Saturday 13 May 2017

Jugurtha versus Marius

Finally played Romans against North Africans. Jugurtha has engaged the services of a bunch of Gaetuli on the promise of looting his own country of Numidia, and also persuaded King Bocchus of Mauretania to lend his aid. The two African princes are hoping that a victory over the forces of Marius, combined with the pressure they know is being exerted on Rome from the north in the form of a huge Germanic migration will combine to drive the Romans out of North Africa for good. The armies meet in a typical area of North African plains with some scrub and rough patches.
First photo shows the right wing of the Roman army, from the African perspective. Marius knows Jugurtha personally quite well, and also has a realistic appraisal of what is needed to win this campaign. Historically, he engaged the services of local Numidians who hated Jugurtha after what he did to his brothers, because he knew that he would need some light troops to help negate the advantages held by the Africans; the legions could of course take care of themselves. I didn't have enough figures to show these, and besides things can be rather confusing when both sides have the same troop types, so I used Iberians to represent the light guys fighting for Rome. This is why the shot above shows Iberian light cavalry. Beside them are massed Roman horsemen, hardened by the campaign. Not only are these all quite tough, they are led by a certain Lucius Cornelius Sulla; it turns out that the degenerate aristocrat has a real flair for the military life.
Legionaries, with some auxiliary skirmishers out front.
Same again. Marius has four of the new-fangled legions drawn from the capite censi. This has made him a hate figure as far as the old nobility is concerned, but needs must during an enormous military crisis. The idea is that Marius will see off all opposition and can then  be disposed of in a good old-fashioned Roman manner. The scrub at the right of the photo is infested with Iberian light infantry, but they won't physically appear until spotted.
Facing the scrub above is the right wing of the African army, a mob of Gaetuli horsemen led in person by Jugurtha. These are very light, but have many javelins. The rough ground has many light infantry hiding in it.
The Gaetuli also have many skirmishers. I ruled that the tribesmen should all deploy together as a coherent force.
Nestling in the centre and deployed as far back as possible from the legions is the mass of Mauretanian foot, commanded by Bocchus. The idea is for the superior numbers of African skirmishers to wipe out their opponents and then pepper the advancing legions with enough missiles to wear them down to the point at which the massed foot might have a chance against them.
Finally, beyond some scrub, we have the Mauretanian nobility: superior light horse led by Prince Volux, son of Bocchus.
Side view of the whole field from Volux's flank: Rome to the left as you look at it.
The view from the other wing.
The action is opened with Volux advancing towards the Iberians fighting for Rome.
Skirmishers advancing in the centre. Marius is playing it a little cagey, waiting for the outcome of the initial moves.
Jugurtha advances his Gaetuli skirmishers along with the first wave of his light horse; he wants to scout out the scrubland opposite, which is partly hidden behind a giant carry-out tub aka dice tray.
The legions start to advance, now that their skirmish screen has been stripped away.
Those legionaries look very menacing indeed.
Jugurtha has found some lurking light infantry (top right of the photo).
A view of the whole field, from Jugurtha's flank.
And another, from the opposite side. Sulla has advanced his heavy horse just enough to force Volux to retire for fear of being hit hard.
Eventually Volux has to turn to face his tormentors; any further movement will result in him retiring off table, which basically means that he would be unable to stop the Romans doing what they want on this flank. In the meantime, both sides are expending many javelins.
The legions grind forward inexorably. Some of their men start to fall to the skirmishers, but not enough...
A more central view.
And the same towards the Mauretanian right centre.
On the right of the African army, the sky is darkened with javelins. The Gaetuli slingers are starting to give the endmost Roman legionaries a hard time.
Obligatory side view from the other end of the field.
Opposite view. The legions are getting a bit ragged under the incessant hail of sharp pointy objects.
Volux's cavalry are now in trouble.
The Roman advance is about to find out if anything is lurking in all that rough. At the top right of the shot you can just about see some of the third line of cohort from the endmost legion peeling off to watch that open flank. This legion is really beginning to suffer from the missiles.
Jugurtha's light horse continues to trade shots with the Iberians in the scrub. The latter are doing slightly better because of the partial cover.
The whole field again, from off to the flank of Volux.
The last photo: the full view from the other flank.

We started to run out of time, so I didn't get the chance to take any more, but basically the Romans dressed their lines grimly, as is their wont, in the face of continued missilery, and then crunched into the massed foot in the African centre. The Gaetuli light infantry appeared from their nice safe bit of rough and added to the discomfiture of the endmost legion, but alas for the brave Africans, it was not to be. Legionary grit did its usual job...

Many thanks to Will and Larry for playing Romans in their first game!


  1. Great looking game, good to hear the Numidians gave the Romans a run for their money!

  2. As always I really enjoy the battle reports, those masses of troops look like an ancient battle.

    1. Thanks Joseph - we are online at exactly the same time!

  3. Really great stuff. Always like your reports.Romans are always tough. Would really like to see your list for Jugurtha's army. Any chance you could post it on the Tactica Yahoo site or send it to me?

    1. Hi Mitch, will do. This was a large campaign game - I'll need to check the details, but basically Jugurtha had 1,000 points of Gaetuli and Bocchus supplied 2,000 points of Mauretanians. You can always cut the points value pro-rata...

  4. Another grand looking game Paul. Great stuff!

    1. Hi James, thanks for looking in on us...