As Phillip II, army marched south from Macedon and into Greece the rival Greek city-states prepared to resist. Of course, Phillip was a canny warrior and political operative. As his main force moved to the decisive battle in Chaeronea, he split off small forces of soldiers to desecrate and destroy shrines and temples sacred to his opponents. He wanted them to be demoralized and prove that not even the gods could save them from his armies. As one of these detachments came to a shrine to Apollo, they encountered the unexpected. A pilgrimage of Spartan warriors and their Helot followers and made a pilgrimage to the site.
The Spartans were no friends of the Thebans or their Boetian League. However, when the Macedonian officer demanded they remove themselves from the shrine, he challenged their laconic sense of pride. The Spartan commander simply responded, “Move us.... if you can.”
Such disrespect made the young Macedonian commanders blood boil in rage. He would show these impudent Spartans who the new rulers of Greece were. He ordered his men and allied Thessalian infantry to prepare to attack.
Clearly, this is an “ahistoric” battle. There is no evidence that Phillip waged spiritual warfare against the Greeks, and there is very little chance that a Macedonian Phalanx would have come to blows with a Spartan contingent north of Thebes; if at all. However, I wanted a small battle that used the models that I had painted at the moment, so this is what we get....
1 Elite Phalanx
- 18 Points
1 Macedonian Phalanx
1 Militia Hoplite
This will be a Desecrate the Sacred scenario. The Spartans would be the defenders of the shrine that would be placed in the rough center of the 4x3 board. The shrine would be difficult terrain. The defenders can place 1 unit in the shrine, while the others come in from the board edge. Meanwhile, the Macedonians would come in from the opposite board edge.
If the Macedonians could keep a unit in the ruins for 1d3 turns, they would desecrate the place. The Spartans just had to keep them out.
The Spartans choose to place their Phalanx in the shrine, with their Peltasts and Psiloi rushing on to relieve them. The Macedonians lined up with their main phalanx heading straight for the shrine, and their allies to their left in the field. The Macedonians and the Spartans begin in Phalanx, while the others (including the Thessalians) are in open order.
Both sides collect their Arete points. 2 for the Macedonians, and 3 for the Spartans. The Spartans bid 1 for initiative to the Macedonian 0.
The helot Psiloi use another point to go into Skirmish mode and rush through the shrines grove. The Peltasts move up on the other side of the shrine. The Macedonians do not try to interrupt and the Spartans choose to hold their ground.
The Macedonians and their allies press forward, with the Thessalians staying in Open Order.
Arete points are distributed again, and the Spartans again bid one to go first.
The Spartans repeat the last turn as the reinforcements move up. Again, the Spartan Hoplites stay in position and wait. The Macedonian Phalanx halts as the Thessalians move forward in open order. The Spartan Peltasts and the Thessalians look like they might be in a race to get to the side of the shrine.
This time, no one bids any Arete points for Initiative. The Macedonians win the roll off.
The Thessalians move up towards the Spartan flank and form a Phalanx of their own.
The Spartans decide to try to interrupt. However, they fail.
The Macedonian officer decides the time is not right for a charge, and marches up towards the shrine. His men start to hurl taunts at the Spartans and dare them to come out of the Shrine and face them like men, and not cower behind the gods.
The Psiloi pay a point and skirmish from the grove and into the shrine. The Spartan Peltast also rush forward, but know they are too far away to hit the Thessalians with their Javelins.
Both sides get their Arete Points. The Macedonians will need their points to declare a charge. However, the Spartans could get first turn and charge first IF they go first. This will likely be the decisive turn.
The Spartans bid 2 Arete Points, while the Macedonians bid 0.
The Psiloi clamber through the Shrine and move up to support their masters in the inevitable charge. Meanwhile, the Peltasts do the unthinkable and use the last Spartan Arete Point to declare a charge on the flank of the Thessalian Militia Phalanx! Both sides lose 1 Courage in the ensuing melee. However, the Peltast quickly come to their senses about what they have done and start to waver!
