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Chris Montgomery
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The 431 Campaign: The Periclean War
A Session Report
on a Game Played November 07, 2009


Written by Chris Montgomery

Introduction and Prelude

Getting There

I finally got my copy of Hellenes: Campaigns of the Peloponnesian War to the table at my local gaming group's monthly meeting. We had Joe playing the Spartans and Jon (jwquinn) playing the Athenians. I refereed the game. Both were brand new players to the game after reading the rules a couple days prior.

I have written this session report in a narrative style similar to a short history. In truth, the game ended on the 425 Turn when it was time for everyone to go home. At the end of that turn, the score was two prestige in favor of Athens, but due to various revolts (as you will see) Sparta was set to earn seven prestige at the New Year, which would have put them ahead by five prestige in Sparta's favor. I just assumed (for ending the game purposes) that the Peace Faction ascendant card was played at some point, and that the roll was successful to end the war in a draw.

I have included [Notes] in brackets where I wanted to point out some in-game device or event that might be interest to the reader.

Before You Read: Warnings

First Warning. I have made up rationalizations for certain events in the game in order to give them some context, which, of course, might not exist while actually playing the game (a lot of them, in fact) so please don't take this session report as an example of play--it's not meant to be. I have also glossed over certain portions of the game turns, such as appeals, but I mention when those appeals are used. Again, I wanted a flowing narrative style, not necessarily a phase-by-phase turn sequence.

Second Warning. The title I chose (at the top) is "The Periclean War" because this phase of the war is historically referred to as the Archidamian War. Since Archidamos, the guy who led Sparta, fell from power during this game session, I decided that Pericles, who led Athens, did a fine job, so why not name the war after him? I simply turned it on its head for fun.

Third Warning. I am NOT a historian of this period. I know almost NOTHING about it. For instance (and there are plenty of other examples below), but for instance, please don't criticize my reference to the "Council of Athens"--I made it up. If you notice other problems, I don't mind if you point them out, but understand that I am trying to tell a story about a single session of the game, and I'm not going to become an expert on the Peloponnesian War to do that. (I'm sorry).

Fourth Warning. I'm NOT a professional photographer. I snapped these pictures on the fly during the game. I tried to make them remain in focus, but I even failed at that, sometimes. A few of the better ones were uploaded to the game's image library. The rest of them, I just uploaded to my own image gallery.[/size]

Background, From the Rulebook

After the famous Greek victories over Persia in 490-480, Athens formed the Delian League to ensure Greek naval control of the Aegean, but this evolved from a voluntary alliance into an empire.

In 433, Corinth (a commercial rival to Athens and longtime member of the opposing Spartan League) clashed with its colony Corcyra over the city of Epidamnus. Feeling the winds of war beginning to blow, Athens backed fellow naval power Corcyra, earning the undying enmity of Corinth. In revenge, Corinth fomented a revolt from Athens in its former colony Potidea, then lobbied the Spartan League (composed primarily of Lacedameon, Arcadia, Corinth, and Boetia) to send aid against the resulting Athenian siege in Potidea, arguing that Athens had grown too powerful and threatened to dominate all of Greece. Sparta reluctantly supported its main ally and war began.

431 - Opening Shots

At the outbreak of war, Sparta's King, Archidamos calls for sacrifices to the leader-god Zeus, and Athens appeals to the god of War, Ares.

Hearing that war had broken out amongst the Greeks, Macedonian barbarians fly forth from the frontier and lay siege to the Athenian subject city of Stagira, a province located in Chalcidice, just north of Potidea. Athens begins a massive recruiting campaign to reinforce undermanned phalanxes and fleets, and also dispatches additional soldiers to Potidea.

Corcyra, thankful to have Athens' support against Corinth, fills out the ranks of its small army and navy as well.

The siege continues in Potidea, but still fat off last year's harvest, the city expects to hold out against siege for quite some time.

As spring rains turn to summer, the Illyrians catch word of the war and of the Macedonian expedition. The Illyrians sally forth from their homes in a large roving bands and lay siege to the northern-most member state of the Delian League, Epidamnus (pro-Athenian), along the western coast of Greece.

The Athenian navy and army, thanks to the administrative leadership of Pericles, begins to fill out its peace-time ranks as potters, carvers, and weavers put down their tools to take up arms against Sparta and Corinth. The newly arrived units in Potidea march northward to challenge the Macedonians besieging Stagira. In a small but brutal battle, Athens decimates the Macedonians who retreat back into the hinterlands of Macedonia, east of Pella. Pro-Athenian Corcyran fleets land at Ambracia, and after a short two month siege, Ambracia surrenders, being ill-prepared for war.

The siege in Potidea continues, but with little apparent effect.

High summer heat rolls in, and the Island of Rhodes, which had always chafed under the Athenian yoke, rebels. Athens quickly received news from merchant ships that the Rhodesians are in revolt and Pericles dispatches a fleet and troops to negotiate terms with Rhodes. The Athenian admiral presses his fleet along the coast of Crete and reaches Rhodes very quickly [force sail]. The admiral immediately lays siege against Rhodes.

