Delaying Action (79 AD)
Not all battles were fought as set-piece actions by well-matched forces on selected terrain. War has a habit of being unpredictable. Occasionally a general might find himself with poor intelligence, in hostile territory, strung out in line of march, hoping to avoid walking into an ambush. Likewise, a defender whose forces were widely dispersed may be caught unawares by the rapid approach of an aggressive enemy and forced to fight a delaying action to buy time. This scenario explores both possibilities.
This quasi-historical scenario is set in northern Britain circa 79 AD. The rebellion of Boudicca and her Iceni in the south has long since been suppressed, but the Brigantes, heretofore Roman allies, have become restless. A new generation of leaders have seized power and are anxious to test Roman authority. Petilius Cerealis has been sent north with Legio IX Hispana and auxiliaries to suppress the Brigantes and, in the process, bring northern Britain under direct Roman control. Cerealis has pushed past the Humber River deep into Brigante territory, quickly striking for their capital at Stanwick. It lies just a day away, but time is of the essence since Cerealis hopes to seize the Brigante stronghold before Venutius can fully muster its defense.
Venutius is cast in the role of the defender and deploys as follows. First Venutius secretly notes whether this scenario will be fought as an delaying action or as an ambush action. Each type of action has different victory conditions, which are described below. This choice is not revealed to the Roman player until either the Brigante or Roman victory conditions are achieved. Obviously, an honorable Brigante is required.
If the delaying action scenario is selected, Venutius then deploys six elements of his choice (from the Ancient British DBA army list) on the board anywhere within six inches of the north edge. No camp is placed.
If the ambush scenario is selected, Venutius deploys six elements of his choice (from the Ancient British DBA army list) on the board anywhere within six inches of the north edge. He then secretly records the location of the remaining six elements, which are deemed concealed in ambush in the available terrain as follows:
Once Venutius has completed his dispositions, the army of the Roman Cerealis enters the game board at the road end with his forces in a group column in whatever element order is preferred, including a baggage train element in lieu of a Roman camp. The rear element of the column should be touching the Roman baseline, with the head of the column extending forward along the road as far as necessary to accomodate all the elements. Two elements of Roman light horse, cavalry and/or psiloi may be deployed independently of the column but within six inches of the baseline as "scouts."
Ancient British Baseline (North)
Dark green represents woods. Light brown is a hill with gentle slopes, which can convey defense advantage. The dark brown road winds from the south to north edges of the board. The balance of the board is clear good going.
Use the variant rule for ambushes if playing the ambush scenario.
Roman elements which exit the north board edge are not count as lost and may not reenter the game board or attack the Brigante rear. It is presumed they are advancing onward to Stanwick.
The victory condictions depend on the scenario selected by the Brigante player:
It is hoped that this scenario will put the Roman player on the horns of a dilemma. Time is clearly of the essence. You have only a day to reach Stanwick before your foe can muster a full defense. Is this just a small blocking force that can be quickly brushed out of the way? Or are you walking into an ambush? Only your opponent knows for sure.
While set in a quasi-historical setting involving Ancient British and Early Imperial Roman armies, this scenario can be used between any well-matched set of armies with only minor adjustments.
I'm anxious to hear how this scenario plays and whether you have any comments or suggestions for improvements. Drop me a note at IamFanaticus@gmail.com.
Last Updated: April 6, 2003
My thanks to Jason Ehlers whose suggestion prompted this scenario. Questions, comments, and feedback are welcome. Sent them to my attention at IamFanaticus@gmail.com.