Battle of Phlius, summer, 427BC

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Northern Peloponnese, Phlius, summer, 427BC.

A Spartan raiding force moved north to attack an Athenian raiding force moving inland from the Epidauran coast through the Argolid. Word from a spy in Athens had it that this force was poised to ravage Sicyon and other nearby Corinthian villages before moving north to rendezvous with an amphibious force of several triremes on the Corinthiacus at the head of the Sythas river. So alerted the Spartan king, Agis II, dispatched a party to intercept the interlopers and deter these continued ‘pin-prick’ raids on Sparta’s allies to her north.
 
…under the command of a Lakonian captain, Denekian, the force caught up with the Athenians on the outskirts of Phlius, led by a group of Spartiate perioikoi.
 
The Athenians, hearing of the Lakonian’s approach, grabbed spear and shield, the hour now late – they moved quickly to meet the enemy in an open field close to a nearby temple to settle the issue, then break out to the north as planned.

For our first game of Men of Bronze we played a standard 38-point  games, scenario 1 – decisive battle. The Athenians had a slight edge in light troops.
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…to battle…

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The force arrayed with a combination of light troops, cavalry and two hoplite units each….Athenians left of picture, Lakonians to the right.
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Opening moves saw the Lakonians wanting to close as quick as possible to bring about a decisive clash with the enemy hoplites. The Athenian player, cunning as a fox, moved his light troops to drive off the weaker Lakonian supports.

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IMG_3814 2.jpgAthenian forces move forward – the longer range of bows proved quite effective in the opening encounter.

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IMG_3815 2.jpgLakonian archers match the Athenian toxotes (archers) but approach cautiously as they are outnumbered. A near hoplite unit of Peloponnese allied foot with Denekian’s Lakonians in support. To their right flank are a unit of light javelinmen.

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IMG_3810 2.jpgSpartan horse move up in support of the heavy foot. They provided right flank support

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IMG_3811 2.jpgOpen order advance by Lakonian foot.

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Opening clash. The Lakonian javelin men moved forward…a little too aggressively and are met by a superior Arthenian unit of javelin men and toxotes.
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The Athenian (player) bids and wins the next initiative allowing his Psiloi to rain spear and arrow down on the helot javelin men…unseen (in pic) is that on the next turn the Lakonian foot charge the light troops in front of them and defeat them but suffer a 1 courage loss…no doubt they ran for their lives! 

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…within a turn of receiving a hail of missile fire the right edge Helot javelin men were shot to pieces by the enemy toxotes and routed. Cavalry moved forward skirmish in an attempt to achieve an advantaged flank position should the encounter prove decisive opening up the possibility of a flanking attack. The left flank Lakonian toxotes pulled back and let the hoplites, now formed up in phalanx, to take the fight to the enemy.

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IMG_3818 2.jpgThe Lakonian unit shows 1 courage loss with the green marker. They got this when they charged an enemy light unit who was unable to evade. Even though the lights were scattered the heavy foot took a point of courage loss…can’t run around too much more or they will run out of courage (we envisage this more likely that courage= fatigue in this case)

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IMG_3819 2.jpgMeanwhile the cavalry clash entered a second turn and both sides became exhausted with the Spartans losing the melee by 1 courage point (ie they hit courage 0 before the Athenian horse). Colored markers indicate fatigue; Green=1, Yellow=2, Red=3. In this case the Spartan horse has 4 courage and the Athenians 3 courage loss.

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IMG_3820 2.jpgAthenian psiloi move around the left flank of the Lakonian force.

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IMG_3821 2.jpgStill holding back the Athenian commander is biding his time with his hoplites trying to gain an advantage with these forces.

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IMG_3822 2.jpgLate game – The Spartan horse routed, triggering a morale test. The left flank hoplite unit failed their morale test – yes three fails including a subsequent re-roll! The Lakonian unit looking decidedly lonely as their flank force have all but gone and the Athenian forces now moved to surround Denekian’s men.

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The decisive encounter! The Lakonian had to this point survived their collapse test and committed both hoplite units to take on the feared men of Sparta. With one Athenian unit piling in behind the lead unit (providing combat support) they pushed and shoved at one another for three turns…the light troops moving menacingly close but otherwise remaining out of the fray.
Unseen is that for three turns the Athenian player activated his missile infantry to shoot at the Spartiates, however, their locked shields saved them from suffering any courage loss…only then did the Athenian hoplites commit.
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In combat the Spartan shieldwall held strong with the Athenian foot falling into disorder(1,2,3,)…but no, the Athenian player uses an Arete re roll and his line straightens (he passes!).
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…they push again and in combat it comes down to one more decisive osithmos, with the Athenian men getting the 1 point of courage loss on the Spartiates they need as they themselves teetered on the brink of running…
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…with that the Lakonians broke and ran with the Athenian force ever so close to total collapse themselves…a final dice roll to the death!

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So ended the clash, the Lakonian force driven of with their captain Denekian in full retreat grubbling somehting about his supposed hoplite allies…
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…the Athenians moved off, gathering their dead, ready for another day in ancient Greece…
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Great game! very fast, fluid and given the small footprint, pretty easy to setup, play and get into. We were all done in 2 hours. We had few rules issues but as discussed in my last post we will be tweaking a few aspects that suit our take of things…we shall also be using considerably larger unit forces than those shown here with our forces expanding….and all flocked to!…(sorry about that).
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We very much like the bidding and Arete decision points with force management an important aspect of play. The Athenian cavalry for instance were all but spent after their combat and withdrawn so as not to cause a collapse test on the Athenian army. Light troops are low cost so the loss of a few units usually doesn’t cause any serious morale test issues for most units, although the loss of a cavalry unit is significant…the flightly Peloponnese hoplites were the exception in this battle…didn’t see that coming!
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I think that if one wanted to you could (house rule) to recover some courage loss though this would extend the game perhaps. It would encourage pushing an advantage and driving away an enemy so this has some merit…maybe a simple “recover a courage point on a roll of 6 for each Arete spent, allowing only 1 per turn”…something like that. That way units such as the Athenian cavalry could recover ‘in time’ and become involved again late in the game…just a an idea.
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All in all, excellent stuff. We shall see larger forces next time – we’d like to try out some of the other scenarios.
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Men of Bronze…recommend for the small scale raiding stuff of the Greek Wars…
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2 thoughts on “Battle of Phlius, summer, 427BC

  1. Great game!

    I have been playing around with being able to use an Arete Point to “harangue your troops” and thereby increase them 1 Courage for each point spent. However, this can only be done when not wavering and outside of combat.

    Therefore, if you withdraw some troops with low courage, you can potentially “rev” them back up again. This will probably be in the rules for Wars of the Roman Republic.

    Like

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