Monday, July 13, 2020

Battle Report: Wars of the Republic- Battle of Scarpheia

Shortly after the Fourth Macedonian War, the Greek Acheaen League rose up against Rome.  This war was one of defiance after Rome's high-handed treatment of the League during the 3rd adn 4th Macedonina War.

The Roman's took hundred of hostages from the League and refused to return them or even entreat the ambassadors sent to secure their release.  In addition, populist generals were elected to the Achaean League leadership on a platform of reforms and taxation that would be counter to Roman interests.  Finally, Rome's efforts to reduce the size of the League by severing several cities and limiting the size of the League.  These three issues were politically unbearable to the Acheaen League and war was decided upon.  

It is unlikely that the Greeks had any hope of beating the Romans.  After all, the Romans had just defeated the much larger Macedonians and the Seleucid Empire.  However, it was a war of defiance.  It is best known for two key battles, the Battle of Scarpheia and the Battle of Corinth.  There may have also been several smaller skirmishes that were unrecorded.

The outcome was the total defeat of the Acheaen League.  As punishment, Rome complete destroyed Corinth, killed all the men, and sold the women and children into slavery.  All of the cities wealth was looted and sent back to Rome.  The Greeks were no longer a force in the Eastern Mediterranean after this cataclysmic defeat. 

We know nothing about the Battle of Scarpheia except that it happened in 146 BCE between the Romans and the League.  Rome won the battle and it is beleived the Greeks took heavy losses, but there are very few sources on this particular battle.  That is what makes it so interesting to us as wargamers!  It gives us free reign to play as we wish!


Roman Triplex Acies- Praetor Matellus
1 Skirmisher
1 Triarri
1 Principes- Praetor
2 Hastati

Rival City-States- Critolaus of Megalopolis
2 Drilled Hoplites- 1 with General
1 Militia Hoplites
1 Light Infantry- Peltasts
1 Archers
1 Skirmisher- Psiloi

The Acheaen League will be represented by my Men of Bronze Corinthian army.  Sadly, for this playtest, the Romans will be my famous Paper Templates.

This was completed using the rules laid out by the rules in the booklet.  The board is 72 x 48 MU with an MU being 1 inch.  The board was divided into 6 grid spaces and terrain rolled and placed using the chart.  The Players took turns rolling and placing terrain, with the player being able to place the terrain anywhere they wished in the grid square.

This system led to the following set-up.

Grid 1 is the Roman right, 2 Roman center, and 3 is Roman left.  Grid 4 is Greek left, 5 is Greek center, and 6 is Greek right.

Grid 1- No terrain
Grid 2- 2-level hill
Grid 3- Grove of trees
Grid 4- Stone walls
Grid 5- Stone walls
Grid 6- Swamp or spring

The Greeks place the supplies 12 inches in from their board edge and across the frontage of the army.  1 by the swamp, two in the open field, 1 inside the stone walls, and 1 in the ruins.

The Romans deploy from left to right as Principes, Hastati, the skirmishers on the hill, Triarri on the opposite side of the hill, and then the Hastati again.  The Greeks facing them from right to left are, Drilled Hoplites, Drilled Hoplites, Militia Hoplites, Archers, Light infantry (Peltasts), and Skirmishers (Psiloi)

We again followed the rules found in the Wars of the Republic rules and determined the mission and complication.  We got the following:

Rome as the Attackers
Raze and Loot scenario
Complication is Bad Water

Turn 1:
Both sides are distributed their Commander's Gaze tokens for the turn.  The Romans have 6 and the Greeks have 7 tokens.  The Greeks bid 4 Commander's Gaze, while the Romans bid 3.

Greeks move out first.  The Archers clamor up and over the stone walls into the abandoned corral.  Militia Hoplites in Phalanx march forward towards their objectives.  The Romans try to interrupt, which is successful.

The Romans pay a Gaze token and the Skirmishers rush to the edge of the hill at full speed.  The Hastati on the Roman right are in open order and move in front of the Triarri.  The Roman forces on the left move up freely and in their Legion formation.  The Romans are content and turn control back to the Greeks.

The League continues their early deployment.  The Peltasts use a point to Skirmish and move into the ruins with the supplies.  The Drilled Militia on the Greek right moves up on Phalanx, while the second one breaks into open order and also moves up.  Finally, the Psiloi on the left use the last Greek Commander's Gaze to skirmish into the ruins as well.


