August has been a very poor month for wargaming. I just have not had the time or opportunity to play. Therefore this outing was my first game for over 6 weeks. Both armies were supplied by Ian and comprised 500 points using beautifully painted 15mm figures which my camera does not do justice. The rules used were Sword and Spear (Mark Lewis; Polkovnik Productions, 2014). I commanded the Athenians, whilst Ian commanded the forces of Syracuse. The 6’x4’ table was again fairly open, I placed a river to protect my right flank.
The Athenian army was composed primarily of poor quality hopIites (discipline 4 and undrilled), with some cavalry and psiloi including a couple of units of Cretan archers. The Syracuse army was more varied; a few less units of poor hoplites, some Gallic and Iberian mercenary foot, decent quality cavalry and an artillery unit. I realised that Ian would concentrate his efforts on my open flank using his better cavalry and mercenary foot. My dilemma was that I needed to advance my hoplites to force a stand up battle with Ian’s hoplites, but doing so I would expose my left flank. I could not sit back and wait for Ian to pick me off. I therefore deployed in an echelon formation, hoping that my left flank hoplites, cavalry and psiloi would hold Ian long enough to allow my right-hand hoplites to make contact. In the photo below my Athenians are at the bottom, whilst Ian’s forces are at the top.
Things started well, my psiloi (especially the Cretans) quickly destroyed the opposing psiloi, and surprisingly held against a charge by Ian’s Iberian foot. I was particularly pleased with my handling of the cavalry who out fought the Syracuse cavalry. Ian’s Gallic mercenary units were engaged with my ‘covering’ hoplite units in a bit of a slogging match. Meanwhile my right wing hoplites slowly trudged their way across the table width to engage the stationary Syracuse hoplites. The photo below, shows the situation on my left flank as my hoplites struggle with Ian’s mercenary foot.
On the active left wing both sides continued to lose units, but I had the advantage and forced the Syracuse army to take the 1/3rd morale test first and came within 2 points of victory. I think Ian was worried at this point. Unfortunately my army had run out of steam. I had lost both my ‘Captains’, which severely disrupted my command ability, which combined with the undrilled nature of my hoplites, prevented me from any manoeuvres unless activated with a throw of a 6! I was unable to rally off hits, and there were no more enemy targets which I could easily destroy. In contrast, Ian still had good control of his (weakened) army, and in the last couple of turns was able to manoeuvre and attack the open flanks of my units with impunity. The victory point scores rapidly closed and Ian finally achieved the 50% victory line, while I remained 2 points short!
This was a very close, hard fought battle. The rules continue to impress both Ian and I. The game was still one of manoeuvre and did not really feature a conventional hoplite clash. This was a slight disappointment because I was keen to see if the rules could handle a head-to-head hoplite situation.