Monday, March 19, 2018

Battle Report: Men of Bronze- Battle of Cius- 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.  However, no details remain.  Below I will be fighting a battle between the Persian general Hymaees and the defenders of the City of Cius.  For the purposes of this battle, the citizen militia has come out of the city to fight off the Persian force.  

The Forces
No details remain for the fall of the city of Cius.  We only know that Hymaees took the city 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. 

3 Militia Hoplites
2 Peltasts
1 Archer Unit
1 Psiloi

3 Archer Units
3 Drilled Infantry Unit
1 Psiloi

This is equal points in the system and should prove an interesting game. 

This battle will be on a 6x4 board with both forces deployed on the long table edges.  The Greeks on the North side with the Persians coming from the South.  The Western edge of the battlefield is anchored on a river.  The Eastern edge has the ruins of a temple sacked by the marauding Persian recon troops.  The river is Dangerous terrain while the temple is Difficult.   
Greeks to the Left
 The Greeks of Cius to the North have anchored there right flank to the river.  They deployed across the battlefield in a battle line 6 base widths in.  From right to left the units are; psiloi, archers, the 3 militia hoplites in phalanx are the core, then the 2 peltast units deployed across from the temple.  The Persians face off against the Greeks also anchoring their left flank on the river banks.  They are deployed alternating archers and drilled infantry, with the Persian right being anchored by Psiloi light troops across from the temple.   
Persians to the Right.... caught in the middle with you

Turn 1:
Both sides begin with 7 Arête Points.  That means no one will have an Arête Point advantage to begin with.  The Persians bid 3, while the Greeks bid only 2.  The Greeks wish to hold back and possibly use their Move and Shoot abilities later in the turn.

The Drilled Infantry by the temple race forward to try and get the better ground.  Seeing the Persian strategy, the Greeks decide to try to interrupt to get their Peltasts moving to the temple and try to beat the Persians there.  The Greeks win the roll-off.  Some Greek Peltasts rush forward towards the temple ruins.  The Persians challenge for initiative using an Arête Point, and this time they win it back.  The Persian psiloi move ahead.  The Greeks again use Arete to try to steal initiative back from the Persians in the race to the temple.  They win the roll-off again.  
Peltasts make for the Ruined Temple
With their key units on the left in position, the Persians decide to let the Greeks continue to see how their battle plan unfolds.  The Greeks press forward their full moves across the front.  This leaves the light troops slightly out in front of the Hoplite center.  The Greeks wanted to use their Arête Points to move and shoot, but the Persians letting them maintain the initiative has left them without targets.  

The Persian forces also move forward.  Their archers begin to pull ahead of the infantry, causing a slight checkerboarding of their lines.  However, they have no units to Move and Shoot with either. 

Turn 2:
Both sides still maintain 7 Arête Points.  Both sides consider their initiative bids.  The Persians do not think they can beat the Greek Peltasts into the ruined temple but if they get their first, they will be hard to drive out.   The Greeks bid 3, and the Persians 2 this time. 

The two sides close in- Greeks Left, Persians Right
As expected, the Greek Peltasts get to the temple and use an Arête Point to Skirmish through the difficult terrain.  The second Greek Peltast unit follows on the outside of the temple, but since they touch the terrain they must spend an Arête Point to skirmish.  However, they are still considered in cover.  The Greek player pauses to see if the Persians will interrupt, but they decline the bait.

The Ionian commander now feels confident that his left flank is secure in the temple.  His right begins to castle up, with is archers moving forward to engage the Persian archers next turn, while the Hoplites approach. 

The Persian holds his Arête Points for potential re-rolls.  The Persian archers on the left and center move forward to get in a shooting duel with the Greek archers next turn.  The Drilled Infantry stay ready to support them if they get charged.  The far right begin to refuse their flank, and try to draw the Peltasts out of the temple to attack. 

Turn 3:
This turn will probably have first blood.  Both sides have 7 Arête Points, and choose their bids.  Persians bid 3, and the Greeks 2.  The Greeks think they can use Move and Shoot this turn and hold a few back.  The Persians want to use their Archers first. 

Since units can move, shoot, or fight; the Persian archers in the center start the shooting.  The initial Persian barrage reduces the Greek Archers 4 Courage!  They are turned around to rout!  Seeing this, the Greek player decides to try to interrupt and get some revenge!  The Greeks lose the roll-off, and the Persians keep the initiative. 
Greek on the Left, Persians the Right

The Persian Archers on the right open fire at the Psiloi by the river.  The second barrage is not as effective as the first and the Psiloi are reduced 1 Courage, and pass their Discipline check.  The rest of the turn, the Persians simply re-dress their lines. 

The Greeks take over, and immediately the psiloi on the Greek right charge the archers on the Greek right.  This takes 1 Arete Point, and the Persians spend 1 to Evade.  The psiloi spend 1 more to pursue.  And catch the archers.  The two units both take 1 Courage loss in the melee, but the Persians spend 1 Arete Point to re-roll a Discipline Dice and pass the check.

The Greek Peltasts spend the last Arête Points to skirmish through the ruins.  However, they can not move and shoot due to having no Arête points left to do so.  Two phalanxes press forward, whiel the third is hampered by the Greek Archers.

In the End Phase, the Greek Archers flee the field and force the Militia Phalanx behind them to pass a Collapse test.  The Phalanx passes. 

Turn 4:
The Greeks get 6 Arete Points and the Persians 7.  The Persians bid 3 Arete to Greek 3.  The two sides must roll-off!  The Greeks win.

