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Pericles: The Peloponnesian Wars» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Pylos/Sphacteria - how to rss

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Loïc Boué
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It may seem a bit odd to try to reproduce a historical event that was more happenstance than anything else, but it's still an interesting exercise to get a grip on the game concepts and tactics.

In a nutshell, Pylos was mostly an unplanned naval affair where Demosthenes initiative and leadership left elite spartan warriors stranded on an island. He then proceeded to besiege them and eventually forced their surrender. This brought hostages to Athens, and also a base off the coastline.

In game terms, this would translate in a superior number of Strategos enabling an athenian force to win a land battle in Sparta and killing at least one Spartan land unit. Still in game terms, there must also be some luck involved (a 5 vs 1, or 4 vs 2) or the Spartan player will not initiate the conflict at all.

Historically, Sparta started the chain of events with a mismanaged naval engagement.
In game terms, it means Sparta tried to beat an Athenian fleet, but miscalculated Athens number of strategos and got a bad card draw. They lost the land battle, and Athens gleefully started a naval battle and sunk the Spartan fleet.
This looks very much like Pylos and it’s something that can easily happen in Pericles.

Actually it’s not that easy: 2 spartan base + 2 land units are worth 8. Let say Sparta is overconfident and commit only 1 strategos (obviously at Pylos, the Spartan leader was not very good). If Athens commits the maximum of 8 strategos, they would still need a 1 differential in the cards to win the land battle. This is a huge commitment, so it’s probably close to the end of the turn.

But now to recreate Sphacteria and the hostages, we need to have one Spartan land unit killed.
For that, the athenian force must have 2 land units. Those units can only come through Corinth that will block at least 4 units. And if the Spartan army is in Attica, they would have to be gathered from outside Athens. Bottom line: it can't be done in just one move.
Even if Demosthenes plan was to stir trouble, there is no reason for Athenian land units to be there at the beginning. Historically, Demosthenes had only light troops, which Pericles models with strategos (in battle or in raid). So maybe there is a base involved in the whole affair.

Let say there was already one Athenian naval unit in Sparta (or more if they were blocked there during a previous move). The Spartan army goes to ravage Attica. Then Athens plays a league issue and builds a base. Sparta reveals a military issue and wants to get rid of that base here and now (like they did historically). Sparta doesn’t have enough land units left to build (or build naval units to crush the Athenian naval unit) and doesn’t have many strategos left either (maybe there was a Raid just before, or they overcommitted in Attica). With a league base, it’s easier for Athens to win the land battle, so it makes sense to commit a good numbers of strategos to the whole affair.

This looks a lot like Pylos so far.

After that, Athens still needs one league issue to build up land units, and then a final military issue to secure another land win (with once again a good number of strategos to spare). And all this has to be done in the same turn before Sparta can bring back land units. Since Demosthenes was up to stir up troubles around Sparta, it’s possible that two leagues issued were stacked up in Sparta “just in case”.
Another possibility is that the “hostages” in Pericles game terms are different than those from Sphacteria. The effect of those hostages was that Sparta stopped its attacks on Athens, which is not the game effect of hostages in Pericles (as it was in Mark Herman earlier PW game).

With that less ambitious goal, after Pylos, we just need a Raid to emulate Sphacteria : honor boost for the Demagogues, big loss of Strategos for Sparta (let say 5) that force them to cancel the next military issue in Attica.
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Mark Herman
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I see from other threads that you have been playing the game a number of times solo. While apparently it is not challenging enough for you I would suggest you raise the handicap.

On the topic of this thread, I would be very disappointed in myself if I designed a game on one of my favorite topics and it did not account for Pylos/Decelea that I covered in my historical notes and designer notes.

I have read this post a few times and it is possible that I have inadvertently confused this issue.

