Last week I examined the elite hoplites of the city-state of Sparta. This week, I want to continue our tour of the Aegean and look at the armies of Sparta’s two most important allies: the Arcadians and the Boeotians.
The Arcadian army consists of three blocks of hoplites: A 3-step (3CV), and two 2-step (2CV) blocks. Each of the Arcadian hoplites has agility rating of “C” and a strength rating of ‘2.’ As I stated in part 1, most hoplites are C2 hoplites. As attackers they will almost always fire last in combat (after “A” and “B” agility blocks), but they do have a good combat strength. Units with a combat strength of ‘2’ will inflict step losses on a die roll of ‘1’ or ‘2’ and will inflict a rout on an opponent on a die roll of ‘5’ or ‘6.’
The Arcadians are the natural companions of the Spartans. Grouping the Spartans with the Arcadians provides a couple of advantages. First, and most obviously, the Arcadians provide extra firepower. But secondly, and most importantly, they provide ‘cannon fodder.’
Step losses must be inflicted on the largest block (in step size) in an army. Routs must be inflicted on the smallest block (in step-size). If the Arcadians are grouped with the Spartan army, the first step loss inflicted must come from the 4-step Spartan block. But after that, the Arcadians can be used to absorb step losses AND routs. This preserves the elite Spartan hoplites so their full fury can be unleashed in battle.
The Arcadians have two cities that they call home: Elis on the Adriatic and Tegea in the center of the Achaean Peninsula. The geographic position is very helpful as they can easily join with the Spartans who are situated in their home cities to the south. They can also help the Spartans garrison Sparta in order to free up the whole Spartan army for operations against Athens in the north.
Travelling north from Arcadia, we pass the city-state of Corinth and just north of the isthmus, we find the city-states of the Boeotians. The chief city-state of Boeotia is Thebes.
In the game, after Athens, only Thebes has such a well-balanced army in terms of combined arms. As I stated in part 1, use of combined arms in Hellenes is very important. The Theban army consists of one A1 Cavalry block with 3 steps, one B1 non-hoplite infantry block of 4 steps, one B1 block of 3 steps, a C2 hoplite block of 4 steps, two C2 blocks of 3 steps, and a C2 block of 2 steps. This is a very-well balanced force in terms of combined arms. When an army like this engages in battle, the A1 cavalry will always fire first on defense, and will almost always fire first when on the attack (only defending archers and/or cavalry will fire before it). After the cavalry comes up to 7 steps of B1 infantry. On the attack, they will often fire second, but their large size means they can absorb losses to protect—screen—the hoplites. When they do fire, they, like the cavalry, can only score hits on 1s and 6s, but any hits they inflict will do much to pave the way for the clash of hoplites who will fire next. The Theban hoplites, like the Arcadians are C2 boys. But they have a potential size of 12 steps when combined! That’s a lot of firepower!
The Boeotians have two home cities: Phocis, a small city, and Thebes, a large city. Their geographic position is very strategic. These cities lie to the northwest of Athens. The advantage here is that the Theban army can be used as a ‘pinning’ force to keep the Athenians in Athens. They pose a very real threat to Athens by themselves. When combined with the Arcadians and the Spartans—or even just the Spartans—the Athenian player would be well advised to keep a strong garrison in Athens. Such a combined force can besiege Athens and pillage the area at will. If the garrison is weak, they can even take the city by storm--a catastrophe for the Athenian player.
Pillaging, by the way, is a game mechanic whereby a besieging army can abandon the siege, and move away from the area in exchange for prestige (victory) points. Pillaging a city yields 1 prestige point to the pillager. But pillaging Athens or Sparta yields 2 prestige points. Pillaging can only be done once per year per city, but even still, pillaging Athens is a lucrative project. An army of Spartans, Arcadians, and Boeotians can and should do this at will.
The Spartan forces are indeed formidable, but they are by no means invincible. Next week we will look at the Athenian army and navy. While the Athenians are weaker in terms of land military power, their navy gives them tremendous mobility which must be exploited to the fullest.