Thursday 25 May 2023

Roman Tour – the Commagene

The Kingdom of Commagene arose from the demise of the Seleucid Empire in the mid-2nd century BC. During the Mithridatic War of 64 BC, the kingdom became entwined in Roman politics by allying with Pompey. Since then, it has experienced a political roller-coaster through annexation under Tiberius, extended independence by Caligula and lastly re-annexation under the rule of Vespasian, the latter sending the Legio VI Ferrata to deal with resisting forces. The Commagene is listed as an enemy of Early Imperial Rome with this event being the sole confrontation between the two. You will find the army lists noted below. 

Game one.

The army’s deployment mirrored one another, using difficult hills to protect their left flank.  and positioning the heavy cavalry behind each centre as a reserve. The Commagene sent light horse and Thracian auxiliaries to probe for weaknesses on the flanks while the archers closed the distance to the Roman legion. Rome deftly countered the threat to its flanks and repositioned its bolt-shooters and archers.

The bolt-shooters brought destruction to the Commagene line forcing other archers and hoplitai to deal with the artillery. The Commagene cataphracts moved forward to fill the vacancy created by the reassigned hoplitai and bowmen.  

Impatient to engage the enemy the Roman centre charged the cataphract and its supporting archers. The battle quickly engulfed the entire length of the line, both sides losing heavily.

The Commagene, having committed all its troops could no longer sustain the battle and was forced to withdrew from the field. A hard-fought victory for Rome, 4 - 3.

Game two.

A subsequent battle found the Commagene forming an extended battle line; cataphract in centre and hoplitai and archers to either flank. Positioned at the open flank were the horse archers.

Forming a concave line, the legion was positioned in the centre with the auxilia and artillery placed forward of the main body. 

The cataphract and hoplitai moved slowly forward allowing time for archers on the right to seize the heights. These were met by two units of auxilia.

Roman auxilia quickly dispatched the Commagene archers to hold the heights. From their position they viewed the destruction dealt by enemy cataphract striking the Roman centre. Commagene archers silenced the artillery while Rome scrambled to close the gap created enemy horse.

Capitalising on the chaos, the Commagene cavalry broke through the Roman defense and rout the army from the field. Commagene, 4 – 2.


The second battle exposed the vulnerability of artillery against bows. However, in general, I am pleased at the overall performance of the bolt shooters. Very low pip scores plagued the Roman for the final four turns. Fortuna was certainly elsewhere.

With five elements of archers, this leaves very little flexibility for the Commagene. The Commagene must rely on the timely employment of its cataphract and blade to create enough enemy casualties to force a victory.   


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).


1 x General (4Kn), 1 x cataphract (4Kn), 2 x horse archers (LH), 2 x hoplitai (4Bd), 4 x archers (3Bw), 1 x Thracians (4Ax), 1 x javelinmen (Ps).

No comments:

Post a Comment