Sunday, 28 June 2020

Casilinum 554 AD - A Scenario for l'Art de la Guerre


Casilinum 554 AD
The Battle of Volturno River as a Scenario for l‘Art de la Guerre

“(…) Yes, Hildebad is strong, very strong, even if he is not quite as strong as Winithar and Walamer and the others I knew in my youth. And strength is a good thing against Germanic peoples like our own. But these southerners fight from walls and towers. They conduct war like an exercise in arithmetic, and in the end they can calculate an army of warriors into a corner where they can barely move. I know of one such master tactician in Byzantium. He is not a man himself, and yet he defeats men. You know him too I think, Witigis.”
The last words were addressed to the one with the sword, who had become very serious. “Yes, I know Narses, and I am afraid that what you have said is only too true. (…)” (Old Hildebrand’s words in Felix Dahn’s  novel “A Struggle for Rome”)

Our gaming group enjoys two types of wargaming with miniatures equally, historical simulations as well as free or competitive gaming. Accordingly we usually favour different kinds of rules for these games. On the one hand detailed sets with a relatively narrow chronological or geographical focus on a specific historical period or setting (e.g. Johnny Reb, Napoleon’s Battles) to provide “period flair” and historical precision for simulations. On the other hand, with an eye on army list-based gaming and competitions, we like certain established rulesets covering the traditional „Ancients“ (and Medieval) periods in wargaming, covering the whole pre-gunpowder era ca. 3000 BC – 1500 AD (e.g. WRG 6th Edition, ARMATI, DBA).  
For some time now our main attention has been focused on the l’Art de la Guerre rules, playing Ancient and Medieval battles mainly with 15mm miniatures. We have been enjoying this greatly. Mostly we have used historical match-ups, but no historical orders of battle.  For a long time I have been interested in trying out some of the “established” Ancients rule sets and army lists for a researched historical scenario. The idea was quickly born to use the ADLG rules and the official army lists for a simulation game, and find out in how the results compare with the historical events.
I decided on a standard 200 points game with 15mm figures on an 80x120 cm table with the plan to stick as closely as possible to the standard rules and army lists, as they would be used at a competition. A suitable historical battle was quickly found: Casilinum 554 AD, mainly because my Justinian Byzantine army had just been painted and based. But the battle fits the purpose also for other reasons, it is comparatively well-documented through a relatively detailed written account, the numbers involved fit the ADLG scales quite nicely and, last but not least, the very different character of the two armies promised an interesting game.
The relevant primary source is a written account of the battle by Agathias, a byzantine historian of the 6th Century.

