It was Ian’s turn to arrange a game and provide the troops. We used his Early Macedonian Successors versus Later Greek Hoplites, in a game of Sword & Spear. I played the Greeks whilst Ian took the smaller, more professional Macedonians. I was slightly worried because I hate fighting pikes and/or elephants; I never know how to tackle these troop types.
The battlefield was fairly open and Ian narrowed the frontage by placing a river on my left flank. I was out-scouted so had to deploy first, and I opted for a fairly conventional approach; hoplite centre with light troops out front, and cavalry and peltasts on the flanks. Ian had a pike juggernaut with elephants in the centre and a strong cavalry flank force facing my right.
The game proved to be a very close fought, tight affair. My hoplite centre remained stationary to avoid early contact with Ian’s pikes. My skirmishers won the conflict with their opposing skirmishers. On my right flank, my peltasts gained the high ground and held off Ian’s cavalry and a unit of my light cavalry actually managed to attack the Macedonian Companions in the rear (they died in the attempt!). The Companions then tried to smash my peltasts and, due to some poor dice rolling, the cream of the Macedonians were eliminated. On the opposite left flank, my undrilled hoplites did manage to advance, turn and threaten the enemy pikes, but were held off by some more Macedonian cavalry. The fact these cavalry were tied down, allowed another unit of Greek light cavalry to move around the left flank and attack the Macedonian camp.
|Early dispositions with Greeks at the bottom of picture|
Meanwhile in the centre the Macedonian leviathan trudged on. The elephants squashed some Greek skirmishers and pursued into my Greek heavy cavalry, who also died. Then the pike blocks hit home. One unit of hoplites died, but the others just about held on. My single unit of Spartan hoplites plugged the gap and took out Ian’s elephants (hooray!). On the left, I did manage to engage one pike block in the flank with some hoplites, but they could not push home their advantage.
|The pikes move forward, elephants about to crush my cavalry, my hoplites|
start to swing around on the left flank.
Both armies were now within a single point of breaking, but time was pressing on and I had commitments in the evening, so I offered Ian an honourable draw, which he accepted. I think this was a fair result, but on the drive home I wondered if I had done the right thing? If another turn had been played, I could not envisage Ian destroying another of my units, whereas I still could destroy his camp with my light cavalry (only 1 more hit required). But, if I had failed then further play would have seen my forces in trouble against Ian’s pikes; so maybe I did make the right decision.
This was one of most enjoyable games of Sword and Spear we have played. It was close, competitive and required careful thought by both players. Neither side was too plagued by bad dice, so the luck element was not a major factor.