Monday, October 9, 2023

Battle Report: Men of Bronze - Before the Walls of Miletus


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. 

Miletus was the Ionian city that instigated the Ionian Revolt.  As the Persians closed the noose on the revolt they decided to target the source.  The Ionian Greeks decided to try to face the Persians at Sea instead of on land.  This culminated in the Naval battle at Lade.  This battle was a Persian victory and the various factions of Greeks scurried back to defend their respective city-states.  This gave the Persians the space and opportunity to move in and place Miletus under siege. 

Victory there was expected to end the Ionian Revolt.  Ironically, Aristagoras the Greek who instigated the revolt in Miletus had left the city to campaign in Thrace and to start a colony.  He died during that campaign.         

One of the Optional Scenarios in the Ionian Revolt supplement is rules for a siege game.  This is an area that Men of Bronze shied away from previously.  They were represented by the Ravage the Countryside scenario or a Race to the Gates style scenario.  Siege warfare was common in the period, but did not seem that exciting to actually game.  Many of the ancient siege were probably resolved due to logistics, disease, betrayal, or simply negotiated to a conclusion.  However, with a closer look at the Ionian Revolt, it made sense to try to build some sort of scenario.  The supplement also has two other alternate scenarios, one for the burning of Sardis at the start of the Revolt, and the other for Naval battles like Lade.  Today, we are going to give the Siege scenario a shot.
We have no real historical information about what the Persian siege army looks like or what the defenders were composed of. 

Greeks of Miletus
1 Militia Hoplites - General
2 Peltasts
1 Psiloi
2 Archers/Slingers

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

The board will be 72MU by 48 MU with 1 MU to equal 1 inch.  

The Defenders have a wall that crosses across their deployment zone.  The details of how this wall works is in the Ionian Revolt supplement.   Terrain placement on the rest of the board is per the normal rules. 

The Ionians have a speed bump force of Peltasts at the gate, perhaps trying to break-out and disrupt the Persian advance?  They are back-stopped by the Milita Hoplites in Phalanx.  Behind them a unit of Psiloi prepares to support them.  The flanks of the gate are covered by Greek archers and slingers to concentrate fire at the gates.  The last Peltast unit is out wide, perhaps hoping to add firepower, or sally forth when the time is right? 

Ionians prepare to defend the city!

The Persian assault force is set-up 12 MU in from their board edge.  They deploy with their warband infantry leading the way towards the gate, followed up by Drilled Sparabara.  

The main Persian assault force

The rest of the force spreads out to attack along the wall and try to use their firepower to suppress the defenders.  The Psiloi are approaching in the cover of the fields.  The attack is well-supported by Persian archers across the battle line.  

The Persians look to have the defenders outnumbered!

The two forces are deployed and ready to fight.  The Persians have an advantage starting with 9 Arete Points to the Ionian Greeks 6 points.  We will have to see if this imbalance makes the difference. 

Persian troops will be allowed up to 3 gaps in the wall based on a pre-game mechanic.  Per the rules, we established that the Attackers have managed to get one opening in the wall.  In this case, we decide that traitorous pro-Tyrant and pro-Persian forces have managed to open one of the many gates into the city.  Persian troops and Ionian defenders have rushed to the gate for the decisive battle.  

The mission objective is to try and force the opposing forces to collapse. 

Maneuver Phase:   
The Ionians pay enough Arete points to go first, hoping to use their peltasts in a spoiling attack.  They break from the gates and are quickly peppered with Persian archer fire.  However, their shields protect them well-enough and they press the attack.  

The Persians simply outbid the Greeks for initiative and the Persian archers quickly send the Greek spoiling attack fleeing back to the "safety" of the city.  The Persians press forward.  As the Persian Psiloi move towards the Walls, the Greeks try and fail to interrupt. 

Greek missile troops try to force back the Persian Archers in the village by the gate, but a horrendous roll and no Arete points stops them from having any effect.  The rest of the Persian host is just outside of the killzone.  The Ionian Militia falls back a step, hoping to lure the Persians into the kill zone before the decisive combat happens at the gates.  However, the fleeing Peltasts cause the Militia to start wavering. 

Battle Phase: 
The Persians again just bid more than the Greeks can manage.  However, this time the Greeks hold back and save the Arete Points for re-rolls and other commands. The Persian counter-battery fire is also ineffective from their archers, as most of them are still moving into position.  

