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. The city was burned and the sanctuary of a local deity was destroyed.
Herodotus says thus:
So Sardis had been burned, and in the fire a sanctuary of the local goddess Kybele had also gone up in flames (…). [W]hen the Persians who dwelled in the districts west of the Halys River heard about these events, they gathered together and rushed to the aid of the Lydians. Discovering that the Ionians were not in Sardis any longer, they followed their tracks and caught up with them at Ephesus. The Ionians deployed their troops to oppose them, but in the battle that followed they suffered a severe defeat. Many of them were slaughtered by the Persians (…) Those who escaped from the battle dispersed as each one fled to his own city.
The battle here is to represent the Battle of Ephesus after the burning of Sardis. Many speculate that due to the speed of the Persian pursuit, that the army must have been mostly cavalry based and making use of the Royal Road. Why the Ionians and their allies were so slow on the march is unclear. Whatever the reason, the Persian forces caught up. The Greeks were not ambushed, as they had plenty of time to deploy for battle. The following battle will try to recreate this battle….
I will be choosing troops from the Lists of Battle for the Persians and Other Greek City-States List. There are no surviving troop numbers or description of the armies. We can only extrapolate to build these lists.
Ionian Greeks- General Eualcides
1 Drilled Hoplite
2 Militia Hoplite
Persians- Satrap Artaphernes
1 Drilled Infantry
Both sides have 32 points.
The river Cayster is on the Greek Left/Persian right. The rest of the board is barren, arid terrain and will be good for maneuver. A few rocky outcroppings dot the plain to break it up. This battle will be on a 6x4 board with both forces deployed on the long table edges.
This is a Decisive Battle scenario and the Greeks will suffer from the Complication Hungry and Thirsty.
The Greeks follow standard practices and place their best troops on the right and their Militia in the center. The Peltasts are guarding the left flank while the Psiloi are to their flank. The Persians also follow a traditional formation with the Drilled infantry in the center flanked by archers, and then cavalry on both sides.
The Greeks then check for Hunger and Thirst. The Psiloi and Militia Hoplites on the left flank are both suffering from Hunger and Thirst. That means their Discipline Checks have a Target Number of 5+ during the battle. We will have to see if this is decisive or not.
Both armies collect their Arête Points of 5 each and consider their bids for Initiative. The Persians bid 4 as they do not think they will get close enough to do much else, while the Greeks are content to let the Persian plan unfold and bid 0.
The Persian horseman rush forward, while the infantry begins to shake out behind them. The Greeks do not try to interrupt and let the Persians complete their maneuvers in peace. The Greeks simple redress their lines and move a bit away from the baseline, content to let the Persians come to them. They are concerned about keeping their flanks secured from the swift Persian horse.
The Persians again bid 4 Arête Points, to the Greeks 0. The Ionians appear to be in no rush to engage. The Persian cavalry on the left flank begins to cross-over in front of the Persian battle line. It looks clear that the Persian point of attack is going to be the Greek left flank, where the Peltasts and Psiloi are stationed. This may leave the Drilled Hoplites by the river woefully out of position.
The Greeks recognize the danger and begin to re-dress their own formation. The Peltasts move forward while the Psiloi on the edge move behind them. Hopefully, the Peltasts can hold a bit longer than the Psiloi. Meanwhile, the right ward militia unit breaks into open formation and re-positions itself. The Athenian/Eretrian contigent of drilled Hoplites tries to move up quickly.
This time, the Persians bid 3 this time to save some Arête Points to try and move and shoot? The Greeks bid 0 again, and hold to try to interrupt as the Persians get closer.
The right flank Persian cavalry looks like it has managed to make it to the Greek flank, but it maybe too far out to successfully coordinate with the rest of the Persian army. Meanwhile, the others Persians follow, trying to set-up a firing line to support the Persian advance. The Greeks do not interrupt at all.
The Open order militia Hoplites reform Phalanx right away. The other Militia Hoplites break into Open Order to reposition themselves in the gap betweent he Peltasts and the phalanx. The Drilled Hoplites march up to cover the flank. The Peltasts and Psiloi contemplate moving out and attacking, but judge the distance to be too great.
The Persians again bid 3 Arête Points, the Greeks 0. The Persians set-up their attack, and the Greeks hold their position and do not try to interrupt. The distances are getting close, and launching a premature attack could be fatal.
The Greeks take over and reform their Militia Phalanx. The Greeks form a batteline, but do not commit to an attack. Tension between the two forces is very high. Misjudging the distance at this point would leave your units exposed to enemy counter-attack and isolation. Everyone is ready for the next turn to unleash their attack.
This time the Greeks bid 4 Arête points to the Persian 3. The Peltasts rush forward and throw their javelins with an Arête point only to find that they are short! The Persian player smiles knowing that his archers will shoot the Peltasts to pieces. Seeing his attack fail, the Greek general begins to move his batte line forward, and the Persians do not interrupt.
