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Thursday, 12 January 2012

Charonea 338BC Lost Battles

         Phillip II of Macedon (With his son Alexander) must consolidate the greek nation before he turns East and invades the Persian Empire. Athens and Thebes have raised a force against him.
The Macedonians army numbered 30,000 Infantry and 2,000 Cavalry (approx)
Opposing Greek forces may have been 35,000.
For this refight, I commanded the Macedonians. My eighteen year old, Glynn, stepped up as Greek leader.

 A note RE figure unit strength.
  "Lost Battles" is a flexible rule system with regards to miniatures use. Most units on both sides in this battle are "Average" quality. Hoptlite and Phalanx units should have had the same number of figures/bases per unit. While setting the game up, I realised that I was only able to provide 2 bases per hoptlite unit. Rather than cut the phalanx units (4 bases) to half size, I simply played with the figures available.
This made little or no difference in play but, for the photographs, hoptlite forces should be twice their size (or phalanx units half the size. Take your pick.
This photo shows the initial positions. From top left, the "River Cephillus" flows past "Mt Akontion" and into a marsh. From the center left the river becomes a stream, the "Haemon", and flows across the battlefield to the right. The waters are "muddied" by recent rains and the activity of the armies ;-)
 Macedon is deployed to the left, greeks on the right.
At the top Alexander and his cavalry watch the greek cavalry across the marsh.
On the left, the phalanx has crossed the stream to face the the hoptlites.
Slightly advanced, King Phillip, his hypaspists and "heavy " infantry (represented here by Thracian figures),  are opposed by light infantry and just behind them, more hoptlites (just out of sight of the camera).
In the foreground, Mt Charonea soon to be the scene of vicious combat between light infantry of both armies.

                                                    "Macedon ready to advance"

             The first "turn" of the game is taken up with deployment so we start with Turn 2.
 The greeks move first and Glynn orders the cavalry to turn and watch the marsh for Alexanders advance.  The greek center and center/right hoptlites advance. Light infantry race up to the high ground at Chaerona. Only the troops opposite Phillip refuse to move.
  The Macedonian response is fairly predictable. Alexander turns his cavalry towards the marsh. The phalanx advances to meet the hoptlites. Phillip detaches light infantry and a unit of heavies to support the attack on Chaeronea. At this stage, I planned to attack with Alexander on the left. Push the greek skirmishers off Chaeronea and use the phalanx to hold the hoptlite line while Phillip and his veterans attack it from the side.
 Glynn had other ideas!
                                         " Greek light infantry prepare to defend Chaeronea"

 Glynn choose to start his turn with an attack by his right/center hoptlites on the phalanx.
With an attack limit of 4 attacks, I was sure the phalangites could weather the storm.
WRONG.... With a flurry of incredible dice rolls (including a double six) the hoptlites smashed six hits into the stunned macedonians. This "Spent" four units and "Shattered" the fifth. Costing the greeks three "All Out" attacks and passing a morale roll was the only good news for King Phillip.
 Oh well, maybe my center phalanx could perform better.

                                                         "This was not in the plan!"

   Next up, Glynn attacked the center zone.... With a flurry of incredible dice rolls (including a double six) the hoptlites smashed six hits into the stunned macedonians. (Wait a minute.... have I not typed this already?   Yes but he did it twice, jammy beggar!)

                                                                 " Aww,  C'mon"

This time it only cost the greeks two "all-out attacks" to shatter one unit and reduce the other four to "spent" status.  Again the morale dice was kind to the phalanx.
   Thankfully the greek cavalry attacks on Alexander were ineffective and having used all his commands for the turn, Glynn passed the dice over.

 Needing to close the gap and administer some damage, I started the turn with Alexander and the cavalry.  With two units of veterans I was sure to overwhelm the greek cavalry and turn their right flank. Three terrible attack rolls and total failure ensued. Zero damage.
                                                 A very "Timid" charge by Alexander.

Struggling to conceal the sudden onset of a facial tic, I turned attention to the badly beaten phalanx.
I thought a retreat might just buy enough time for some positive action elsewhere, also, should the greeks advance into the vacant zones, King Phillip would be on the end of their line.

On the Macedon right came the first glimmer of hope! Two units of light troops destroyed the greek defenders and captured Chaeronea.
                                              "Macedon captures the high ground"

The remainder of macedons commands were used to move single units in an effort to reinforce the phalanx.
 Glynn reset the command and turn tracker then grabbed the dice with a wicked grin.
Then I realised what he was so happy about. Retreating the phalanx had left his rightmost hoptlites in a position to attack Alexander from the side.
The greek cavalry attacked first and scored two hits. The hoptlites turned and smashed into the macedonians. In the slaughter that followed, Glynn rolled another double six! Alexander "Rallied" hit after hit (four rallies in total) and managed to hold on with all units spent.
                                                               " It's a Trap!"

In the center, the Greek units advanced after the phalanx.
A solitary unit of greek skirmishers took position below Chaeronea.

But time for Macedons response. I started with another mistake. It costs two action points for cavalry to move into a tile containing a marsh but normal cost to move out. Forgetting this I thought Alexander had no choice but to fight when retreat may have been wiser. At the very least his attacks this turn scored two hits reducing both greek cavalry units to spent status.
The position in the macedon rear tile looked promising. Four phalanx, two veteran and an average heavy unit backed up with all Phillips exemptions! (Not forgetting Attack limit 4)  I scored a total of one hit. All the hoptlites were "spent" but no morale test needed. (My facial tic was now in spasm). Even the light infantry on Chaeronea had no success this turn. Thinking that "at least it can't get worse" I passed the turn over to Glynn.

With the Macedonian army in tatters, I expected to fail the first morale test. I was not prepared for the manner in which it happened.
The first and final attack came from the five spent hoptlite units facing Phillip and the phalanx.
Two hoptlite attacks "spent" the average and one veteran heavy infantry. Phillip and his veterans had to step up as "Lead" unit. Inevitably, Glynn rolled double six!!!
   I knew what was coming even as I rolled the rally attempt. King Phillip II leapt forward to inspire his men and promptly caught a greek spear in the nads! Every Macedonian on the field turned and ran.

                                                               "Lets get outa here"

As I totalled the victory points, I glanced across the table at Glynn. In his eyes there was no remorse, no pity, only a satisfied sneer.
The points came to Greeks 174 against Macedons 52. A massive 122 point Major victory.

So this game was a disaster for me, but I made mistakes and cannot blame it all on luck. Glynn has "picked up" the game much faster than I have and played to a better plan.
"Lost Battles" has re-ignited my interest in the period and I plan to be playing it for some time. Roll on my "Empire" campaign.

As for Glynn, if he keeps rolling dice like that, I'll have to start checking ebay for a set of "Seven Daggers of Megiddo"!


  1. Great report! Loved the interaction between you and your opponent. Every hero needs a villain ;-)

    Is that 10mm you're using? Terrain and figures look top notch.

  2. Thanks Aaron. The figures are all 20mm plastics. Mostly Zvelda and HaT. The battlefield is from www.terrainmat.com and the hills are GW plastics from "Battle of Five Armies". Cloth and lichen make up most of the rest.
    Remember, "If its not fun, You're not doing it right!"

  3. Way too cool and funny to boot. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Very entertaining combo of pics, storyline and rules. Can't wait for the next report!