Saga Age of Hannibal has 3 Greek factions, the Epirotes, Syracuse and Italian Greeks. Although Pyrrhus came to Sicily to aid Syracuse they later fell out so here we have a battle between Epirus and Syracuse. They both use the same battle board but Pyrrhus has access to elephants and must field his phalanx as Sarissa. These move ‘short’ except when they charge. Syracuse can field old style hoplites who can move without restriction but do not have the short range shooting (or poking) ability of the Sarissa. The Syracuse leader has the ability to cast Resilience on a nearby unit once a turn. Unfortunately it cannot be combined with LEGACY OF THE ANCESTORS to upgrade a unit to Resilience(2). As the ability requires use of a rest activation and the Graeculi have no relevant reaction ability the Resilence cast will only be used in a friendly turn and only if the target does not rest. Overall this ‘bonus’ is not going to see a lot of use.
Pyrrhus fields 2 units of 4 mounted Hearthguard, 2 units of phalangites, an elephant and 1 unit of javelin Levy. Syracuse has 1 unit of 8 Hearthguard, 3 of Warrior hoplite, 1 mounted Warrior and 1 Levy bow. The faction can field up to 8 Hearthguard models but only as a single unit. Victory is based on massacre points but the total is capped based on the number of enemy objectives destroyed. The Epirotes use sheep and Syracuse uses cattle and pigs as objectives. Both sides minimise terrain as the cavalry and phalanx units are all penalised outside of good going.
Both sides deploy ‘long’ in so there is not much room for manoevre moves early in the game. On turn 1 the Epirotes shuffle up what little they can. Syracuse shoot their bows and with some lucky rolls remove 3 of the unit of 4 mounted Hearthguard figures.
On the following turn things go poorly on the other flank. The elephant shoots at the Syracuse cavalry and the Hearthguard charge in but the melee is a draw and they bounce off.
The Syracuse horse Warriors wipe out the last Epirote Hearthguard putting a pin on the elephant. The nearby hoplite Warriors charge in, bounce off but add 2 more pins (1 combat and 1 melee).
The elephant rests and tries to finish off the Syracuse mounted Warriors; it does not go well. On the other flank Sarissa Warriors push back the Syracuse Hearthguard and kill their Warlord; a tricky use of THE HAMMER AND THE ANVIL. Looking back Syracuse should have taken a bodyguard loss onto their Hearthguard from the Warlord. A Syracuse special rule is that now every Syracuse unit takes a fatigue.
The following Syracuse turn is spent with their few remaining dice stripping fatigue.
The Syracuse Hearthguard are finshed off and both sets of Levy come to blows in the ruins.
The Syracuse forces fail to destroy an Epirote objective.
The Epirotes have more luck on the other side of the table. Parts of the ruined terrain have magically moved to one side making room for the continuing Levy brawl.
Syracuse forces take out an Epirote objective and shuffle their Warriors to protect their own threatened objective. Objectives are impassable so it is tricky to move from one side to the other.
The Epirote general makes an end run for a distant Syracuse objective and whiffs the combat. Although another Syracuse objective was much closer it was blocked by Syracuse Warriors. Saga units move in straight lines. The best the general could have done was a dog leg of 2 Medium moves; not good enough to get into position on the nearby objective.
In the last turn of the game Syracuse Warriors make a similar run for an objective on the other side of the table and manage to destroy it.
The final scores on the doors see 1 Syracuse objective destroyed to 2 Epirote. Massacre points are capped at 16 for Epirus and 24 for Syracuse. Counting up points the Epirote total of 26 is reduced to 16 but Syracuse only scores 15. The elephant has presence but that does not affect massacre points so losing it only costs 1/2 for the Warrior and 1 for the unit. STOP PRESS – the elephant counts as 12 levy, working out to 4 massacre points and 1 for the unit pushing Syracuse into the win following this late judges’ ruling.
Looking back the Syracuse force do rather better out of the Graeculi battle board than Epirus. The board has no ability to specifically buff elephants. HETAIROI benefits mounted troops best (of which elephants are not) but both forces can field cavalry. The Epirote mounted Hearthguard being more useful than the Syracuse mounted Warriors. Syracuse are the only Greek faction that can load up on phalanx benefits although none of these abilities are major game changers. Syracuse might have been better off only fielding 4 Hearthguard and buying another 8 Warriors with the points saved to get a little more benefit from the phalanx rules but more importantly another Saga die. The Epirote Sarissa is a disappointment; it should be better than a hoplite spear because of its historical success. The medieval Scottish spear was not as long as the Greek Sarissa but the Scots Saga list has some useful advanced abilities loosely based on the long spear. The Epirote Sarissa has none of that; in the long term improvements might come when the Age of Alexander book is released.