Wednesday 12 August 2015

Albinus Encounters Jugurtha

Campaign game. Albinus, Governor of Africa with proconsular imperium, moves in response to massive provocation from Jugurtha, not to mention anguished cries from the Equites whose business interests are under threat. Albinus marches to the northwest from Leptis Magna, following the ancient coastal route. His reverie is shattered one morning, though, as scouts report that Jugurtha has arrived on the hills to the left of the Roman route of March. The terrain is quite hilly and broken, but rather than take any chances Albinus orders the army to shake out into battle formation. Initially, all the Romans can see are elements of the Numidian host.
First up is the view from the left of the Roman army: some of Jugurtha's skirmishers, with light infantry lurking in the distance.
The centre is a large ridge. Albinus' veteran Socii commanders advise him that there will be a lot of people hiding there. All they can see at the moment is a column of foot and some more skirmishers.
Jugurtha's left, though, is in full view: elephants, light infantry, light cavalry and skirmishers.
Above is a full side view of the whole field, Romans to the right as you look at it. The centre of the Numidian deployment is sheltered by that long ridge. The Romans are deployed in typical battle formation: two Roman legions at the right of their line, with the two Socii legions at the left. Velites out front. Equites to the flanks, with a few mercenary skirmishers to help out.
The view switches to the other side, since I'm a Numidian for the evening. Simon is running the right half of the Roman army as Albinus. He responds to the large contingent of elephants and friends on the wing by sending one legion and the Equites diagonally to his right.
The other Roman legion holds in place.
Gordon, the commander of the Socii legions for the evening, advances them in parade-ground style.
Back to the view from the Roman side of the field: the Numidians show themselves.
Three large medium infantry blocks advance onto the ridge. I am in command of the right half of the army.
The column the Romans already knew about is joined by two more. Graham is running this half of the army.
At his extreme left, Graham advances the elephants and their friends, while holding back the light horse in case an opportunity presents itself.
Another side view of the whole field. The Numidians have entirely revealed themselves.
A close-up of Numidians on a hill. This is the first time the army as a whole has seen any action, although bits and pieces have made cameo appearances in other games.
A shot from Graham's viewpoint on the Numidian left as the elephants advance to engage the Roman legion here.
The other Roman legion still maintains position. It's beginning to look rather lonely.
The Socii continue their impressive advance.
At the far right of the Numidian army, my light infantry move to engage the Equites.
My foot stay on their hill for the moment - the view from the other side for a moment.
Another shot of Graham's columns.
The Roman view of Graham's elephant corps.
The side view shows the relative positions at this point. The vast numbers of skirmishers have, as usual, cancelled each other out.
Graham's jumblery goes in and starts to squish Romans. Even his light infantry beat up the legionaries here - Simon's dice are atrocious. Or maybe his Romans are scared of the nellies.
Seeing an opportunity, Graham's columns attack the other Roman legion. By extending his deployment to our left, Simon has left this legion a bit isolated. A calculated risk, of course, but since his Romans are leaving brown lumps behind them every time they hear an elephant, it doesn't seem to be working...
Gordon has used his legionary flexibility to send some of the Socii wide to threaten the open right flank of my infantry blocks. As with Simon's situation, this leaves part of one of his legions a little shallow, so I decide to take a chance and try to crush them before their pals swing in and wipe me out. Both sides are taking risks in search of the all-important breakthrough.
A sideshow: Gordon's Equites against my light infantry. I have some slingers left to pick off any stragglers if he gets lucky.
Combat is now raging across the entire field.
A close-up of Graham's nellies stomping legionaries.
A low-level shot of the infantry of both armies.
Suddenly a gap appears in front of Graham as large numbers of Roman legionaries run for it - a catastrophic series of morale rolls.
At the same time, his columns start munching the other Roman legion.
At the far end of the field, my lights have finally seen off the Equites, at great cost to themselves. At the top left of the photo, though, the extra unit of Socii legionaries is ready to go into the flank of my massed foot.
The whole field at this point. Nasty.
Local success for Graham's foot columns.
My foot just fails to break through the thin white line of Socii  legionaries, and pays the price as I am rolled up from the right. The shot above shows the gallant allies marching to the rescue of those crappy Roman legionaries.
A last shot of the Romans barely hanging on.

In terms of points, this was a creditable victory for Albinus. However, the loss of most of the Roman legionaries is used as political capital by his opponents back in Rome, and Metellus gains appointment as the new proconsular Governor of Africa. Jugurtha retires to lick his wounds; he has known Metellus personally for a very long time, and is calculating that he can skirmish a bit until the latest Roman goes home to claim a triumph. In any case, it will be some time before Metellus arrives with his newly-raised army. In the meantime, Salinus attacks the migrating Cimbri in Noricum; that will be our next game, in two weeks' time.

Quote of the night from Gordon, commander of the Socii: "If ever there were a case for political representation in the Senate, this is it". There is a bit of a pattern emerging in these very late Republican battles: the Italian allies seem to perform much better than the Romans, and are beginning to resent their continuing inferior status. This will bear bitter fruit in the future as the campaign broadly follows historical events. We have now reached summer 110 BC.


  1. Great game, hard fought battle. I love reading about your campaign, wished our local group did more campaigning - it makes for a lot more meaning to the battles than constant one off bashes.

  2. Thanks for looking, both. It looks as though things will be changing radically because I am moving to England for work reasons, but our long term players in Glasgow still want me to run it remotely!

  3. You do nothing by half measure, do you? Another monstrous game and an enjoyable BatRep. Fantastic troops and an excellent Numidian army.

    Well done!

    1. Hi Jonathan, you're right, it is rather large, but I'm mad enough to want to do things the hard way. I suppose that makes me a figures megalomaniac...

  4. Really great stuff. How do you guys manage to get so many games in? I'm feel lucky if I get in one Tactica game a month. Hope you will be able to continue the Battle Reports.

    1. Hi Mitch, we must be online at the same time. I have a feeling that thngs will slow down and be less regular for a while, although I m still hopeful that they will pick up again in the future. One good thing about the move is that the new location is very good for gaming, one way or another.

  5. Fantastic looking game Paul! Looks a bit too green for North Africa...

    1. That's true - the other club games had grabbed the sandy type mats before we got there!

  6. Great battle report and lovely figures too.

  7. Awesome game with great figures - and a whole lot of them too I might add.