Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Sons of Heracles

The Bronze Age has maintained a hold on my imagination since childhood. Early influences included a really good quality hard cover children’s Iliad and Odyssey book and countless Italian made sword and sandal movies, like the Sons of Hercules series. The book was written back when adults respected the intelligence of children. Its like is not to be found among the books offered for sale to children today. I have no excuse for the movies, except I enjoyed the action and the costumes. I also found the obligatory dancing girl scene that was included in each movie strangely interesting. Later on, Mary Renault’s ‘Theseus’ novels and the grown up version of the Iliad reinforced my interest.  It was inevitable that Homeric warriors would show up in my wargaming.

So it was that last week war came to the dusty plains of Mycenaean Greece. Betty, the slightly less attractive younger sister of Helen, has dumped her husband in favor of Favio Polybiceps, son of Mysoxargon, the Achaean king of Baklava. Her husband, Cucoldius, Heraclid king of Monopylae, ignores the restraining order she has against him and marches on Baklava. Heroes supported by bands of lesser men will fight it out under the watchful eye of (occasionally meddlesome) gods. Plus Polythemus the cyclops has joined Mysoxargon with the understanding that he gets to eat any prisoners.   

The gods look down from Olympus on the field of battle
Mysoxargon marshals his forces on the level ground before his town. His chariot and two others are on his left while his other four chariots and the 10 foot tall Cyclops anchor his right. His spearmen and skirmishing warriors form up behind the chariots. The Heraclid forces line up with 2 chariots on their right supported by skirmishers. The center is held by their spearmen. The left is led by King Cucoldius himself with 5 chariots.

                                       The hero Mysoxargon prepares for battle

As the armies close on each other the Kings and their chariot borne Heroes beseech the support of the gods. Zeus opposes any divine intervention in this human feud but the rest of the gods are sharply divided into factions supporting the contending armies.

        The Heraclid chariots roll forward while the goddess Aphrodite looks on
As the armies advance toward each other Aphrodite manages to slip out of Olympus undetected and joins Cucoldius forces. She prevents the advance of Mysoxargon and his supporting Heroes, who were poised to ride down a mass of Heraclid skirmishers. Seeing his opportunity, Cucoldius strikes home with his main chariot force against a lesser number of Achaean chariots supported by the Cyclops. Hero faces off against Hero in a life or death struggle for victory and everlasting fame. Two of the Achaean Heroes fall, but the Cyclops wades into the Heraclid chariots smashing them to kindling and sending their bronze clad Heroes to the underworld.

                         Polythemus the Cyclops wreaks havoc among the Heraclid warriors

Just as the mayhem reaches its peak the godess Hera slips out of Olympus to support her favorite, Mysoxargon. Zeus notices his wife and Aphrodite are missing and forces them to cease their meddling and return to Olympus. Mysoxargon, no longer held in check by Aphrodite, charges into the Heraclid skirmishers smiting them like there is no tomorrow. Seeing the Linear A writing on the wall, Cucoldius and what remains of his army flee the field. The battle is over. Betty, the face that launched 7 ships, marries Favio Polybiceps. In the course of time she puts on a lot of weight and he loses his hair. They are both soon forgotten.  

Postscript: The rules used for the game were DBA, with additional rules for the intervention of the gods. If anyone would like a copy of the divine intervention rules, let me know at and I'll send them along via email. Several of the Sons of Hercules movies complete with the cheesey theme song are on Youtube.