This past weekend WR traveled south to Long Beach CA and joined in a 28mm Clash of Empires (COE) ancients game. The Battle of Mantineia 362 BC scenario was enlarged and based upon the same battle mentioned in “The Rise and Fall of Persia” (pg. 124) COE supplement.
First some quick background material. The Battle of Mantineia was fought on July 4, 362 BC between the Thebans (links in blue), led by Epaminondas and supported by the Arcadians and the Boeotian league against the Spartans, led by King Agesilaus II and supported by the Eleans, Athenians, and Mantineans. The battle was to decide the hegemony over Greece, but the death of Epaminondas and the defeat of the Spartans paved the way for Macedonian conquest by Phillip II of Macedon. Wikipedia link: Battle of Mantineia for more background material on the actual battle in 362 BC.
Our scenario for the Battle of Mantineia followed the outline of the COE’s supplement “The Rise and Fall of Persia (pg. 124). We enlarged both army sizes as we tend to enjoy the “larger battle” look on the tabletop with team play unlike the general view of single player vs. single player ancient gaming.
Team Tim and Doug played the side of the Arcadian League and David with WR played the Spartan Alliance. The Arcadian League has Epaminondas, Iolaidas and Daiphantus leading the Thebans, Teagans, Boeotians, and Arcadians. For the Spartan Alliance, King Agesilaus II lead the Spartans, Mantineans, Eleans, and Athenians.
WR has written up a turn by turn situation report plus some short video clips to aid in the action reporting. WR does wish to forewarn greek ears that pronouncing tongue twisting ancient Greek words is not his forray in life and working the digital camera (video mode) and vocal cords is an art for the stout-hearted in wargame reporting.
The open scene in David’s garage – gaming room with 16 foot by 6 foot table. Both armies have arrayed themselves on the classical greek battlefield. Flat valley with two hilly positions on each side. There should be a small woods behind the Spartan lines but we left the woods off the table. With the two hills on each side being very rough terrain (goats only), the local mountain goats will have a grand view of the battle and will soon realize which army will have them over for dinner. Using the COE rules, we rolled the commander ratings. All the commanders were given a heroic rating as a basic trait. From the additional trait rolls, the Arcadian League gained their advantage of shifting (redeploying) two units post army setup. So Arcadian League redeployed one cavalry and half of the Theban Sacred band to their right flank to face the Athenians once the armies were deployed.
Speaking about army deployment, unit placement started first with a Spartan Alliance unit. Thereafter a 2x6D roll off with higher side roll placing their next unit. For a tied roll, the side which didn’t place the last round places their unit. Continue roll off process till all units of one side (by classification type) are placed. The side with units remaining then place all remaining units of that classification then continue to next troop classification. Note for this COE scenario there were positional limits on the hoplite units (left, central or right flank). Arcadian League side has first move and start the battle. Each turn has two half turns, first the Arcadian League side, then the Spartan Alliance.
Spartan Alliance set up: Left flank had the two Athenian hoplite formations with two skirmisher javelinmen units in front. The center position (l to r) had the two Mantinean hoplite units, then the two Elean hoplite units. Right flank (l to r) was two Periolkoi hoplite units, then the four Spartan hoplite units, the two cavalry units on the far right flank and some additional javelinmen in front.
Arcadian League set up (l to r): Left flank was a Greek cavalry unit, four Theban deep hoplite units, and the left flank Theban Sacred band with two skirmisher javelinmen units out front. Their center position (l to r) had the two Arcadian hoplites, then two Boeotian hoplites units. Right flank (l to r) was two Teagean hoplite units, right flank Theban Sacred band (transferred in) and the other cavalry unit (also transferred in) with two javelinmen formations out front.
Video clip: Opening positions I
Turn 1: Classical greek warfare. Both sides advance with horn sounding, men’s sandaled feet rising dust on flat ground. Hill goats watching and talking among themselves bba.. ba ba ….. as the Athenian hoplites hold back a bit.
Turn 2: More men plodding across the ground. Spartan Alliance is holding their left flank (Athenians) back to protect the flank from the advancing and flanking Arcadian League cavalry. On the right flank, Spartans are aggressive and rapidly closing the distance with Spartan hoplites and flank cavalry.
Turn 3: After the Arcadian League moved forward, the Spartan Alliance played the back half of the turn with a wicked javelin toss. First blood for the Spartan Alliance as the javelinmen of Arcadian League flee their front position. Otherwise…. the hoplites continue the march with dusty feet.
Turn 4: With the armies positioned almost in charge range, the Arcadian left flank cavalry sound horns and with their two left javelinmen units charge home. Javelins are tossed, some miniatures bite the dust. Heavy armor Greek cavalrymen face off against…..you guessed it… more heavy armor Greek cavalrymen on their small overloaded ponies.
The cavalry combat was fought to a stand still. Each side lost a javelinmen fight and overall the Arcadian League had both their javelinmen units rout from combat or resulting morale break failure. The winning Spartan javelinmen chased their opposites up to the Theban hoplite spear points… but no further.
On the Spartan second half of turn 4, the cavalry combat again was drawn with a successful Theban cavalry morale check. Spartan infantry continues to advance with one Spartan hoplite block, led by their king out front, ready to charge home on the open flank of the cavalry melee.
Turn 5: Greek on Greek cavalry fight is drawn again. Those poor ponies are giving out with heavy armored greek cavalrymen on their backs. Spartan hoplites will finish this fight if a flank presents itself. The back stop Spartan hoplite unit, being drilled and trained, left face and march to rejoin their main line. Note: looks like WR error here in march rate movement. Spartans were march blocked by enemy cavalry within 20cm so their distance should have been basic movement only. Sorry Doug, my greek bad.
Summary video for turns one to five: Mantineia video II
Turn 6 “the Big turn”: Finally, the first Greek hoplite vs. hoplite combat as the Arcadian League Teagean hoplites charge home on the Mantinean hoplites. This will be a hard test for the Mantineans as the Teagean hoplites have HtH skill 4 vs. 3. After a classic Tim whiff rolling, the tabletop veterans of WR’s miniature collection shows the Tegeans how it is done. David rolls and drops three Tegan miniatures. Tegeans pass the resulting bad morale check so the shield and long spear brawl continues.
Turn 6 continues with the second half as Athenians joining in the battle by charging home on the Theban right flank Sacred band. The entire Spartan Alliance line joins in and surges forward into match up long spear and shield combats.
The rest of the Spartan Alliance hoplite line impacts Arcadian League hoplites.
Results of turn 6, the Spartan right flank has the Perioikoi win and lose against Theban and Arcadian hoplites but nobody breaks morale and runs. The Spartan near distant hoplite unit, fighting the left flank Theban Sacred band with Epaminondas’ leadership, have their charge held firmly in place. WR thinking the Spartans haven’t practiced the hitting brick wall tactic often.
….on the central and Spartan left flank fighting hoplite lines results is mixed. Mantineans doubling with Elean hoplites for a draw result (foreground) against the right hand Boeotians, the continuing Mantinean vs. Teagan combat becomes another 5cm push after Teagans pass another adverse morale check. The Athenian hoplites severely punish the distant Theban Sacred band with a bloody rampart of Thebans but their relentless rating morale test holds them for another 5cm push.
Turn 7: To keep the PG rating for this blog…. WR has censored some of the bloody turn 7 photos. The blood lusting readers can check out the video link below for their personal “hack them down” fix.
Spear and shield combat continues with a new Arcadian League central charge by the free Arcadian hoplites into the positioned Elean hoplites. The heavy roar of thousands of armored hoplites battering their shields and long spears rings in the valley. Who will break first?
The Spartan hoplites fighting the left Theban Sacred band cracks…then breaks. Spartans run for their lives as the nearby adjacent Perioikoi initially hold….then rout after seeing the famous Spartans fleeing besides them….becoming Theban hack munch soon afterwards. The next Spartan Perioikoi unit pays no attention to the disaster on their right…. as they break and pursue-hack down half of the hapless Arcadian hoplites. The newly charging Arcadian hoplites are held firmly by the Elean hoplites. Next along the struggling line is the Boeotian hoplites doubled up by the Mantinean and Elean hoplites. The Boeotians keep their position in battle with a good morale check but still are pushed back 5cm. Moving along the battling hoplites, the two Teagan hoplites are fighting drawn combats with the other Mantinean and fresh Athenian hoplite formations. At the end of the line, the Athenian hoplites are cutting down Theban Sacred band hoplites…but their relentless rating holds them firmly among the bloody body pile.
Moving to the bottom half of the turn 7 action. After some unengaged unit manverrer by the Spartan right flank recently, a Spartan hoplite unit charges home on the Theban hoplites. A short fight, the Theban unit breaks and flees, out distancing the pursuing Spartans (so much for all that exercise Spartans). On the contested central battles, David and WR have wins and losses. The Eleans broke and out ran their Arcadian pursuers. The adjacent sister Elean hoplites took off with their fellow Eleans. Mantineans took no notice and pursuit-hack-munched the Boeotian hoplites. Teagans lost their fight with the Mantineans and seeing the Boeotians run took off but the Mantineans easily caught them for another pursuit-hack-munch. Sister unit Teagans, who charged late into the fight against the Athenians hoplites, promptly routed seeing their Teagans friends being hacked apart. As for the bloody Athenian vs. Theban Sacred band… more bodies litter the blood soaked ground. Arcadian League feeling the Spartan pressure….but their right flank cavalry is positioning for the flanking charge.
Final score after turn seven: Spartan, Theban, both Elean and Teagan hoplite units in rout. Perioikoi, Arcadian, Teagan and Boeotian hoplites destroyed by pursuits-hack-munch result. The battlefield look is completely different from the start of turn six.
Summary video for turns six and seven: Mantineia video III
Turn 8: On the Spartan right flank their Greek cavalry slowly worked to flank the Theban open flank. Greek cavalry seems to move so slow….. might be quicker to dismount and walk at times. After the Thebans retraced their position during the first turn half, the faster Spartan hoplites finally caught up and, lead by their King, crushed by pursuit-hack, a Theban hoplite unit frontally as another Spartan hoplite positioned on the Theban flank watched. Theban general Iolaidas was last seen fighting in the Spartan ranks. The central battlefield has scattered Greeks for both sides seeking to reform or turn about to rejoin the battle. On the Spartan left flank the Theban flanking cavalry attempted to charge the Athenian rear….failed to reach hence failed charge distance only. Athenians took heart and continued pushing their spears into the formations of the Sacred band and adjacent Teagan hoplites.
Turn 9: Finally the Theban greek cavalry on their right was able to charge home on the Athenian hoplite rear. Fighting the Theban Sacred band in front, the Athenian hoplites finally were crushed and their general went missing in action. The neighboring Athenian hoplites defeated their Teagan adversaries as a Mantinean hoplite unit prepared to charge and assist, but seeing their fellow left side Athenians killed and surrendering, promptly routed away. Central battlefield is quiet of action as both sides try to reform their positions. Several Theban left flank units are charge chased off the tabletop edge as the Spartans hoplites turn to engage the remaining Theban left flank Sacred band unit with Epaminondas himself.
Turn 10: After a brief one half turn engagement with a Spartan hoplite unit, the Theban left flank Sacred band performed a tactical withdraw DL test and successfully backed away 20cm. This gained them some time to hopefully allow their victory on the right flank to broaden. After destroying the Athenian hoplites, the Theban cavalry and the much reduced right flank Sacred band untangled themselves, and joined by their rallied Teagan hoplites allies, turned to face the rallied Athenians and Mantineans.
On the Spartan right the Spartans are seeking to march against the Arcadian League central position after defeating the last left flank Theban hoplite unit. The running “fat” Spartans (routed on turn 7) suffer a worse fate… failed again to rally and placed themselves in front of a vengeful Arcadian hoplite unit. WR called them “fat” since every failed rally roll then rout distance determination roll was under 5… they couldn’t even run away. Spartan armor will adorn Arcadian temple buildings.
Summary video for turns eight to ten: Mantineia video IV
Turn 11: The left flank Theban Sacred band backs up again before two Spartan hoplite units charge home. This fight is going to be a long one as the relentless Theban Sacred band slowly give ground. Spartan Perioikoi approach the Theban Sacred band’s left rear.
Meanwhile, the Spartan left flank is defeated. The remaining Athenian hoplite classical hoplite is flanked and crushed by the Sacred band and Greek cavalry. The Mantinean hoplites flee after seeing the Athenian defeat behind them, but not before seeing off their adversaries, the Teagans, once again.
Turns 12-14: With the removal of the Spartan left flank, the central battles between the Eleans and Arcadian / Boeotians ends quickly with one destroyed Elean hoplite unit and the other routing. This finishes up the central positions leaving the Spartan hoplites vs. left Sacred band brawl. After a belief Arcadian attempt to assist, the Theban Sacred band is totally crushed and Epaminondas killed among the Thebans. With the fall of Epaminondas, the rest of the Theban army faced army morale tests. We called the battle at that point.
Summary video for turns eleven to game end: Mantineia video V
So the Battle of Mantineia 326 BC ends with the Spartan Alliance recording the win instead of the historical result of Arcadian League as victors. Hard fight. Honors to the Theban side of Tim and Doug as they valiantly contested the entire battlefield. WR wishes to thank David for the use of his gaming garage, the lunch, and a handshake across the table for the Arcadian League team.
Battle report as told by goat lore to WR, in 327 BC, subject to translation error and that some of the witnesses were eaten.
Clash of Empires blog site: Clash of Empires
WAB blog site: WAB Forum
Players with any interest learning ancient warfare and Clash of Empires rules are welcome to contact WR directly (see about the WR tab) for the next scheduled monthly game. Between David and WR, the collections are massive, numbering in the thousands of painted 25/28mm miniatures in over dozen plus armies. So, don your ancient armor, grab that long spear and form in alongside the Long Beach group.