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Subject: Chaeronea 338 BC rss

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Peter Carr
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Chaeronea 338 BC

Initial observations:
The Greeks are outclassed. Their hoplites are going to be no match for the organized double phalanges of the Macedonians. The Greek cavalry is ‘token’ at best. The terrain benefits neither side, though could be used by either side defensively. The Greek command has no OC and their leaders are inferior to the Macedonians. The Greeks have fewer units and fewer troops. So, it seems (as play balance suggests), this will be a Macedonian victory.

Diodorus Siculus (1st Cent BCE): Both armies were now ready to engage; they were equal indeed in courage and personal valor, but in numbers and military experience a great advantage lay with the king. For he had fought many battles, gained most of them, and so learned much about war, but the best Athenian generals were now dead, and Chares---the chief of them still remaining---differed but little from a common hoplite in all that pertained to true generalship. About sunrise [at Chaeronea in Boeotia] the two armies arrayed themselves for battle. The king ordered his son Alexander, who had just become of age, yet already was giving clear signs of his martial spirit, to lead one wing, though joined to him were some of the best of his generals. Philip himself, with a picked corps, led the other wing, and arranged the various brigades at such posts as the occasion demanded. The Athenians drew up their army, leaving one part to the Boeotians, and leading the rest themselves.

Greek strategy:
The Greeks need to use the rivers to inflict cohesion hits on the Macedonians. The Greeks have line command capability, the Macedonians do not; a potential window of opportunity may arise if the Macedonians fail momentum rolls and are caught at the start of a turn with a broken line with a slim possibility of a flank attack.

Macedonian strategy:
Philip will pin the Greek hoplites with his phalanges and Alexander will sweep around the Greek right to attack from the rear.

Pic 1 – setup



Turn 1
Demosthenes moves the 3 LP on the Greek left to defensive positions on the steep banks of the Morios. Pelopidas attempts a line command but fails and thus moves only 3 HO forward. Theagenes succeeds with a line command and moves the Thebans forward. Theagenes fail momentum and initiative is passed to the Macedonians.

Philip moves 6 phalanges forward but fails momentum. Alexander moves 3 LP forward and 3 cavalry, but also fails momentum.

Pic 2 – advance.



Turn 2
Demosthenes moves 3 HO to defensive positions on the Morios. Pelopidas moves 1 HO into line and relocates to command from the rear. Theagenes succeeds with momentum and is able to reform the Greek right. He moves the sacred band behind the main HO line as a mobile reserve. The 2 reserve Theban HO formations are wheeled on the Greek right and the line is refused. The 2 Greek LP are pulled back into reserve. Initiative passes to the Macedonians.

Philip moves 6 phalanges on the Macedonian left forward but fails momentum. Alexander, with 2 successful momentum attempts is able to advance forward on the left flank and remove cohesion hits form units crossing the Hainon as he goes.

Pic 3 – advance




Turn 3
The Athenian cavalry moves to reinforce the Greek right. Demosthenes moves the two of the reserve Athenian HO to the Greek left and relocates to be in command range of the LP. Pelopidas spurs the passing Athenian cavalry on and steady’s the ranks. Theagenes sees the approaching Macedonian cavalry on his right and gambles they will not be able to break his HO wall. He extends the HO line and pulls back his cavalry. Successful with momentum he pushes the Greek right out further; if Alexander is slow to advance he may be able to cover his right flank on the Kephissos river.

Philip moves his Thracian peltasts and Hypaspits forward on the Macedonian right and relocates to the centre of the battlefield. Yet again, he fails to gain momentum. Alexander can see trouble brewing on the Greek right and charges in 3 units of cavalry and moves 3 Thracian LP forward to hamper an ‘clever’ flanking maneuvers by the Thebans. The only unit making contact is the Macedonian LC; at attacks two redeploying mercenary peltasts on the flank, one is able to face the cavalry both units incur 1 hit each with their javelins, the other peltast routs. Shock combat follows and the remaining peltast unit is routed – there is no cavalry pursuit as Alexander did not have time to order charge formation, so the Macedonian LC advances into the ZOC of the Theban LC. The Thebans throw javelins but score no hits. Alexander succeeds with momentum. He moves up the three cavalry units yet to be given orders and pushes 2 previously moved HC into the Theban sacred band, one unit attacking them on the flank. The sacred band turn to face the onslaught, and, being true professionals, leave no flank exposed.

