Saturday, 22 October 2016

Severan Rome vs. the Caledonian

Historically, the campaign against the Caledonian was to be Emperor Severus’s final one and they like the emperor pass away into history. Future military operations in Northern Britain would have to contend with the more aggressive Picts. 

II/64a Middle Imperial Rome (Western)
1 x general (Cv), 1 x equites (Cv), 1 x equites Illyriani (LH), 4 x Legionnaires (4Bd), 3 x auxilia (4Ax), 1 x archers (4Bw), 1 x cataphract (3Kn).

II/60 Caledonian
1 x general (LCh), 2 x chariots (LCh), 8 x warriors (3Wb), 1 x javelinmen (Ps).

Game one
Rome met the Caledonian army crossing the fields which dotted the valley floor. Deployed in the standard fashion, heavy infantry in centre flanked by auxilia and cavalry in reserve, they remained in position awaiting the Caledonian rush.

On the given signal, Rome moved forward, the infantry line opening their left to allow the reserve cavalry to attack two warband columns.

The slaughter was immense as the valley floor was littered with nearly half the Caledonian army. Score 0 – 5 for Rome.

Game two
The following battlefield had similar characteristics as the previous, difficult hills and a few grain fields which allowed the Roman army to deploy in an extended formation. Adding units of cavalry in the first line the Roman army dwarfed the Caledonia thought they had equal numbers.

Wheeling to the right, the Roman line easily overlapped the Caledonian dense formations.

The auxilia were able to contain two dense columns of warband while the heavy infantry made short work of crushing several smaller formations creating large gaps in the Caledonian battle line. This gave the Roman cavalry an opportunity to flank a number of warband and chariot units including the general’s. Score 1 – 6 (g) for Rome.

Game three
Difficult hills now lined one side of the battlefield and it was here that most of the Caledonian infantry were deployed leaving the open ground for the chariots and light troops.

The Caledonian plan was to sweep the hills clear of Roman auxilia and flank the Roman heavy infantry while the chariots would keep the remaining Roman troops occupied. The fields were sodden from a heavy downpour which would create problems for the Roman right wing.

Unfortunately, the Caledonian lacked the stamina to clear the hills of auxilia giving the Roman heavy infantry supported by the reserve cavalry time to break up their centre formations. Score 0 – 4 for Rome.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Severan Army vs. the Later Moorish

Those readers who have followed the history of the Roman Limes will know that North Africa held a peculiar status; it lacked a formal defensive system of walls and forts. Since the Augustan period as the number of coloniae in North Africa increased, land estates became fortified strong points which served well enough to frustrate the raiders from the Atlas Mountains. Here is one punitive expedition resulting in three battles.

II/64b Middle Imperial Roman (Western)
1 x general (Cv), 1 x cavalry (Cv), 1 x horse archer (LH), 4 x legionnaires (4Bd), 3 x auxiliary (4Ax),  1 x archers (4Bw), 1 x Cataphract (3Kn).

II/57 Later Moorish
1 x general (LH), 5 x light horse (LH), 6 x javelinmen (3Ax or Ps).

Game one
Exiting the valley space the Romans could see a cloud of skirmishing cavalry and foot were quickly approaching.

The legion quickly moved forward and would drive through their ranks with auxilia supporting the effort on both 

The legionnaires in their excitement were quickly leaving their supports behind. A unit of reserve cavalry was sent to support the legionary left, but help would not arrive in time to help the right flank now engulfed by hordes of Moorish foot troops. The situation was very tense as the score evened up, 3 – 3.

Rome now delivered a well coordinated counter attack catching a number of enemy off guard, some cut off from friends or had their flight blocked were quickly cut to pieces. Score 6 – 3 for Rome.

Game two
Rome could see her right flank fully exposed to the open waste land and to compensate the army deployed in a compact formation almost inviting the Moors to lap around while Rome worked from a central position.
That was the plan.

The Moors did send light horse to occupy the Roman right, but took measures to first clear the wood of auxilia before committing the entire army.

Encountering still resistance in the wood, Rome used the moment to move her legions forward hoping to catch the enemy off balance.

This had the desired effect of shattering the Moorish effort into disjointed attacks. Unfortunately, Rome had the better of the opportunity. Score 4 – 1 for Rome.

