The (Unofficial) Great Battles of History

Qadesh

Chariot Warfare, 1300 BC

  

Last Update: 21-Aug-97


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...historical background...


To play this Qadesh scenario, you'll need Deluxe Alexander (including the errata published in Diadochoi), plus the modified charts, tables, and counters. Those items are available in HTML or zipped MS Word (84K) formats, and are no longer included on this page.

BTW, so far I've gotten no feedback on this. If you can provide any feedback, I'd appreciate it. Even "it sucked because ..." would be better than nothing!


Balance: ???

Difficulty: Pretty easy, for a GBoH system game. Few unit types, and counter density isn't too high. Solo play works pretty well, too.

Playing Time: ???

Map: Use the Gaugamela map, without the extension. North is as printed on the map. The Orontes river lies just off the east side of the map; past the Orontes is Kadesh itself, due east from the center of the map.

The Amon division camp is on the north side of the map, bounded by hex columns 23xx and 27xx, and hex rows xx10 and xx13; hex 2414 and 2614 are also camp hexes, giving the following shape:

Amon Camp

Hexsides 2509/2510 and 2512/2513 are gate hexsides.

Egyptian Deployment

Unit Hex(es Facing
P'Re Cmdr 3440
P'Re Chariot Cmdr 3240
P'Re Infantry Cmdr 3439
P'Re LCH 1-4 3240, 3242, 3638, 3640 NW
P'Re SK 1-4 3337, 3438, 3542, 3543 NW
P'Re LI 1-2 3441, 3541 NW
P'Re MI 1-2 3439, 3440 NW

Hittite Deployment

No Hittite units begin on the map.

Special Rules

Reinforcements

Reinforcements for both sides are placed at the beginning of the turn.

Ramesses

At the beginning of turn 2, place Ramesses, the two Amon subordinate commanders, and the Bodyguard LCH anywhere in the Amon camp.

The Amon Division

The Amon division begins the game unalerted in its camp. At the beginning of turn 2, and each turn thereafter, the Egyptian player rolls a die and consults the following table to see how many units are alerted:
Die # Alerted

0-2

0

3-6

1

7-9

2

10+

3

Add one to the dieroll for every turn after turn 2 (so turn 3 = +1 drm, turn 4 = +2 drm, etc., and remember that a '0' roll is a zero, not a ten).

Chariot units are always the first to be alerted. When all the Amon chariots are alerted, choose infantry units at random.

Alerted units are deployed by the Egyptians in any unoccupied, unlooted hex in the camp. If no such hexes are available, Amon units cannot be alerted until such a hex becomes available.

Place the Amon Chariot and Infantry Leaders along with the first chariot and infantry (respectively) unit to be alerted.

Ptah Division, Set Division, & Amurru Force

Beginning on turn 3, the Egyptian player rolls for the arrival of the Ptah division, Set Division, and Amurru Force (roll separately for each) and consults the following table:
Amurru Ptah Set

Turn
3 0-1 - -
4 0-3 0 -
5 0-4 0-1 0
6 0-5 0-2 0
7 0-7 0-3 0
8+ auto 0-4 0

Entry Hexes 1000-1016 1044-4244 1044-4244

If the dieroll falls within the given range (or if the table says "auto" rather than gives a range, the combat units and leaders for that division/force enter at the hexes listed for the force.

Reinforcements may always be voluntarily delayed until a later turn.

Hittite Main Force

The Hittite Main chariot force (twenty HCH + four leaders) enters the map on turn 1. The Hittite player arranges the force into four waves, each with a chariot leader and five chariot units.

Each wave enters the map anywhere from hexes 4236-4244, using the normal activation sequence (including potential momentum activations). The first wave pays 1 MP to enter the 42xx map column; the second wave pays 2 MPs to enter; the third wave 3 MPs; the fourth wave 4 MPs.

Hittite Chariot Reserve

Each turn, the Hittite player rolls to see if Muwatallish commits the Chariot Reserve (the eight HCH units and two leaders marked "Reserve"). Add 1 to the dieroll for every three eliminated Hittite chariot units. On a result of 10 or more, the Hittite Chariot Reserve enters that turn anywhere between 4212 and 4222.

Note that, since the '0' on the die is read as '0, not '10', the Reserve cannot be committed until at least three Hittite chariot units have been eliminated.

New Leadership Rules

Both Sides

All leaders (except Ramesses, see below) have a command restriction. The only order (including line commands) that a leader can give to a unit not under his command is to Rally. A Leader may use his command range to enable shock attacks only for units under his command.

