Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Viriathus in Lusitania

The Romans have finally subdued large parts of Iberia in their brutal campaign against the Celtiberians and Lusitani.  The last of the freedom fighters have been pressed back against their final oppidum, and the Romans close in for the kill. I constructed the army lists for both sides and supplied the figures.  Terrain was pretty nasty, since this is the interior of Hispania, as the Romans have called it. We ended up with something like four-five commanders on each side.
The first photo shows the Roman right wing: Numidian auxiliary light horse and all of the heavy Equites in the army (Malcolm in command of the Numidians, Bill leading the Equites).
The centre of the invading army: lots of legionaries with Velites and Numidian auxiliary skirmishers out front.  Billy commanded the legions - consul of the day.
The same forces from another angle.  Lots of rough stuff to slow down the legions.
Their left wing is covered by large numbers of Spanish auxiliary infantry. Simon ran these guys, with plenty of help from Hayden.
The right wing of the defending army: some light infantry and a couple of loose formation Celtiberian Warbands with lots of nice trees for hiding.  Graham in command.
The Spanish centre right: large close formation warbands and medium horse (Alan).
Two more large warbands at the Spanish centre left (Darrell) and some light infantry in the town and light horse at our far left (me).
A long table shot taken from off to my flank.  At the far end you can see lots of trees.  There is some rough right in the middle of the field.  In front of the Roman cavalry is a long steep ridge, and in the right foreground of the photo is the oppidum and its water supply. Both sides have brought plenty of skirmishers and the Romans have left the Triarii out of the army.  Because this is Iberia, they have instead engaged large numbers of mercenary Numidians and Spanish auxiliaries. We see this period (140s BC) as transitional, somewhere between the full three-line legion of thePunic Wars and the cohort-based troops associated with Marius.  Basically, a legion comprises 24 Hastati, 24 Principes and some Velites.  There is no discernible difference between the Hastati and Principes. They can form up in duplex acies, or side by side, which is what Simon has done in this case.  The Iberian defenders of freedom are at a points disadvantage, but we are hoping that the terrain plus missile power will maybe create an opportunity.
The battle begins.  The entire Roman infantry line moves forward at the pace of the slowest unit so that they can keep to their pretty checkerboard formation.
A low angled shot of the entire field, with my light horse in the immediate foreground.  Lots of missiles and bad language are exchanged as skirmishers begin to disappear from both armies.
We are expecting the Equites to stay behind the ridge, but instead they climb up onto it so that they can cover the rightmost end of the heavy infantry line.  This is the only real possibility we have of local superiority, so Darrell moves his warbands forward a bit.
A low shot of the whole field at this point.  In the far distance, Graham's wing is being wiped out in the woods.  He hasn't been having much fun.  Simon, on the other hand, is enjoying it because he's the one doing the wiping.
Another low shot, taken slightly later.  In the immediate foreground, my lurking slingers are getting the upper hand in the missile exchange.
A close-up of the last stand of Graham's Celtiberians at the far end of the field, swarmed by traitors fighting for the evil red empire.
Simon's auxiliaries have broken through entirely.
Back on my flank, my light cavalry and slingers are winning, but there isn't really anywhere for them to go - it's all going to be decided elsewhere.
The whole field at this point.  Our right is gone and the Romans have dressed their lines in preparation for that which Romans do best.
A close-up of the first contact just to my right.  Hayden's warbands gang up on some Latin legionaries, while Bill commits his Equites.  They are taking quite a bit of grief from my slingers, and need to stop me getting onto the right flank of the heavy infantry.  Unfortunately for us, though, the Latins hold.
The Roman centre closes in for the kill.
And the final photo shows more of the same.

Once the legions arrived, it was all over pretty quickly.  Darrell did manage to destroy those Latins, but the cavalry's morale held and I couldn't hit a thing in melee.  Most of the peninsula is now coloured red.

I have rolled for subsequent campaign events:

  • The Ptolemaic Egyptians advance into Elymais once again.  The elusive Parthians inflict some hit and run attrition.
  • In Autumn 143, the Romans consolidate in Lusitania, and pay for Viriathus to be murdered. The remnants of the Acahaean League forces retire to Corinth, awaiting the inevitable. The Egyptians conquer Elymais.
  • In Spring 142 Athens capitulates to the Romans, while the victorious army in Iberia moves back to Saguntum for a break. The Egyptians press forward into Persis, taking more attritional damage as the Parthians continue to retire in front of them.
  • Summer 142 sees the Romans investing Corinth and the Egyptians conquering Persis.
  • In Autumn 142 the Romans destroy Corinth and send their Iberian forces to the Baleares.  The Ptolemaics enter Carmania, again taking damage from hit and run horse archers.  The Parthians ride back to their capital to pick up reinforcements.
  • In Spring 141 the Romans formally annexe the Balearic islands and gleefully accept Sparta's submission. Carmania is subjugated by the Egyptians
  • In Summer 141 the Egyptians move into Tabiana, where they are finally attacked by the Parthian host. 


  1. Great looking Game Paul loads of figures loads of movement and a bit bad language for good measure what more could you want in a Wargame!! We too have bad language sometimes apparently I am the worst offender but i just put it down to the others having lead such shelterd lives least thats my excuse.

    1. Hi Brian, I was mostly imagining the language of the little metal troops. Fortunately, most of the adult humans behaved themselves this time ; several of the players were kids and they seemed to enjoy themselves.

  2. A great write up thank you

  3. HUGE game and over so quickly. Outstanding setup with handsome troops. The Spaniards needed a home field advantage in this one.

    Good stuff!

  4. Very impressive, Paul! Cheers, Aaron

  5. Impressively massive game! I like your listing for the campaign too. Lots of potential there. Best, Dean

    1. Hi Dean, we seem to be getting through two-three years of campaign time between major battles, now that the initial flurry is over. Things will speed up again in a while, but for now it's nice to take things relatively easy...