Saturday 7 November 2015

Campaign Events

Hot on the heels of a grand duel between Germans and Gauls comes a listing of what has been happening in the overall scheme of things:

Autumn 109
  • In North Africa, Metellus moves into Byzacium. Jugurtha skirmishes a bit and withdraws to Numidia proper. Metellus proclaims a great victory.
  • The Parthians consolidate in Sind.
  • Great battle between the Teutones and Sequani.
Spring 108
  • The Tigurini of Tolosa ally with the Teutones.
  • Metellus consolidates in Byzacia.
  • Marius leaves the army in North Africa and becomes Consul in Rome. He raises four new legions from the Capite Censi. Shocking behaviour, especially for a Novus Homo.
  • Parthia raises a new army.
Summer 108
  • Metellus celebrates a triumph in Rome, being surnamed Numidicus even though Jugurtha is very much still alive and well, along with his army. 
  • Marius takes his new-fangled army to North Africa.
  • The new Parthian host arrives in Babylonia.
Autumn 108
  • Marius trains his legions in North Africa, fully expecting a hard campaign against Jugurtha.
  • The Parthians move into Palmyra, which at the moment is neutral territory between the Parthian Empire and the Ptolemies of Egypt.
  • Caepio attacks the Tigurini.
So next up is another encounter between Gaul and the forces of mighty Rome. Sharp-eyed observers will have noted that we are still broadly following historical events, although the damage inflicted upon the Germans is greater than was historically the case. The Cimbri have suffered at the hands of the Romans, while the Teutones have had a bad time courtesy of the Sequani. In North Africa, Jugurtha still has an army, but it won't be much of a threat to Marius, ably assisted by his Quaestor, Lucius Cornelius Sulla. They know that the war against Jugurtha will be a gruelling guerrilla contest, but are confident of victory in the long run. Marius is too much of a vir militaris to dismiss Jugurtha as Metellus has done, and is prepared to wage a long campaign to gain a permanent victory. In the meantime, his surprising choice of Sulla as Quaestor has been more than justified. It turns out that the dissolute aristocrat has real military talent, something that only Marius perceived.

Germans Against Gauls - Oh my!

Latest campaign game results from Glasgow. It is 109 BC and the Germanic tribes are migrating. The Teutones have crossed the Rhine into Gaul en masse and the locals decide that it's time to put up a bit of a fight. Teutones vs Sequani - what's not to like? Battle Report by Gordon, in his usual unbiased style...

The German tribes, having thrashed the Romans, now turn their attention to the Gauls whom they found to be a tougher proposition than the effete Italians. There was little subtlety. [Gordon did supply some maps, but I couldn't get them to come out properly in Blogger. Sorry, Gordon, I know those take a long time to produce!]

The German army was slightly stronger than the Gauls, as can be seen from this table:

Warband infantry
Heavy cavalry

 In addition both armies have screens of skirmishers.
The German cavalry is of better quality than the Gauls and has impetus bonuses which can greatly increase its effectiveness in combat. [Note: I supplied the campaign situation and the relative points values from my lair in Cheltenham; the Glasgow players simply paid for the troops and set up terrain and the armies. Early German cavalry don't normally have Impetus, but if they paid the points, who cares? Besides, it didn't seem to help them very much!]
Long table shot of the two armies deployed. Germans are on the left as you look at it.

Some of the other deployment photos didn't come out well, but this one shows Gallic chariots standing in for heavy cavalry - they didn't have chariots by this time. Just in case anyone is wondering!

The Gauls moved onto the hills but otherwise started with a mainly defensive posture. The Germans came swarming forward. The two outermost Gallic warbands angled out to the flanks. There was a degree of trickery in this as it left them open to turning back into the centre and outflanking German units in any central melee. There was desultory skirmishing along the lines which the German generally won.
On the flanks the Germans did not advance as quickly as they might and on the Gallic right the Gauls advanced, hoping to effect some sort of combination on the German elite cavalry. This failed and the right most Gallic HC unit took a pasting only narrowly being able to avoid being broken on the first turn of combat. In the second turn the Gallic light cavalry who had driven off the German lights were able to attack the Germans in the back and both German and Gallic HC were destroyed.
The photo above shows the whole table at this point. This one is taken from off the left flank of the Germans, so the German army is on the right as you look at it. The Gauls can be seen at the top centre of the picture massing on their hills.

