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Subject: Marathon, 490BC, Athenians vs Persians rss

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Keiron
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Sittingbourne
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Ok, so this was my first stab at Lost Battles. After a quick read of the rules I decided to jump in the deep end and attempt a scenario (solo) and learn the rules in greater detail as I played.

Marathon appeared to be the first of the scenarios, straightforward terrain, no particularly special set up rules i.e. weather, surprise etc, and is also the first in the 'Battles' section of the accompanying book.

I punched the necessary counters and set the 'field' ready for battle. Before I started I read part of the relevant section in the accompanying book talking about numbers of men, cavalry etc and their dispositions to get a bit of added flavor, however I stopped short of any information that might tell me how the battle supposedly played out.

The Athenians first move was to maneuver the two forward Hopilite Infantry (Avg - could these be the Platean forces referred to in the book?), located in the left and right centre, out to their respective flanks to protect against the Persian cavalry. The bulk of the Athenian forces moved forward to occupy the vacant centre tiles.

The Perisans responded by moving their cavalry forward to attack the Athenian flanks, the Heavy Cavalry (Avg) achieving a breakthrough on their right flank - first blood to the Persians. In similar fashion to the Athenians, the bulk of the Persian army moved forward to occupy their left and right centre positions. The forces in the Rear held back to allow Artaphernes and his accompanying force of Archers (Avg) to harry the Hopilites in the Athenian centre - to little affect, indeed the delay would, I believe, be quite costly.

The battle then settled into a bit of an attritional phase with both sides exchanging blows. However it soon became apparent that the Athenian Hoplite infantry had a distinct advantage over the Persian archers, particularly the levy archers who suffered heavily.

The Persian Heavy Cavalry that had made the breakthrough on the Athenian right flank turned to engage the Hopilites lead by Callimachus, however they proved ineffectual and distractions in the centre meant I didn't maneuver them into a more advantageous position in the Athenian rear.

The levy Persian archer losses, particularly on their right centre started to take their toll and morale began to enter the equation. After further toiling the Athenian Hopilites took the Perisan right centre, for little losses to themselves, and it looked as though an overwhelming victory was almost certain.

Further attempts by Artaphernes and his reinforced group of archer infantry to take the Athenian centre (key zone) proved slow and tough against the superior Hopilites, despite being greatly outnumbered.

However, it was the Persian commander Datis that almost turned the tide on the Athenians leading an attack that shattered a unit of Hopilites and routed two further spent units including Callimachus and his guard unit! The Athenian right centre suddenly looked vulnerable and outnumbered - could the Perisans really turn the tide?

Ultimately the Athenian Hopilites flexed their superiority over the remaining Persian army; the weakness, in particular the morale of the levy archer infantry causing a mass rout/withdrawal of Perisan forces to end the game.

Victory worked out as follows:

Persians: VPT=71 (59 base +12((63-59)x3) handicap)
Athenians: VPT=89

Victory Threshold: 36 (40-4)
Points Margin: 18(89-71)

On the cusp between a 'Clear' and 'Narrow' game victory for the Athenians.

I enjoyed, afterwards reading about how the battle supposedly went, particularly when I saw it had played out almost the same as in the book (although Callimachus survived the battle in this instance). I know some might say there is some inevitability in the outcome, but I enjoyed my little journey of discovery anyway (I know very little, read next to nothing, about ancient history).

Thoughts on the game:
- Great quality components and excellent value considering what you get.

- I really enjoyed the overlap of the game and the book which made for a much deeper, educational and enjoyable experience.

- The modifiers took some getting used to; even at the end of the game I was going down the modifiers like a check list with each attack.

- Heavy infantry vs heavy infantry on clear terrain (of which Marathon consists mostly of) got a little tiresome and predictable, hence my earlier comment about the 'attritional phase' of the battle. This isn't as bad as I make out, just a nuance of this particular battle.

- The way 'commands' are linked to the current state of an army feels and plays out well, IMO. Although the extra commands you get with the roll of a dice, when you reach 1 or 0 always seemed to leave me with surplus commands, somewhat undermining the link between losses and commands.

- I liked the way morale can bring a swift end to a battle. I intend to read the section of the book covering this as I know people have commented that it is a bit harsh - it certainly brought this battle of Marathon to a swift end, although at that stage the result was almost inevitable.

All in all, an enjoyable first experience.

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Jim F
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Birmingham
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You know with Hitler? the more I learn about that guy, the more I don't care for him
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Lovely write up Keiron. I agree with a lot of your findings especially as this is a scenario I've played twice. I'd like to say it's unbalanced but I lost as both sides blush
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Roger Taylor
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Kappa_ap wrote:
- The way 'commands' are linked to the current state of an army feels and plays out well, IMO. Although the extra commands you get with the roll of a dice, when you reach 1 or 0 always seemed to leave me with surplus commands, somewhat undermining the link between losses and commands.

I try to end my turn with activating a zone for an attack. That way I can use my extra commands for attack bonuses, however many they might be.
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