Solo Game - Persians vs Athenians circa 490BC

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shadowdragon
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Solo Game - Persians vs Athenians circa 490BC

Post by shadowdragon » Mon Jun 07, 2010 10:16 pm

Awhile back there was a discussion on solo play. Admittedly, the most exciting play is with two or more live players. However, that’s not always an option.

Having just finished painting up some last bits of Early Achaemenid Persian and Early Hoplite Greek armies I’ve wanted a game of a Persian invasion force against the Athenians, circa 490 BC. Due to my work schedule, solo play – or a very, very patient opponent – is the only viable option for me. So, given the discussion on solo play, I thought I’d play it with reports on the boards to (1) illustrate the conversion of a standardized solo play scenario and (2) maybe even to incorporate tactical advice on actions since this will only be played out over several days…or…er, even weeks.

The standardized scenario is from the book, “Programmed Wargames Scenarios” by Charles Stewart Grant. I like it because the various options produce unlikely combinations. Without that both sides play to best of my ability and that means “not too interesting”.

Game Set Up

Terrain
Grant gives three options for each of a right, centre and left table sector so that gives 27 different tables for the same scenario. It’s a simple matter of rolling the die for each sector and then trying to make my Geo-Hex terrain match the result.

The scenario is # 1 from the book, “Hill Line Defence”, which has a defensive force occupying a low hill line and an attacker deployed ready to commence battle.

Using an early “armoured” Greek army and an EAP army puts the battle before 460 / 465 BC…notionally 490 BC (assuming the Athenians do not stop the Persian invasion at Marathon).

The Blue Defender (the Greeks)

The scenario set up gives three “force lists” as options. As given in the book, these aren’t directly useful as each list has a given percentage for “scouts” (light horse), “skirmishers”, ”line”, “superior” and “support” (i.e., artillery, etc.). Applied strictly to every army in the FoG lists is silly. Instead, I decided to take the percentages as “guidance” for creating armies according to a points limit given by each list option. Note that the points in the book have to be adjusted to typical FoG points. The ones in the book range from 1000 to 2500 points, so I decided to divide by 2 for lists with points from 500 to 1250 points.

The 3 options for the Greek army were all 625 (FoG) points. The options for percentages were (for Scouts / Skirmishers / Line / Superior / Support)

List 1: 10% / 10% / 60% / 10% / 10%
List 2: 10% / 20% / 45% / 20% / 5%
List 3: 10% / 20% / 55% / 10% / 5%

Noting the differences across the 3, I decided that List 1 would be a standard Hoplite forces (Line troops being the dominant feature of the option), List 2 would be a Spartan army (superior troops are its dominant characteristic) and List 3 would be Thessalian (more skirmishers being its characteristic).

The higher “support” value for List 1 has to be interpreted somewhat imaginatively. In this case, I decided that this meant an “inspired commander” for List 1 and “troop commanders for the other two options.

Note: List 2 also features more skirmishers but I went with a Spartan army for the “superior” character. That puts limits on the number of skirmishers for that army compared to a Thessalian army, so that even though both lists are for 20% skirmishers the results ended up very different.

I rolled for the list to use and ended up with List 1, which I decided would be an “Athenian” army.

The Athenian List ended up as:

1 X Inspired Commander
2 X Troop Sub-Commanders
1 X 4 Armoured Greek Cavalry
1 X 8 Elite Citizen Hoplites
4 X 8 Other Citizen Hoplites
2 X 6 Javelinmen
1 X 6 Slingers

Total: 9 units

The Red Attacker (the Persians)

The Red force had 7 options, with 5 at 750 points and 2 at 825 points. I won’t bore you with the percentages but the “character” for each option was:

1) Lots of Line troops and some guards (Immortals and Guard cavalry)
2) Limited numbers of guards, lots of auxiliary infantry and Greek Hoplites
3) Lots of Immortals and auxiliary infantry
4) Lots of cavalry with guard cavalry, but no Immortals
5) Lots of cavalry with some Immortals
6) Maximum Immortals and Guard Cavalry
7) The specials – chariots, Egyptians, Indians, etc.

I rolled for List #1 – lots of Sparabara infantry. I was hoping for 4 or 5 with lots of cavalry, but a classic 490 BC match up.

The final list was:

4 X Troop Commanders
1 X 2 Guard Cavalry
2 X 4 Persian Cavalry
1 X 8 Immortals
4 X 8 Persian Foot
1 X 4 Bactrian Cavalry
1 X 4 Other Horse Archers
1 X 8 Kaspian Archers
1 X 8 Javelinmen

Total: 12 units

I only just realized that the Persian medium foot (i.e., Sparabara and Immortals), even with javelins, need to roll a successful CMT to charge non-skirmishers. Well, it’s probably best not to charge uphill into a steady phalanx of armoured hoplites!

Up next: The deployment with pictures.

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Post by shadowdragon » Mon Jun 07, 2010 10:30 pm

The Deployment

The deployment options are straight forward with options for how skirmishers are divided (across the front or on the flanks) and percentages for the remainder allocated to the centre and on each flank.