In the centre the Germans had advanced to the foot of the central hill. The Gauls intended to await their attack thus putting them at a disadvantage. At least that was the general's intention. The warbands, however, chose to charge the Germans. The Germans came off much better in the ensuing melee although both sides were evenly matched – 96 figures in 4 ranks. Soon after a further warband emerged from the woods and joined in as did the left most warband of the Gallic central group of three.
Shot of the central German warbands advancing, from the Gallic perspective - hence the dolmen or menhir or whatever you call it.
On the Gallic left flank the German cavalry and a warband ground down and defeated the Gallic cavalry.

At this point things were looking very bad for the Gauls. Both flanks were just about gone, and the central warband melee was going badly.
Clash of the warbands!
The Germans now committed their light infantry against the warbands. Although such troops will take heavy casualties, the extra casualties that they would inflict would tip the Gallic warbands over their break points. This did not happen. A round of generally bad dice by the Germans brought the Gallic warbands to their tipping point but not beyond it. The warbands responded ferociously and despite being destroyed themselves in the following turn, they took the LI with them breaking and  the German army was pushed over its break point, giving the Gauls the victory. [At least, this is what I think happened - I've edited the text here.]

I still don’t really know how the Gauls won this. They were on the back foot throughout. The large size of the warbands undoubtedly helped. The new rules designed to avoid mutual destruction in melee also favoured the larger units and worked to the Gallic advantage, saving one large warband from rout.
In an email message, Gordon made some remarks looking back on the battle:

Also, the "secret history". What saved the Gauls was the German lack of aggression. Far too many troops were wasted on the wings when they should have fended the Gauls off and driven into the centre. You can see from the photos how the Gauls got forward and the Germans were actually turning outwards. [I can see why the Germans might have done this, since they had superior cavalry forces and would be hoping to win on the wings and then flank the central Gallic warbands.] One thing that worked against the Gauls was the +2 intiative. I wanted to wait on the hill and force the Germans to test. One failure and they would all have had to commit but although we were 2 up they won and I had to test. Of course one of my warbands failed and that meant that I had to commit everybody.

 [This is a reference to the fact that in our rules, Warbands must test to see if they hold or go charging straight into combat, unless they are in difficult ground. Low hills don't count. What happened here is that the Germans won the Initiative when they probably shouldn't have, and made the Gauls go first, which forced them to test. Some of them went forward and the rest had to follow. If this hadn't happened, the Gauls would have received defensive bonuses against Germans coming up the hills.]

Veteran Legion for Pharsalus

This is the first legion I've managed to finish since coming to Cheltenham. Figures are almost all Companion Miniatures.
Casualties are by Warlord Miniatures, as are some of the command. I find plastics really good for showing those who are hors de combat, and I have now bought enough boxes of them to be able to put together some command bases as well. Always useful...
I've used various shields I had lying around. Companion made some really nice embossed ones, and even though I didn't have enough of one type to equip a full legion, I felt that a varied look would suit veterans. Some unadorned ones are in the mix as well.

This takes my total for the year to 348 infantry; 38 cavalry; 12 battle camels; a chariot and crew; and two Indian elephants and crew. Not bad, considering I've moved to another country. I do have quite a few figures in various stages of completion still sitting in Glasgow, including another legion, but it will be a while before I can finish those.

Monday 2 November 2015

On the Painting Tray: November 2015

Romans. Again.

Nearly finished one legion that I started on arriving in Cheltenham. About to begin another of painted figs given to me by Roy. I might call them the 1st and 2nd Cheltonians, but then again that sounds like a Very British Civil War. Seriously, Cheltonians. Apparently that's what people from round these parts call themselves. Legiones I et II Cheltonia? Maybe not - with names like that they'll probably never defeat anyone...