The Historical Background
The Battle of Casilinum was one of the last chapters in the epic story of Emperor Justinian’s re-conquest of the West. After in the Fall of 552 AD the Eastern Roman general Narses had ultimately decided the Gothic War for the Empire in the battle of Mons Lactarius, where Teia, last king of the Ostrogoths, fell, a Frankish army invaded Italy in the Spring of 553 AD.
The Franks had been allied to the Ostrogoths earlier, when Witigis had appealed to them for help, but they had proven to be very unreliable. Now they apparently saw the unstable situation in Itay as a chance for plunder or even conquest. The army is described as very large and seems to have been recruited completely or at least mainly from the recently subjugated Alamannic territories of the Merovingian kingdom. This army was led by two brothers, Butilin(us) and Leuthari (Lothar). While Narses was occupied with besieging the remaining Ostrogothic garrisons, the Franks advanced into the South of Italy. There the Frankish host split into halves, one part, under Leuthari, was apparently decimated by a plague and perished in Southern Italy. The other part, under Butilin, turned back north. Butilin’s still sizeable force was also afflicted by hunger and disease when Narses blocked their way in Campania, at the river Volturnus (modern Volturno), near Capua, and offered battle. According to Agathias Butinin’s men had picked unripe grapes to quench hunger and thirst after their supplies had been blocked by the Romans, and many had fallen ill. In spite of this the Frankish army still outnumbered Narses’ troops and Butilin therefore aggressively sought battle.
 The Franks crossed the Volturno near the ancient city of Capua, by the small town of Casilinum. Here is where they met the Eastern Roman army that Narses had assembled and marched from Rome. Narses’ polyglot army consisted of regular units and barbarian federates, including a contingent of Heruls. Shortly before the battle there was an incident which put the loyalty of this force in doubt. A Herulian captain had killed a slave for a negligible offence and Narses treated this breach of discipline as murder and had the man executed. The irate Heruls under their leader Sindual threatened to mutiny and fell back in the Eastern Roman column during deployment. Narses deployed his troops defensively, with a phalanx of regular infantry, stiffened by dismounted cavalry and supported from behind by missile troops. Initially there remained a gap in the centre, meant to be filled by the still approaching Heruls. On the right wing there was regular cavalry and some Huns and Narses himself with his bodyguard of Bucellarii. On the Roman left wing there was more regular cavalry and Bucellarii under the generals Artabanes and Valerian. In this sector was a wood, behind which a part of the Eastern Roman force hid in ambush.
The Franks, who had been informed about an impending mutiny in the imperial army by some Herulian deserters, approached in their characteristically aggressive fashion. With the river in their back they deployed in a large “Wedge” formation, which Agathias compares to the shape of the Greek letter delta, and refers to with the Germanic expression “boar’s head”. They advanced in a staggered, echeloned Formation that looked like a flat triangle, with dismounted nobles and the best warriors at the front and two wings stretching backwards, leaving an open space in the middle. If Agathias’ description is correct, this is an interesting reference to the typical Germanic “wedge” formation, which has often been misinterpreted as an arrowhead-shape, but is now commonly interpreted as a deep attack column. Agathias’ specific mentioning of a triangle could simply be a literary invention or it could imply that here three columns formed the wedge, a centre “head” and, staggered back to protect its flanks, two “wings”. This is the interpretation by Roy Boss and since it fits the command system of ADLG very nicely, I decided to follow this.
The Frankish attack broke through the Eastern Roman centre and reached Narses’ camp, while they were enveloped on both flanks by Roman cavalry. Continuous missile fire from mounted archers caused high casualties among the mainly unarmoured Franks, allegedly by firing over the nearest wing of the Frankish wedge into the unshielded sides of the warriors on the opposite wing. In the centre the day was saved for the Eastern Roman Franks by the Heruls who belatedly arrived after Sindual’s loyalty to Rome (or, more likely, Narses’ paychest) had gotten the better of his earlier indignation. The Heruls threw back the Franks from the Roman camp and the Frankish formation collapsed under pressure from three sides. Butilin’s army was driven into the river and annihilated. Narses’ decisive victory ended the episode of the Frankish campaign in Italy.

The Scenario
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L’Art de la Guerre - Historical Scenario

The Battle of Casilinum, 554 AD
The Eastern Romans (125. Justinian Byzantine) 200P.
Left Wing: Sub-General Artabanes (Competent Commander)
1X Bucellarii Heavy Cavalry Impact Bow Elite
5X Kavallaroi Heavy Cavalry Bow (historical set-up: 3 Units in Ambush)
Centre: Sub-General Sindual (Unreliable Commander)
4X Lombards & Gepids Heavy Spearmen
4X Roman Heavy Swordsmen Mediocre with missile support
1X Roman Light Infantry Bow
Fortified Camp
Right Wing: C-in-C Narses (Strategist), included
1X Bucellarii* Heavy Cavalry Impact Bow Elite
3X Kavallaroi Heavy Cavalry Bow
1 X Huns Light Cavalry Bow Elite

The Franks (144. Merovingian Frankish) 200 P.
Left Wing: Sub-General (Competent Commander), included
7X Heavy Swordsmen Impetuous
1X Light Infantry Bow
Centre (Franks): C-in-C Butilinus (Competent Commander), included
4X Heavy Cavalry Impetuous Elite, dismounted (Heavy Swordsmen Impetuous Elite Armoured)
3X Heavy Swordsmen Impetuous
1X Light Infantry Javelin
Fortified Camp
Right Wing Sub-General (Competent Commander), included
7X Heavy Swordsmen Impetuous
1X Light Infantry Bow
Scenario Rules:
Deployment:
The Franks are considered the attacker. The Eastern Romans start with the set-up, the Franks have the first move.
The only compulsory terrain piece is a maximum sized wood in the Eastern Roman left flank sector.
Optional terrain pieces can only be smaller woods, fields or plantations and are only allowed in the flank sectors.

