|Athenians & allies on the left, Syracusans on the right|
|Athenian & allies rapid advance|
|Athenian, Argive & Mantinean Hoplites charge the Syracusans|
|Left flank closes|
|Syracusan Hoplites hold the line|
|Syracusans contemplate a charge|
Last Wednesday night Rick, Garry and I played a Hail Caesar scenario of the Battle of Anapus River 415 BC, from the disastrous Athenian Sicilian Expedition during the Peloponnesian War. Thucydides’ description of the battle is in Book Six 67-70:
Garry was Hemocrates, the Syracusan general, while Rick and I were the Athenians and allies –Rick was Nicias the Athenian general and I was Lamachus, the other Athenian commander. This was a fairly small battle – both sides had about 5000 hoplites each, while the Syracusans had about 1200 cavalry, the Athenians had no cavalry, but they did have the advantage in light infantry with 700 Rhodian slingers, 80 Cretan archers and 400 allied archers.
The battle took place on the coastal plain where the Anapus River (modern Anapo) enters the sea, just south of Syracuse. A big thunderstorm occurred during the battle and we devised some rules to reflect the effects of this, but during the game the turns whipped by untroubled by the forgotten weather, so we then decided that the storm hadn’t actually amounted to anything serious!
Under the phalanx rules in Hail Caesar defeat in hand-to-hand combat by up to two casualties is treated as a draw, which means melees between opposing phalanxes tend to be protracted affairs until units are shaken, since all shaken units that draw a combat must take a break test. The army lists we used were actually even on points and this small scale scenario, best played with two commanders a side, is a good introduction to the phalanx versus phalanx grind under Hail Caesar.
In our game the Athenians and allies had the advantage and advanced rapidly across the plain to catch the Syracusans on the defensive. The Syracusans failed several command rolls and Rick commented that it must be something to do with that side of the table, he had suffered the same experience there, in our game last week! The Argive and Mantinean hoplites on the Athenian and allies’ right flank charged into the Syracusan levy hoplites and a protracted struggle ensued. Eventually a Syracusan unit broke and the inevitable sweeping advance on to the flank of the adjacent unit meant that the storm clouds were definitely gathering for the Syracusan side.
Meanwhile the Athenians in the centre and allies on the left flank charged home against the opposing Syracusan hoplites. The Syracusans were again hampered by failed command rolls and the Cretan and allied archers were able to concentrate their fire on a Syracusan cavalry unit, forcing them to give ground off the table edge. The remaining Syracusan cavalry unit had their charge arc blocked by a hoplite unit so were unable to deliver the longed for, devastating charge on the allied skirmishers.
The push and shove of the phalanx continued but more gaps were appearing in the Syracusan line as units reached the critical shaken point and were forced to take break tests. In the centre Garry managed to break a couple of Athenian and allied units but Rick was then able to press home the advantage and break most of the remaining Syracusan hoplites on the left. Thanks to Garry and Rick for another fun game.
|A heart warming sight - a sweeping advance onto the Syracusan flank|
|Syracusan right flank|
|The push and shove of the phalanx|
|The game ends on the left with the Syracusans broken|