Sunday, 11 June 2017

Historical Match up - Rome vs. Carthage

At the DBA Fanaticus Forum the subject of auxiliaries and their effectiveness under the current version is being discussed. I have not encountered much of a problem with auxiliaries and yes, they can die quickly but in many cases they have done exemplary service in more games than I can remember. I decided to select Carthage and Rome as both sides field auxiliaries.

A previous historical matchup between Carthage and Rome, Rome lost all three games. These were fought with the standard 12 elements a side but for this experiment I decided double that number for each side. .


Rome split her forces evenly to simulate the alternate command role among the consuls. The allied legion was represented by the two 4Ax, one Sp and a cavalry element and are easily identifiable by their white shields. 

The two Carthaginian commands also totalled 12 elements each, but one held the majority of infantry while the other all the cavalry. No elephants were heard or seen trumpeting on the battlefield.

Carthage used their successful Cannae deployment with Numidian light horse on the left flank and Gallic heavy cavalry on the right. Rome was aware of the superior number of enemy cavalry and deployed in a denser formation.

After two turns, Rome’s formation exposes a central reserve of triarii and cavalry on the flanks as the main battle line moving steadily forward. Seeing Rome committed to the assault, the Numidians moved from the left flank to the Carthaginian right. This would bring them in a position to encircle the Roman line from the open plain and together with the Gallic cavalry they would eliminate the Roman horse. 

The struggle on the Carthaginian left unfolded in a similar manner as it did at Cannae, the Spanish and Gallic troops holding or recoiling back slowly drawing the Roman troops closer to the awaiting spearmen. Casualties in this sector were quickly mounting with both commands at an 3 – 3. However, disaster struck the Carthaginian right as their general was carried off the field resulting in an even score, 2 – 2g.

Despite the loss of their general on the right flank, the Carthaginians struck back with the spearmen attacking the Roman line frontally and Numidians from the rear. Brilliantly executed this delivered another Roman casualty, but the Muses were having their day as the score ended even at 3 – 3g.

On the Carthaginian left, both sides reached a tipping point as each suffered a casualty bringing both to a state of demoralisation on the same bound. On the following turn (six), only the Roman velites bolted leaving the two lines facing each other 40 paces apart, numb, exhausted and awaiting further orders. 

On the Roman left, their commander charged the Gallic cavalry while sending the triarii to surprise some Numidian horse; the Numidians fled, but one of the Gallic cavalry fell. Just as Chorus Left was about to sing praises for Rome, Chorus Right burst out laughing as a Roman auxilia fell to Carthaginian spear ending that bound, 4 – 4g.

A very bizarre ending with both sets of opposing commands becoming demoralised on the same bound. History would describe this as an inconclusive battle with most cases, the conflict resuming the next day.   


  1. Always glad to see this kind of confrontation, legendary armies...

  2. I enjoy them as well.

    If one has done enough reading you will know of many battles which did take a number of days to reach a conclusion; Trebbia had a cavalry battle the day before and the Yarmuk took six days before the Muslims reached their victory.

    This confrontation could continue with day two seeing the C-in-C taking the field as a CP (command post) and a number of elements lost the previous day returning having recovered from their wounds.


  3. Nice report & nice armies as usual. Did you use one die per command for pips?

  4. Dave,

    Correct one die per command.
    As both commands are from the same army you need to designate which command uses the higher score.
    In this game, the die with the highest score went to both the army’s right wing.

    Both the Roman right and the Carthaginian left reached demoralization on the same bound resulting in each using their pip score on the following turn to ‘hold’ troops in position.
    On that same turn, the Carthaginian C-in-C fell in combat which meant any tactical movement in the subsequent bound would require an extra pip.
    Fortunately, sixes were rolled on both occasions which gave the Carthaginian right some wiggle room.

    The battle ended with both remaining commands reaching demoralization on the same bound resulting in an inconclusive fight.

    I do plan to fight day two with reduced numbers for each side and one incapacitated Carthaginian commander as a CP (Command Position). This should be later this week.