Tuesday 15 August 2023

The Hun and the Gepid

The current discussion about horse archers at the Fanaticus Forum, prompted a re-reading of E.A. Thompson’s book “The Huns”. The chapters of the period before Attila describe the nomads using the cunei or wedge formation (Ammianus Marcellinus).  It is not clear if the passage references a tactical formation or the general appearance of the army when deployed.

Further, Hunnic incursions beyond the steppes were done by individual tribes rather than the massive horde described in the primary sources. This accounts for Huns fighting alongside Rome to oppose other Hunnic tribes. For the names of the various tribes, I would recommend Maenchen-Helfen, The World of the Huns: Studies in Their History and Culture.

Continuing our experience with cavalry armies, the Huns come into contact with the Gepid. The terrain is relatively open with a settlement (BUA) protected by scrub and masked by two hills. The Gepid return home to find the Huns occupying their settlement.

Game one

Half the noble Gepid flanked by spearmen approach the settlement head on. Skirmishers positioned on each flank are set to rush forward and secure the rough ground immediate to their front.

From their new position, Gepid skirmishers harassed the Huns, successfully fending off enemy counter attacks. To counter the Gepid attack, the Huns flanked the Gepid line but were met by lancers held in reserve.

Suffering badly, the Huns compelled to break off the conflict and leave. The action was brief (3 turns), earning the Gepid a win, 4 – 2.

Game two

The tables are turned and the wily Hun catch the Gepid at home. Deployment remained unchanged for either side.

Low pip scores for the Huns emboldened the Gepid to move their battle line forward while Hunnic attempts to outflank the Gepid advance were easily countered.

The battled became a slogging match with casualties becoming even 3 – 3 at the end of seven turns. Gepid spearmen easily fended off Hunnic attacks, however, the toll fell heaviest among the Gepid lancers. Slaughtering all the Gepid nobles, the battle became a disaster for the Gepid, 5+g – 3. 


Hunnic deployment in small groups with sufficient spacing between works well; even low pip scores are utilised to shift groups or form columns. The Gepid are the first opponent with a sizeable number of foot (4 x 4Wb, 4 x Ps), the latter made good use of the rough ground in the first game. Despite having a combat factor of +2 against mounted is, the spearmen were able to repel Hun attacks.


1 x general (Cv), 11 x horse archers (LH).


1 x general (3Kn), 3 x nobles (3Kn), 4 x spearmen (4Wb), 4 x skirmishers (Ps).

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