The barbarian (Illyrian) siege of Epidamnus continues and drags into its third month with little effect, but the rebels in Potidea finally start to run out of supplies. Refugees flee the city. [-1 cv loss].

By Fall, hearing of the successes of other city-states in rebellion, the Isle of Naxos revolts, and tosses out its Athenian governor. The Rhodesians are offered generous terms of surrender, but they stalwartly refuse. With winter coming on, Athens assaults the walls, but the attack is thrown back as many of the Athenian units rout, surprised by the tenacity of the Rhodesian defense.

Here is an image of the siege of Rhodes (click any images in this report to enlarge):



In Potidea, the city is given one last chance to surrender, but they refuse. After a vicious pitched battle, the garrison is slaughtered and the rebels rounded up and executed.

By the end of the year, the Illyrians give up their siege of Epidamnus and go home. Thebes uses impressment to reinforce its armies.

Athens issues a special levy to pay for the siege in Rhodes, and keeps its army there active over the winter months. The large army in Potidea is forced to disperse to surrounding towns for winter quartering and to remind the other city states in Chalcidice that Athens remains stronger than ever. Various units winter in the Chacidicean city-states of Stagira as well as Potidea.

The winter of 431-430 proves to be relatively mild, and Rhodes is able to smuggle grain and supplies in its walls from Persia to survive the winter.

The map at the end of 431:



430 - A Case-by-Case Basis

After the first year of war, Athens' victories, including Ambracia [for a total of 4 prestige], appear to be off-set by the fact that they are having difficulty reining in the subject colonies of Naxos and Rhodes [4 prestige for Sparta]. Despite the fighting, no one appears to be winning this war. Rumors circulate that Pericles is pleased--his war of attrition appears to be bearing fruit. Athens has enough money and enough of a population to outwear the Spartans.

As winter turned to spring, and with annual tributes arriving with the first thaw of the northern Aegean, the Council of Athens is surprised when Pericles informs them that Amphipolis has failed to send its annual tribute. When the governor arrives in Athens a few weeks later, it is confirmed: both the islands of Samos [New Year Spartan Event] and Amphipolis [Spring Spartan Event], the capital of Thrace, lay in open revolt. In Samos, Civil War breaks out within the city as pro-Athenian and pro-Spartan factions fight for control of the city. Athens becomes paralyzed for much of the Spring and debate how best to rein in the revolts while at the same time discouraging revolts in other city-states.

Pericles' arguments carry the day, and it is decided that each city would be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. How could they threaten Amphipolis with executions when it was the lynch-pin to the north? But how could Athens remain lenient with Naxos and Samos--small island states far below Athens' stature? And so the Council of Athens voted to grant Pericles the authority to deal with each revolt as he saw fit.

By the early part of the summer, Maronea had heard of the revolt of Amphipolis, so it, too--at the opposite end of Thrace!--revolts.

Here's an image of the lumbering Athenian army marching toward Maronea:



Pericles dispatches a large fleet to Samos and the Athenian army in Chalcidice marches north to lay siege to Amphipolis. Rhodes continues to evade attrition by purchasing grain at exhorbitant prices from the Persians and smuggling it inside the city. [Note: There is no game mechanic for this - just artistic license here to explain why Rhodes continues to hold out].

The Greek high summer brings an additional revolt in Chalcis along the northern end of the Isle of Euboea.

Here's an image of the Euboean revolt along with Naxos, who has remained unscathed so far, despite it's revolt against Athenian hegemony:



Corcyra continues its campaign against Sparta's ally, Ambracia by laying siege to its capital, Leucas. Rhodes continues to hold out against the Athenian siege, but Amphipolis--refusing to surrender to Athenian overtures--is assaulted and conquered. The population is spared and dealt with generously, but the rebels and their families are turned out and executed.

The Athenian army in Thrace wastes no time after the fall of Amphipolis; they march immediately for Maronea, hoping to reach (and conquer) the distant city before winter.

As fall came on, Sparta continues to aid its allies Thrace and Corinth in building up their phalanxes for what King Archidamos sees as a chance to possibly siege Athens, if the timing proved propitious. Sparta supports the rebels morally and politically where it can, but the end effect was that few rebels throughout the Athenian subject regions receive any aid from Sparta.

The mountainous regions of Thrace stall the Athenian army in the region of Abderra, where their general reluctantly determines that they will not be able to reach Maronea by land this year. He makes a brief appeal to Pericles for ships to transport them, but none are immediately available, as the fleets are needed to launch various sieges right at the end of the year.

Here is an image of the Athenian army struggling through the long expanses of Thrace:



An Athenian fleet also lands in Rhodes, and with the new landing force threatening to overwhelm the tiny contingent of defenders, Rhodes accepts generous peace terms and capitulates to Athenian rule. The rebel leaders are spared, but thrown out of office and into disgrace.

