Author Topic: Greeks vs Romans: Total Warfare  (Read 1423 times)


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Greeks vs Romans: Total Warfare
« on: September 23, 2013, 04:32:41 PM »
To test out the changes we discussed, Scott and I tried out the Greeks as their own faction.  After our usual "set up 3 options each get a veto" we ended up with Total Warfare with the Bloodlust special situation (so +1 engaged die for all units) on the map where the whole edge is the deployment zone.

Romans:  3 Triarii, 2 Principes, 2 Italian Spearmen, 2 Extraordinarii.

Greeks:  2 Theban Hoplites, 2 Corinthian Hoplites, 1 Bithnyian Peltasts, 1 Illyrian Warriors, 1 Boeotian Cavalry, 1 Rhodian Slingers, 2 Theban Sacred Band.

Greek City-States units for reference:
Theban Hoplites - Core - 254 pts
O:(7*)5*/5*  D:2/2  Rge:-  Cge: 12  Mv: 3.5"  6G/3Y/2R
Thebes fought for Persia during Xerxes's invasion of Greece before allying with Sparta and even its hated rival Athens.  It finally carved out a short-lived empire, before it was razed to the ground by Alexander.

Corinthean Hoplites - Core – 296 pts
O:(7*)5*/5*  D:2/3  Rge:-  Cge: 12  Mv: 3.5"  6G/2Y/2R
"Not everyone is able to go to Corinth."  -Horace.  Corinth's location made it among the wealthiest city-states, its citizens able to afford the traditional heavy armor long after war impoverished the other hoplites of Greece.

Bithnyian Peltasts – Standard - 80 pts
O:(3)5/4  D:1*/0  Rge:5”  Cge: 11  Mv: 5"  3G/1Y/2R
Skirmisher, Javelins, Impulsive (At the start of any turn Bithnyian Peltasts are within 7" of an enemy unit's center point, its orders change to Close).  No Lock Shields box.  D: +2/+0 vs ranged attacks.
A tribe of Thracians that settled in Asia Minor, Bithnyians were brutal and savage even by Thracians standards.

Boeotian Cavalry – Standard - 198 pts
O:(4)5/5  D:2*/2  Rge: 3.5”  Cge: 12  Mv: 6"  3G/2Y/1R
Cavalry, Javelins.  No Lock Shields box.  D: +1/+0 when charging.
The plains of Boeotian produced horsemen rivaled only by the famed Thessalians.

Illyrian Spearmen– Standard - 207 pts
O:(4*)5*/5*  D:2/1  Rge: 3.5"  Cge: 12  Mv: 3.5"  4G/2Y/3R
Javelins.  O:(+2)+0/+0 when engaged.  (-1) -0/-0 when charging.  O:(+0) +1/+0 vs. cavalry or large units. O:(+0) +0/+2 when holding vs. charging cavalry or large.  D:+1/+0 vs ranged attacks.
Illyrians fought for gold and glory, in that order.

Rhodian Slingers – Elite - 77 pts
O:(3)5*/6*  D:1*/0  Rge: 7”  Cge: 11  Mv: 5"  2G/2Y/2R
Skirmisher.  No Lock Shields box.  D: +2/+0 vs ranged attacks.  O:(-0)-2/-3 if engaged.
Rhodian Slingers distinguished themselves during the march of the Ten Thousand, when their lead sling bullets outdistanced those of the persan and were able to dent bronze breastplates.

Theban Sacred Band - Elite - 321 pts
O:(7*)5*/5*  D:3/2  Rge:-  Cge: 13  Mv: 3.5"  6G/3Y/2R
Phalanx.  If this unit marks a Green box for Deep Ranks, choose one Core unit with a marked Rank box.  That unit gains D:+1/+0 until it erases a Rank box. 
These 'Best and Bravest' among the Thebans were the first to defeat the Spartans in pitched battle.


