Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Later Imperial Roman vs. the Suevi

Like the Burgundi, the Suevi have as home terrain 'forest' until 406 AD. That year benchmarks their migration through Gaul and Hispania giving them use of arable terrain. In this series, the Greuthingi serve as allies. 

The selection of terrain is similar as with the previous matches, but marsh is now added to the optional selections.
Game 1
Rome secured their deployment having both flanks secured with woods; each held by auxilia and skirmishers. The legion positioned in the centre had the support of the clibanarii on its right and the remainder of the cavalry formed an ample reserve.

Facing them, the Suevi placed all its infantry to form a strong right flank and in the centre were all the archers with the Greuthingi allies protecting their left.

The Suevi warband were given the primary task to clear the wood to their front. The legion and auxilia wheeled their formation to meet the warband threat. This movement by the legion appeared to expose their flank, but as the gap widen, the reserve cavalry could be seen moving forward. In that same instant, dust clouds could be seen forming on the left flank announcing the arrival of Roman light horse.

The combat on the Roman left became critical as half the legion fell to the Suevi fury. The arrival of the Roman light horse prompted the Suevi chieftain to hasten his Greuthingi allies into action.

To counter the barbarian breakthrough on the left, Roman heavy cavalry crashed into the dense column of infantry. On the right, the light horse surprised a unit of Greuthingi cavalry. The nobles were saved by the timely arrival of Suevi skirmishers. The clibanarii, now exposed, became victim to Suevi archery leaving the Roman commander to call a retreat. Score 5 – 3 for the Suevi.

Game 2
Rome as the defender was caught in the open with only a river and marsh to cover their right flank. The Suevi could be seen deploying their dense columns into a battle line while on the opposite bank, Suevi archers could be seen moving forward into position.

Rome took advantage of the restricted ground and quickly moved forward; this would also lessen the chance of casualties caused by archer fire.

Dense columns of Suevi warriors hurled themselves at the legion as Greuthingi cavalry attacked the supporting unit of clibanarii. Either the wind or dust clouds were a problem as Suevi archery proved ineffective.  

The inconvenience of the weather did not last long, as Suevi archers quickly found their mark and the barbarian warband obliterated the legion leaving the Roman command stunned. Score 4 – 2 for the Suevi.

Game 3
Rome deployed in two lines using the woods to anchor their right. The lines were formed oblique to the Suevi deployment. The Suevi positioned their warband columns facing the legion and to their right the Greuthingi mounted with the Suevi archers deployed on the extreme right.

Maintaining a steady advance was difficult as the Greuthingi were eager to attack and so the Suevi archers had to quickly move forward or lose targets to an overeager ally.

As was planned, the earlier deployment in oblique lines forced the Suevi to commit piecemeal attacks. The attempt to clear the wood by Suevi skirmishers and warband failed leaving the dense columns to other option but to move forward. The Greuthingi rushed forward seeing the auxilia with no cavalry support; they had encircled the Suevi line and were now in a position to attack.

After a few desperate moments, the legion held their ground against the Suevi warriors and their chieftain, even the auxilia held their own against the Greuthingi cavalry, but would the light horse make their presence felt?

The Suevi chieftain, in desperation, attacked the Roman commander who was quickly assisted by a unit of skirmishers. The chieftain held his own against odds, but the field around him became vacant of friendly troops. With nearly all his infantry gone, he called for a retreat. Score 4 – 3 for the LIR.

II/72c  Suevi 250 – 584 AD Terrain Type: Forest until 406 AD, then Arable, Aggression 3
1 x general (3Kn), 8 x warriors (4Wb), 2 x archers (3Bw or Ps) or 4Wb if Frankish, 1 x javelinmen (Ps).

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Later Imperial Roman vs. the Burgundi

This test series begins with Rome invading the forest region between the Thine and the Danube, home to the Burgundi. Two woods are compulsory for the forest dwellers and as optional features the river and an extra wood were selected. 

The wood will impede communication between commander and troops, this is primarily so for the Later Roman as the Burgundi fight in dense columnar formation. As the frontage for both armies may remain narrow, players will need more time to reach a decisive point. 

Game 1
Rome, as the attacker caught the Burgundi with their backs to a river and the sole wood offered meagre protection for their right flank. Rome’s slow egress from the wooded areas would not dampen their battle lust by much.

Despite the half hour (two bounds) required to exit the wooded area, Rome was able to deploy a bold line of troops to meet the Burgundi. The Burgundi demonstrating less patience to view the martial progress threw their left wing against the auxilia leaving the wood.

Destroying a unit of auxilia, the Burgundi left pushed back the second unit deeper into the woods. Wary of a possible flank attack, the Roman commander signalled a general attack. 