During winter, the Corcyrans decide to tenaciously remain outside the Leucan gates during the winter. Having had no harvest, and fearing the worst, Leuca considers surrendering to the Corcyrans, but its resolve is strengthened by the hope that Sparta might come to its rescue the following spring. Leucas reluctantly holds out, suffering severe starvation [1 cv block eliminated, only garrison remains].

Here is the map at the end of 430:



The Corcyrans in Ambracia continue their siege of the capital city of Leucas, but to little effect, yet. The Corcyrans, a tiny island nation that sparked the war in the first place, decides to tenaciously remain at the gates of Leucas through the Winter.

Pericles plans ahead by laying the hulls for new fleets at Athens and raising replacements for the campaigning phalanxes [Athens recruits new units].

429 - The Fall of Ambracia

The rebellions springing up throughout the Delian League prompt the Council of Athens to demand answers from Pericles. Pericles was unapologetic; it was true, he said, that the citizens of Athens were worried and displeased with the turn of events, but what was he to do? Pericles urges the Council to hold the line. Whatever the political effects of the rebellions, how much worse, he say, would it be for Athens to lose the war?

By the spring of 429, Athens had three revolts on its hands of any significance: Naxos, Chalcis, and Maronea [7 prestige for Sparta]. Of the three, Naxos was the most wheedling, because they had yet to be challenged by Athenian military power and had enjoyed nearly a year without any retaliation. The Corcyrans were the only bright spot on the Athenian ledger, with Ambracia lying in Corcyran hands [1 prestige for Athens] and Leucas under siege.

The Spartan advisors around King Archidamos counsel him to sail for Leucas. King Archidamos refuses. A conspiracy to remove King Archidamos from power forms, and several Spartan nobles successfully ostracize him by spreading vicious rumors. Archidamos leaves Sparta with a small household guard fearing for his life if he stays in the city. He lays a curse against Sparta until his return. [Note: The Spartan player actually played an event to ostracize Archidamos because is only a +0 leader. He wanted the slot empty in case he could play a +1 leader later].

The oracles at Sparta and Corinth proclaim dark omens for Lacedaemon and her allies.

In the spring, the leadership of Sparta makes good on its intentions and sails a fleet and a small army [1 fleet block, 1 army block] to Leucas, taking control of the Sea of Corcyra away from the Athenians for a brief time. This gesture, anointed by the gods or not, boosts Ambracian hopes for the coming year that perhaps the Corcyrans will go home now that they face a much-strengthened Leucas.

Athens doggedly continues its multi-front campaign. The Athenian army finally arrives in Maronea (in Thrace) and sets a siege. More troops are raised in Athens to stomp out the seemingly endless list of revolts. Fleets land at Euboea and Naxos and both cities are put under siege. The siege in Leucas wanes on, but the supplies from Sparta have revitalized the city and brought them back from the brink of surrender.

By summer, the Athenian army sitting outside Naxos results in Civil War inside the city walls [Note: this is an error that occurred in the game since Civil War can only be played on unbesieged cities].

By the end of May and into early June, Spartan food supplies begin to dwindle in Leucas and the relief force finds itself starving [-1 cv attrition in Leucas]. Since the Corcyran fleet is beached at Leucas to handle the siege, the Spartans take it upon themselves to secure a more permanent solution to the food problem. The Lacedaemon admiral--a feisty, petulant man--took over permanent patrol of the Sea of Corcyra sailing from the Leucas port and insuring a steady flow of supplies, food, and material, for the city. It looks as if Leucas will hold out indefinitely.

High summer brings more Athenian armies to bear across Greece.

A different Macedonian tribe, out of the western part of Macedon, marched against the pro-Spartan city of Pella, in the north, and it lays siege.

The Athenian city of Maronea remains closed to the Athenians, and additional Athenian units continue their march through Abderra in an effort to concentrate enough phalaxes for an assault on the city.

Faced with civil war within the gates and an Athenian army without, Naxos capitulates.

Since Leucas remains supplied, the Corcyrans have no choice but to either assault the walls or go home. Never having accepted defeat since the beginning of the war, Corcyran leaders are not willing to do so now. The assault is ordered, and after a series of bloody charges and murderous pockets of melee that ravage the walls, the backbone of the Corcyran army--it's hoplite phalanx-- is routed. It appears that the Leucans will carry the day, but the soldiers from Corcyra's fleets make a last attempt at the walls--some would say providentially in light of the omens--and carry the gates. The Spartans and Leucas died nearly to a man.

The Spartan admiral, as he sailed toward the city with additional supplies, sees the smoke and smoldering fires. He orders the fleet to lay sail for Sparta.

Here is a close-up of the victorious Corcyrans, having conquered Ambracia, standing victorious:



On the opposite coast, Euboea capitulates to a large Athenian army without a fight.

