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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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Hi all, long time AAR reader for many strategy games; this is my first AAR attempt! Comments welcome!


Chapter I - In the Shadows of the Seleucids

Part I - Independence and Expansion

Armenia - 280 B.C.


Following the collapse of the Achaemenids and in the resulting chaos of the wars of the Diadochi, a then-inconsequential mountainous satrapy declared its independence under their first King, Mithranes I. While the Seleucids resented this, as they considered Armenia to be nominally part of their empire, they left the issue alone for the time being, having more dangerous concerns with the other Greek successor states.

However, Armenia suffered from a lack of resources and allies, and Mithranes felt it had to expand if he wanted to pass an independent kingdom on to his son and heir. Thus, in 279 B.C., with the Seleucids busy fighting Ptolemaic Egypt, a minor dispute involving the death of an Armenian nobleman erupted into war with the Kingdom of Iberia.



Mithranes himself led 9000 men into the heart of Iberia while Chosroes Akrid led a contingent in an invasion of Meskheti in the west. Mithranes swept aside the poorly equipped Iberian army and after barely two months, Iberia surrendered, ceding Meskheti and accepting tributary protection from Armenia. It was a huge success for Mithranes and Akrid, and the latter was given governorship of a new province of Iberia for his service.

Encouraged by this success, Mithranes quickly reorganized and assembled his armies to resolve a similar dispute with the King of the Colchis. The king at Phasis claimed an Armenian noble had attempted to assassinate him, and had the offender put to death. Mithranes refuted the conviction, and declared war on 21 April 278 B.C.



Again the King divided his forces, himself personally leading a force into eastern Soani while the general Gotarzes Savacid led the assault on the Colchian capital. Outside the walls of Phasis, Gotarzes brutally beat the Colchian army and cut off their retreat to the north, forcing them to the east where Mithranes waited unbeknownst to them. The King's forces annihilated the fleeing army, and again after a few months Colchis capitulated, ceding Soani and accepting a tributary status to the Crown of Armenia. However, Colchis' Rhoxolanian allies refused to accept peace, and until 276 B.C. continued to sporadically raid Armenian Soani from their hideouts in the Caucasus.

In 277, the Seleucids reasserted their control over Pergamon which convinced Mithranes of the need to move forward with his final expansion goal: access to the sea. His Councillors agreed, and suggested the King should conquer Trapezus from the Pontians. Pontus had been badly humiliated in 279, losing all the lands west of Pontus proper to the Bithynians in a badly-fought war. Mithranes assumed he could convince the Pontians to give up Trapezus easily in a third lightning war. Again Mithranes took advantage of a conspiracy dispute to declare war on Pontus on the fouth of July 275 B.C.



Gotarzes Savacid, the hero of Phasis, took lead command and marched on Pontus with 15000 men, including 5000 foreign archers and cavalry. Mithranes himself marched towards Trapezus with 7000 men. However, the Pontian army surprised the Armenians by abandoning Pontus in favor of engaging Mithranes' smaller force at Trapezus. The King of Armenia was narrowly defeated and retreated to Armenia proper while the Pontians sieged Meskheti. Meanwhile, the Bosporan allies of Pontus sent a small expeditionary force through the Caucasus which outflanked the Armenians and laid siege to Soani. Mithranes hired more mercenaries and recuperated his army while the siege at Pontus slowly dragged on. After the fall of Meskheti, the Pontian army moved to Soani to aid the Bosporans and Soani fell soon afterwards. As soon as Mithranes' army was ready, Pontus fell. In a two-pronged assault Gotarzes marched on Trapezus while Mithranes chased the allies out of Armenia. However, the allies' retreat into the Caucasus turned into a march around Iberia and they invaded Armenia from the east. Trapezus fell, and Gotarzes raced a united Armenian army of over 20,000 men towards the capital. The allies tried to flee, but the Armenians caught the Bosporans and routed their entire army. With their country occupied and allies out of the war, the Pontians finally conceded defeat in November of 274 B.C.



Gotarzes was given a hero's welcome in Artashat and rewarded with a government position, but the war had bruised Armenia. The war had lasted over a year and a half; not the third quick victory Mithranes had hoped for. After five years of sporadic warfare, thousands of young Armenian men had died bringing the new kingdom great wealth. Thus Armenia was now reliant on foreign mercenaries, whom made up roughly two-thirds of the army. King Mithranes proclaimed his victories had ensured a long period of peace for Armenia.

