Saturday 17 January 2015

Ptolemaic Civil War

On Tuesday, we played Ptolemaic Egyptians fighting one another as they continue their slide into degeneracy. The date is 116 BC. Aferwards, we decided that one army was fighting for one of the Cleopatras, and the other for a Ptolemy. It didn't matter which ones...
The first photo shows the right wing of Cleopatra's army, well stocked with cavalry and loads of peltasts ready to infest a town. Simon played the right half of this army.
The phalanx from the same army: all heavily equipped, although the morale of some of them is rather suspect. The usual expendables are out front.
The left flank of Cleopatra's supporters: a real mixture. Gordon in command here.
The relatively weak left wing of the Ptolemy supporters. Unfortunately for me, this is the bit I'm running...
Our central phalanx (Billy) overlaps the opposition somewhat to our right.
Graham is in command of our right.
A long side shot of both armies; Cleo to the left, her brother/cousin/husband or whatever to the right.
The action begins on my flank. My job is to keep all of that weight off the flank of our advancing phalanx, which we hope will win the battle for us.
A close-up of all that lot coming over the hill in my general direction.
The phalanxes do what phalanxes do.
I throw units forward with reckless abandon. I'm not usually as insane as this, but I reckon the best way for me to slow down Simon's lot is to cause a giant traffic jam.
The phalanxes close in on each other. We have an overlap to our right; they have one to our left. I am just going to have to hope that it takes them a while to kill our lone elephant unit on this wing.
Graham is doing quite well on our far right flank, grinding down the opposition a unit at a time.
How it all looks at this point.
My forces are disintegrating.
Badly. Or well, depending on which member of the House of Ptolemy you might be...
A close-up of Simon's advance.
Clash of the phalanxes. Which we are losing badly.
Graham is now advancing at our right.
A full table shot shows the moment of decision.
I sacrifice my light horse to keep the traffic jammed.

And then our army ran away. it's actually quite good fun to play a game you don't really care about - after all, who is bothered about which degenerate inbred scumbag does what to whom? In campaign terms, all it does is lead to further loss of power for Egypt as their armies clash in a needless bout of bloodletting. To the East, Parthia waxes mighty, and to the northwest the legions seem to be gathering...

Next up: nasty Romans in their province of Macedonia are attacked by Illyrian-type tribes in a mood for loot (114 BC). This isn't a period I know that much about, but it turns out that the tribes gave Rome a really hard time for several generations after the demise of the Macedonian state; this will be the first of several such troublesome encounters to come.

Saturday 10 January 2015

Last Legion of 2014

These guys have been finished for a while now; I just had to base them. However, taking photos of them had to wait until this weekend. By the time I get home on weekdays, it's dark again here in not so sunny Scotland. Anyway, here goes:
Eighty figures, a mounted legate and five dead 'uns - my standard legion composition.
Figs again mostly by Companion Miniatures, with man on horse by Navigator. Shield designs courtesy of Little Big Men.
My final tally of painted 28mm for 2014 was 711 foot figures; 110 mounted; and seven nellies. I don't think I'll come close to that this year!

Saturday 3 January 2015

More photos of Gauls and Romans

Some more photos of the big game, courtesy of Graham, taken from the Gallic perspective:
Graham's own figures coming to attack him. These comprised the propraetorean command I was running.
Side shot of Graham's command at the start of the battle.
Another shot of them, this time advancing on the estate (and Graham's warband).
Vicious skirmish melee in the estate. Graham's warband waits patiently for the Velites to be cleared.
Graham's cavalry.
The combat on the other side of the field. Romans with their Numidian auxiliaries to the left, brave freedom fighters of Gaul on the right.
The main infantry lines as seen from Graham's position at the right rear of the Gallic army.
This is how the Roman legions' breakthrough looked to the Gauls. Just as well they had their own cavalry coming through behind the Romans!
A rather grand infantry struggle.
A closer look at the attack of the Allobroges warbands at the centre right of the coalition's army.
Nasty evil Balearic slingers with Numidian friends threatening the sons of Gaul. Well, much more than just threatening - those slingers were horrific.
A close-up of the nastiest troops on the field.