The Persian archers open fire on the Peltasts and reduce them 2 Courage, the Persian Cavalry rushes up and attacks with their Javelins as well, but reduces them only 1 more Courage. The unit passes their Discipline checks. Suddenly, the Persians are not as confident.
Archers fire on one of the Militia Hoplites but fail to cause injury. This time, it is the Greeks turn to smile as he is confident he can charge home against the weaker Persian units now.
The Greeks bid 3 Arete Points to get the initiative as he needs some points to charge, while the Persians bid 4! The Greek player is surprised but such a high bid.
This time, Persian archery finishes off the Peltast unit and they are turned around and routed. The Greek player decides to interrupt and succeeds the dice roll. The Hungry and Thirsty Militia unit declares a charge straight into the Persian Drilled infantry before their flank collapses completely. A Persian Archer unit decides to support. The attack is successful, and reduces the Persians 2 Courage.
The second militia unit breaks into open formation and declares a charge at the other Persian Archers. They just make it. The Persians archers are routed in the initial charge!
The Drilled Greek Hoplites also break into open order and re-position themselves to fend off the Persian cavalry from rear attacks on the melee in the center. Lastly, the Greek Psiloi move up and throw javelins at the Persian cavalry. This causes them to waver after losing 2 courage.
Stunned, the Persians take back control. They respond by having the Cavalry charge into the Psiloi supported by the second unit. The Psiloi can not evade as they do not have any Arête Points left but with the movement of the Cavalry it probably would not have mattered. The Cavalry sweep away the Greek unit.
The drilled Persians in the center fight back, and reduce the Militia 1 Courage, but force them to waver. Since they are tired and Hungry, they will be at a big disadvantage next turn. However, the Persians are pushed back 3 base widths.
The Routing units are removed from the board. This forces a Greek Collapse test, which the Drilled Hoplites fail! They flee the battle! The Persians pass their tests. I did not see that coming!
The Greeks get 2 Arête Points, while the Persians get 4. The Greeks bid 0 to Persians 1. The Persian Cavalry declares a charge into the back of the melee between the Militia and the Drilled Infantry. That reduces them 2 more hits.
The remaining Greek unit could join the melee or try to charge the unengaged Persian Cavalry. It is likely that the other Militia unit is all ready lost. They decide the other Persian cavalry is too far away and instead reform Phalanx and charge into support the main melee. If they win, it is game over! However, the attack goes horribly wrong as the main Militia Hoplite unit they are supporting is waver and Hungry and thirsty! They fail to carry the day with their attack!
It is obvious that the Greek end is near.
The Persians bid 3 to 0 and guaranteed going first. The Greeks hold on for re-rolls.
The last Persian Cavalry piles in for a rear attack. The Greeks are swept away by this final overwhelming bit of force and the Battle of Ephesus is lost to the Ionians, no thanks to their Athenian/Eretrian allies legging it.
The Athenian and Eretrians returned to their fleet and sailed back home. They were content to let the Ionians handle their business from now on. The Persians had managed to be a tougher nut to crack than they had hoped. The surviving Ionians spread out and ran back to their own cities. Meanwhile, the Persians set about restoring their power and crushing the revolt of the Ionian Greeks.
Another historical result from the rules. The outcome of the Battle of Ephesus here was very much like the actual battle. The Greek forces had a hard time dealing with the cavalry and ultimately the Athenians fled back to their ships. The Ionians got beaten and the Persians won.
I have to admit, if the Drilled Hoplites would not have failed the Collapse test after losing the Peltasts and Psiloi, things could have been very different. They probably would have been able to fend off the Persian cavalry and keep the Militia Hoplites from getting completely over run by rear attacks. Now, it is not as clear if the Militia Hoplites could have held their own as the main unit was “Hungry and Thirsty” and wavering. However, if the second Militia had waited for the first to break, and then charged…. who knows!
I didn’t have it all my own way as the Persians. Turn 6 I should have tried to interrupt before the Militia unit charged my archers in open order. I guess I was just too stunned by it. Then, I could have saved my Cavalry from getting pin cushioned by the Psiloi before getting charged. Just shows how you always need to be thinking about when to use your Arête Points.
The Cavalry was fun to use, and I think I did it right to try to use their mobility to attack a weak part of the enemy force, and try to get around behind the enemy. They are not very good on the attack, and their firepower is pretty weak too. The only way to maximize their impact is against Psiloi and rear attacks. They would crumple against anything else. However, the big units just look scary and they are so fast.
Peltasts and other Javelin throwers are an interesting set of units. They are soft and squishy and their range puts them in danger. It is tempting to use their move and shoot ability to soften up foes, but most likely they will not kill them. They are better to use as a finishing attack, support unit, or against other equally soft and squishy units. So far, I have only seen them run too far ahead and get shot to pieces by archers. I have a feeling they do better against other Greek armies.
This was my first time using Cavalry and it was a good time. I look forward to the next battle of the Ionian Revolt.