Turn 2: 
This time the Greeks bid 5, to the Roman 3 again.  Greeks win again.

The Greek right phalanx marches up and secures the supplies.  The Romans try to interrupt, but fail this time.  The Greek Peltasts use Commander's Gaze to skirmish and go to the edge of the ruins to defend the supplies there.

This time, the Romans successfully interrupt.  The Roman Hastati on the right form up in Legion and march towards the ruins.  The Skirmishers also pay a Gaze and move down the mountain and into the field, threatening the Militia Hoplites and Archers.

The Greeks interrupt successfully.  The Greek Archers struggle over the wall of the corral and secure the supplies inside.  The Psiloi in the ruins take up positions to support the Peltasts.

The Romans interrupt again and take over.  The Triarri march up behind their Hastati screen.  On the Roman left the Hastati pause as the Principes move ahead of them along the line.  The Romans are satisfied and let the Greeks take back over ot finish their activations.

The Militia move up and secure their supplies, staying in Phalanx and facing the Roman skirmishers.  The Drilled Militia in Open Order move up and stay in Open Order.


Turn 3: 
Everyone still has their full Commander's gaze as no one has lost a unit.  The Greeks bid 0, and the Romans bid 2.  Romans get to go first.

The Right Hastati move up towards the ruins.  They are followed by the Triarri.  The Hastati on the Roman left then use the Legions maneuverability to shuffle across and behind the advancing Principes.

The Greeks use a Gaze and successfully interrupt the Romans.  the Greek archers open fire on the Roman skirmishers but fall just short of the target.  The Light Infantry in the ruins have the same issue as their Javelins fall far short of the Roman advance.  The Drilled Greek Hoplites in Open Order charge out towards the Roman Skirmishers, but fall short and start to Waver!

After this string of failuers, the Romans try to interrupt, but fail themselves.  The other Greek Drilled Hoplites use Drilled to slide to their right to try and cover both supply caches.  The Militia Hoplites stay right where they are. Play turns back to the Romans.

The Principes keep moving forward with the Hastati behind them.  The Skirmishers throw their javelins at the oncoming Drilled Phalanx who failed their charge.  Even with two re-rolls they fail to injure the wavering unit.


Turn 4: 
Greeks bid 4 and Romans bid 4.  It goes to the roll off!  The Greeks win and their general breathes a sigh of relief.  He uses a Gaze to Rally the Drilled Hoplites, forms them into Phalanx, and then charges them into the skirmishers.  They are so close, the Skirmishers do not even bother to try and Evade.

The Romans then interupt.  The Principes declare a charge and surge forward using the last of the Commander's Gaze.  The Drilled Phalanxx has not Commander's Gaze left, so do not counter-charge.  However, the Principes JUST fall short and fall into open order and start to waver!  Concerned the Hastati move up to follow.

On the Roman right, the Hastati move up towards the ruins, but do not charge yet.  They do not want the slippery Peltasts to evade them.  The Triarri break into open order and begin to swing off to move towards the archers in the corral.

The Greeks take over.  The Greek Drilled Hoplites can not charge, so just move into contact with the Principes.  The Peltasts toss Javelins at the Hastati closing in on the Ruins but do nothing but anger the Romans.  The Militia Hoplites break into open order and dash to support their comrades fighting with the Principes, leaving their supplies exposed to the Roman Triarri.

The Drilled Hoplites simply explode the Roman Skirmishers, who quickly re-think their life choices and turn to flee.

On the flank, the other Drilled Hoplites and the Principes get in a vicious fight.  The unorganized and reeling Romans fight hard, but unsuccessfully.  The Drilled Hoplites reduce them 2 Courage for no loss and push them back just shy of the Hastati marching up from behind.  That mis-timed charge was costly for the Romans!

The Roman Skirmishers are routed, but this is witnessed by the Triarri.  They easily pass a Courage test. 
Turn 5: 
The Romans have lost a unit so are down to 5 Commander's Gaze to the Greeks 7.  The Greeks bid 3 to go first, eager for their victorious Drilled Hoplites to get the drop on the Roman Triarri.  The Romans bid 0 and hold onto them for charges and combat re-rolls.  The Greeks get to go first. 

They start with their victorious Drilled Hoplites breaking into Open Order, lining up on the Roman Triarri, and then reforming into Phalanx again.  Surprisingly, they opted not to charge as they did not judge the distance correct.  The Militia Hoplites move in on the Principe/Hoplite battle but also decide not to charge judging the distance to be insufficient. 

