Saturday 15 June 2013

Battle Report: First Mantinea

We had three commanders per side for our large refight.  I ended up in charge of the left of the Spartan army, with the Sciritae and Neodamodeis, along with some cavalry.
And here is the view from behind my guys.  Off to my front left is a large unit of Argive aristocrats.  Apart from those, I am facing the men of Mantinea.  Most of the following photos are from my perspective.
Above is a shot of the table length as the lines advance.  There are some uneven moves - strangely enough, even though the terrain is technically flat (i.e. no advantage to any side), the rolling look of the sandtable really brings home just how difficult it would have been to keep such long lines coherent.
My guys enter contact.  I have been very aggressive, especially with the Sciritae, because a minor opportunity has presented itself.  You can't really tell from the photo, but the slightly piecemeal advance of the Argive nobles has meant that they are lagging behind the Mantineans a little, so I throw in my whole command with a temporary numerical advantage over the first Mantinean unit at my front left.
Above is a close-up of the Sciritae, led by an unnamed Spartan Strategos.  The rolling nature of the field is apparent from this low-angled shot.
The next photo is pulled back slightly to see the entire field.  In the immediate foreground is my unit of Spartan cavalry, which is hanging back out of contact.  My plan is for them to become the Argives' next target once they dispose of my Sciritae - that way my infantry line won't be flanked straightaway when an enemy overlap develops.  Of course, my Strategos will have to die in combat, but such is the way of Spartan leaders.
Casualties are mounting among the Spartiates to my right, in the middle of our army.  King Agis has been extremely aggressive and led the Hippeis forward somewhat in advance of the line.  The result is that he is outnumbered two to one, and it hurts.  The othismos is now well and truly under way.
Except for the far side of the field, where the Tegeans and Athenians are most reluctant to come to blows.  However, the first unit of Athenian horse, led by a Strategos, has been very successful against their Spartan counterparts.
A rare shot from behind the centre of the enemy army clearly shows the gap between the Athenians and Tegeans.
My gamble has paid off as my temporary advantage here leads to the demise of a unit of Mantineans.  However, the moment of crisis for the enemy passes as the superior morale of the Argives leads them to shrug off any harm, and they can happily continue to crush my Sciritae; the same goes for the Mantineans (led by their Strategos) at the top right of the shot above, fighting against my Neodamodeis.  In other words, I win here but there is no morale cascade failure.  The enemy line holds regardless.
The same, however, cannot be said for King Agis.  His swift demise, accompanied by the Hippeis, leads to my rightmost unit of Neodamodeis becoming disordered, and a dangerous gap appearing in our lines.  The morale of the Spartans to the right of the photo holds, but from now on they will be severely outnumbered.
On the far right our Tegeans are still holding off from entering combat, while the Athenian cavalry has swept the Spartans from the field.
Casualties are mounting in the centre of the field for both sides.  The Spartans break the small unit of Argive allies, but once again the enemy's nerve holds.  We desperately need to turn a local success into something much more.
The enemy, however, does exactly that as the victorious men of Argos and Elis drive the outnumbered Spartans from the field.  At the top right you can see that the Athenians and Tegeans have finally come to grips, but the momentum is with the enemy.
Even our far right collapses.  The victorious Athenian cavalry rides down a Tegean phalanx with the greatest of ease and our elite troops, led by the Tegean Strategos, fail their morale.  Basically, some disastrous rolls here have removed our last chance of victory.

This battle shows the extreme importance of maintaining the line in a hoplite game.  I was able to gain a local advantage temporarily, but was then unable to exploit.  Agis was too rash in the centre, and the Tegeans a little too cautious, but that is hindsight talking.  I'd like to try this one again some time!  In any case a good time was had by all, and Willie got to put his sandtable to some use during what passes for summer in these parts.

Thursday 13 June 2013

First Mantinea: Army Deployments

Above is the deployment map for First Mantinea, which has just been added to my page for scenarios from 500-250 BCE.  All on Willie's famous sandtable, of course:
Now that is a proper hoplite battle - ten feet long and bristling with spears.  I'm not sure how interesting it will be as a battle, but there are quite a few contingents and some interesting variations on the hoplite theme.  The presence of some cavalry, albeit rather mediocre, should also complicate things a a little.  Anyway, Willie wanted to play a large hoplite game, especially because the Greeks look pretty en masse.
King Agis II of Sparta looks on impassively with his Lakedaemonians ready to roll.  The game itself should play relatively quickly; I'll post a full report later.

Saturday 1 June 2013

On the Painting Tray: June 2013

May was a very productive month indeed: I completed 36 Spanish cavalry, 8 Huns, some Huns looting, and 37 casualties for First Mantineia.  That brings the running totals for 2013 to 82 cavalry and 268 infantry.  Next up: six units of 27 loose formation Caetrati.  I reckon those will take me a couple of months...