In the last few months at this point, Sparta has been dealt a triple blow--Pella besieged in the north, the collapse of the nation of Ambracia to the tiny Corcyrans despite overwheming numerical odds in Sparta's favor, and the fall the rebels in Euboea. King Archidamos was reported to have said of this season: "Have ye not yet had enough, old Sparta? Will you not take your rightful king and place him back in his rightful place?"

An aura of fear settles over Corinth and Sparta at the dire news of the season. Sparta sends relief phalanxes to Corinth in anticipation of a potential Athenian attack. The Spartan nobles in power become themselves the target of a conspiracy to put King Archidamos back on the throne and regain the favor of the gods. Knowing that if they were removed from power that it would cost them their lives, the rag-tag leadership of Sparta hold to their power like captains of sinking ships.

Athens did not make any moves against Corinth, however. Records of the time reveal that Pericles felt it best not to tempt the gods and instead to enjoy the successes they had shone to him. He knew from prior experience that the gods are fickle, and that his fortunes might soon turn.

The fall brought with it some more propitious news for Sparta: immediately after the Athenians left Rhodes a year ago, it seems they tossed out the new government on its ear. Rhodes has revolted again.

Here's an image of the Naxos capitulation, just as news reaches Athens that Rhodes is in revolt (again):



As winter approaches, the Corcyrans leave garrisons to hold Ambracia and sail the main body of their army [2 fleets and a hoplite] back to the island to regroup, reorganize, and rest for the winter after two years of hard fighting.

The Macedonian army outside Pella assaults the city in an effort to gain plunder before the coming winter. A long, agonizing, pitched battle results in more than half of the Macedonian horde being killed or driven away. Just at the tipping point of the battle, when the Pellans nearly break, the Macedonians break instead and rout from the walls to resume their siege with only half their strength remaining.

Maronea, seeing the situation as hopeless and facing an Athenian army about four times their size, capitulates.

Here's a photo of the Athenan army, a long way from home, all by itself, after the surrender of Maronea:



The winter of 429-428 is relatively uneventful as Sparta tries to consolidate what power it has by reinforcing phalanxes and moving units. Athens readjusts it's fleets and armies to quarter them for the coming winter and bring many units home for reprovisioning and reinforcement.

Here's a photo of the map at the end of 429:



428 - The Return of the King

As the winter ice along the Aegean Sea began to thaw, the Athenian tide appeared to be rising. They held Ambracia [3 prestige total for two regions]. Sparta had little to claim in its favor: a rebellion in Rhodes, and that was all [2 prestige for Sparta].

Score after tribute: Athens at 3 prestige.

Sparta's loyalists send messengers to King Archidamos in exile and asked him to return. He does so to the cheers and support of the people. The conspirators lives are forfeit and Archidamos is returned to power. [Note: Here, the Athenian player played an event to put Archidamos (a +0 leader) back in power in Sparta].

In the spring, the furthest city-state in the Delian League revolt against Athenian authority--Byzantium. An Athenian fleet lands in Rhodes and establishes yet another siege. In a bold move, Pericles plans an assault against the Corinthian city of Troezen, hoping that by capturing the peninsula, with the neutral city-state of Argos to the south, that he could invade Corinth directly, both across the Attican isthmus and along the coastline of the Saronic Gulf. A large [6 block] force landed and commenced siege against Troezen.

By summer, pro-Athenian sympathizers within Troezen had betrayed their fellow Corinthians and a small band opened the gates. The Athenians suffered very low casualties and took nearly the entire Corinthian army [two blocks plus a garrison] captive. Thebes, after several years of sitting on the sidelines, moved against the Attican city of Platea and set up a siege.

In a stroke of luck for the Spartans, the Macedonian horde crept out of the wilderness and lay siege to Amphipolis [Note: Sparta recruited this barbarian block].

Summer waned onward, with the sieges at Platea and Amphipolis dragging into fall and Euboea at Chalcis revolted again.

Athens was preparing an assault against the walls of Rhodes again, but again, Rhodes capitulated at the last minute and spared the city from needless destruction.

In the fall, taking a cue from Chalcis, Potidea (in Chalcidice) threw off the Athenian yoke bringing the conflict full circle after four years. Potidea had been the site of the first siege of the war, and it appeared history was about to be repeated.

Take a look at this picture. The Athenians are caught between two revolts, Potidea to the east and Byzantium to the west . . . which way to go?



Platea (pro-Athenian, near Athens) begins to feel the affects of the Thebean siege [-1 cv loss from attrition].

Striking alarm to the Spartan leadership, Messina revolts, and the city is captured by pro-Athenian rebel sympathizers.

During the winter, Thebes remains outside the gates of Platea, attempting to starve out the light-infantry Athenian garrison [1 infantry block, 1 garrison block]. Despite appeals to Demeter for help, the Plateans hold true and survive the winter [no cvs lost during winter attrition despite two rolls on the winter attrition table on each unit due to Demeter].

Word finally reaches Athens that Messina lays in the hands of sympathetic elements. Pericles immediately dispatches a fleet and a phalanx to hold the city over the winter and solidify Athenian power there.