Base in Sparta
1. Military expedition sends in 4+ Athenian naval units, no land.
2. Properly support with Strategos
3. Spartans win land battle, no Athenian losses
4. Spartan winner decides not to fight naval battle
5. League issue builds Delian League base.
6. If you have piled on bring in Argos units with another League issue.
Same process in reverse for Decelea.

Pylos
See above, but like history the Spartan army has to be somewhere else.
Athens needs to beat 6 Spartan land, assumes only one cube in Sparta.
If Spartans are playing it safe the Pylos mistake is unlikely to happen here.
It happens often when Spartans leave single Spartan land units in theaters without bases.

Remember all of the historical events are possible but hindsight often has these events occur in different locations.

I hope that helps.
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Loïc Boué
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MarkHerman wrote:
I see from other threads that you have been playing the game a number of times solo. While apparently it is not challenging enough for you I would suggest you raise the handicap.


I'm very happy with the bots and I'm also very happy that you provide bots for gamers to play your games solitaire. I prefer the bot to act like an historical opponent would, which can sometimes not be the best play from a human player perspective. However, I feel it wrong when a "bad move" on my part succeeds just because the bot logic is unaware of it. So far I had this feeling with the "optimal" commitment of strategos. I know you are aware of this, since you pointed it in the rulebook. As you propose, I can always add some randomness in the commitment of strategos, or just play "as if" the bot could react.
I have a doubt about a turn 1 Ionian strategy, but it's just an initial feeling so far.

MarkHerman wrote:
On the topic of this thread, I would be very disappointed in myself if I designed a game on one of my favorite topics and it did not account for Pylos/Decelea that I covered in my historical notes and designer notes.


I'm a great fan of your first PW game, so I have no such doubt.
Either I have a basic rule wrong, or a game concept, or maybe just a tactic I haven't figured out yet.
I do think you make a link between a "Pylos/Sphacteria"-like occurrence, and hostages. I was wondering how the athenian/league land units to make it happen (hostages) could be around Sparta. As opposed to a simple failed battle or a very successful raid.


MarkHerman wrote:
I have read this post a few times and it is possible that I have inadvertently confused this issue.

Base in Sparta
1. Military expedition sends in 4+ Athenian naval units, no land.
2. Properly support with Strategos
3. Spartans win land battle, no Athenian losses
4. Spartan winner decides not to fight naval battle
5. League issue builds Delian League base.


The process is very clear. Actually Phormio tells us how to do it.

MarkHerman wrote:
6. If you have piled on bring in Argos units with another League issue.


I see how to do it. I can understand that a bot (acting like an historical leader) would do it. I wonder if I'm correct in thinking this is not a smart thing to do, even if Argos units bring no honor loss for Athens. A base with an athenian naval unit can't be destroyed, and would be enough to raid Sparta ?

MarkHerman wrote:
Same process in reverse for Decelea.


Quite clear.
My concern expressed in another post is : what if Athens build a base in Attica on turn 1 ?

MarkHerman wrote:

Pylos
See above, but like history the Spartan army has to be somewhere else.
Athens needs to beat 6 Spartan land, assumes only one cube in Sparta.
If Spartans are playing it safe the Pylos mistake is unlikely to happen here.


Beating 6 land is possible.
But killing 1 spartan cube with less than 2 land units is not. And to paraphrase Boromir, "2 land units don't just walk into Sparta".
It takes planning and effort.

Pylos/Sphacteria could be :
- a very stupid mistake from Sparta, that is a fumbled attack with 2 land units already present. Very unlikely to ever occur in a game.
- a stupid mistake from Sparta, followed by Athens taking advantage of it. This is what I tried to discribe in my post. Unlikely but possible.
- a deliberate plan. Possible, but not exactly what happened.

MarkHerman wrote:

It happens often when Spartans leave single Spartan land units in theaters without bases.

Remember all of the historical events are possible but hindsight often has these events occur in different locations.

I hope that helps.