Historical set-up:
The compulsory wood is the only terrain piece and contains an Eastern Roman ambush marker which hides 3 units Heavy Cavalry Bow from the left flank command. The fortified camps of both players are placed at the table edge (or river bank) in the front sector.

Free set-up:
There is 1 additional optional terrain piece per player which can only be placed in the flank sectors, the Eastern Roman player has then 3 ambush markers with the normal rules.

Additional option:
The Volturnus River can be set up along the base edge of the Frankish player as an impassable terrain piece. For historical set-ups this is highly recommended.

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Battle Plan - Historical Set-up

OOB Byzantines

OOB Franks


The Game
We played the scenario three times for test and have played it several times after that. All games we had were close, exciting and balanced with the luck of battle shifting back and forth. The first three games had each a different outcome. The first game was a victory for the Franks, who had reached 22 of 26 demoralization points in the final bound, the Eastern Romans were demoralized with 24 demoralization points vs. their breakpoint of 21. The second game was an Eastern Roman victory, they received 20 out of 21 demoralization points while the Franks exactly reached their breakpoint of 26 in the final bound. The third game was a draw, with both sides simultaneously reaching their respective breakpoints during the last bound.
Here is a short report of the first game (Butilin’s victory):

The Frankish player deployed the three commands shoulder to shoulder, forming a flat triangle. The central command stood two units deep, the flank commands each in two colums, staggered back outwards. This corresponded relatively closely to the description of the “boar’s head”.
The advance of the Franks was straightforward in the centre, at the flanks the Frankish commands wheeled outwards towards the threatening cavalry. By doing so the commands disintegrated into separate columns which could not all succeed in extending and forming proper battle lines.
The focal problem for the Franks was the lack of manoeuvrability of their impetuous troops. The Frankish player tried to solve this problem by usually advancing at full speed and, where necessary, wheeling as far as possible.

On the flanks the Eastern Roman player advanced with his cavalry into bowshot range and evaded the Frankish charges. Also, when necessary, the cavalry disengaged from melee. The Frankish units on the flanks took casualties from missile fire and their formation slowly but surely lost cohesion.


The game was decided by a mistake of the Eastern Roman player who did not act defensively enough in the centre. He gave the Franks the opportunity to get into hand to hand combat one turn too early. The Roman centre was overwhelmed and the camp plundered. However, at the end it was still surprisingly close, because the units of Bucellarii on both flanks wiped out several weakened units of tribal warriors. But the Eastern Roman player did not manage to cause enough casualties quickly enough to balance out his own losses in the centre.  
The "Boar's Head"


Alamannic Camp Life

The Franks march forth

Artabanes


The Clash of Battle

Close Combat

Sindual and the Heruls


Butilin Breaks Through

Narses' Counter-Attack

The Sack of the Camp: "Oh, look - a clean toga, how nice!"


