Greek Wars scenarios
by, 11 May 10 at 07:07 (3680 Views)
Greek Wars covers the period c.500- c.360BC from the Ionian Revolt and consequent Persian Wars down to era of Theban hegemony prior to the rise of Makedonia as the dominant power. This is the era when hoplite warfare was predominant, with the various Greek city states often at war with each other rather than against their two most dangerous enemies Persia and Carthage.
Sardis 498 BC - After failing to capture Naxos with Persian support, Aristagoras realizing that he would probably be deprived of his position as tyrant of Miletos, instigated the Ionian Revolt from Persian rule. With support from the Athenian democracy and the mercantile Greek city state of Eretria, Aristagoras raised an army and marched against the important Persian satrapal capital of Sardis. Caught by surprise, the outnumbered Persians retired to the citadel and the Greeks burnt - whether deliberately or accidentally - the unwalled lower town, and then retreated before Persian reinforcements could arrive. When the Persian king Darios heard of this outrage, he swore vengeance against the Athenians, so this act would lead to first Marathon and then Xerxes' great expedition of 480 BC.
Ephesos 498 BC - After burning Sardis, the Greeks retreated to Ephesos with the Persians in hot pursuit. Although the Greeks were probably outnumbered, the two armies must nevertheless have been fairly evenly balanced since they decided to deploy outside the city walls and risk a pitched battle rather than endure a siege. The most well-known Greek killed in the subsequent battle was the Eretrian commander Eualkides. After this battle - which was a decisive Persian victory - the Athenians refused to provide any further assistance to the Ionian Greeks in their revolt from Persian rule, but the Persian king Darios hadn't forgotten the part played by Athens and Eretria in the sack of Sardis and would send an expedition to punish these cities once the Ionian Revolt had been crushed.
The Battle of Marathon 490 BC - Athenian involvement in the failed Ionian Revolt caused King Darios to send an expeditionary force to punish Athens. After capturing Eretria, the Persians landed at Marathon, some 25 miles from Athens, but the prompt arrival of the Athenian army, assisted by a small Plataean contingent, prevented them from marching inland. However, battle was delayed for some days since the Athenians were waiting for Spartan reinforcements and the Persians were reluctant to assault the Athenian camp, fortified against a cavalry attack. Eventually, perhaps realizing that Greek reinforcements were on their way, or else wishing to break the stalemate, the Persians decided to re-embark their army and then sail round Cape Sounion to attack undefended Athens directly. However, the Athenians now seized the opportunity to attack the partially embarked Persian force, even though they needed to weaken their centre to enable their line to cover the same frontage as the Persians.
Thermopylae 480 BC A decade after the defeat at Marathon, the Persians launch a massive overland invasion of Greece. A combined Greek force of some 5,000 to 7,000 men (the figures provided by Herodotus and Diodorus Siculus are not the same for the various Greek states, and there is also uncertainty as to the number of helots and Lokrians present) prepares to defend the narrow Thermopylae pass in conjunction with the Greek navy at Artemision. The Persians have vastly superior numbers, but these are useless in such a confined space ...
Anopaea Path 480 BC - The Greeks had successfully held the narrow pass at Thermopylae for two days, but towards the end of the second day, the traitor Ephialtes of Trachis offered to guide the Persians around Thermopylae via a mountain pass. Only a thousand Phocians had been assigned to guard the Anopaea path and when the 20,000 strong Persian force under Hydarnes suddenly appeared, instead of defending the path, the Phocians fell back onto a nearby hilltop, allowing the Persians to continue along the path unopposed. However, in this scenario, the Phocians can attempt to hold the pass.
Himera 480 BC - With the Greek city states of Greece preoccupied with repelling Xerxes' invasion, the Carthaginians launched a simultaneous assault against the Sicilian Greeks. The balance of power in Sicily at this time was complex - while Carthage dominated the eastern part of the island, Dorian Greeks controlled the west and south, while Ionian Greeks held the north. The interior was still in the hands of the indigenous Sikels and Sikans under Greek influence, and Elymians in the east under Carthaginian sway. Herodotus and Diodorus give different accounts of the battle of Himera. It appears that after a Greek raid on the Carthaginian sea camp in which Hamilcar was killed, the Greeks assaulted the land camp.
