When you hear about Mantinea battle you may recognize a great Thebes vs Sparta clash during which Epaminondas king was killed but Sparta might finally crushed (in 362 BC) or greatest Hoplite battle of the Peloponnesian War fought during the Peace of Nicias between Athens coalition and Sparta (in 418 BC). However, Phalanx module to the Great Battles of History Alexander features the third Mantinea battle – the one fought in 207 BC. Evidently, that was pretty important place in ancient world as we have three distinctive clashes fought in more or less same location.

My Great Battles of History Campaigns:
(SPQR) Bagradas Plains (255 BC)
(Alexander) Erigon Valley (358 BC)
(Alexander) Crocus Fields (353 BC)
(Alexander) Sellasia (221 BC)
(Alexander) Mantinea (207 BC)
(Cataphract) Callinicum (531 AD)
(Cataphract) Tricameron (533 AD)

Historical background

So what was the reason for third battle of Maninea? The history behind this is really fascinating so I will bring the sources below (from http://www.commandsandcolors.net):

The First Macedonian War broke out after Philip V of Macedon allied with the victorious Hannibal. Some battles took place between Philip’s ally the Achaean League and Rome’s allies in Sparta. Philip was forced to help the Achaean army in the early years, but things changed when Philopoemen was appointed strategos of the Achaean League in 209 BC. He reformed cavalry and infantry, introduced the Macedonian tactics and equipment. His army was soon put to the test, when the Tyrant of Sparta Machanidas captured Tegea and advanced toward Mantinea. The Achaeans took up a position on the narrow plain outside the city, north of the 1st and 2nd Mantinea battle sites, behind a wide ditch.

Machanidas deployed bolt throwers on their side of the ditch with the intent of shooting up the Achaean phalanx, one of the first attempts to soften up the enemy infantry before an assault. In response the Achaean left flank cavalry and light troops moved forward to attack the Spartan right flank. The League forces on this side of the field were quickly repulsed and Machanidas led his troops in pursuit toward Mantinea. Philopoemen managed to wheel his phalanx leftwards along the ditch catching the pursuing Spartans in the flank. After a hard hand to hand fight the Spartan army gave way, and Machanidas, that had returned to the battlefield with his mercenary troops, was killed by Philipoemen himself.

With no allies in Greece and their main war aim achieved, preventing the Macedonians from joining Hannibal in Italy, the Romans made peace with Philip in 205 BC. But they never forgave the Macedonians for allying with their enemy when they were most vulnerable, and would defeat them a few years later at Cynosphelae and Pydna. 

The session report

Enough of introductions, let us see how that important battle – for Hannibal for sure – was fought by me and Kuba using the GBoH system.

Kuba was commanding the Spartans and I was in the lead of Achaean League (abbreviated to Athens) (click to enlarge)

As per the historical background, we have the ditch, the city itself (Mantinea), the bolt-throwers on Spartan side, cavalry on Achaean League side as well as slight better leaders there. Let us see what happened!

Main actions of our game (click to enlarge)

(1) In the beginning, we skirmished with cavalry and light units on my left wing. The result was my two and Kuba’s four routed units – which we can easily claim would be lost next turn.

(2) The center was not very interesting and pretty static – I was being bombarded by bolt throwers and trying to regain cohesion.

(3) The key to the game and its result was my right. I won the initial fight and then my two Heavy Cavalry units crossed the ditch, flanking the Spartan Phalanx at critical moment. The Phalanx routed!

Summary of losses and RP points (click to enlarge)

At this moment Kuba (Spartans) surrendered the game. In points I was still losing 5-7 but in a turn – taking into account the routed units and situation on the map – it would be 39-17 and Spartans would almost surely collapse.

Maybe not the most maneuverable game but still enjoyable and pretty quick for the system. We played with full rules and have a lot of fun. More reports will come!