Thoughts regarding the scenario
In my representation of the battle I follow largely the account of Agathias, although the famous military historian Hans Delbrück rejects it as completely invented. A very clear and convincing modern interpretation of Agathias’ description of the battle can be found in “Justinian’s Wars” by Roy Boss, from Montvert Publications. For the conversion of the battle account into a wargame several basic decisions had to be made, considering the interpretation of historical information within the framework of the rules and army lists.
The first consideration are the numbers given by Agathias in connection with the scale of troop representation in the scenario. According to the source the Franco-Alemannic army had originally numbered 75,000-80,000 men and the part under Butilin was allegedly still 30,000 strong when battle commenced. Narses army is mentioned to have been 18,000 strong. Delbrück believes these numbers to be wildly exaggerated, especially regarding the Franks. He even suggests a superiority in numbers for the Eastern Romans. Doubts are surely justified regarding Agathias’ numbers, since a deployment of 80,000 warriors was certainly beyond the logistical capacity of the Merovingians at this time, in particular if the army was indeed recruited exclusively from the Alemannic part of the realm. Roy Boss reconstructs the numbers at 18,000 for Narses (6000 cavalry, 12,000 infantry) and Butilin as having 22,000 warriors in three “battles” (or wings), 8000 Franks in the centre, including an elite of dismounted nobles, and 7000 Alemannic warriors on each wing. I believe that the notion of both armies being roughly 15,000-20,000 strong might be realistic, perhaps the Romans a little weaker and the Franks a little stronger. During Late Antiquity and the Migrations Period armies were usually small, but a figure of roughly 20,000 per side seems to have been a fairly typical number found in larger and decisive field battles. If one does not discount Agathias’ account as pure fantasy and considers that Narses’ army was originally scattered around Italy and could not have been completely assembled without lifting various sieges of remaining Gothic garrisons, one can draw a picture that fits the framework of the ADLG army lists very well. In my reconstruction I follow the scales suggested in the ADLG rules and assume one unit of close order infantry to equal ca. 1000 men, with half as many for Skirmishers. One unit of cavalry equals ca. 300 soldiers. Therefore in the orders of battle for the scenario I have ca. 16,000 Eastern Romans (including ca. 3300 cavalry), facing ca. 23,000 Franks. This is surprisingly close to the primary source. I did however simplify it by counting the missile support of the regular Roman foot units as full units of missile troops in the representation. Hopefully this does not disturb the attempt at simulation too much, since the role of the Roman regular missile troops, as described in the source and reconstructed by Roy Boss and others, was actually precisely what “missile support” does in ADLG. There is no mentioning of the relatively numerous foot units with missile weapons in Narses’ army taking anything like an independent battlefield role but are exclusively mentioned to support the Roman infantry by shooting overhead from a second line or the back ranks.

The representation of the Heruls is a difficult question, they could have been either relatively independent allies or semi-regular mercenaries, who were integrated into the Roman army. They are referred to as “federates”. There was a proven trend for such “Barbarian” units in the Eastern Roman or Byzantine army to become more and more regular and sometimes even acquire elite or guards status. On the other hand the imperial army in Italy consisted of recruits from various different ethnic origins, many of who would even be habitually ready to change sides when payment was in arrears. The source stresses the Heruls, under their own commander Sindual, as a separate contingent, but they were part of a “Roman” army in which Armenians, Huns and various Germans served next to actual Romans. Because Narses had a Herulian captain executed, which implies that this contingent was fully subjected to Roman discipline, I prefer to treat these federates as integral part of the Roman army rather than as allies. However, the mutinous mood of the Heruls and doubtful loyalty of Sindual should be depicted in the scenario as a significant aspect of the historical battle, as should be the possibility of a belated arrival of the Heruls. Since I wanted to stick to the usual structure of standard games, I ruled out fielding the Heruls as a fourth command in the Eastern Roman army. Therefore I decided to put the whole Roman centre, including the regular troops, under Sindual’s command and classify him as an unreliable commander. This believably depicts both the defensive (if not passive) behaviour of the regular infantry phalanx as well as the unreliability and potentially belated participation of Sindual and his Heruls in the battle within the mechanics of the game. Historically a sound  alternative could be to have the Heruls as off-table reserves and dicing for their arrival.
  
The only terrain features mentioned in the source are a wood on the left Roman flank, behind which part of the cavalry hides, and the river some way in the back of the Frankish army. The ambush described by Agathias can be nicely represented with the rules for ambushes in ADLG, which are a very nice aspect of this rule set. The scenario prescribes one Roman ambush marker in the left flank sector, with which I follow Roy Boss’s interpretation and my own understanding of Agathias. There are however modern interpretations of the battle which suggest wooded areas and Roman cavalry ambushes on both wings. I therefore included the option to use additional terrain pieces in both flank sector and, accordingly, up to 3 ambush markers for the Eastern Roman player.