The Athenian result was skirmishers across the front with 30% in the centre and 35% on each flank (i.e., stronger flanks).

The Persians ended up with skirmishers across the front and a strong centre attack (60%) and the remainder divided up on the flanks.

The deployment photos…spot the error!

Image
Figure1: Overview of the deployment


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Figure 2: The Athenian Centre


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Figure 3: The Persian Centre


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Figure 4: The Persian Left


The error – I deployed Greek javelin and slinger BG of 8 bases when they’re supposed to be 6 base BG. Ooops. The Athenians lost 6 light foot without the Persians budging. Darned deserters.

Also, the"other horse archers" are labelled "Saka".

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Neat

Post by friendlyfungus » Tue Jun 08, 2010 4:00 pm

I'll be interested to follow this thread. I've heard about that book before, it sounds quite interesting. Neat.

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Post by smaul1 » Tue Jun 08, 2010 5:27 pm

well I look forward to your battle report. nice pics.

my buddy and I sometimes take a few days over a week or so to finish as well, busy lives, family and I cant play for 8 or 9 hours straight.

we are hoping the games will get to be about 5 hours or so, but we are still taking our time because for us it is more important to play it right than fast (not everyone around here agrees with that theory) :)

thanks for the report, cant wait to see more.

steve

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Post by shadowdragon » Wed Jun 09, 2010 12:19 am

Plans and Initial Moves (up to the end of the Persian 3rd turn)

Terrain:

All trees indicate “Forests” (difficult terrain). The Hovel Spanish Village houses are, surprisingly, “Village (difficult). The wall and 2 MU behind it are “Vineyards” (difficult). The wall also gives the advantage of “fortifications” when attacked across it. All hills are gentle.

The Persians (who moved 1st)

The deployment options had already decided that the main attack would be in the centre, but what about the flanking forces? Now, there’s lots of interesting things you could do with a BG each of horse archers, bow cavalry and sparabara foot. I was hoping for the option of working the flanks, but that was not to be….the option rolled was, “those not in the main attack will be drawn in that direction”. We’ll give the Persian commander the benefit of the doubt. He didn’t actually order the flank forces to follow him. They did so of their own accord.

The Athenians (the ones with the inspired commander)

We could have a Marathon in the making here with a weak centre and strong flanks to close in on the Persians in the middle, but…..I rolled, “hold the entire feature forward and give NO ground. Do not (voluntarily) move off the feature.” That’s a bit like Hitler at Stalingrad, but we’re a few millennia ahead of ourselves.

Inspiring stuff!

Notes: The Javelins and the Slingers started in “ambush”.

The Move to Contact

The Persian Centre moved smartly forward with the flanking forces falling in to the left and right as well as in support. The only hiccup was the “other horse archer” Saka cavalry moving through the forest slowing down the Right and making only a tiny muddle there.

By the Persian 3rd turn, they had discovered the Greek slingers. In the exchange the slingers noticed that the sun had disappeared and didn’t fancy fighting in the shade, but the BIG GUY at the back said something about long pokey sticks, so they held their ground. [The slingers took just 2 hits, enough to force a CMT, but just passed to the IC bonuses.]

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Figure 5: Overview of Turn 3


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Figure 6: Persian Right – just a bit tardy (moving through forest isn’t fun on a horse)


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Figure 7: Skirmishers clash over the wall

So, any suggestions anyone out there might have for either side will be considered and implemented – with the proviso that only suggestions is in keeping with the wonderful respective plans of both sides will be valid.

Point to consider - with the overall give no ground order, do the soon-to-be-poor-bloody slingers need to hold the line, only evading when attacked by the Persian Foot or would it be reasonable to apply that only to the line of hoplites?

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Post by shadowdragon » Fri Jun 11, 2010 6:10 pm

The Armies Engage (Turns 4-6)

The “solo rules” give optional responses to battlefield conditions. One such condition is if RED (i.e., the Persians in this battle) arrives in force in the centre. Yup! That condition applies…and the Athenian response was rolled…. “Give ground in the centre and attack the flank of the RED force with BLUES’s (i.e., the Athenian) Left and Right Wings”. Ah Ha! It’s the Marathon plan.

With that the Athenian commander withdrew the outgunned (er, outmissiled) Greek slingers and javelinmen and order the Hoplite line forward. This quite surprised the Persian cavalry forces who had been very happy peppering the Hoplite BG’s on each wing with 5 dice per BG – unfortunately for them to little effect.

There are optional responses for RED as well. One condition listed is if BLUE attacks off the hill / village feature. The rolled response for RED was to charge or engage in the centre. So, the Persian centre surged forward over the wall. Meanwhile the Right and Left Wing Persian Foot that had managed to slide into the centre (blocking the advance of the Immortals) were now desperately trying to redeploy to the flanks once again.

By the end of the turn, the Athenian hoplites had driven off the Persian cavalry – with some loss to that cavalry and were engaging the right most part of the 1st line of Persian Foot.

Lesson for the Persian Cavalry: Being deployed in one line would have allowed them to evade. Being armoured and superior is nice, but that’s not enough against an 8-base BG of armoured hoplites. Of course, if their supporting infantry hadn’t wandered off to the centre… And, we won’t discuss the light horse, will we?

