Mid-Republic Romans vs. Late Carthaginians (1000 pt battle)

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Jason_Langlois
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Mid-Republic Romans vs. Late Carthaginians (1000 pt battle)

Post by Jason_Langlois » Wed Jul 09, 2008 3:33 pm

A Battle in Pictures

A 1000 point battle between Late Carthage and a Mid-Republic Roman Army (once more played by me). My commentary is in italics.

We're running a campaign at the club, so this battle was Carthage's attempt to cross the Alps into Italy. In an earlier battle, they had defeated some Gauls, so in this one we allowed them to take Gallic allies.

Roman Army (17BG)
Legion I (veteran): 4 x H&P, 4 x H&P, 4 x velites, 2 x triarii
Legion II & III: 8 x H&P, 8 x H&P, 8 x velites, 4 x triarii
Legion IV: 4 x H&P, 4 x H&P, 4 x velites, 2 x triarii
Alae: 8 x Italian Allied Foot, 6 x Scutarii, 4 x Pedites Extraordinarii, 4 x Cavalry (armored), 4 x Cavalry (protected)
Commanders: IC CinC, 2 x FC, 1 x TC

Late Carthage Army (17BG)
Apparently the scutarii should have been 8 bases, not 6. And I'm hazy on what the cavarly was (a running theme in this battle).
Main Force: 6 x African Spearmen, 6 x African Spearmen, 2 x Elephants, 2 x Elephants, 6 x mercenary Scutarii, 6 x mercenary scutarii, 6 x Javelinmen, 6 x Baelric Slingers, 4 x Spanish Cavalry, 4 x Spanish Cavalry, 6 x Spanish Light Horse
Commanders: IC CinC (Hannibal), 1 x FC
Gallic Allies: 12 x Warriors, 12 x Warriors, 4 x Gallic Cavarly, 1 x TC
Numidian Allies: 6 x Numidian Light Horse, 6 x Numidian Light Horse, 6 x Numidian Light Foot, 1 x FC

It was a huge battle, with 1000 points on each side and full of things I, at least, hadn't seen before. Lots of terrain that came down in the middle of the table, rather than out to the edges. A river. An outflank.

Carthage won the initiative, so Rome set up first and moved first (a rule, it turned out, we'd all missed ... thank you, forums, for mentioning this little oddity).

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The patches of golden felt are enclosed fields.

Since Carthage had kindly detailed out his expectation that I would do my standard deployment in discussion before the battle, I decided to try some different stuff. Past experience so far shown that my wings are very vulnerable with just medium foot and cavalry, so with the addition of 2 Legions, I decided to deploy them wide as a way to bolster against a cavalry sweep. I'd also decided, given the strength of the Carthaginian cavalry, in general, to not bother with my cavalry on the board... instead, I sent them on an outflank to my left.

The terrain layout here favored me, I think. The impassable river helped tighten the field a bit, so my right flank was anchored. The plantation and enclosed fields came down in the wings such that I could use them as cover for the medium foot. My left wing was hanging, so I put the Veterans on that side, to anchor it.

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Carthage also had an outflank force (on his right) - the Numidian allies.

My main concern, based on the Carthage set-up was the center. My Legion would have to advance up the enclosed field, which would put it at a disadvantage against all that Spanish and Gallic foot who had the numbers to get around me. The right and left wings concerned me as well, since the African spearmen might pin me and let the cavalry and elephants get the flanks. Still, my choice to put the Legions wide seemed to pay off here, since it gave me a heavy strike force on each wing and threw the Carthage player off his game plan. I think the outflank had the same effect, since it stalled the Numidian allies.
Last edited by Jason_Langlois on Wed Jul 09, 2008 4:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Jason_Langlois
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Post by Jason_Langlois » Wed Jul 09, 2008 3:34 pm

OPENING MOVES

Roman Turn One (Rome 0/17AP, Carthage 0/17AP)

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The outflank (2 Cavalry units and a Field Commander) don't arrive. My plan off the bat is to move up the medium foot on the left and right wings to secure the terrain on my half of the table. They had commanders attached, so were able to do a double move and set up right away. The velites were moved full speed - my aim was to try and get them across the table to slow down any Carthage advance. The fact that the central legions are one big force (8 bases, instead of my usual 4) helps me avoid the temptation to split them already (though I am already by this point pondering splitting in half to go around that enclosed field).