Here's an image of the map at the end of 428. Notice the blue blocks creeping into Spartan and Corinthian space:



427 - Read My Lips; the Athenian Tax Revolts of 427

At the beginning of the year, while suffering through a particularly cold winter for southern Greece, Pericles began drawing up plans for cutting up the southern nations of Greece. These nations--Lacedaemon, Arcadia, and Corinth--composed the most powerful members of the Spartan League. The war was finally starting to peal on an even footing. Ambracia lay in ruins, Troezen had fallen, and Messina lay firmly in Athenian hands. [Note: All of this equals 8 prestige for tribute to Athens]. While there had been some set backs--most notably the revolts in Euboea, Potidea, and Byzantium--it could have been much worse. [Note: These also added up to 8 prestige as tribute to Sparta].

At the beginning of the year, Athens had 6 prestige, and it looked as if the war was firmly in hand.

King Archidamos spent the winter, not plotting, but praying. It appeared that Sparta was beset upon all sides. At the winter festival, he ordered the sacrifice and slaughter of over 1,000 head of cattle and a great fire was built imploring Zeus to aid him in the following year against the conniving and deceptive Athenians. In his speech to the nobles, later known as the Olympian Speech, Archidamos appealed to more base sentiments: "Athens, being unable to defeat our army in the field, instead relies on foul treachery--at Troezen--and traitors--at Messina. But Athens will know that Sparta will not rely on honey-tongued speeches to win this war, but will instead rely on iron."

Pericles, hearing of the speech early the following year is recorded as saying, "The Spartans are fighting a war of swords with words."

At any rate, the invasion of Arcadia and the capture of Messina were the last straws for the Spartan leadership, irrespective of the gods desires. King Archidamos was not exiled, but he was removed from power within the Spartan League and a ruling council was created to appoint a new decision-maker for the alliance. [Note: The Spartan player was finally able to play an ostracized card again].

In the spring, buoyed by the Delian League's successes under Pericles' "war of attrition" strategy, Pericles petitions the Council of Athens to raise taxes to bring a quick end to the war. Pericles pointed to the many successes over the past two years, including Troezen, Ambracia, and Messina. The Council concurred and issued a tax increase to take effect immediately. [Note: Actually, this was a card played by the Spartan player, but it is the Athens Raises Taxes event].

The Athenian army reaches Byzantium and lays siege. The rest of the Corcyran army leaves Leucas in the hands of a garrison and sails home to resupply. Pericles uses the first dribbles of increased taxes to reprovision several phalaxes and fleets in Athens.

By summer, word of the new taxes had spread far and wide. Rhodes rose again (for the third time) in revolt against Athens. Samos joined her. Corcyra landed her army at Elis (in Arcadia), commencing the first phase of Pericles' attempt to conquer the Spartan League's principle leaders. Byzantium capitulated to the Athenian army, but having no ships, the army now faced the task of a nearly year-long march back to Thrace.

In August, Torone joined Potidea in revolt and Eretria (on the Isle of Euboea), soon followed suit as well. Records of this period reveal that Pericles did not anticipate such strong resistance to Athenian tax measures. Some revolts, sure, but by late summer, there were murmurings from the Council of Athens that the tax increase had been done in poor judgment.

At Elis in Arcadia, another Athenian plot to have pro-Athenian sympathizers open the gates was uncovered. Unlike Troezen, these conspirators were not successful. Following a pitched battle in which the Corcyrans were thrown back, the conspiracy was exposed and involved several key members of the Arcadian leadership, all of whom were executed with their families and thrown from the walls.

Following the revolutionary trend, the city-states of Abydos and Cyzicus (both in northern Propontis near Persia) also rose in revolt against the Athenian high-handedness of raising taxes.

The now year-long Thebean (pro-Spartan) siege continued in Platea near Athens with little effect.

Here is a wide-angle shot of the revolts--eight! Notice the islands and colonies dotted with tax revolts. [Note that Joe, the Spartan player, had a hand with Athens Raises Taxes and the rest of his cards were revolt cards]:



Athens sailed reinforcements from Messina to Elis to aid the Corcyran efforts there and Pericles finally took the field along with a large Athenian force and marched to relieve the siege of Platea. A pitched battle was fought--the largest set piece battle of the conflict--in which Athens fielded cavalry, infantry, and three hoplite phalanxes against two Thebean infantry units and a hoplite. After a battle that lasted most of the day in which Thebes briefly had an opportunity to rout the Athenians, Pericles carried the day and Boeotians (Thebes) routed from the field, retreating toward Thebes.

The siege of Platea was lifted just before the arrival of winter.

Athens quartered many units, but left a skeleton force at Elis to maintain the siege.

That winter, the Delian League representatives nearly unanimously voted to end the taxes that Pericles had asked for. Pericles publicly refused to support the termination of the tax measures, but most of those close to him stated that he privately agreed with the measure. In any case, the taxes were ended.

