes toward broadening the Baktrian realm and growing in strength, to mount a true bid for the conquest of Asia. He turned his eyes toward Parthia.

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