Battle of Thermopylae

Battle of Thermopylae (480 BCE)

By Stefanos Skarmintzos

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First of all I must say that all attempts to replay this battle without the "aid of Ephialtes" (i.e. the secret pass flanking move) ended disastrously for the Persians as in history. So to make it balanced, please see special rules.

Order of Battle

Each element represents roughly 150 men:

  • Early Achaemenid Persians (33 elements): 1x Ch(G) (Xerxes), 1x Aux (SubGen)(Hydarnes), 10 x 8Bw, 3 x 3Cv, 3 x 2Lh, 6 x 3Aux, 1 x 3Aux(S), 1 x 4Sp(I), 5 x 7Hd, 3 x 2Ps.

  • Hoplite Greeks (30 elements) : Spartans - 1x 4Sp(GenS) (Leonidas), 1 x 4Sp(S), 2 x 2Ps(I). Peloponnesian allies - 8 x 4Sp, 2 x 2Ps. Thebans - 3 x 4Sp(I). Thespians - 5 x 4Sp. Phoceans - 3 x 4Sp, 5 x 2Ps.

Notes

One Persian LH and SP eleement are Thessalian allies, which are classed Inferior (-1 on combat rolls) because of dubious loyalty.

One Persian LH and Aux(S) are Getae allies. The Auxilia are classed as Superior (+1 on combat rolls).

The Persian Horde are other unwilling Asiatic troops.

The Spartan hoplites are superior but their psiloi were helots -- not fond of their masters -- so I classed them Inferior.

The Theban hoplites were reluctant in this affair so they are classed Inferior and subject to a special surrender rule.

The image shows a modern view of the pass at Thermopylae, viewed roughly from the area of the Spartan camp northward toward the Persian position. The modern road marks the ancient shoreline.

Battle Map


     ================Persian Baseline=================
     h h f * * * m m m m m m m m . . . . . . . s s s s
     h f f * * * m m m m m m m . . . . . . . . s s s s
     r f f * * * m m m m m m m . . . . . . . . s s s s
     h r f f f * m m m m m m m . . . . . . . . s s s s
     h h r f F f m m m m m m m . . . . . . . . s s s s
     h h h h r f f m m m m m m m . . . . . . . s s s s
     f f f f f r f h h m m m m m . . . . . . . s s s s
     f f f f f r f f m m m m m m . . . . . . . s s s s
     f f f f f r f f m m m m m m m . . . . . . s s s s
     f f f f f r f f m m m m m m m m . . . . . s s s s  
     f f f f f . r m m m m m m m m m m . . . . s s s s  PASS OF
     f f f f  . r m m m m m m m m m m  . . . . s s s s  THERMOPLYLAE
     h h h h . . r m m m m m m m m m . . . . . s s s s
     h h h h . . r m m m m m h h . . . . . . . s s s s
     h PHOCh . . r m m m m h h h h . . . . . . s s s s
     h h h f . r m m m m m h CAMPh . . . . . . s s s s
     h h h f . r m m m m m h h h . . . . . . . s s s s
     h h f f r . m m m m m h h . . . . . . . . s s s s
     f f f . r . m m m m m . . . . . . . . . . s s s s
     * . . . r . . m m m . . . . . . . . . . . s s s s
     * . . r . . . . m . . . . . . . . . . . . s s s s
     * . . r . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . h s s s s
     . . r . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . h h s s s s
     . . r . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . h h s s s s
     =================Greek Baseline==================

SCALE: The space between each dot/letter is one inch.

Terrain Key

. = Good Going (Good Going)
s = Sea (Impassable)
h = Gentle Hill (Good Going)
f = Light Wood (Bad Going)
r = Road/Trail
m = mountain (Impassable)
* = Steep hill (Bad Going)

Terrain Notes

To the left flank of the Persian army (right flank of the Greek Army) is of course "deep blue sea." It can be represented with blue cloth or paper . The coast at that time was steep and is treated as impassable. (Leonidas rested his right flank on it.)

The center is a very bad going (to the point of unscalable) mountain, and is classed as impassable.

The area marked CAMP is the Spartan/Greek camp.

Special Rules

Greeks deploy first, anywhere from the mid-point of the board (i.e. the Pass of Thermopylae) to their own base line and between the mountains and the sea. The Phokeans deploy initially on the hill on the other side of the mountain at the point indicated.

Spartan elements must always stay together. If Leonidas dies, the Spartans must attempt to fall back on camp along with the Thespians. They must always attempt to defend the coastal pass.

The Persians deploy second within 6 inches of their baseline on passable terrain. The Persian general stays in front of Camp. (Xerxis was not the heroic type). Up to 15 Persian elements with the Sub-General element (Hydarnes) must form an independent command and attempt a flanking move from the road (Ephialtes!!).

If Persians pass through the Phokeans, all Peloponnesian (and Theban) elements flee toward their baseline (treat as "demoralized" using the Big Battle rules). Herodotus said they were evacuated.

On the second recoil of any Theban element, the Thebans surrender (i.e. are removed from the Board and treated as destroyed). They surrendered at the historical battle.

Victory Conditions

Normal DBA rules - the first side at the end of its bound to lose its general or 1/3 of its elements, and which has lost more elements than the enemy, loses the battle.


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Last Updated: 6 Sept. 2004

Questions, comments, suggestions welcome. Send them to Chris Brantley, IamFanaticus@gmail.com.