(Pic-4)




In the ensuing shock attack the sacred band have system superiority but are heavily outnumbered. Still, a disastrous roll of ‘0’ on the 10 column with defense superiority results in 3x3(2) hits; all units remain locked in melee. Alexander fails a 3rd momentum attempt.


Turn 4

Pic 5



Observation: It seems Alexander may have acted too far ahead of the slower moving phalanges. The Theban sacred band is proving hard to break and Philips left flank will be a prime target if Alexander fails to turn the Greek right – seeing how poorly the cavalry performed against the HI, this seems a distinct possibility.

The Athenian cavalry is at full gallop and eventually reaches the Greek right. Demosthenes moves 2 Athenian HO, 1 to defensive positions on the steep slopes of the Morios. Pelopidas holds the Greek centre. Theagenes at last makes his move. He advances on the 3 Thracian LP units who stand fast and throw javelins against the Thebans – the javelins break up the HO formations, but the Greek advance cannot be stopped. In the ensuing melee all 3 Thracian LP are routed, though the Thebans have lost more than 50% cohesion. Further on the Greek right another HO unit attacks the flank of engaged HC and the sacred band fight out their melee as does the Theban LC. In all these attacks the Greeks fair well and the Macedonians are forced to check for collapse in all 3 engagements, but the Macedonians will not rout that easily, and all units hold. Theagenes succeeds with momentum, but Alexander knows it will be the end of the Thracians if he fails to act, Alexander steals the initiative. Alexander rallies the 3 Thracian LP and moves 2 HC around the Greek right flank. The already engaged Theban LC are charged in the rear and rout, but the Macedonians advance onto the Theban HO. Alexander fails to achieve momentum and initiative passes to Philip. Philip orders his left flank across the Hainon but fails to gain momentum.

Pic 6 – close up of Alexanders action



Pic 7 – overall



Turn 5

The Athenian LC move to cover the exposed flank of a Theban HO unit refusing the line. Demosthenes moves his final HO unit onto the steep slopes of the Marios – he is now in a good position to defend against Phillip. Pelopidas attempts to rally 2 fleeing LP – one is rallied, the other disperses. Theagenes advances on the Thracian LP, their accurate javelin strikes force 2 HO units to check for rout, the HO pass this check and close with the LP. In the melee all units exceed their TQ hits, but the Thracians more so, and thus all 3 Thracians rout and the Theban HO advance. On the Greek right a HO and the sacred band rout 2 of Alexanders HC. Theagenes is successful with momentum, again Alexander must act, this time he is too slow to recover! Theagenes is able to recover cohesion on 4 HO units, he is successful again with momentum and removes more cohesion hits. Phillip gets the initiative now and must make up for his son’s shortcomings.

In a risky move Philip pushes his left flank forward to attack the Greek right. Risky because the Macedonian right will need 2 orders from Philip to close with the Greeks- and Philip has had a bad record with momentum so far this game.

Philip flanks one over extended Theban HO, it is easily routed. The other phalanges of Philips left at last come to blows with Pelopidas’ HO. Hits are incurred on both sides, but none routs. Philip, AGAIN, fails momentum.

After the rout phase the accumulated rout points are:
Greeks: 17
Macedonians: 32

Pic 8 – overall



Turn 6

Demosthenes holds. Pelopidas successfully rallies the Theban cavalry then orders his Corinthians into the flank of an engaged PH and a unit of LP into the flanks of another. The LP scores a hit with their javelins and, with position superiority they are able to rout the phalanx. The other two Macedonian phalanges must also check for rout, but pass.
Theagenes wheels a Theban HO to attack the flank of a phalanx, both units remain locked in combat. On the far right Alexander is forced to withdraw when advanced upon by yet more Thebans, he has been withdrawn out of the command range of 3 HC behind the Greek lines. The Athenean LC charges the flank of an engaged HC unit, but are routed in the pre-shock TQ check phase. The HC is, however, seen off by HO in close combat. Theagenes gains momentum and removes cohesion hits from 3 units. He tries to rally the Athenian cavalry, but fails and they disperse. Momentum passes to Philip.

