Friday 20 January 2017

Rome and the Nobades incursion.

During the winter month of January, reports were arriving to the capital of Thebais of marauding bands plundering the small communities along the Nile. The message was passed quickly throughout the province as Rome began preparations to form a punitive expedition. By March, only troops from Arcadia marched through the gates of Ptolemais, so not wishing to delay longer than was necessary the Dux marched his forces south. The mobile column stationed in Aegyptus would meet the main army later {1}.

By April the Nobades were found on the left bank of the Nile (Littoral) deployed between difficult hills and patches of dunes. Despite the Nobades having greater numbers the battle was hard fought and brief; several Roman units were mauled as Nobades foot troops appeared from nowhere (ambush) and despite a small success, the equites sagittarii sacking their camp, the Dux called for a retreat (a Nobades victory, 3 -2) {2} .

Two months were needed to reconstitute the army and proceed with the campaign yet for unexplained reasons the Nobades remained relatively quiet {3}. After a failed attempt to bring the Nobades to battle in June, it was not until the following month that the armies were to meet again.

The battlefield was a wide plain broken up with a few sparse woods and a large difficult hill. The Nobades deployed between the woods showed less cavalry which meant a good number of their mounted force were out foraging (flank march). Anticipating this, the Dux led his troops in echelon with the legions heading the attack supported by the cavalry. Auxilia protected the flanks from possible turning moves and a unit of auxilia were guarding the camp against any threat to it. The battle was hotly contested with both sides losing heavily, but Rome prevailed (4 – 3 victory) {4}.

Rome was literally in hot pursuit of the Nobades (August) and caught up with them near the frontier. Having little time to gather reinforcements, the Nobades were now at a disadvantage regarding troop strength {5}. Moving quickly, the Dux caught the marauders spilling out of their camp (rapid deployment). The engagement that followed did not last long as the Nobades broke and fled leaving the field littered with their dead to include heir warlord (a Roman victory) {6}.

{1} Not present were the equites clibanarii and scutarii, 2 x 4Kn and 1 x 3Cv respectively.
{2} Jan had no shortage of sixes and so used the ambush rule to great effect.
{3} Jan’s good fortune with the die did not extend to the cards; lacking activity points kept him inert.
{4} The flank march arrived on turn three, but their effect was blunted by auxilia troops. In this battle, the equites (LH) used again their multiple move to seal the fate of two Nobades foot.  
{5} With seven elements remaining, the Nobades needed two to break.
{6} The Nobades warlord displayed exceptional prowess by destroying two equites (LH) in the second battle but met his demise under the sword strokes of two units of legionnaire. As the Nobades are well known for their inter-tribal rivalry Rome can expect another incursion in two or three years.  

This was a quite a hard fought campaign which saw three battles and eight months of campaign play finished in less than 2 ½ hours. The campaign system was a new experience for Jan in which he used the stratagems to good effect.

We did not use the grouping of clans as this would have slowed the game as two of the three battles were long affairs lasting more than six turns. For this campaign a simple die cast was used to determine which terrain type would be used for battle, arable, littoral, hilly or dry.

Plunder (Draft):  Each new province in which the marauders remain uncontested would be deemed plundered. A counter would be placed in that province and at the end of the campaign, the number of counters would be debited from the defender’s total. During battle, spoils would become part of a comp’s content and could be recovered; this would remove the counter for that province. 

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