Saturday, 21 January 2017

Octavius against Brutus

The second of our Philippi battles from the Society of Ancients conference. Historically, this took place as an almost completely separate engagement from that between Antonius and Cassius, at exactly the same time.
The first photo is taken from behind the Republican lines, with some of Octavius' legions at the top of the picture. The Via Egnatia is on the left; beyond that is the struggle between Cassius and Antonius.
Still behind Brutus' troops, we move more to the right of the first photo. At the bottom of the shot you can see a little of the palisaded walkway that runs off to the left to link the camp of Cassius with that of Brutus.
In the immediate foreground of the third picture is Brutus in his hilltop camp. Just at the top right can be seen the lavish camp fortified camp of his adversary.
You can see a bit more of it in this picture. I differentiated between the two sides by making the Caesarean camps much more imposing; besides, I didn't quite have the time to construct two of them!
Still moving towards the right behind the Republicans, there is more of the same - loads of legionaries.
This is the far right of Brutus' deployment, facing off against the Caesareans. According to all of the sources I've found, both sides had large cavalry contingents, perhaps even as many as 15,000 on each side. There are also some hints in the secondary literature at least that there were some light troops present in the Republican forces, perhaps to make up for their relative shortfall in legionaries (many of their formations were apparently understrength). I therefore made this battle different from that on the other side of the Via Egnatia; the area furthest along is relatively open, so I assumed that this is where there would have been a cavalry action. To make it more interesting, I made the two sides different. The Caesareans have three large units of horse facing you at the top of the photo: two Spanish and one Roman. Brutus has small units, two of which are Gallic or Galatian, and one of Parthians, with some light infantry in support.
We now move to behind Octavius' army. Above you can see the open wing from his perspective.
Moving to his right are some legionaries...
...then some more in front of the camp...
...more of the same...
...more legionaries...
...did I mention there were a few legionaries?
A view of the whole field from the Via Egnatia; Octavius is on the left, and Brutus on the right as you look at it.
The view from the other wing, with cavalry forces in the foreground.
I ruled that the Republican legions were understrength by saying that each of their cohorts had seven figures instead of eight. However, they are in fine fettle; the hamster bedding denotes dust clouds throw up by their impetuous charge. In other words, they have a charge bonus to compensate for their numerical inferiority.
More of the same as the lines close.
And again!
Cavalry action. The larger Caesarean units performed really badly. The Parthians are hanging back a bit to use their bows.
A slightly elevated shot shows more of the action from this perspective.
After the initial crunch, the legionary grinding machines soon both sides start to do their work.
It's all getting rather nasty; these legions really don't like one another at all. The silver dish is one of a load of cheap foil I bought to use as dice trays.
The casualty markers are seeing a lot of use.
A breakthrough by Brutus' cavalry.
Even his light infantry are about to get in on the act.
Another elevated shot.

Just as the Republican cavalry were victorious, three of Octavius' legions started to waver. He tried to shore up the centre by intervening personally, and was carried off into the distance as his legions gave way completely. Just as with the other side of the Via Egnatia, this was a historical result - the initial impetus gave Brutus' legions the edge over the hated Octavius.

Next up: the grand finale. Brutus meets Antonius, when I get around to posting it.


  1. Wow! Your game is an impressively large spectacle!

  2. Soo many Romans! Are you still using T-2? The eight figure stands suggest Marian organization, but they are deployed as Republican. At any rate, a very fine looking battle.

  3. Thanks for looking. The three lines are deliberate, my attempt to represent the triplex formation Caesar often mentions so that the cohorts can reinforce where needed. Interestingly enough, none of the players said the game was boring, so the differences between the two sides were enough to stop the infantry match seeming stale.

  4. One of Arty's goals in wargaming is/was spectacle and as Jon says, most definitely achieved.

  5. Hugely impressive, Paul! Great to see so much ancient lead on a table.

    1. Hi Simon, I'm wondering what to run at the conference in October 2017. Do you think you might make it?

  6. Hi Paul,

    Not sure yet- it's possible. I don't know where and when yet- I'll give it some thought.

    Best, Simon