The Battle of Plataea, August 479 BC - After the naval defeat at Salamis, Persian supply problems force Xerxes to retreat with the main Persian army back to Asia. However, a large Persian force under Mardonius - assisted by the Thebans and other medizing Greeks - remains in central Greece and will have to be decisively defeated by the various Greek city states if they want to restore peace and security. The Peloponnesian plan to construct a defensive wall across the Korinthian isthmus is clearly futile if Athens, with her powerful navy, is forced to make peace with the enemy. So Sparta and her allies will have to march north and join the Athenians in an attempt to drive the Persians out of Greece for good. Herodotus provides detailed, and feasible, figures for the various Greek contingents, but his estimate of the Persian strength is clearly exaggerated. However, since he states which troops were facing each Greek force, it's possible to get a good idea of the real Persian numbers.
Battle of Mycale 479 BC - With the Persian fleet defeated at Salamis, the main Persian army was forced to retreat to Asia due to supply problems. Despite the continued presence of a large Persian force under Mardonius on Greek soil, the Greek allied fleets set sail for Samos to encourage the Ionian Greeks to revolt again. However, the Persians were reluctant to risk another naval encounter and beached their fleet near Mt. Mycale, building a wooden palisade to protect the ships. So, to destroy the Persian navy, the Greeks would need to fight a land battle against a 60,000 strong Persian army under Tigranes. The Athenians, Corinthians and other Greeks advanced across open ground directly against the Persian position, while the Spartans on the left flank marched across difficult terrain to outflank the enemy. Meanwhile, the Greek contingents in the Persian force - Milesians and Samians - were watching carefully for the opportunity to switch sides.
Battle of Tanagra 457 BC - Despite the possibility of another Persian invasion, relations between the expanding Athenian Empire and the Spartan-led Peloponnesian League had been steadily deteriorating and would lead to the Peloponnesian War, or rather two wars separated by a period of uneasy truce. While diplomatic relations were already poor and Sparta's key ally Korinth at war with Athens over a border dispute involving Megara, the immediate cause of the war was a conflict between two minor Greek city states, Phokis and Doris. Since Doris was the traditional homeland of Doric Greeks, a Peloponnesian army was sent north to force Phokis to make peace. However, the Athenians saw this as an opportunity to isolate this force in Boeotia and prevent them from returning to the Peloponnese. Outnumbered 11,500 to 14,000, the Spartans and their allies will have to defeat the Athenians in order to make their way home.
Koronea 447 BC - After a victory over the Boeotians at Oenophyta in 457 BC, Athens endeavoured to consolidate her control over the various Boeotian city states, but by 447 BC a number of towns including Orchomenos and Chaeronea were reasserting their independence, so the Athenians decided to send a punitive expedition against the Boeotians. The Athenians, led by Tolmides, captured Chaeronea, enslaving the inhabitants and establishing a garrison, but on their return march were ambushed by the Boeotians at Koronea. This defeat would end Athenian hegemony over Boeotia. Since the precise numbers involved is uncertain - Thucydides just mentioned 1,000 Athenian hoplites - I've given each side 2,500pts worth of troops.
Potidea 432 BC - Fearing that Potidea, a Korinthian colony but tributary ally of Athens, might break her allegiance and persuade other Athenian allies in the region to revolt, the city was ordered to raze her seaward wall, hand over hostages and expel her Korinthian-appointed magistrates. The Potideans, after unsuccessfully sending envoys to Athens to have these orders revoked, requested assistance from Korinth and was sent a force of 1600 hoplites and 400 psiloi under Aristeus. Meanwhile, to counter Aristeus' expedition, the Athenians sent a further 2000 hoplites under Kallias to reinforce Archestratos' initial force of 1000 hoplites. Thucydides makes no mention of how many psiloi or peltasts - if any - were present on the Athenian side, although he does state that neither side fielded any cavalry, since the Makedonian allied horse had been sent off before the battle to prevent Potidean reinforcements from arriving from nearby Olynthos.
Battle of Tanagra 426 BC - Thucydides provides few details of this battle, so the army strengths and deployment are conjectural. After failing to compel Melos to join the Athenian confederation, Nikias with 2,000 hoplites linked up with the main Athenian army under Hipponikos and Eurymedon at Tanagra, ravaging the surrounding land and then defeating the Tanagran army, despite the Tanagrans receiving assistance from Thebes.
Sphakteria 425 BC - The Spartan naval defeat at Pylos left 420 Spartan hoplites with their attendant helots isolated on the island of Sphakteria. After a negotiated truce failed to achieve anything, the Athenians under Demosthenes planned to starve the Spartans into submission, but swimmers were able to bring food and supplies across to the island, so it became clear that the Spartans would have to be forced to surrender by force of arms. The Athenian demagogue Kleon bragged that he'd either kill or capture the Spartans within twenty days, but when he arrived to take up command, he wisely appointed Demosthenes joint leader. After a dawn landing which caught the enemy unprepared, the Athenian force advanced towards the main Spartan force, but instead of just relying on superior numbers to overwhelm the Spartans, the Athenians make good use of their skirmishers to wear down the enemy.