The siege at Elis over the winter caused severe suffering [-1 cv loss], but the city survived the winter.

Here is a picture of the map at the end of 427. You can see Elis under siege off to the left:



426 - Pericles' Own Worst Enemy

The winter vote of the Delian League in 427-426 came to be known as the Winter Revolt, because of a perceived usurpation of Pericles authority by the Delian League representatives. However, many historians agree that Pericles offered very little, mostly face-saving, resistance to the repeal of the taxes. [Note: The Athenian player canceled the effects of the card Athens Raises Taxes].

The disastrous effect of the tax, however, was undeniable from a empiric stand point. At the beginning of 426, fully eight of the wealthiest, most populous Delian League member-states were in open revolt against Athenian hegemony. With most of its army committed to the landward side along the Arcadian and Corinthian coasts, Pericles was faced with either continuing his campaign to take apart the Spartan League's main members piecemeal or scrapping the plans and diverting all his efforts to bringing the Delian League members back in line.

Following the Winter Revolt, the Council of Athens spent most of January, February, and March debating the merits of precisely these two strategies. Pericles favored a continuation of the landward war against Arcadia while diverting some fleets and phalanxes to put down the revolts gradually. Many others on the Council argued in favor of an immediate withdraw from the southern peninsula and a rapid attempt to bring the League members back in line.

Suffice to say that by spring of 426, nothing had been decided. What was clear was that Sparta had recovered from all her losses of the previous two years. [Note: Despite Athens' 8 points of tribute, Sparta had gained seventeen points, which gave Sparta a 9 point swing, bringing the score to 1 prestige in Sparta's favor.

In Sparta, the debate had raged for nearly a year now, as to whom should lead the Spartan League. Finally, the council decided that General Brasidas, who had led the defense of Elis the year prior and uncovered the plot to open the gates, was chosen as the next leader of the Spartan League. [Note: In actual history, he came to power for other military actions, but I have to fit this into the context of this game]. While King Archidamos was allowed to keep his nominal power as the king of Lacedaemon, the Spartan League's military decisions would be made by Brasidas.

The Athenian army in Byzantium finally began moving back toward Thrace, heading toward Amphipolis, but at a long, long march.

Athens made a showing of trying to bring its member cities back in line by landing an army at Chalcis (the Isle of Euboea). Nonetheless, Pericles wanted his cake and wanted to eat it, too. So, the siege also continued at Elis [no effect for attrition].

Tragedy struck the Spartan League in the summer, as mere months after being handed the reins to the Spartan League's defense, Brasidas was, in turn, poisoned by a person believed to be an Archidamos sympathizer, but quite possibly the matter had been orchestrated by Archidamos himself. In any case, Brasidas did not die, but was unable to make military decisions for the League. Due to the suspicion surrounding Archidamos, he was not considered as a replacement. This left the Spartan League, again, without decisive leadership. While the poisoning was never decisively linked to Archidamos, the assassin was executed after confessing the crime and naming Archidamos as the organizer. Archidamos dismissed these allegations as a Brasidas-faction plot made by a prisoner under torturous circumstances.

The siege at Elis continued throughout the summer, with little effect on the garrison. Chalcis capitulated and returned to the Delian League willingly.

The Spartan League remained paralyzed during this time, but some efforts were made to reprovision and reinforce units in Corinth and Sparta in preparation for some type of offensive.

As the year came to a somewhat lackluster end for the war, Naxos rose in revolt against Athens.

Pericles continued his plan to attack Arcadia and sent additional units to aid in the siege of Elis. The Athenian army continued its march across Thrace and stopped at Stagira for the winter. The Athenian expedition on Euboea came to an end as Eretria capitulated without a fight.

At Elis, the Athenians offered the city a chance to surrender prior to an assault, and the leader there, with Brasidas still ill and near death, and facing an army of five Athenian phalaxes, capitulated.

That winter, many Athenian fleets and units were brought back to Athens for refitting and reinforcement. A garrison was raised in Elis and the Athenian army scattered for the winter, some returning to Corcyra and others to Messina.

Sparta began to lay plans for additional phalanxes and a possible attack against Athens in the coming spring.

Here is a picture of the map at the end of 426:



425 - The Year of Peace

Pericles remained more committed than ever to defeating the Spartan League during the winter of 426-425. However, despite putting down a few revolts, more had sprung up. [Note: Athens now had 10 prestige points of areas to Sparta's level amount at 17]. Accounting for the various prestige gained during the year with Athenian victories, the Spartans now stood at about 5 prestige.

The Council of Athens finally began to notice a marked decrease in revenues from its subject city-states as the rebellious cities were now numerous enough to significantly impact Athen's ability to continue to field large armies. [Note: There is no such function or rule in the game. This, like much of this session report, takes artistic license to tell a story for why things happened in this game outside of abstract game results].