Philip advances 6 phalanges and gains momentum (at last). He pushes the phalanges on, he must, and they will take the hits. The phalanges arrive in time to relieve the Macedonian left and one phalanx engages the Greek left. The phalanx attacking the Greek left successfully routs an Athenian HO and advances across the Morios. On the Macedonian left the Corinthian HO are attacked in the rear and destroyed for failure to rout. In other combat a Macedonian phalanx is routed and the Corcyra HO are routed. Philip is showing some style now and gains momentum one last time. He moves the Macedonian right into combat, they engage the Athenians, but all units hold. Initiative passes to Alexander. Alexander, determined to regain his honor, charges boldly down the Greek right. He personally leads a charge into the rear of a Theban HO. Alexander is successful and wipes the unit out, for failure to rout. Successful with momentum he is able to order another HC unit to charge the rear of another Theban HO, the Thebans are routed. Successful with his final momentum roll Alexander and another HC charge the sacred band. The band is routed, and, somewhat poetically runs right past Theagenes who must now be seeing prior success turn to dismal failure.

After the rout phase the accumulated rout points are:
Greeks: 81
Macedonians: 68

Pic – 9 Greek line collapses – Macedonia are victorious



Debrief: It would seem impossible to loose this as the Macedonians. The Greeks formed a good defense; from 1022 to 4137 a continuous line of HO existed – all defensive terrain was used and the Macedonians had to cross all the rivers to get into contact. In the end the low rout limit and the maneuverability of the Macedonian HC over the Greek HO won the day.

Man of the match still goes to Theagenes; he handled Alexander well, made momentum often and took out the majority of Macedonian casualties. However, once the HO line was broken (in advances from victorious attacks) Alexander was able to use his remaining HC decisively. Philip never really got into contact until the last turn but when he did it was at the right time. Look at the number of failed momentums for Philip (must have been a heavy drinking session).

The difficulty with the Greeks is that they can’t be used offensively against the phalanges frontally (too many modifiers) – and to try to flank the phalanges means exposing your own to Alexander’s cavalry. It’s hard to think what would have worked – considering the Macedonians did not really coordinate this attack well at all.
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Jon
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Nice report Peter. I really enjoyed reading it and I like your thoughts as to strengths and weaknesses of the two sides. Well, the Greek side anyway.... Thanks for taking the time and effort to do this.

The last time I played this scenario (solo), the Macedonians were able to roll up the Greek line after a (mis)calculated risky move caught the latter with a gap in the line, which Alex drove right into. Getting all of his Momentum rolls afterwards, he literally clobbered the middle of the Greek line without too much bother. It was interesting to witness. I can't say that I have seen a line collapse like that in a game before (well, there was that game of Wellington's Victory: Battle of Waterloo Game – June 18th, 1815 many years ago...).

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tiger tiger
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Nice session report. Found you intial thoughts and deciding what strategy to use for each side interesting.

Think you made one mistake, though. Leaders don't have roll for line commands on the first turn of a scenario, even if out of OC range.
 
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Peter Carr
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tiger,tiger wrote:
Nice session report. Found you intial thoughts and deciding what strategy to use for each side interesting.

Think you made one mistake, though. Leaders don't have roll for line commands on the first turn of a scenario, even if out of OC range.


To be honest, I wasn't sure if the scenario special rule for Greek leaders overrides this. Having reread the rule it does say ('all scenarios') so I think you are correct.

I did not play with the inertia rule - it would only have made things worse!

 
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Mick Weitz
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Very nice session report on one of the most entertaining battles of the game. Try adding the Spartans next time (though the Macedonians are still heavy favorites).

Good Gaming~! Mick
 
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Peter Carr
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Yes, putting the spartans in with the pre-arranged withdrawl and backward march rule could make a difference. Unfortunately I play alot solo, using then like their other counterparts will probably not help the Greek cause.

Reading about the actual battle it seems Philip pulled his troops out of combat to create a gap for Alexander as the Greeks pursued - would be nice to formulate some rules to recreate this and see what happens. I have tried it using prearranged withdrawl to simulate this and it decimated the Greeks once alexander gets behind then. cavalry in the rear - phalanx to the front.
 
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