Wednesday, 15 June 2005

Was that a Roman army?

Our [WAB Escalation Campaign]( has kicked off. Last week, David's Granadines turned Alan's Saxons into a bunch of moving pincushions, ensuring a first victory for the civilisation side. Yesterday, Filip brought his Romans over for a friendly encounter with my Celts.

The table roll (see [the rules]( ) provided us with the mother of all wargaming tables - a 6' x 4' table, played on from long side to long side. Terrain wise, we had a Celtic village on the left (seen from the Celtic table edge), with a bit of impassible difficult going (the midden?) off to the left of that, a gentle hill on the right, with a solitary farmhouse in front of it. In an Alan inspired moment, I also put some cows and sheep throughout the landscape.

The Celtic army consisted of two warbands of 17 figures each, with LSM and a bad attitude (the Zemstiani and Malini), a unit of 9 bow armed skirmishers, a chariot squadron of three chariots (two crew each) and Bartolomix, the army general (and quite possibly the only general in all of the WEC armies - at 500 points for the entire army, a general is a heavy investment, but IMO a must for the Celtic army nevertheless). The opposing Romans had some cavalry, a unit of auxilia and one of legionaries, and a bunch of archers.

I deployed with the skirmishers in a long line on the left, the two warbands in the center and the chariots on the right. Bartolomix took up position in the front lines (of course) between the two warbands. The Romans put their cavalry in a column aimed for the gap between the village and the difficult going bit (putting them on a collision course with my skirmishers), the auxilia and legionaires roughly in front of my warbands, and the archers on top of the hill on the right.

Seeing the Roman cavalry poised to charge forward on the left flank, I knew that my best plan would be that staple of Celtic battle plans -- straight forward at full speed with the warbands. This would be the Celtic version of the standard ancients tactic of advancing your center when the enemy flanks are better than yours, so the victorious enemy flanking unit will have further to go to reach the rear or flanks of your line. The skirmishers would do what they could against the cavalry, while the chariots would go fanning about on the right.

So it was said, so it happened. On the first turn, the Celts closed on the Romans, and the skirmishers put some fire into the Roman auxilia. The Romans for their part, advanced their infantry, drove their cavalry forward and put some bowfire into one of the advancing warbands, while eyeing the chariots over on their flank warily.

The moment Filip moved his Romans forward, I knew I was going to be able to charge the legionaires next turn (we started 24" apart, I moved 10", he moved 4", putting us at 10" -- which happens to be the charge range for warbands), but I was not sure whether I wanted to do this or not, as the unit of auxilia next door would then be in a good position to charge the warbands' flank. Naturally, warbands being what they are, the decision was taken out of my hands when they decided to go at it themselves (rolled a one :) ). So turn 2 saw one Celtic warband charging the Roman legionaires, while the other warband advanced on the Roman archers, and the chariots pulled up to throw some javelins towards said archers. The skirmishers divided their fire between the Roman cavalry and auxilia, managing to take off one Roman cavalryman, taking that unit down to only five.

In the ensuing combat, the legionaires managed to survive the Celtic charge (damn stubborn troops :) ), and that combat would go on for a couple of rounds, eventually even having Bartolomix himself participating (who can say no to three attacks with a WS of 6?). On the left, the Roman cavalry now charged the skirmishers, which opted to fire and flee, managing to pick off another cavalryman (yay, only four left -- nothing to be feared any more) and even staying out of reach of the charging cavalrymen after they fled (double yay -- there was a 2 in 3 chance of them catching me).

After that, it went quickly. The Roman archers, being charged by warband in front and the chariots in the flank, quickly turned tail and were destroyed in the pursuit, the cavalry sat about contemplating their losses, the legionaires finally broke and were cut down in the pursuit, and the auxilia attempted to charge the victorious warband but promptly broke after one turn of combat. Game over, and a great Celtic victory.

In this battle, I opted for a simple strategy -- move up and roll over -- that worked brilliantly, to the point that one of the warbands powered on to within inches of the opposing table edge, routing a unit of archers on the way. Comments overheard within that warband included 'Was that a Roman army on that hill behind the sheep -- it all passed so quickly".

So, the fate of Istria hangs in the balance, with one victory to the civilisation side and one to the barbarian side. The next battle (between Macedonians and Sassanids) will decide.

__Update__: [some pictures of this battle are now available](

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  1. Actually, Alan's troops were just pincushions. They were not moving. ;^)
    I'm glad we are getting this going, it really has the potential to be a lot of fun.

  2. My Saxons were jolly brave pincushions, I must add.
    Or rather I mean:
    "Wah hah"