Patch and I had our regular between ASL games bout of Commands & Colors: Ancients tonight. This time was the battle of Thyreatis in 545 BC. It’s a very unusual battle from Expansion 6. First of all, both sides are almost entirely made up of Medium Hoplites, with most of the Spartan side being the special 5-block version. Second of all, the battle kicks off with the ‘battle of champions’. There are eight extra MH blocks from each side, and both players roll two dice to try and cause casualties. This is repeated until one side is down to one or two blocks, and then the survivors are attached to regular units (generating 5-block Argive MH and 6-block Spartan MH). The winner of that battle then goes first in the main one.

I had the Argives the first time around, and eventually won the battle of champions after thirteen rounds. (Patch had a 8-5 lead to start, and I was wondering if it was going to be a complete blowout before his dice went cold for a final 3-2 result.) I had mostly left and right cards, so I boosted both flanks, while Patch piled on his right. Both of us started by cycling cards, and I advanced my flanks into a crescent formation, before detaching my Aux into archery range. With a bit of luck I managed to reduce his right-flank unit from 6 blocks to 4 before the lines made contact.

Patch Double Timed to catch my right Aux and kill it. I Ordered Mounted to bring my right side up and pick on his weaker left flank (where the normal 4-block Spartan allied hoplites are), and Patch countered with a Mounted Charge to nearly kill three of my units (one block left each) and chase off the remaining Aux (three banners!) at a cost of eight blocks. With four units in contact (three of them the one-block survivors), I played Clash of Shields to kill off three units at a cost of one (to a First Strike) and another weakened to one block. Patch Ordered Center and finished off my right flank (and leader), and got the fifth banner in the main line. 3-5

Thyreatis 1

The second round went faster, with the Spartans losing the battle of champions 2-3 in seven rounds. I had a couple center cards this time, so I put the extra blocks in the middle of the line, while Patch spread them out. I started by cycling cards, getting an Order Med (my second) after playing Order Heavy, and a Order Three Center (second of those, too) after playing Order Two Center. Combined with a Leadership Any Section, I was confident in my ability to maneuver my army as I saw fit.

The problem is, there’s not a lot to be done with fancy maneuvers in this battle. The units generally can only go one hex per turn, and both sides have lots of leadership. I cycled a Move-Fire-Move to dress my line, and drew Clash of Shields. If I could live long enough to use all these cards, I could do whatever I wanted. Patch dressed his line too, but had one unit back in reserve. I used Line Command to bring all of my line in contact with most of his (the Argives have two more units than the Spartans), and the demolition derby began. Picking my targets, I got two of his units, and forced his Aux back with one block, while only one of my units was depleted, and one more forced out of line with a pair of banners.

Patch countered with Mounted Charge, and knocked out two units, having reduced two others to two blocks, and a third to one. However, the entire center and left of his line was down to one block apiece, and an Order Mediums took care of that. 5-1

Thyreatis 2

It’s an interesting battle, but there’s a lack of subtlety thanks to the fact that everything is so slow and nearly as effective. It seems like it should be fairly even, though the Spartans do have a one-card advantage, so I’m not sure what to make of the pair of Spartan wins.