On the other side of the war, Sparta found itself being slowly penned in. King Archidamos (though out of power still King of Lacedaemon) refused to offer any terms of peace to Athens, and Pericles felt similarly with respect to Sparta.

The peace faction in Athens found a unique opportunity. Using a complicated series of diplomatic activities, both sides discovered that the war had irreparably damaged both sides. An uneasy peace was declared, in which hostages were exchanged, Sparta agreed not to interfere with Athens putting down revolts and Athens agreed to return Messina, Troezen, and Elis to the Spartans. Ambracia would remain a subject nation of Corcyra, and Athens agreed not to aid Corcyra if Ambracia revolted.

Thus it was that the first phase of the Peloponnesian War came to an uneasy conclusion. The peace would last for nearly a decade before exploding again.

Conclusion

This was a really fun game, even for me, as the referee. There were some rules questions, but we muddled through it. I think most of the game went very smoothly, and if we played many of the rules wrong, none of us caught it.

I think this game brought home the importance of navies--the Athenian army in Thrace burned through LOTS of actions just trying to march between areas. I was somewhat surprised that the Spartans didn't do more sieging and pillaging in and around Athens, but it seemed to work out all right for them in the end, in any case.

I must say that so far, I have enjoyed this game immensely. After a few more plays, we'll see if I can get a detailed review of this game completed.

Cheers!

Hope you enjoyed the ride.
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Christian Moura
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Nice report. I got the game on Saturday, and since then have played this same campaign 4 times, face-to-face. I also have enjoyed it immensely. While I saw one victory as Athens, the other three games were similar to yours - with plenty of revolts yielding a bunch of points to Sparta.

I do see that in your game Sparta played a revolt in the New Year - as I understand, revolts can only be played in Spring-Fall, so this should not have happened - I don't have the cards in front of me, but I believe this is true for all revolts.

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Chris Montgomery
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Epee wrote:
Nice report. I got the game on Saturday, and since then have played this same campaign 4 times, face-to-face. I also have enjoyed it immensely. While I saw one victory as Athens, the other three games were similar to yours - with plenty of revolts yielding a bunch of points to Sparta.


It is pretty clear that Sparta needs revolts to remain competitive. The wicker-snap of Athenian fleets landing virtually anywhere makes it difficult for Sparta to defend every area. However, they are usually able to muster a very powerful army to challenge Athens in Attica (which didn't really happen this game).

Quote:
I do see that in your game Sparta played a revolt in the New Year - as I understand, revolts can only be played in Spring-Fall, so this should not have happened - I don't have the cards in front of me, but I believe this is true for all revolts.


You are correct, here. One of many small errors.

Thanks for reading and liking the report! I like writing them.

Chris
 
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Ricky Gray
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Quote:
I don't have the cards in front of me, but I believe this is true for all revolts.


That is correct, Christian. No revolts in the New Year - only Spring through Fall.

Great session report!

Ricky
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Gotthard Heinrici (prev. Graf Strachwitz)
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Great report!

I am very interested in this title, but I see that the Northern part and Eastern partof the map are hardly used.

What do you feel about the strategic options in this game? Are there scenario's where there is focus on the side theatres?

Thanks,
 
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Jon Quinn
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Great report! It made me feel as if I were there...oh...wait... I was there.

Yes, Pericles of Athens was my main man. I wasn't going to let any plague take him out. I had him taking his vitamins... "Flintstone Vitamins". Not only did he not get sick, a year into the game he could also stop his car with his feet.

Seriously, it was a fun game. Joe was starting revolts and spreading them at an alarming rate. As Chris (who is a firefighter)was referreeing and advising, I told him that it felt a lot like trying to stay ahead of a forest fire where new outbreaks keep popping up unexpectedly at different places.

Many times, after reading the rules to a new game I am about ready to try, it is still fuzzy as to how it all fits together and what is the best thing I can with the parts and what will be the most effective, In this game, that uncertainty faded pretty quuickly as several viable options presented themselves. There was always more to do than I had actions available,

Thanks to Chris and my opponent Joe for a very enjoyable Saturday afternoon!
 
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Harae wrote:
Great report!

I am very interested in this title, but I see that the Northern part and Eastern partof the map are hardly used.


Based on this one play, and my solo plays, it seems like the northern and eastern parts of the map (near Persia) are generally relegated to barbarian incursions and revolts--I don't see much in the way of Sparta sending large forces to these areas, since Arcadia, Corinth, Lacedaemon and Boetica all need to be defended from Athens' lightening-quick navy.

However, the revolts are a HUGE part of the game, and as Sparta, in this scenario, you are generally using the revolts to get units out of Athens so that you can pillage Attica while the fleets are away. Athens has the problem of trying to decide how large of a force to send; if you send too many units, Athens will be undergarrisoned and the Spartans will attack. Send too few, and you won't overthrow the revolt you are trying to quash.

Quote:
What do you feel about the strategic options in this game? Are there scenario's where there is focus on the side theatres?


