Thursday, 6 February 2014

Roma Victrix

..and in a big way, too.  I finally made it to our new premises for the second time on Tuesday, to play out the final battle in our Empire campaign: Rome looking for vengeance against the uppity Celtiberians.  Deployment map:
It's not quite a perfect representation, but it'll do.  As sort of campaign umpire by default person, I constructed and supplied the armies and rolled for the terrain using my trusty old Tabletop Games booklet.  I ruled that terrain should be relatively constrained, because it is Iberia.  As it turned out, most of Glasgow has  a bad case of the lurgi, so only three of us made it - myself, Gordon and Billy.  I ended up running the Romans, facing off against two opponents.  This seemed somehow appropriate, because of the terrain.

The Romans are at the bottom of the map. There are some rolling hills to their left and a large wood to their centre right.  Favouring the Celtiberians are an angled gully and a large swamp.  This is not the kind of terrain that favours Romans, so I decided that since I had no idea what to do I would go for a reasonably straighforward consular deployment with Latins to the left and Romans to the right.  I infested the wood with mercenary slingers, and had some extra useful Cretan archers.  The Romans are in red, Latins in white and mercenaries in yellow.

The opposition set up as if in two tribes.  Billy ran the guys facing my Latins: two large units of medium horse and two small groups of Caetrati with two loose formation warbands and a lot of skirmish support.  Gordon had the larger tribe on the other side of the field, facing the Romans proper:  four large close formation warbands, another couple of Caetrati and two small units of light horse.  A few javelinmen were strung out in front.  The reason two of his warbands are angled behind the others is that the deployment zone constrains most massed infantry types.  It seems to me that he is hoping to send them wide to line up into one gigantic warband line and rumble forward.  I am also concerned about those Caetrati ready to enter the woods - Romans don't like trees.

Here are some photos of their deployment from my point of view:
Billy's tribe faces off against the Latins (above).
The centre.  As with my Romans, there's not much here.  Unlike Romans, though, Celtiberians like trees.
Gordon's powers, ready to fling themselves against the might of Rome.
Above is a full length table shot, taken from off to the Roman right.  Boring, orderly Romans are on the left of the photo as you look at it - enthusiastic Celts to the right.
Taken from the same position, another full table shot showing the opening moves.  In the foreground, the Romans are leading with their right - I am a bit leery of what might come charging out of that large wood.  As anticipated, Gordon advances with his two foremost warbands to give the others space to swing out into line.  Seeing this, I decide to throw caution to the winds and take the fight to him, hoping to catch the warbands before all four of them get into position.  It's going to be close, so I'll just have to rely on good old fashioned Roman grumpiness to see me through.  Off into the distance, the battle against Billy's tribe is developing differently.  The Latins are facing looser formation warbands and cavalry, with some Caetrati, so I reckon that I can afford to spread the line and then advance.  You can't really see it in this photo, though.
So I switched sides to show the same moment from the opposite perspective.  I deliberately don't advance the Latin Equites here - I want to see how it pans out before committing them for sure.  At the left of this particular photo, you can see Billy's cavalry starting to swing wide - hence my caution.
A moment of glory for Billy's slingers as many Cretans die swiftly under a hail of slingshot.  Ah well, at least the salary bill will be a little less than usual.  They do look a bit forlorn, though.
Moving along into the centre, Gordon's Caetrati do the expected thing and head for the woods they love so much.  Just at the left of this shot you can make out the rightmost Latin unit, moving up as quickly as possible so as to get past that wood.  My slingers try to do as much damage to the Caetrati as possible, but progress is slow.
Over on the right, one warband is facing each legion, and a third has gone wide as expected - if I'm lucky, the fourth one will be stuck.  I send the brigaded Triarii of both legions forward with the Equites to pin warband number three in position.  The Cretans here fare better than their counterparts on the left, inflicting a few hits and then pulling behind the lines as the weight prepares to go in.
A close-up of the action here on this wing as the Hastati of one of the two Roman legions meets a Warband in a mood (the sponge represents the dust raised by a successful ferocious charge).  Not an auspicious start for Rome...
Meanwhile, over on the other side of the field I retire the Latin cavalry and commit the legions.  I want to hold the Equites here for as long as possible so that the foot soldiers can do their bit with pilum and gladius.  The helmet is a bit of Greek tourist tat that Willie gave me - I use it as an initiative marker.
Right in the middle of the field, Gordon has to make a choice with his two units of Caetrati: split them, or send them both in the same direction?  He decides to rely on the weight of his warbands to deal with Rome, and sends them off to help Billy's guys.
The Romans are now in combat all along the line against Gordon's close-based warbands.
On the left, the Latins go in against the looser warband that isn't directly behind the gully.  It also succeeds in a wild charge, which then fizzles.
Unfortunately for Gordon, his larger massed warbands don't do so well either - one measly hit on Romans isn't going to be enough...
The same moment from the Celtic viewpoint, as another warband has a bad time.  Gordon uses pipecleaners to represent hits, and it's way too far into the unit for comfort.
Even the cavalry are getting involved here.  Gordon needs his light horse to help out against the Equites, but it doesn't happen.  The Roman light horse, on the other hand, are rubbish.
On the far flank, the Latins continue to grind down Billy's wild tribesmen.
At the gully, I send the Principes of the other legion wide and into line with their Hastati before going forward against the other of Billy's warbands.  I figure that the Latins will be more effective if the entire legion goes in together, rather than in waves.  This also helps them move quickly out of the way of the Caetrati who are about to emerge from the woods.
And here they are, well behind the rear of my Latin Hastati, who are just in shot at the top left of the photo above as you look at it.  I'm hoping to overwhelm the warband before the Caetrati can hit the legion from behind.
Gordon's guys do have some success, breaking the Hastati of the rightmost legion.  However, it is at great cost, and its Principes are now ready go in...
Gordon's light horse are having similarly mixed fortunes - one has been destroyed by the Equites, but the other has easily seen off the Roman light cavalry.
The situation at the same time on the other end of the field.  The Latins are now surging forward right across the line.
The Latin legions are all now in contact.