Leaders have an MA of only 7 per Orders Phase.

Leaders are removed from the game when all units under their command are eliminated (not just routed).

Hittites

Hittite chariot units use the same Line Composition rules as cavalry.

Unless in enemy ZOC, Hittite leaders may always issue line commands. There are no strategy ratings or OC restrictions. The Hittites have no OC.

Egyptians

The Egyptian Amon, P'Re, Ptah, and Set divisions are each commanded by a Division Leader, who acts as a Macedonian Wing Commander [4.5], and two subordinate leaders, Infantry and Chariot, who act as Macedonian Contingent Commanders [5.6]. However, replace rules 5.63 and 5.64 with the following:

(5.63) Division Leaders may activate their subordinates during the former's Orders Phase if the subordinate leader is within command range (not half command range).

(5.64) Division Leaders may activate Chariot Subordinate Leaders at the cost of 2 Initiative Points, and/or Infantry Subordinate Leaders at the cost of 3 Initiative Points.

Note that Ramesses is the Division Commander for the Amon Division. However, he may give orders to any Egyptian unit (he is the Pharoah, after all).

The Amurru Leader may always use Line Commands (as do the Hittite leaders) without reference to strategy ratings or OCs.

The Camp

Movement and Combat Effects

Camp wall and gate hexsides affect movement and combat as follows:

Terrain Type MP Cost TQ Cost Shock Missile Fire
Gate +1 0/1[a] 2L +1
Wall +2 2 3L +1
[a] The penalty is 0 TQ hits normally, but 1 TQ hits if the unit enters an enemy ZOC when crossing the gate hexside.

Note that routed units inside the camp must still rout to one of the the proper board edges, and that if they don't go through an unguarded gate, they'll take a TQ hit and be eliminated....

Looting

When an unrouted Hittite unit enters an unlooted camp hex for the first time, it stops immediately and begins to loot (regardless of the presence of enemy units and/or ZOCs). Place a randomly-chosen Looting marker on the unit as a reminder. Looting units may not shock attack nor use missile fire (offensively, or as any type of Reaction Fire), and have no ZOC. They do gain a positive drm vs missile fire, reflecting the dispersed nature of the looters. Shock attacks versus looting units are always resolved as if they were frontal attacks, except that the attacking unit doesn't have to take a Pre-Shock TQ check, even if it moved.

An active leader not in enemy ZOC may return one looting unit (under his command, and within his command range) to normal (non-looting) status as the sole order of his activation. (Move the Looted marker underneath the Hittite unit as a reminder.) The unit must roll on the Rally table, and add the number of resulting TQ hits to its current total. If the result is greater than the unit's TQ, it's eliminated (and this rule has precedence over the new chariot rules, below). If it survives, it is faced in the direction of the Hittite player's choosing, and may shock attack (but not missile fire) if adjacent to an enemy unit.

New Chariot Rules

Changes in scale and army experience make the Alexander rules inapplicable. Replace [7.15] and all of [9.2] with the following rules:

Types: There are two types of chariot units, heavy chariots (HCH) and light chariots (LCH). The only differences between the two are on the columns used on the Clash of Spears and Shock Superiority charts, a DRM when a LCH is a missile target, and the movement rule below. In other respects, rules mentioning "chariots" mean both heavy and light chariots.

Movement: Chariots may change facing only one vertex per hex. Make a TQ check when they do so; if the dieroll is > the unit's TQ, it take dr - TQ cohesion hits. HCH always suffer a minimum of one cohesion hit.

Orderly Withdrawal: Chariots may OW as per 6.7, but they do pay normal movement and cohesion costs to change facing, if needed. If a chariot unit doesn't have enough MPs to turn around, it may not OW.

Stacking: Chariots may never voluntarily enter a hex containing another friendly unit [EXC: Skirmishers]. If forced to by the rout rules, the routed-through unit takes a TQ check:

Pass-Through Attacks: 9.23 is still used in its entirety, including the addendum in Diadochoi.

In particular, note that Shock TQ Checks and routed chariot units are always treated normally.

Surprise

The sudden Hittite ambush caught the Egyptians by surprise. The game begins with the Egyptians having already moved, and the Hittites about to attack.

For the first turn of the game, Egyptian leaders begin the turn Finished as per [5.15], and do not activate (exception: Dieroll of Doom [5.33]). Egyptian combat units may not Orderly Withdraw, although they may do Reaction Facing Changes [7.16]. Egyptian leaders are still free to OW if they wish.

The activation and OW restrictions are removed at the beginning of turn 2.