Part I - Appendix

Mithranes was very forward-thinking for an upstart ancient king in a backwater province. He was particularly acute in international politics, and recognized the role of his nation on the world stage. We can see an example of this in a translated excerpt from one of his official letters regarding the First Greek Triumvirate, recovered in 1988 from the ruins of the royal archives:

"...and this new confederation of Greeks, having withstood the attack from the barbarous men of Roma with the aid of Pyrrhus, have now consolidated their position in the world of the Greeks by entering alliance with Ptolemy of Macedon along with Pyrrhus. This new arrangement, which together comprises nearly the entirety of Greece and southern Italia, may hopefully prove an obstacle to our mutual enemies the Seleucids, along with the Ptolemies of Egypt..."



The Mediterranean at the end of 274 B.C. (480 AVC)
 
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Good start. Didn't expect immediate aggressive action against the Iberians and Colchians. Hope that that Seleucid civil war will continue long enough for you to restore your manpower to sustain another offensive against whoever is the best target at that time.
 

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Chapter I - In the Shadows of the Seleucids

Part II - The Time of Chaotic Wars

Following the defeat of Pontus, Mithranes I was immensely popular and put his political capital to good use. He set about reforming and reorganizing his kingdom. He gave the order to begin construction of a massive new fleet to defend Armenia's new Black Sea port and appointed new governors and administrators. He divided his soldiers into two armies: one of the foreign mercenaries, who he would use to put down rebellions and defend the state if need be; the other comprised of native Armenians. The second army would be rested as he planned to slowly rebuild his army around loyal Armenian citizens.
But the long period of peace which Mithranes hoped for would not last. First would come the annexation of Iberia. By all accounts Mithranes had not planned to fully conquer Iberia, preferring the native king Pharnavaz to pay tribute instead. However, the war with Armenia had devastated the tiny country, and in 270 B.C. the monarchy collapsed and Iberia fell into a collection of tribes.



Fearing this would destabilize the region, Mithranes quickly invaded and imprisoned the tribal chiefs. Mithranes himself defended his actions saying that it was "not aggression, but compassion; not conquest, but liberation".
Meanwhile Mithranes paid close attention to foreign wars and politics. Despite the power of Macedonia and Epirus, the Greek Triumvirate suffered a defeat at the hands of Rome. Following the war, the Triumvirate disintegrated, leaving Magna Graecia to be annexed by Rome later on and causing tension between the two monarchies in Greece. In the east, a decade-long civil war was still raging in the Seleucid Empire, and in 269 B.C. an unsuspected development prompted Armenia's intervention.

In that year the rebels in Antioch sent an emissary to Mithranes outlining a deal: Despite the appearance that the rebels were on the attack and would likely win the war within the year, they offered Armenia an alliance and the province of Atropatene in exchange for Mithranes' support against the loyalists. Atropatene's supply of horses and cavalrymen, as well as the assurance of a peaceful southern border was an offer Mithranes felt he could not refuse, and on June 1 declared war on the loyalist Seleucids.



Two weeks into the war, Mithranes received word that Colchis had refused to continue paying tribute. Enraged, Mithranes ordered the hero of the last Colchian war, Gotarzes Savacid, to assume command of the mercenary army and "remind the Colchians why they pay tribute to the Crown of Armenia."



Gotarzes once again demonstrated his tactical ability by destroying two small Colchian armies and laying siege to Phasis.



Meanwhile, Mithranes stomed into Seleucid territory, taking Atropatene, dispersing a small Seleucid contingent, and reaching the shores of the Caspian. The Seleucids would send emissaries to sue for peace, and six months after declaring war Armenia secured Atropatene.



Mithranes may have been able to conquer more lands around the Caspian but the 2nd Colchian War hurried his exit from the Seleucid civil war. The Rhoxolani came to Colchis' aid, but Gotarzes defeated them three times and finally captured Phasis.



Gotarzes then marched on Coraxi, defeated the Rhoxolani once again, and besieged the city for nearly 6 months.



With the fall of Coraxi on 1 January 267 B.C., Mithranes began his march towards Colchis after putting down peasant revolts in Atropatene. At the same time, a small monarchy nestled close to Armenia declared independence in the chaos of the Seleucid civil war. Mithranes sent a letter to the new King of Corduene, expressing his congratulations and guaranteeing his independence to protect him from Mithranes' Seleucid allies.



After Coraxi, Gotarzes marched on Phasis, which had been liberated by Rhoxolanian and Colchian forces. Gotarzes' army, decimated by many battles and two sieges, was outnumbered, and for the first time "The Bane of Phasis" lost a battle in front of the Colchian capital. His army decimated, he fled to Mithranes who had finally arrived at the border. Despite their victory over Gotarzes, the arrival of Mithranes' large army convinced the Colchians to surrender, and they ceded Coraxi in exchange for a truce.



