Thursday 15 February 2024

Late Imperial Rome vs. Sassan

In response to recent Sassanian transgressions, Rome crossed the frontier of Northern Mesopotamia. Ultimately, Rome was surprised and promptly deployed on a plain situated between difficult hills and a deserted village. Under a cloud of dust, the Persians amassed its elephant corps and Immortals to form its main assault against the legions and the Asavaran cavalry, forming a secondary group would strike the Roman right wing.

The Persians advance closing the distance to the Roman formations.

The elephant corps and Immortals successfully brave the storm of arrows and bolts to crash into the Roman line, the impact destroyed a major portion of the enemy line to expose the Roman CinC and staff.


Initially unsuccessful, the secondary assault regrouped to repeat their charge to mirror the effect created further up the line. The Roman centre ceased to exist, putting the army to flight. Sassan 8 – 3.



On a subsequent engagement, Rome formed a solid line, legions on the right, bowmen and artillery in the centre and the majority of the cavalry on the left. To counter Rome’s intended assault against its left, the Persians placed its levies to face the legion and placed the elephant corps and supporting Asavaran cavalry to face the mobile Roman wing.

To complete the deployment, both sides formed independent groups and positioned them beyond the village.

Determined to sweep aside the levies, the legions advanced. Supporting their effort, the archers and artillery wreaked havoc among the Asavaran left of the levies. At this time, the Roman mobile wing remained in position awaiting the assault to come.

The legions encountered stiff resistance from the levies, which seriously delayed the overall plan to destroy the Persian centre. Nonetheless, Roman cataphract and archers proved effective at disrupting the Persian formations in centre.

The situation changed when the Persian centre recovered well enough to counter the Roman effort. The initiative now in hand, the elephant corps and cavalry support continued their advance.

As dusk approached, Rome successfully destroyed the Persian centre, but found both its own flanks shattered, forcing Rome to retreat. Sassan 8 to 6 + 4Hd.

 

Observations

Persia was extremely fortunate in game one, needing five turns to destroy the Roman army. Rome was at a disadvantage deploying first enabling the Persians to ideally place its elephant corps.

Game two was hard fought and could easily have ended in a Roman victory. Despite the plague of low pip scores for Rome, it could make effective use of the artillery and archers.    

Thursday 8 February 2024

Rome against the Goths

From their recently established kingdom in southern Gaul, the Goths plundered nearby Roman lands and lay siege to the city of Arles in 427. The Magister Equitum assigned to defend Gaul, collected troops to relieve the city. Aside from the scant number of field army units, Germanic troops made an additional portion of the army as well as an independent tribe of Huns. The Goths, who had established themselves a decade before in Aquitania and Novempopulania, had supplanted the Roman governors and other bureaucratic officials, yet many Roman citizens opted to remain behind, among them included garrison and auxiliary units. 

Forces

Both commands, Patrician Roman and Early Visigoths, are double size and include a sub-general.

Terrian

To be placed by the defender, a BUA (hamlet), a road, one gentle hill and two wood.

 

Game one

The Visigoths amassed their cavalry on the right, preparing to encircle the Roman flank resting on the village. At the same time, Visigothic infantry in centre and citizen auxilia would hold the legions at bay.

The encircling maneuver floundered against the wily Huns, prompting the Visigothic warlord to change his attack plans.

The lines clashed and buckled, eventually the Visigothic heavy cavalry broke the Feoderati, breaching the Roman line. 


On the Roman right, the cavalry could make no impression on the auxilia and were repulsed with each effort. The conflict changed when Gothic skirmishers emerged from the wood to seal a victory for the Visigoths, 9 – 2.

 

Game two

A subsequent battle found the Visigothic infantry defending a gentle hill in centre and flanked to either side, the Gothic cavalry. Auxilia infantry and skirmishers protected the rear area in anticipation of a Hunnic encirclement.

Rome closed the distance to approach the Visigothic centre. This left their left flank exposed, an opportunity the Visigoths seize upon. As the Visigothic cavalry moved to strike the exposed Roman flank, Hunnic cavalry appeared around the wood.

