Monday, June 5, 2023

Battle Report- Men of Bronze: Ionian Revolt on Cyprus


This is the continuing recreation of the Ionian Revolt.  The Ionian Revolt was a revolt against the Persian Empire by the Ionian Greeks and their allies prior to the Greco-Persian War.  It took place from 499 to 493 BCE.  It was a land and sea affair, so I am using a combination of Poseidon's Warriors and Men of Bronze to re-create the campaign.  Both are from the Osprey Wargaming Series.  In addition, Men of Bronze has a specific supplement for the conflict called The Ionian Revolt. 

Despite the loss at the Battle of Ephesus, the Ionian Revolt spread.  The Ionians managed to gain the support of the Carians, and many other cities in the region.  They all rose up against the Persians.  The island of Cyprus also decided to rise up.  All the cities except for one decided to rebel.  The other cities laid siege to the lone loyalist city.  However, the Persians sent aid tot he island, supported by a Phoenician fleet.  The rebels reached out to the Ionians for help.  They also responded with a fleet and an army.  

Earlier, we played the sea battle off the coast near Salamis.  In that battle, the Persians were victorious which was an ahistorical outcome.  Supposedly, on the same day as the sea battle there was also a land battle. Today, we are going to be playing the land battle as presented in the Ionian Revolt supplement.  There are some special rules regarding Cypriotes changing sides in the battle, and due to the loss during the sea battle, we will be making it easier for Cypriote forces to change sides. 


The Cypriotes
Militia Hoplites - Ionians
3 Peltasts - Cypriotes
1 Drilled Infantry - Cypriotes and General

The Persians
2 Drilled Infantry - 1 with General
2 Archers
2 Psiloi

This is a Decisive Battle scenario as found in the main Men of Bronze rulebook. 

There is a complication that involves the potential for Cypriotes to desert to the Persian side of the battle. 

Behind the Persian deployment zone is a coastline, and on the Persian left leading into the ocean.  The table itself is 48 MU by 72 MU.  The rest of the terrain on the board is scattered foliage, a rock outcropping or two, and a lone tree or two.

The Persians deploy in front of the shoreline.  This represents them deploying from their troop transports or Triremes.  The Psiloi take each flank with the Infantry and archers alternating in the center.   

The Cypriotes are on the opposite long table edge.  The Ionians are on the right flank along the river edge.  The Phalanx is in Open Order to get us started.     

I am going to avoid turn by turn descriptions for this battle report.  I have found them a bit cumbersome to put together, and they were distracting me from actually playing the game.  Therefore, I am going to divide the report into three segments; the Maneuver Phase, the Battle Phase, and the End Game.  Hopefully, this will give you a good feel for the battle without me wasting a bunch of time on and energy on less relevant moves, Arete Point usage, and the dice results.  Let me know if you like this approach better in the comments section. 

Maneuver Phase: 
Both sides seemed to move forward with purpose.  The Persians moved away from their landing points, and began to from a bulge away from the Greek Hoplites.  They let their line open a bit between the Infantry and the Psiloi, as it to draw the Greeks in, while refusing the flank against the Greeks best troops.  

They used Arete points to trade-off initiative as the Persians tried to jockey a sneak their archers into range without getting a retaliatory charge to wipe them out.  It was a game of cat and mouse, as they were trying to get the drop on other fast moving light troops like the Cypriote Peltasts.  

None of the Cypriote units had defected yet.

The Battle Phase:    
The Persians win initiative to start the 4th turn, when things look like they are about to get interesting.  Persian archers start off the battle by inflicting heavy casualties on the Cypriote core of the army.  On the Persian left, the Infantry charge the Hoplites and are counter-charged in return.  The Persians manage to push the Hoplites back 1 MU, causing them to waver and loose formation!  

The Cypriote Drilled Infantry slam into the Persian center, who are supported by Archers.  Both sides take casualties, but it seems to be a bloody draw.  A follow-up wave of Cypriote peltasts cause further damage, and the Persian center starts to bend.  

It is during this moment of the battle, that the Cypriote Peltasts lurking in the rocks, decide to switch sides to the Persians.  With the right flank secured by the defection, the Persian Psiloi entrench on the dune and throw their javelins at the weakened Cypriote Peltasts closing in on the archers.  It is enough to rout the Cypriotes there.  The rebel left has collapsed.  

Greek attempts to seize the initiative fail, as the Persian onslaught continues.  Persian Psiloi charge into the wavering hoplites on the rebel right, and with the help of some re-rolls break the Ionians and scatter them tot he winds.  Despite the losses on the flanks, the Cypriotes manage to push through the Persian center and route the troops there.  

With all the casualties, the two armies start to make Collapse tests.  Despite their victory in the center, the Cypriote Drilled infantry call it a day and withdraw back to the city.  Only the Cypriote Peltasts remains, with serious casualties.  The Persians have a Drilled Infantry unit withdraw, and their right flank Psiloi fall back to the beach to be withdrawn.  

The End Game:
With three Persian units lefts against a heavily battered Cypriote Peltast unit, the final phase of the game was here.  The Persians outbid the Cypriotes 2 to 0 and take initiative.  

The Persian archers use the last Arete point for a re-roll and blast the Peltasts off the beach.  With a victory secured, the Persians begin to reform and prepare to lay siege to Salamis.  

The Persians win, helped out a lot by the rebel left flank switching sides mid-way through the battle.  Another historically accurate battle.  Our next battle will represent the Persians moving into the Propontis and Hellespont regions to re-take and pacify them.      

Against Peltasts, you can see why the Persian archers were such a feared force, they were very effective against the lightly armored foes.  Using Psiloi as support units and flankers worked really well for me in this battle as the Persians. I started with a relatively hot hand on the dice, but it fell off in time for the Cypriotes to break through my center.  Thankfully, I had decided to keep my second archery unit out of the fight there, and instead establish a second line of reserves.  That decision probably won my the battle. 


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