Tuesday 6 June 2023

Roman Tour – Late Judaean

The Client Kingdom of Judea, frequently found themselves at odds with neighbouring entities such as the Nabataean and the city-state of Emesa during the reign of Caesar Augustus. Following the death of Herod the Great in 1 BC, Augustus honoured the division of the kingdom among his surviving sons to establish the ethnarchs of Judea, Samaria and Idumea*.

Any harmonious relationship among the heirs quickly turned to armed conflict (Josephus) drawing the neighbouring states and Rome into it.


Game one

Encamp in the Elat valley, the Judaean army were alerted to the approach of the Roman army by scouts. Forming a battleline in front of its camp, its flanks were protected by difficult hills and a village.  

Seeing the Judaean prepared for battle, auxilia and legionnaires formed a line matching the enemy. Intent on seizing the village on the enemy’s right, an assault column of legionnaires supported by auxilia made ready to attack.

The Roman assault on the village met with stiff resistance. Gaining little success, Roman attention focused on the enemy centre to create a breakthrough.

The main attack came to a halt as Judaean skirmishers fell on the Roman right flank. The well-timed counter attack frustrated each attack by Rome. To overcome the level of enemy resistance, Rome reinforced its left flank and resume the assault on the village and the Judaean right.  

Judaean troops sent to support its right effectively thinned its battle line. Sensing the right moment, Rome struck the enemy centre sending the enemy in retreat. A victory, but at heavy cost; Rome 4 - 3 

Game two

The Judaean line nearly mirrored that of Rome, but lacking sufficient cavalry, sought the protection of its flanks with rocky ground and steep hills on either side. Rome, in standard formation, placed its artillery and archers on the left and kept the bulk of its cavalry in reserve.

The Judaean launched an early attack on the hills position on the Roman left. From this vantage point, the Judaeans assault the artillery and archer units exposing the Roman centre. The plans quickly soured as accurate artillery shots destroyed a Judaean auxilia unit and those skirmishers reaching the hill suffered heavy losses.

Confident of a secure left flank, the legion crashed into the main Judaean line sending enemy formations back. As a result, many Judaean units found themselves attacked in both front and flank, to be cut down were they stood.  

The pressure became too much for the Judaean and a retreat was called for. A solid victory, Rome, 5 – 2



Both tests were long, taking 7 turns to reach a decision, this was not due to poor die throws, but many combats resulting in even scores. In error, the element of cavalry was replaced by an element of skirmishers. On reflection, I not sure this would have made a difference due to the restricted nature of the terrain which actually favoured light troops. Both tests demonstrated the tenacity of the Judaean skirmishers against heavier armed opponents, including cavalry.  

Both sides may use allies and the Judaean may have Parthia (2 x 4Kn, 1 x LH) while Rome could select from a number of options from the Arabo-Aramaean list (II/22). The Nabataean, for example, could supply 1 x noble (4Kn), 1 x archer (3Bw) and 1 x camel guard (Cm) as a counter to the Parthian presence.


Early Imperial Roman

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

Late Judaean

1 x General (3Kn), 2 x Thracian cohorts (4Ax or 4Bd), 3 x Judaean cohorts (4Ax), 1 x Gallic cavalry (Cv), 3 x archers/slingers (Ps), 2 x javelinmen (Ps) or Idumaean hillmen (3Ax) or rioting religious mob (5Hd).

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