Classical Rome & Greece at Brixham 2023
Spartacus' Slave Revolt vs Alexandrian Makedonian
After a very civilized evening in which the advancing years and accumulated effects of a week of seaside holidaying meant pretty much everyone had an early night, the next morning dawned as wet as only a fisherman could appreciate.
This fine day the army of Spartacus would be taking on one of cinema's other great ancient generals, Alexander, in the veteran shape of David Fairhurst - a resemblance many had often remarked upon in previous competitions.
Alexandrian Macedonian is the list of Alexanders conquests, meaning it has a few more novelty toys that the campaign army. Even so it will inevitably rely on a core of pikemen, supporting the cutting edge of Companion lancer cavalry. The rest will be a supporting cast of Thracian and other peltasts, with high quality CRetan and Agrianian skirmishers acting as a screen and an annoyance to deter enemy shooting.
The lists for the Spartacus' Slave Revolt and Alexandrian Makedonian from this game, as well as all the other lists from the games at Brixham can be seen here in the L'Art de la Guerre Wiki.
This battle was to take place with Alexander choosing to invade Italy, and attacking the Slave Revolters in their mountain fastness
In the clash of the unwashed, the rebellion of Spartacus faced the might of Alexander the Great's army.
Ridley Scott's Napoleon is Spartacus!
With the kitchen workers having mostly been mown down by the Kushans the previous evening, this morning's battle would see the gardeners and rose-pruners take the lead, creating a grand spectacle of mismatched warriors and misplaced gardening tools against one of the most professional armies the world has ever seen.
What could possibly go wrong?
What's Going on Here Then?
The Alexandrians have sought to narrow the table by dropping down a waterway and some dense terrain in the form of woodlands and mountains - this feels like a mixed blessing for me as well, as anything that limits the opportunity of the Makedonian cavalry to roam freely is all upside
In terms of deployment, the central woodland has cut my routes of attack in two, but I have guessed correctly that the Alexandrians will place their pike phalanx next to the waterway on their right and so the best-equipped slaves and Gladiators are ready to barrel forward and engage them in what is hopefully a replay of the first game, Impetuous and Impact foot against (longer) spear infantry.
I had expected to see the other flank of the enemy army made up of elephants, peltasts and finally, Companion cavalry out on the wing, and so I have gone with the same theory as the previous game, pitching the levy-only command on the flank to soak up the enemy cavalry and hoping to swarm the peltast/elephant combo with my better Medium foot and Galatian horsemen. The Companions are however lurking in the centre, ready to support either flank, and a relatively long line of spear and Thracian peltasts is covering a gap between shoulders of terrain, giving me a lot f traffic management to do in order to reshuffle my pack on that side of the board before contact.
The stench of rebellion wafted through the air as Alexander's well-oiled machine of war confronted Spartacus' hygiene-challenged horde. The clash began as both armies charged toward one another, the fact of a forest in the middle of the table bisecting Spartacus' forces and providing a shield behind which Alexander was holding back his Companions.
This was an advance of a chaotic arboriculturalists nightmare, with Spartacus' ill-fated horde wielding spades, stakes and gardening rakes against the menacing Sarissa-holding Makedonains, who, by comparison, seemed to have strolled in from the military training ground.
Spartacus, wielding a rusted rake like a gladiator of the garden, tried valiantly to rearrange his over-eager rabble to launch a concerted attack on the peltast-infested wing of the Alexandrians, creating in the process a chaotic ballet of misplaced horticultural enthusiasm.
The Slaves had expected elephants and cavalry on this open wing, and so had deployed with the most expendable levy elements of their army at the front as cannon fodder - but Peltasts were a much more digestible opponent and so the slaves desperately tried to shovel away their own rabble to let the better warriors get to the front lines.
What's Going on Here Then?
I'm using all of Spartacus' command points now to reshuffle the two commands on the right wing, keeping the relatively small number of decent quality warriors away from the lurking Companions and getting them ready to charge the peltasts as best I can.