However, the Rhoxolanians refused to give up, and managed to win a battle high in the Caucasus mountains, killing many Armenian soldiers. Enraged at the barbarians, Mithranes blamed their ally, Colchis, and despite having promised a truce, ordered Gotarzes to march on Phasis once more. There Gotarzes destroyed the Rhoxolanian army, besieged Phasis for 100 days, and finally ended the Kingdom of Colchis. Rhoxolani was finally convinced to give up in exchange for a small payment of gold.



Armenia - circa 266 B.C.


The wars had hurt Mithranes' popularity, and peasant revolts became widespread for the next few years. Mithranes appointed the talented new Royal Treasurer, Artabanus Arkhid, to the command of the army. Artabanus was of the powerful Arkhid family, whom with his appointment claimed 3 of the 4 Royal Councillors, the governorship of Iberia, and the General of the Royal Army. Mithranes himself took command of the now robust Royal Navy, and began to pursue pirates along Armenia's much more extensive coastline.



This unstable peace in Armenia only lasted 3 years. In 263, the magistrate Skunxa Galatid gathered supporters opposed to Mithranes' bloody rule, and he proclaimed himself King of Armenia, prompting a civil war.



Galatid only managed to raise a few thousand militiamen while loyalists maintained control of the 15,000 man professional army. He also drew only a few minor nobles to his cause, most notably the inept Sames, brother of Mithranes. However, because of the many recent wars, Armenia's supply of fighting fit men had dwindled, and Mithranes ordered his commanders not to assault any walls but to starve the rebels out. The supply of reinforcements was also hampered by the rebels' control of Commagene, the largest city in Armenia at the time.

Because of this, the struggle lasted more than 2 and half years as Artabanus and Mithranes slowly besieged and conquered the rebels city by city. Finally on 5 September 261, the stronghold of Commagene fell to Artabanus. Skunxa was publicly executed and Sames imprisoned for life, spared the wrath of Mithranes only because he was his brother.



Thus Mithranes emerged victorious in what came to be known in Armenia as "The Time of Chaotic Wars", but at great cost. The country was still wealthy but nearly 20 years of Mithranes' reign had seen 7 bloody wars and the army was being forced to field young boys and injured veterans. Despite this Mithranes was still seen as a glorious conqueror and the fall of Skunxa's rebellion gave the King unprecedented popularity with his subjects, but they demanded a well-deserved period of peace.

The Mediterranean at the end of 261 B.C.
 
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Iberia and Colchis gone, Armenia seems strong. Rhoxolani are annoying (and expanding I see). Guaranteeing the Bosporans might be an idea.
 

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Victory after victory.
Soon to bash the Seleucids again? :D
 

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I have readers! :cool:

Iberia and Colchis gone, Armenia seems strong. Rhoxolani are annoying (and expanding I see). Guaranteeing the Bosporans might be an idea.
The Rhoxolani are an extreme pain and the Bosporans are weak. I have guaranteed them both just in case.

Victory after victory.
Soon to bash the Seleucids again? :D
The Seleucids at the moment are my allies, as the rebels won. (I think technically it should be the Deiocid Empire now because an unrelated general took power.) Also my manpower pool is decimated. But that won't last long I think :rolleyes: Short update incoming tonight
 

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Chapter I - In the Shadows of the Seleucids

Part III - Consolidation and the Death of Mithranes

Following the civil war, Mithranes' late reign consisted primarily of reorganizing his admnistration and military. He ordered more ships to be built for the navy to ensure naval superiority over the Bithynians and, with Armenia's fighting-age male population decimated, ordered the recruitment of a 20,000 man mercenary army. The Royal Guard would be the personal army of the King and the first line of defense for the Kingdom while the nation's military manpower took a generation to recuperate.

During the mostly peaceful final years of Mithranes he gave political support to his Seleucid allies during their overseas invasion of Illyria, perhaps a political misstep as that ended in disaster and the loss of tens of thousands of troops for the Empire.

But Mithranes' reign wouldn't end without one last war, however. In 257 B.C., after making many ultimatums to Pontus to release an Armenian nobleman prisoner, Mithranes' Royal Council demanded he take action and enforce them. Thus in the late summer of that year, Mithranes led the Royal Guard across the border and into Pontus.



Mithranes' cavalry and numerical superiority allowed him to encircle the entire Pontian army and they were slaughtered to the last man. A week later, the city itself fell and the Kingdom of Pontus became the last victim of Mithranes' reign.



To many, the conquest of Pontus was Mithranes' final and crowning military achievement, conquering the entire Kingdom in barely over a month with minimal losses.

In the summer of 253, Mithranes ordered the colonization of Uti, which was completed in the fall.