Game three
Rome caught the Moors at a disadvantageous moment as her army was split by a series of hills. The legions would quickly move forward while the cavalry followed in support.

Some time elapsed between signalling the various units that a storm rising out from the desert was nearly missed. This sent Roman units scrambling to form a line of troops on the left flank while the legionary units held their advance in check.

The situation became so desperate the entire cavalry reserve was committed to stave off the Moorish attack.

In less than 30 minutes (2 bounds) all was quiet again as the dust trails or Moors were seen retreating. Score 6 - 2 for Rome.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

The Greco-Bactrian 250 – 130 BC.

The Greco-Bactrian army are the last collection planned for Project Rome. They were selected as an interesting opponent for the Seleucid and Parthian armies already in my collection. Plenty of material can be found on the Internet about the Greco-Bactrian to include the classics available as e-books, archaeological findings; coins minted during the period and of course plenty of painted armies in 15 and 25 mm.

These, pictured below, are 15mm figures from Old Glory and are enough to build both options listed for II/36a; one a mix of cavalry, pike and elephant and the second consisting of entirely of mounted troops; 5 x 3Kn, 4 x Cv and 3 x LH.

The latter option is currently on the work bench as they require more work. Looking at the link you can see SS16  the two poses which represent the Iranian Lancer and Greek cavalry. The three packs ordered will give me 4 x 3Kn and 4 x Cv with an extra element of Cv to be used as a general.

The right hand of the Iranian Lancer was lifted so as to wrap around a brass wire spear. Unfortunately, nothing else could be done with the pose as the position of the left hand made a two handed grip impossible, these wear a cloak making the position of the left arm fixed.

The Bactrian Greek trooper comes in one pose, javelin held across the chest. This was carefully lifted from the torso and positioned to appear throwing the weapon. This took quite some time but it was worth the effort.

The horse archers (Arachosian, Bactrian) LH are from the Later Achaemenid Persian list and with all such figures I cut the bow loose from the body and reposition them adding more variety. I will add a headdress from Milliput to half of the figures to build two distinct units.

The figures for the command element come from the Xystophoroi pack and two packs were purchased. The extra figures will make three general officers (3Kn) for the Seleucid and the remaining two are allocated to the Pergamene army.

Now the painting can begin. 

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Severan Army vs. Early German

The Early German army lists spas a long period of time confronting four different periods of Rome. During the late 2nd early 3rd century we read more of more barbarian tribes taking advantage of Roman civil strife to invade the Empire. The following three battles actually take place in terrain familiar to the Early German, forest.  

II/64b Middle Imperial Roman (Western)
1 x general (Cv), 1 x cavalry (Cv), 1 x horse archer (LH), 4 x legionnaires (4Bd), 3 x auxiliary (4Ax),  1 x archers (4Bw), 1 x Cataphract (3Kn).

II/47g Early German
1 x general (Cv), 2 x cavalry (Cv), 8 x warriors (4Wb), 1 x javelinmen (Ps).

Game one
The Roman infantry deployment equaled that of the entire German position; however, their formations were noticeably deeper and could prove troublesome. The field between the two armies was devoid of any hindering obstacles and as a precautionary measure auxilia were placed in the wood.

Taking advantage of the slow advance by the Germans, the Roman infantry line wheeled to the left forcing the enemy to funnel their attack, but first the wood would have to be cleared of German skirmishers.  

Battle lines now met and the barbarians confined in their deep formations were getting the worst of the situation. Roman cavalry reserve was moved forward to support any breakthrough made by the legionnaires.

The barbarian numbers now pressed their advantage as they slew half the legionary troops. Hearing the cry of victory on the right, the commander could not notice German cavalry has successfully broken out of their predicament and would be moving to the Roman rear. The signal was given to retreat, score 4 – 3 for the Early Germans.

Game two
From the Roman position one could noticeably see the German line nearly matched that of the deployed legion and auxilia units. The German cavalry were dispersed to both flanks and noteworthy there were fewer columns of infantry.

The barbarians struck first to send a shock wave through the Roman line quickly destroying a large part of it leaving frenzied Germans facing the Roman general.

After losing another Roman unit the call for retreat was ordered leaving twice as many Roman dead as barbarians, score 4 – 2 for the Early Germans.

