Friday 28 April 2023

Roman Tour – the Alamanni

This is the first of a series of test games pitting Rome of the Early Imperial period versus a host of historical opponents. Test games are not done in any chronological order, but are meant to explore list options, deployment and tactics used against forest dwelling barbarians and enemies on the empire’s eastern frontier.


The Alamanni are defending a region filled with forest and marsh. Favouring the use of dense columns when attacking, smaller units are placed between allowing them to extend their line. The Alamanni cavalry are positioned on the left flank.

To meet the barbarians, Rome placed its legion in centre with auxilia infantry on either flank and placed in reserve all the mounted units.

As the Alamanni advance forward, the legion wheels left forcing the enemy to conform. Hopefully this will create a break in the enemy line through which Roman cavalry can exploit.  

Roman auxilia infantry contend with the barbarians on the left slowing their advance, on the right auxilia cavalry successfully rout half the German cavalry.

The euphoria is quickly dissipated as they are surprised by barbarian skirmishers and put to flight.

At this moment, panic seizes the Roman commander who called for a retreat on hearing of further losses. 

Alamanni 4 – 2.


Swapping deployment areas, Rome defending altered its standard battle formation by placing the artillery in centre with the legionnaires to either side.  The wood on the left would offer ideal cover for skirmishing archers.

As the Alamanni moved forward, the Roman auxilia and legion moved back to re-align themselves with the troops in centre. On the left flank, Roman skirmishers and equites threatened the barbarian cavalry and neutralise their further participation in the main confrontation. This event opened an opportunity for the Roman commander.

The barbarian cavalry, now occupied, allowed Roman troops to roll up the barbarian right flank initiating a blood bath, effectively eliminating half their number including their general. 

Rome 6+ - 1.

Lessons learned.

Defending or attacking, auxilia infantry do well against barbarian columns, unfortunately, legionnaires remain a tossup. Expect to lose one or two blade, however, greater losses are experienced when legion initiate the combat. Generally, this delivers a golden opportunity for an alert opponent to respond to.

Game two demonstrated an ideal use of skirmishers and light horse by neutralising enemy cavalry without engaging them. The opponent must decide to expend pips to engage in combat or withdraw.  

Early Imperial Roman

1 x General (Cv), 1 x equites (Cv), 4 x legionnaires (4Bd), 3 x auxilia infantry (4Ax), 1 x archers (Ps), 1 x light horse (LH), 1 x artillery (Art).


1 x General on foot (4Wb), 2 x cavalry (Cv), 8 x warriors (4Wb), 1 x skirmishers (Ps).

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