Saturday 3 February 2018

Later Imperial Roman vs. the Armenians

At this point in Armenian history, the nobility reformed their use of cavalry (3Kn replacing the 4Kn) to one more aggressive than before. The noble houses still called on their retainers to supply the light horse and would use the general levy to supply the needed spearmen and skirmishers.

The following battles take place in the hilly provinces of Armenia. Terrain pieces selected are the compulsory hills, a wood, a river and a BUA. Armenia is the defender in the first battle.

Game 1
Rome as attacker, found the Armenian force deployed before their provincial town. The Sparapet (commander) deployed the spearmen on the left and light horse on the right with the nobles positioned in the centre.
Rome secured the heights on the right and would expand the line of cavalry once it moved away from the narrow confines of the pass.

Both sides were plagued with poor communication (low pip scores), it took nearly an hour to close half the distance between lines.

The Sparapet took advantage of the situation to launch his attack first by bringing nearly all the cavalry into combat. The effect however, fell below expectations as half the noble cavalry were picked off by Roman archers and a unit of Armenian light horse were broken.

Calling on the levies to do their part, they advanced boldly forward following the example of their Sparapet.

Alas for Armenia, Rome countered their effort catching a number of exposed flanks and destroying nearly half the army including their general. Score 6g – 3 for the LIR.

Game 2
A rival house placed one of their nobles to command and with a new leader Armenia found better ground for a subsequent battle. This time, the levy spear would secure the heights to protect the Armenian centre and light horse formed up on the left flank.

Rome concentrated its force between the river and hills leaving a small screening force on the far right.

Both sides spent the time securing the heights on both their right flank while the cavalry moved cautiously forward.

At this point, the Sparapet ordered the cavalry in the centre to withdraw back inviting the Roman cavalry to move forward. This was clearly intended as an insult. At the opposite end of the hill, the cavalry of both sides were engaged with the Armenians gaining the advantage by destroying a unit of Roman light horse.

The cavalry action on the extreme Roman right was getting desperate and coupled with the Armenian spear gaining the heights, the Roman commander readied his battle line for an all out attack.

From the position on the hill, the Armenian spear charged the Roman archers in their rear forcing them to turn. This caused confusion in the line and seeing the Armenian light horse victorious over his equites, he called for a general retreat.  Score 4 – 0 for Armenia.

Game 3
Rome found themselves in a difficult situation as they were deployed before a provincial town with a relief force bearing down on their position. Rather than risk an assault, the Roman commander found it prudent to eliminate the relief force first. To do this, the clibanarii were positioned in the centre with the infantry split evenly to both wings and the remaining cavalry formed at the end of the line. A small detachment of skirmishers were kept back to take care of any possible sortie by Armenians in the town.  

By placing enough spearmen and archers (Ps) to occupy Roman attention, the main thrust of the Armenian attack would focus on the Roman right. The first charge by the Armenians was stopped giving the Romans time to counter attack both front and flank. The Armenians held and escalated the situation by flanking both the light horse and skirmishers.

The loss of two units in quick succession prompted a signal for a general attack by the Roman general. In the struggle that took place on the hill slopes, the Armenian spearmen were sent scurrying up the hill to return later to the fight. Each of the clibanarii had to turn about to face the Armenian light horse while Roman infantry made desperate attempts to keep other Armenian cavalry at bay.

Confident that the charge of the clibanarii would sweep the enemy light horse from the field, everyone was surprised when the light horse held their ground.

The Armenian seized the moment to quickly counter charge the clibanarii destroying half of them to bring the battle to a close. Score 5 – 1 for Armenia.

II/28c Armenian 245 – 627 AD Terrain type: Hilly, Aggression 1
1 x general (3Kn), 1 x lancers (3Kn), 4 x horse archers (LH), 4 x javelinmen (3Ax), 2 archers (Ps).


  1. Armenian success was due to confronting the Romans not in one massive wave, but with smaller assaults to catch the enemy off balance. In games two and three, the Armenian light horse was in their element. The terrain also gave the Armenians an advantage restricting the coordinated effort of Roman infantry supported by cavalry.

  2. Many a flank turned in these games. Nifty hill town. Where did you get it?

  3. Jonathan,

    The village is from ‘Fabriqué Localement’, an exclusive shop here in the Netherlands.

  4. Nice looking games as always!

  5. Nice to see Armenia getting their licks in!