Recommend
26 
 Thumb up
 Hide
7 Posts

Hoplite» Forums » Sessions

Subject: The Battle of Marathon – Attica, Greece – September 490 BCE rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Merric Blackman
Australia
Waubra
Victoria
flag msg tools
designer
Ramping up my reviewing.
badge
Happily playing games for many, many years.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Well, here we are. The second of Hoplite’s scenarios and it’s the most famous battle of Antiquity.

Of course, the reason that it is so famous is because we still run a race named after the battle place, thanks to the inventions of the Greeks and Robert Browning. Ask anyone what actually happened at Marathon and you probably will get the answer “the Greeks won”, but more details aren’t well known. In fact, what actually did happen is pretty much unknown. Herodotus, who was born only six years after the battle, wrote three paragraphs describing it in his Histories. Berg and Herman thoughtfully include a translation in their description of the battle. Basically, the Greeks won by using a double envelopment: the centre of their line didn’t hold well, so the Persian infantry rushed in, only to have the stronger Greek wings crush them between them.

How would this go in this play? Here’s the set-up of the battle, with the Persians in blue and the Athenians and their allies in purple:



Most of the Persian force, save four units in its centre, is composite bow-armed light infantry. The middle of their line is medium and heavy infantry. The Greek force is primarily hoplite phalanxes, with a few javelin-armed skirmishers on the ends, which did about nothing in the battle, being far inferior to the Persian bowmen.

One of the changes in this release of the GBoH line is that most missile ranges have been reduced – javelins in particular are only useful when adjacent. The Greek skirmishers thus have something of a problem here.

The Persians have one problem in this scenario: their cavalry is absent. If they could hold on long enough, it might come to reinforce them – a 10% chance in the fourth turn, with a +5% chance per round thereafter. It seemed to me that the best plan for the Persians was to hold the line until the Greeks arrived. This worked for one turn, but the Greeks have a counterstrategy: the ability to charge about a mile. The notes here are very interesting: Herodotus insists that the Greek charged for a mile, probably in full armour. This isn’t really very likely, but they can do a superior charge of up to double-speed (though taking cohesion hits in the process). The biggest advantage of the charge is that the Persians can’t use Orderly Withdrawal to avoid it.

So, after the Greeks moved in the second turn, the Persians let loose their light infantry, moving it up and inflicting some damage on the wings of the Greeks. Not all that much, unfortunately. You can also see the problems the Greeks had in keeping an unbroken line – each of the phalanxes is moving at a different speed!



At the beginning of the third turn, the Persians moved up their heavier infantry, and the Greeks finally charged. The phalanxes on the right side of the Greek line took the brunt of the arrow fire, but the left flank was relatively untouched.

A few of the Persian bowmen turned and fled in the aftermath of the shock combat, but the Greeks had taken very heavy damage to their phalanxes. It was a real question whether they could hold together long enough to rout the Persians.



Bow-fire killed the Greek leader Kallimachus, but the light infantry was ill-suited to fighting phalanxes. Now that they were engaged, the bowmen were unable to fire and began to rout. The Persian commander, finding the centre of the Greek line collapsing before him, began to rally his troops as well as disengaging the remaining light infantry from the melee. His rally attempts were surprisingly successful, with only a few units being irretrievable. At the end of the fourth turn – with the cavalry still nowhere nearby – the position still wasn’t good for the Persians. They’d lost 26 Rout Points to the Athenian losses of 13 Rout Points. The Athenian commander had managed to rally one of the routing phalanxes, although the other had disbanded.



At this stage, the Athenians were well-placed to perform the double-envelopment that actually occurred in the battle, although the rallied archers attempted to disrupt the attack.

Archers aren’t particularly good against the hoplites, though, and the Greeks had taken advantage of the collapse of the Persian wings to catch their breath and recover some cohesion. The end of the battle was not pretty for the Persians, although they did manage to rout (and eliminate) one more Greek phalanx in the process.



The final rout point scores were Athenians 28 (of 40) to Persians 46 (of 35). The battle went a little better for the Persians than it has been reported to us, but was still a smashing Greek win.

How many soldiers were there on both sides? Again, the historical sources aren’t to be trusted that much. This scenario posits 12,000 Greeks against 24,000 Persians, but the superiority of the Greek hoplite phalanxes is definite. Each infantry counter on the Persian side is about 1,000 men, while each Greek phalanx is about 1,500-2,000 men with the half-depth counters in the centre being about half that.
37 
 Thumb up
2.31
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
R K
Canada
Amherst
Nova Scotia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmb
Started punching this today, can't wait to get it out. Great report, keep em coming.

Oh, and I like trailing counters too, I also like to use miniature dice sometimes, I believe they are 5mm. I ordered a big bag of them in about 6 or 7 different colours awhile back from a outlet place online for a few dollars. I use them behind or even on top of the counters and rotate them by numbers to show hits and use colours like green for good to go, yellow, missile low, red missile no etc.

http://www.dx.com/p/colorful-5mm-super-mini-gaming-dice-50-p...

Something like these, they are so small that you can stack em on top of a counter and still see all the relevant game information.
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rory Colling
United States
VICTOR
NY
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Cool on those dice!

Just ordered 2 bags of them!
Thank you!
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Christian Moura
Australia
Melbourne
Victoria
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
zerstorer88 wrote:
Cool on those dice!

Just ordered 2 bags of them!
Thank you!


Ordered 3 bags - free shipping to Australia, cost next to nothing!
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
mark selleck
Australia
Alice Springs
NT
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Very nice write up, im pretty new to GBoH and have just set up Marathon after playing one other scenario. Your write up helps with the flow of the game too.

MerricB wrote:
but the Greeks have a counterstrategy: the ability to charge about a mile. The notes here are very interesting: Herodotus insists that the Greek charged for a mile, probably in full armour. This isn’t really very likely, but they can do a superior charge of up to double-speed (though taking cohesion hits in the process).


I wouldn't be so quick to discount the reliability of this, many soldiers have to make great physical extensions before getting into combat and still be ready to fight. Its what being a soldier is about.

Some of the things I had been through and still expected to fight were pretty tough, during my time in the army. Running a mile in full kit and ready to fight wouldn't have been the hardest either.

Though I will admit doing something like this with the numbers involved would make it tough on the command and control (though I guess thats why the extra cohesion hits are there)
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
mark selleck
Australia
Alice Springs
NT
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Im also interested in how many turns your game went for.

Im doing a solo play through atm. Im a little surprised it took til the start of turn 3 to get into action.

Iv just finished the 2nd turn and the Persians have 25RPs (with 4 units also routed on the board heading for the edge) and the Greeks have 20.

I have found the Greeks pretty much get to activate 2 times a turn since when playing the momentum marker and using Miltiades only a 9 will result in not activating since his Imitative rating is 8.

My game is kind of looking like the Cav wont even get a chance to try and activate.

(Edit: Greeks win 33RP to Persian 35Rp's at the end of turn 3)
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.