Anyway a bit of background.....Agis the Spartan king had set forth in August 418 B.C. with one of the largest Spartan armies ever. His intention to link up with Corinthian allies at Mantinea. Recognising the potential overwhelming threat the Argives sought to intercept the force before it linked up. After an initial false start where both armies faced off but pulled back, as history would have it almost at spear point! The Spartans moved into Tegea and sought to mess about with the countries water and drainage system (not sure this bit would be much fun to do on the tabletop ?) the Argives seeing the risk this would pose in the winter moved rapidly to attack the Spartan force. According to the sources Agis was caught slightly by surprise as they moved out of wooded foothills onto the plain where they were faced by the Argive and Allied army.
I have roughly labelled the forces as they are set out in the picture above. The key bits to note are the Athenian cavalry all on one flank, the gap left between the main Spartan force and their left wing, who are in danger of being isolated. Agis is in a central position and has his own elite troops and the King's bodyguard in the line. The Argive force is predominately Hoplites.
Agis the Spartan king surveys his battleline ordering a general advance.
Mantinea 418 BC Spartans on the left, Argive army on the right.
To the sound of Spartan flute music Agis moves his entire force forward. The gap left by the hurried deployment is an immediate issue forcing his left wing to turn inwards dangerously exposing its left. The usual skirmish exchange takes place with stones and short range arrow fire, but this has limited impact on the advancing hoplites.
The two battle lines clash with the Argives getting the charge in first. This shouldn't be an issue for the Spartan forces surely 😬
In the foreground the Athenian light cavalry attempts to disturb the Spartan right wing and although this holds the lighter peltast troops back the elites ignore the javelins and push through the line rarrrrrrr.... or some such Spartan exclaim ! In the distance though the Sciritae are unnerved by the opening gap (as I understand it these are periocoecian troops from northern Sparta) they take a massive hit from the Tegean Hoplite phalanx and flee the battlefield. Suddenly the Spartan left flank looks dangerously weak ☹️️
Worse is to come for the Spartans as the elite troops protecting the king have wildly thrown themselves in the fray. They have been charged by some of the best Argive Hoplites and despite the close proximity of their king they rout (I like to think they were cut down to a man protecting Agis himself...they can't have routed! ). This leaves a huge gap in the Spartan centre with the King himself exposed. Luckily in this rule set the Spartan king is in effect a mini unit on its own so he can take a few knocks.
Agis the king in the middle of the hottest part of the battle rarrrrrrrr.......cheer the Spartans again !
But just in time the second unit of Argive Hoplites fails its nerve and runs from the battle, this leaves the the other Spartan phalanx to move to attack from the flank. This was the turning point and you can see the Spartans are wavering, only maintaining their nerve with the close support of the king.
In the foreground the Spartan light troops have finally got the better of the Athenian light cavalry and chased it off.
Agis in true Spartan king style still close to the action urges the remaining Hoplites to push forward.
The central battle seen from the right flank (ignore the troops on the far hill...they are dead or fleeing back home)
A really fun game, with no intention our game reflected the historical events where the Spartan battle line turned to the left to come to the aid of the left wing of the army. This was our first run out with the official KoW historical rules, they are easy to pick up and give a reasonable battle.......but they do lack something for me. I'll use then again when introducing other players to ancients, but we have decided to use WAB for our next game. It was great after lots of skirmish type games to get a 'bigger' battle in the dungeon and we will hopefully see a few more of these in the new year.