Later that year the elderly King fell sick, and in December, the Seleucids cancelled the alliance.



Finally, on 3 February, 254 B.C., the first King of Armenia, Mithranes I, to this day known as "the Founder", died peacefully in his sleep.



The Mediterranean at the death of Mithranes I of Armenia (254 B.C./500 AVC)

 

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It is slightly worrying that the Seleucids broke the alliance. But now, how to deal with Bithynia? I suggest friendship, as I fear that while you could easily defeat them, your borders would become harder to defend against the Seleucids if they try anything.
 

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Prepare for war against the seleucids. Any allies would betray you.
 

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It is slightly worrying that the Seleucids broke the alliance. But now, how to deal with Bithynia? I suggest friendship, as I fear that while you could easily defeat them, your borders would become harder to defend against the Seleucids if they try anything.
I tried to ally with Bithynia after the Seleucid alliance fell apart, but they refused and allied with the Seleucids and Bosporans! Worked out well in any case because I gained a much much stronger ally instead, as you will see in the next update, probably tomorrow night.

Prepare for war against the seleucids. Any allies would betray you.
Mithranes' successor is not much of a fighter, but we shall see.
 

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Good job so far! Congratulations with your showcase award.:)
 

CJL78

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Chapter II - Into the Limelight​
Part I - The Astyagian Reforms

By the time Mithranes died, he had brought Armenia from an obscure satropy into a regional power, second only to the Seleucid Empire. His son and heir, Astyages, was a competent general like his father, though his true skill was in administrating the vast new realms of the Kingdom.



While revering his father, King Astyages I quickly set about reorganizing the Kingdom and replaced many of his father's Councillors and governors.

Just 8 months after ascending to the throne, Astyages reversed the foreign policy of his father and declared war on Corduene, claiming its new 7-year-old child king was "unfit" and posed a "threat of instability to the region", using the precedent of his father over the Iberian tribes.



Astyages quickly overran the enemy army and stormed the capital in a matter of days. The surrounding countryside soon submitted to Armenian rule.

Astyages kept strained relations with the Seleucids after this and despite border tensions the king kept the peace with the Empire. However, a Seleucid civil war just three years into Astyages' reign presented an opportunity. The rebels held Persia while the loyalist strongholds were Anatolia and Syria. Astyages was keen to claim Anatolian lands and forged alliances with the Ptolemys in Egypt and the Seleucid Rebels. However, the Seleucid Loyalists were allied with the powerful kingdoms of Macedonia and Bithynia, and the Bithunians in turned were allied with the Greeks of the Bosporous. Thus in early 252 B.C. any foreign intervention in the Seleucid civil war threatened to engulf the entire Near East.



Before open hostilities could break out, however, Armenia suffered the slave revolts of 251 and Egypt itself fell into civil war in 250. After putting down the revolts, Astyages resolved to further reform and build up his kingdom.

During this period, Astyages supervised the colonization of the Legae, Alans, and Zinchi provinces and sent support to his Egyptian allies. He also condemned the actions of the Greeks of Lycia, who declared an independent League in the midst of the Egyptian infighting.

Most importantly, Astyages greatly reformed the military. While keeping the Royal Guard as the primary army of the realm, Astyages began the recruitment of three regional armies and a cavalry auxiliary. Each of the three armies would contain 6,000 armored heavy infantry and 4,000 archers. The Army of the Caucasus was stationed in Phasis to the north and placed under the able command of the loyal Artabanus Arkhid. An Army of Iberia was stationed in Uti to guard the eastern borders. The Royal Army of Armenia was raised and stationed in Armenia proper to patrol the Seleucid border. Finally the 6000 cavalrymen, which came to be known as the famous "Atropatene Rangers", were to complement the Royal Guard or border armies as needed.



In 246 B.C. Astyages suffered the assassination of his first son, Haldita, to the Bagayash conspiracy. Astyages' own mother Vashti, and brother Bagayash, conspired to kill Astyages and his two sons, but failed. The bravery of the young Haldita managed to hold off his attackers and save his younger brother, Umamaita, but cost him his life. Vashti and Bagayash were imprisoned for life and Astyages went into deep mourning over the loss of Haldita. He left the day-to-day governance of the kingdom in the hands of his Chief Eunuch for nearly a year.

When Astyages returned to the public view in 245, he found Armenia's situation dire. The Seleucids, after years of strife, had defeated the rebels and his other ally, Ptolemy, was losing Egypt to the usurpers.