 While the depiction of the Eastern Romans with list 125 “Justinian Byzantine” was a clear case, the question which list would be the best choice for the Franks is a little bit more complicated. Chronologically the correct list would be 144 “Merovingian Frankish”. The Merovingian list however does not offer a specific classification of Butilin’s army as Alamannic. In this regard list 96 “Franks, Alamanni, Burgundi, Suevi” could be an alternative option, even if it is some years off. The earlier Frankish list offers 4 units of noble cavalry (which are principally allowed to dismount per the rules) and the option to classify up to all of the Frankish foot warriors as elite. The Alamanni are allowed units of LMI Bowmen. Following the interpretation by Roy Boss this could be used to depict two commads of ordinary Alamanni warriors and Bowmen on the wings and a large block of Frankish elite warriors in the centre. The Merovingian list offers the possibility to field numerous Gallo-Roman troops, both horse and foot. Delbrück stresses that one has to imagine a “Frankish” army of this period as ethnically mixed, and not exclusively Germanic in nature. The heavy infantry in this list can however no longer be upgraded to elite status, but the 4 units noble cavalry remain.  I decided to use the correct list for the date of the battle, 144, to stay true to my original idea to be as close as possible to the specifications of the official army lists. In addition to that the description of the Franks by Agathias appears quite homogeneous, with no differentiation between Frankish, Alemannic or Gallo-Roman contingents. Also there is no mentioning of any kind of missile troops. I wanted to stay true to this picture also because it nicely highlights the difference between the two opposing armies by stressing the somewhat “monothematic” character of the Frankish host. However, list 144 causes two problems for this scenario. Firstly there is no option to include dismounted nobles as heavy foot from the start of the battle. The option to dismount the noble cavalry is there, but by the standard rules they would be medium swordsmen. They would be armoured and impetuous, just as I want them, but not in close order. There is no reason to suppose that Butilin and his personal comitatus would not have fought shoulder to shoulder with their men in the shieldwall or wedge. Since the list gives no option to upgrade heavy infantry I decided to deviate from the list in this detail and represent the dismounted nobles as heavy foot (in this case armoured, impetuous and elite) and pay an extra point per unit. Another deviation from the list resulted from the description of the Frankish camp, which was clearly fortified. There is a specific reference to wooden Frankish fortifications in the source, which could even be simulated by the use of field fortifications that the list allows. This would however force the Frankish player to garrison those, something that I considered might unbalance the game. So, for playability as well as realism, I decided to give both sides a fortified camp.

Report of the second game:
In the following you find a picture report of our second game (Narses‘ victory):


The deplaoyment corresponded closely to the first game, again we decided on a historical set-up. The Frankish player grouped his commands in the “boear’s head”. However, the Frankish commands spread out more quickly this time and wheeled outwards, so that a reverse “U” shape was formed out of three “shield walls”, unlike the parallel columns of the first game.

The Eastern Roman player this time kept his centre still further back and held spearmen in reserve to move into the front before contact and create overlaps in important combats.

It turned out that the Eastern Roman centre was, despite the best efforts, still much weaker than the Franks The respite won by more patience and clever exploitation of local numerical superiorities was enough to give the Eastern Roman cavalry the opportunity to cause enough casualties to demoralize the Franks.




The Battlefield

The Deployment

The Eastern Romans

The Franks

The First Round





The Decision

The End

The 15mm miniatures are from Old Glory (Franks) and Donnington Miniatures (Eastern Romans), the camps are from Baueda and Alternative Armies with bits and pieces from Essex Miniatures and Donnington Miniatures. The bases are from Litko Aerosystems.