First off, there's four scenarios, and each of them have special rules that apply to them. The 413 Campaign and the 415 Campaign might have involvement of the Persians and/or fighting in and around the Propontis (near Byzantium). Obviously, the Sicily Scenario involves fighting in and around Sicily and Italy:

The 431 Campaign. This scenario runs from 431 to 422 (10 years) and historically represents the first ten (10) years of the war starting with the siege of Potidea and ending with the Peace of Niceas. This phase of the war is known as "The Archidamean War."

The Sicily Campaign. This scenario runs from 415-411 BC (5 years). This scenario represents the unraveling of the Peace of Niceas (which neither side seems to have really obeyed, anyway). It covers the Sicilian Campaign launched by Athens to conquer Syracuse. Historically, this is referred to as "The Syracuse Expedition."

The 413 Campaign. This scenario runs from 413-404 (10 years). This scenario represents the Spartan breach of the Peace of Niceas--seeing Athens weakened from the Syracuse Expedition, they attacked. This scenario might involve invasions and battles in Persia. Historically, this is referred to as "The Decelean War."

The 415 Campaign. This is also the "Grand" Campaign, and combines the Sicilian and Decelean portions of the Peloponnesian War. This scenario sets up an interesting mechanic--Athens has a negative Tribute problem, in which they are losing 1 prestige per year. If the Peace is broken, it will cost them another 3 prestige. They can choose to try to make up the prestige difference, if they want, by going to Sicily, but the player must determine if that is worth the risk. As the rules state: conquest of Syracuse virtually guarantees victory, but it is "far away and more powerful than it appears."

Hope that helps to answer your questions!

Chris
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Steve
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Great report
 
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Gotthard Heinrici (prev. Graf Strachwitz)
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Thanks Chris, you got me in!
 
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Epee wrote:
Nice report. I got the game on Saturday, and since then have played this same campaign 4 times, face-to-face. I also have enjoyed it immensely. While I saw one victory as Athens, the other three games were similar to yours - with plenty of revolts yielding a bunch of points to Sparta.


I think this 431 campaign is 70% of the times for Sparta, for one reason: Sparta can recover after a mistake, while a mistake of Athens involves an almost certain defeat. What do you think?
 
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proyecto_mgj wrote:
Epee wrote:
Nice report. I got the game on Saturday, and since then have played this same campaign 4 times, face-to-face. I also have enjoyed it immensely. While I saw one victory as Athens, the other three games were similar to yours - with plenty of revolts yielding a bunch of points to Sparta.


I think this 431 campaign is 70% of the times for Sparta, for one reason: Sparta can recover after a mistake, while a mistake of Athens involves an almost certain defeat. What do you think?


I think that the game opens up A LOT and becomes much more competitive after a few plays. Now that I've got some games under my belt, I think Athens has a great shot at taking down Sparta in the 431 scenario. There's some basic advice that Athens has to take to heart in order to win this one:

(1.) Potidea MUST be subjugated by the end of the first year. In a recent game, I sent two more fleets with two more land units to make sure that the city fell by years' end. Once Potidea is down, you should only have to contend with single garrisons, which can usually be subjugated with a two fleet, two unit "task force."

(2.) Once freed up, those four fleets (and four units, if they survive) will become your Aegean task forces (2 "task forces" of 2 fleets and 2 units each). Place them strategically so that they can launch and land nearly anywhere in the Aegean. Usually, just landing them will be enough for the Spartan player to capitulate instead of fighting. If he doesn't, you will soon have a HUGE lead in Tribute.

(3.) Once you've subjugated Potidea and got your task forces scattered about, start taking easy provinces from Sparta (1 value cities in places that Sparta can't readily reinforce). Be prepared for Sparta to do the same, especially to those two islands off the western shore of Lacedamon - they are land-locked cities, not ports, which make them perfect for Spartan invasions.

(4.) When you don't know what else to do, RECRUIT and BUILD. Athens needs a steady stream of units to keep all the Spartan revolts, rebellions, sieges and pillaging at bay.

(5.) Remember that a one or two tribute advantage is huge. It will yield a steadily increasing Tribute level and act as a buffer for late-Fall revolts that you can't stop.

(6.) ALWAYS save a three card for the Winter as Athens. A Winter Siege or Assault against a revolting city-state can convert it prior to the Tribute phase at the beginning of the new year. If you don't end up needing it, then see No. 4, above.

(7.) NEVER play Athens Raises Taxes unless you are well-ahead in Tribute (8+), have idle fleets ready to suppress revolts, and you are pushing for an early win. Sparta will bury you with revolts.

That should help a new Athenian player get rolling. And keep in mind, I've only played this scenario about five or six times, so perhaps there is a Spartan counter-strategy to this. But I am of the opinion that the 431 Campaign can be very competitive, but it does require a solid grasp of the nuances in the rules.

Chris
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A note about the game: we erroneously allowed an opponent to play Athens Raises Taxes. Only the Athenian Player is allowed to play this card.
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