Committed to the attack, the Visigothic cavalry struck the Roman equites, but with fewer number. The entire battle line shuddered with the clash of sword on shields.

Roman lancers and legionnaires streamed through the gaps in the Visigothic centre effectively breaking them to continue the fight. Rome 8 – 2.



Observations

I have not used this matched pair, Patrician Roman and the Later Visigoths, and was therefore pleased with the results. Strengths and weakness were balanced for both sides, despite the high percentage of barbarian troops employed by Rome. The Huns tied down Visigothic reserves and in game two, arrived in time to reduce the enemy cavalry of their full potential.

Sunday 4 February 2024

Late Imperial Rome vs. the Huns

The recently completed Huns had their baptism against an equally new Late Imperial East Roman army. Both armies were double size commands giving a decided advantage to Rome of two ballistae and two elements of solid bow. 

Deploying its force between wood and village, Rome viewed a Hunnic horde spread across a broad front.

Probing the Roman left, the Huns met stiff resistance from the auxilia infantry and light horse posted there. The fighting soon escalated as more Huns joined the conflict in progress.

Seeing no breakthrough on the Roman left, the Hunnic warlord opened a second attack on the Roman right. Both efforts failed to bring the desired result, the warlord broke off the battle to leave Rome the field. Rome 8 – 3.



 In a subsequent engagement, both sides deployed similarly. However, Rome emboldened by their recent victory, marched their battle line forward to bring their ballistae and archers in range.


The hail of ballistae bolt and arrows provoked the Huns to attack the Roman line, but these were beaten back with the help of supporting troops. Casualties among the Huns rapidly escalated, leaving the Hun searching for a desperate solution.


Sensing the presence of Tengri, the Huns redoubled their effort and in 30 minutes (2 turns), shattered both Roman flanks even the carnage (7 – 7). Regaining the initiative, Rome beat back the Hunnic fury to claim a Pyrrhic victory, 8 - 7.



Observations

Rome eager for battle, left its defensive position to advance toward the enemy in game two. This brought ballistae and archers in range and within a relative short period Hunnic LH were quickly destroyed to bring the score 6 – 1 for Rome. This provoked a number of suicidal attacks by the Huns resulting in the destruction of all Roman cataphracts and an element each of auxilia infantry and archers., bring the score to an even 7 – 7. Worth replaying another time.   

Thursday 25 January 2024

The Huns

One month ago, I ordered Blue Moon Huns to replace the single command of Old Glory figures. Using the Alans to play a double size command did not seem right, therefore an order was placed for the Blue Moon figures. The four packs ordered filled exactly two commands (one leader, two of horse archers and one with javelins).  

The lower torso of the rider is cast with the horse leaving the upper torso to be fitted in a myriad of combinations. The castings require little cleaning and the pin, under the upper torse needs to be trimmed a bit. You may note a number of Huns twisting in the saddle to shot or throw a javelin to their right. Nice that.

Clothing, breeches, topcoat and caps, were painted in six colours, horses in four, leather equipment in three; which produced a wide variety of colour combinations.

Horse tail standards were made using brass rod (1mm, 0.8mm and 0.5mm) and horsetails were covered with Milliput.

II/80d

1 x Hun general (Cv), 1 x Hun sub-general (LH), 22 x Hun horse archers (LH).


First command



Second command



Battle array




Tuesday 16 January 2024

Collision Course with double size command

Using a double size command with a single die for movement can prove daunting, more so when using the collision course variant. The following test was to see if two games could be played in an evening. The only change to the rule variant was an increase of the deployment zone. 3BW on either side of the centre line would be adequate for a column two elements wide by four deep.

Test game.

The vanguard of each army and the head of the second column are place (to the right, the French, left, the Feudal Spanish).

The Spanish third column appeared shortly thereafter. Waiting for the arrival of the rearguard, the French sent their cavalry to cover the deployment of the infantry.


Turn eight, a wayward French column arrives, but in that time, the Spanish have formed their battle line with flanks protected by difficult terrain.


Seeing the approach of French cavalry, the Spanish cavalry formed a line behind their skirmishers and crossbowmen. Elsewhere, the French pace their advance to come in lockstep with the cavalry on the left.