In quick succession, both halves of the legion were destroyed while Burgundian losses were small by comparison. With the arrival of the light horse (Illyriani and Mauri), the situation looked less desperate.

The Roman left flank had fought well inflicting a number of casualties, but seeing the light horse repulsed and the Burgundi clearing the wood on the right, the Roman commander signalled a general retreat. Score 4 – 3 for the Burgundi.

Game 2
The Burgundi, now the attacker, opted to have the two woods and river in their deployment area, thus denying the Romans a defensive position. This left the Romans with one wood and therefore deployed their line further back from the Burgundi battle line.

The river proved less a problem for the Burgundi than was expected (class II) as the troops positioned on the right kept pace with the main battle line.

The Roman left wing easily repulsed the Burgundi effort to take the wood and this prompted the main Roman battle line to move forward to meet the barbarian. The Roman commander’s confidence was raised upon seeing the column of light horse close in on the Burgundi rear.

To counter the threat, the Burgundi chieftain launched the majority of the warband against the Roman legions and seeing the auxilia content to not leave the wood, called on a unit of skirmishers to assist repelling the Roman light horse.

The destruction of the light horse was celebrated by the chieftain and his guard, but looking back at his centre; the Roman legion had survived the warband onslaught and broke through. Further downfield, the clibanarii draco standard could be seen above the heads of his warriors and with a heavy heart signalled a general retreat. Score 4 – 3 for the LIR.

Game 3
Rome, now the attacker, secured two woods for their deployment area leaving the Burgundi with a river at their back.

Upon leaving the wood, the Roman battle line left wheeled and moved forward, leaving the cavalry on the far right to bide their time and wait for their signal.

The engagement now became general as combat was taking place up and down the line. To redeem their poor performance in the previous battle, the light horse swept around the wood to enter unopposed, the rear of the Burgundi line.

The light horse proved their worth by assisting in the destruction of the Burgundi skirmishers. Nonetheless, the situation became serious for Rome as all their legionnaires fell before the warband fury.

The Burgundi had suffered (three elements) heavily, but the Roman commander looking at his centre now filled by an oncoming wave of savage barbarians, called a general retreat. Score 5 – 3 for the Burgundi.

Of all the test games to date, these were the toughest games. The terrain required extra time to negotiate, so many bounds were filled with manoeuvre and no combat. The casualties on both sides were frequently even, sometimes last several bounds.

Despite the large game board, 80 cm x 80 cm, the battles were confined to relatively small areas which were due to the river and three woods. The risk of having troops outside command distance did influence how the game developed.

II/70  Burgundi 250 – 539 AD Terrain Type: Forest until 426 AD, then Arable, Aggression 3
1 x general (Cv), 1 x nobles (Cv), 8 x warriors (4Wb), 2 x archers or javelinmen (Ps).

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Later Imperial Roman vs. the Ostrogoth

The Ostrogothic army are an unusual combination of knight class cavalry and skirmishers. The cavalry pose a definite threat to Roman infantry and if supported by skirmishers they can quickly roll up a Roman battle line. While Roman cavalry can counter the threat of the cavalry, they are not of sufficient number to sustain a long engagement against them.

Home terrain for both armies is arable; BUA (hamlet) is compulsory with two difficult hills and a wood are the selected options.   

Game 1
Rome is defending and form their infantry line near the base of a difficult hill, while the cavalry have taken a position on the open flank. The Ostrogoth has evenly distributed their skirmishers on each flank and all their cavalry have formed in the centre.

As a result of poor communication (low pip scores) the Ostrogothic advance did not move as quickly as planned. Rome took advantage of the delay to secure the hill. Once secured, the Roman infantry line advanced forward. In the meantime, the Ostrogothic skirmishers on the right occupied the Roman cavalry long enough for one of their noble cavalry to catch them in the flank.

In two successive bounds, two equites were destroyed leaving a sole Illyriani stunned. In an attempt to retrieve the situation, the Roman commander moved his infantry line forward supported by the clibanarii.

The Illyriani retreated away from the immediate threat leaving the Roman left entirely exposed while on the right, the auxilia were holding their own against the Ostrogothic skirmishers. Emboldened by the success on the right, the Ostrogothic chieftain led his nobles against the Roman line eliminating half the legion and a unit of auxilia. With a third of his army destroyed, Rome called for a general retreat. Score 0 – 4 for the Ostrogoth.

Game 2
Rome defending this time, the Ostrogoth selected a position denying Rome the use of any terrain. It was a questionable choice as the noble cavalry could only find sufficient ground to deploy on the extreme right flank leaving the skirmishers to hold the hamlet and hills.

Rome set a quick pace leaving the Ostrogothic chieftain no choice but to set priority on holding the high ground and hamlet.