The sheer number of levy who are getting in the way of this complex redeployment is however proving a challenge - I'm having to push many of them forward to make space to redeploy better troops behind them, which risks getting the over-eager levy so close to the enemy that they may take matters into their own hands and charge impetuously without orders.
It's a race against time and command dice, and it already feels rather like a piecemeal attack of sorts is fast becoming inevitable
The Galatian cavalry, on liberated horses stolen from a nearby barracks, were the wingmen of the Rebellions right flank, moving up rapidly but also trying to keep pace with the Medium Foot better-equipped slaves too who were struggling to get the proper peasantry out of the way.
The looming clash looked set to be a true horticulturalists nightmare, with Spartacus' ill-fated horde wielding harrows, electric strimmers and gardening rakes against the bemused spearmen and falx-carriers of Thrace and Greece who awaited them
Spartacus: Fight to The Death!
On the far flank against the polished pikes of Alexander's disciplined Phalanxes the attack was simple - the best of Spartacus' men against the best of Alexander's infantry.
The slave rebellion's finest, armed with anachronistic spades and weed-whackers intermingled with more brutal gladiatorial equipment were as keen as mustard to initiate a decisive clash with the precision-drilled porcupine of Alexander's Foot Companions, whose Sarissa's pierced the skies like lightning bolts in a perfectly orchestrated close formation storm.
Spartacus' Little Known Links to Torbay
Torbay's Lost Roman Aqueduct: Filmmakers reportedly stumbled upon the remnants of a Roman aqueduct in the Torquay countryside, leading to the incorporation of this unexpected historical find into the movie's backdrop.
The aqueduct, originally used for transporting local brews to fishermen setting off to sea for long trawler trips into the Atlantic, was renamed " The Brixham Ale-quaduct" for the film.
Suddenly, Alexander unleashed the Companions, hitting the Slave Revolt's frontline of hapless eager levies armed with potting and peating tools and feather dusters which wilted in the face of the Companions as they thundered through the fields like knights on a artificial turf laying crusade.
The clash echoed the tragicomic symphony of pots, dibbers and gardening twine snippers meeting armoured might, a cacophony of rebellion reduced to the clattering noise of the contents of a potting shed being shaken off a shelf and hitting the ground.
The rebellion, adorned with the grime of defiance, faced the polished professionalism of Alexander's Pikemen with committed aggression, their every move seemingly choreographed by the gods of combat themselves.
This was the opportunity the army of Spartacus had been looking for - a straight fight against the Phalanx, uninterrupted by enemy cavalry, with all to play for and everything to gain, even their own freedom!
L'Art de la Guerre hint - Impetuous Swordsmen vs Pikemen is one of the classic matchups in ADLG, with "first round" factors exactly equal, as the Pikemen's basic factor of +2 matched by the Barbarian Swordsmen's +1 basic factor and further +1 for (Impetuous) "Impact".
If the Barbarians win on the dice they inflict an additional hit on the Pikemen due to their first-round-only "Furious Charge" ability, and the subsequent rounds of combat will be played out at +1 (Pike +1, -1 for the hits) vs +1 (Swordsmen standard factor).
If the Pikes can hold the line however, every subsequent round should see the Phalanx start to grind down the Barbarians with their +2 basic factor vs the Barbarians +1.For the Better Armed Slaves then, this is absolutely a case of Win Big or Go Home.
The Mighty Phalanx had been rocked back on its' heels by the sheer liberation-obsessed force of the Well Armed Slaves initial charge, with a polychromatic array of mostly beige hit markers sprouting to life to signify the utter disarray and multitude of casualties they had taken at the initial impact
But, next to the waterside on the left a different tale had unfolded.
Persian Archers, dismissed as cannon fodder by Spartacus, had been targeted by some very second string Impetuous Levy - who, when measured against infantry archers (not exactly famed in any Ancients ruleset for their combat ability) were very much the one-molared warriors in this battle of otherwise toothless gumsuckers.
The poorly armed self-freedmen, armed only with sticks, stones and gardening implements of all sizes and shapes, had however failed to live up to even their own normally low expectations, and after playing a deadly game of catch with the archers arrows, had suffered terrible losses as they charged home.