The Sources:

Agathias, Histories, II 3-9

Boss, Roy, Justinian's Wars: Belisarius, Narses and the Reconquest of the West (Montvert Publications), 1993

Macdowall, Simon, Conquerors of the Roman Empire: The Franks (Pen&Sword Military), 2018

Conclusion:

We found that all games were a race against time. The Franks (especially the noble elite warriors) can, when given the chance, usually smash the Eastern Roman centre. However, they have command issues and are relatively slow. Meanwhile the Romans (in particular the Bucellarii) are very strong on the flanks and can casuse a lot of damage there.
The games were all great fun and the repeated playing of the same scenario with unchanged troops composition helped us to get a better feeling for the finer points of the rules and the respective capabilities of troop types. We found it to be a very positive experience that under ADLG realistic historical results are not only possible, but the rules actually reward players who follow the historical tactics of their armies.
We would of course be grateful for any feedback concerning the scenario and our games!

Yogsothoth


Tuesday, 15 August 2017

The Batavian Revolt with "To The Strongest" in 6mm



The Batavian Revolt with “To The Strongest


The Year of Four Emperors and especially the events on the Rhine frontier, namely the Batavian Revolt, have been a particular research interest of our gaming group for quite some time. Once again it is one of the local topics in military history that we find so fascinating, the battlefields of AD 69 and 70 are very close to our homes (as a matter of fact, after the game we went out for a meal and could locate the battlelines of the final battle on a public city map).


One issue with wargaming the period has been so far to decide on the miniature scale and the ruleset, there are 28mm armies in the making but nothing definite had been decided. Until, well until Mad Dog came along and surprised us with a radically new approach: Why not use 6mm figures? They would be quick to paint and could form large, believable units. And while he was at it, why not try out a new ruleset? “To The Strongest” seemed to offer the interesting combination of playability and unconventional (at least for us) game mechanics.


We decided to give it a try and enjoy the spectacle of 6mm legions marching to battle in the forests of Germania, on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Here is what we experienced:


The Rules


To The Strongest” is different from other rules that we use by employing decks of playing cards in place of dice and that movement is organized by square fields, so rulers are not needed. The game is played in alternating bounds and units are organised in commands under their generals. Each player gets the chance to activate all commands during a turn, however, failure to activate a unit ends that respective command’s movements and actions. Activation of units and combat are decided by drawing cards from one’s hand and meeting a minimum numeral. Units can be activated for several actions per turn, but they must activate on a higher numeral than the one used for the previous activation. This creates a realistic feeling of “command attrition” as actions become progressively more difficult, while the cards are used up. Officers and special rules can provide opportunities to e-draw cards if necessary, but usually only once per turn. It is therefore an important part of the play to carefully consider the order of activations and actions in one’s army.


The Armies


We used these army lists in the battles we played:



Pricipate Romans

Unit type

Save

Chits

VP

Points

Primipilar Aquilius

detached foot

2+

 

2

5

Auxiliarii sagittarii

Bowmen, veteran

7+

7

2

9

Auxilian Cohort

Auxiliaries

6+

 

2

8

Auxilian Cohort

Auxiliaries

6+

 

2

8

Camp

Camp

---

 

3

1

11 victory points, demoralised once 6 points are lost

 

 

 

 

 

 

Legat C. Sempronius Longus

detached mounted, senior

2+

 

2

7

Legionarii

Legionaries

6+

 

2

10

Legionarii

Legionaries

6+

 

2

10

Legionarii

Legionaries

6+

 

2

10

Carroballistae

Artillery

7+

6

1

8

Servus castrensis

Light Infantry, raw, javelin

8+

1

1

3

Camp

Camp

---

 

3

1

13 victory points, demoralised once 7 points are lost

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prefectus T. Mala

Attached mounted

3+

 

2

5

Equites Alares

Cavalry, veteran, javelin

6+

3

2

11

Equites Alares

Cavalry, veteran, javelin

6+

3

2

11

Lanciarii

Light Infantry, veteran, javelin

7+

3

1

5

Servus castrensis

Light Infantry, raw, javelin

8+

1

1

3

Camp

Camp

---

 

3

1

11 victory points, demoralised once 6 points are lost

Castrum

5x field fortification

 

 

 

5

 

 

 

 

 

120

Ammunition Chits Reserve

 

 

7

 

 

Victory point total is 35, divided by 3 gives 11 Victory medals


 


Germani

Unit type

Save

Chits

VP

Points

Prefectus Julius Civilis

detached mounted, heroic, senior

3+

 

2

8

Cavalry ( Ex corporis custodes )

Cavalry, veteran, javelin, attached light Inf.

