Monday, April 23, 2018

Battle Report: Men of Bronze- Ravaging the Fieds of Pergamon- Ionian Revolt

Herodotus tells us a great deal about the Ionian Revolt.  Ionia was Greek colonies along the coast and edges of Turkey that had been captured and absorbed into the Persian Empire around 540 B.C.E.  In 499 B.C.E the Tyrant of Miletus, Aristagoras; failed to capture the island of Naxos.  This left him in a bad political position with his Persian overlords.  In a desperate bid, he decided to stir revolt amongst his people against the Persians.  This led many other local cities to cast off their Persian based Tyrants and replace them with Democracies. 

The Ionian Revolt had initial success in 498 B.C.E. when the allied Greek forces (including Athens, Eretria, and Ionians) managed to successfully attack Sardis.  Sardis was the seat of a Persian Satrap and one of the personal enemies of Aristagoras.  However, this minor victory was soon off-set by the Battle of Ephesus where Persian cavalry chased down and defeated the Greek forces. 

Despite the loss, the revolt spread further.  It spread to the Hellespont and Propontis.  The city of the Carians also joined the revolt.  In addition, Cyprus also revolted.  Persian rule was in danger across the region, it was only a matter of time before the might of the Persian army would respond. 

In 497 B.C.E., The Persian King had three generals appointed to put down the revolt.  The three Persians (Daurises, Hymaees, and Otanes) divided the area into three partitions and attacked.  Their attacks spread across the region.  The battles and sieges for this period are largely unknown, with only a few details of the battles coming down to us from archeology and Herodotus. 

Today’s battle will be one of those lost battles.  Hymaees marched to the Propontis and attacked the city of Cius.  Historically, he took the city.  After his victory there he turned his attention towards the Hellespont and marched towards the Aeolian cities there.  The Aeolian cities were 12 cities that formed a league.  No record remains of what happened at these cities,  only that Hymaees brought them back into the Persian fold.  There is some confusion over which Persian general and which Persian armies took over which cities.  However, for our purposes we will assume Hymaees was attacking the northern cities of the Aeolian League and the Troad and that these cities resisted with at least a token field force. 

As Hymaees’ armies marched towards the city of Pergamon the defenders wisely fled behind their walls.  However, the Persian general was wise to these tactics.  He ordered his vanguard troops to ravage the fields and vineyards around the city in full view of the citizens within.  Unsurprisingly, as his troops drew close to the precious fields the gates of Pergamon opened and their army came out to defend the fields.    

The Forces
Few details remain of Hymaees’ campaigns near the Hellespont and the Troad.  We only know that Hymaees re-took the Aeolian cities with his army while his fellow Persians attacked in other areas.  Therefore, I will be using some standard armies from the Greek and Persian lists.  The exact details of the true armies are not available. 

1 Drilled Hoplite
2 Militia Hoplites
3 Peltast

2 Archers
1 Drilled Infantry
2 Warband Infantry
1 Psiloi

The Greeks have 38 points, while the Persians have 30 points. 

This battle will be on a 6x4 board with both forces deployed on the long table edges.  It will be using the scenario called Ravage the Countryside.  In this scenario, the Greeks are trying to stop the Persians from destroying their fields and vineyards.  The Persians need to get a unit into the field terrain and stay there for 1d3 turns.  The Greeks must try to break the Persian force and keep them from the terrain.     
The Greeks Deployed
The Greeks on the North side with the Persians coming from the South.  The field is mostly flat, dusty plains with a few large boulders or rocky outcroppings.  The Greeks are deploying in the Northeast corner of the board.  The Persians are across the South, while the important fields are in the Northwest corner of the board. 
Persian Left Flank with Greeks in the distance
Turn 1:
Each side collects their Arête Points to begin.  The Greeks have 6 while the Persians also have 6.  The Persians bid 0 while the Greeks bid 3.  Greeks move out first. 

The Militia Phalanx moves from the deployment zone and forms Phalanx immediately for 1 Arête Point.  They are marching full speed towards the fields.  The Greek Peltasts move out towards the Persians forces, ready to try to intercept any Persian troops.  All Greeks have moved.   

The Persian troops surge forward.  The Archers move up to engage the Peltasts at range, and try to pin them as they can move quickly.  The Drilled Infantry in the center march forward to try to cut-off the Militia Phalanx, while the left flank Psiloi and Warband Infantry race towards the fields. 
Peltasts move to screen the Militia Hoplites advance
Turn 2:
Each side collects their 6 Arête Points a piece.  The Greeks bid 0 this time, as do the Persians.  Both sides seem willing to let the enemy move into missile range first.  This leads to a roll-off, which the Greeks wins. 

