Sunday 12 November 2023

Rome vs. the Ancient British

During the reign of Antoninus Pius, the frontier of Britannia was extended as far north to the Forth–Clyde isthmus. By the late 2nd century, the occupation of the Scottish Lowlands was interrupted when the Brigantes revolted. Lacking reinforcements, Governor Gnaeus Julius Verus moved troops south to suppress the revolt.

The Brigantes, in this test series, lack chariots which have been replaced with more warriors supported by light horse. The region is known for its steep hills and thick forests, giving the Brigantes an advantage, nonetheless, the governor had confidence in his generals.


Game one

The Brigantes are found defending a village near the foothills of a mountain range opening to a wide plain, suitable room for cavalry to maneuver. Rome positioned its two legions with auxiliary troops between and on each flank and on the open flank, the equites were posted opposite the enemy light horse.

Moving forward to reach the Roman battle line, skirmishers were seen sprinting to take a position on the hill flanking the Roman line. These were intercepted by Roman archers foiling their plans. Not long afterwards, the battle lines meet with neither side breaking despite the losses on both sides.

Battle lines locked, Rome sensed the Brigantes were losing momentum and signalled the cavalry to launch their planned attack. This tipped the scales putting the Brigantes to flight. Roman casualties fell heaviest on the legion, but the Brigantes lost twice as many, Rome 9 – 5 + sub-general.

Game two

Anticipating a similar tactic from the Brigantes, Rome revised its deployment to meet the barbarian rush by forming the infantry in two lines of equal number and the cavalry secured the open flank.

Amassing the majority of its warriors in the centre, the remainder would attempt to infiltrate the wood and village to roll up the Roman right. Brigante light horse were positioned opposite the Roman cavalry.

Reaching the village, the Brigantes found it occupied by auxiliaries and quickly set upon them and at that moment, the main body struck the Roman right centre.

The fight for the village became hotly contested, neither side giving ground and nearby, the main battle developed, but each breakthrough by the Brigantes was quickly met by reserves from the Roman second line.

The tenacious resistance in the village, scuppered Brigante plans, but the fighting in the centre became critical necessitating the general join the battle with his bodyguard. While doing so, the cavalry was given the signal to make their charge. Routing the Brigante light horse led to a general retreat of the Brigante army. Rome victorious, 9 + sub-general – 4.    


Both sides lost a sub-general in each game, but this was not as catastrophic as it could have been. Both generals were positioned in the centre of their respective lines and able to continue control over their troops.


A re-match is certainly on the cards, next time the terrain should have more woods and a river.

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