Notes from the Designer #19

The Scenarios: The Battle of Magadha, 317 BC

Though Ugrasena Nanda apparently was a great conqueror and able ruler, his rich and powerful sons were not. As Ugrasena grew older, his sons’ greed and corruption became intolerable. Using this as well as the Nanda’s lowness of birth to drum up popular support of their rebellion, Chanakya and Chandragupta began to broaden their anti-Nanda coalition. Among the freedom-loving clans and princes of Punjab and Sindh, most of whom had given stout resistance to the foreign invader Alexander, they find the military support they had been seeking.

After the failed attack on Pataliputra, the banner of revolt was raised again, this time with the help of the chieftain Parvataka and his brother Vairodhaka. According to legend, Chanakya was the commander of the chariot corps for Chandragupta’s army.

The Nandan troops fought vigorously under the command of Bhadrasala. The eldest of the Nanda princes was called Sahalya; he and his brothers Chandramas and Dhana, who all shared sovereign power him, perished (they were most likely put to the sword). Parvataka apparently died in this battle.

The Combatants: Chandragupta’s troops, a combination of mercenary Bhrta, Tribals and Sreni, now augmented by professional Maula “hereditary” troops (see “Notes” #9), were levied with wealth procured by metallurgy and mining. They face off against the Nandan imperial army, this time under command of prince Sahalya.

The Battlefield: The battle lines are drawn on a featureless plain, but this time just west of the Nanda’s camp. The camp extension map is used, introducing players to the Indian military camp.

Special Features: There are two scenarios here, a standard set-piece battle plus a “Camp Assault” option that allows players to extend the scenario to include an attack on the Nandas’ camp. The “Retire to Camp” optional rule is therefore introduced in this scenario, allowing the Nandas to – under certain circumstances – beat a retreat to the camp. If they do so, the victory conditions for the Mauryans change to a territorial objective … they must take the camp.

Sahalya is more of a liability than a benefit here … if he gets killed, the more capable Bhadrasala becomes the Nandas’ OC.

Next week: The Scenarios -- Revolt of Malayaketu.

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