Game three
Grouping all her cavalry on the left flank, the barbarian line appeared just as long as that of Rome.

Forming two divisions, the left hand division would engage the Roman cavalry while all the German infantry would attack the legions as they climbed up the hill. This was successfully done catching the Roman line in disarray.

Rushing downhill the Germans breached the Roman line in a number of places; the German cavalry could add more casualties to bring the final score to 4 – 1 for the Early Germans.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Severan Army vs. the Sarmatian

The following battles were a rigorous test of Rome’s capabilities as they were fought on Sarmatian home terrain, the steppe. Although the advantages were clearly in Sarmatian favour, Rome did produce a few surprises. No doubt the balance in the games might have shifted with the use of the Alani as an allied contingent or the employment of Sarmatian psiloi, the sight of eleven knight elements is truly one to behold.     

II/64b Middle Imperial Roman (Western)
1 x general (Cv), 1 x cavalry (Cv), 1 x horse archer (LH), 4 x legionnaires (4Bd), 3 x auxiliary (4Ax),  1 x archers (4Bw), 1 x Cataphract (3Kn).

II/26 Sarmatian
1 x general (3Kn), 10 x armoured cavalry (3Kn), 1 x horse archer (LH).

Game one
Facing a long line of Sarmatian knights Rome deployed in three lines with the right flank comprised all the mounted reserve. The first two lines would wheel to the right forming a new contiguous line forcing the Sarmatian to conform or attack piecemeal.

30 minutes later both lines conformed and the light horse of both sides opened the battle.

The Sarmatian line struck first to sweep clean through the Roman line of infantry, the battle was over for the loss of one unit. Score 6 – 1 for Sarmatia.

Game two
Rome deployed in two lines and taking advantage of two low hills strengthened the flanks of the infantry with extra auxilia and legionnaires; covering the Roman reserve were a unit of archers and another of auxilia. The Sarmatian army formed one long line of knights with their general, noticeable by his white Draco standard, positioned in centre.

Both sides advanced cautiously forward with the Romans remaining for the most part on the slopes of the hill.

Surprising the Sarmatians, Rome launched both wings forward which pushed back the Sarmatian left and opened the right flank to imminent danger.

Rome withdrew most of the cavalry to form up to the right of the infantry line. By now the Roman left and centre were engaging the enemy cavalry. Losses on both sides quickly rose as the slopes of the hill were littered with dead horses and riders. Isolated Roman units were picked off by Sarmatian bow and kontos bringing the score even, 3 – 3.

Roman troops were in a frenzy surrounding the Sarmatian general and his guard and other single units of knights. Unfortunately, Fortuna decided to set her gaze elsewhere and the Sarmatian general survived the onslaught dispatching his direct opponent. Despite the increase loss, the battle ended 5 – 4 for Sarmatia.

Game three
This time Rome had been caught in the open and had time to deploy two formations while the remainder of the army formed further back.

Rome gathering second wind could form a new line with cavalry supporting the immediate flanks of the legionnaires with auxilia extending the battle line further outward and the Illyrian cavalry were seen encircling the entire Sarmatian force.   

The entire Sarmatian line surged forward fully confident of a quick victory, but this time Fortuna smiled as the entire Roman line held sending the Sarmatian cavalry back  and destroying two units flanking their commander.

Rome did not hesitate and charged forward catching and number of cavalry units struggling to evade. Victory was complete as the white Draco standard fell to earth. Score 2 – 5 for Rome.

NB. On a side note, the Roman general faced the rear throughout the battle which can be explained in two ways. He showed either a great contempt for the enemy and spread manure in their path or he was in deep conversation with Fortuna. 

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Improving the Campaign system - 459 AD

Upon the death of Yazdegerd II (457 AD), the younger son Hormizd betrayed his elder brother Peroz and seized the throne. Seeking help from the Hephthalite Huns, Peroz in a brief campaign captured Hormizd and returned to Ctesiphon to claim his rightful position as emperor. Taking advantage of Peroz’s absence, the Huns claimed the capital city of the Bactrian satrapy as payment. His first step as emperor would be to rid his territory of the Huns who had helped him.