The Battle of Delion (or Delium) 424 BC - An Athenian invasion of Boeotia went badly wrong due to the failure of the two Athenian generals Hippokrates and Demosthenes to properly coordinate their forces. Landing at Siphae, Demosthenes discovered that the enemy had learnt of the Athenian attack and so, with no sign of Hippokrates' troops, he was forced to retreat. But when Hippokrates arrived in Boeotia, instead of abandoning the expedition he constructed a fort around the sanctuary of Apollo at Delion. With the fort almost complete, the Boeotian army under Pagondas marched to attack, deploying in battle array out of sight of the Athenians on the other side of a hill. The two armies were of approximately equal hoplite strength, although the Boeotian light infantry was far more numerous, as many as 10,000 according to Thucydides. However, they don't seem to play much of a role in his account of the battle, and to make the scenario more balanced, I've only included 1,000.
Amphipolis 422 BC - The Spartan general Brasidas had captured the important Athenian colony of Amphipolis in the winter of 424/3 BC, facilitated by the tardy arrival of an Athenian relief force under Thucydides, who was consequently exiled from Athens and then wrote his history of the war. After a brief armistice, the demagogue Kleon - who had won a victory over the Spartans at Sphakteria - was sent by Athens to recover the city. Although the forces were approximately equal in strength, Brasidas was reluctant to risk an open battle as he felt that most his troops were inferior in quality. However, when Kleon decided that the enemy weren't going to fight and, unprepared for a direct assault on the city walls, he ordered his troops to march off, Brasidas seized the opportunity of launching a sortie against the retreating enemy, catching them off guard and inflicting heavy losses. Spartan losses were very light - only 7 men compared to about 600 Athenians - but both generals were killed.
Mantinea 418 BC - One of the largest and most important battles of the Peloponnesian War. An alliance of Argives, Athenians and several other minor Greek states marched against Tegea, a key town which, if falling into enemy hands, would bottle up the Spartans in Laconia (the south eastern part of the Peloponnese), and thus effectively destroy the Peloponnesian coalition. Rather than waiting in Tegea for Korinthian and Boeotian reinforcements, King Agis felt obliged to take the fight to the enemy and attacked nearby Mantinea, a city allied to Argos. The Tegean contingent on the Spartan side (which uses the Theban counter mix in this scenario) is given the place of honour on the right flank, since fighting for its homeland. Facing them, the allied army deployed with the Mantineans on the right, the Argives in the centre, and the Athenians on the left.
Anapos River 415 BC The first main battle of Athens ill-fated Sicilian Expedition. Having lured the Syracusan army north to Katana, the Athenians take the opportunity to land their army south of Syracuse, but then, instead of attempting to capture the city by assault immediately, the Athenians decided to establish a fortified camp at Daskon and give the Syracusan army time to march back and fight a pitched battle against the invaders at the Anapos River. The Syracusans have a strong cavalry advantage, but their hoplites are inexperienced. (NB: The Athenian allies - Argives, Mantineans, etc - use the Theban counter mix) After the disastrous Sicilian Expedition and several crushing naval defeats, Athens was forced to sue for peace and Sparta enjoyed a brief hegemony. Nevertheless, her two key allies in the Peloponnesian War Korinth and Thebes would soon join forces with her enemies ... meanwhile, Carthage launched a fresh onslaught on Sicily and the Persian empire was thrown into the brief turmoil of civil war.
Himera 409 BC - After the decisive defeat of 480 BC, the Carthaginians had been reluctant to get involved in Sicily, ignoring a plea for help from the Elymian city of Segesta in 415 BC which resulted in the Athenians sending an ill-fated expeditionary force instead. But in 410 BC the Carthaginian senate decided to assist Segesta against the hostile Sicilian Greek city of Selinus. After crushing Selinus in 409 BC, the Carthaginian general Hannibal Mago receive some 20,000 Elymian and Sikel reinforcements and, despite having fulfilled the original purpose of the expedition, decided to march against Himera and avenge the 480 BC defeat. After failing to take the city by assault, the Carthaginians laid siege, permitting Greek reinforcements under Diokles of Syracuse to march to Himera's relief. Diokles decided to launch a surprise attack on the Carthaginian camp, but after initial success the Greeks were defeated and Himera evacuated. The remaining defenders only held out for a single day.