Greeks (L->R):  Boeotian Cavalry, Sacred Band, Illyrian Spearmen, Bithynian Peltasts in front of Corinthian Hoplites, Rhodian Slingers in front of Theban Hoplites, Corinthian Hoplites, Theban Hoplites.

Rome: (L->R):  Front row:  Italian Spearmen, Principes, Extraordinarii, Extraordinarii, Principes, Italian Spearmen
Back row:  All Triarii.   8)

My entire plan was to anchor on the top of the hill and swing around from one flank.  That was the job of the Illyrians and the Boeotians:  to delay him from coming over the hill.  When I saw that Scott was spreading his troops out to cover the whole field, I realized that I could probably win on both flanks as long as the Corinthians held the high ground.  The skirmishers were both put to capture the hill quickly.  Nothing else that they did mattered.

Seeing that I'd need my Corinthians to hold, I used Deep Ranks.  The Sacred Band sent some of their men to the Corinthians, turning that into a D:3/3 unit (until it took damage).  I also damaged the outside Theban Hoplites to give the Thebans facing the Principes an extra box.

Taking the Hill

The Bithynians have gotten the hill top and will end up absorbing a charge from both Extraordinarii.  This would let the phalanx next turn get the high ground.  I also DC'd the Rhodian Slingers to get out of the way of the Thebans.  The Rhodians went uphill and reformed so that they'd be able to shoot at the Principes.

On the left, the Boeotian Cavalry went wide while the Illyrians shifted sideways to come out on their left side.  Pretty much there wasn't a matchup I didn't like, except on the hill.

Two's Company

On the hill, the Extraordinarii bounced the Bithynians back and the Corinthians stepped forward.  The two units charged the Corinthians and with the D:4/3 (+1/+0 for uphill and +1/+0 for the Sacred Band box), the Lock Shield box, me dropping command cards, and Scott's sub-par rolling, two units did only 1 pt of damage.  However, this meant that the Corinthians no longer got the +1 Def for having a marked Deep Ranks box.

The Corinthians responded with an absurdly good roll, doing 5 pts of damage! 

On the left, the Sacred Band and Principes charged.  I'd also DC'd the Boeotians to go right and throw some javelins.  The combined damage put the Romans in the Yellow and they blew their rout check.  They were put into the Red by free strikes, but passed their check.

On the right, the Principes charge the holding Thebans.  But between the Thebans and the Rhodian Slingers pouring fire in, the Principes were already in the Yellow.  On the far right, the Italian Spearmen did not look happy to see two phalanx units bearing down on them.

Flanks Begin to Waiver

On the left, the Sacred Band charges the rallied Principes, destroying them.  The Triarii step forward.

On the hill, the two units of Extraordinarii still can't do anything to the Corinthians.  (All Blue cards went to this fight).  Scott's luck was still fairly dismal.

On the right, the Principes were put into the red by the combined Theban attacks and Rhodian ranged shots, but they passed their check. 

On the far right, the Corinthians and Thebans charged the Italians.  With 9 dice & an impact per unit, those Italians were just obliterated.  Yes, that's 7 base dice, minus 1 for phalanxes charging, +2 for charging, +1 for the special situation (7-1 +2 +1 = 9 dice), hitting on 3s and wounding on 4s.  The Triarii stepped forward afterwards...

The Grind

No more fancy tactics here, just rolling dice.   ;D

On the far left, I let the Illyrians move in to charge range while the Boeotians began to slide around to flank. 

Left of the hill, the Sacred Band found the Triarii a tougher nut to crack.

On the hill, the Extraordinarii whittled down the Corinthians.  The Corinthians kept attacking the same unit of Extraordinarii, but after that lucky roll, they had a much harder time as they were hitting on 2s and wounding on 3s.

To the right of the hill, the Thebans killed the Principes after routing them.

On the far right, the two phalanx units together did as much damage as the one Sacred Band on the other side of the hill.  These Triarii, though, were just as stalwart with their rout check.

