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the battle of stipsi, an aar

This week we played the battle of Stipsi, a not very well known battle which took place in 424 b.c. between the Beotian poleis of Stonfalos and Paracetamolos. We used He Hemetera Talassa as usual. Here you can see the two fleets arrayed for battle in front of an headland, on which the small village of Stipsi is located. They are very similar, 6 full size squadrons per side. The Stonfalians, on the right, are more diverse quality-wise: they have two elite and two poor squadrons, the Paracetamolians only one of each. Note that both strategoi, with a subtle tactical move, decided to deploy their leftmost squadron in line ahead… Also note the shallows just beyond and slightly to the right of the Stonfalians right wing.

The two sides advanced rapidly, despite being almost completely in line abreast. The Paracetamolians’ leftmost squadron, led by Dexippo, run ahead to pass around the shoals, hoping to catch the Stonfalians from the rear. However, the wily Stonfalian strategos had already foreseen the move, and left behind a squadron under Callicratidas to guard his rear.

On the other side, the leftmost Stonfalian commander Protomaco almost caught the enemy's flank! The Paracetamolian rightmost squadron under Cnemo was busy preparing for a diekplous and thus adopting the correct formation in double line ahead, and let the Stonfalians come too close. Here is the view from Stipsi.

However Cnemo, with a master manouver, was able to adopt an emergency kyklos formation and saved his ships!

However again, with a second reversal of fortune, in the ensuing melee the enraged Stonfalians smashed Cnemo’s kyklos!

The battle now was firing up all along the line. The center of the fleets engaged in contact and, alas, a Stonfalian squadron collapsed already, leaving a gap in the line.

Towards the open sea, Dexippo had now turned around the shoals but was hesitant in engaging Callicratidas. And the Stonfalian admiral, in turn, had no intention to engage, thus risking to endanger his fleet’s rear in case he got bested. Therefore, these waters remained calm - the only calm waters around Stipsi…

… while all along the battleline was an increasingly bloody melee.

The squadrons were fighting in furious duels to the last ship….

…while, on the open sea, Dexippo and Callicratidas continued to watch each other. At one point, on the landward side, Protomaco was finally able to overcome Cnemo’s squadrons and periploussed the Paracetamolian fleet, passing just behind the closest melee between two squadrons - which were by this point reduced to almost nothing!

But it was now too late. Both fleets had been badly mauled and most surviving ships had to cripple back to the home port, to avoid being sent to the bottom. While Dexippo and Callicratidas finally engaged in a brief and ridiculously unnecessary clash (probably with the only goal to save their own reputations), both strategoi called it a day and the fleets retired. It had been a bloody day, and both Stonfalos and Paracetamolos lost many sons to mourn...

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