002 Crimissos River (341 BC)
The Carthaginians learned from earlier defeats in Sicily that they had to field reliable, trained heavy infantry of their own. They formed the Sacred Band, a force of about 2,500 excellently trained Carthaginians, as good or better than the best the Greeks or Syracusans could field. They formed a part of a large army under Hasdrubal, advancing eastward to subjugate Sicily. Opposing him with a much smaller army was the able tactician Timoleon. Ever aggressive, Timoleon anxiously awaited an opportunity to strike the Carthaginians a hard blow on his terms. He got that chance when, on a foggy morning, Hasdrubal carelessly ordered his army to cross the Crimissos River without bothering to send out scouts (who would have reported that Timoleon’s army was arrayed on the bluffs just beyond the river). Waiting until about half of the Carthaginian army had crossed, Timoleon unleashed his excellent heavy infantry phalanx against the surprised Carthaginians. Most who survived fled, but the Sacred Band stood their ground and were annihilated by superior numbers, (aided by a sudden rainstorm that slowed Carthaginian reinforcements crossing the river). Seeing the disaster unfolding across the river, the remainder of Hasdrubal’s army broke and fled. The loss of so many citizen soldiers had a horrific effect on Carthage. The Sacred Band was reformed, but only once was it ever dispatched from Africa again, and then only for a very short campaign.
The stage is set. The battle lines are drawn and you are in command. The rest is history.
5 Command Cards
5 Command Cards
The Crimissos River is fordable only at the five bends in the river.
The Carthaginian Sacred Band is a special unit. Place a Special Unit block (if playing with expansion blocks) or a Carthaginian Victory Banner block in the hex with the Sacred Band unit to distinguish it from other Carthaginian units. Sacred Band special abilities:
• The Sacred Band will score one hit for each leader symbol rolled in close combat. A leader does not have to be attached or in an adjacent hex to confer this benefit.
• The Sacred Band may ignore one flag.
• The Sacred Band retains these special abilities until the last block of the unit has been removed from the battlefield.
The Special Unit/Victory banner block moves with the unit. It does not count as a block that can be removed to satisfy losses. This block is not transferable to any other unit. If the Sacred Band unit is eliminated, this block is removed from the map along with the last block of the unit.
Syracuse completely dominated the tempo of this battle. They first turn moved their entire allotment of heavy units Double Time to essentially take control of the river crossing. For the rest of the battle, not a single Carthaginian unit made it across. However, the Carthaginian right flank crushed the opposing cavalry and auxilia. They also managed to severely injure a couple of heavy units, but never managed to eliminate one (even when they only had a single block). Syracusan ranged attacks also proved effective in keeping units away from the river crossing.
Syracuse 5 - Carthage 3
Syracuse again had the advantage with a Heavy Unit order that pushed the center phalanx forward. The strategy was similar with them trying to hold the river to prevent crossings. Carthage did not want a repeat of last time so moved the heavy infantry and Sacred Band against the Syracusan phalanx. The initial impact seemed like it might provide the breakthrough needed to get across the river, but the line held and destroyed both the heavy infantry and the Sacred Band. From this point Syracuse used its light ranged fire to pepper the units cross the river to achieve victory. It would take a very aggressive maneuver as well as some luck to get units across the river. Of course in these two plays, Syracuse happened to have orders to quickly push the phalanx forward and shutdown the river (5 dice against 2 is a major imbalance.)
Syracuse 5 - Carthage 2
Syracusan hoplites try to bushwack a larger Carthaginian force as it crosses a river. I think the outcome of this scenario depends a lot on the luck of the Syracusan draw; the first time I played it, I got to play two Line Command cards on the first two turns and the result was a lopsided massacre and rout of the Carthaginians.
The second time I played the Carthaginians. My card luck was good and I managed to execute a successful right-flank attack with my Sacred Band heavies and chariots. This destroyed the Syracusan line, but the Sacred Band was nearly wiped out in the process (down to one block). I have to count that as a Carthaginian tactical victory but (given the scenario conditions) actually a strategic defeat for Carthage.