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DBA Scenarios

Phoebidas and the Thespians (379 BC)

In 379 BC, Thebes conspired with Athens against the Spartan hegemony in Cadmea. Sparta responded by mounting punitive expeditions into Boetia, which prompted counter strikes by Thebes and her incomparable cavalry. Despite the Theban resistance, several towns in Boetia remained loyal to Sparta and became the targets of Theban raids. Thespiae was one such town, which appealed to Sparta for protection and received a small garrison of 1000 Spartan peltasts under the command of the harmost Phoebidas.

Xenophon's Hellenica (v.4 pp 42-45) recounts that Phoebidas and his peltasts fell upon a Theban army engaged in ravaging outlying Thespian farms and managed to drive it back in confusion. The Theban retreat turned into a rout as Phoebidas and his Spartans rapidly pressed their advantage. The Thebans abandoned their loot and fled, their infantry hoplites scrambling for safety across a steep ravine, leaving approximately 1500 of their cavalry boxed in, unable to cross the rough ground. Sensing an opportunity to annihilate the much vaunted Theban cavalry, Phoebidas called forward the 2500 Thespian hoplite levy while he attempted to close with his peltasts.

Unable to retreat, the Theban cavalry rallied and charged. In fierce fighting, they fought their way through the peltasts, who broke when Phoebidas was cut down in single combat. The sight of the Spartan professionals routing was too much for the poorly drilled Thespian levy, who turned tail and fled back to their city walls, leaving the Theban cavalry in command of the field.

The Armies

These non-standard DBA lists are offered to reflect the historical composition of the forces:

  • Phoebidas -- 5x2Ps (Spartan peltasts) and 7x4Sp (Thespian hoplites)
  • Beotarch -- 5x3Cv (Theban cavalry)

Note, Thespian Hoplites are rated inferior. They fight at +3 and flee rather than recoil.

The Map


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===========Phoebidas' Baseline===================

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

TERRAIN KEY:

.=Clear good going.
#=Rough/Broken Ground (Bad Going)
r=Ravine (impassable to cavalry)

Deployment Notes

Neither side places a camp. Spartans and/or Thespians who flee off board are presumed to be retiring to the safety of Thespiae.

The Theban command must deploy his cavalry in line with its rear edge adjacent to the ravine (on the Thespian side).

The Spartan/Thespian command then deploys his peltasts anywhere within his half of the board. The Thespian hoplites enter in column from their baseline into good going on the first bound.

Victory Conditions

Normal DBA.

Notes

This is not your typical DBA battle scenario. In the first place, each figure represents approximately 100 men, so element strengths vary between 200 and 400 men. Secondly, the number of opposing elements is not equal. Third, bad going terrain (including impassable terrain) comprises a significant portion of the battlefield. I make no pretense that this is a "balanced" scenario. It is, however, designed to be as "historical" as possible and still present an interesting challenge for each commander.

This scenario was inspired by Brian Booker, "Phoebidas and the Thespians," The Citidal (NW Historical Miniature Gaming Society, 1997).


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Last Update: April 11, 2000

Comments, questions, and suggestions are welcome. Send them to Chris Brantley at IamFanaticus@gmail.com.