In the north, the Bosporans had been picking fights along the border and encouraging barbarians to raid Armenia. Even so, this was not much of a cause for war. It is assumed by most historians that Astyages was under much pressure to repeat the glory and conquest of his father. In any case, in May of 244 B.C., Astyages declared war on the Bosporans and their ally, Bithynia.

 

CJL78

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Chapter II - Into the Limelight​
Part II - The Black Sea War

When war with the Bospo-Bithunian Alliance broke out, Astyages ordered Artabanus Arkhid's Army of the Caucasus to attack the main Bosporan army at Phanagoria. The Bosporans fled to Maoetae and Artabanus besieged the city. The Bosporan army regrouped and attacked Artabanus, but despite slight numerical advantage, Artabanus wreaked havoc on their army and sent the remnants fleeing. Off the coast, Tiridates Savacid, son of the famed Gotarzes, crushed the Bosporan navy.



Astyages himself led the Atropatene Rangers, along with the Royal Guard, under the command of the young Astashpa Madyid, and the Army of Armenia, under Gaumata Madyid, to Pontus to defend against the large Bithunian army. The Bithunians marched to the border but declined to attack.

Astyages then ordered Astashpa and the Royal Guard to besiege Amisus. The Bithunians took the bait and attacked. At first the Bithunians thought the battle was theirs, but on the third day Astyages arrived in their rear at the head of the 6000 Atropatene Rangers. The Bithunians, despite outnumbering the Armenians by 10000 troops, were now sandwiched between two forces; they suffered heavy losses and on 2 November 244 were forced to retreat.



Astyages ordered Gaumata to press the attack with the assistance of the Rangers, and in January the Bithunians were again defeated and driven back to Bithynia proper.



Meanwhile, Artabanus, still besieging Phanagoria, was again twice attacked by a regrouped Bosporan army. The famous general easily drove the attackers back before they could break the siege, and Phanagoria fell on 30January 243.



While Astashpa and Gaumata besieged Amisus and Paphlagonia, Astyages outflanked the Bithunians and destroyed a newly recruited contingent before it could meet up with the main army. The main army caught up with the Rangers, and although vastly outnumbered, they inflicted heavy losses on the superior Bithunian army before Astyages ordered a strategic retreat.



In the north, Artabanus destroyed the remants of the main Bosporan army at Maoetae and captured the city on 6 April 243. He routed another contingent back at Phanagoria and then shipped across the straits to lay siege to Panticapaeum. Meanwhile, the Army of Iberia, which had been retained in Armenia in case of Seleucid intervention, laid siege to Siraces and the Bosporans were all but subdued.




In July, the Bithunians made a desperate attempt to turn the tide of the war but were handed a devastating defeat in Paphlagonia. 3 days later the city fell and 2 months after that, Astashpa's dwindling Royal Guard took Amisus.



Finally on 4 January of 242 B.C. Panticapaeum fell, and the Allies had no choice but to accept Armenian demands. All the lands Armenia had conquered save for Phanagoria and its immediate countryside were absorbed into the Kingdom and the Bosporans were forced to pay heavy indemnities to pay for the costs of the war and the barbarian raids they encouraged.



Astyages claimed the Black Sea War outdid all of his father's campaigns combined in scope and strategy. A bold claim, but some historians concur that Astyages' tactics were superb: the Armenians never lost a battle save for the Battle of Bithynia, which Astyages did not intend to win and where he still inflicted twice as many losses on his foes. In addition, the war made Armenia the undisputed master of the Black Sea, even if it didn't yet control the Propontis, and access to the Mediterranean.

Artabanus was once again hailed a war hero and already considered the greatest military hero of Armenia save for Mithranes the Founder. His Army of the Caucasus was redesignated the Army of the Bosporous and stationed at Panticapaeum.

Gaumata had won two huge battles against Bithynia and was given a parade through Artashat in his honor. Astashpa for his service was made governor of the new Bosporan lands.

By the end of the war the Royal Guard was less than 3000 strong and Astyages reorganized his father's personal army into a scouting expedition to pacify barbarians in Taurica.

The rest of the armies underwent reorganization and Astyages ordered the recruitment of more men and the construction of more ships for the navy, while he appointed new governors and administrations for the vast new territories added to the realm.

Astyages now looked to defend his new conquests should the Seleucids or Rhoxolani come for them, without the aid of his defeated Egyptian allies.

The Mediterranean at the conclusion of the Black Sea War (January, 242 B.C.)
 
Last edited:

Lofman

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Armenia has grown strong I see. I think you may be strong enough to attack the Seleucids and win.
 

Enewald

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I hate it when there is nothing stopping Rome from colonizing northwards. Except random barbarian hordes, who usually achieve nothing.
Where is the Gallic resistance?

Otherwise, nice conquests!