Friday, August 2, 2013

Battle of (2nd) Mantinea 362BC using Ancient Battlelines Clash

This is game 12 in playtesting my ancient rules. Previous games used my rules called Ancient Warrior  Battles.  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 Mantinea
Athens joins the Spartans to attempt to curb the Theban influence over Greece. Once again, Epaminondoas leads the Thebans into battle against the Spartans.

Here are links of interest and that I used to create the scenario:

Wikipedia article
DBM scenario

Changes to the Peter Sides scenario
Originally 44" wide, I reduced the number of hoplite bases to fit to 24".  I also did not place the streams on the table as the scenario indicates they have no effect.  The scenario had Sparta and Allies all Sp(O) and Thebes (and their allies) all Sp(S).  Helped by Lost Battles, I created 1 high fortitude unit on each side, and made the rest average.

Hoplites at back (Deep phalanx on the right); cavalry and skirmishers on the flanks.

1 Elite/formed-deep Hoplites, HI, protection 0, phalanx, fortitude +1
4 Hoplites, HI, protection 0, phalanx
4 Hoplites, HI, protection0, phalanx, fortitude -1
3 Heavy Cavalry, HC
6 Skirmisher, SI, javelin
1 General (Epaminondoas)

Breakpoint: 12

Sparta and Allies
Spartans on the left end of the hoplite line; cavalry and skirmishers on the flanks.

1 Spartan Hoplites, HI, protection 0, phalanx, fortitude +1
6 Hoplites, HI, protection 0, phalanx
2 Heavy Cavalry, HC
2 Skirmisher, SI, javelin
1 General (Agesilaus II)

Breakpoint: 9


Thebans at the bottom; Sparta and allies at the top.

The Game
Theban left flank cavalry charge opposing cavalry and with some pursuits, end up on the hill, both sides disordered.  Two on one combats see only the worst result inflicted on the loser, not two results from each one.  Result was disorder and retreat and then both Theban cavalry pursued and all ended up disordered in the followup combat.  Fast, fun and sometimes surprising.

Theban cavalry pursue up the hill.

And in the very next combat, the Allied Cavalry roll a 1 (which is bad) against Epaminondoas and the heavy cavalry.  Allied cavalry routed.

Spartan and allies advance the whole line.  Spartans taking out the Theban skirmish infantry along the way, but are disordered on a unlucky fired-on test of a 1.

Seeing this, the Thebans advance all their non-poor hoplites (basically the left half of the line).  They are just out of reach and the Allies stand (the result of a proximity test - what to do when an enemy is within 4cm).  I have been tempted to class some hoplites as impetuous, just so they will charge when the enemy come close like this, rather than stand.  But I do not know my history enough to call this. Anyway, the rules are flexible enough that you would just add the impetuous ability to hoplites if you so choose.

The battlelines are very close (allies to the back, the non-poor Theban hoplites at the bottom)
This gives Agesilaus II a chance to rally the Spartans (50% chance as he is attached). Woo-hoo!  Rallied, undisordered, back in the game!

Agesilaus and the recently rallied Spartans
Thebans clash with the battleline. First combat sees a Theban hoplites routed!  (Theban hoplite unit roll a 1 - retreat and disordered.  Allied hoplites pursues and roll a 6 - Theban hoplites routed).  But then a Theban skirmisher further back disorders the victorious allies.  Have I said this is fun and fast?

There was a Theban hoplite to the right of the one in the left of the picture.  But it routed.
Next, I could not make this up if I tried.  The Theban deep phalanx rolls a 1 against the Spartans and so retreats.  As Epaminondoas is attached, a 1 means I need to roll to see if the general leaves the field (killed, wounded etc).  I roll a 1 which is a yes. Epaminondoas is out of action.  Just like in 362BC.

Theban deep phalanx (botom left) after retreating.  Epaminondoas was with them but left the field.  The single figure behind the unit is the replacement general.
An unusual string of 1's and 6's sees the battleline broken up and losses mount in one turn - 2 hoplites from the Allies and 1 Theban.  The Allied left flank enters the fray as well but eventually the cavalry take out a disordered allied phalanx.

Overview of battleline from the Theban side.  There is a large gap in the middle and the Theban cavalry has entered melee to the right of the picture (and manage to rout a disordered phalanx)
The Thebans find it hard to move units with a -1 (poor) general and rallying is out of the question (so the Cavalry are effectively stranded on the hill as it will take ages for them to come back).
Agesilaus II attaches to a hoplite and takes out a Theban hoplite.  And next turn attaches to a cavalry unit that came from the left flank and assists it to rout a disordered hoplite (it may look like a flank attack but it isn't - have to be completely behind the front line for that).

A not flank attack but the hoplites are disordered and the cavalry with attached general is too much for the unsupported Theban hoplite, and the latter rout.
Thebans are now at their breakpoint and so have lost.

End game overview - Thebans to the bottom and Theban cavalry on the hill at the top left (and centre top)
Great game.  About 80 minutes to play and write up and take pictures and type some clarity into the master rules so maybe 30 minutes all up.  I did get to clarify some parts of the rule in this game - if you capture a replacement general, it is not worth anything to the army's breakpoint count.  A replacement -1 general gives no modifiers to combat was not clearly spelt out.   This game seemed full of two on one combats and I followed the section on it carefully as I have not had many before.  No changes - very happy with how it works.  Onwards to more games! 


  1. I do enjoy these write-ups, and following the development process of your rules.

    What do you use for disorder markers?

  2. The rules development is an interesting process. When I started getting back into gaming a few years ago, I never thought I would be writing some and playtesting. A lot of work - at least it is fun.

    The disorder markers come from a green doormat I got 20-ish years ago and cut up into the small markers. They are attempting to look like bushes. I re-use them for marsh and rough ground in 20mm WW2 games.

  3. Great post, great photos and great blog. I'm glad I found your site. I am very keen on following the development of your rules. :)

  4. Thanks Jonathon! At the rate I am going, I believe I might need only about 100 games to go in playtesting and I will stop finding things to change in the rules!