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Subject: The battle that never had happened - Maeander 397 BC (C3i #29) rss

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Ryszard Tokarczuk
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In one of previous issues of C3i magazine there are two battles. Recently, the first one was played over Vassal. We have used variant rules, which are available here on BGG. The variant rules - in short - change the Advance Into Combat procedures and allow for more plsyer control over hoplite units.

The scenario itself represents a situation in which historical counterparts (Spartan' and Persian' overall commanders) decided to fight a battle. According to sources, both were doubtful about their chances and decided to call a truce instead. The scenario gives quite a good impression why both sides had not believed in their chances.



Turn 1

1 Activation Marker - Spartan Hoplites. Variant rules allow to move even towards the enemy without having to expend all MPs. All hoplites are Marching and decide to play an ancient version of "Chicken" game, they advance a little and are awaiting for reaction from Persians.

2 AM - Persian Momentum. Roll for center formation, failed.

3 AM - Spartan right wing, Drakon. Units move up to protect the hoplites.

4 AM - Persian Pharnabazus, Mede Infantry. Does exactly nothing, aka "holds ground".

5 AM - Persian Cavalry. One AM for both wings. Cavalry moves forward in preparation for double envelopment.



6 AM - Spartan Momentum. Unused as only Formation that could be activated... is that of hoplites. The player decided that it is not yet time...

7 AM - Persian Medium Infantry in the centre. They start playing their own game of "chicken", as first line moves away from the second one.

8 AM - Spartan left wing, Athenadus. Persian Trump attempt failed and peltasts with cavalry can keep screening flanks of advancing hoplites.



9 AM - Spartan Momentum. Because conditions are the same, OC leader is too far, the only formation eligible is still that of hoplites... it is better not to use it.

10 AM - Persian Passiphernes' infantry (right wing). Does nothing and awaits what next turn will bring.

2nd Turn
Initiative - won by Persians

1 AM (chosen) Persian Medium Infantry assumes "make ready" formation. First line will soak up the hoplite attack, while the second one will let through routing units and possibly counterattack.



2 AM Spartan Hoplites. Greek player decides that it is the time to sound the trumpet and order general charge. The decision (according to variant rules) results in necessity of checking the Advance Pace for entire formation. Hoplite fickle nature shows - two units in entire line decide to Walk, while others Trot. Interestingly enough, one of the weakest units in the Greek center is one of those Walking. That unit will have further "effect" in coming Turn.

Slain goats offered hopeful signs but combat itself is not stellar. Oh well, it is just a beginning.



3 AM - Spartan Athenadus, tries to keep up the screen for advancing hoplites.

4 AM - Persian Momentum attempt. Failed, so nothing to write home about here...

5 AM - Persian Pharnabazus contingent. As it is within range of advancing hoplite unit, Greek player decides to revert to Trump, for Drakon wing formation. It is successful and Spartan right wing catches up with advancing hoplites.



6 AM - Ironically, it is Spartan Momentum, and Greek player is succesful in activating Drakon' formation. There is some additional shuffling on the wing, slow encroachment toward Persian lines but nothing specific.

7 AM - Persian (right wing) Passiphernes formation. That leader cannot be stopped and he is aggressive. Light infantry attacks Spartan peltasts and cavalry protecting Greek wing. Combat brings dreadful results - cavalry unit was routed after the first bout. Peltasts are holding ground, yet.



8 AM - Spartan, this time quite regular, Drakon formation' activation. Peltasts and cavalry are creeping ever closer, while still trying to protect hoplites in the center.

9 AM - Persian Cavalry. Decisive maneuver that sets up the events in the next Turn. Persian units are now past the wing screens of Spartan army. Greek player starts to frown now.



3rd Turn
Initiative, oimoi, eheu, goes to Persians. Persians go to...

1 AM (chosen) Persian Cavalry. With unstoppable power, Light Cavalry falls down on Spartan wings. Some peltasts will rout trying to face incoming attack, some will rout attacked from a side or behind. Spartan wings exist still, but they are halfway closer to oblivion.



2 AM - Spartan hoplites. Time is precious. Hoplites that were walking... arrive at enemy line. The unit from Ionia, weakened by deserters leaving it before the actual combat (it happened to Spartan center, according to sources) decides not to attack enemy [result of variant rule for "Walking" hoplites - they need to pass TQ test. With TQ of 5 and die roll of 6... argh].

Combat is, again, not a smashing success by any means. What is more, Xenophon risks his later career as a historian by receiving a wound. I never thought that he was right about officers wearing resplendent armor. He lives, though!

3 AM - Persian Passiphernes. Greek player decides to concentrate in center. Trump attempt is successful and hoplites are chewing their way through Persian lines. Nevertheless, some hoplites are routing and all are quite fatigued by now. A special mention to Ionia hoplites. They had to pass the TQ test again to attack their enemies... and they failed again. Deserters.