The Game

The first engagement takes place outside Balkh (Badriana) and King Peroz must drive the Huns back across the frontier in one brief campaign season to avert unrest in Ctesiphon. 

II/80d Hephthalites Huns {1}
1 x general (Cv or LH), 11 x horse archers (LH).

II/69b Sassanid
1 x general (Cv), 1 x cataphract (4Kn), 4 x Asavaran (Cv), 1 x elephant (El) or Asavaran (Cv), 1 x nomad horse archer (LH), 1 x Asavaran (Cv) or slingers (Ps), 1 x Dailami (4Ax) or other hillmen (3Ax), 2 x levies (7Hd).

{1} The Hunnic list II/80c represents the Hephthalites Huns for the period 356 – 570 AD. The lists of enemies however do not include the Sassanid of Peroz which is either an omission nor does the Kushan II/46b serve as vassals of Sassan? The Kushan fall outside the first war against the Hephthalites Huns, therefore the II/80d list is used to bridge the discrepancy. 

459 AD, spring
Gathering an army and supplies required more time than was wished for but by May, King Peroz was ready to do battle with the Huns. Crossing the Amy Darya River, the Royal army met the Hun between the fertile fields and rolling hills outside the city of Badriana. Peroz placed his faith upon the prowess of the Asavaran cavalry and positioned them forward of his two flanking divisions.

Moving with surprising speed, the Huns engulfed the Persian spearhead, crippling them and sending a badly injured King Peroz off the field. Score 4 – 3 for the Hun.

459 AD, summer
The following month, two events raised the spirits of the Royal army; the recovery of King Peroz and the arrival of armoured cavalry from Kush. By June, the army marched off to again meet the Hun.  

Forming on the left, the Kushan allies and the Persian cataphract would serve as an anchor to allow the Asavaran cavalry to sweep the Huns positioned on the hill and in the valley below.

To the surprise of the King, the Huns withdrew their cavalry luring the Sassanid deeper into the valley; an obvious trap as the King could now see to the left the Hunnic division lining the hill crest.

Catching the Hun off balance, Peroz launched a general attack with the elephant corps sending Hunnic horse archers tumbling back giving the King and his bodyguard first kill.

The destruction continued for another quarter hour sending the Huns off the battlefield. Score 0 – 4 for Sassan.  

Pursuing the Huns, the armies engaged again on the open steppes near Kushanshahr. The battlefield offered no significant features other than gentle hills and rocky ground so both armies place their main strength in their main division.

The Huns threw their left division in wide encircling manoeuvre while their main force moved slowly forward. Elsewhere, the Huns caught the Sassanid off balance by destroying the cataphract, holding the left flank of the main division, to follow up their success by turning the elephant corps sending the Asavaran cavalry nearby into a sudden fright.

Recovering from their near disaster, the Asavaran cavalry cleaved their way through the Hunnic main division with the Kushan allies adding their success to the tally; this brief but hard fought battle sent the Huns scurrying to the frontier. Score 3 – 4 for Sassan.

459 AD, August
From a battlefield not dissimilar to the previous engagement the silver thread in the distance was the Syr Darya River marking the frontier and hopefully the final battle. Both sides deployed in extended lines as before with the Huns adding more weight to their left flank facing the Kushan allies and a small detachment of horse archers securing the opposite flank.

Eager to seek revenge the Hunnic right launched a premature attack quickly becoming embroiled in a dangerous situation as Peroz sent reinforcements. The Hunnic left wing finding no opening in the Sassanid line now found themselves facing the Kushan contingent. The Sassanid main division wheeling to the right forcing the Hunnic ling to follow suit both lines met in a clash. The Huns were not able to sustain the fury of the Sassanid and their Kushan allies and in a brief engagement the shattered remnants of the Hunnic host limped across the frontier. 
Score 2 – 5 for Sassan.

Praising his troops and profusely thanking the Kushan for their support King Peroz returned quickly to Ctesiphon to ensure his throne was secure. Despite the minor setback in the spring, Peroz was pleased with how the campaign in Bactria developed; reinforcements arrived on time and the troops were adequately supplied.

Note; both were able to secure adequate points through the card system to allow movement and reinforcements. Despite the battles lost, the Hunnic warlord carried enough booty away to earn him the sobriquet “the unlucky but wealthy”.