Saturday 15 December 2012

Irregular Wars: Hoplite Ascendancy playtesting

About a month or so ago, a couple of my Antipodean comrades-in-miniature-arms did a little playtesting of the Hoplite lists for Irregular Wars: Hoplite Ascendancy, the Classical Greek adaptation of my Renaissance rules. I have been meaning to post the results since then but have been exhausted coming in out of the frozen mud in the evenings and haven't quite managed to post before now. Hypothermia is seriously exhausting....

Photos re-posted courtesy of the Old Gnome.

It was a classic match up between Michael's Athenians and Steve's Spartans. Michael set up terrain, placing two large woods a large marsh and a large area of rough going. 

The intial setup. Athens vs Sparta, with Athenians in the foreground.

Armies advance to do battle.

Some more maneuvering. Note that one of the Athenian Hoplite units decided to go out of control and head east..

 Battle is joined, with the Spartan cavalry trying to out flank the Athenians. The game at this point became a slogging match as the hoplites just pushed and shoved for little effect.

It wasn't until the Spartans gained the ascendancy on the right flank and was able to get my two Hippeis behind the Athenian lines that it started to unravel for the Athenians. Meanwhile on the Spartan left flank, the Thracian horse and peltasts held up the Athenian Hippeis until Steve was able to withdraw some hoplites and shore up that flank.

That spelled the end of the Athenians as the Spartan’s continue to roll up the flank. The game ended with the end of all the Athenians, whilst the Spartans had only lost the Thracian horse and the peltasts.

After the game, the Steve posed the following questions and comments (in Italics). My responses follow.

A comment regarding the lists. The Spartans were able to field two Hippeis and a Thracian horse, which was exactly the same as the Athenians. Should the Spartans have a restriction re mercenary cavalry or did they really field as much as the other Greek states?

Regarding cavalry, with the exception of some of the northern poleis, Peloponnesian states (generally allies of Sparta) had as good a potential to field mounted troops as their opponents, even if Sparta itself never fielded very many. Boiotians tended to field better cavalry than southern Greeks (and more of it), the Thessalians were the best mounted Greeks of course and were almost on par with the Macedonians.

Depending on the theatre of the war, Spartans might have Greek allied cavalry from the Peloponnese, from central Greece, from the Greek cities in Thrace or Asia Minor etc so there's no real issue with a Spartan led force running multiple cavalry companies.

During the game, the Spartan hoplites advanced through and fought in the terrain as they still had the advantage over the Athenian light troops. We were unsure as to whether this was your intention. 

In short, no. The balance that will have to be achieved (through play testing) is how to to treat Hoplites. In rough terrain they already drop their movement down to 1" per turn, so Michael's peltasts should theoretically have been able to skip around flanks and pepper you with javelins.

Perhaps a further melee modifier is needed for hoplite companies; maybe -1 in rough and -2 in woods?

So Hoplite Ascendancy is still obviously a work in progress, but it's good to see the game evolving and adapting beyond its original mandate.


  1. Very nice...Have to get a game of it with you in the New Year


  2. It's very interesting this adaptation, I bought the Irregular Wars Renaissance, and I am very interested in this modification, whay about it?

  3. Thanks Slorm. I have been distracted with other projects this year - and a fair bit of life getting in the way - but I'd like to revisit this soon.