4 AM - Spartan Momentum, tried and failed.

5 AM - Spartan Drakon formation. Persian player tries to Trump with Medium Infantry in the center... but fails. Peltasts try to counterattack both cavalry endangering the wing and infantry line ahead... still to protect the flanks of hoplites. In this, they are somewhat successful. Price that soldiers pay to protect... the plan of their general.

6 AM - Spartan Athenadus' wing. The only unit still on the field, is a peltast attacked from behind. The only chance is to disengage... and the unit fails to disengage.

7 AM - Persian Momentum destined for Medium Infantry never reached its goal. Failure turns into...

8 AM - Persian Medium Infantry activation. Tissaphernes, so concerned about his soldiers facing Greek hoplites, is happy now to send them into gaps and onto hoplite flanks. Screams, chaos and lots of rout points.



9 AM - Persian Pharnabazus. Even slowed by overstretched peltasts, Persian infantry is able to rout half of them. Things look dire... but a ray of hope shines from the wound (only a wound?!!) of a Persian leader. One of Spartan hoplites kept on fighting against two Greek hoplite mercenary units... and finally, it came to blows around the Persian head.

10 AM - Spartan Momentum. Greek player tries... and fails... and folds and runs. It is 83 RP on the Spartan side to 6 RP for Persians. More units are still running away from the field... but it does not matter.

Xenophon is wounded and Spartan army is defeated.



Some thoughts:
I was playing Spartan side and I wonder if 1st Turn decisions about Trumps and Momentum attempts were right. I think that Spartan side cannot play defensively here... but its' only chance seems to lie with hoplites. Spartans need to Trump and Momentum their way to victory, while slowing the flank attacks of Persia. Not easy because of ratings... and it certainly did not help that in our game Persia won Initiative each turn.

Still, there is an idea of re-trying this scenario with slightly different tactic (while still using variant rules, that allow hoplite units to approach enemies in a relatively free manner). The report from this second attempt will also be published.

To be continued...


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I really like how this beautiful, straight lines are slowly turning into total mess Well done.
 
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Brendan Clark
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A very fine AAR. Oh those Persians! When are we playing Plataea? ninja

Vassal module looks good, even if I say so.
 
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Ryszard Tokarczuk
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Straight lines dissolving, that is what I like too... But I also enjoy thinking what can be done with those lines before they will dissolve. Maybe next report will be successful in this regard
 
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With my friend, I have tried to win the Meander scenario from C3i #29 once more... Once again, the hoplite variant rules were used and they had an impact on playthrough, though maybe not on the final result

Turn 1

1 AM - Sparta (SP) Hoplite formation. Hoplites advance three hexes forward, leaving weak hoplites in the center behind. They will serve as a kind of reserve. To shorten the frontage means that I (Greek player) will try to win the game by decisive attack by hoplites. The intention is to concentrate on MI units, but there is this old adage about plans not surviving the enemy, right?



2 AM - Persia (P) Medium Infantry led by Tissaphernes in the center. My kind opponent moves units ahead, effectively forming two distinct ranks and preparing the battleground for what is going to happen.

3 AM - (P) Light Infantry/Heavy Infantry on Persian right wing. Some slow shuffling forward. The ancient game of chicken, in other words.

4 AM - (P) Mede (noun?) Infantry. In a perfect harmony, units advance slowly. Hoplites under Persian command also do not have to check their advance, in accordance with variant rules. They are simply "walking" and they do not have to expend all Movement Points. Lines are maintained, the tension grows ever so slightly.

5 AM (SP) - Drakon, Greek cavalry and peltast formation on Greek right wing. It was supposed to advance and protect the hoplite flank but... Trump! Persian Trump succeeds and the second line of Medium Infantry assumes what I like to call as a "manipular formation". Persian center looks ready to receive a charge...

6 AM (SP) - Athenadus, Greek cavalry and peltast formation on another Greek wing, left this time. It advances as planned. The frontage is decreasing but the distance to Persian cavalry is maintained. Better not to tempt the fates this time...



7 AM (P) - Persian Cavalry activates... or tries to, as Greek player decides to invoke a successful Trump - only to no avail. Instead of 2 or lower, 5 is rolled. Therefore, Persian Cavalry do activate and moves forward on the wings in preparation for later maneuvers.



8 AM (P) - Persian Momentum. Not used, as the player can activate only MI units again. They have moved already this turn and there is little reason to rush the proceedings. It is time to savor the moment.

9 AM (SP) - Greek Momentum. Not used, for same reasons. There is no benefit in tiring hoplite units before the clash. Besides, those Persians are afraid of us, right? Right? Am I right?

Turn 2
Initiative roll goes to Persians, who win by the Overall Commander modifier.

1 AM (P) - Passiphernes, on Persian right wing, activates his Heavy Infantry, complemented by Light Infantry. The sheer outrage - those people decide to mount the attack with Heavies against Hoplites and Lights against Peltasts! Shock, shock, I say. This is the only explanation for the death of Xenophon in initial charge. He was always of the opinion that commanding officers should wear resplendent armor... so he apparently got enough attention of enemy soldiers. I am not in desperation, as I know that "Anabasis" book (March of Ten Thousand and like) was written by Themistogenes of Syracuse - as is attested by Xenophon in his "Hellenica"... oh wait, maybe I should be despairing...