The rest of the Greek force manages to deploy onto the table. The initial Militia Phalanx moves towards the fields.  The first Peltast unit also approaches the Persian line, and then waits.  The Persian Archers do not try to steal the Initiative.  More Greek Peltasts leave the their deployment zone and back-up their comrades.  More Peltasts head towards the Persian line, but no response from the Persians. 

The Greek Drilled Phalanx moves out to support their Militia Phalanx, but stays in open order so they can wheel and react to Persian moves.  The second militia phalanx follows, but they stay in Phalanx formation. 

The Persian light troops rush forward.  It does not look like they can be stopped or halted in time.  Can the slower Greek Phalanx get to the fields in time to save them?  Meanwhile, the Persian Archers move to refuse their flank on the approaching Greek Peltasts, and ready their bows to fire next turn.  The Drilled Infantry in the center keep pace with the lighter Persian units and prepare to flank attack or charge as needed. 
Greek Peltast close on the Persian Archers
Turn 3
Both sides get their 6 Arête Points again, after spending none last turn.  This time, going first may matter.  The Greeks bid 2, and the Persians bid 0.  They are holding on to potentially interrupt instead. 

The Greeks start by moving their Hoplite units, free from interference by Persian troops.  A unit of Peltasts continues to screen their flank.  Now, it is decision time.  The supporting Greek Peltast unit decides to move forward.  They spend an Arête Point to Move and Shoot.  Sadly, they are still out of range of the closest Persian Archers.  The closest Peltast unit moves forward, and the Persians try to spend an Arête Point to interrupt.   

The Persians win the roll-off and take over the turn.  A group of Persian Archers let fly on the closing Peltasts and reduce them 3 Courage!  They Peltasts then fail a Discipline check and start to waver. 

The Greeks try to spend a point to take intiative back.  However, the Persians win the roll-off and continue to have the initiative.  The second Persian Archer unit fires on the wavering Peltasts, and use 3 Arête Points to re-roll some misses.  They pin-cushion the Greeks and force them to turn and flee. 

The rest of the Persian force moves forward, and the Warband infantry looks like they will get to the fields well before the Greek Militia Phalanx will arrive.  With all the Persian troops complete, the Greeks can complete any action they have left.  However, all their units moved and the Peltasts that were moving and shooting have been routed. 

In the End turn, two Peltast units and a Militia unit need to make a discipline check as their fellow Greeks flee the battlefield.  They are all passed…. For now. 

Turn 4
The Persians get 6 Arête Points to the Greek 5.  If the Greeks do not go first, they know they could lose a second Peltast unit, so bid 4 Arête Points.  However, the Persians bid 6.  No re-rolls for them this time. 

The first archer unit opens fire at the closing Peltasts and reduces them 3 Courage and cause them to waver.  The Greek player knows a second barrage will finish him.  He uses his final Arete point to try to interrupt.  However, the Persians win the roll-off. 

The second Persian archer unit draws and fires.  However, they are out of range and the arrows fall short into the ground in front of the Greek Peltasts. 

The rest of the Persian force moves forward.  It looks like the Persian Psiloi will be able to block off an easy approach to the fields, while the Persian Warband infantry gets into the fields and begins to tear them up.  Meanwhile, the Persian Drilled Infantry are threatening the flank of the Greek march.                   

The Militai Phalanx units keep marching towards their objective.  Meanwhile, the Peltasts try to screen the Drilled phalanx, while they move to attack the threatening Persian infantry. 

The last Peltast unit realizes they probably can not move into the Persian archers without an Arête Point to charge into close combat, and instead tries to shift with their allies and act as a flank screen.
Persian Warband Infantry enters the fields

Turn 5:
Arête Points are handed out, with 6 Persian and 5 Greek.  The Persians bid 2 points to the Greek 1. 

Persians go first by spending an Arete point ad declaring a charge with their Drilled Infantry into the Greek Peltasts on the Flank.  With a dazzling display of martial prowess, the Persians reduce the Peltasts to Courage 0 in a single charge! 

The Persian Archers try to shoot the Peltasts, but are out of range again.  Just barely.  The Persian warband infantry move into the fields and continue to wreck them.  The Psiloi move up on the Militia Phalanx and readies their javelins to throw.  However, the Greek tries to interrupt with an Arete Point, and does so successfully!

