Thursday, 25 October 2012

Ancients Battle Report - Romans Vs. Romano-Brits

In the absence of the Greeks (off buffing their shields probably) my Romans turned upon their erstwhile allies the Romano-Brits (or Brits for short).  Their commander; Aidan, or King Arthur as he is now styling himself, devised a decent scenario where the Brits, having raided and pillaged to  their hearts content were now heading home, with the only thing between them and success in this venture being a river (with at least 2 crossing points) and a small contingent of roman cavalry and slingers.  The bulk of the Romans – mostly legionary cohorts – were due to start arriving from turn 2 somewhere off to the Brits flanks having chased them for a bit.  The implications were clear; if the legionaries caught up and a straight fight ensued then it would probably go badly for the Brits, so they needed to force the crossing and get away swiftly!  Being Hail Caesar a blow by blow account isn’t easy, so the summery will have to do.

Battle 1:
The Brit infantry, boosted in numbers by some defecting Roman auxiliary, took the direct route towards the crossings and the cavalry waiting there.  Their own heavier cavalry covered their more exposed right flank, or at least it did until a particularly spectacular blunder saw the order of “charge that cavalry by the river!” replaced by “retreat!”, 2 moves backwards!  This stalled the Brits attack, and a unit of Roman cavalry tried to take advantage by charging into the front of the rebel auxiliary, supported by the slingers.  This was only partly successful, with the arrival of the rest of the Brits infantry driving off the horsemen, but the 2 rebel auxiliary cohorts played no further meaningful part in the battle apart from fleeing under missile fire later.

Main British infantry division.
The Brits horse had no chance to rejoin the attack as the Roman legionary cohorts began arriving on the flanks, and they turned and charged home into a (foolishly) unsupported cohort at the head of the attack.  The legionaries fled and were cut down, leaving another two cohorts to pick up the responsibility of trying to give the Brits heavy horse a bloody nose.  This they succeeded in doing, grinding one unit down until it vanished and pushing back and pursuing the other.

The Brits become boxed in by legionaries to the left, and auxiliary horse by the river.
In the centre the 1st cohort of legionaries (large in size) faced off against the largest British unit as the British became boxed in by Roman troops.  Both had supporting troops, and in the end the Romans training and heavy status told, with the Brits trying to retreat and being destroyed due to the skirmishing slingers that had worked their way around behind them.  A brief hurrah for the Brits followed as their remaining heavy cavalry unit bashed into the flank of the 1st Cohort, adding to its damaged already received and sending it packing.  The combined efforts of the Roman auxillary horse and a cohort of legionaries was enough to see off this rally, and the last two Brit infantry units surrendered in an untenable position.

The Brits cavalry is finally defeated and the remaining infantry can't see a way out and surrenders.

Battle 2:
With an hour and a half left we decided to go again, with a scenario quickly thought up by me – a Roman Legionary column being attacked from the flanks by the Brits, with the auxiliary troops (horse and foot) arriving later on to try and save the day.  This was very much a one sided affair; the British cavalry striking hard and fast into the centre of the line of Roman infantry, destroying 2 of the 5 cohorts immediately, before turning outwards and charging into the rest.  The rear of the column had managed to form line before the impact, but the 1st Cohort at the front failed too and was harried from the battlefield, unable to change formation or turn to fight.  The auxiliary arrived just too late to save the day, with all of the legionary cohorts wiped out, and put in a counter attack across the river, only for lady luck to abandon them and they were driven back, abandoning the effort.  

The Roman column.

The column hit from the left by British horse, and with Brits infantry coming in from the right.

When the numbers are even the Roman heavy infantry have the edge over the Brits medium infantry, however, good use of scenarios can prevent this from happening and make for a much more interesting game.  The first game was a good example of this, with Aidan foiled by his dice rather than the auxiliary, and a frantic bit of fighting ensuing when the Roman legionaries arrived to box in the enemy.  In other thoughts the Brits cavalry are more powerful than the Roman – heavy to my own preference to making my auxiliary horse only medium – which gave them an edge to going one on one with the legionaries, while mine lacked that extra bit of power to hit from the front.  Finally it was an all-painted army game!

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