Tuesday 8 October 2019

Middle Imperial Rome vs. the Marcomanni

I have found that using the larger command size (12 to 24 elements) does require a refinement of one’s game style. With one die cast, you will quickly find insufficient ‘pips’ to move all your troops even if grouped well. This can often be the result of terrain becoming an inconvenience to formations or as the defender you can find yourself wrong footed. Developing a methodical approach in the opening moves worked best for the attacker as not only attacking units were moved but sufficient supporting troops were brought forward to sustain an attack. This did build game tension as focusing on a threatened sector would mean another sector would remain idle. This did equate to taking a risk.

To continue the experiment I selected a historical confrontation between Rome and the Marcomanni. View this as a ‘back to basics’ meeting between balanced forces.  

Game one
Rome deployed in a deeper formation with auxilia positioned in the first line followed by the legions in the second. A third line held all the cavalry and command forming the army’s reserve. The Marcomanni positioned all its cavalry on the right with warband forming its centre and left wing. Advancing in line, the Marcomanni slowly moved forward while Rome took measures to extend its by moving the auxilia to extend the army’s line leaving the legionnaires visible. The initial clash came as Marcomanni warriors met the auxilia who were quickly supported by units from the second line. Seeing the initial rush falter, Rome counter charged catching the Marcomanni on the right and centre off balance. The Marcomanni line quickly crumbled with the battle ending with a 3 – 8 victory for Rome. Half the army was employed while the remainder remained spectators.

(7 turns in 49”)


Game two
Rome deployed with a few minor changes in three lines. The Marcomanni revised their deployment by forming less deep and amassing its cavalry on the left.  

To counter the extended Marcomanni line Rome moved its cavalry reserve to strengthen the right and on the army’s left, auxilia were seen trotting off to harass the enemy line.  

Marcomanni approached slowly sending skirmishers to deal with the auxilia on the right. When the warbands struck, Rome held their ground or repulsed the Marcomanni buckling their line.

Seeing the success of the auxilia, the Praetorian and legio Parthica impetuously charged forward. In the ensuing melee casualties fell quickly on both sides with the Marcomanni holding a slight advantage (3 - 2).

Unlike the previous battle, the Rome’s second line were quickly drawn into the conflict brewing up with the number of casualties increasing on both sides. The pendulum no swung in favour for Rome (4 – 5).

Gaps now appeared (turn six) bringing the conflict to a critical point as both sides attacked exposed flanks bringing the score to an even 7 - 7. The Marcomanni sensed victory (pip score of 6) proceeded to flense the Roman line, destroying legionnaires and equites, to end the battle with a score, 7 – 9. 

(7 turns in 48”)

Middle Imperial Rome
1 x General (Cv), 2 x equites (Cv), 1 x equites (LH), 4 x legionnaires (4Bd), 4 x auxilia (4Ax).

Early German (Marcomanni)
1 x General (Cv), 2 x cavalry (Cv), 9 x warriors (4Wb), 1 x skirmisher (Ps).


  1. A beautiful battle and a close result!

    1. Phil,
      The Marcomanni improved their strike potential by stretching their battle line to match Rome’s. Forcing the auxilia back on the second line did raise that situation to a critical level. The game contrasts nicely with the first one.