The moment came when the Ostrogoth could deploy his noble cavalry, but this was only half of their total number.

Rome easily countered the Ostrogothic threat and was making headway against the skirmishers positioned on the hill and centre.

The effort proved decisive as Rome destroyed half of the Ostrogothic skirmishers and scattered the rest. The loss of one noble cavalry convinced the Ostrogothic chieftain tomorrow is another day. Score 1 – 4 for the LIR.

Game 3
For the final battle, the terrain was ideal for both sides. The Ostrogothic army formed their nobles in the centre and skirmishers taking positions on either flank. The Romans for their final battle mimicked the Ostrogothic deployment which caused some consternation.

Unencumbered with armour, Ostrogothic skirmishers kept pace with their cavalry while Rome marched steadfastly forward leaving a small distance between battle lines.

The clash of arms echoed across the valley as the battle lines quickly dissolved into smaller battles. The generals on both sides were in the thick of the fight with both sides experiencing casualties (2 – 1) but the Goths were gaining the upper hand.

The defenders in the small isolated battles quickly became overwhelmed and this earned Rome two more casualties, but the Goths held their own scoring an equal number bringing the battle to a close. Score 3 – 4 for the Ostrogoth.

II/67b Greuthingi 200 – 493 AD Terrain Type: Littoral if Herul, Arable if not, Aggression 3
1 x general (3Kn), 5 x nobles (3Kn), 6 x archers (Ps).

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Later Imperial Roman vs. the Early Vandal

The Vandals have appeared in the ‘Migration to Kingdom’ campaign series which focused on the crossing of the Rhine and ending with their reaching Hispania. In this match series we will have an opportunity to add allies, principally the Alani.

Rome are defending an arable region of the empire in the first game. The compulsory plough has replaced the BUA and a river, one wood and difficult hill are the additional selections.  

Game 1
Rome as the defender placed the infantry facing the hill as this would be the primary objective for the auxilia palatina. The legion would support the effort while all the cavalry were positioned as a reserve. 

The Vandals would use the hill to secure their left with their warband while all the cavalry and Alani allies extended the line toward the river.

The auxilia reach the base of the hill seeing light opposition they will ascend the height. The Vandal chieftain finding the Alani less than cooperating (low pip score) moves his cavalry in support of his warband columns.

Leaving the warband to contest ownership of the hill, the Vandal cavalry attack the legion.

The Vandal effort is repulsed and the Roman general and Illyriani add their weight to the conflict in the centre.

After several bounds of locked combat, Roman units begin to waver and the auxilia are slowly being pushed off the hill. The Vandal chieftain and other nobles take advantage of the moment to charge the exposed flanks to secure a decisive victory. Score 4 – 0 for the Vandals.

Game 2
Finding them in similar terrain, Rome made use of the river to secure their right flank. The cavalry, deployed in two ranks echeloned back on the left as the open terrain would prove ideal for the Vandal cavalry.

Wheeling the infantry line to the left, Rome advanced toward the Vandal position. The cavalry reserve moved up in support.

Vandal assaults were less than ideally coordinated, but the ensuing combat did create casualties for both sides. (1 – 1).

Too late to save half the legion, the Roman reserve cavalry added their arms to the conflict in the centre. The Alani, seeming awakened from their lethargy struck a unit of equites in the flank and after a long struggle the remaining half of the legion fell beneath the swords of the Vandal infantry. Score 4 – 2 for the Vandals.

Game 3
For the final battle, Rome extended their entire force in one long line. The Vandals formed theirs in like fashion with their infantry on the right and Alani allies on the left.

The Roman centre and left flank engaged the main Vandal force. The Auxilia forced the warband back as did the Roman cavalry. The legion feeling the full force of the Vandal chieftain and his guard broke leaving a gaping hole in the Roman line.

Leaving the Vandal leader to the reprisal of the remaining legionnaires, the Roman cavalry surged forward to try and destroy the remaining Vandal cavalry with the Illyriani on their way to seal their fate from the rear.  

Single handed, the Vandal chieftain and guard had destroyed the entire legion (2 elements), but elsewhere Vandal losses were mounting quickly (3 elements). Turning his attention to the fighting near the field, the Vandal leader closed in on the rear on a unit of auxilia and was rebuffed for his effort.

Likewise, the Alani were able to pick off an isolated unit of equites bringing the score even (3 – 3).

The decisive blow came when the last Vandal cavalry were destroyed by the joint effort of the Roman general and the clibanarii. Score 4 – 3 for the LIR.

II/66    Early Vandal 200 – 442 AD Terrain type: Arable, Aggression 3
1 x general (3Kn), 2 x nobles (3Kn), 7 x warriors (4Wb), 1 x Alans (LH), 1 x dregs (Ps).