The Battle of
Tempi (c. 480 BC)

Early Hoplite Greeks vs. Early Achaemenid Persians

By Stefanos Skarmintzos

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What if the the Thessalians had not bowed to King Xerxes and his Persian host, and had instead allied themselves with the Greek army lead by the Spartan King Leonidas? That is the theme of this ahistorical Big/Giant Battle DBA scenario, which pits the two protagonists in a conjectural battle fought in the valley of Tempi in Thessaly, rather than the historical stand at Thermopylae.

The Armies

Xerxes, Great King of Persia and Medea: King Alevas of Thessaly died and his nobles have betrayed the alliance. They sided with the Greeks allied under the Spartan Leonidas, which are gathered to block your route south in the coastal valley of Tempi. You will watch as the numbers of your Army overwhelm them. Crush them and Greece will bow to your irresistible might!

Achaemenid Persian: 10xCv, 10xLh, 10xBw, 10xPs, 2xWb (Ethiopians or Nubians), 15xHd (subject levies), 10xAux, 4xSp(I) (unreliable Ionian or Macedonian hoplites).

Leonidas, King of Sparta and leader of the Greek Alliance: Fate seems to smile on Greece. After the traitors death. 7000 Thessalians have joined your ranks. If you hold tight, more Greeks will join the fight, and the barbarians, threatened with hunger, will be forced to retreat.

Greek Alliance:
  • Leonidas: 1x Sp(S)(CnC), 1xSp(S) (Thespians), 1xPs(I) (helots), 1xSp(I) (Thebans)
  • Thessalians: 2xCv, 2xLH, 4xAx, 4xPs
  • Phoceans and Locrians: 3xAx, 3xPs
  • Other Greek Allies: 10xSp (other allied hoplites).


Each side must divide its army into three or more commands, and designate an appropriate element as General for each command, subject to the following restrictions:

  • Persian commands may not exceed 15 elements in size. The Persian hoplites (Ionians and Macedonians) must be fielded in the same command.

  • The Greek army must be divided into three commands. Troops from the designated forces of Leonidas and the Thessalians must be deployed in separate commands, and may not be redistributed between commands, but may be supplemented by troops added from the other Greek Allies. Phoceans and Locrians must be deployed together in the same command.

  • The Persians are invaders, so the Greeks deploy to the game board first. Because of the narrowness of the gameboard, Greeks deploy within 12 inches of their base edge, and Persians within 18 inches of their base edge.

Battle Map

The battle is fought on the standard Big Battle Board (48 x 24), but turned lengthwise.

Terrain Notes: The Greek left board edge represents impassable mountains (Olympos and Ossa). The right board edge represents impassable seacoast. Brown represents gentle hills. Green represents woods or orchards (bad going). Mottled green represents marsh. Mottled gray represents rough or broken ground (bad going). The river is the Pineios, which is classed as paltry.

Special Rules

  • Persian CnC: At beginning of Persian deployment, roll a dice. On 1-4, Xerxes stays in his camp, i.e. Camp(Gen) and the Persian forces must fight without a commander in chief in the ranks. On 5-6, command is delegated to Hydarnes or Mardonius, and one of the Persian 3Cv elements is designated as a CnC.

  • Camp(Gen): If Xerxes does not delegate command and stays in camp, then the camp is classified as a Camp(Gen), may not be defended by other troops, and fights at +5. Capture of the Camp(Gen) results in immediate victory for the Greek forces .

  • Troop Quality: Troops classed as superior (S) fight with +1, while troops classed as inferior (I) fight with a -1 modifier to close combat and missile fire.

  • Spartans: Even if the CnC command is demoralized, Leonidas and his Spartans, Sp(S)(CnC) will stand in place and fight until destroyed with no deduction in combat factors for demoralization and no additional cost in pips to hold.

Victory Conditions

The Greeks are defeated if two commands are demoralized, or if Leonidas and his Spartiates - Sp(S)(Gen) -fall.

The Persians are repulsed if two commands are demoralized or if the CnC element or Camp(CnC) falls.

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Last Update:  8 May 2005

Thanks to Stefanos for contributing this scenario.
Comments and feedback welcome and can be sent to Chris Brantley.