Becoming disheartened at finding they were not as good as men without actual hand to hand combat equipment, they simply evaporated as a half-hearted fighting force against an opponent they really should have simply swept away in their initial charge.
What's Going on Here Then?
Frankly it's a bit of a mess on the opposite flank, so the neatness of this clash on my left is rather reassuring in it's Barkeresque simplicity. And the fact the first round has been almost uniformly successful for my best infantry is pretty encouraging too!
Having said that, and even though this was the central plank of my plan, I can now see that this is a lot of firepower committed to an attack which, even should it succeed completely, will only remove half a dozen or so units (maybe a dozen break points) from the Alexandrian roster - which still leaves a lot for the rest of the army to do as well to get up towards breaking the enemy
With the Companions now engaged and causing carnage, the failure of my levy to overrun the enemy archers is also a concern - I've left some of the better quality infantry in reserve on the right of this battle line to try and keep the Companions off of my flanks, but in retrospect it seems that drifting all of my best troops further to the left and making sure of crushing the archers, and thus the phalanx, quickly might have been a wiser option
The battlefield echoed with the clang of misplaced implements as the slaves, armed with pitchforks and watering cans, charged home against the Thracians and other peltasts, attempting to till the soil of revolution against the disciplined ranks of the mostly mercenary elements of Alexander's forces.
Leading the charge were the Galatian style cavalry on the wing, but the first wave of poorly armed Levy slaves were also about to launch their one-shot charge too at the waiting loose formation enemy
But this was the moment that Alexander decided to unleash his Companions - the proud, well drilled elite horsemen at the very spear tip of his world-spanning conquest wheeled forward to clip the end of the advancing line of peasants, and slid gently into alignment to start rolling dice at very, very good odds indeed
The exuberance of the Slave rebellion, a bouquet of unwashed defiance, suddenly wilted under the precise strikes of Alexander's disciplined army, whose movements were as coordinated as a well-pruned garden.
There's a fleetingly rare 1970's Barbie where if you press a button on it's back squeaks out the phrase: I'm Spartacus!
The rest of the Companions had split to their right, launching themselves into a second tranche of poorly armed slave warriors on the other side of the centrally located woodland area.
This was yet another mismatch which resembled nothing so much as a comedic play where the props were gardening tools and the actors, and the slaves, attempting an epic rebellion against the disciplined theatrics of Alexander's military machine, were being reduced to the status of extras, bereft of any chance of a starring role.
The once-mighty Phalanx was breaking up, much as Spartacus had hoped it would, under the ferocious attacks of the best-armed and equipped slaves in his mighty host
The Rebellion's secondary leader, not really quite as famous as Spartacus himself, but still riding a white steed accompanying a retinue of well-trained ex-Gladiators, and with a crown of thistles adorning his unwashed hair, was starting to believe that he and his men had successfully faced down the well-groomed might of Alexander's army, for whom not a hair was out of place, and not a warrior smelled of anything less than victory.
The unwashed masses surged forward like a horde of wildflowers in a chaotic bloom, only to be promptly trampled under the hooves of Alexander's Companion Cavalry, whose finely groomed steeds danced on the graves of the rebellion.
Everyone was now engaged on this flank as more and more ex-claves and gladiators joined the fray.
The Thracian peltasts, masters of the skirmish dance, elegantly dodged the flailing gardening tools of the ill-equipped slaves, turning the battlefield into a bizarre, albeit entertaining, performance of misplaced acrobatics and horticultural excellence as they withstood the most banal yet dramatic attempts of Spartacus to urge his rabble into a potent fighting force.
What's Going on Here Then?
The traffic jam of earlier has now turned into a full-on road traffic incident involving multiple vehicles, a gritter, three shire horses, an articulated truck carrying feathers and a tanker of fish-gut-based glue.