The Persian Vanguard of warband infantry see the Militia wavering and try to charge them.  The Greeks try to interrupt, but fail.  This leads to a melee, where the Persians lose 3 to the Greeks losing 2.  However, the Militia troops fail their discipline check while wavering and end up losing another Courage. Neither side can gain the upper hand at the gates.  

The Persian Psiloi also launch an attack at the Greeks defending the wall, but the Greeks strong position leaves the attack thwarted. 

The Greeks fight back with a barrage of their own.  The Persian Archers in the village are reduced to 1 Courage and start to Waiver.  The Psiloi at the wall lose 1 Courage.  The Persian Archers screening the Drilled Infantry also take a Courage loss from the Greek archers in the city.   

The Psiloi in reserve behind the gate charge in and easily help the Militia Hoplites clear the Persians out there.  The way is clear.... for now.  The Ionian Psiloi let the Hoplites push back the foe, and separate again as a reserve.  The Persian follow-up forces watch the vanguard stream past in disarray, but they are unmoved by the plight of their comrades. 

The Persian Archers and Psiloi again rain arrows and Javelins on the Greeks, who respond in kind.  The Ionian Archers are reduced to 1 Courage and are wavering, the Peltasts on the opposite side of the wall also lose a Courage.  However, the Persians moving to the gate are not close enough to charge and keep closing in. 

This gives the Greek commander enough time to harangue and re-group is Militia hoplites into a Phalanx.  He reminds them of what they are fighting for and the soldiers steal themselves for battle and redress their lines.  The Greek archers also Rally.  The Greek missile troops rain hell on the approaching Persians.  However, the Persians were prepared and only lose 1 Courage.       


The Persians Drilled Infantry charge for the gate and the Greeks meet them half-way, a counter-charge of their own.  The two sides clash with the roar of war shouts and the crash of metal on metal.  The fighting is fierce, but the Greeks hold and push the Persians back a step or two.  The Persians are down to 2 Courage, as are the Greek defenders.  

Despite the noble defense at the gates, the Greek defenders take hits all along the walls from the full press of the Persian attack!  The Ionian archers are forced from the walls from combined Persian Archer fire.  However, the Persian Archers in the village are forced back as well.  

Greek losses force a collapse test across the line.  It is not good for the Ionians as the Psiloi reserve and the slingers both flee the field.  

End Phase: 
The Persian Warband Infantry charged in to support their brothers at the gate.  It was a close run and fierce battle, but the Persian ability to dump in re-rolls proved the difference and the gallant Hoplite defenders at the gates broke and fled to save their families and try to escape the city. 

The Peltasts began to re-deploy to try and hold the gate a moment longer, to try and buy time for residents to flee.  However, they took more Courage loss for the Persian Psiloi trying to force the wall.  

The Ionian Peltasts avoid a barrage of Persian Javelins as they redeploy.  They get the gate just in time to see the Persian Drilled Infantry storming through.  They set their feet and throw, causing enough damage to reduce the Persians to 0 Courage.  They turn and flee.  This triggers Persian collapse tests.  

The Persian Warband Infantry and a battered Psiloi unit decide that the battle is won and fall back to camp.  It is a token victory that buys the city folks a bit more time to flee, but the outcome of the battle is clear.  

The Persians have won and the Fall of Miletus has begun.  The Ionian Revolt has been squashed by the Persian forces. 

In the Ionian Revolt Supplement, the final battle is a different scenario than the one we played today.  It is one that does not require specialized terrain like walls.  However, my opponent and I are satisfied that this siege scenario is an appropriate end to the campaign.  The optional siege scenario was a success!  That will be a great addition to a number of Men of Bronze campaigns!  

In the course of seven battles, the Ionians won 1, compared to the Persian 6.  A decisive defeat on land and sea for the Ionians.     


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  1. I'm interested in your terrain which seems simple but effective.
    The ground is a sheet/mat of some sort?
    Hessian road = cool idea.
    Artificial turf for field = cool idea
    Columns to give the right 'feel'
    Can't identify the walls though.

    1. I tend to be a budget wargamer. My mat is a cheap tablecloth with an alternate brown sponged on, terrain is various found items, mostly from local big box retailers/thrift stores and the walls themselves are a collection of packing materials in the right color brown.