2. Invasion 1   1 unit = 250 HI or Sparbara, 125 LH,
  Marathon; 490BC   160 LMI or Cv, 80 LI
     
 
Persia's near-unbroken record of victories against the Ionian Greeks convinced Darius that further glory and conquests could easily be won in Europe, on the Greek mainland. The deep divisions within Greek society further assured him that he would never have to fight a united enemy. His expedition sailed in early summer of 490BC. 300 ships attacked Greece directly by sea. Eretria and Athens, conspicuous in their roles of supporters of the Ionian revolt, were the immediate targets of the Great King's army. Eretria was captured within one week, whereafter the fleet landed at Marathon. The reason for this was twofold: the Persian host was accompanied by the deposed Athenian dictator Hippias, who had lived out his banishment as a Persian client. Marathon held fond memories for Hippias: he had landed there with his father in 546 to reclaim power during the Athenian power struggles of the time, because the area was then aligned with his clan, the Pisistratids. This time too, he might garner local support for a return to power. Secondly, Marathon offered flat terrain above the bay, crucial for the deployment of Persian cavalry. After the Persians disembarked, the two armies observed each other for 4 days. The Athenians were not keen to attack the army that had hitherto proven invincible against hoplites. The Persians too could not move against the hoplites in the confines of the pass where their cavalry would prove useless. Not until the Persians reembarked most of their cavalry and at least half of their infantry, were they compelled to attack the Athenians to prevent them from interfering with the reembarkation. Moreover, they could not delay the battle as Spartan reinforcements were reported to be on their way. The Athenians themselves, noticing the reembarkation, recognised their opportunity to fight the Persians with more or less equal numbers. So, when the Persians had moved to effective bow range and starting firing into the Greek's ranks, the hoplites charged, a run of 100 - 150 meters. (Many accounts state that the Greeks charged a distance of 1500 meters. It is impossible to do that and still fight. Instead, the full distance includes the pursuit. Incidentally, the Greeks did have a sprinting competition at their games where runners were competing over a distance of 300 meters, carrying full panoply.)
 
 
Game notes
The Athenian hoplites have extra movement to reflect their famous run. The hoplites who fought at Marathon proudly carried the epiteth 'I ran'.
 
 
Historical result
The Athenians won a remakable victory over the Persians. It is largely taken for granted that 'Persians can't stand up to Greeks', but the reality of the situation was vastly different from our romantic view of it. Persian armies had always defeated Greek armies before Marathon; Greeks had never been successful against the Persians. Persia was a superpower with a century of military success across an ever expanding empire whereas Athens was a small city state with barely 6000 fighters. Persia's military success was built around a mounted warrior caste of knights and horse archers backed up by standing, professional armies of sparabara. The Athenians were a city militia drawn from merchants, craftsmen and farmers. The Greek heroic warrior ethos passed with the heroes of the Trojan war long ago. Still, the Athenians knew how to fight, as borne out by the never-ending conflicts between the Greek city states. They were furthermore free men who each freely chose to fight for a common goal. The freedom to choose, in itself, was a big motivating factor, and something that was absent from the majority of soldiers in the Persian army. The Athenians must nevertheless have felt that they were facing desperate odds and their victory is all the more remarkable for it. The Persians, on the other hand, must have been utterly astounded.
 
     
 
ATHENIAN ARMY Classical Greek - list 60
Command: +6 Army demoralisation value: 33
  Left wing         command strength 13
CinC: Miltiades included Brilliant  +2 CP Range: 8UD      
units Troop description type Quality move strength Range M ft M mtd Abilities & notes
6 1500 Athenian hoplites* HI spearmen Ordinary 2.5UD 5   4 5 armour
2 600 Plataean hoplites HI spearmen Ordinary 2.5UD 4   4 5 armour
6 600 skirmishers with sling LI sling ordinary 3UD 2 2UD 2 1  -1 fire; evade
  Centre         command strength 7
Sub Themistocles Included Supreme  +3 CP Range: 8UD      
units Troop description type Quality move strength Range M ft M mtd Abilities & notes
4 1000 Athenian hoplites* HI spearmen ordinary 2.5UD 5   4 5 armour
  Right wing         command strength 13
Sub Calimachus Included competent  +1 CP Range: 6UD      
units Troop description type Quality move strength Range M ft M mtd Abilities & notes
2 500 elite Athenian hoplites* HI spearmen Elite 2.5UD 5   4 5 armour
8 2000 Athenian hoplites HI spearmen Ordinary 2.5UD 5   4 5 armour
 
     
 
PERSIAN ARMY Achaemenid Persian - list 64
Command: +5 Army demoralisation value: 42
  Centre         command strength 18
CinC: Daurises detached Brilliant  +2 CP Range: 8UD      
units Troop description type Quality move strength Range M ft M mtd Abilities & notes
8 2000 Persian & Saka sparabara MI mixed Elite 2UD 4 4UD 4 4 pavise; melee as mediocre; +1 melee on contact; no armour
  Left wing         command strength 9
Sub:  Artaphernes detached competent  +1 CP Range: 6UD      
units Troop description type Quality move strength Range M ft M mtd Abilities & notes
8 2000 Median sparabara MI mixed ordinary 2UD 4 4UD 4 4 pavise; melee as mediocre; +1 melee on contact; no armour
  Right wing         command strength 11
Sub:  Persian general included competent  +1 CP Range: 6UD      
units Troop description type Quality move strength Range M ft M mtd Abilities & notes
8 2000 Median sparabara MI mixed ordinary 2UD 4 4UD 4 4 pavise; melee as mediocre; +1 melee on contact; no armour
2 500 Ionian hoplites HI spearmen mediocre 2UD 5   4 5 armour
  Reserve         command strength 4
Sub:  Persian general included competent  +1 CP Range: 6UD      
units Troop description type Quality move strength Range M ft M mtd Abilities & notes
3 500 Persian cavalry* MC bow ordinary 4UD 4 2UD 3 3 no armour; evade
 
     
 
 
Download scenario here
 
 
 
Position of the armies according to Ray & Delbruck, the only position that allows the Athenians to fight without getting flanked by the Persian cavalry.
 
 
 
 
Map from "Land battles in 5th Century BC Greece"
by Fred E. Ray.
 
 
     
 
   
 
The abatis on the Athenian left wing is clearly visible in this enthusiastic painting of the Athenian charge. Not so easy though to run across felled trees.