Author Topic: SPQR - Heraclea  (Read 440 times)

GriffinTwoSix

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on: July 06, 2021, 08:13:09 PM
You know how sometimes you read about historical characters and one of them sort of just 'clicks' with you? Well after the last scenario and a bit of reading, Pyrrhus is my favorite dude for atleast the next couple of weeks.  Somewhat un-luckily you can read everything there is to know about the guy and his battles in a few hours.. it's pretty sparse.  Heraclea is the next battle I'm running from SPQR, his first battle against the Romans.  Interestingly there's alot of debate about the actual positions of the armies. It's known that the Romans crossed this probably not-too-significant river after pushing aside Pyyrhus' skirmishers with their cav.  Pyyrhus bring up his cavalry first, and at some point he is able to bring up his Phalanxes and other infantry from camp. By the time these troops commit to battle though, it appears the Romans are completely across the river.

The scenario setup that the game comes with shows Pyrrhus' troops neatly drawn up facing the Romans.  Not an appetizing river crossing for the Romans to attempt. The designers explain why they choose what they did, and I understand it but still it didn't feel right to me so I changed the deployment a bit.  Here is Plutarch's account:

"The Romans, however, anxious to anticipate the coming of the forces which Pyrrhus had decided to await, attempted the passage, their infantry crossing the river by a ford, and their cavalry dashing through the water at many points, so that the Greeks on guard, fearing that they would be surrounded, withdrew. When Pyrrhus saw this, he was greatly disturbed, and charging his infantry officers to form in line of battle at once and stand under arms, he himself rode out with his three thousand horsemen, hoping to come upon the Romans while they were still crossing, and to find them scattered and in disorder. But when he saw a multitude of shields gleaming on the bank of the river and the cavalry advancing upon him in good order, he formed his men in close array and led them to the attack."

Anyways, I like the interpretation a bit better of Pyyrhus, caught off guard, rushing up with his troops from camp; forming up quickly and attacking. So I opted to start his infantry off-map, and that they will start marching in on turn 2. You'll see it's a pretty big difference. The cavalry I've started on map, as it appears they were committed first;

"seeing that his cavalry were giving way, he called up his phalanx and put it in array, while he himself, after giving his cloak and armour to one of his companions, Megacles, and hiding himself after a fashion behind his men, charged with them upon the Romans. But they received and engaged him"

It looks to be a pretty even pair of armies, so ought to be interesting.  If you go to Google Maps and look around the area of the modern city Policoro (Heraclea, Italy), and the Sinni River, there's alot of Street View angles all along the river.  I guess it's not really known exactly where the battle took place, but still fun to view the terrain a bit:  https://www.google.com/maps/place/75025+Policoro,+Province+of+Matera,+Italy/@40.1757607,16.6252511,14z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x1347508a2e6d960d:0xb656dbb42770ef05!8m2!3d40.2141054!4d16.6796558!5m1!1e4

Edit: I should note that the Roman Cav you can see in the 2nd picture is in-accordance with the regular scenario setup. They start off-map but charge in on the first turn, forgot to take the picture prior to moving them on is all.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2021, 08:15:50 PM by GriffinTwoSix »



Martok

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Reply #1 on: July 07, 2021, 02:35:22 AM
Interesting scenario!  I take it, then, that you don't feel you're hamstringing Pyrrhus overly much by not having his entire army already drawn (missing his phalanxes)? 


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GriffinTwoSix

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Reply #2 on: July 07, 2021, 05:47:47 AM
I think he'll be okay, the Phalanxes are even stronger than I thought, had been playing a rule in shock combat a bit wrong. The important thing is for them to be in continuous/unbroken line. I think his main weakness will be the Medium infantry, the legionnaires just seem to shred through them. But he has a cavalry advantage, and the elephants are extra effective due to special rules because it's the first time the Romans are seeing them in combat. So it will be mainly on his cavalry to prevent the Phalanx line from being flanked. If he can do that, I think the Phalanxes will win the standup fight against the legionnaires.