Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Great Battle at Carthage

The latest from the Punic Front:
Hannibal takes up a defensive position with everything he could scrape together to face Scipio's Romans.  Thomas rolled for the terrain, and Simon set it up.  The Romans are confronted by some nasty terrain on their right (a steep hill and some rough), and there is also a long ridge to their centre left.  Hannibal's deployment (in blue) from the left as you look at it:

Right Wing (Simon and Graham commanding): two units of eight Numidian light horse, one behind the other; two units of twelve Citizen Medium Cavalry; 24 Celtiberians; and in reserve a unit of twelve Punic aristocrats, elite heavy cavalry.  Eight javelin-armed skirmishers are out front.

Centre (Paul): a large unit of four elephants in column; 24 Punic heavy spearmen, in depth; 24 Celtiberians, and in reserve another 24 Punic heavy foot, this time set up wide.  Two units of eight javelinmen as a skirmish screen.

Left Wing (Gordon): 48 Scutarii; two units of 48 African Medium Spearmen in columns; twelve Caetrati facing the rough; and two units of eight slingers out front.

Scipio's troops have come straight from their successful Iberian campaign, and are bolstered by Numidian light horse.  The Latins are in white, just to differentiate them.  From the left as you see it:

Left wing and centre left (Dougie): eight Numidian Light Cavalry; eighteen heavy Latin cavalry; 18 heavy Latin cavalry; 24 Latin Triarii in column, taken from the two Latin legions and brigaded together; and the 1st Latin legion, comprising eight Velites, 24 Hastati and 24 Principes.  He also has ten Cretan archers.

Centre (Dave): the 2nd Latin legion,comprising eight Velites, 24 Hastati and 24 Principes; and the 1st Roman legion, made up of eight Velites, 24 Hastati, 24 Principes and 12 Triarii.

Centre right and right wing (me): the 2nd Roman legion, of eight Velites, 24 Hastati, 24 Principes and 12 Triarii; two units of 8 Numidian light horse; and ten Balearic slingers.

The Romans have set up so as to maximise their cavalry on the open left wing, supported by the brigade of Latin Triarii if necessary.  Their right has no intention of going anywhere near all that rough.  The Carthaginians are obviously hoping to win by punching with their left.

Lighting at the club is now truly terrible, so I didn't even attempt to take any photos.  Instead, I'm going to do something I haven't done for a long time, and use Battle Chronicler maps to explain the action.  I hope it's clear; I wanted some way to record this battle, because of its importance for the campaign, so here goes...

The above shows the situation after the first turn.  The Roman legions have moved to their right to try to counter the large columns of African spearmen - no sense in letting one of those slip by the end of the infantry line and then flank the legions.  I pull back the Numidian light horse on the right so as to make space.  Elsewhere, both armies advance and some of the skirmishers clash at the Roman left centre.

There are some shooting exchanges between the javelinmen of both armies, resulting in the destruction of a unit of Carthagnian skirmishers, and then the melees start to appear.  The Carthaginian Citizen Medium Cavalry charge into the Roman heavies and immediately have a bad time.  The Hastati of the 1st Roman legion contacts both the Scutarii and the Celtiberians to their front, and I force the Hastati of the 2nd Roman legion forward so as to hit one of the advancing foot columns just before the other can join in.  My Numidians straighten up a little on the extreme right.
The fighting intensifies.  At the extreme left of the Roman army, the Numidians of both sides clash.  Dougie sends in the Hastati of the 1st Latin Legion against the elephants and the heavy spearmen, but he holds back the Triarii (just in case).  Dave attacks with the Hastati of the 2nd Latin legion.  My legion is going to be under severe pressure, as the second large column of medium spearmen attacks my Hastati, and the Caetrati threaten to come round and join in at my right.  I put the Numidians in the way.
On our left, the victorious Roman cavalry sweeps everything away from their immediate front, and then promptly goes loopy and charges forward as fast as possible.  This rather unfortunately brings them into contact with the next wave; Dougie holds the Triarii back to keep watch on this flank - this will be a crucial decision point.  The 2nd Latin legion has destroyed the Celtiberians at its front, and the Carthaginians throw in the heavy spearmen there.  The Hastati of both Roman legions have been destroyed, and now it's the turn of the Principes.  The Caetrati attack my Numidians.
Things are becoming clearer now, evening out into a series of desperate combats.  The Roman heavy cavalry are in real trouble now on our left.  The Hastati of the 1st Latin legion have been destroyed by the combination of the elephants and heavy spearmen, but not to worry - that's why we have Principes.  The Spanish Scutarii have started to wilt in the centre of the enemy line, but my legion on the right is in real trouble.  The Caetrati have effortlessly disposed of the first unit of Numidians, and are now happily munching into the next one.  Various skirmishers have been removed, and the battle is approaching its climax.
Our cavalry has now been wiped out, and the victorious second wave moves towards Dougie's Triarii, who have angled somewhat to avoid being flanked by the heavy cavalry.  The central struggle is becoming more and more vicious, and my right is about to collapse.  The two columns are having a good time combined against my Principes, and the Caetrati make a suicidal assault on my Triarii to damage them as early as possible.
On our left, the damaged Celtiberians and cavalry attack Dougie's stalwart Triarii.  In the centre, the 1st Roman legion has broken through, but on our right my legion is down to the Triarii.
But it's all over for Carthage as their centre disintegrates just as my stubborn legion is destroyed.  Dougie rolled anyway just to see what would happen with his Triarii, and they destroyed everything in front of them too:
A nasty fight, then, but Rome has been victorious.  One legion has been destroyed and two others roughly handled, while the African spearmen can march off to their homes.  They are about to find out what life is like under their new overlords...

So the 2nd Punic War ends in a Roman triumph, with Carthage humbled and out of the game (unless there is a rebellion later on).  We rolled for the next turn, and Greece has rebelled from Macedonian control.  Maybe they're hoping for some help from the western barbarians in red.  Next up is another Successors bash between the Ptolemies and the Macedonians.  But before that happens, I want to finish my command bases for Hastings and try that again.  More anon!


  1. A real nail biter, the Romans were lucky I think!


  2. Hi Matt, it certainly felt that way. The initial success of the Roman cavalry made the Carthaginian commanders feel rather despondent, but then their second wave on that wing wiped out the equites anyway. After that, it was always going to be a case of whether my legion could hold out long enough for the central legions to win, and that's eventually what happened. A good fight was had by all!

  3. Looks like a tough battle, but I suppose you wouldn't want it any other way, considering the situation!

    Thanks for another clear and interesting report.