Sadly this is no joke, and my frantic attempts to redeploy an army totally unsuited to redeployment have resulted in a disjointed attack on a coherent enemy line by almost all of the levy on this side of the board, with the better-quality ex-Gladiators still struggling to get themselves into position to contribute at all
The insertion of the Companions into the enemy front line simply adds insult to injury, and so barring rather unlikely heroics from the now first-line Impetuous Levy this looks like a bit of a catastrophe in the making.
As the last knockings of the Phalanx approached oblivion however, they found new heart as the enthusiasm of the slave army waned as their reality started to become apparent.
This clash of civilizations had seen the slaves, armed with hoes and trowels, attempting to dig their way out of oppression but wanting freedom was now proving to be not quite enough when measured against the finely drilled ranks of Alexander's army, whose lengthy pikes and spears were as sharp as their well maintained professional haircuts, some of which had no doubt been given by their current opponents.
Spartacus' Little Known Links to Torbay
Oysters for the Oarsmen: It is said that Charles Laughton, who played the gluttonous senator Gracchus, insisted on a steady supply of Torbay oysters on set.
The molluscs,which he believed to enhance his acting prowess, became a local delicacy associated with Spartacus, and were famously served at Brixham's legendary "Or Would You Prefer Snails? Quayside Oyster Shack" until it was swept away in a gale in the late 1980's .
The clash of epochs had seen the slaves, armed with anachronistic implements, attempting to prune the overgrown vines of oppression against the razor-sharp precision of Alexander's military shears, but in reality a glimpse of a well tended bush always is a cause for celebration.
The Companions continued their surge, trimming back the undergrowth of rebellion in a hideously efficient fashion, carving a path through the tangled briars of countless units of slave warriors and emerging with barely a scratch in the process
The leader of the better equipped slaves, with a shovel for his sceptre, tried valiantly to command his unruly garden of rebellion to finish off the final few disciplined files of Alexander's Phalanxes
Their epic spears were however now well trained and were providing a cultivated harvest of warfare to not only hold fast, but indeed turn the tide on the surging mass of unwashed humanity which had assaulted them earlier in the game.
Units of Macedonian skirmishers returned to the fray, tossing javelins and sling stones into the suddenly-exposed flanks of the last remnants of the rebellion to tip the final scales ever further in favour of Alexander's men
What's Going on Here Then?
The best part of my attack has now also, frustratingly, run out of steam despite its initial success against the Phalanx, and so this part of the battle looks like one where I will actually come off worse in an overall exchange of losses - and the less said about the opposite flank the better.
The battle feels lost already, and so it is rather galling to see the best Gladiators and armed slaves falter in this way - sweeping away the phalanx would have been a nice moral victory in the looming defeat, but being spanked here too is rather painful!
I can only ponder on what might have been had I not dismissed the bowmen's potential in combat, and instead of thinking I could sweep them away with Impetuous Levy, I had shifted even one more top-line well-armed unit to engage them in an attempt to make absolutely sure of rolling up the flank of the Phalanx?
Spartacus, resolute, every inch the Big Man leading his army from the front, urged one final ounce of rebellion out of the tired foot soldiers in this hour of extremity as the Companions and Thracians threatened to decisively gain the upper hand.
The battlefield, a canvas of chaos, now witnessed the multitudes of slaves wielding gardening tools as if they were the brushes of revolution against the finely painted strokes of Alexander's disciplined military art.
Les Dawson was Spartacus!!!
The clash was a symphony of discord, with the slaves' makeshift instruments of rebellion failing spectacularly to come out on top when matched against the perfectly tuned and well-practiced orchestra of Alexander's army.
Huge holes now appeared in the lines of the rebellion, as the swinging blades of the Thracian's Romphia's marked time on the end of combat
The Companions were wreaking havoc wherever they went, and with the best equipped slaves running out of steam against the last of the Phalanx, they too now became targets for the rampaging horsemen's wrath
The Slave commander was leading his men from atop his white steed with bravery and aplomb, but there was little he could do to stem the mounted tide of lance-pointing death and destruction the Companions were now scattering across the lawns of Revolting Slavery's best gardeners.
