Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Plains of Syracuse 348bc

Stephen, my old adversary - and never 'Steve' - has started to make welcome reappearances at the Nightowls.  Thus one Sunday we were able to have a friendly little game of Hail Caesar.  For this game my Spartans, were to wear their colonial garb and pretend to be Syracusians, whilst Ste brought the multinational Carthaginians to propagate their efforts to take over the isle that would later be known as Sicily.

As it was only Ste's second game of these rules, and as I'd written the army lists, I kept things simple and we played a classic linear battle, which of the period is entirely justified.

My Greeks were formed of two Hoplite divisions of four heavy units and some Psoiloi each, and a light division of two hill tribe units and a warband of coastal tribes, along with more Psoiloi.  I formed with my Hoplites in supported palanxes, and the light troops on the right exploiting the more difficult terrain.

Stephen had a heavy centre of African, 'Lydian' and Mercenary Greek troops, with a handful of Psoiloi.  To their left was a division of Celtic warbands and their skirmishing youths; whilst to his right was a division of small cavalry units, led by two Carthaginian units supported by two Numidian.

Both sides advanced, with the skirmish screens covering the heavy troops of the centre, whilst my light division tried to circle the Celtic fringe.  On Ste's side the Greks and Lydians refused to advance, demanding back pay and privileges.  The Syracusian Hoplites prefered not to be baited by the onrush of Gallic tribesmen.

This meant that the Gauls slammed with full force in to the supported lines of the Greeks.  Thankfully to bounce off in some confusion, on Ste's right his cavalry attempted to outflank the Greeks whilst skirmish fights broke out along the lines

In close up it was a titanic struggle:

Both the Greeks and Celts retired from the fight; but some of the Gauls were a spent force whilst the Greeks rallied with the support of their Generals.  Sensing the approach of Carthaginian cavalry was an inevitability the other Greek division formed a wedge, whilst on the opposite flank the hill tribes flushed the Celtic skirmishers out of the trees.

This would slowly develop in to a threat for the Celtic warbands as they realised the hill tribes were more of a threat than their open order suggested.

The combination of Greek and Sicilian light troops began to wear down the Gallic line, which started to retire...

By this point the Carthaginian infantry had begun to engage the Greeks, and their mercenaries had finally accepted terms to advance on the Syracuse line.  With the advance of the cavalry, the Greeks felt obliged to thin their line on their left to meet all possible foes.

But on their right the light troops were making good progress.  The centre was now a confused melee with both sides gaining the upper hand on certain points.

For the Syracusians it seemed time to strike before the battle put tthem entirely on the back foot:

Part of the centre was destroyed by the remaining Gauls, but the Greeks crashed in to the Lydians and forced back the whole mercenary line with heavy losses.  Half of the Carthaginians were broken too, and seeing the time to strike was now on them, the Greeks even charged the cavalry in a desperate attempt to defeat the might of Carthage.

And somehow all this worked.

Although the remnants of the Celts were still a threat, and the Greek mercenaries were trying to earn their gold in the centre, the Carthaginian cavalry had proved a glass hammer against the stout bronze shields of the Greeks.  As sun set the battle seemed inconclusive, but with most of the Carthaginians withdrawing the field fell for now to Syracuse.

It's certainly good to have Stephen back playing games, his banter and insistence on using painted models are always appreciated.  Hopefully with his wide range of Ancients armies we can expand on the historical scenarios at the club.

And any day when we can get 500 figures on the table for a run of the mill game is all right by me!


  1. Great battle report and have to agree with Stephen, painted figures only for me.