Thursday 1 January 2015

Battle of the Sulga, 121 BC: Romans against Gauls

We multiplied our usual Tuesday game to produce a bit of a monster to celebrate the holidays.  Loosely based on historical events, 121 BC sees a large Gallic attack on Transalpine Gaul. The Allobroges have come south, apparently pressurised by movements elsewhere that are unknown to the Romans. They ally with the Arverni, who have long had their eyes on Roman wealth, and have been lulled into a feeling that Transapline Gaul is ripe for the picking because of the relative peace that has lasted for several generations now. Teutomallius of the Allobroges and Bituitus of the Arverni now lead their combined forces into Romanised lands.

Here they meet a full consular army of four legions led by Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus, further reinforced with another two legions under the command of Quintus Fabius Maximus, with propraetorian imperium. Also present are the usual contingents of auxiliary Numidians and Spanish, along with a few Cretan archers. The armies clash in lush farmland near the confluence of the River Sulga with the Rhone (off table). The area is mostly flat, with an abandoned estate, a large orchard and a hill being the only main features, along with a couple of smaller areas of rough ground.

I built the army lists for both sides. The idea was to put on a suitably grand multi-player holiday game for as many people as cared to turn up on the evening. I wasn't too bothered which side I played, although as it turned out we had enough for four per side, including me. I ended up running Maximus' command at the left of the Roman infantry line, along with the left wing cavalry command. Figures were provided by myself, Simon, Graham and Willy. The Gallic deployment, from the Roman perspective:
The Allobroges on the Gallic right wing, commanded by Graham. This meant he would be fighting against his own Roman figures, comprising my command opposite him. The Gauls here have a large cavalry force and many skirmishers and loose warband warriors poised to loot the estate.
Willy commands the main force of the Allobroges, ready to come straight through the gap between the estate and the orchard. At the top right of the photo are some of the Arverni, formed up across from the orchard itself.
Simon has the main Arvernian force in the mainly open area at the left of the Gallic infantry centre, including their king as well.
Their extreme left (Gordon): three cavalry units plus a loose formation warband in support.
Gallic commanders. From left to right as you look at it: Graham, Willy, Simon and Gordon. Such handsome tribesmen, ripe for service in the latifundia after Rome wins. Of course.
My left wing: Spanish cavalry fronted with Numidians and loads of nasty evil Balearic slingers. A Roman prefect tries to keep them under control.
The two Roman legions of the propraetorian command: Graham's figures, lined up against the Allobroges.
The two Latin legions of the consular army proper, led by Billy. He has two units of Caetrati attached to his command to watch the orchard. Gauls like trees.
Ahenobarbus (Bill Robertson) has his Roman legions at the right of the main infantry line, facing the Arverni.
An angled shot taken from the extreme Roman right. The combined Latin and Roman Equites are here, with Numidians and skirmishers out front - other Graham in command here.
Not a great photo of the Romans. From the left as you look at it: Graham, Bill, Billy and me. Blurry or airbrushed - take your pick! And, yes, that's right: this is a game with two Grahams and three Williams, helpfully called Bill, Billy and Willy.

We added some scenario-specific rules to flavour. Both Gallic tribes have to be broken separately - in effect, each is a single army. They both have the same composition: three units of eighteen medium horse; one warband of 36 soldurii led by the king in person; one loose formation warband of 36 figures; five warbands of 48 figures; 10 skirmish archers; 10 slingers; and three units of 9 skirmishers with javelins. That makes a grand total of 624 screaming loonies, 108 cavalry, and 94 skirmishers. Or, at the notional ratio of 1:60, 43,080 warriors and 6,480 cavalry. Each tribe has three commands plus the individual unit led by the King. Loose warbands can move quickly through close terrain and fight at full effect while in it, albeit without impetus. They can also, if desired, form up outside the normal infantry central deployment zone. The large warbands can be deployed in either four or six ranks; both tribes have chosen the first option.