In any case, the sudden attack fixes Greek wing, even if losses are moderate. Nothing is decided yet and the fate still hangs in the balance. One peltast withdrew and will be able to move to attack later.



2 AM (SP) - Drakon, Greek right wing. Persian Trump attempt fails and units are able to move sideways to protect hoplite flanks.



3 AM (SP) - Athenadus, Greek left wing. One peltast is able to mount a counterattack, another routs because of growing losses. It is the first Greek unit to Rout, though not the last one in this battle.

4 AM (P) - Pharnabazus, Persian left wing. Signal to charge. Persian hoplites are unpredictable - one unit Marches on, second Trots and reaches the enemy by itself. Light Infantry attacks Peltasts.



5 AM (SP) Greek Hoplites. Only one hoplite unit is not yet engaged in the center. It risks much in flanking one of the Persian hoplites, exposing its own flank to Medium Infantry. Decision is made - a signal to charge is sent. Green hoplites from the reserve run or trot through the gap. (A mistake was made here - after Run, the running unit should check its TQ, which we have not done. Judging by what happened afterwards, not much of a difference ).



Flanked Persian hoplites give way. The other hoplite combats are not decisive. Cohesion keeps being lost, but mercenaries are still holding on.

6 AM (P) Persian cavalry. This time Greek Trump is successful. The activation is given to Drakon (Greek right wing). Peltasts are able to rout opposing Light Infantry but are almost spent in the process.

7 AM (SP) Greek Momentum - failed. Returned to cup.

8 AM (P) Persian Momentum - failed.

9 AM (P) No, it is Medium Infantry of Tissaphernes! No, he attacks! Hoplites that are exposed are routed or badly suffering, the others fight against lots of Persians.

10 AM (SP) - Greek Momentum, successful. Hoplites try to battle back and break through Persian lines. One of the green Greek units fail collapse roll and is eliminated. No worries, I still have some hoplites left.



Turn 3
Initiative roll goes to Greeks by a large margin. Hooray! Freedom... of choice...

1 AM (SP) Hoplites. Combat continues. More Persians are routed but second green Greek unit has to wheel. Cohesion hits resulting from that cause the unit to Rout... Also, one unit of mercenaries failed its collapse roll. TQ of 8 is not a guarantee, after all. Line is disintegrating fast.




2 AM (SP) Drakon, Greek right wing. Persian Trump fails. Small flanking attack, another Persian routs but there is no possibility of exploiting that small success with any follow up. Units are almost spent.

3 AM (P) Medium Infantry. This is decisive. They need to be stopped... with Trump! But the attempt fails and massacre of remaining hoplite units follows.



4 AM (SP) Athenadus, Greek left wing. Army is collapsing but the leader is still able to send the cavalry to scare away heavy infantry. The charge is succesful, heavies worn out after previous struggle... run away. Fights result in more Persian routs and increasing fatigue of Greek soldiers.

5 AM (P) Persian Cavalry moves into position for a charge. On Greek right wing the combat between cavalry units actually starts... but the initial clash is indecisive.



6 AM (P) Persian Momentum. Medium Infantry seizes the Initiative. Second line is able to flank and catch up with surviving hoplite units. Routs, death and general defeat.

7 AM (SP) Greek Momentum that failed, flopped, foundered...

8 AM (P) Second Persian Momentum, the first that failed this Turn.

9 AM (P) Passiphernes, right wing with Light and Heavy Infantry. The Greek survivors are decimated by second wave of attackers. Athenadus is killed.



10 AM (P) Mede Infantry on left wing. Second wave, Greeks run far away.



Last AM (SP) Greek Momentum for the second time, but it failed, flopped and foundered just as the first one.

Final score: Spartan army of Derkylidas 132 RP (out of 70 necessary for defeat); Persian army of Tissaphernes 12 RP (out of necessary 85). We have not counted Routed units that were still on the map.



P.S. The idea for Greeks was to lessen the frontage and advance in echelon against limited, and selected, section of Persian line. Using not all hoplites but rather "hoplites walking into the combat", hoping that they will pass the Pre-Shock TQ Check (variant rule) with their TQs of 7 and 8... Then in subsequent activations using kind of a wedge try to expand the gap. Of course, a preemptive Persian attack brought this plan to naught. Nevertheless, there were some interesting things happening in the center - green units were able to plug the gap, even if only for a while.

The scenario does not seem to be very kind to Greeks, fair enough. The biggest advantages of Persians seem to be higher Initiative of OC and higher command ranges of Persian leaders. 8 hexes for Tissaphernes in the center allows for really flexible Medium Infantry formations.

It still was fun. Cardboard Xenophon may have died but memory of the real Xenophon will live on
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Brendan Clark
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Another fine AAR. Thanks for taking the time to write this one too.
 
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