The crunch of thousands of tiny feet on the dry ground, and the rumble of a thousand chariot wheels, echoing down among the hills. It could only mean one thing. Bronze Age armies on the move again. Keen for a 6mm L'Art de la Guerre rematch after their last bruising defeat (one of those crushing defeats that would have seen a lesser commander sell their army), the New Kingdom Egyptians had crossed the Great Green to land their massed levies in the hallowed country of Minos, the Great Bull, Son of the Sea, Priest king of Knossos, High king of Crete, Lord of the Islands.
The two forces assembled. The Minoans had hoped to catch the Egyptians in the narrow defiles where the hills came down to the sea. Unfortunately, the Egyptians managed to deploy on the edge of a broad plain. Sweeping inland in what appeared to be a single line, Stevenhotep commanded the Sherdana mercenaries of the Egyptian right flank, while Andrewhotep took overall command of the centre, consisting of medium axemen and archers, and the left flank of massed chariotry.
Opposite them, the glorious sons of Crete and their almost-but-not-quite-as-glorious vassals assembled in three discrete commands. Nikos led the left flank allied command of northern Islanders, and also the central mass of heavy spearmen and associated swarm of skirmishes, while Prince Leemos took overall command and led the elite Minoan heavy chariots and their supporting infantry on the Cretan right. The Egyptian ass-riding scouts reported back that the Minoans may have laid an ambush in the small town off the Minoan right flank.
The two mortal foes advanced towards each other. On the inland flank (the Minoan right, 'Gypo left), the massed chariots face each other. The Egyptian line extended further out on both flanks, but the Minoans, on the whole, were doughtier warriors.
Back on the coastal flank (Minoan left, 'Gyptian right), the Minoan's allied Islanders started to square off against a significantly more numerous Sherdana mercenaries. The Islander skirmishers moved off to fill the gap between the allied and centre commands, and act as a lure to force the slower moving, but impetuous Sherdana heavy guardsmen out of formation.
The first rank of Egyptian chariots fired off a couple of volleys of arrows as they charged forward, hitting the far end of the Minoan chariot line. At that moment, the Minoan medium spearmen hidden in the town sprang out of their ambush to charge the light Egyptian chariots.
The group of chariots at the end of the Egyptian line peeled away and evaded, while the Minoan chariots started to wheel around and outflank their opponents.
As the 'Gypo line started to falter, the central command threw forward two regiments of axemen to return the favour and hit the Minoan chariots in their own flank.
Destroying the lighter Egyptian chariots with the support of their own spearmen, the Minoan chariots turned to wipe away the axemen. However, in the background, the second line of Egyptian chariots prepared for a counter attack.
All the while, the Egyptian donkey-scouts had been skirting the town and making a broad sweeping maneuver towards the Minoan camp. In response, Leemos, Prince of Knossos, dispatched his Libyan mercenary skirmishers to cut them off. An initial barrage of javelins failed to dissuade them, however. After much jeering, the ass-men turned around and charged the skirmishers for some (very inconclusive) light-on-light action.
Unfortunately, back in the melee on the inland flank, the Egyptian counter attack was taking its toll. Two of the four elite Minoan heavy chariot squadrons had been routed, and the supporting medium spearmen were feeling the squeeze thanks to some deft command decisions of Andrewhotep.
Not all the action was occurring in the inland flank however. In the centre, the Minoan heavy spearmen were making a very slow advance towards the 'Gypo axemen and archers, while the taunting ploy of the Islander skirmishers had worked and drawn the impetuous Sherdana guardsmen out of formation. In their absence, the remaining Sherdana medium infantry were assaulted by the main Islander force and suffered badly in the ensuing melee.
Having eviscerated the less well armed and trained Sherdana, the Islanders turned to take on the heavier Sherdana guardsmen. In the centre, the two lines crunched together. While the ends of the Minoan wall of heavy spearmen suffered from the overlapping Egyptian line, the overall outcome of the clash was a weakened Egyptian centre.
It was about that time that half the Sherdana guardsmen abandoned their position and routed, while the medium axemen fighting the last of the Minoan heavy chariots were destroyed, and their commander killed with them. The overall picture saw the Minoans winning on the coastal flank, but the Egyptians victorious on the inland flank. Both successful flanks were in the process of rolling up the centre where the melee continued.
But at that point the Egyptian army broke. Once more the brave men of Crete could stand tall over their vanquished Egyptian foes. But it was much more of a near run thing this time than in their last fight. The Egyptians had reached their break point sure enough (23/23), but the Minoans were very close to breaking as well (23/25). The Egyptians had proven that they had learned from the first defeat and almost held their own this time. The Minoans knew that next time they met, there was going to be trouble...