Right Flank Collapses

On the far left, the Italian Spearmen charge the Illyrians.  Both units go into the yellow, but the Illyrians fail their rout check and are destroyed by free attacks.  The Greeks have no Courage boosting card...

The Sacred Band gums at the Triarii, doing only a single points (which is what they should do, btw).

On the hill the Corinthians are put into the Yellow!  But they pass their check...

On the far right, the Triarii finally succumb to the 550 pts they're facing and rout, only to be cut down in free strikes.  The entire right flank is now nothing but Greeks.


On my turn, I let the Boeotians charge in, as I had a Parry and I was feeling optimistic that even with a good roll, his unit would be dead and mine wouldn't.  I then proceeded to roll well, killing the Italians outright, and he flubbed his roll. 

Next to them the Sacred Band put the Triarii in the red.  Worse, the Triarii were going to face a pinch next turn.

On the hill, the Corinthians finally had enough.  They failed their rout check and with only one box left, they were done.  However, in their last gasp, they killed one unit of Extraordinarii.

At this point, Scott threw in the towel.  I outnumbered him 5 units to 2.  Even though it was his turn next, I could prevent the Extraordinarii from coming down the hill by using my skirmishers.  This would give me time to set up pinches.  It would take awhile, but it would happen.  And since he'd already killed more than 300 pts, there was no chance for a 5-1 win here.  So in the interest of getting a second game in that night, we called it here.

Post-Game Thoughts:  I think what hurt Scott was trying to cover the whole board.  I probably would have put both Principes on the same flank and then had the central Triarii go on the "refused" part of the flank.  However, his plan was still solid:  win the middle and breakthrough (a very Roman thing to do).  But my 300 pts held up like 850 pts of his army, and so I crunched his flanks before he could bust through.

Greek City-States Thoughts:

--One interesting thing I noted is that while Greeks put a real hurt on units like Vet Principes and Libyan Foot, they have a hard time against Extraordinarii and Triarii.  All but 1 of the Greek phalanx units are Off Skill 5 (or worse), so a D:3/X unit can hold them up for a long time.  What I like about that is that the historical units that are traditionally overshadowed (Extraordinarii & Hannibal's Chosen) will actually show up more because those points you pay for Def Skill 3 are very, very worth it.

Some folks may be frustrated because "Romans beat the Greeks," but I feel this is okay for a couple of reasons.  First, the Romans never fought these Greeks.  By the time Rome invaded Greece, the spearman had been replaced by the pikeman, for better or for worse.  So, the parallels are harder to draw in this hypothetical matchup.  Second, while the Romans did beat the Greeks, they didn't exactly have an easy time of it.  It certainly wasn't a cakewalk.  And I feel that if the Romans faced the Greeks of this era, the Greeks would have given them a pretty tough time.

--On the changes to the Thebans & Sacred Band:  I really like them.  Especially the Thebans.  Having that third Yellow box really makes them worthwhile.  And against a D:2/2 or D:2/1 enemy, the Thebans are a very nice unit.

--The changed Command Cards worked just fine.  We'll go with them for the moment.  Momentum is a bit of weak card, but in the context of the faction I think its better.

--We really are bugged by Locked Shields.  This game had situations like this:  "Okay, +2 for charging, -1 for Yellow, +1 for bloodlust, -1 for lock shields..."  Next turn it was "-1 for yellow, +1 for triarii, -1 for lock shields, +1 for bloodlust." 

Admittedly, this is the most extreme situation where there's tons of modifiers, but this will happen.  And we don't like the dynamic that happens when a player rolls too many dice.  We think that it could potentially start some disputes or create frustrations with players.


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Re: Greeks vs Romans: Total Warfare
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2013, 10:43:22 PM »
Wasn't one of the great Roman victories because pike and hoplite blocks were fighting uphill?  Romans should win when they find more terrain to fight within.

