Tuesday 31 December 2019

Middle Imperial Rome vs. the Carpi

Taking advantage of the crisis situation that struck the Roman Empire, hordes of Goths, Vandals and Sarmatians led by King Kniva crossed the Danube intent on pillaging and capturing slaves. The Carpi joined the venture but directed their attention further west to the province of Moesia Superior. Before confronting the Gothic horde, the Carpi must be dealt with and Emperor Decius led a mobile column to join the provincial governor Gallus near Naissus.

Game one
Securing both flanks on a village and wood, Rome deployed in three lines; the first to slow the barbarian rush, the second to shatter the warband and a third, to clear the field of any left standing.

The auxilia did performed their task but a number of barbarian columns were able to pass through and surprise the second line. To help contain the situation, elements of reserve cavalry were ordered forward to restore order.

The charge of the Sarmatian lancers proved devastating and to remian on the field would incur a severe set back. Decius called for a retreat. Score 9 -3 for the Carpi (35”).

Game two
Reinforced, Decius resumed the campaign and met the Carpi on an open plain. Placing the majority of his cavalry on the left, beyond the woods, the main body formed two lines. The entire auxilia component formed the first line with units of legionnaire interspersed among them. A second line consisted of the remaining legions and guard cavalry.

The Carpi gambled on a quick victory and marched forward their warbands at Rome’s first line. Seeing the dust cloud created by Roman cavalry, the Sarmatian allies halted their advance. To contend with the flanking attack, a screen of Carpi light horse and falxmen were positioned to delay them.

Not waiting for the barbarian assault, Roman auxilia moved forward to intercept the Carpi left wing. Despite Roman losses, this had the effect of greatly reducing the number of Carpi that eventually reached the Roman line. To add further complication to Carpi plans, Roman guard cavalry advanced forward. 

The situation for the Carpi proved threatenning as the flank attack scattered the Carpi screen. Recovering their order, the Roman cavalry resumed the advance on the Carpi commander's reserve.

Despite the situation to their rear, the Sarmatian lancers charged the Roman line. The legions held their ground and further effort destroyed a number of Sarmatae cavalry and Carpi warband. Sensing the battle was lost, the Carpi fled the field. Score 10 – 6 for Rome (45”).

Both armies are double sized single commands.
Middle Imperial Rome
1 x General (Cv), 2 x equites (Cv), 1 x equites (LH), 4 x legionnaires (4Bd), 4 x auxilia (4Ax).
1 x general (Cv), 1 x horsemen (LH), 6 x warriors (3Wb), 2 x falxmen (3Bd), 2 x javelinmen (Ps)
Sarmatian Allies
2 x nobles (3Kn) + 1 x javelinmen (Ps).

Historical side note:
Decius did repulse the Carpi invasion to continue his campaign against the Goths of King Kniva. His reign as emperor came to an abrupt end at the Battle of Arbritus.

Tuesday 17 December 2019

Carthage vs. the Iberians

Carthage vs. the Carpetani (220 BC)
Following the death of Hasdrubal in 221 BC, Hannibal took command of the Carthaginian army in Hispania and in a series of campaigns along the Ebro and in the west defeated a number of Iberian tribes, among them, the Vaccaei and the Carpetani. This provided the historical backdrop to further experiment with the large command of 24 elements using one die for pip scores.

Game one.
The Vaccaei had abandoned the village to established a defensive line on either side of a steep hill not far away. Hannibal proceeded to move against the enemy left using his Carthaginian infantry, Gallic mercenaries and the elephant corps while skirmishing against its right wing with his light troops. Unfortunately, the Vaccaei were not of like mind and launched an aggressive right hook catching the Carthaginians flat-footed. The rapidity of the assault quickly eliminated the Carthaginian screen setting the Gallic cavalry scrambling for cover. The Vaccaei left wing proved tenacious against Carthaginian infantry and elephants. Sweeping down off the slopes of the hill were more Vaccaei forcing Hannibal to break of the battle. In five turns, the Vaccaei scored an 8 - 2 victory.

Game two.
Unvexed by a minor setback, Hannibal continued his campaign finding the Vaccaei and Carpetani in battle formation between hills and wood. Tempering his eagerness for a quick victory, Hannibal devised a plan to utilise Mago’s cavalry wing.

As expected, the forest edge was brimming with enemy while the enemy centre edged forward. The Carthaginian held their position giving Mago time to execute his planned manoeuvre. Anticipating an attack on their rear, the Carpetani were ready to engage the Punic and Numidian cavalry.

Seeing little movement of the enemy centre, the Vaccaei launched an assault against the hill position to their left, from there they could attack the Carthaginians in the flank. This move proved difficult as the Carthaginians stubbornly held their ground despite being attacked by twice their number.  

A foreboding sense of doom settled on the ranks of the Vaccaei and Carpetani as trumpets were heard further to their rear. This was the awaited signal from Mago at which Hannibal launched his centre against the enemy line. Caught front and rear, the Vaccaei and Carpetani broke and fled the field losing nearly half their number. A clear Carthaginian victory, 10 – 2.  

By Alcides Pinto - Based on the map done by Portuguese Archeologist Luís Fraga, from the "Campo Arqueológico de Tavira". The reference map can be found at this location [1]., GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10271416

Tuesday 3 December 2019

The March To Battle (Cavalry action)

Continuing with the latest theme ‘March to Battle’ places the next test somewhere in the steppe north of the Crimea. Here, the Alani confront a Hunnic raid. Unfortunately, errors were made in the initial two tests which ended in a 5 – 0 victory for the Alani. After correcting the errors, battle number two was fought on a similar field. 

Test number two
Alani scouts report dust clouds in the distance mean the Hunnic horde are not far away. Entering an open plain between hills and scrub, the Alani fan out to deploy. 

A short time passes to let dust settle to reveal both armies prepared for battle.

The Alani horse archers move forward to skirmish against an equal number of Huns giving time for Alani lancers to deploy into line. Anticipating a Hunnic move against the Alani left, horse archers are dispatched to confront the possible threat.

The signal is given sending the Alani horse archers to attack the Huns near the hills. Alani lancers advance forward intent on dispersing Huns to front and on the hill. 

The conflict escalates in earnest with casualties quickly mounting. The Alani lancers now add their weight to the combat.

A second wave of Alani lancers join fight which did tip the balance, but not in the direction anticipated. Taking advantage of exposted flank and rear, the Huns forced the Alani to admit defeat and withdraw from the field resolving to fight another day, 4 – 3 for the Huns.

(game length, 8 turns fought in 30 minutes) 

Assessing both tests.
These tests should be viewed as an exercise in formulating the deployment of formations intended to skirmish, attack or support. As noted in this and the previous post covering infantry armies, the alignment of troops is not always perfect, which makes the tests useful as troops appearing in disarray can actually be setting a trap.