The Greeks start by having the left most Militia Hoplite Phalanx charge the Persian Drilled Infantry.  However, the Persians use an Arête Point to counter-charge!  The two units clash in the center of the board, and the Militia loses 1 Courage, to the Drilled Infantry 2.  They are both at 3.  Both sides pass the Discipline check.  The Persians are pushed back 1 bw.    

The Persians decide to steal the initiative with an Arête Point, and win the roll-off.  The Persian Archers on the right fire into the oncoming  Peltasts and reduce them 1 Courage.  The Persian psiloi also attack them, but fail to cause any wounds with their javelins.

On the left flank, Drilled Infantry charge in to support the Persian archers with the Psiloi.  The combat is brutal and short.  The Archers lose 1 more courage and begin to waver, but the Greek Psiloi is destroyed utterly. 

The Persian Archers in the center and the Drilled Infantry on the right reposition themselves to avoid charges and support the attack.
The right most Greek unit declares a charge at the flank of the Persian Drilled Infantry.  However, it fails to come into contact with them!  This leaves them in Open Formation and wavering! 
Greek Peltasts in the temple fling javelins at the Persian Psiloi, and reduce them 2 Courage and wavering.  The others struggle out of temple grounds and fire at the Persian Psiloi as well, causing them to route.                   

In the End Phase, the Persian Psiloi and Greek Psiloi fled the field.  No one failed a collapse check.

Turn 5:
Ionian Greeks get 5 Arête Points to the Persian 6.  The Persians bid 4 to the Greek 2.
Greeks to the Left, Persians to the Right
The Persians immediately declare a charge from their drilled infantry on the wavering Militia Hoplites.  One of the advantages of being an Open Order unit is the maneuverability, and it pays off here as they pivot and charge.  The attack is pretty powerful, and reduces the Ionians to 2 Courage, and the Persian Infantry to 4.

The Greeks then manage to steal the initiative and declare a charge on the Persian archers with the Peltasts.  The nearby Persian Drilled infantry decide to support with a flank attack.  Both units are reduced to 1 Courage, and this could sweep up the Persian Drilled Infantry now, since there was not a decisive victory. 

The Greeks use their last Arête Point to move the second Peltast unit from the ruins.  The center Greek and Persian melee has no decisive results.         

Turn 6:
Both sides get their arête Points at Greek 5 and Persian 6.  The Greeks bid 2, while the Persians bid 0. 
Greeks to the Left, Persians on the Right
The Center Greek phalanx, breaks into open formation, and joins the melee on the Greek right.  Despite the help, things did not go the Greek way, as both sides lose a point of Courage, leaving the Greeks unit at 1 Courage!   The Persians try to steal the initiative, but fail.

The Greek Peltasts charge into the center melee!  Here things go better for the Greeks, and the Persians use two re-rolls to Reduce the Greeks to Courage 2, while they have 1 left! 

The big melee on the right reduces both units to 0 Courage,a nd the Greeks lose a Skirmisher unit, to the Persians Drilled Infantry and Archers. 

The wavering Persian archers is rallied back to normal.  Both units declare a charge into different scrums to help support next turn.  On the left, it does nothing.  However, the charge into the center melee reduces the Greeks to 1 Courage! 

Turn 7:
Like ancient battles are likely to do, they have devolved into 2 big scrums in the center.  Neither side bids any Arête to go first.  They want they re-rolls instead, both have 4. 
Two big Scrums and everyone is all mixed up! 

The Persians on their left flank taking on the Open Order Greek militia hoplites with archers manage to crush them!   They are routed.  In the center, both Greeks and Persian flee the field at 0 Courage. 
That left the batter Persians on the left flank masters of the field of battle.  ! unit of Drilled Infantry at 2 Courage, and 1 Unit of Archers at 2 Courage. 
All that remains...

Today, I wanted to make sure that Archers were a viable choice and that an Archer heavy force could defeat Hoplites.  Doing the math, the Hoplites would have armor 3, and Archers have 4 shoot dice, so it would be tough for them to scratch the Hoplites.  The Ionian Revolt seemed like a good place to start as it was Greeks vs. Persians. 

My findings were that the Archers are better matched up against auxiliary troops, and then used to bolster the Drilled Infantry in combat as a support unit.  By using clever placement and effort, you could use the archers for Flank Charges and support.  The other way around, with infantry supporting the archers did not work as well.  A situation where an archer unit was facing off against a Hoplite unit would be a severe mismatch for the archers, even at range as they would only get 1 shot before being charged.  Elite and Drilled Hoplites would be an even more hopeless situation.    

Another finding, one of the key things to recall in the game is that a unit can only shoot, move, or fight.  Therefore, if you choose a unit to fight they can only do it once.  If other people join the battle after the initial unit has fought, the rules are not 100% clear on how to handle that.  That is something I will need to edit before May. 

I am still not finding Unit Collapse being an issue like I expected it to be.  Most units, even Discipline 2 can pass the Collapse test.  However, placing the test after Arête Points are discarded reduce the impact of re-rolls to the result.  That is good.

Overall, this was another historical battle where the Persians won.  The key moment was the failed charge by the Militia Hoplites that forced them into open order and wavering.  That was the key engagement of the battle and swung it to the Persians.

 With their field force destroyed, and Persian reinforcements closing in the City of Cius wisely surrendered.  Propontis was secured and Hymaees prepared to support his fellow general’s in crushing the Greek revolt in Ionia. 


  1. What a fascinating bit of background and a hard fought scrap.

    1. Indeed. The game looks great with paper templates, but I can't wait to get the actually painted models on the table for some photos. They will look 10x more exciting!