6+

5

3

15

Batavian Auxilian Cohort

Auxiliaries, veteran

5+

 

2

10

Canninefat Auxilian Cohort

Auxiliaries, veteran

5+

 

2

10

Skirmishers

Light Infantry, javelin

7+

2

1

4

10 victory points, demoralised once 5 points are lost

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frisii Chief Hauko

Attached foot, heroic

3+

 

2

5

Cavalry

Cavalry, raw, javelin

8+

1

2

7

Hosio´s Warriors

Warriors, deep, Hero Hosio

7+

 

3

10

Badafred´s Warriors

Warriors, deep, Hero Badafred

7+

 

3

10

Skirmishers

Light Infantry, javelin

7+

2

1

4

11 victory points, demoralised once 6 points are lost

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chauki Chief Chario

Attached mounted, heroic

3+

 

2

6

Cavalry

Cavalry, raw, javelin

8+

1

2

7

Segimer´s Warriors

Warriors, deep, Hero Segimer

7+

 

3

10

Leudo´s Warriors

Warriors, deep, Hero Leudo

7+

 

3

10

Skirmishers

Light Infantry, javelin

7+

2

1

4

11 victory points, demoralised once 6 points are lost

 

 

 

 

 

120

Ammunition Chits Reserve

 

 

7

 

 

Victory point total is 32, divided by 3 gives 10 Victory medals

 





The set up

The Gaming Table


We used a 120 X 90cm playing surface, covered with a printed cloth showing a grid of 10 cm squares. Terrain was the Roman fortified marching camp and a number of woods. This was meant to represent a fairly generic Rhineland landscape.


The Battles


Both games started with a general advance by the Germani against the Roman lines, who stayed on the defensive. The first time the terrain obstructed the movement of some Germanic warbands, who reached the Roman frontlines in a rather piecemeal fashion. This resulted in a rout of the Batavian army. After the game we went out for a meal and discussed the experience and mistakes that we had made.


Then we modified the Batavian set up and replayed the battle. The second game was very close and exciting, the Germanic Warbands reached the Roman lines en masse and, after being repulsed and having regrouped, managed to turn the left flank of the Roman line and push through towards the camp. The Batavian elite cavalry proved instrumental in securing the left flank of the Germani, where the Romans had managed to break through almost simultaneously with Germanic success on the other side of the battle line.


The first battle

From the Roman side

The second battle

Auxiliaries

Tribesmen

Roman battle lines

Catapults defending the camp

Advancing warbands

The Batavians are coming!

Germanic cavalry

The advance

Spectacular view of massed tribesmen attacking Roman auxiliaries in a deep column ("wedge")

Tribesmen

And more tribesmen

Representative view of game sequence with "Cards on the table"

The Romans stand firm (yet)

Impending carnage



The breakthrough


Conclusion


We found the second game to be a very realistic depiction of historical events, Roman legions (with their additional pila) and both Batavian elites (higher saving throw than legions) and even warbands (with “expendable” heros) all had convincing strengths and weaknesses but were, on the whole, evenly matched.


Shooting proved to be a moral factor (long range catapults inciting a quick advance by the enemy) but relatively indecisive in terms of casualties. Cavalry was extremely dangerous due to their mobility, but unable to achieve success head-on. Victory depended on legions, auxiliaries and warbands. We found this outcome very realistic.


The games were played very quickly, the first one took us less than 3 hours, the second one less than two.


The 6mm scale was visually very impressive on the table by enabling us to field large units with many figures; the number of miniatures per base was four times more than what is normally used on 15mm scale elements.


Altogether it was a very enjoyable and exciting gaming experience, many thanks to Mad Dog for two fair and nice games, as well as introducing me to a new set of rules. And, last but not least, I would like to express my admiration for his excellent painting of the small miniatures and great modelling skills shown in the manufacture of that camp and woods! Visually it was a spectacular game!