The Greek Light Infantry and Archers fire on the Hastati but fail to do anything to them.  The Greeks are content and let the Romans take over having spent 5 Commanders Gaze so far.  The Hastati outside the ruins spend Commander's Gaze and charge into the Greek Light Infantry.  Immediately, the Greek Skirmishers decide to support their fellow Greeks. 

The Hastati on the other side have a tough decision.  Should they support the badly injured Principe and risk being swept away if they lose?  However, without their help the Principes will be destroyed for no gain.  Plus, they need to strike before the Militia Hoplites get there.  Ultimately, they decide to charge in a desperate gamble. 

Finally, the Triarri square up on the Drilled Hoplites and charge them.  The Drilled Hoplites decide to counter-charge the Triarri.  The two groups clash with a huge clang of metal on metal. 

The Greeks decide to start with the Triarri battle.  Neither side opts to use re-rolls and the pushing and shoving causes both sides to lose 1 Courage.  The Greeks have to use a re-roll to avoid Wavering!   

Next, the Greeks go to resolve the battle at the ruins.  The Hastati charge which allows them to use their Pila.  However, the difficult terrain forces them out of Legion, just as the Greeks hoped.  Both sides are reduced 1 Courage, with no re-rolls being used.  However, the Greek troops begin to Waver against the fierce assault, even after using a re-roll!  That leaves them with 0 Commander's Gaze. 

The final Melee has the Principes with Hastati support suffering a Courage loss, but forcing the Greeks to lose two and pushing them back.   

Turn 6: 
With almost all forces engaged, no one bids for Initiative.  The Romans win the roll-off.  They have no moves as everyone is in a Melee, so play goes to the Greeks.

The Greek Archers clamber over the walls and charge into the side of the Roman Triarri for a Flank charge!  The Militia Hoplites also charge into the Principe Melee on the Flank.  Things look bad for the Romans there. 

Both sides have equal Commander's Gaze for Re-rolls.  The Romans decide to finish the Principe battle first.  With a desperate push the Principes fight on, but ultimately their Courage breaks and they are routed after reducing the Drilled Hoplites to 2 Courage left. 

Next, the Romans wish to fight in the Ruins with the Hastati.  The Greeks use three re-rolls and reduce the Romans 2 Courage, even against the Wavering Greeks!  The Romans would not have benefited from additional re-rolls.  However, the Greeks lose 1 Courage in the Melee.  The Hastati are pushed back from the walls of the Ruins. 

Against the Triarri, the Drilled Hoplites and Archers fight valiantly.  The Romans begin to waver after both sides suffer 2 Courage loss.  Copious amounts of re-rolls were used by both sides.   

Things look bad for the Romans! 

With the Principes and Hastati routing, on the Roman left it triggers collapse tests.  The Triarri decide to call it a day and break off.  Seeing this the commander of the Hastati on the right decides it is better to retire and live to fight another day!

We had an "ahistorical" outcome this time as the Romans are sent packing by the Greek forces! 

The deciding factor Melee of the battle was the failed charge and the inability of the Drilled Hoplites on the Greek right to counter-charge due to lack of Commander's Gaze.  This short charge caused the entire flank to get crumbled on the Roman side as they lost the protection of Legion! Even support from their Hastati back-up was too little and too late. 

However, I think this game was actually lost in deployment.  The large two-tier hill in the middle forced the Romans to split their forces.  Plus, the Objectives were evenly spaced where the Greeks could easily get them and hold them.  Once the Skirmishers in the center were routed, the Hoplites had exposed Roman flanks to exploit!  Secondly, I had the a great defensive position to fight from on the Greek left.  Legion is a strong formation for Hastati BUT it is better at "sticking" than it is at driving home an assault.  Once they had to break formation the Hastati did not have the hitting power to drive out the Peltast and Psiloi on their own.  The Principes or Triarri were needed on that flank to clear out the ruins.

The Bad Water complication played no roll.  The Raze and Loot scenario was critical to the Greek success.  The Romans essentially were forced to come to the Greeks, negating some of the Romans defensive abilities. 

Overall, a fun game.  Twice the Romans have tasted defeat.  Once against Gauls and the second time against Greeks! As an opponent, I think I have the measure of the Romans as an army.  Break them out of Legion with terrain and force them to attack and they have a tough time overcoming their foes.  If you have to go to Romans, they are very tough nut to crack and will whittle you away to nothing.         

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