The Battle of Gela 405 BC. - A 45,000 strong Carthaginian army under Himilko is besieging the Greek town of Gela, but Dionysios of Syracuse raises an army and marches to the assistance of the Geloans. To defeat the Carthaginians, Dionysios devises a three pronged assault on their camp. First 10,000 Italiots will make an amphibious landing on the Carthaginian right flank, while another 11,000 Syracusan and Sikeliot troops will move north of the city and round to attack the Carthaginian left and Dionysios himself with the rest of the army, approximately 10,000 strong, including 1,000 Sicilian cavalry, will sortie out of Gela and advance against the Carthaginian centre. These three attacks required good timing and careful coordination to be successful. Historically, the two flanking attacks were successful against the unprepared Carthaginians, but when Dionysios' own force took too long to march through the streets of Gela, the enemy were able to rally and drive off the Greeks.
Kunaxa 401 BC - Determined to seize the Persian throne from his brother Artaxerxes II, Cyrus assembles an army and marches eastwards. His main hope of success lies in a force of around 13,000 Greek mercenaries who are expected to make mincemeat of their more numerous oriental opponents. While Xenophon provides a detailed account of the various Greek leaders and their contingents, the size of the oriental forces on both sides is largely conjectural, since the huge figures provided by both Xenophon and Diodorus are clearly wildly exaggerated. However, the fact that the frontal of the Greek troops almost corresponded to around half that of Artaxerxes' army may indicate that the Persian army was perhaps only some 40,000 strong. (NB: Cyrus' orientals use the Carthaginian counter mix.)
Battle of Nemea 394 BC - The formation of the anti-Spartan alliance of Athens, Thebes, Korinth and Argos with Persian financial support, is barely mentioned by Xenophon, but is described by Diodorus (XIV, 82). When the Korinthian War started in 395 BC, the Spartan king Agesilaos was campaigning in Ionia against the Persians, so Aristodemos led the Spartan army against the coalition forces assembled at Nemea.
Koronea 394 BC - With king Agesilaos still campaigning against the Persians in Ionia, the Spartans had failed to take advantage of their victory at Nemea earlier in the year and take the fight north of Korinth and into central Greece. However, Agesilaos had been recalled and, leading an army that included the remnants of the famous 10,000 that had fought at Kunaxa, he conducted an overland march back to the Peloponnese through a hostile Boeotia. At Koronea he came face to face with a larger coalition Greek force of Boeotians, Athenians, Argives, Korinthians, Euboeans, and Lokrians. In the ensuing battle, the Spartans on the right flank defeated their Argive opponents, while on the left the Thebans and other Boeotians defeated Sparta's allied troops. Then, in perhaps the bloodiest hoplite encounter ever, Agesilaos decided to crush the Thebans in a direct head-on frontal attack.
Lechaeon 390 BC This small scale action demonstrated how unsupported hoplites were vulnerable to lighter troops. Observing a small force (a single mora some 600 strong) of unsupported Spartan hoplites escort a convey from Lechaeon to Sikyon, the Athenian general Iphikrates decides to harass them on the march back to Lechaeon with his peltasts, leaving the Athenian hoplites under Kallias in reserve. However, a Spartan cavalry unit is nearby and should arrive at some point to assist the Spartan hoplites. (The strength of the Athenian peltasts is unknown, so I've made the two sides of equal VP value.)
Leuktra 371 BC - Attempting to reassert Sparta authority in central Greece, King Kleombrotos invades Boeotia with an 11,000 strong army (of which 2,000 were Spartans and the rest comprised of various Peloponnesian allies) and establishes a camp at Leuktra, near Thebes. The Thebans and other Boeotians under Epaminondas, despite being outnumbered, decided to risk a battle. To compensate for their numerical inferiority, the Thebans decided to attack the Spartan right flank - where the Spartans themselves were located - in a 50 men deep formation headed by the Sacred Band, an elite force of 300 men. Meanwhile the rest of the Theban units were deployed in an echelon formation, held back so that they didn't make contact with the enemy line. The Spartans were crushed by sheer weight of numbers and their uncommitted allies were reluctant to prolong the battle.
Mantinea 362 BC - After the decisive Theban victory at Leuktra, Epaminondas invaded the Peloponnese several times, weakening traditional Spartan influence over central and western Peloponnese by establishing cities at Messene and Megalopolis. Taking advantage of a dispute between pro-Spartan Mantinea and Tegea, Epaminondas first attempted to outmanoeuvre the Spartan army under Agesilaos and take an undefended Sparta then, when this move was frustrated, marched against Mantinea where he encountered the Spartans and their allies, who now included the Athenians. As at Leuktra, the Thebans attacked the enemy right flank in strength while holding back on the other flank and once again secured victory. However, the death of Epaminondas marked the end of the brief Theban hegemony and facilitated the rise of Makedonia as the dominant power.