Tuesday, 13 December 2011

The Romans - A Hail Caesar Project - Part 6: A Battle Report!

Less of an update, more of a battle report as my Romans took to the (3ft by 5ft-ish) field of green baize to battle Aidan's Romano-Brits as they also took part in their first clash. As well as the two painted cohorts of legionaries I also fielded one of auxiliaries (easy to spot with their bright blue shields) and one of partly painted legionaries. The Romano-Brits, also facing their first encounter, easily outnumbered my small forces, and kindly lent me a small unit of Saxon mercenaries, a tiny unit of horse archers, and finally the Titus Aduxas model to lead my three legionary cohorts. The auxiliaries and Saxon’s being led by a random auxiliary on a horse who lost an arm (literally) half way through.

With us both being rusty we went for a straight punchup, thinking it would be best to prevent us getting into too many complicated rules areas. I hoped my legionaries (as heavy infantry apparently, and so quite good) would best his infantry (mostly a bit lighter), but was concerned about my lack of cavalry and skirmishers and so lack of flexibility. I was however confident having watched one of my three Roman period films the previous night to pick up historical tactics. None of you will be wondering which one so I'll tell you; I rejected Gladiator, and turned down King Arthur reluctantly, but felt Life of Brian was the best option. In hindsight perhaps not, particularly when the opposite army was being lead by King Arthur! 

 The scenery having barely survived a sustained attack by the bio-Titan we kicked off, my legionary cohorts on the left facing the bulk of the enemy army.

 The auxiliaries and allies on the right facing some cavalry.

 The bulk of the Romano-British army (from now on to be mostly referred to as Brits for ease), lead by a nicely painted King Arthur (centre of front line - green cloak and light blue shield, standing heroically!) and the Bishop of Bath (back on the right looking religious).

 The Romans were mainly sluggish, their CO having to remember that in Hail Caesar the troops move a bit slower.  This let the Brits allied Saxons in for the first charge, and they crashed headlong into the second cohort!  I stood expectant of these ruffians to be seen off in short order, so when the second cohort (how many hours of painting?!?) disintegrated in the first round I was slightly miffed.

 With the rest of the Brits army seemingly quite happy to sit and watch the Saxon’s then carried on into the Fourth cohort on my far left, hitting them in the flank but luckily the legionaries stood firm this time.  Rumours of big money sponsorship by Coke and Maryland cookies for the Romano-Brit faction cannot be dismissed easily.

 Rallying his men Centurion Titus Aduxas personally lead the third cohort into action against Arthurs best men, as the fourth cohort got the best of the smaller Saxons and began pushing them back.  Arthurs elite copied the embarrassing actions of the second cohort and vanished in short order, while the Saxons continued to reel backwards.  Both Roman cohorts having been fighting for a period (and my saving throws being shocking) they were both quite worn down.

 On the right the action centred around my own Saxon’s taking advantage of a rare opportunity to charge the enemy horse.  They of course counter charged, but with my auxiliaries (which I think are probably from Gaul, or Germania, while Aidan thinks they are more Spanish looking) following and hitting the enemy in the flank I was confident.  I shouldn’t have been.  More shocking dice rolls followed, and the auxiliaries abandoned ship early as well, leaving the Saxons to be harassed off the table by the cavalry.  My own tiny unit was a minor annoyance with its one arrow a turn, but nothing more.

 Having tired of the oppositions Saxons getting in the way Titus Aduxas lead both cohorts of legionaries in a charge, wiping them out.  Both cohorts then pursued into the skirmishing spearmen, with Titus and King Arthur both joining in to devastating effect.  When the round was over the Brits spearmen had gone, dragging Arthur with them from the battlefield, while the fourth cohort had also dissipated, and the third (last remaining legionary cohort) was badly damaged.  

 With the disaster than had befallen the auxiliary and mercenary wing it was backs to the wall time for Titus and his last legionaries.  The Bishop of Bath lead his infantry into the charge, as the Brits cavalry appeared around a bunch of trees and launched themselves into the enemy flank.  The legionaries held out but had to withdraw, and found themselves eventually pushed off the table giving victory to the Romano-Brits!

Analysis: I’ve never read the Hail Caesar book, and Aidan’s knowledge was rusty, so we probably got a few things wrong.  It was however, and despite defeat, fairly enjoyable to be able to use my Romans.  The rules are subtly but definitely different from Blackpowder in some critical areas, and a few games would help.  The Romans and the Romano-Brits also looked the part fighting, and in an unusual twist most of my army was actually painted!

In other news; once my Romans had finished limping off the field I got to use this lot:

 The trains were particularly effective.

And after this final skirmish was victorious as Duke Tristram (me) foiled the dastardly Earl Erik!  More detail I suspect may be found here:  http://platoonfire.blogspot.com/

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