Monday, June 10, 2019

Battle Report: Men of Bronze- Battle at the Black Sea

After Phillip II's reforms, the Macedonian army was a fearsome fighting machine. However, this fearsome fighting force did not immediately displace the tried and true Hoplite model of combat. Many Greek mercenaries still used and adopted the Hoplite Phalanx as their main fighting style.

After the Macedonian victory at Charonea, Macedonian dominance of Greece was a given. However, the Greeks were always a fractious and quarrelsome country. The independence of Greek City-States was always a hallmark of Greek society. Therefore, Macedonian forces had to “mop-up” various resistance groups.

Eventually, contingents of Macedonian soldiers reached the edges of the Greek world, especially around the Black Sea. Here, they met independently minded Greek colonists who were not so eager to bend to Phillip II's yoke. With the help of hired Spartan mercenaries, they were ready to test Phillip's resolve in the region.

A group of Greek Mercenaries sponsored by the Milesian (Ionian) colony of Panticapauem were there to challenge the oncoming Macedonians. Panticapauem tended to align themselves with the Ionian rather than the Doric Greeks, and had a loose association with nearby Black Sea cities in the Bosporus region. They intended to use plausibly deniable Mercenaries to test Phillip's resolve in the region before determining if they needed to bend their knee to him. The Macedonians had marched a small force into the region to act as standard-bearers and pacify it. The hostilities of the Greek Mercenaries hired by the natives was unexpected.

Clearly, this is another “ahistoric” battle or possibly an encounter lost to history. It is based on only the thinnest of pretexts and historical background. I have some generic Greeks painted, a unit of Macedonian Pikeman, and some assorted light units. Therefore, I had to make armies that fit what I had painted.  Of course, you can get your set of rules from Osprey


Greek Mercenaries
1 Elite Phalanx- Spartans
1 Militia Phalanx- Eager Panticapauems
1 Psiloi- Mercenary Greeks
-22 points

1 Macedonian Phalanx
1 Light Phalanx- Thessalian allies
1 Peltasts- Thracian Mercenaries
-22 points

This will be a standard pitched battle scenario.

The Greek Mercenaries choose their ground carefully at a pass between craggy, forested rocks and a river. The Macedonians will not be able to bypass them easily, and the area is just wide enough for a battlefield. The battlefield is a 48x48 base widths table, with 1 base width equally 1 inch.

The Greek Mercenaries place their elite Phalanx of Spartans on the shore near the river. Their flank I anchored by the river. They stay in open order for rapid deployment or re-deployment as needed. Next to them is the Militia Phalanx from Panticapauem, who are also in loose formation. Finally, their line is ended with a group of mercenary Psiloi near the woods.

The Macedonians also anchor their flank on the river, with the main Macedonian phalanx stationed there in phalanx formation. To their left is the Thessalian light hoplites in open order. Finally, next to them is the Thracian Peltasts.

Turn 1:
Both forces collect their 3 Arete Points. Neither side bids to go first. The Spartans win the roll off. They move forward unopposed and stay in loose formation. The Psiloi take a position in the woods and use a Arete Point to skirmish in.

The Macedonians slowly move forward. The Peltasts dart across the front and start to form a skirmish line in front.

Turn 2:
Again, no one bids to go first. Instead, the Greek Mercenaries win the roll-off. The Psiloi skirmish again and move tot eh edge of the woods in a position to provide flanking fire to a Macedonian advance. The Militia and Spartans move forward. They stay in open order.

The Peltasts finish their skirmish line as the Macedonians and Thessalians follow them slowly and cautiously.

Turn 3:
The Macedonians bid 1 to go first. The Macedonians want to get their main Phalanx in combat with the Spartans, but the Peltasts are in the way. The Peltast drop back between the two, ready to support. The Spartans try to interrupt, but fail. The Thessalian light Hoplites move up to support the Macedonians and form Phalanx.

The Militia from Panticapauem move forward and form phalanx. They are at a slight angle and ready to support the main Spartan push. The Spartans move up as well, but stay in Open Order to taunt the Macedonians into a charge. The Psiloi hold their position in the woods, ready to hurl javelins from the protection of the woods edge.

Turn 4:
Neither side bids for initiative and the Greek Mercenaries win. The Spartans and Militia Phalanxes move forward. The Spartans finally form up. The Psiloi move from the woods and behind the battle line looking to support as needed.

The Macedonians also rejigger their lines. The Macedonians themselves advance slowly, trying to judge the distance. Meanwhile the Peltasts hold the center, with the Light Hoplites on opposite flank.

Both sides begin to chant the Paean expecting a clash to be imminent.

Turn 5:
The Greek Mercenaries win the initiative by bidding 1.

They use an Arete Point and charge into the Macedonians, who also use one Arete Point to counter-charge. The two phalanxes crash together with the bang of spear on shields. Both sides lose 1 Courage in the initial pushing match.

The Macedonians try to use an Arete Point to steal the initiative but fail. This allows the Ionian Miltia Phalanx to charge in the side of the Macedonians as they struggle with the Spartans to their front. The This causes them to lose additional Courage. The Psiloi hang back in the back field.

Seeing the battle going against their Macedonian allies, the Thracian Peltasts hurl themselves into support their fellows. The Thessaliens break into open order and move to set-up for a flank charge into the main melee next turn.

The Macedonians are pushed back in the main melee.

Turn 6:
No one bids for Initiative and instead save their Arete Points for re-rolls and charges. The Spartans win the roll-off. The Spartans push in the main melee with the help of the militia. They reduce the Macedonians with their Thracian allies to 1 Courage, and they start to waver. However, the Spartans took casualties in the process, and they are also reduced to 1 Courage.

The Psiloi use an Arete point and make an unlikely charge into the Open Order light hoplites moving to attack the flank of the big melee. They manage to hit the flank harder than Psiloi should, and reduce the Thessalians in open order two courage! The Thessalians are pushed back and start wavering!

Turn 7:
Again both sides hold onto their Arete Points since everyone is involved in Melee.

The Macedonians win the roll off and decide to start with the big melee between the Spartans and Militia allies and the Macedonians and Thracian Peltasts. In the battle, Arete points are used for re-rolls and both sides are reduce to 0 Courage.

Onthe flank, the Light Hoplites manage to push back the Psiloi and reduce them two Courage, despite wavering. However, they are reduced to 1 Courage themselves.

In the end phase, the bulk of both forces flee. However, the Psiloi and Light Hoplites both manage to pass their collapse tests!

Turn 8:
Each side only has a single Arete point, and they both hold on to it for re-rolls.

The Light Hoplites can not form as they are wavering. Instead, the two sides viciously hack and slash at each other in open order. The Psiloi loose 2 Courage and the Thessalian Light Hopites both are reduced to 0 Courage.

Both units flee the field, leaving it for the crows. No trophies will be erected this day.

They say that in war, there are no winners; only losers. That was true today as both sides fled the field as they lost their courage to keep fighting. That means the battle was a bloody draw.

The elders in Panticapauem were uneasy. They had made their point to Phillip II but at great cost to themselves. They sent word to the Greek cities in Ionia as fast as they could to recruit more mercenaries to bolster their defenses. They also sent emissaries to Phillip II to offer terms. They were willing to bend the knee, but only on favorable conditions.

Perhaps fortunately for the Elders, Phillip II was soon assassinated. His son Alexander was the new leader of Macedonia. He had his sights set elsewhere and on a greater purpose than Greeks city-states around the Black Sea.

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