At this point my camera ran out of batteries, but it didn't matter, because the Celtiberians suddenly crumbled along the entire field.  Pila and gladii came out with a real vengeance and the legions made short work of their opponents - the death toll was impressive.

And that finishes the Empire campaign proper, with the Romans retaking Iberia.  A rather glorious finish....


  1. Nice battle report although I was rooting for the Celtiberians. We rarely play Republican Romans but the Old Tactica Roman/Carthaginian matchups were always a blast. Your Roman units look larger than the T2 12 man units. Are you using a different Legion composition?

    1. Hi Mitch, it's good to hear from you. I would have been rooting for the Celtiberians as well, but I ended up playing the Romans. Well spotted, by the way, we are indeed using a different composition for the Republicans from that suggested in the rules. I fully understand why Arty has written them the way he has - it's just that our players felt they wanted something more historically precise. So our legions are composed of 24 Hastati, 24 Principes, 12 Triarii and as many Velites can be bought for the remaining points - this gives the heavy troops at least the correct troop type ratios. Hastati and Principes can deploy side by side, or in successive waves, with the Triarii bringing up the rear. Now that we have had Scipio, the Triarii of each pair of legions can be brigaded together into a large unit and used to the side of the others, instead of having to deploy in the third line only - which is what happened here. It gives the legion slightly less staying power, but it really helps on the flanks. Nasty Romans...

  2. I enjoyed your BatRep! That is a large battle for only three players. Did you find it a bit unwieldy umpiring AND commanding the entire Roman force?

    Nice Deployment map of the battle. What software did you use to create it? Also, liked the notion of using a souvenir Greek helmet as an initiative marker.

    1. Hi Jonathan, the way we run things makes it surprisingly easy. Basically, I and whoever else happens to be there will specify what happens on the strategic map for the next game. In the case of Empire this is easy, because it's based on dice rolls. We then play that battle the next time we meet, and roll for the next phase. Nobody takes sides as such; we aren't running this as a competitive campaign, so much as an ongoing battle generator. The added spice of a campaign background gives our games some badly needed extra flavour. We kind of became rather bored with one-off match-ups, regardless how entertaining the actual games were.

      The battle map is drawn with Battlechronicler:

      There's also a link on the column at the left of my main blog page as you look at it. It is a bit 'clunky', but it does the job and looks quite good, I think. Plus it's free!

  3. Most enjoyable read Paul and a fitting end to an epic campaign! Fantastic to see such massive armies on the table for the occasion. Well done, and well done also for leading your charges (no matter how loathsome you may find them!) as honour and duty demanded.

    In other words, congrats on a fine win!


    1. Thanks, Aaron, it has to be said that on this occasion the forces of Rome were a well oiled machine. Besides, isn't it traditional for a patrician Roman commander to despise his troops!?

      Thanks for staying with us all the way through - it has been an epic one. And what comes next will perhaps be even more so...

  4. Great looking game and an engrossing report Paul, thanks. Always good to be a W(r)oman hey? Tough as nails!!

  5. Hi James, thanks for looking. It was indeed a good day to be a Roman!