Chestnut Lodge Wargames Group

In the Hands of the Many

An onside report of ‘In the Hands of the Many’ run at the November 2014 meeting of Chestnut Lodge Wargames Group.

In the Hands of the Many – Onside Report

English: The Alliances of the Peloponnesian War

English: The Alliances of the Peloponnesian War (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bruce and I have been developing this game since the pub after Alea Iacta Est Iterum. There is a vast amount of potential in the Peloponnesian War between the Athenian Empire and the Spartan-led Peloponnesian League – land/naval asymmetry, different strands of conflict, alliance warfare, amphibious operations, revolts, sieges…

We wanted to try reflecting the fundamental political differences between the two sides through the use of chits as actions – so the oligarchic powers would have less control over what type of actions they could take, while the democracies had greater choice but need more consensus. So Athens would choose which chits to buy, while her foes would draw from a set. The game started at the beginning of the Archidamian war in 432 over the Corcyran alliance with Athens, the trade embargo on Megara and the rebellion of Potidaea.

The Game

The game was played on 3 of the intended 5 or 6 game maps. We had 5 players representing Athens, who needed separate people to place chits and then to resolve them. 2 played Sparta, 2 Corinth and 1 Thebes. We managed nearly 3 game years of 1 government, 3 strategic and 3 resolution phases each which I was pretty pleased with.

In 432 the Athenians influenced Argos and failed to progress with the siege at Potidaea, while the Spartans replaced the Theban army, who marched north to Thessaly. In 431 the Athenians finally took Potidaea, while Corinth defeated the Corcyran fleet and landed Theban troops who burnt the island’s crops. The Spartans marched into Attica and devastated the farmlands in the north while the Athenians stayed behind the walls, sending a small force to cause trouble in Laconia. Athens brought Argos into their alliance. In 430 the Athenian expedition kept the Spartan army at home most of the year, by hiding in the hills, while Corinth defeated the Argive army, occupying the Argolid. Athens sent part of her fleet to reinforce Corcyra, but the Corinthian fleet evaded them.


  • Distinguish between chits, which are actions/orders, and military units
  • Clearer that troops go home at end year
  • Crowded tables – have bigger maps and consider simultaneous, not sequential actions
  • Perhaps too easy for Athens to influence Argos, but Sparta didn’t intervene
  • Confusing to have a mixture of moving 2 or 3 troops – have the same number for everything
  • Needs some systems of reacting during the year – buy more chits at higher prices?
  • Allow colonies elsewhere as an investment and/or strategic control – link to trade?

My thoughts

  • Need to think again about the number and sequencing of chit placement
  • Really pleased with the way the game progressed
  • The chit system works, though we might have to tweak the numbers or allow some re-draws
  • The alliance warfare and hidden placement things worked well

Thanks everyone for getting stuck in and for a really fun and useful tryout. I’m sorry Bruce wasn’t able to make it but we’ll bring this back sometime next year.

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