The Romans have two overall commanders, with Ahenobarbus in charge of the consular army as the senior. There is no functional difference between Romans and Latin socii, nor is there between Hastati and Principes. Each legion comprises 12 Velites; two units of 24 Hastati; and two units of 24 Principes. No Triarii this late on. There are six such legions in total, with two units of 18 Equites medium cavalry. There are also two units of 12 Numidian light horse; two units of 18 Spanish medium horse; two units of 18 Caetrati; two units of 9 Balearic slingers; and two units of 9 skirmish archers, one Numidian and one Cretan. The Roman foot have formed up in duplex acies, which confers rear support advantages on the Hastati in the front line. This translates to six legions of 108 figures each, plus 36 Equites, 36 Spanish horse, 36 Caetrati, 24 Numidian lights, and 36 assorted skirmishers. Or: 42,480 legionaries; 2,160 Equites; 2,160 Spanish Cavalry; 1,440 Numidian cavalry; and 2,160 skirmish infantry. The Romans will of course claim to be vastly outnumbered.
The opening moves on my cavalry wing: some jockeying for position while the legions advance to the right of the photo.
Imposing infantry centres.
The view on our far right.
A full table shot from off to my left.
The battle is developing on my cavalry wing. The enemy advances into a hail of well placed missiles from the slingers, and I throw the Numidians as far forward as possible in case they get a chance to chuck some javelins as well.
 The Gauls are being somewhat cagey at our centre left.
However, the Roman legions on our right are closing on the Arverni quite rapidly. It does look as though we have superior forces at this part of the battle.
Our Equites, though, are well outnumbered.
A second long shot of the whole field.
A gratuitous closer shot of my wing at this point. Those Balearics are vicious!
The Arverni crunch into the Roman legions. Simon versus Bill.
The Arvernians' loose warband has been forced to abandon its position in support of the cavalry to try to stem the red tide as it threatens the left flank of the Gallic infantry centre. It doesn't do them much good.
The cavalry clashes back on my wing. I throw my Spanish and Numidians into the weakened enemy units before their reserves can come forward to help - that's the unit at the centre top of the photo.
The Allobroges commit at our centre left. Graham's figures are going to see action soon.
Their Arvernian cousins, however, aren't doing so well. Their initial attack on the Romans has petered out, and to add insult to injury their king goes and gets himself killed.
The enemy reserves go in and there is a furious cavalry action at my left.
The Gauls here, however, have lost one unit already, and the Numidians prepare to advance again.
The second of the Gallic cavalry goes down, taking one of the Spanish units with it, but leaving the last of the Gallic cavalry outnumbered and at a severe disadvantage as the Numidians join in too.
I did send some Velites into the estate, where they destroyed large numbers of enemy skirmishers before perishing themselves. The loose warband at the top of the estate is still deciding whether or not it wants to join in, while its brothers in the open go charging forwards into the legionaries.
I pulled myself back a little for the shot above to show the foremost warbands hitting the Hastati, while the reserves of both sides wait to see what happens.
The Latin legions are still mostly unengaged.
The Roman legions are starting to break through, but then so are three enemy cavalry units, the Equites and Numidians having been wiped out to a man. The race is on - can the Romans swing round into the centre before the cavalry hits them?
Allobroges versus Hastati as my legionaries engage. The loose formation warband has moved into position to make an attack of its own from the estate.
A low-angled shot from my left, just for the sake of it.
At the far side of the field, the Roman legions have broken right through...
...with flanking Gallic horse in hot pursuit.
The allied Gallic tribes are starting to get desperate. They haven't yet made enough headway, so the loose warband in the estate joins in.
The Latins are now engaged as battle rages right across the field.
Romans with nothing to their front.
Gallic cavalry with Roman backs to their front.
A gap opens up for a short breather. My Hastati have gone, but they took plenty of the enemy with them.
The final charge of the foremost Allobroges as they go into my fresh Principes.
The Arvernians have even decided to contest the orchard against the Caetrati.
The final moments. Latin Principes go in to finish off the Arverni, while at the same time the Gallic horse ride down the Roman legionaries with great glee.

The Gauls fell before the onslaught of the Latin legions and the Roman propraetorian command at the left of the Roman army. However, the Gallic cavalry exacted a terrible price, riding down one Roman legion and 75% of the other. A Roman victory, then, albeit at a price. The Romans are left wondering why the Allobroges came south at all. Gallic prisoners are muttering something about flaxen-haired giants on the move. A final photo of our participants, courtesy of Thomas:
Next in the campaign will be a Ptolemaic civil war as the succession is disputed. The year is 116 BC.