Friday, 2 April 2010

Punic Wars Our Latest battle

This battle was played on Sunday 21st March. Usual suspects of three with one AWOL but he had a note!

Set in the undulating hills at the exit to the Alpine passes.

Graham and myself commanded the passes with three legions. Simple really ... stop the Ogre!

Hannibal, (John) ... leading the Carthaginian invaders over the Alps and southwards. His aim? Smash the arch enemy and take the infernal City........ thus ending the war his father could not!

Imagine .......... if Hannibal had not outwitted his Roman foes?
Not able to hide his audatious approach to the northern extent of the enemies fledgling empire, he must debouch from the high passes and confront his rivals frontally.
His march has debilitated his army yet he can still assemble a formidable confederation of troops.
Gallic warriors lured onwards for promised spoils of Rome, old tales of their sacking told by elders through the generations, fearsome Numidians, Spaniards, impressive African heavy infantry and of course...........his surviving elephants.

Having been better informed of the "One Eyed Git's" intentions, the Roman Legions await the approach unafraid, preparing to defend their City at the passes. They have even managed to position a scorpion.
Both major exits from the passes are blocked by a Legion. A third Legion links their positions extending the Roman lines across central plain.

Pic.. shows Graham's deep ranks of the legion on the left flank, his right flank covered by heavy cavalry. Note the steep hills on the enemy's left hemming them in.
No sublety here on this flank .......  bludgeon tactics are called for.

....and did they drive foward  ! .... led by Libyan spearmen they crashed into the Roman Auxilliary infantry. The stuggle commenced.

Across on the opposite flank the main Carthaginian
horde surges out from the passes. Fronted by
Numidian horsemen and masses of light infantry. They moved across swiftly over the rolling hills while the main columns filed through the pass onto the expanse of the plain. Spanish cavalry then elephants followed by Spanish heavy infantry, armed with their own version of a pilum, the soliferrum.

On the hills and in front of the main lines, the skirmishers clash. Initial encounters are won by the skilled and ferocious Numidian light horsemen, driving back the Roman velites.

As the attack developed the Triarii were ordered to move onto the weakened right to hold the low ridge. Here they could allow the supporting two cavalry units to act offensively when ordered. Oh dear is this move too early.... only time will tell!

Meanwhile in the centre the third Legion patiently stands. Faced by a long low ridge they link both flanks anad may have to support either flank if required, but they are aware of the impotance of maiintaining the centre also.

The left flank continues to be a blood bath. The Roman Auxiliary line has thrown the Libyan assault back upon its supporting troops. Their task done, they move to the rear and the Hastati march forward. Will they need to be called upon again? They think not and look forward to a rest. 
Heavy cavalry moves on the open flank of the infantry, protecting the open flanks.

The results of these melees may be crucial in wearing down the enemy on this flank.

The Roman's weakness in cavalry lets then down again. SLowly but surely the horsemen are forced backwards, exposing the Roman infantry flank. Can this be exploited?

In the centre are the first signs of trouble approaching. The Legion quickly realise that they will not be moving to assist either flank in a hurry! Celts..........   lots of them!!!  Great!

Both Hastati lines now charge forward, centre and left. Volleys of Pila are hurled, armour penetrated and shields pinned on bodies. The front ranks of the Carthaginians drop under the lethal shower. The Roman primary weapon causes the charge to falter and become fragmented. Second rank warriors trip over the dead and wounded.... before they can recover swords are drawn and they are smashed into by the Roman scutum. Now the work begins!

Not all is going well for the Legions though. On the far right, the scorpion and its protective auxilliary infantry are scattered by the onrushing Numidian light cavalry and Spanish light infantry. Only just, do the Triarii form on the hill and bar their progress. A hedge of spears probing and deterring their assault. But these elite light troops are supported by Spanish regular infantry and these troops drive onwards up the hill together with Celtic heavy cavalry. Now the Roman heavy cavalry can lead forward.

On the valley floor the Hastati await the forming lines of war elephants. Will they resist?
The opposing lines charge, elephants v pila, cavalry vs cavalry.

After a titanic clash the elephants are routed, forced back in confusion and in panic back through the files of heavy infantry still debouching from the pass. The Celtic cavalry fare no better, with the impetus of the Roman charge downhill from the hill crest giving the decisive edge.

A respite now on the right. The second Roman cavalry unit pins large numbers of Spanish infantry upon a hill, they dare not cross the low land to their front and expose their flank to the horsemen.

In the centre, despite hurling large numbers into the melee, the Hastati not only manage to hold the ground, they slowly push their foes back up the slope and attain the cress of the ridge.

A final push is expected and more Spanish regular infantry form up. However, they are hit as the recover from the passage of the routing elephants. They hurl their soliferrum but its a ragged volley. Despite using the pila aginst the elephants the Hastati rush through the heavy iron javelin volley to inflict a crushing blow on the Spanish. But they are veterans and regain their ground. Number begin to increase as the Hastati are checked.

They are finshed and retire behind the Principes.

Its coming to the decisive part of the battle now and Hannibal must break through now or never!

The left flank sees the progress of the Legion unchecked , grinding down the assaults of the elephants and then Africal regulars. Only the Carthaginian cavalry is breaking though. The gap is almost open and the Roman cavalry is exhausted. One more effort and the rear of the enemy lines lie exposed and vunerable.

Except ..........those redoubtable Auxilliary infantry, composted after resting from their melee in the opening phase of the battle, hurl themselves on the triumphant enemy cavalry. Realing from the flank assault, they recoil, and head back towards the safety of the lines.

With the centre having absorbed all of the Celtic warriors in the melee against the Hastati, they are stalled. The Principes stand ready, confident and imposing. They cannot force through.

On the right flank, despite a steady flow of additional cavalry and infantry, Hannibal cannot form them quickly enough to catch the Roman lines whilst they are dissordered. By the time they are ready for battle there exit from the passes are oppsed by reformed Legions.

The options are bleak. Retire to the highs of the passes?

Again our game was played from about 18:00 hrs until 21:30hrs. About 13 moves and a result. Great is your Roman!  But next time?

Hope our action inspires you ....... please feel free to comment or enquire



  1. Cracking stuff, lads. Bit unkind calling John an ogre tho... ;-)

  2. Nice report and pics! What rules?

    Look forward to seeing more.


  3. Hi Andy, we use house rules, very simple and very fast! We are hoping that John will post an outline of them on the blog very soon. cheers