Image
Figure 8: Persian 5th Turn - Overview


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Figure 9: Persian 5th Turn – Close up of the centre


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Figure 10: Persian 5th Turn – Persian Right Wing Cavalry


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Figure 11: Athenian 5th Turn – Overview

Situation: The Persians are in a bit of a pickle. Their forces are all bunched up in the centre and armoured Athenian hoplites are quickly descending on their flanks. On the other hand, wheeling an undrilled line of hoplites isn’t easy, so it’s not yet cinched for the Athenians. Delays could mean that Persians get their flanking forces sorted out with supporting infantry brought forward and freeing up the cavalry to out flank the hoplites.

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Post by shadowdragon » Sat Jun 12, 2010 2:09 am

Game Conclusion (Turns 7-8)

Alas for the Persians, they could not sort themselves out in time. The hoplites on the Athenian left and the Persian Foot in the first line got into a proper dust-up. The Persian commander even threw himself into the fray to tip the scales, but alas he threw himself onto a Greek spear. At this the Persians ran disrupting just about everything in the big traffic jam behind. The hoplites pursued, frightening off the already jittery Persian cavalry and collided with the 2nd line Persian Foot, who quite sensibly also ran. Following their lucky star, the victorious hoplites just managed to clip the edge of the Immortals, who were quite annoyed at being used as a speed bump by their lesser colleagues. So annoyed were these Immortals that they turned and ran as fast as they could after those scoundrels….well, that’s the report they handed in the next day to the commander.

In the centre, the elite hoplites handily dealt with the remaining 1st line Persian Foot, but then got stuck in the difficult going around the village….rumour has it that they got into the wine cellar.

On the Persian Left, things went a little better for them. The hoplites charged into Persian 2nd line of foot on that flank and were greeted by six 5’s and 6’s on the Persian impact dice – ouch! But the gods are fickle and the Athenians returned the favour in the melee phase. Both sides threw their commanders into the front line (but well short of the enemy spears). Slowly the Athenians regained their composure and started their proper job of butchering Persian foot. With their right wing and centre in flight, the Persian foot released that you didn’t want to be the last unit running away…and with that the game was over.

A massive Athenian victory.

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Figure 12: Turn 7 – The Persian Right Wing flees but their Left Wing makes a good showing


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Figure 13: Turn 8 – Just about the entire Persian army is in flight except the skirmishing forces, the Guard cavalry and the Persian Left Wing cavalry


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Figure 14: The game winning hoplites versus some shakey Persian archers

Comments

I really enjoyed playing the game with the FoG rules. The solo game rules put the Persians into their very own version of Cannae; and it was nice to see that the rules reasonable replicated the problems of being in a massive column outflanked by very capable troops. You might want to note that the Athenians didn’t get a single “legal” flank attack in. The Athenian victory was in great part helped by the traffic jam and the crucial death of a Persian commander.

There are a few points I learnt about using the Persians…such as having the cavalry on the wings working better with the light horse. In this case they should have been in a single line to allow them to evade. With that the paired cavalry and light horse should have been able to tie down one hoplite battle group each. Of course, that still wouldn’t have been enough as three Athenian hoplite BG’s did all the fighting. Another problem the Persians had was ineffective use of their bows. This is an army, after all, where everybody can shoot! But then traffic jams aren’t the best formations for laying down massive arrow barrages – so that was more a case of how the dice rolled for their options for orders.

It was a fun game – now I’m considering using the same terrain but with a Thessalian army versus one of the other Persian options.

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Re: Neat

Post by shadowdragon » Sat Jun 12, 2010 3:58 pm

friendlyfungus wrote:I'll be interested to follow this thread. I've heard about that book before, it sounds quite interesting. Neat.
smaul1 wrote:thanks for the report, cant wait to see more.
Hope you enjoyed following. Thanks.

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Post by Strategos69 » Sun Jun 13, 2010 12:36 am

I have liked your report and made me think that I should try it one day with my Syracusan and Carthaginians. I am close to have both of them ready and painted.

By the way, very nice painting and terrain!

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Post by shadowdragon » Sun Jun 13, 2010 2:42 pm

Strategos69 wrote:I have liked your report and made me think that I should try it one day with my Syracusan and Carthaginians. I am close to have both of them ready and painted.

By the way, very nice painting and terrain!
Thanks, Strategos. I've got a Carthaginian army on the go as well. I've had an unformed notion of running a campaign for the 550-450BC period. Of course an early Carthaginian army quickly became an early or late one. Then came the Mid-Republican Romans. Now I'm entertaining ideas of expanding the foreign contingents of the EAP army. Aaaaaaaaaaah! Maybe I should get help. :?

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Post by countadam » Mon Jun 14, 2010 1:56 am

Thanks for posting this. I am just about finished painting my own EAP army and enjoyed seeing yours.

Cheers

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Post by smaul1 » Tue Jun 15, 2010 8:01 pm

Yeah, enjoyed it much, hope to be adding my own report soon.

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