The last few weeks have seen some progress on the project. I painted and rebased archers, javelin men, and two units of hoplites. I assembled 32 Victrix Spartans that are now in the painting queue. I’ve also started tweaking the rules to see what can be done to add some flavor to Rally Round the King to where it will be more specific to hoplite warfare. Finally, with my attention span being what it is, I was able to finish some figures for other games.
We don’t really know the composition of the light troops at the first battle of Mantinea. We do know that the Greeks did not use mass archery and never had large numbers of archers present in their armies. Thucydides does mention that two years before the battle, Sparta raised 300 cavalrymen and 300 archers for its army. The significance is that previously Sparta had always relied on its allies to provide the cavalry and the light troops. Since the Spartan cavalry was present at this battle, it isn’t too far fetched to imagine the Spartan archers were also present. I’ve put together 3 units of archers, one for the Argive alliance and two for the Spartans. The figures used for the Spartan archers are from Gorgon Studio’s Spartan range. The Argive archers are figures by Black Tree Design.The two stands of javelins are composed of figures from Gorgon Studio’s Spartan range. I chose to not equip these figures with shields.
No, this isn’t about saddle tramps drifting across the West. When hoplites advanced in close formation or with shields locked, there was a natural tendency to move close to the hoplite on your right so that you could protect your right side using his shield. Uncontrolled, this would mean that as the body moved forward it would also move to the right. The solution was to place officers in the right forward corner of each company. It was known as the “position of honor” and on the extreme right of the entire phalanx was where the general took his place in most armies. The officer on the right corner of the body was responsible for making sure the body advanced forward without much movement to the right.
I know extra die rolls slow the game down, but I want the players to understand some of the command and control problems faced by ancient commanders. So, for the convention, after a body of hoplites moves, it rolls a single d6 looking for a success (1,2, or 3 if non-Spartan, 1,2,3, or 4 if Spartan). If unsuccessful, the entire body moves to the right 1/2 inch for each 4 inches of movement forward. The Spartan army was unique in that every other file was led by an officer, so there were many more officers available to help keep the phalanx moving forward.
Drifting does not apply when charging.
Battlefield maneuvers were difficult. Outside of the Spartans, there were few units that drilled more than a few weeks a year. Hearing orders was compounded by the helmets worn. Units could wheel to the left only if the officer on the right most point was strong enough to begin the wheel and then the rest of the unit would “follow the leader.” So, in this game, non-Spartan bodies can only wheel to the left after rolling a success on a single d6. Bodies with a Spartan unit on the right can wheel to the left without having to roll for a success. And, since the Spartans also had officers on the left corner, bodies with a Spartan unit on the left can wheel to the right without having to roll for a success.
Honestly, right wheels didn’t happen in hoplite battles. The major strategy of the phalanx was to place the strongest and best troops on the right to smash the enemy’s left and then roll the flank.
The limitations on wheeling only apply to bodies containing hoplites.
My attention span isn’t the greatest. I know I should really, really be focused on the RRtK project. But assembling hard plastic hoplites is tedious and, well, boring. So I paint other figures when I get bored. Usually, I don’t put them in a post, but I decided to start adding them to give you a peek of what may be coming down the road.