Tuesday 30 January 2018

Later Imperial Roman vs. the Sarmatian

Continuing the historical series, the Later Imperial Rome make use of the eastern order of battle. The number of cavalry and legionnaires have been increased and among the auxilia there are now sagittarii (4Bw) present.

The first conflict takes place north of the Danube which allows the Sarmatians to fight in 'homeland' territory of the steppes. This may pose a problem for Rome as the terrain will be devoid of features to use in deploying troops. 

Game 1
Rome on the offensive, caught the Sarmatian scrambling out of their village to reach open ground. As Rome advanced only half the Sarmatian cavalry could deploy to the far bank.

Taking advantage of the situation, the magister militum launched his cavalry against the Sarmatians exiting the village and placed the auxilia in a position to delay those Sarmatians crossing the river downstream.

Lacking room to manoeuvre, the Sarmatians took heavy casualties (two elements) as the clibanarii and equites fell on them in front and both flanks.

Rome also suffered casualties, but the losses on the Sarmatian were significant enough to send them fleeing. Score 4 – 2 for the LIR.

Game 2
In the second battle, the Sarmatian have called on the Alani (allies) to defeat the Roman invader; these are deployed on the wings.  Rome having the advantage of ground would be content to hold it.

Seeing the main effort was directed toward the centre, the Magister Militum moved his left wing to bring the sagittarii into effective bow range. On the right, the equites and skirmishers could deal with the Alani while the clibanarii and auxilia in centre, moved forward to meet the Sarmatians on the slope of a gentle hill.

In centre, the Sarmatians unleashed a fury at the Romans holding the hill and in two successive bounds their chieftain destroyed half the clibanarii. Other Sarmatian cavalry in support of their general were less than successful as they were sent back to the base of the hill. On the Sarmatian left, the Alani made up for their poor performance and destroyed a unit of light horse.

The final act came when the Sarmatian chieftain signalled his Alani and Sarmatians to finish the Romans off, then doubling back he sought out the Roman general. The last onslaught delivered the fatal blow leaving the legion and the magister militum littering the battlefield. Score 7g – 2 for the Sarmatian.

Game 3
The final battle found both armies constrained by the limited open ground and so both deployments were just under 800 paces.

Rome remained steadfast on their hill position offering the Sarmatians ample time to coordinate their assault.

Noticing how easily Roman skirmishers had crossed the river (paltry), the Sarmatian chieftain dispatched light troops of his own to deal with them. Meanwhile, the Sarmatians and Alani struck the Roman line.

Sarmatian lances found their mark destroying the legion and its supporting auxilia leaving the Magister Militum dangerously exposed. Elsewhere, the Alani and the Sarmatian cavalry were being repulsed and losing ground but both sides experienced heavy casualties (3 – 3).

Following their orders, the auxilia ignored the ‘rally’ signal from their general and fell on the Alani destroying more than half their number.  Seeing the Alani essential destroyed and his Sarmatian cavalry repulsed elsewhere, the Sarmatian chieftain called for a retreat. Score 5 – 3 for the LIR.

II/26 Sarmatian 310 BC – 375 AD Terrain type: Steppe, Aggression 3
1 x general (3Kn), 7 x noble cavalry (3Kn), 1 x scouts (LH) or noble cavalry (3Kn), 3 x archers (Ps) or noble cavalry (3Kn) or levied farmers (7Hd). 


  1. Nice looking games - and figures - as usual!

  2. Thanks Phil,

    The Arable, Forest, Hilly, Steppe, Dry and Littoral terrain are getting a lot of use these days.
    To date, the Tropical has been used only once for the Arab Indian vs. the Abbasid.
    I think I may have to build a few more Tropical armies if I am to see that terrain used again.

  3. It's a fascinating period. Nice battle reports as always!

  4. Scott,

    It most certainly is.
    On completion of the Biblical project I will return to the ‘Migration to Kingdom’ with the introduction of the Merovingian Dynasty. Plenty of Dark Age conflict there.