You probably already very well know my passion both for ancient-themed games as well as their specific implementation – Commands and Colors. While not playing them so often as in the past, I still enjoy them very much. And as they hit the table only from time to time recently, they hit it BIG – in EPIC format!

For one of the weekend evenings I managed to invite Piotr & Lukasz which allowed us to pretty decently play 2 such scenarios:

  1. Leuctra (371 BC) – where Spartan hegemony started to crumble only to be shattered nine years later at Mantinea 362 BC.
  2. Crimissos River (341 BC) – a battle fought on Sicily between invading Carthaginians and defending Syracuse. Truly interesting tactical set-up, where you need to decided as Carthage whether to fight in first line or to bring reinforcements!

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
Strategy Article – Skirmishing and Evasion
Strategy Article – Breaking The Line, Holding The Line

Leuctra (371 BC)

Historical background

Sparta’s victory in the Peloponnesian War (431-404) over Athens cemented the reputation of her hoplites as the premier infantry force in the world. However, Spartan arrogance following this victory led to the outbreak of hostilities with her former ally, Thebes. In 371 King Cleombrotus of Sparta marched against Thebes.

When he reached Leuctra he found the Theban army barred his way. The Spartans deployed in a long line with their allies on the left. Greek commanders traditionally placed their best troops on the right, and this wing usually led the attack. The brilliant Theban commander, Epaminodas, devised an innovative plan to mass his best men on the left in a 50-man deep phalanx. He intended to meet Spartan shock with super shock.

Both sides sent their cavalry out and the Spartans horse were quickly defeated. Seeing his cavalry fail, Cleombrotus ordered his infantry to advance. In the meantime, Epaminondas’ massed left advanced against the Spartan right, while the rest of his army was ordered to hold back, in an oblique order. The Spartans on the left were attempting to change formation to deal with the situation when the Sacred Band charged and hit them in mid-maneuver. Cleombrotus was killed and the massive weight of the Theban phalanx broke the Spartan line. Never before had Sparta experienced such a defeat and Leuctra shattered the myth of Spartan military invincibility.

Session report
Above the game set-up of our first battle, Leuctra. Piotr (Thebes) and Lukasz (Sparta) will have privilege to lead the Heavy Infantry wings on both sides for an inevitable clash!
A quickly played Double Time should allow Piotr to gain advantage on his side. Unfortunately, the rolls are dramatic….
Of course, Lukasz responds and kills 2 Heavy Infantry units, gaining 4 VPs (special scenario rule, each HI is worth 2 VP). But Piotr just starts his play with “immortal” unit – above it decimates his opponent in one roll… More to come 🙂
But let us have a look at what happens on my Central and Right sections. I slowly but steadily bring forward my lights and start to kill the Spartans one by one gaining 4-1 advantage.
But the game of course will be decided on HIs wing. Another powerful attack of Piotr brings series of instant kills (4 hits on a roll) obliterating well positioned Lukasz defense and bringing the game to the end.
Final situation in our first scenario, with victory for Thebes – still this was much closer affair than the result shows; after initial Thebes attack failure it really could go south for them but the incredible feats of some of Piotr’s units (instant kills of enemy, surviving multiple enemy attacks) allowed to crush the Spartans!

Crimissos River (341 BC)

Historical background

The Carthaginians learned from earlier defeats in Sicily that they had to field reliable, trained heavy infantry of their own. They formed the Sacred Band, a force of about 2500 excellently trained Carthaginians, as good or better than anything the Greeks or Syracusans could field. The Sacred Band formed part of a large army under Hasdrubal, advancing eastward to subjugate Sicily. Opposing him with a much smaller army was the able tactician Timoleon. Ever aggressive, Timoleon anxiously awaited an opportunity to strike the Carthaginians a hard blow on his terms.

He got that chance when, on a foggy morning, Hasdrubal carelessly ordered his army to cross the Crimissos River without bothering to send out scouts (who would have reported that Timoleon’s army was arrayed on the bluffs just beyond the river). Waiting until about half of the Carthaginian army had crossed, Timoleon unleashed his excellent heavy infantry phalanx against the surprised Carthaginians. Most who survived fled, but the Sacred Band stood their ground and were annihilated by superior numbers, (aided by a sudden rainstorm that slowed Carthaginian reinforcements crossing the river).

Seeing the disaster unfolding across the river, the remainder of Hasdrubal’s army broke and fled. The loss of so many citizen soldiers had a horrific effect on Carthage. The Sacred Band was reformed, but only once was it ever dispatched from Africa again, and then only for a very short campaign. Carthage would try to make do with mercenary troops as much as possible on Sicily, which had large repercussions at the end of the First Punic War.

Session report
Again, the game set-up of our second scenario, Crimissos River. Please notice the river which is most important tactical obstacle in this game – and potential road to victory for Syracuse (Lukasz).
Piotr tried to attack the Sacred Band and Heavies of Carthage to gain momentum. Oh, how that backfired – as you can see Punic army got quickly 3-1 lead. Not a good start!
I mentioned that the most difficult tactical barrier for Carthaginian reinforcements to come is the river. It took me great amount of time and fighting but finally I managed to break out!
The clashes in the center were exhausting for both sides – you can see low block count units above. But even with such sparse forces, Piotr was pushing forward.
Lukasz reasonably withdrew to the hills. But in the end, double time allowed me to corner one of the unit and get the final point.
Last look at the map once th game finished (from a slightly different perspective). A true carnage on the right and masses of Carthaginians crossing the river on the left. This time, the results does reflect perfectly how the game went.


What a true two great games! The clash of heavy infantries in the first was truly epic; the masterfully played – from tactical perspective – second game a fantastic feast for the eyes. All in all we achieved following summary results:

  • Michal + Piotr 20 – Lukasz 13

EPIC games are fantastic in a sense that you cannot win them by chance. Simply, there are too many options, too large distances, not enough Leaders presence so that the true tactical skills can show up! On top of this, as always, this is a great social event with possibility to meet with the friends!

More session reports to come!