Saturday, 10 November 2018

Olpae 426 BC

Tim is continuing our tour of unknown battles of the Ancient World with a trip to the skirmish at Olpae in 426 BC, at the start of the 2nd Peleponnesian War. The entirely peace loving  and reasonable Spartans under Eurylochus had come to the aid of their oppressed allies, the Ambraciots under Menedais. Meanwhile wicked Athenian Imperialists and their servile lackeys the Acarnanians,all under Demosthenes lined up to rend this happy union apart.

John and Tim C took the evil Athenians, while I got the glorious Spartans.  As ever, Tims 25mm toys on Hexon terrain with CnC Ancients. Tim has already reported on this game on his blog.

View from the Spartan right rear.  The coastline hexes (blue strips) are impassable.

View from the Athenian right rear. Both armies are very similar, a core of Hoplites, supplemented by various ragged light troops and auxiliaries. The Athenians also had one of unit of (rare) cavalry. Pah. Who needs horses when you'v got Spartans.

The Spartan left rear. Not sure about having those woods there! Still, they are fairly open so don't impede retreats. There is an annoying gap visible between the Spartans and their Ambraciot allies, very untidy.

These Spartans are very venerable, being among the first wargames figures Tim ever purchased.

The action opened on the left as my light troops saw off an audacious Athenian cavalry attack. Albeit not without losses. Heavy losses in every combat were to be a feature generally.

Before long, there was a major clash of  hoplites, which duly turned into an utter bloodbath as both sides rolled very hot dice. Poor old Eurylochus was one of the casualties. Well that was a historical result then.

Menedais waded in with some reinforcements and obliterated Demosthenes' hoplite unit. Demosthenes survived to live another day though, and Menedais went the same way as Eurylochus in the counterttack. The Athenians were on five banners now (needing six to win) whereas I had four.

The right flank was denuded of troops by the slaughter in the centre, but there wasn't much either of us could do about it.

My final hope was an all out attack to destroy the last Athenian hoplite unit and Demosthenes with it (getting two banners). The hoplites duly died, but Demosthenes skipped away unharmed to the shelter of some light infantry. My units all had multiple hits now.

Demosthenes wrapped it up by leading his light troops forward and eliminating one of my damaged light troops with two extremely lucky 'general bonus'  hits. What are the chances? Well, 1:36 actually.

So, once again we very creditably replicated history, as irl the Spartans lost and Eurylochus was killed while Demosthenes' name echoed down history. Aristophones even wrote a play about him. To add insult to injury it turned out that a  big chunk of the Athenian army was lurking in those nasty looking woods and we'd lost without them even being engaged. Well, you can't win them all.


  1. Just the sort of balanced and unbiased reporting that I’d expect from the Spartan MoD. Fret not, you’ll soon have an opportunity for revenge.

    1. Well, I think that particular disaster isn't going to be taught at the Spartan war college any time soon!

  2. Aristophanes 'The Knights' - one of the comedies I have not yet read.

    1. I know very little about classical history, so every one of these jaunts is a learning experience.