The following battles were a rigorous test of Rome’s capabilities as they were fought on Sarmatian home terrain, the steppe. Although the advantages were clearly in Sarmatian favour, Rome did produce a few surprises. No doubt the balance in the games might have shifted with the use of the Alani as an allied contingent or the employment of Sarmatian psiloi, the sight of eleven knight elements is truly one to behold.
II/64b Middle Imperial Roman (Western)
1 x general (Cv), 1 x cavalry (Cv), 1 x horse archer (LH), 4 x legionnaires (4Bd), 3 x auxiliary (4Ax), 1 x archers (4Bw), 1 x Cataphract (3Kn).
1 x general (3Kn), 10 x armoured cavalry (3Kn), 1 x horse archer (LH).
Facing a long line of Sarmatian knights Rome deployed in three lines with the right flank comprised all the mounted reserve. The first two lines would wheel to the right forming a new contiguous line forcing the Sarmatian to conform or attack piecemeal.
30 minutes later both lines conformed and the light horse of both sides opened the battle.
The Sarmatian line struck first to sweep clean through the Roman line of infantry, the battle was over for the loss of one unit. Score 6 – 1 for Sarmatia.
Rome deployed in two lines and taking advantage of two low hills strengthened the flanks of the infantry with extra auxilia and legionnaires; covering the Roman reserve were a unit of archers and another of auxilia. The Sarmatian army formed one long line of knights with their general, noticeable by his white Draco standard, positioned in centre.
Both sides advanced cautiously forward with the Romans remaining for the most part on the slopes of the hill.
Surprising the Sarmatians, Rome launched both wings forward which pushed back the Sarmatian left and opened the right flank to imminent danger.
Rome withdrew most of the cavalry to form up to the right of the infantry line. By now the Roman left and centre were engaging the enemy cavalry. Losses on both sides quickly rose as the slopes of the hill were littered with dead horses and riders. Isolated Roman units were picked off by Sarmatian bow and kontos bringing the score even, 3 – 3.
Roman troops were in a frenzy surrounding the Sarmatian general and his guard and other single units of knights. Unfortunately, Fortuna decided to set her gaze elsewhere and the Sarmatian general survived the onslaught dispatching his direct opponent. Despite the increase loss, the battle ended 5 – 4 for Sarmatia.
This time Rome had been caught in the open and had time to deploy two formations while the remainder of the army formed further back.
Rome gathering second wind could form a new line with cavalry supporting the immediate flanks of the legionnaires with auxilia extending the battle line further outward and the Illyrian cavalry were seen encircling the entire Sarmatian force.
The entire Sarmatian line surged forward fully confident of a quick victory, but this time Fortuna smiled as the entire Roman line held sending the Sarmatian cavalry back and destroying two units flanking their commander.
Rome did not hesitate and charged forward catching and number of cavalry units struggling to evade. Victory was complete as the white Draco standard fell to earth. Score 2 – 5 for Rome.
NB. On a side note, the Roman general faced the rear throughout the battle which can be explained in two ways. He showed either a great contempt for the enemy and spread manure in their path or he was in deep conversation with Fortuna.