Ramesses may not Trump until all four Amon chariot units have been alerted.

Retreat Edge

Egyptians: North, South, or West edges of map.

Hittites: East edge of map.

Hittite units may also leave the map voluntarily via the east edge, in which case they are out of play and may not return, but do not count as eliminated for victory purposes.

Victory Conditions

Unlike most GBoH games, Qadesh is decided on Victory Points, not army rout. The game ends when no unrouted Hittite units remain on the map. If the current Victory Point total is positive, the Hittites have won; if the total is negative, the Egyptians have won. If it's zero, the game is a draw.

The VP total begins at -15. During the game, VPs are scored as follows:

Event Points

Each eliminated Hittite HCH -1
Each shattered Egyptian Division/Force 5

An Egyptian division/force is shattered when at least half (rounded down) of its infantry and chariot units (if any) have been eliminated. There is no other game effect from shattering.

At the end of the game, the Hittite player turns over all Looted markers in the Egyptian camp, and adds the VP amounts on the markers to determine the final VP total, and victory.


Playtester Questions

I'm interested in any and all comments (even editorial nitpicks). To get you started, here are some questions on which I'd particularly like feedback:
  1. Balance on a scale of 1-7, where 1 is very pro-Hittite, 0 is even, and 1 is very pro-Egyptian?

  2. Fun factor, on a scale of 1-10 (1=low,10=high)? Whats fun? What drags?

  3. Would you prefer to see fictional leader names to generic names?

  4. Would you prefer to see slightly randomized unit values instead of the current cookie-cutter pieces?


Design Notes

Why Qadesh?

The GBoH system seems popular, and I think there are lots of people like me, hungry for new material and dismayed at the glacial pace of production at GMT. So I thought I'd try my hand at scenario design. But I didn't want to step on the toes of future GBoH products, so I picked something that, as far as I know, has never been considered for the system.

A secondary goal was to show that really ancient warfare differed greatly from the more familiar Greek and Roman forms. It's a shame that many gamers lump everything that happened before gunpowder as "ancients", as there's an incredible amount of time and variety of systems in the almost three thousand years between 1300 BC and AD 1600. It may seem to use that Constantine the Great ruled a long time ago (AD 337), but Ramesses II was as ancient to him as Constantine is to us today.

The two biggest problems with this design were the scale of the battle, and the usual lack of historical sources for the ancient period.

It might not be obvious why scale is a problem, but look at the numbers. Most historians agree that 2500 chariots -- the numbers claimed by Ramesses -- is a reasonable number for the initial Hittite attack force.

Now, the chariot units in Deluxe Alexander represent about 35 chariots each (5 SPs, each SP representing 6-7 chariots). So 2500 chariots would be around 70 counters -- about three times bigger than I wanted, to say nothing of the table space required to give them sufficient maneuvering room.

My initial thoughts were just to increase the SPs on the counters, but having counters with 15 SPs just didn't feel right. How many chariots can fit in a hex, anyway?

Answering that question, I estimated that a chariot physically takes up an 8'x12' area, so 35 chariots in a hex 200' wide look like this:

Chariots To Scale

That already seems cramped to me, given the chaos that would ensue if a tightly packed chariot formation had a vehicle in the front row overturn. So upping the SPs didn't seem like an option. I either had to make a monster scenario, or change the game scale. Given my table space, I chose the latter.

Halving the land scale to 400'/hex quadruples the hex capacity, allowing each chariot SP to represent 25 chariots. The infantry also gets more dense, with each SP representing 500 men.

Unfortunately, I couldn't stop there. If I kept the 20-minute turns, the units would have moved unacceptably slowly, so I pushed the turns up to 30 minutes each. That affected shock, as a 50% increase in the turn time should have equal reflection in increased shock results. Rather than revamp that table, too, I just lowered the TQ of all the units in the scenario by one point.

The remaining tables needed changing because the new ground scale invalidated the old missile table, and the new unit types in the game needed to be added to the Shock Superiority chart.

The reference to lack of sources might seem strange, since Qadesh is widely quoted as the first battle about which we have any knowledge. Well, we do have some knowledge, but it's pitiful compared to, say, ACW or WW2 documentation.

Specifically, we have the accounts of Ramesses himself, and that's about it. If you think Caesar's Gallic War is of questionable reliability, try believing Pharaoh -- he says he won the battle by himself (well, he does admit that his horses helped), in a mere six charges of his chariot.

Worse, since Ramesses's accounts are for monumental boasting, not historical documentation, there's little tactical account of how the units actually fought.

