Friday, 17 May 2013

Battle of Acragas 406BC using Ancient Battlelines Clash

This is game 8 in playtesting my ancient rules. Previous games used my rules called Ancient Warrior  Battles.  After game 6 I streamlined them and simplified the combat mechanism so renamed them Ancient Battlelines Clash (ABC).  The latest version is on its own blog page. I am playtesting the rules by replaying all the Peter Sides scenarios from his Historical Battles books.  ABC is designed to finish in under an hour on 2'x2' tables.

Battle of Acragas

During the Peleponnesian War in 410, Carthage came to the aid of some Sicilian cities. In 407BC, Syracuse and Acragas aggravated the Carthaginians who laid siege to Acragas in 406.  A Syracusan lead relief party failed to dislodge the besiegers possibly, some say, because Acragas failed to sally out to help. This battle represents the relief party trying to dislodge the Carthaginians (which they did on the eastern side as portrayed here, but there was more of the army on the other side of the city).

Here are links of interest:

Wikipedia article
Diodorus account in Book 13 (see 86-87)

Changes to the Bill Banks Scenario
The scenario is designed to play on a 35"x28" board.  I reduced the forces by about a third to play on a 24"x24" board. I did halve the hoplites for both sides - the deployment map infers a second rank of spears for each side.  This infers a bonus in DBA but not in my rules so I left them out.

Early Carthaginian

3 Libyan Spearmen, HI, missile protection 0, phalanx
2 Chariot, HCH
2 Heavy Cavalry, HC
4 Light Infantry, LI
2 Skirmisher, SI, javelin
1 +1 General

Breakpoint: 9


3 Hoplites, HI, missile protection 0, phalanx
2 Hoplites, HI, missile protection 0, phalanx, low fortitude
2 Heavy Cavalry, HC
6 Light Infantry, LI
3 Skirmisher, SI, javelin
3 Skirmisher, SI, bow
1 General



Deployment, Carthaginians at the top between the two ramparts.  Hill represents the city.
 Note that the city walls are impassable, and the ditch is classed in DBA terms as difficult going.  Difficult going has quite an impact on combat effectiveness in DBA. In my rules, difficult going (rough) is really really bad e.g. cavalry cannot cross, so I will make it a hill (like a steep hill in Armati). This will halve movement for heavy and mounted units and also reduces the combat value of most cavalry and heavy infantry.

The Game
Syracusans move first. The lights of the flanks move to a position on the rampart, the hoplites move up in the centre and the left flank heavy cavalry fails to move (failed the order roll).  The Syracusan plan is to harass the flanks with the light stuff (backed up by the cavalry), and hopefully win on one or two of the flanks and use that flank to assist in the centre. The Carthaginians responded by attacking the flanks with the light infantry - otherwise they are going to sit there and take missile fire.

On the left flank, the Carthaginian LI managed to raise the ire of an opposing LI that repeatedly followed up combat.  The retreating Carthaginian LI finally routed when interpenetrating the cavalry (disordering them).  The Syracusan LI stopped just in front.

LI breaks thorugh on left.  Green markers are disorders.  The Carthaginian subgeneral is the two hoplites behind some LI.
The Syracusan right flank fares no better - the Syracusan skirmishers are swept away, but the remaining light infantry becomes a bit chaotic and mostly disrodered, Carthaginians coming off worst.

The Syracusan right flank (Syracuse on the left)

Continuing on the same flank, Syracusan LI against a Carthaginian chariot -anything but a 6 will cause the LI to retreat.  Rolled a 6 and both disordered and remain in melee.  This means the Heavy Chariot will not get a +2 charge bonus next turn.

Syracusan LI in combat with a Carthaginian Heavy chariot.  Lucky rolls see both disordered.

Syracusan hoplites cross the rampart.

The Syracusan hoplite line crosses the rampart but are not quite in contact.  The low fortitude hoplites are on the Syracusan flanks.
One of the LI turns 90 degrees to flank a poor Syracusan hoplite.  Movement in the rules is restrictive for HI but LI can wheel 90 and move.  But the LI rolled badly for melee and were routed as they were already disordered.  Worth a shot.

LI wheels onto the flank of a Syracusan hoplite but ends badly for the LI( it routs).

Syracusan Hoplites move into melee with Carthaginian hoplites. All hoplites in contact disordered. Bit of a bet to make a difference - while the Carthaginian flanks are being held by the LI, one the LI are gone, there Carthaginian's have the advantage of number son both flanks (2 heavy mounted Vs 1 on each flank).  But only so long the LI will hold.

Syracusan Cavalry charges opposing cavalry (it is disordered from previous brush with  a LI), but all that results is a disorder.

Syracusan Heavy Cavalry (bottom right) charges the opposing Carthaginian Heavy Cavalry (top right) while the chariot is engaged with a LI.
But the Heavy Chariot next to it routs the LI, pursues into the Cavalry but no effect.  Chariots will almost always pursue.

...but the LI routs, chariots advances into the heavy cavalry but the results sees them locked in melee.

Just about  every unit on the board is disordered!

Note about difficult going - makes the LI pretty tough as the Cavalry don't get a +2 shock bonus, and are also are at -2, so the LI have a very large advantage.  And no heavy units lost yet either.

Moved the sub-general over the the Heavy chariot and Heavy Cavalry and finally managed to destroy a heavy unit - the Syracusan Heavy cavalry.  The Syracusan left flank has gone.

The Syracusan left flank has collapsed - there is only one LI left on the rampart but the Carthaginians have two heavy mounted units that can just go around it.
Hoplite clash in the centre sees two Syracusans gone and one Carthaginian.  Low and high rolls!

What is left in the centre after a round of hoplite combat.  Both generals involved, but both survived leader death checks.

..and on a lucky roll of a 6, the Heavy Chariot destroys the Syracusan LI.  Syracusan has reached breakpoint of 10 and so the Carthaginians win.  A bloody victory.

The Syracusan LI to the lower right, just before it is routed in combat with the Chariot.

End game:

At the end, Syracusan forces to the bottom. 

An interesting battle.  While this one was finally decided in the centre, the flanks were vey important.  The Syracusans should win the centre with more hoplites but the flanks see them with more lights troops than the Carthaginians, but outnumbered in heavy troops.  This is what saw the Syracusans off in the end - the heavier flank units of the Carthaginians.

This game took a long time to play.  It did not help that I stopped playing it for about 8 weeks after the second turn.   Even then with the action on the flanks before the centre decided the battle, it was likely a hour to play - longer than I would have liked.  There was a lot of points of troops of the table - about 50% more than what would be a 'normal' game of ABC.   But it was interesting.  I thought the Syracusans would get slaughtered but they put up a really good fight and the game could have swung their way at any time.


  1. I'm amazed you kept the game set up for eight weeks!

  2. II think my record in the last few years is 3 months between turns (on a 6mm ww2 game last year). I have the games setup in map drawers so they do not get dusty or bumped. I have a game of Heraclea all setup to go with Baron Wars since January this year. Deployed but have not yet done the first turn!

  3. Very nice and interesting batrep...lucky man who can stop playing during 8 weeks and then resume hostilities!!