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The Battle of Lake Trasimene
(217 BC)

In spring 217 BC, fresh from his victories at Tecino and Trebbia, Hannibal and his Carthaginian army overtook and passed the army of Roman Consul Cais Flaminius heading south toward Rome itself. Flaminius was forced to play catch-up and pursued incautiously. Hannibal decided to lay an ambush before another Roman army commanded by the co-Consul Servilius could arrive to reinforce Flaminius. This he did by sending men to light fires on the far hills of Tuoro to decieve the Romans that they were safely at a distance. Then he drew up his army on the hills overlooking the narrow Chiana Valley and the narrow Malpasso Road which ran along side Lake Trasimene (Trasimeno). At the head of the valley, he posted light missile troops and his Celtiberian allies to block the road.

The next morning, confident that the Carthaginians were still at a distance and despite the heavy morning fog, Flaminius put his army into march column without advance scouts and began the march along the Malpasso road. The van was stopped when its lead cohort ran into a hail of missiles from Hannibal's blocking force. Then Hannibal sent his whole army forward in a general charge, which reached the Roman column before it was able to fully deploy. The confused legionaries were forced to fight in open order. The Roman column was split into three groups. The rear broke quickly under the weight of Hannibal's cavalry and was driven into the waters of Lake Trasimene where they were slain or drown. The center, including Flaminius, stood their ground, attempting to deploy, but were eventually cut down by Hannibal's Gauls in heavy combat. Flaminius' body was never found. The van stood by, apparently only lightly engaged by Hannibal's blocking force of Africans and Spaniards, but once the mist cleared and the extent of the defeat was clear, they cut their way through the hills, many escaping the encirclement.

Flaminius and 15,000 of Rome's best soldiers had been killed, causing a panic once news reached the city. Quintus Fabius Maximus was elected dictator by the Senate and adopted a "Fabian" policy of avoiding conflict until Rome could restore its military strength. Hannibal was left largely free to ravage Apulia for the next year, until the Romans withdraw the dictatorship and elected Paullus and Varro as consuls. Cannae was the result.

The Armies

Hannibal - Later Carthaginian (II/32), sans elephants.

Flaminius - Polybian Roman (II/33)

Deployment

Romans deploy first in a march column on the Malpasso Road with the lead element at the spot marked by the red dot.

Carthaginians then deploy anywhere in the lighter green shaded deployment area.

Game Map

Trasimeno Map

Terrain Notes

Lake Trasimene (blue) is impassable terrain (causing any element that is forced to recoil into it to be destroyed). The tan area represents gentle slopes. The brown area above the slope line represent high ground comprised of bad going (wooded) hills. The balance of the board is clear good going.

Special Rules

The Carthaginians do not have a camp.

The Romans deploy a wagon or similiar logistical element that must be placed in the center of their march column. The element has a base movement rate of 2, fights at +2 vs. foot or mounted, and may not be garrisoned. It is treated as a camp if "lost" for purposes of victory conditions.

To simulate the effects of the fog and surprise, modify the Roman pip die as follows: turn 1=-3, turn 2=-2, turn 3=-1. A zero or negative result means that no action may be taken.

Victory Conditions

Use the normal DBA victory conditions. Romans can also win by exiting 6 or more elements forward off the edge of the Board.


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Last Updated: Sept. 14, 2003

Scenario by Chris Brantley. Questions, comments, and feedback are welcome to IamFanaticus@gmail.com.