Seeing the flank attack he had planned fall apart, but knowing that the Spartans can not counter-charge, the Macedonian officer orders his own charge into the shrine. The Psiloi jump in to support the Spartan line. Being in the shrine gives the Spartans a +1 to their armor, making them Armor 4 in Phalanx!
There is a great clash and the Macedonians are pushed back from the walls of the shrine 1 base width as the Spartans start to push the Macedonians back.
Now, it is all about the push of shield, spear, and pike as both sides are fully engaged. Neither side bothers to bid for Initiative as the time for manuever is over. Instead, they save their points for re-rolls.
The Spartans win the roll-off and decide to complete the melee in the center first. The Spartan commander does not expect the Peltasts to hold the Militia Phalanx of the Thessalians for another turn. They need to defeat the Macedonian Phalanx quickly. Again, the Spartans use the advantage of the Shrine and avoid any serious injury. The Macedonians are beginning to re-think their arrogance and begin to waver. However, the Spartans have pushed the Macedonians straight out of the shrine and no longer will benefit from its cover.
The Thessalians re-dress their lines to face the Peltast threat quickly. The Militia Phalanx is much better suited for close combat. They quickly reduce the wavering peltasts 2 more Courage, but lose 1 in return.
Again, no one bids for initiative. The Macedonians win the roll-off, and decide to fight with the Thessalians first. As expected, the Militia Phalanx easily sees off the Peltasts and forces them to rout. Will it be in time to save the main Macedonian Phalanx?
In the main melee, the wavering Macedonian Phalanx fails to make headway against the elite Spartan Phalanx. In fact, they are reduced a further courage point and pushed back another 2 basewidths.
At this rate, the Macedonians will be routed in 2 more turns. Can the Thessalians reform and get back in time to help support their comrades?
This time, the Spartans bid both Arete Points, while the Macedonians bid 1 to go first.
The Spartans are determined to make a decisive push on the Macedonian Phalanx and rout them! They do not manage to route them, but reduce them to only a single courage point remaining, and push them back 2 more basewidths.
The Thessalians break into open order and race towards the shrine. They are at the walls!
The Spartans and the Macedonians both get their two Arete Points. Neither side bids any. The Macedonians go first and move the Thessalians into the shrine. They only need to be in the shrine 1 full turn to desecrate it! There is no way the Spartans can stop them.
Heartened, the Macedonians put up one last effort before turning tail and running for it. The Spartans are reduced 1 Courage, and the Macedonians are routed.
The Spartan commander turned as the first flames licked up around the edges of the shrine. A handful of priests rushed out screaming in terror, followed by a wickedly grinning group of Thessalians. He looked over his weary men and pointed his bloodied Xiphos back to the Shrine.
“Let us take our vengeance!” he shouted.
The weary Spartans turned back and saw that their efforts were for not, and the rage of Ares returned the strength to their limbs. They tossed aside shattered spears, drew their short swords, and grimly marched back tot eh shrine to take a bloody revenge on those who despoiled that which was under their protection. The punishment for their failure to defend it could come later. Now was time to murder.
This was my first time playing Menof Bronze at a lower point level. The fewer units and fewer Arete Points definitely gives a different challenge. You can not do whatever you wish and you need to think about how you are going to apply each unit in search of Victory.
I was satisfied with my strategy, but things did not work out exactly as I had hoped. The Macedonian Phalanx proved a little bit more resilient than I had hoped, and the Thessalian Militia more than a match for Peltasts. Plus, the roll of 1 for Desecration turns was just a bit of bad luck. I have no doubt my Elite Spartans could have routed the Thessalian Milita.... even if they attacked in Open Order against their Phalanx. Oh well, Hermes was not on our side today. However, it was very satisfying routing that haughty Macedonian Phalanx so decisively.
Hopefully I can get some more Greeks painted up soon so I can do some larger battles of Men of Bronze soon with fully painted Spartan, Corinthian, or Macedonian armies.