Play Report: More Lost Battles, this time moving to the battle of Marathon. As opposed to the hoplite vs. hoplite battle that I played previously, this one has Athenian hoplites (that's literally all there is) vs. mostly levy Persian archer infantry, though a couple hoplite and heavy cavalry thrown in to mix things up. The battle ended up with the Athenians fleeing the field and the Persians winning a major victory.
But, hoo boy, did I get a lesson in the morale rules. For some reason, I was convinced that if forces attack from a space then the lead unit for that attack has to stay the lead unit whether it becomes spent or not. This is not true, but I had thought it was, so the Persian assault in the center ended after turn 2 with a spent average archer unit in the lead. When the Athenians fought back on their turn, this unit took a hit, which would shatter it. For morale, I rolled a "1" and after calculating the effect I realized that every single Persian force would flee the board, except for the single unit of average heavy cavalry. Ummm.... what? That seemed wrong. Some furious rulebook searching turned up this bold sentence on page 20 of the rulebook: "As soon as a fresh lead unit becomes spent in combat, you may (but need not) remove it from the lead." Okay, so that archer unit didn't need to stay in the lead when it got spent. Good to know, but is that really going to cost the Persians the game?
Wait, there is a commander in that space! The commander bravely made a rally attempt, a "10" was rolled, and the total collapse of the Persian army didn't actually happen. That's not the way that events are supposed to be sequenced, but it was sufficiently dramatic that I'm going to let it slide.
For those of you keeping score at home, wondering how the Persian army would collapse that easily on the first shattered unit, the trick is that they allowed the Athenians to march into the left and right centre spaces unmolested, to allow the Persians to hit first. This worked, but it gave the Persians a -1 to morale as long as the Athenians were there. Add that to the fact that most of the Persian army is levy (with a native -1 to morale checks). So... the strategic ploy worked, but only due to a lucky rally roll (and the Persian player being kind of an idiot about remembering rules). Perhaps not the best strategy to use in the future.