That was quite a coincidence but a nice one. As and ardent fan of Commands and Colors Ancients, I am playing in many online tournaments. One of them – Open Tournament 2020 – entered its quarterfinals phase, where the main battle to be fought is Sellasia (222 BC).

At the same time, during one of my mid-week sessions with Jakub we were itching to get some of the Great Battles of History scenarios on the table. As it was Wednesday, there was of course now way we can do anything large. And here the Alexander the Great – Phalanx module – came to our assistance!

This small extension to the main game covers two battles from the times of later Successors. One of them is third battle of Mantinea (207 BC) and the second – guess what? – Sellasia (221 BC)! I love to play the same battle in two systems, it is such a fun!

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)
(Cataphract) Casilinum (554 AD)

Historical Background

So what was the reason for the battle of Sellasi (221 BC). The history behind this is interesting so I will bring the sources below:

The Battle of Sellasia took place during the summer of 222 BC between Macedon and the Achaean League, led by Antigonus III Doson, and Sparta under the command of King Cleomenes III. The battle was fought at Sellasia on the northern frontier of Laconia and ended in a Macedonian-Achaean victory.

In 229 BC, Cleomenes initiated hostilities against the Achaean League, the dominant power of the Peloponnese. In a series of campaigns, Cleomenes was successful in defeating the Achaeans, making Sparta the main regional power. This prompted the chief figure of the Achaean League, Aratus of Sicyon, to approach the King of Macedon, Antigonus III Doson, for military assistance. The Macedonians acquiesced on the terms that the Achaean surrender the formidable fortress of Acrocorinth to them. The Macedonians invaded the Peloponnese in 224 BC at the head of a Greek alliance and by 222 BC managed to hem Cleomenes in Laconia.

In the summer of 222 BC, the Macedonian and Achaean army advanced to Sellasia on the northern border of Laconia, where they encountered the awaiting army of Cleomenes. After a brief impasse, Antigonus launched an offensive against the Spartan positions on the fortified mountains of Olympus and Evas. While the Macedonian right flank routed the Spartan left wing on Evas, the battle on the other flank was heavily contested. After initially pushing back the Macedonian phalanx, the Spartans were driven from the field by the superior numbers of the Macedonians. Cleomenes was compelled to leave for exile in Alexandria and Antigonus became the first non-Spartan general to occupy Sparta.

Session Report

As usually I will provide photo-rich report, depicting main actions of the battle and the final outcome. Which, in the end, was not so far from the historical result. Let us see!

Game set-up – I am leading Macedonians (left wing, red color) while Kuba is responsible for Spartans (black and blue, to the right)
Macedonian left / Spartan right, where the most elite units will clash…

So, in essence Jakub and his Spartans had a terrain and fortifications advantage while I held superiority in the numbers. That would result in a very bloody battle which will be fought till the last men at some locations. In the initial phase of game we have seen a lot of action (see picture below):

  1. A powerful Macedonian attack on the left wing resulted in mutual destruction. Attacking on uneven terrain causes a lot of cohesion hits…
  2. Surprisingly, the weakest point of Spartan defense was in the middle where Macedonian units started to penetrate successfully.
  3. My heavy reserves are being re-positioned to the center to take advantage of the successes there
  4. On the left the defense perimeter of Sparta is at the strongest. Thus I try the range attacks with Peltast but without success.
  5. At the end of this phase, three Spartan units were routed and on the journey off-map:
First part of the game

The second part of the scenario brought a full-fledged engagement, where casualties were vast:

  1. My left wing finally attacked bringing its best units – Macedonian Phalanx! Next three Spartans were immediately routed!
  2. Kuba prepared a masterful counter-attack – he regrouped his units to the center where the danger of Macedonian break-through was the largest.
  3. My attack on right wing – through the ditch – is repelled and I am suffering heavy casualities.
  4. Spartan losses are growing…
  5. But mine are amassing too, see below!
Second part of the game – even more brutal than before!

And now let us have a look at the actual losses of both sides:

The final losses and Rout Points

In the end my causalities amounted to 41 Rout Points while Kuba’s to 32. This is expected when you attack entrenched positions, often uphill and on uneven ground – but in the end the Spartan line was cracking. As it was mid-week session, we did not have time for final round but agreed this is pretty interesting scenario we might visit again!