The Pre-Combat "Jiggle" phase:
The Spartan (Pausinius) responds to the perceived Persian threat to the "Greek Gap and thus the Allied Greek Camp" in the center of the battlefield by painstakingly side stepping the bulk of the army to their left (see below), leaving only a token force on their right. This side of the battlefield will clearly not be a 'head-on-head', interlocking shields, charging hoplite clash of arms.
Note: Particularly as the novice Persian has much more on his plate simply trying to understand the capabilities of his various arms (horse, archers and light foot) and their different movement rates. Still Mardonius (aka thh Persian C-in-C) has managed to get the Spartans reacting to his moves rather thab pursuing a strategy of his own.
Meanwhile the Thebans look very solid and professional as they traverse the level ground between the ridges towards the Athenians, whom it must be said are stubbornly sticking to the high ground (see below) as per many 'captain of antiquity' would. However there is a niggling critique of the Athenian dispositions as they are beginning to 'clump' and thus leave potential weak spots instead of a continuous line of battle (as per hoplite DBA instruction manuals). All may depend on how good or bad the future Athenian PiP point dice rolls will be!
No careful reader, this picture is not in fact out of sequence. The Spartans previous meticulous side-stepping march deployment was indeed countermanded upon completion and an equally labourious counter-march back to the original positions on the right was performed. This was done at the cost of many a PiP point individually moving Spears two inches as a response to Mardoinus and his cunning "crescent shaped deployment" (see below). The Persian seems to be winning the psychology contest, whether by luck or judgement is another matter. As a result the Spartan line is now out of step with itself. The main battle line is stoically and stubbornly (as one would expect of the Spartans) sticking to the ridge line while a forward deployment of three stands of Spears is looking exposed and potentially vulnerable (is there a Spartan stand of spears commanded by Amompharetus at work here doing the opposite of what Pausinius wants?).
If the previous picture of the Spartans deployment was hard to decipher, then the state of the Theban advance on the Athenians is so deep a mystery that only the likes of Sherlock Holmes would be capable of solving it (see below). What has happened to the valiant Thebans and their 'steady' phalanx? Has a "limited earthquake" sent by Ares and Athena scrambled their ranks asunder? No. Have the Athenians cunningly deployed ranks of heavy ballista, catapults and other cruel 'engines of war' on the rear slope of the ridge and blasted their ranks into disorder with missiles? No. Is there a cunning Theban plan afoot? Yes obviously? Well perhaps, or maybe a novice "shuffle of the deck" as I have all these PiP points I feel obliged to use ;)
To be fair the Athenian has extended his lines and in theory they could overlap the extreme flanks of the Theban advancing phalanx (wagering no doubt that the defensive +1 of the ridge line he gets warrants sacrificing an extra rank of supporting spears [+1 bonus] for the "battle winning advantage" of a 'closing the door' move on the Thebans). So then perhaps the apparent chaos and confusion of the Thebans is a clever 'lure' to pull the Athenians of their hill and fight a fair fight in which the Theban Cavalry can turn the Athenian right flank. Or am I just over analyzing here? The novice players turned to me in unison and nodded. The muffins and crisps were being consumed with great gusto at this point.
(PS: Please note the Zeus like "Hand of God" interfering in mortal matters [see below, top right].)
Amidst the maneuvering and outmaneuvering of the Theban 'dancing hoplites' (well the Thebans after all have a Sacred Band .. ta da .. sorry, I'll get my coat) an unexpected melee spontaneously breaks out (see below). In a bold and daring dash the Theban general detaches his stand of psilio to try and run amok with the Athenian right flank and loot the Allied Greek Camp (a bold aim for one stand).
So relief at last, a "combat" as a Greek Psilio clashes with a Greek Psilio in the center of the battlefield (see below). The Athenians were forced by the Thebans to detach one element to defend the direct route to the Allied Greek Camp, the Athenian general now agonizes "has he sent enough"?
(Note: There was various comments made regarding the lack of clothes on one chap and the possible effects on his fighting prowess in the up and coming combat, again these were novices to ancients).
Who will prevail? A straight forward combat factor of 2 each plus their players respective dice roll. Will it be DBA handbags (a recoil or stand) or a low combat factor quick kill, as the chances of being doubled are far, far greater with the "lights" than spears/heavy infantry. Psilio can kill psilio in this circumstance ...
To be continued