Welcome to the fourth part of the Belisarius Campaign – this is the series of articles focused on the greatest Byzantine general – Belisarius – and his struggles against Sassanid Empire in sixth Century AD, as depicted by Commands Colors Medieval game. We had already covered two skirmishes at Thannuris (528 AD) & Melebasa (528 AD) as well as siege of Dara (530 AD) and today we will focus on another city-related battle – Satala.
Belisarius Campaign: Thannuris (528 SD) => Melebasa (528 AD) => Dara (530 AD) => Satala (530 AD)
The Sassanid loss at Dara did not ended the so-called Iberian War – a conflict raging between the Byzantine and the Sassanid Empires from 526 AD to 532 AD over the eastern Georgian kingdom of Iberia. Quite oppositely, another Sassanid army under the guidance of Mihr-Mihroe was assembled and marched to the city of Satala in Byzantine Armenia. The city was besieged and two very able lieutenants of Belisarius – Sittas (hidden with some cavalry force outside the city) and Dorotheus (commanding city defenses) – were opposing Persians.
When the Sassanid army moved forward to surround and storm the city, Sittas attacked from the rear. Mihr-Mihroe turned to face the danger, and at the same moment Dorotheus led the force out of the city and attacked the Persians in the rear. Persians were more numerous but definitely shocked and their morale started to crumble. Once they lost the standard, they collapsed and routed. That was another close but successful engagement of Byzantine forces against Sassanid invaders.
The scenario features pretty new rule – known from Dara – regarding city gates. Each gate that is stormed and opened gives 1 VP to Sassanid. Also, we do not have Belisarius on the map, but his subordinates fight definitely in the way of the great general.
The set-up of the scenario shows situation just before Sassanids started to attack Satala. You can clearly see Byzantine forces concealed behind hill at the far side. The game is about for a dynamic and brutal start.
And here it comes – devastating charge of Romans who move first. Attack successful, but to some extent contained by timely play of Ambush card by Marcin. Everything can still happen and the result is open.
In CCM, you rarely see infantry attacking cavalry but why not try when enemy lost the leader?
Ok, maybe that was not such a great idea – despite concentrating most of the forces in one place, Sassanids are repelled by well-placed Byzantine forces on the hills, who use Inspired Tokens to ignore flags rolled against them.
Final look at the board – everything, all the actions, took place in one area around hills. That was very bloody, quick & intense and resulted in definitive (6-2) victory for defending Romans. Would similar fate will await Eastern aggressor in the second game?
As usually, we immediately prepared for the rematch. This time it was me who was supposed to lead surprised Sassanids. And as you will see, this time we played much longer and with great variety of tactical options.
However, it started in usual way – Byzantines charging from behind the hills and killing some Persians.
Soon they were dealt with – Marcin had definitely unlucky rolls that day.
Quick look at the board mid-game. It is 4-3 for Byzantines and everything starts from the scratch you may say.
Sassanids uses redeploy for innovative play, concentrating all the heavy units in one place plus infantry screen. The screen is being immediately attacked by Super Heavy Roman cavalry.
But then it is time for Eastern cavalry charge – they dealt huge losses to weakened enemy and were at the verge of victory – I was rolling 6d against unsupported Auxilia, but did not manage to kill it or force to retreat and when Marcin’s turn come, I was dealt a final blow. 6-5 for Romans!
Satala is in some way similar to Dara scenario – both are city-siege / relief type scenarios, in both we have tactically superior Byzantines attacking the opponent with the hidden forces from the rear / flank. Also, both are great fun as the game-play is quick & brutal with both factions set-up in very confrontational way. It really easy and quickly gets to hand-to-hand combat.
Definitely Satala – as Dara – should be played by more experienced Commands & Colors players, and requires some less complex scenario played first to grasp the mechanics and subtleties of CCM game. It is a rewarding game-play in which – twice – Byzantine forces found themselves superior to opponent.