Note: three hours have passed (twelve turns) with no melees or shooting.


Both lines clash and fighting erupt across the entire front. On the Spanish right, the skirmishers sprint to the cover of nearby woods, allowing their cavalry to engage the French. The Spanish quickly gain the upper hand in the cavalry fight, pushing back their enemy onto their second line causing a heavy toll of French casualties. Resistance collapsed as the army’s left flank became exposed. The French called for a retreat to save what remained of the army. Feudal Spanish 8, West Franks 5.

Turn sixteen was a turning point for the French, the score an even at 3 – 3, suddenly collapsed as the French lost five elements. Total time from set up to end of game took a little over an hour.

Tuesday 9 January 2024

Rome and the Jewish Revolt

There were a series of large-scale revolts by the Jews of Judaea and the Eastern Mediterranean against the Roman Empire between 66 and 135 CE The First Jewish–Roman War (66–73 CE) and the Bar Kokhba revolt (132–136 CE) are better documented when compared to the campaigns against the barbarians across the Rhine and Danube rivers. With the exception of Beth Haron, the First Jewish War is characterized as a series of sieges, ending with the sacking of Jerusalem. In contrast, the Bar Kokhba rebellion, free of the dissention as experienced during the first revolt, waged a protracted guerilla war against Rome, this serves as the backdrop for the following two battles. 

Terrain

Jewish forces defend in hilly terrain consisting of three difficult hills, a road and hamlet. 

Game one

The rebels took a position along the heights behind the village and straddling the road Jewish regular troops could be seen. Light armed troops extended the rebel position further to their right.

Setting aside any idea of finesse, Rome would take the village and sweep sweeping the hills clear of any rebel resistance. The cavalry would turn the rebel flank and cut off their avenue of retreat.

Displaying grim determination, the rebels sent light troops to seize the hill which split the Roman deployment.

Confident its auxilia on the left could deal with rebel skirmishers, Rome advanced its legion against the village while auxilia prepared to sweep the hills on their right.

Rebel skirmishers engage the auxilia for possession of the hill and supporting zealots find an opportunity to attack the left flank of the legion.

The rebel skirmishers proved no match against the auxilia and were slowly driven back off the hill. At its base, the zealots begin to experience heavy casualties.

As the legion swept through the village, the rebel leader ordered the regulars to help defend the village. Too little and too late, the high number of casualties prompted the flight of the rebels. Tomorrow would be another day. Rome 8+3Hd – 1


Game two

Positions reversed, Rome deployed its legion outside the village and positioned the auxilia to occupy it and the surrounding hills. The cavalry deployed on the right of the legion.

Unexpectedly, the rebels opened the battle pressing forward to attack the village and contest possession of the hill position to its flank.

Coming under pressure from twice their number, Roman auxilia begin to give ground. Elsewhere, the rebels seemed hesitant to enter the village as the Roman auxilia were supported by archers.

Roman ballistae repositioned itself to better support the defense of the village and as ballistae bolts rained on rebel formations, these withdrew to a safer distance.

Meanwhile on the Roman left, after beating the rebel attack around the hill, the auxilia withdrew to a nearby second hill position.

Roman casualties had been heavy throughout the battle, but the rebel forces suffered twice as many and therefore break off the combat, leaving the field. Rome 8 – 4

 

Observations

Despite the cavalry advantage, Rome fought both engagements with only its infantry, for the most part employing all the auxilia with a few legionnaire cohorts in support. 

While writing the report, I discovered an oversight regarding the restriction of shooting to and from a hamlet. This is treated similarly as shooting to or from difficult hills or woods. No casualties were inflicted, but it did prompt some rebels to recoil. 

 

Forces

Jewish Revolt

2 x generals (3/4Ax), 4 x regulars (4Ax), 4 x masses (5Hd), 4 x masses (3Ax), 4 x zealots (3Wb), 6 x archers/slingers (Ps). 

Early Imperial Roman

2 x General (Cv), 2 x equites (Cv), 8 x legionnaires (4Bd), 6 x auxilia infantry (4Ax), 2 x archers (4Bw), 2 x light horse (LH), 2 x artillery (Art).