The Militia Phalanx then spends an Arête Point to charge into the Persian Psiloi.  There charge is very effective and the Persian Psiloi are scattered in the first charge!  They didn’t even slow the Greeks down. 

The Greek Peltasts that are left also declare a charge on the Persian Archers with an Arête point.  This charge would have routed the Persian archers…. Except the wavering status of the Peltasts made the charge completely ineffective!  The second Persian archer unit decides to support on the flank.      

The Drilled Phalanx uses an Arête Point and forms Phalanx.  That was the last Arête Point for the Greeks.  The last Militia unit moves forward. 

The Persians now finish their actions.  The second Drilled infantry unit moves up to threaten the flank or the Militia or Drilled phalanx.        

The Persian Archers launch their attack on the Greek Peltasts.  Working together they easily route the wavering Peltasts. 

At the End Turn, we see two Greek Peltast Units flee, and 1 Persian Psiloi unit flee.  All units in line of sight pass their Discipline checks.  However, the Greeks must make a Collapse Test.  The lead Militia and Drilled Hoplite units pass the Collapse test, but the second Militia unit fails.  They rout and run back to the city gates in terror. 
The Greeks are in a tough place
Turn 6
Things look rough for the Greeks!  Persian troops have entered the fields and many of the Greek Units have fled back to the city.  The Persians get 5 Arête points to the Greek 2.  The Persians bid 3 to go first, while the Greeks bid none. 

The Persian Drilled Infantry declare a flank charge on the leading Militia Hoplites using an Arête point.   Despite the flank charge, they only reduce them 1 Courage.  The Greeks now try to interrupt and successfully spend 1 Arête Point to roll-off.  They win and take over. 

The Drilled Hoplites spend the last Arête Point to charge into the Persian Drilled Infantry in front of them.  The Persians spend their last Arête point to counter-charge.  Crash!  The two units crash into each other with the Persians losing 2 courage to the Greeks 1.  The melee is pushed back 2 base widths. 
The Militia Hoplites fight back.  They reduce the Drilled Infantry they are fighting with down to 4 Courage.  It is an even fight so far. 

The Persian Archers move to support their Drilled Infantry next turn.  Meanwhile, 1 unit of Warband infantry leaves the fields to flank attack the Militia Hoplites fighting the Persian Drilled Infantry.

Despite the valiant efforts by the Greeks, the Persians have managed to ravage the fields of the city.  The Persians have won the battle.  Despite this, we decide to go one last turn to see what happens. 
Turn 7- The Greeks' Last Chance
The Persians take their 5 Arête Points to the Greek 2.  They again bid 3 to ensure first turn.  The Greeks hold on for Re-rolls.    

The Persian Warband infantry declares a flank charge on the Militia Hoplites.  Despite that, the Militia Hoplites are only reduced 1 courage. 

The Persian archers join the battle with the Drilled Phalanx, one with a flank charge, and the other as support.  Here, the Greeks are reduced to 2 Courage and forced to take a Discipline Check.  They fail and start to waver! 

The Greeks strike back! The Militia strike back and reduce their foes 1 Courage and the combat is again a draw!  The Drilled Phalanx also strikes back and uses 2 re-rolls, however it is not enough and the combat is lost by 1 courage.  They are pushed back 2 base widths. 
Pointless Bloodshed after the fields have been ravaged
The Persians successfully ravaged the fields of the rebellious Greeks! 

Pergamon was now under siege and at wily Hymaees’ mercy.  With much of their field force destroyed the elders of the city decided to sue for peace.  They soon surrendered to the Persian general who removed and executed the ring leaders of the revolt and replaced them with Tyrants loyal to Persia once more. 

From the Persian perspective, that went pretty much how I wanted it to go.  The Greeks tried to secure the fields with their better quality troops, but they never made it in time.  I think next time the Greek general will use the opposite strategy.  Use the heavy troops as the screen and the lighter and faster troops to secure the fields. 

My Persian units did what they needed to do, with the archers performing surprisingly well!  The objective made this game very different from the last clash between Persians and Greeks.  As an added bonus, the Collapse rules and Discipline rules actually impacted this game.  That was too bad for the Greeks as one unit fled the field, and a few others where wavering had a big impact in their performance. 

Overall, this was another fun game with another “historical” outcome.  The Persians can beat the Greeks with careful use of supporting units, flanking, and focus on the objectives as we saw in the Battle of Cius game and this game. The Greeks can also beat the Persians by forcing them into uneven match-ups as we saw in the Battle ofMarathon game.            

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