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Notes from the Designer #22

The Scenarios: Gandhara, 304 BC

According to Grainger, after his stalemate with Antigonus in 308, Seleucus conquers Bactria and then proceeds to Gandhara on India’s western frontier. Marching through Oxyartes’ satrapy of Paropamisadai and then down the Kabul River, he crosses at the confluence of the Indus somewhere in the vicinity of modern Attock in Pakistan. On the East bank of the Indus Chandragupta confronts him. With his back to the river, Seleucus fought to what was possibly a tactical draw, but it was a strategic loss. Having gambled so far from home but failing to achieve a victory, Seleucus is “gifted” 500 war elephants from the Mauryan emperor in exchange for the surrender of his possessions in the Indus valley, Arachosia, and Gedrosia. Sources suggest that the cession of these territories were treated as the dower of Seleucus’ daughter in her marriage to Chandragupta’s son, Bindusara.

Seleucus’ leaders were Sibyrtius, Satrap of Arachosia and Gedrosia, Polyarchus, who had defected from Antigonus when Seleucus made his big appearance, and Patrocles, who held out against Demetrius while Seleucus was in the east fighting Nicanor.

After the conclusion of peace in 303 BC, Seleucus sends the traveler and geographer Megasthenes to Chandragupta’s court at Pataliputra. Megasthenes’ records his observations of India in his work Indica, which would become an important source to later Western writers such as Arrian and Strabo.

The battle with Seleucus was probably Chandragupta’s last major engagement. He inclined towards Jainism in later life, abdicating the throne to his son Bindusara. Chandragupta died in his early fifties, in 293 BC.

The Combatants: The Mauryan army versus the Greek/Macedonian army of Seleucus. Seleucus’ commanders included Sibyrtius, Satrap of Arachosia and Gedrosia who was originally an ally of Eumenes but fell out of favor and became an ally of Antigonus, then Seleucus. Polyarchus also defected from Antigonus, and Patrocles, who held out against Demetrius while Seleucus was in the east fighting Nicanor, was a good strategist and thus probably Seleucus’ second-in-command. OOB for the Greeks is courtesy of research by Mark Matney.

The Battlefield: Seleucus is squeezed close to the sands and mud of the Indus River at his back, leaving him with little room to maneuver. The area is more-or-less in the general vicinity of the actual battle (as much as we know) though the terrain has certainly changed in the last two millennia (the course of the Indus, as with many rivers in India, changes constantly). The map is based in satellite images provided by Mark Matney.

Special Features: The Indian light troops are no match for the Seleucid heavy infantry, but this is offset by the former’s superiority in elephants. How well the Seleucid player handles his cavalry against Chandragupta’s elephant corps will determine whether or not the Macedonian army comes out on top.

Next time: The Scenarios -- Revolt in the Provinces.

Until then, please visit the Chandragupta Forum for the latest news and discussion …