Thursday 20 August 2009

Mark Antony against Agrippa

Tuesday evening saw a vicious encounter in Egypt between the forces of Marcus Antonius (red) and those of Octavius Caesar (blue), the latter of course led by Agrippa. The Octavians deployed their (elite!) legionaries in classic two-line checkerboard (Billy commanding), with heavy cavalry on their left (William) and lighter troops on their right (Simon):
E1: Eagle Cohort, Legio I (16 figures in two ranks)
C1-C9: Cohorts, Legio I (8 figures in two ranks)
E2: Eagle Cohort, Legio II (16 figures in two ranks)
C10-C18: Cohorts, Legio II (8 figures in two ranks)
Ill: 18 Illyrian Light Infantry in two ranks
N1-N3: 8 Numidian Light Cavalry in two ranks
T1 and T2: 12 Tribal heavy cavalry in two ranks.
R: 16 Rhodian Slingers
J1 and J2: 12 Javelinmen
The Antonians deployed their central two legions in already reinforced cohorts, creating a long line of sixteen-figure units, in an attempt to make up for their inferior militia quality. Graham commanded both legions. I was looking after the two flanks. On the left, our Light Infantry were hidden in rough ground, and on our right we had the Egyptian contingent of two medium phalanxes and the cavalry:
L1 and L2: 10 Cohorts each of 8 figures, reinforced to make 5 16-figure units each in two ranks
P1 and P2: 32 Egyptian Phalangites in four ranks
Pe1 and Pe2: 12 Light Infantry in two ranks
C1: 18 Cleruchs Medium Horse in two ranks
C2: 18 Cleruchs Medium Horse in three ranks
T1 and T2: 8 Tarantine Light Cavalry in two ranks
A1 and A2: 10 Skirmish Archers
J1 and J2: 12 Skirmish Javelinmen
Our plan was simply to wait and see what developed, hoping that an opportunity would present itself. Unlike standard units, which simply rout when they reach a specified breakpoint based on morale rating, a Roman legion of this period has special rules to reflect the ways in which they fought. Tactica II allows various individual unit options for the cohorts; the important thing is that a cohort is destroyed only when all figures are killed, and the legion as a whole routs when it reaches a breakpoint based on its overall morale level. The combination makes Romans very tough indeed. I wasn't expecting Simon to pick two elite legions at full strength of 88 figures, each needing 66 losses for us to break them. Our legions had 80 militia grade figures, each needing only 40 losses to rout. Of course, what we lacked in quality we hoped would be compensated by quantity.
The plan worked, barely. The Caesareans advanced purposefully, extending their right legion by moving its Eagle Cohort from its reserve position, swinging it right. However, opportunities presented themselves on both flanks for us at roughly the same time. On our left, our Light Infantry appeared from the rough, forcing the Roman rightmost light troops to retire before re-aligning. This gave our left legion a temporary overlap against its opposing legion. On our right, the Caesareans similarly swung their second Eagle Cohort to their left behind their cavalry. I charged their cavalry with our Cleruchs in order to keep them pinned, with the Egyptian Phalanxes attacking as well, then followed by the second Legion. Melee became general across the field. We won by destroying all of the Caesarean supporting troops and the Legion facing Graham's overlap, although not before our own second legion collapsed. When the dust settled, not much was left of either army...


  1. Keep the battle reports coming. I'm eagerly awaiting T2, and the reports help keep up the excitement.

    Nice to see Antony's boys get their licks in.

  2. Thanks, Joe. Antony's army was kind of conjectural. We weren't sure whether his infantry should be Imitation Legions or poor quality regulars. We opted for the latter, partly because we have already played armies with imitation legionaries, but also because we wanted to see how the game played as a sort of Roman civil war. Incidentally, word on the grapevine is that Tactica II may be printed as a stand-alone set of ancients rules (up to 1066)with a few army lists, with a website dedicated to support, including the possibility for players to send in army lists. This would fit in with the internet world, and it should also keep down the costs of the rules. We're looking forward to it here as well!

    Thanks again for the comment.