Friday, 15 February 2013

BBDBA Delium 424 BC (Peloponnesian War) Part 1

Background to the Game: 

I am currently half way through reading Kagan's seminal tome ("The Peloponnesian War", which is a damn good read - he says on "his" third attempt to read it). "The Battle of Delium", the first big hoplite battle of the real-war, strikes me as both a golden opportunity missed (as in Athens "knocking Boetia out of the war") and a terrible confidence shaking tragedy for the Atheniam Empire. It seemed to put the Athenians off fighting in pitched land battles again, a bit of an Athenian "commitment problem". However as a battle it hung in the balance and could have easily swung either way but a moment of "fickle fate" (so hard to re-create on the tabletop), so therefore it begs as a "must to re-fight" if but only to ponder the historical "what-ifs". The Athenians at this time were exploring a more ambitious "take the war to the enemy" strategy from the original "passive Pericles" and ended up building a fort near Delium deep in enemy territory. After the fort's construction the Athenians were caught with their pants down as half their army (admittedly most of their 'lights' and useless mouths) had already sailed back to Athens. This served to even up the battlefield odds and gave the Thebans the incentive to "have a go", as their most bellicose Strategos Pagodas put it, "the Athenians would only come back later with more men another day".

Athenians and Allies
  • Right Wing: 1 x 4Sp (Gen: Hippocrates [C-in-C]), 7 x 4Sp, 1 x 3Cv 1 x 2LH, 2 x 2Ps
  • Left Wing: 1 x 4Sp (Gen), 7 x 4Sp, 1 x 3Cv 1 x 2LH (Alcibiades), 1 x 3Ax, 1 x 2Ps
Note: The difference between the two wings above (can you spot it, hint look at the "lights" was not planned as such, but just "how they inadvertently came out of the box" so don't try and read anything clever into it. Alcibides is referred to in a special rule detailed below, see also Socrates.)

Thebans and Boetians
  • Right Wing: 1 x 4Sp (Gen: Pagodas), 7 x 4Sp, 2 x 3Cv, 2 x 2Ps
  • Left Wing: 1 x 4Sp (Gen: Pagodas), 7 x 4Sp, 2 x 3Cv, 2 x 2Ps
Pagodas cunningly formed his men up from behind a hill and then appeared suddenly (see below, as seen from Theban/Boetian lines looking down on the confused Athenian position). To recreate this state of affairs the Athenians set up first and then the Thebans deploy which should give them a 'subtle' tactical advantage. Both sides had cavalry but it was hampered historically being on the wrong side of some rough terrain. I forced this deployment outside on the normal zone "just" within the reach of the commanding generals (see below, just off to the left out of camera shot is another group of Theban/Boetian cavalry).   

Both armies have identical army break points (50%) 12 stands or both wings going demoralised (that is 33% in each wing going four elements OR the general). The Theban hoplite line is shown below with a curious bulge at the far end of its line of battle (Note: a "special" scenario rule is in effect).

Pagodas was experimenting with a technique that was going (eventually) to pay handsome dividends to the Thebans in their future wars against Sparta (but that was still some fifty years off). Instead of eight deep he massed a phalanx of twenty four deep at the right hand side of his line of battle.

Special Scenario Rule: Theban Deep Phalanx (optional)
Requires four x 4Sp stands to be place in column with C-in-C Pagodas in the Front Rank. If any stands are ever peeled off the column, the "deep phalanx" ability is permanently lost for the course of the battle. 
Combat factor: +6
  • +4 Front Rank
  • +1 Second Rank
  • +1 Third and Fourth Ranks Combined
You could say it is a very expensive way to get an additional +1 as you are sacrificing breath (and possible tactical overlaps) for a heavy "push point". Yes, if the "deep phalanx" were somehow ever "doubled" in combat all the stands would be lost (aka instant "wing" demoralisation). Blissfully unaware of this tactical innovation the Athenian hoplites muster into a straight line (see below).

In normal BBDBA the C-in-C for each army can claim a +1 offensive/defensive modifier once per game (which at first glance seems rather harsh when compared to the intrinsic +1 per turn in normal DBA, however it adds its own character to the game). This still applies to the Theban commander Pagodas in this "deep phalanx".

However there were two historical characters in the Athenian army which beg a special modification to the leader rules as the army commander Hippocratis was not that inspiring. Therefore the normal leadership bonus can be played in the following fashion instead:
  • Shield of Socrates: The future great philosopher was present at this battle as a hoplite. In 432 at the siege of Potidaea Socrates had showed his great courage and valour saving the aristocratic Alcibiades' life (a rising Athenian "star"). Any Athenian hoplite unit (4Sp, including Hippocratis) can claim (only once per game) a +1 defensive modifier as they are "standing firm with Socrates". Note: The implication is that it can only be used to save a friendly unit not kill an enemy one.
  • Sword of Alcibiades': In the Athenian left wing "light horse" has the young Alcibides with it and once per game this unit can claim a +1 attack modifier. Note the implication here is that it can only be used to kill an enemy unit not save itself.

The armies are ready for battle. The Thebans set up after seeing the Athenian deployment but the Athenians "go first" (another scenario rule) as on seeing that the Athenian right overlapped the Thebans left, Hippocrates (the Athenian C-in-C) immediately ordered a charge up hill to press this advantage home as soon as possible.  


Tim Gow said...

Thats a lot of hoplites! I think I've played Delium with Strategos a few years ago.

Geordie an Exiled FoG said...

Four DBA armies worth (24 stands in all), for First Mantinea 418 BCI am hoping to field six for a about the 44 mark (some painting, a DBA army worth required first)

Strategos II (or Lost Battles) it targeted "to progress onto" as a set of rules