Thursday, 14 April 2016

Battle of Oenoe 461 BC : Peloponnesian Wars

It has been a while since we have played a Greek battle but we managed to get them onto the table a couple of evenings ago. We wanted something which I could manage within my current collection and a battle where we could use my Spartans.

The Battle of Oenoe 461 BC is slightly disputed by the sources according to the accounts I have read. But that never stopped us. The Spartan Army marched north into Argive Territory, the Argives having recently allied with the hated Athenians. Although they had hoped to take the Argives by surprise this didn't work and the road was blocked by a sizeable force near the border town of Oenoe on the Charadrus River. Out numbered it seems the two battle lines would have been matched in length but the Spartans were heavily outnumbered so would by necessity have formed a much shallower line. They were also outnumbered in light troops and cavalry.

The Spartans preference would have been to roll the Argives up from the (Argive) left flank but the River prevented this and the Argive light troops prevented a move to the (Spartan) left this gave two choices a frontal assault or retreat, and the Spartans didn't like retreating.

The initial setup up for the Battle, Spartan Army to the right, with the better Spartiate troops closer to the river in the distance. Their left is dominated by Perioeci (less well trained spearmen and peltasts). To the left the Athenian and Argives. A deeper battle line and with more light troops and cavalry. To counter this numerical advantage we gave the Spartans better stats and superior morale.

Wider shot of the battle field

View from the Athenian lines as the Spartans begin to march slowly across the ground, no doubt accompanied by their flute music.

Whilst the Spartan right are keen to get into battle their less effective left wing is more reluctant, they hold back and begin to exchange long range attacks.

Light troops from the Argive Left flank move forward to try and weaken the advancing Spartans but they are charged by the disciplined Phalanx of Spartiates easily pushing them aside.

Finally the two main forces clash man to man I the front ranks of the Phalanx. 

The battle on the far side now becomes a battle of attrition as the best troops from both sides seek to get the advantage. Whilst lighter Athenian troops attempt to turn the Spartan left flank.

Eventually the Athenian right flank is too strong and starts to push the Spartan left flank back.

Wounds are being taken on both sides so it is only a matter of time before the main troops start to fall back, it was still not clear at this stage who might win.

In the end though, with the risk of being outflanked the Spartans began to waiver first. Not quite a rout but defiantly a victory for the Athenians.

We were using a modified version of the Kings of War rules and they worked really well, so well that the game was over slightly quickly. In about 2 hours. I think the perfect solution is to modify up these rules just enough to give a slightly longer and more tactical battle. It was great for historical accuracy in fact this appears to be exactly what happen back in 461BC. The Spartans feeling themselves being outflanked took the decision to withdraw in order.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Martin I do enjoy ancients......

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks Ray it played well and surprisingly historically accurate😄

  3. You have been busy! I love an epic...especially of the swords and sandals variety! Great stuff!

    1. Thanks hopefully more to come....I have an idea about a longer term ancient campaign which will get them on the table more often.

  4. Nice looking Ancients game, splendid armies...and beautiful river in the background!

    1. Thanks Phil for your kind words, it is nice when things come together. Ancients are long term project so I don't have any plans to stop expanding my collection. I know I am doomed if Victrix bring out Persians !