Saturday, 13 September 2014

Battle of Chaeronea 338BC using Ancient Battlelines Clash

This is game 18 in play testing my ancient rules by replaying historical battles.  The latest version of ‘Ancient Battlelines Clash’ is on its own blog page. I am play testing the rules by replaying all the Peter Sides scenarios from his Historical Battles books.  ABC is designed to finish in under an hour on a 2'x2' table.
Battle of Chaeronea
Philip II invades Greece that is defended by a Theban/Athenian allied army.  Philip II wins and finally gains control of Greece.
Here are some links of interest that I used to create the scenario:

Wikipedia article
Diodorus account at Ancient History Sourcebook
Junior General battle and rules
DBA scenario
Animated battlemap

I also used a number of books such as "Lost Battles" (Sabin) and "Warfare in the Classical World" (Warry).

Scenario changes
Halved troops due to my smaller sized table.  However, I did not halve the spear or pike units as the scenario units are for DBx that assumes in this case that the units will be rear supported, not the case with my rules.  I used a deployment close to Warry (two lines) rather than Side's staggered setup.  I did not include the hills and river, assuming they are on the edge of the table.  The smaller streams did not seem to affect the battle so did not include them.  I did keep the marsh.


The Greek allies (SB= Sacred Band, Gen = General)
6 Athenian hoplites, HI, phalanx, some protection, impetuous
3 Theban hoplites, HI, phalanx, some protection
1 Theban Sacred Band, HI, phalanx, some protection, high fortitude
3 Psiloi, LI, short missile
1 General (with Athenian hoplite)

Breakpoint: 10


6 Phalangites, HI, phalanx
1 Hypaspists/Agema, HI, phalanx, some protection, high fortitude
1 Peltasts, MI
2 Psiloi, LI, short missile
1 Heavy Cavalry, high fortitude, disciplined
1 Light Cavalry, LC, short missile
1 General, +1 command ability with Hypaspists

Breakpoint: 10

Note, in line with the rule changes (see below) Missile Protection +1 is now some protection, +2 is now high protection.  Similarly -1 fortitude is now low fortitude, +1 is now high fortitude. The names are easier for army lists rather than using numbers.  LI (Light Infantry) is relabeled MI (Medium Infantry) and SI (Skirmisher Infantry) relabeled to LI (Light infantry).  Only the labels have changed to be more consistent with cavalry and chariot labels, the rules for them are unchanged.   

Rules changes
It has been nearly a year since a historical game with these rules and I have been mulling over how to streamline them as I seem to have been adding a little bit here and there after my last major streamlining nearly 2 years ago.  The rules were getting more bloated and I do not like it.  I go into to much detail at this blog post. In summary:
  • I reduced the number of modifiers for all the tests to 3 or less modifiers, except combat still has 4.
  • I managed to combine the normal reaction to shooting, fired on, charged and proximity tests into one reaction table.  This made it a lot clearer.
  • I reduced some of the exceptions in the rules.
  • I changed the general to always be part of a unit during the game, rather than being able to detach and detach from units.  I also changed the army command ability to be not as powerful.

This is what playtesting is all about!


Deployment.  Note the only terrain feature on the table is the marsh on the Greek right flank.
The Game
Greeks move first.  Both sides advance their entire infantry line.

Fantastically painted (not by me - I bought these from Andy Bryant who is responsible for them) Macedonian phalangites
The Macedonian infantry move up and the opposing Athenian infantry charge (I gave the Athenian hoplites the impetuous ability - they must charge if an enemy unit is in range).  Everyone in melee is disordered but no other more serious damage.

Cavalry and skirmishers on the Macedonian right awaiting an opportunity. More amazing paint job from Andy Bryant.
The end Athenian hoplite unit does routs a skirmisher on the left flank and pursues.

Greek hoplite pursues a routed skirmisher.  The sticks on the bases on the units indicate disorder.
The Athenians manage to rout a Macedonian phalangite. The Macedonians return the favour; and then the Athenians get in another one. Two phalangites lost to one Athenian hoplite.

A gap!  But the Greek hoplite cannot pursue.
On the Greek right flank the Greeks charge the Macedonian Peltast that retreats and then routs. Alexander is worried that he will get boxed in and charges the Greek skirmishers that rout. Hopefully the Companions will be able to attack the hoplites in the flank before they turn about.  We shall see.

Activity on the Greek right.  The Companions attack through a gap.
The Theban hoplite battleline now charges and the Sacred Band forces a phalangite unit to retreat.  An already disordered Athenian hoplite is destroyed further down the line.  The Greek Alliance is still ahead as in less of its units are destroyed.

The Greek left is becoming depopulated duie to losses on both sides.
A Greek disaster!  The Athenian general rolls a 1 and is destroyed and routs.  In the rules, units in melee with equal combat values will only have bad things happen on a 1 (attacker depletes) or a 6 (defender depletes).  The two generals are in combat but the Hypaspists have a 1 greater combat value.  It was always going to be a waiting game until the Greek general routed (on a 5 or 6) or the Greeks could bring other units into the flank of the Hypaspists.  The  routing happened first.

The victorious Hypaspists (again painted by Andy Bryant).
The Greek army undergoes a morale check due to the general being lost.  This is a new bit to the rules - previously a lost general did not cause a morale check.  Every unit rolls a morale check test.  Most of the Greek units are already disordered (bad) and, due to poor die rolls, most of the units that were disordered rout (all 8 rolls were 3 or lower!).  Over half the Greek army gone so game over.

End game.  All Greek units are circled (i.e. not many).
Two generals going head to head is never going to end well.

More phalanx on phalanx battles but this time with the Companions.  I did like playing this game.  It showed that making the Athenians impetuous was a good idea.  It also highlighted the difference the Companions make -  without them, it would have just been a heavy infantry clash.  Even so, the Companions never did make the final difference in this replay as they did not have time to shine.  The Greek general routing was bad, but then I think he should have been with the Thebans (which I would do in a refight).  The rules have changed, but they were only minor to the overall way the game worked. The only difference for this game was the the general being destroyed causing the entire army to undertake a morale check.  Four more Alexander battles in the pipeline.


  1. Shaun, can't believe a year has passed, but maybe some advantages for you in coming back fresh to your rules. I like the way that the game is so action packed -also lovely figures.

    1. Thanks Norm. Yes, the only good side to it being a year is that I was"forced" to streamline the rules as I recognised the gradual complexity I had been adding bit by bit.