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Mini Mantinea

A number of our group were unable to make it to the Society of Ancients Battle Day. Therefore I put on another Mantinea game with Alala! rules at home. In this way all of us would get the chance to fight it out to determine if Sparta or Thebes would gain supremacy.

Second Mantinea was the largest battle between Greek city states. For this game there would only be 2 players per side so I cut down the order of battle to make it more manageable (I had 3 players per side at the Battle Day). I took out the middle phalanx on both sides and reduced the number of skirmishers and cavalry. The Mantineans and Spartans held their right and the Athenians the left. The other contingents in the middle made no appearance. On the other side the Argives faced off the Athenians. Thebans, Tegeans and other Arkadians were lined up against the Mantineans and Spartans.

I shall shortly put up the full orbats and scenario for Mantinea on the Scenario section of my website.

The Spartan skirmishers on their right were heavily outnumbered by the Thebans and although they fought well it was not long before they were driven off.

The same happened on the other wing with the Theban skirmishers soon gaining ascendancy and threatening the Athenian flank.

Whilst the skirmishers fought it out to gain position the leaders of the hoplite phalanxes encouraged their men and ordered their ranks. The Theban players (but not the Spartans) chose to invoke the gods several times, drawing cards from the God Pack. None of the cards were battle winning and indeed one gave bad omens. None-the-less the gods seem to have been pleased with the Theban devotion. Whenever the crunch came the Theban players rolled pretty decent dice whereas their opponents had very bad luck. It just goes to show that it does not pay to ignore the gods.

Before the signal to advance was given, one Argive and one Athenian unit were so eager to get stuck in that they surged forward without orders. It looked as if the isolated Argive unit (left of photo) was in for a pasting.

But it was not to be. The gods clearly favoured the devout Argives. Against all the odds they broke the Athenians facing them.

This left the Athenian flank dangerously exposed as other Argives supported by cavalry and skirmishers closed in.

The defeat of the Spartan skirmishers on the other flank caused the Mantineans (on the far right) to suffer an increasing number of casualties from missiles hurled at them by the Theban cavalry. As the deep Theban and Tegean phalanxes bore down on them the Spartans and Mantineans were several men down.

Then came a brutal clash as the Thebans charged home. To make matters even worse for the Mantineans they were hit in their flank by Thessalian cavalry. With both flanks driven in it was all over for the Mantineans/Spartans/Athenians and a clear victory for Thebes.

The lesson from the game was that it always pays to give due honour to the gods.

Alala! rules are due to be published by the Society of Ancients. In the meantime the Quick Reference Sheet and God Pack are available as free downloads from the rules section of my website.

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Ernie Fosker
Ernie Fosker

Another great game, Simon, thoroughly enjoyed it.......even though I was the Athenian commander 😰

Next time I'll definitely sacrifice a goat or chicken or 'something else' and 'Invoke the Gods'....

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