Greco-Persian Wars as depicted by C&C Ancients – The Boardgames Chronicle

I truly love coming back from time to time to C&C Ancients, my most played game of all times. After covering all the official scenarios now I am picking my favorite mini-campaigns – connected thematically sets of battles – and try to play them in one go. Recently I brought to the table couple of Civil War battles (Caesar vs Pompey). This time we decided to completely change the scenario, belligerents as well as armies compositions. We went for Greco-Persian wars, namely:

  1. Marathon (490 BC) – a battle which ended the first Persian invasion on Greek homeland; Athenians managed to defeat Easterners before Spartans arrived; famous soldier run a “marathon” to deliver the story to worried citizens of Athens.
  2. Thermopylae – (480 BC) – one of the iconic battles of all times; who has not heard about Leonidas and his 300 Spartans? Richard Borg created here one of the most interesting scenarios in his carrier – a true struggle till the end, with epic 10 Victory Points objective.
  3. Plataea (479 BC) – a huge battle in which unified Greek Polish inflicted a crushing defeat on Persian forces. I always play it with three sets of blocks: one for Persians, one for Spartans and one for Athenians.

Without further delay, let me invite you to the session reports! Enjoy! PS. As always, you can click on each picture to see details.


Some of my articles regarding C&C system:
Commands and Colors games – my 3 favorite
[REVIEW] Commands Colors Ancients
[STRATEGIES] How to attack in Commands Colors Ancients?
[STRATEGIES] How to defend in Commands Colors Ancients?

Marathon (490 BC)

Historical background

King Darius I of Persia sent an expedition against Athens in reprisal for the burning of Sardes in 498 BC during the failed Ionian Revolt. The Persian fleet under the joint command of Dates and Artaphernes landed near Marathon bay, which offered a perfect battleground for their troops. The Athenians marched out to face the enemy in the field, with 1000 allied soldiers from Plataea supplementing the Athenian force of 9000. The Persians outnumbered the Greeks, but to counter the disparity, Callimachus extended the Greek line to match the enemy, thinning the center while keeping both wings at full strength. The Persian army, with its best troops in the center, was taken by surprise when the Athenians attacked. Historians suggest that the some of the Persian cavalry was in the process of embarking back onto the ships when the attack began. In the battle the Persian center got the best of the weak Greek center and broke through, but this success was more than countered by the defeat of their two wings.

The victorious Athenians then swung inwards and the Persian force was routed back to their ships. Concerned that the Persians defeated might still sail around to threaten Athens, Pheidippides ran the 26 miles back to Athens with news of the victory, running first Marathon race. Greece was safe, for now.

Session report
Game set-up of our first scenario, Marathon. Weak Greek center with strong wings.
Forward – screamed Athenian Hoplites and attacked completely surprised Persians. The usually very effective Eastern bowmen did not have time to fire.
The best way to defend is to attack – said Dates and charged forward. The game become pretty balanced.
On left the crushed and decimated Persian forces in the end managed to not only kill whole Hoplite unit but also their leader! But that was all they could do in this scenario.
Final situation in our first scenario, with victory for Greeks – although earned with heavy price!

Thermopylae – Middle Gate (480 BC)

Historical background

King Xerxes desired to punish the Athenians for his father’s defeat at Marathon and their support for Ionian revolts. He planned a second invasion of Greece in 480 BC and amassed a huge army to extend the Persian Empire into Europe. Several Greek city-states gathered around Athens and Sparta, and decided to slow the Persian advance at the narrow pass of Thermopylae. The Oracle at Delphi had announced that Sparta would either be destroyed or lose a King. Leonidas, one of the two Kings, chose the latter, leading 300 Spartans and other Greeks to one of History’s most famous last stands.

Xerxes Waited four days for the small Greek force to leave. Then, for two and a half days he unleashed his army, wave after wave, against the Greek Hoplites who stood firm. The Persians did not prevail until the Ephialtes betrayed the Greeks by revealing a goat path that led behind their lines. Dismissing the rest of the army, Leonidas fought to the death with his Spartans. Their epitaph reads: “Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by, that here obedient to their laws we lie.” While a tactical victory, the heavy losses and the delay, inflicted by just a few hundred Greeks, was a significant blow to the Persian morale.

Session report
Game set-up of our second scenario, Thermopylae. I adore this battle; Beautiful map, important terrain, 10 VPs to gain, multiple tactical options (betrayal!). Great CCA design at its best!
Instead of waiting and dying under the Persian arrow storm, all the hoplites charged forward! 3 enemy units were immediately dispatched but the Hoplite line lost cohesion and Immortals were already waiting to counter-attack.
Persians tried to stop the iron onslaught of Spartans, but the Mounted Charge and later on Double Time were simply too much for them. They started (historically) to die in droves…
Final situation on map – what a butchery. The central map was place of most action, there was no betrayal and move to outflank the Spartans. This was the day when they were completely unstoppable.

Plataea (479 BC)

Historical background

After annihilating the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae, Xerxes captured and burned Athens. Macedon, Thessaly and Boeotia submitted to Xerxes. However, following the loss of the Persian fleet at Salamis (480), Xerxes withdrew to Asia and left Mardonius with half of the Persian land forces to continue the subjugation of Greece. Amid much bickering, an allied Greek army was formed under the Spartan Pausanias, and moved to oppose the Persians. The Greeks were always careful to stay in terrain that negated the Persian cavalry.

The Persian cavalry attacked anyway, but their commander Mastias was killed. Ceasing direct combat, the Persian cavalry began raiding effectively, poisoning the Greek’s water supply and destroying a large Greek baggage train. Short of water and food, Pausanias ordered a night withdrawal, but only the allies in the center did so. The Spartan right and Athenian left were both still standing fast at first light. Mardonius ordered an advance to exploit his perceived advantage, and attacked the Athenian units on the Greek left wing. It was a fierce onslaught that prevented the Athenians from moving to assist the Spartans who were being pressed hard on the right. Holding back until the omens were right, the Spartans were finally ordered to charge, routing all before them and killing Mardonius. The sight of Persians retreating unnerved Artabazus‘ forces and they also fled the field. The victory at Plataea meant the Persian threat to Greece was effectively ended.

Session report
Game set-up of our third scenario, Plataea. As explained earlier, separate blocks for Persians, Spartans and Athenians. Would allied Greeks manage to repeal the Persian threat?
Before I managed to devise any plan Marcin attacked; and attacked hard – my line crumbled!
What could I do – an immediate counter-attack which now brought me some points!
Unbelievable, another Double Time for Spartans and two more points!.
My Persians decided on last-chance attack, but they rolled so poorly that not only did not gain any points but died trying, ending the game!
Final status at the end of scenario and another historical result. Majority of fighting on Spartan side but decisive blow in the end on Athenian edge. What a game!

Summary

That concluded our 3-scenario mini campaign. We played truly with great pleasure; it was fun both from gaming experience but also reenacting history. As for the final score:

  • Michal 19 – Marcin 13
  • Greeks 22 Persians 10

I did summary in two dimensions; first the player dimension in which I slightly prevailed – especially the second game set the things. The other dimension – Greeks vs Persians – shows the determining victory of the former ones. CCA never fails to bring so much joy and excitement!

More session reports to come!

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