So, while there is plenty of information that can be gleaned, compared to even many Roman battles, there's still much guesswork in reconstructing what happened. This means that perusing the secondary sources is a lot like watching the characters in Rashomon: you see the same overall story, but the individual variances are substantial. This is unfortunate for the wargame designer, who can't brush away or ignore the details of the battle.

In particular, here are some of the issues that I found most vexing:

Order of Battle: Always the hardest part of any ancient battle, and Qadesh is no exception. Here's the Hittite chariot lists from two secondary sources:

SimonHealy

Royal Gds 200 Hatti 500
Tumanna 100
Carchemish 200 Carchemish 200
Masa 200 Masa, Karkisa, Arawanna 200
Arawanna 100
Karkisa 100
Pitassa 100 Pitassa 500
Ugarit 200 Ugarit 200
Kizzuwadna 100 Kizzuwadna 200
Lukka 100 Lukka 100
Khakpish 200 Hakpis 500
Shekha-River200Seha River 100
Mitanni 100 Mitanni 200
Nuhas 100 Nuhashshe 100
Halap Royal100 Aleppo 200
Hamah 100
Halba 100
Dardanoi 200
Wilusa, Mira, & Hapalia 500
Qadesh 200

Totals 2500 3700

Those names roughly correspond with my source of Ramesses's list of conquered foes, but has discrepancies with the above lists (as they do with each other). And the numbers above are pure guesswork, although (of course) not noted as such.

I didn't bother making a bunch of different unit with slight factor variations (like the Command game) because I'd rather let the randomness already in the system decide who's the hero and who's the goat. You guys who prefer SL to SL know what I mean.

Hittite Chariots: All sources agree that the Egyptian chariots were fast, light, two-man units (one driver/shield-bearer, one archer), relying on firepower and speed to overwhelm their opposition. But there's less consensus on the Hittite chariots. Majority opinion agrees that there were three occupants -- the Egyptian monuments show this -- but what were the tactical implications of the extra man? The consensus seems to be that the Hittites used chariots primarily as shock weapons rather than mobile missile platforms (in which case the occupants are driver, shield-bearer, and lancer), but this opinion is by no means universal. Drews and Antcliff (in the appendix to Healy's book) make a interesting case that the Hittites used chariots like the Egyptians did (as mobile firing platforms), with the extra man being a light infantryman who used the chariot for transportation but dismounted during the battle. That doesn't seem likely to me -- infantry in the midst of a chariot "furball" must have had an awfully short life expectancy. So I've gone with the majority opinion here.

The Egyptian Camp Monument reliefs show the Egyptian camp to be surrounded by a shield wall. How did the Hittites get in? Egyptian shields would have been about three-four feet tall, so a shield wall might not have been much of an obstacle, especially if the Hittite chariots were designed for shock (see previous paragraph). On the other hand, the horses of the day were smaller, and it's possible that Ramesses, having found out the Hittites were in the area, reinforced the shield walls, so they could have been a tough obstacle. But since the Hittites actually did break into the camp, I chose to make the camp walls pretty easy to get through.


Sources

Dickens, Gene; Kadesh: Clash of Empires, Command #7, 1990. Not a bad article. Typical popular history though -- no footnotes, and little differentiation of speculation from archaelogical/literary fact.

Drews, Robert; The End of the Bronze Age, Princeton University Press, 1993. Some Qadesh material, but more about the author's theory that the Bronze Age ended when people found a system to defeat chariots. As such, discusses tactical use of chariots, and why they were superior to infantry. Some good, thought-provoking analysis.

Healy, Mark; Qadesh 1300 BC, Osprey Publishing Ltd, 1993. Interesting, but uneven. Somewhat disappointing maps (the key on page 47 is hopelessly out of sync with the accompanying map), OK text, nice pictures. The appendix, Wargaming Qadesh, was written by another author [Ken Antcliff] and contradicts some of the points in the main text! It also has some catty remarks about the Command article, though (of course) no specific points of disagreement.

Lichtheim, Miriam; Ancient Egyptian Literature, Volume II: The New Kingdom, University of California Press, 1976. Provides translations of the Qadesh inscriptions of Ramesses II. Some analysis, though more on the literary tradition than the possibilities of what happened at the battle.

Simon, Jim; Doing Right By The Ancient Armies, Strategy & Tactics #135, 1990. An interesting, detailed proposal for a Qadesh battle game design that, unforunately, was never produced. Only 2500 Hittite Chariots?


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Dave Townsend
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