Finally, and this is harder to represent in a one-off battle, but when you lose a battle with deep battle lines, you lose LOTS of troops!  Itis hard to replace many trained soldiers.  I mean, it was a "pyrrhic victory" that truly spelled the end of the phalanx and thureophoroi (sorta an Alexandrian era of the hoplite)...  I always thought that the technology of the pilum was essential in crushing those Greek shield walls and blunting the impact of the xystophoroi...

Again, I'll bow to your formal education on the matter...   ;)


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Re: Greeks vs Romans: Total Warfare
« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2013, 11:23:17 PM »
Wasn't one of the great Roman victories because pike and hoplite blocks were fighting uphill?

I'll bet you're thinking the Battle of Cynoscephalae.  If so, that was the Macedonian pikemen and Roman legions basically stumbling into each other. 

Here is a diagram of the battle.

What happened there is that the hill had two crests.  On the left, the Macedonian phalanx got uphill and pressed the Romans.  On the right, the Romans got uphill first, while the Macedonians were still marching.  A charge of Roman elephants scattered the Macedonians, and here's where the manipular formation really comes into play:  the Roman tribune took some troops, turned left and flanked the Macedonian phalanx on the left crest.

In BGFW, a unit that is moving uphill suffers a -1 MC.  Phalanxes that are "in MC penalizing terrain" suffer a bunch of penalties.  I need to clear up the language to reflect that when coming downhill (i.e. not suffering a penalty), that hoplites keep all of their bonuses.

Finally, and this is harder to represent in a one-off battle, but when you lose a battle with deep battle lines, you lose LOTS of troops!  Itis hard to replace many trained soldiers. I mean, it was a "pyrrhic victory" that truly spelled the end of the phalanx and thureophoroi (sorta an Alexandrian era of the hoplite)...

Yeah, and this is something that most miniatures games can't reflect very well.  Its not that the Macedonians (or any of the Hellenistic kingdoms) lose more men.  Most of those kingdoms could put in the field an army of comparable size as the Romans.  The issue is that the Hellenistic kingdoms have no reserves.  This is Rome's real advantage.

See, the average Roman citizen felt like he had a say in the operation of the Res Publica (i.e. the Republic, literally translating into "the public matter").  In theory the Senators were patrons, and so a pleb could go to them for help if need be.  There was the pleb assembly for changing bad laws, there were tribunes to keep a check on the Senators.  There was the rule of law (which, if not fair, was at least written down and everyone knew the rules beforehand), and when the law fell short there was the collegium (if you think The Godfather, you're spot on).

By contrast, the average Greek was a subject to a king.  He made the rules, he changed the rules, and he ignored the rules.  He was the fricken king.

A Roman citizen was much more invested in Rome and so when you handed him a sword, he was as likely as not to defend the interests of Rome.  The Hellenic kings, were deathly afraid of putting swords in the hands of their citizens, lest those citizens decide "hey that guy who conquered our city, takes 40% and gives nothing back?  Yeah, let's go stab him a couple dozen times."

As such, Hellenic armies were relatively small, made up of profession mercenaries.  And when they were killed, that was it.  There were very few reserves.  The Romans on the other hand, they always had reserves.

Tough to represent that in a game though...

I always thought that the technology of the pilum was essential in crushing those Greek shield walls and blunting the impact of the xystophoroi...

I'm a little bit out on a limb here, but I actually think that the Roman Legion was designed to fight Gauls.  It was after the sack of Rome by the Gauls that the Romans transitioned from a traditional spear & shield phalanx to the sword & shield phalanx.  The pila was meant to disable the shield of those barbarians, as by that period the Greeks were well on their way to transitioning to the phalanx (although there were, as you say, Thureophoroi).

For folks who don't know what Thureophoroi were:  think Italian Spearmen.  They were a medium spearmen unit with lighter armor than a traditional phalanx, but they didn't fight in the deep ranks of the phalanx.  They could fight in a lose formation (think Iphicratean Foot from the Alexander list) or in a regular infantry type formation (like the Italian Spearmen in the Rome faction).