As the First Battle of Mantinea Wargaming kit was still to hand when 'another' (evil laughter) unsuspecting Wargaming newbie came round to call, the opportunity could simply not be resisted. So as the children played in the garden the fathers opened a bottle of beer and settled down to recreate an epic moment of ancient history. Having already 'umpired' and 'played Sparta' it felt appropriate that this time I took the underdog Argives knowing well in advance what 'likely fate' awaited me, but I faced the challenge undaunted. My strategy was simple, a bold bloody strike with the right, fight a delaying action in the middle and refuse the left flank (see below, the Argives push forward in the middle and right, blurred action photography courtesy of my youngest son who decided to "take control of the camera" and snap daddy):
After a brief run through of the rules the Spartan was convinced enough (partly as to his continued references to "300" cinematography) to attack where he was strong and defend where he was weak (good philosophy for ancients if not all wargaming). A round of relatively straight forward dice throwing saw the Spartans deliver a powerful punch from the two veteran central hoplites (including the Spartan King and his personnal guards) on the central Argives that had obligingly moved up. He then clumped forward with six more veteran hoplites to reinforce the center, quite a formidable looking block. The Spartan right kept pace with the middle while the Spartan left was refused but touching my most advanced hoplites, so they gave the Argives an ineffectual prod with their spears (see below):
Note the plastic black ex-ice cream box defining the legal dice throwing area. Saves all sorts of needless arguments :)
A profile study of the two Strategos, the silver haired Argive (me) removes the Spartan levy cavalry from the table (not as hard as it sounds given the better Athenian horse to hand), as the younger Spartan Agis (aka "the rookie") watches more concerned with shielding his bandaged hand (from a self inflicted DIY injury) from being knocked. First blood to Argos but it is a long way to go (see below):
Taken from the far right behind the Argive lines (see below) it shows the battle's congested center as the spirit of the Argive average hoplites waned, as one-by-one they become spent. A second Argive (moral) victory is scored on the Peloponnesian left flank as the allied (average) hoplites are shattered. One dying and making the other scarper for the safety despite scornful looks of the Ephors, From this high water mark there even looked like a vague possibility of an Argive envelopment of the Spartan center. Looks can be deceptive (see below):
The young Agis started to look concerned but his angst was almost immediately eased when the central Argive hoplites took such a beating they "quit the field" en masse. The glorious Spartan phalanx abruptly left faced and wheeled in almost perfect formation to face the Argive threat to their left. Very impressive! Meanwhile the Spartan right was crunching home into the weak Argive left, leaving it spent but not quite yet broken. The victorious Athenian cavalry moved to avoid the pointy ends of the Spartan hoplite spears, aka the unit left to defend the Spartan "key hex" but the Athenian horses were rather milling around on the enemy baseline looking "rather disinterested" in things. As seen in the photograph above thetwo Argive hoplites were trying to catch up to the action in the middle but the Argive Strategos used his command points for combat purposes instead, so they were spectators (see below):
The Spartan Strategos emphasizing his grievous DIY (self-inflicted) injury for the camera sits back and readies himself for a rigourous round of dice rolling and the final Spartan push. Crunch time and rank after rank of veteran Spartan hoplites break even the few "chosen men of Argos". Game set and match Sparta, the only non-routed Argive unit, the Athenian cavalry decide discretion is the better part of valour and quietly slink off to their waiting Athenian triremes (see below):
Points tallied up reveal a marginal (as per expected due to historical factors) Spartan win (even though they wiped the floor with the Argives, they did as they did historically). So in conclusion a good little "historical" game. Despite it being my third outing I am still picking the nuances of the rules. Yep, rereading a paragraph always seems to make a different interpretation come to life. At least I seem to be applying the combat factors appropriately, but I have a few questions to take to the Lost Battles forum.
Note: There is still much to learn and put into practice as in the previous games I managed to misread the OoB and forget to field the full Spartan Army! I was playing missing a veteran Spartan unit along side Agis, not that it really seem to matter in any of the games ;)
3-0 to Sparta!