To fall upon a lone spartan unit with an overwhelming number of units and strategos will produce hostages. But the spartan mistake would have been to leave a spartan unit alone, not the end result of an attack that went wrong.
I agree that in a way it's the same thing from a higher point of view : overconfident spartans get ambushed by cunning athenians. But the execution doesn't exactly feel the same.
 
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Thanks for your thoughts. I would offer that playing with humans is much harder, but against the 'Bots where you know all of the activities and where they end up on the map Pylos is actually very possible.

You have to wait until your Athenian 'Bot partner gets the Ravage Sparta strategy you just need to pile on. If you can get all three League issues plus a couple of military issues into Sparta, knowing that Sparta will go somewhere else, you should be able to defeat Sparta with a land battle, gain hostages, bases and Argos land.

You just wait until the Spartan army marches out and then you execute the various issues and Pylos or a facsimile of Mantinea is the likely result.

That said, I have seen Spartan armies caught by large counterstrokes and the same can be said for Athenians naval units caught off guard if they spread out.

What I am curious about is you have spoken about a Spartan Ionian attack on turn 1. I assume that you are doing this via land. There are situations where the Athenians have Ionia as their WoA objective where this may not work, but the 'Bots usually do not have a good response to this historical attack when it comes so early. That said, it is not a war winner against humans, its just another theater to be fought over where Athens can cut off the Spartan forces.

Pericles is a 'sandbox' design, we agree that the Ionia strategy is essentially how the Spartans set up their historic victory. It does not work so easily against humans, but I have no doubt that you can force it against the 'Bots. For me what is important is an Ionian strategy can and does work the way it did historically.

An interesting strategy with humans that I have used can turn this move into a trap. What Athens has to do is let the Spartans turn the Pelop base into a Spartan base and hope the Spartans over resource it with Spartans. Then Sparta becomes more vulnerable. If they don't Athens can overwhelm the Ionian position and score large amounts of honor. My point is Pylos is not a brute force strategy in Pericles, it takes outmaneuvering your opponent across the map to create vulnerabilities. The 'Bots are designed to play historically, but they won't do this.

As I wrote in the rules, you are obviously a strong player who with perfect information can defeat the 'Bots. I think you may want to increase Phormio's handicap.

From your commentary it looks like you are having a good time. Thanks again for your support.

Mark
 
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MarkHerman wrote:


What I am curious about is you have spoken about a Spartan Ionian attack on turn 1. I assume that you are doing this via land. There are situations where the Athenians have Ionia as their WoA objective where this may not work, but the 'Bots usually do not have a good response to this historical attack when it comes so early. That said, it is not a war winner against humans, its just another theater to be fought over where Athens can cut off the Spartan forces.

Mark


Just using Diplomacy on turn 1.
It won't work at all against human players so early.
Was just wondering if Phormio shouldn't have some PS about Ionia.

Thanks for your answers, I'm having quite a good time experiencing with the game.
 
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Torc wrote:
MarkHerman wrote:


What I am curious about is you have spoken about a Spartan Ionian attack on turn 1. I assume that you are doing this via land. There are situations where the Athenians have Ionia as their WoA objective where this may not work, but the 'Bots usually do not have a good response to this historical attack when it comes so early. That said, it is not a war winner against humans, its just another theater to be fought over where Athens can cut off the Spartan forces.

Mark


Just using Diplomacy on turn 1.
It won't work at all against human players so early.
Was just wondering if Phormio shouldn't have some PS about Ionia.

Thanks for your answers, I'm having quite a good time experiencing with the game.


Ionia for the 'Bots is based on the offensive strategies lower in the priority list and Frogs B sets up a WoA conflict.

The easiest way to defeat this early Ionia strategy is to convert the Delian League base to Athenian with a League issue on top of the queue. In a human game, which the 'Bot can sometimes do randomly with Brasidas you can use the Citizenship issue to preempt.

Glad you are having a good time with the game.

Mark
 
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