Thursday, 1 September 2011

Megalopolis 331BC

This week Muswell Militia re fought the Battle of Megalopolis 331 BC, using the Hail Caesar rules.

I picked this battle because it gave me an opportunity to field both my Spartan and Macedonian armies for the first time.  I loosely based the OOB on Jeff Jonas' excellent Ancient Battles site.  With 4 players, I volunteered to umpire.

George as Agis, and Dr. Simon, commanded the Spartans, defending a pass near Megalopolis (below).  Their army consisted of hoplites, supported by light troops and a unit of heavy cavalry.  All pictures are clickable.

Grant and Ian player Antipater, Alexander's regent.  Their army (below) consisted largely of pikemen, supported by an allied phalanx of hoplites of rather doubtful enthusiasm, light troops and a unit of heavy cavalry (that in the event played little part in the game). Antipater was under time pressure as the superior Macedonian army needed to capture the ridge, by nightfall (turn 6 or a little after)

The Spartans, below, moved swiftly to occupy the crest of the ridge.

The Macedonian infantry advanced, in echelon (below), to meet them.  The phalanx in purple on the extreme right was elite, and was led from the front rank by the aged Antipater.  The Macedonian left (of less reliable allies) was refused.  Is that the hand of Zeus?

The battle for the ridge was hard-fought.  In the first round (below) the uphill Spartans seemed to have the better of it, but in the second the weight of the deeper (and slightly better supported) pike phalanx, with the inspirational Antipater fighting bravely from the front rank, told, and the Spartan formation disintegrated.

The Macedonian elite pikes turned and started to roll up the Spartan line.  There was considerable confusion with the rules at this point, which didn't seem clear as to whether the Macedonians could turn through the 90 degrees required to the flank of the next phalanx. 

With the battle turning against them, the Spartans advanced their cavalry (below), who were charged by the Macedonian's hoplites.  This was a learning point for us, as it transpired firstly that the infantry became disordered by the counter-charging cavalry, and also that I'd given the scruffy Spartan cavalry the same stats as Companions (well hard!).  It was Chaeronea all over again as the hoplites were forced back, shaken.

At this point it was getting late, and we called the game.  The Macedonians had taken part of the ridge, and looked ready to turn up the Spartan line, but the latter's late cavalry charge had to some extent restored the balance.  Perhaps a narrow Macedonian victory.

The game was very enjoyable.  The Hail Caesar rules do give a very good game, but we are still experiencing some frustration with the way that the rules are laid out, which makes it hard to look up points quickly, in the heat of battle.  We are gradually mastering them, though, and expect to play our third game next week.
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