I truly love coming back from time to time to C&C Ancients, my most played game of all times. After covering all the official scenarios now I am picking my favorite mini-campaigns – connected thematically sets of battles – and try to play them in one go. Recently I brought to the table couple of Civil War battles (Caesar vs Pompey). This time we decided to completely change the scenario, belligerents as well as armies compositions. We went for Greco-Persian wars, namely:
- Marathon (490 BC) – a battle which ended the first Persian invasion on Greek homeland; Athenians managed to defeat Easterners before Spartans arrived; famous soldier run a “marathon” to deliver the story to worried citizens of Athens.
- Thermopylae – (480 BC) – one of the iconic battles of all times; who has not heard about Leonidas and his 300 Spartans? Richard Borg created here one of the most interesting scenarios in his carrier – a true struggle till the end, with epic 10 Victory Points objective.
- Plataea (479 BC) – a huge battle in which unified Greek Polish inflicted a crushing defeat on Persian forces. I always play it with three sets of blocks: one for Persians, one for Spartans and one for Athenians.
Without further delay, let me invite you to the session reports! Enjoy! PS. As always, you can click on each picture to see details.
Some of my articles regarding C&C system: Commands and Colors games – my 3 favorite [REVIEW] Commands Colors Ancients [STRATEGIES] How to attack in Commands Colors Ancients? [STRATEGIES] How to defend in Commands Colors Ancients?
Marathon (490 BC)
King Darius I of Persia sent an expedition against Athens in reprisal for the burning of Sardes in 498 BC during the failed Ionian Revolt. The Persian fleet under the joint command of Datis and Artaphernes landed near Marathon bay, which offered a perfect battleground for their troops. The Athenians marched out to face the enemy in the field, with 1000 allied soldiers from Plataea supplementing the Athenian force of 9000. The Persians outnumbered the Greeks, but to counter the disparity, Callimachus extended the Greek line to match the enemy, thinning the center while keeping both wings at full strength. The Persian army, with its best troops in the center, was taken by surprise when the Athenians attacked. Historians suggest that the some of the Persian cavalry was in the process of embarking back onto the ships when the attack started. In the battle the Persian center got the best of the weak Greek center and broke through, but this success was more than countered by the defeat of their two wings.
The victorious Athenians then swung inwards and the Persian force was routed back to their ships. Concerned that the defeated Persians might still sail around to threaten Athens, Pheidippides ran the 26 miles back to Athens with news of the victory, running first Marathon race. Greece was safe, for now.
Thermopylae – Middle Gate (480 BC)
King Xerxes desired to punish the Athenians for his father’s defeat at Marathon and their support for Ionian revolts. He planned a second invasion of Greece in 480 BC and amassed a huge army to extend the Persian Empire into Europe. Several Greek city-states gathered around Athens and Sparta, and decided to slow the Persian advance at the narrow pass of Thermopylae. The Oracle at Delphi had announced that Sparta would either be destroyed or lose a King. Leonidas, one of the two Kings, chose the latter, leading 300 Spartans and other Greeks to one of History’s most famous last stands.
Xerxes waited four days for the small Greek force to leave. Then, for two and a half days he unleashed his army, wave after wave, against the Greek Hoplites who stood firm. The Persians did not prevail until Ephialtes betrayed the Greeks by revealing a goat path that led behind their lines. Dismissing the rest of the army, Leonidas fought to the death with his Spartans. Their epitaph reads: “Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by, that here obedient to their laws we lie”. While a tactical victory, the heavy losses and the delay, inflicted by just a few hundred Greeks, was a significant blow to the Persian morale.
Plataea (479 BC)
After annihilating the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae, Xerxes captured and burned Athens. Macedon, Thessaly and Boeotia submitted to Xerxes. However, following the loss of the Persian fleet at Salamis (480), Xerxes withdrew to Asia and left Mardonius with half of the Persian land forces to continue the subjugation of Greece. Amid much bickering, an allied Greek army was formed under the Spartan Pausanias, and moved to oppose the Persians. The Greeks were always careful to stay in terrain that negated the Persian cavalry.
The Persian cavalry attacked anyway, but their commander Masistias was killed. Ceasing direct combat, the Persian cavalry began raiding effectively, poisoning the Greek’s water supply and destroying a large Greek baggage train. Short of water and food, Pausanias ordered a night withdrawal, but only the allies in the center did so. The Spartan right and Athenian left were both still standing fast at first light. Mardonius ordered an advance to exploit his perceived advantage, and attacked the Athenian units on the Greek left wing. It was a fierce onslaught that prevented the Athenians from moving to assist the Spartans who were being pressed hard on the right. Holding back until the omens were right, the Spartans were finally ordered to charge, routing all before them and killing Mardonius. The sight of Persians retreating unnerved Artabazus’ forces and they also fled the field. The victory at Plataea meant the Persian threat to Greece was effectively ended.
That concluded our 3-scenario mini campaign. We truly played with great pleasure; it was fun both from gaming experience but also reenacting history. As for the final score:
- Michal 19 – Marcin 13
- Greeks 22 – Persians 10
I did summary in two dimensions; first the player dimension in which I slightly prevailed – especially the second game set the things. The other dimension – Greeks vs Persians – shows the decisive victory of the former ones. CCA never fails to bring so much joy and excitement!
More session reports to come!
We have to get this played again 🙂
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Definitely a good idea!
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Amazing mini-campaign – highly interesting what the scenario design can do!
I notice a little divergence between the flavor text for the Thermopylae battle (stressing the Spartan numerical inferiority, thus following Herodotus’s lopsided numbers (and modern accounts disregarding both the Thespians and the lightly-armed auxiliary troops)) and its actual setup (where the numbers look much closer to each other, and to modern scholarship). I presume Richard Borg could not withstand the lure of the myth surrounding Thermopylae… but neither would he let the actual scenario be influenced by it 🙂
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Good point Clio regarding Thermopylae! I look at the as “first wave” of Persian invasion. Imagine “second wave” scenario, with the same Persian units and Greeks in numbers from initial game, significantly depleted but still high in spirits…
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