Tuesday 28 November 2023

Rome vs. the Nobades

During the second century AD, the Nobades migrated to the lands of Kush, eventually establishing the kingdom of Nobatia by the fourth century. During the period of expansion, trade flourished between the empire and Nobades, becoming a source of plunder for wandering tribes resulting in reprisal expeditions sent by Rome.  

Game one.

Rome found the Nobades deployed in line, their spear armed infantry in centre flanked by archers and behind the line, could be seen the cavalry and their general.

To confront the Nobades, Rome placed its legion in centre and deployed auxilia to deal with the archers. To deal with any flanking attempts, the cavalry and a few cohorts of legionnaires were positioned in reserve.

The legion advanced toward the enemy centre with the auxilia in support.

Soon, the clash of arms could be heard along the entire front. In the centre, the legionnaires and spearmen are evenly matched, but the flanks revealed a different story. Here, the Nobades gained the upper hand with the help of javelin armed warriors.

As both flanks gave way, Rome had no alternative but to withdraw from the field. The Nobades 8 – 4.


Game two 

A second engagement found the Nobades deployed in a similar manner, giving Rome an opportunity to revise its deployment and reinforce its right wing with all the cavalry.

The legion remained in position as the enemy line moved forward. On the Roman right, the battle developed in earnest with archers taking a position among the rocks to support the rapidly moving infantry and cavalry.

A hail of ballistae bolts fired at the approaching Nobade spearmen, effectively breaking their formation. On the Roman right, the combined assault by the auxilia and cavalry proved effective, inflicting many casualties.  

In centre, the Nobades gained some success, eliminating the ballistae, but seeing its flanks turned and Roman equites swarming in their rear, the battle was clearly lost. Rome 8 – 6


The Meroitic Kushites were originally planned for the test series, but the Nobades seemed appropriate for the early period of the empire. The two lists differ slightly with the Nobades fielding more spearmen and javelinmen (3Ax), replacing the Kushite blade. The increased mobility for the infantry helped turn the battle in game one. 

In game two, Rome succeeded by overpowering the Nobades left wing and turn the tide of battle. This required all pip expenditure to be utilised toward developing a solid attack against the Nobades left while making small sacrifices elsewhere. Hard choices.

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