Saturday 10 February 2018

Later Imperial Roman vs. Alaric

The Goths have made an earlier appearance, but not the army of Alaric which has a number of options which you will find below. The two armies confront one another within the empire with both having full options of terrain and allied contingents. 

Game 1
Rome is the attacker in the first confrontation. The Goths found themselves in less than ideal terrain, but Alaric was eager to attack the Eastern Romans. Alaric with other mounted nobles formed the right wing with the rest of the warriors on foot formed the left. 

Facing the Goths, Rome's battle line extended beyond that of the Goths which invited an opportunity to encircle both flanks.

The infantry on both sides were eager to cross swords but stopped forty paces to regroup their dense columns. The Gothic cavalry on their left moved forward at a walk as their charge would come soon enough.

Underestimating the determination of the auxilia all three Gothic columns were repulsed but only the legion followed up their pursuit.

Renewing their effort, the Gothic infantry created a breach in the Roman line. A heartbeat later, the legion collapsed enlarging the breach sending a note of alarm to the magister militum watching nearby.

Following up the success of their infantry, the Gothic cavalry lowered their lances and charged forward sending most of the Roman cavalry recoiling from the shock. Despite the destruction of Gothic skirmishers, this was small compensation as another unit of auxilia were destroyed sending the battle quickly out of control for Rome. 

Alaric was in the thick of the fight eliminating half of the clibanarii and their loss sent the magister militum to call for a general retreat ending the battle. Score 4 – 2 for Alaric.

Game 2
Rome was now the defender and found itself on open ground with one lone hill serving as flank protection. Across the field, the Gothic infantry were seen gathering at the outskirts of a village and their dreaded cavalry took a position between the wood and the infantry.

Rome’s battle line moved forward maintaining a strict alignment. Across the field, the Goths moved steadily forward keeping cadence with their swords striking their shields.

With the exception of a few mounted units held back as a reserve, all units were committed to battle. Within minutes the lines were moving to and fro with the Gothic left giving the most ground. The situation on the Gothic right broke through the line held by the legion and were pushing back the remainder of the Roman left.

As the breach in the Roman line widen, the situation became desperate for the magister militum as he was quickly surrounded by Gothic freed slaves and warriors and killed. His demise would surely mean the destruction of the Roman army (3g – 1).

Now leaderless, Roman resistance fell to the tribunes of the cavalry regiments to avenge the loss of their leader by falling on the flank of an infantry column and elsewhere the clibanarii and equites surrounded a unit of Gothic cavalry. The quick counter attack did have its effect cutting down Gothic infantry (3g – 2).

Surrounded, the Gothic nobles repulsed their adversaries back. These same nobles counter attacked the clibanarii while the Alaric attacked the equites in the rear and their loss drove the heart out of the army and sending it fleeing from the field. Score 4g – 2 for Alaric.

Game 3
The final battle found the Roman army deployed in front of a line of woods and formed in their standard formation;  cavalry in the centre and auxilia evenly distributed on either flank. Across the field, Alaric formed the cavalry in the defile and positioned skirmishers on either side, while the infantry would scale the hill to descend on the Roman right.

Rome took the initiative and moved forward in two wings; the right wing would deal with the infantry descending the hill while the left wing would try to contain the Gothic cavalry in the defile. Auxilia and skirmishers would seize the hill on the Gothic right to help facilitate this move.

In the eagerness to confront the Gothic cavalry, Roman mounted surged forward ahead of their infantry support.

The Gothic cavalry were more than ready for battle as they easily repulsed the Roman cavalry driving them back toward the Roman commander’s position.

The Roman infantry on the right contained the Gothic threat and even the legion was steadily driving their adversaries back toward the hill. To bring order to the maelstrom caused by the cavalry action in centre, the magister militum committed his guard to the fight.

Both commanders were in the thick of the fight, but Alaric was able to issue orders for uncommitted units to assist the cavalry action. Half the clibanarii fell as did other Roman units in quick succession bringing the battle to a close. Score 5 – 1 for Alaric.

II/65c Alaric 408 – 419 AD Terrain type: Arable, Aggression 3
1 x general (3Kn), 2 x noble cavalry (3Kn), 1 x cavalry (3Kn or LH), 4 x warriors (4Wb), 2 x freed slaves (4Wb or 7Hd), 2 x archers (Ps).


  1. The Goths sweeping all three games under Alaric was quite a blow to Roman prestige underscored by the disparity in lost elements; 13g – 4. Winning the first game gave the Goths the advantage of deploying second in the subsequent game; ensuring Gothic infantry were facing Roman infantry and not cavalry.

    This matchup is worth revisiting as Rome can learn from its defeats.

  2. Ouch. Another rough time for Rome. Do the Romans have a chance against all that cavalry?

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  4. Actually, Rome has the advantage in number of mounted, 2 x 4Kn, 2 x Cv and 1 x LH vs. 3 x 3Kn and 1 x LH.

    Roman cavalry are equally effective at containing the Gothic knight as are the clibanarii. However, during the cavalry melee it is a question of who is free to fall on an exposed flank and prohibit a recoil that wins the combat.