In the end, the rebellion, armed with unorthodox implements and reeking of defiance, wilted before the polished blades of Alexander's forces, leaving the battlefield a garden of misplaced dreams and unpruned ambitions.
The Result is a crushing defeat for the Slave Rebellion
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition, or read on for the post match summaries from the Generals involved, as well as another episode of legendary expert analysis from Hannibal
Post Match Summary from Spartacus
My fellow warriors, my brothers and sisters in arms, today, we stand amidst the echoes of battle, where the clash of steel and the cries of the fallen still linger in the air. We faced a foe unlike any we have encountered before – the formidable army of Alexander the Great. His foot soldiers fought with a resilience that defied our every advance, and when the feared Companion lancer cavalry charged, our losses began to outpace those of the mighty Macedonians.
We fought valiantly, my comrades, against the Macedonian Phalanx, using our weapons with skill and determination. The battle hung in the balance for a time, but as soon as the Companions were committed, the tide turned against us. We found ourselves unable to withstand the onslaught of mounted warriors who rode down upon us with the thunder of hooves.
Our best chance lay against Alexander's mercenaries on the right flank – the Peltasts from Greece and Thrace. Yet, in a cruel twist of fate, I misjudged the deployment of the Companion cavalry, sending our ill-equipped units to face the wrong adversary. We were wrongfooted, and our hopes for victory slipped through our fingers.
I stand before you, chastened by two consecutive defeats, recognizing the harsh reality that we seem to have no real answer to a mounted enemy. Yet, my brothers and sisters, let not despair cloud our vision. The journey to freedom is fraught with obstacles, and these defeats are but temporary setbacks.
As we regroup and plan for the battles that lie ahead, I assure you that we will learn from our mistakes. We will adapt, we will strategize, and we will rise again. The path to victory may be winding, but we shall find it.
I speak to those among us who toil in obscure and anachronistic 20th-century menial roles. Your strength and resilience are needed in the final battle of this campaign. Join us, for together we can claim ultimate victory. Let the echoes of our defeats fuel the fire within us, for our journey is far from over.
Onward, my brothers and sisters! Onward to the last battle, where we shall rise triumphant against the chains that bind us. We may be unfortunate to have faced formidable foes, but we shall emerge victorious in the end!
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
Oh, Spartacus, thou art the architect of thy own demise, a puppeteer whose strings are tangled in the dance of defeat. Once again, the clamour of battle has sung the dirge of thy rebellion, and the Macedonians, under the great Alexander, have emerged triumphant. Alas, thy former gladiators, those once-fierce warriors, now lie broken and scattered like leaves in the wind.
In the last 2 games you've faced 10 lancers in two different armies ..and only managed to inflict a total of one lonely hit on them! Thy expectation, misplaced like a fool's hope, led thee astray. Alexander, that cunning tactician, chose to deploy his Companion cavalry not where thou anticipated but in the very heart of the fray. A stroke of originality that wrongfooted thee entirely, and thy lack of preparation became thy undoing.
Thy gladiators, who erstwhile danced with victory against the Macedonian Phalanx, found themselves outpaced by the noble Companions. It seems thou art blind to the lessons of past encounters, for the third time thy forces have been trampled beneath the hooves of enemy cavalry. Methinks thou art the very embodiment of folly, a leader who cannot see the writing on the wall.
And let us not forget the incessant folly of neglecting the wisdom of elephants! Once more, I must trumpet this truth into thine ears. Why, oh why, dost thou not unleash the might of these colossal creatures, potent weapons against the horses that gallop over thy aspirations?
Didst thou not consider plundering the gladiators' arena for wild beasts? Or were thy men too preoccupied with the delicate art of arranging Gladioli and reminiscing about their former lives as gardeners?
Now, as I criticize, let me also sing praises to the victor. Alexander, that second-best general of all time (after myself, of course), hath proven his mettle once more. A worthy adversary, a master tactician who outwitted thee on the field of battle.
Fare thee well, Spartacus, thou hapless puppeteer. Mayhaps, in the next game, thou shalt find the wisdom that hath eluded thee on the path to freedom thus far?
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition