Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Monday, July 2, 2018

Sellasia, 222 BC, with Lost Battles

I got the figures out again last night for another bash at a new (for me) Lost Battles scenario, this time Sellasia.

Sellasia was the Spartans' last gasp as a military power, and their defeat here by Antigonus Doson condemned them to relative obscurity thenceforth (though no one of course could erase the fame of their earlier deeds).

The terrain is an interesting mix of streams and hills, with a fortified camp there as well for good measure. The attack limit of five means that the equivalent of five units may attack into or out of each zone (though that is halved when fighting along streams), so massing units in depth will be required.

The terrain. The stream limits the number of 'unit equivalents' able to fight in the central
stream zones at any one time to three, thus forcing the action into the hills.

The armies are both formidable, led by spearheads of veteran troops and supported by good quality infantry, cavalry and skirmishers. Antigonus has four units of veteran phalangites to draw upon, seven units of average phalangites, and one of levy quality. Supplementing the phalanx are three units of average heavy infantry, two units of average heavy cavalry, and three units of average light infantry.

Cleomenes III of Sparta has six units of veteran phalangites (armed with the sarissa, not the hoplite spear), one of average phalangites, and seven units of other heavy infantry. Two units of average light infantry and one of average light cavalry round out his force.

Both Antigonus and Cleomenes are classed as average commanders, so the two sides square off with fighting values of 72 and 63, giving Antigonus a nine point advantage, and 21 units against 17. In real terms, the Macedonians bring 30,000 troops against 20,000.

Deployment.

Both sides put what cavalry they have into the central stream zones and stack the hills on each side. The Spartans keep their veterans together in front of the fortified camp, and Antigonus matches them there with his own veterans and the bulk of the phalanx.

Armies deployed with skirmishers forward and the heavy infantry to catch up.

Spartan centre.

Macedonian centre.

Macedonian right.


Turns two to four.

The first turns see both sides getting the heavy infantry forward and claiming the central zone with cavalry and auxiliaries. The Macedonians get higher activation rolls than the Spartans, but even so Cleomenes decides to move two units of veteran phalanx to support the central zone and attempt to break through there.

Spartan veterans march to join the centre.

The lines in contact.

The high attack limit sees a lot of hits scored, and both sides are forced to feed their reserves into line earlier than they would have wished.

Turns five and six.

The Spartan reinforcements do the business and the Macedonian centre is forced to pull back or risk being destroyed. Fortunately for them, they have the spare command points to do so. But as a consequence of the Spartan relocation, Cleomenes' right is forced to make do with fewer troops, and they are hard-pressed here against Antigonus and his phalanx.

The Macedonian centre pushed back. Attrition rates are high on both sides.

Casualties mount on the Spartan left.

The Macedonians continue to get better returns on their command rolls and use some of the excess activation points to move light infantry forward on their far left to menace the Spartan camp. This little sideshow forces the Spartans to use valuable command points to pull light infantry back in defense of the camp.

Showing the light infantry shenanagens.

Both sides are now almost at breaking point. The Spartans have no reserves remaining; the Macedonians have some, but not many.

Turn seven.

The Spartans damage the Macedonian right, shattering two units and forcing another to flee, but in turn are undone on their own right. With his troops beginning to crack under the pressure of the Macedonian attack, Cleomenes is forced to attempt to rally his men and, disastrously, is killed in the act. The light infantry and cavalry flee, but the rest of the heavy infantry hold firm for now.

The Macedonian attacks continue, more hits mount, and suddenly the entire Spartan line gives way. Antigonus has won the day.

Spartan remnants just prior to the coup de grace.

Cleomenes defeated (image from Wikipedia)


Antigonus triumphant! (again, from Wikipedia)

Aftermath.

When it comes time to tally the points, it becomes apparent just how well the Spartans have fought. The Macedonians win, but by 95 points to the Spartans' 90, which is almost as close as you can get.

The telling factor in the win was probably the better Macedonian command returns: they were averaging 11 command points per turn to the Spartans' 8. As a consequence they were more nimble around the field and were able to buy more attack bonuses.

It was an excellent game and a compelling tactical situation. I look forward to trying this one again with an opponent.




23 comments:

  1. Lovely looking game Aaron and an intriguing refight!

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  2. Great batrep on a battle thst I was not aware of. A close run event.

    Cheers, Ross

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    1. Thanks Ross - it does seem to get overlooked!

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  3. Lovely armies, lots of work, but what a spectacle of spear / pike. This battle in particular highlights the versatility of the terrain system. This does seem to be a battle that can / should grace the table often.

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    1. Thanks Norm. Yes, am quietly chuffed with how the terrain works! Actually does what it's supposed to do :) Normally I find a way to mess things like this up, but seems to be OK in this case!

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  4. Very pretty game and with the usual LB historical result - narrow win for Macedonia. Cleomenes might as well have been killed in the real battle as he went into exile immediately afterwards and played no part in Spartan politics after that.

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    1. Thanks Justin - both he and Antigonus Doson are interesting characters I didn't know much about. Always enjoyable when you can learn a little as well as play a game!

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  5. Had known about the battle, but now want to know more, thanks. Also, I really like your table - have you done any posts on its construction?

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    1. Thanks, it's an interesting battle. Regarding the table, if you check the 'terrain' label I think there are some posts that will show up.

      Cheers!

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  6. Aaron, your gaming table is brilliant. Such a joy to watch the battle unfold over such pleasing terrain. Oh, interesting fight too!

    Well done!

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    1. Thanks Jonathan, much appreciated!

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  7. Sounds great, what a beautiful battle with interesting explanations!

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  8. Another excellent battle report. It is interesting that even though the armies are larger for the pike battles compared to those for the hoplites, that due to the way Lost Battles scales the troops that you actually need more hoplites than phalangites to fight the battles.

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    1. Yes, that's true, Bill. You can of course use fewer troops per unit, but then it doesn't look right...

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  9. Another execellent report and an entertaining and tense game of Lost Battles! Love your terrain setup it looks the part. Funnily I was thinking about this battle after it was mentioned in a chapter I was reading. It made me look the battle up in Lost Battles and has me thinking do I need to convert some 20mm Spartan pikes? Your post can only be a sign from the gods themselves!

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    1. Haha, thanks Tony! As you probably saw in the photos, I didn't bother doing any conversions. My excuse is that my hoplites have quite long spears already!

      Cheers,
      Aaron

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    2. Yes I thought you were using your recent Spartan hoplites which have the right look! It would be more sensible for me to have some Spartans that could be both hoplites and pikemen. I could really use the copiuos plastic pikemen but Newline have a sale at the minute... I will have to consult the omens!

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  10. Enjoyed the pictures and narrative a lot - thanks!

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  11. Great batrep. I haven't read LB and I'm intrigued about it. Does it work as a ruleset, would you recommend it above other rulesets for ancients?
    BTW, love the picture of your blog's front page
    Cheers,
    Javier

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