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Battle Scenarios

The Wrath of Rome

By John Meunier

The first in a series of scenarios pitting Middle Imperial Romans defending their far flung frontiers from incursions by Gothic invaders. In this scenario, the Romans attempt to punish the Goths as they retire laden with pillage.

The Armies

Middle Imperial Romans

2x 3Cv, 1x 2LH, 4x 4Bd, 4x 4Ax, 1x 2Ps

Early Gothic

3x 3Kn, 6x 4Wb, 3x 3Ps

The Terrain



     ===================ROMANS======================
     . . . . . . . . . . . . r . . . . . . . . . . .  
     . . . . . . . . . . . . r . . . . . . . . . . .
     . . . . . . . . . . . . r . . . . . . . . . . .
     . . . . . . . . . . . . r . . . . . . . . . . . 
     . . . . . . . . . . . . r . . . . . . . . . . . 
     . . . . . . . . . . . . r . . . . . . . . w w w 
     . . . . . . . . . . . . r . . . . . . w w w w w
     . . . . . . . . . . . . r . . . . w w w w w w w 
     . . . . . . . . . . . . r . . . w w w w w w w w
     . . . . . . . . . . . . r . . w w w w w w w w w
     . . . . . . . . . . . . r . w w w w w w w w w w 
     . . . . . . . . . . . . r w w w w w w w w w w w
     . . . . . . . . . . . . r w w w w w w w w w w w 
     . . . . . . . . . . . . r w w w w w w w w w w w
     . . . . . . . . . . . . r w w w w w w w w w w w 
     . . . . . . . . . . . . r . w w w w w w w w w w
     . . . . . . . . . . . . . r . w w w w w w w w w
     . . . . . . . . . . . . . r . . w w w w w w w w
     . . . . . . . . . . . . . r . . . w w w w w w w 
     . . . . . . . . . . . . . . r . . w w w w w w w
     . . . h h h h h h h h h . . r . . . w w w w w w
     . . . h h h h h h h h h . . . r . . . w w w w w
     . . . h h h h h h h h h . . . . r . . . . . w w
     . . . h h h h h h h h h . . . . . r . . . . . . 
     ======================GOTHS====================



Map Key:

h=hill (gentle slopes)
r=road
w=woods (bad going)



The Battle

In the first battle, the Romans caught the plundering band of Goths as they were retreating back toward the Danube. The Goths deployed first, on a low rise with a wood to their right flank. Overly confident in the might of his cavalry, the Gothic commander drew his army up into two lines, the knights (including the general) supported by the psiloi in front, and the warband drawn up deep in back.

Seeing this, the Roman deployed his blades in his front line (including the Roman commander) his Auxilia immediately behind and the cavalry to the rear in a narrow column. The psiloi stayed behind to guard the baggage.

The Roman moved his army forward slowly, shielding his left flank with the wood and moving his cavalry column toward his own right in case the Goths tried to encircle that flank.

The Goths had no such plans, however, and charged straight ahead, moving the psiloi to extend the line of the knights. The warband hung back on the hill.

As could be expected, the knights crashed into the blade line with much clatter and clanging of armor, spear and swords. The Roman line wavered, but held firm, chasing off one of the skirmisher elements extending the knight line.

The Roman commander was stuck in hard fighting against the Gothic commander and his army watched for the outcome of the struggle to decide the battle (1 pip on die).

Although outnumbered, the Gothic horse again fought hard, losing no elements, but falling back to regroup. This short space gave the Gothic general time to regroup and organize a fresh charge (6 pips on die) with support from his psiloi.

The knight on the Gothic general's left, with the help of an overlapping psiloi, broke up the exhausted legionaries to his front and charged headlong into the auxilia behind. The Gothic horse to his right, at even odds, forced a recoil. The two generals now squared off. The Roman commander, seeing his exhausted troops wavering around him as the Gothic horse foamed and crashed against his battered men, lept into the fray himself, clutching the legionary standard in his own hands as the gore of the Gothic cavalry bloodied the green fields. The Gothic general himself was nearly slain and barely controlled his bodyguard's terror (at 4 to 2 odds, the Roman won a 6-1 roll, nearly winning the battle.)

As this fight occurred, the frustrated legionaries of the Roman left flank again drove away the pesky skirmishing archers to their front.

Now, with space to breath, the Roman commander rallied his army together and brought forward the auxilia to extend his own line. The horse that had recently pressed the Roman foot, found its own flanks exposed to the shafts and barbs of the Roman infantry. The legionaries and auxilia chased off the remaining skirmishers and cut down two squadrons of Gothic horse as the horrified Gothic general rallied his bodyguard.

The tide of battle had turned and the Gothic commander fell back toward his own lines, pulling back his psiloi as well. Rather than follow up quickly, the Roman general called a halt and brought his auxilia forward into the front line, with only his own body of legionaries in the front rank.

Suddenly not so eager to attack, the Gothic general waited on his hill -- thinning his formation on the flanks and bringing up psiloi to match the Roman frontage as best he could.

Faced with a still dangerous foe -- up hill and resolved to defend its camp -- the Roman general brought forward his cavalry to contest the Gothic flank, where the formation was both thin and not completely protected by terrain. (or the board edge)

Seeing the obvious threat, the Gothic general charged once more into the fray, attempting to drive back the Roman horse. But fatigue had gotten the better part of valor and he fought inconclusively against his fresher and more numerous foe.

And then disaster struck. The Illyricani LH swooped in on the Gothic general's flank as he fought the Roman cavalry to his front. Overlapped and flanked, exhausted and outnumbered, he fought bravely, but rash courage could not save the day (3 v. 3). The Gothic commander fell from his horse, a javelin thrust into his side beneath his upraised sword arm. As his flag fell, the Gothic warriors on the hill, having never shed a drop of blood, fled the field, to the relief of the exhausted Roman infantry that did not relish the prospects of a renewed fight.


Lessons:

  1. There is a reason why piece-meal attacks are frowned upon throughout history. If you roll low pip dice early, you don't have to keep giving your 1 pip to the same group.

  2. Setting up second is a big advantage to the Romans in this matchup. The Blades are better against Kn and the Auxilia are less prone to disaster versus Wb. Knowing where the Goth player is putting each of these before you set up is a real bonus.

  3. Changing formation or bringing up reserve lines in the midst of battle is difficult and should not be counted on. If the Goth (me) had had the warband closer to the battle, the Roman would have never been able to get his cavalry or auxilia fully into the game.

I will save for another time the stunning sequel to this battle, in which the Roman army found an army of Goths waiting for them with bloody vengence in their hearts.


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Last Updated: July 11, 1998

Questions, comments, and suggestions welcome. Sent them to the attention of Chris Brantley at IamFanaticus@gmail.com.