Carthage Turn One (Rome 0/17AP, Carthage 0/17AP)

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Carthage's Numidian Ally outflank force rolls to come on - but since it is all light horse and foot, it gets driven back by the Roman outflanking force. It will come on in Carthage's next turn (and then will be followed on by the Roman forces). For the most part, its a straight advance by Carthage in this turn. On the left, the cavalry drifts a bit wide for some room. In the center, everything moves forward at full speed. On the right, having seen the cloud of dust of the approaching troops, Carthage turns a unit of cavalry around to face the flank and wait. The other forces on that wing advance.

Roman Turn Two (Rome 0/17AP, Carthage 0/17AP)

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The Roman medium foot stays in the terrain, and the Roman legions get a chance to catch up and dress the lines. I was concerned that the light horse was going to drive off my velites in the center, so stopped moving them forward as fast to let the Legion catch up. My focus was to work on keeping my troops in formation and supporting each other, to prevent them getting picked off piecemeal.

Carthage Turn Two (Rome 0/17AP, Carthage 1/17AP)

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The Roman Cavalry manages to overrun a unit of Numidian light foot off-table (failed straggling roll) and thus Rome gains the first Attrition Point of the battle. Victory! Carthage's left flank begins angling to move wide around the Roman line, but is squeezed by the river. The center continues to advance with the right wing supporting.

Looking at the map, I wonder if Carthage should have started bringing the javelins, slingers and light horse closer together in the center, to perhaps concentrate fire on the velites? Based on the situation here, they seem a little spread out.

Roman Turn Three (Rome 0/17AP, Carthage 1/17AP)

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With the angling of the elephants and foot on my right flank, I get it in my head that I have some time to do some maneuvering here. My thought was to take Legion IV (on the right), wheel it into the gap between the plantation and the open field, and then advance it into the oncoming Gauls. To support it, I decided I had to move out the scutarii and pedites extraordinarii as well. The goal of the right is now to break the Gallic foot on that side, before the elephants and African spearman can sort themselves out.

In the center, I just moved up to support the velites... I was still expecting that light horse to my left to swoop in and drive them off. The Roman left decides to play a waiting game - I've got Gallic foot, elephants and a lot of horses coming my way. But never fear, the outflanking force has arrived ... and Carthage is waiting for it.

Key thing this turn was that I confused the cavalry on the river bank with light horse, so figured I had nothing to worry about. Thus, my feeling free to begin that wheel. Had I realized it was cavalry, I think I'd have stayed straight on and not moved the medium foot out of the terrain or the legion forward. Ignorance is bliss, I suppose.

Carthage Turn Three (Rome 0/17AP, Carthage 1/17AP)

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On the left, the spear, elephants and cavalry don't advance much; instead, they seem to spend some time getting lined up again. In the center, the Gallic foot on the left react the Legion with a wheel. The scutarii and Gallic foot move up, as do the javelinmen and slingers. The light horse shifts forward a bit, staying level with Carthage's right wing which brings the elephants and spearmen up to the edge of the open field. The Numidians wheel to pepper their Roman pursuers with javelins, while the cavalry moves up to threaten a charge.

I suspect Carthage's left flank suffered a bit from the player sitting behind the forces on the right, and some distraction caused by the arrival of the Roman cavalry. It often seemed to be a last minute thought in these early turns. Also, the wheel of the Gallic foot effectively committed them to the left wing - they no longer threatened the center. Looking at this, I can also see that the Gallic foot on the right side, along with the light horse screening it, have committed towards the Italian allied foot... effectively, taking them out of the center.

Carthage originally had 36 stands of shock infantry and 18 stands of skirmishers committed in the center, against the 20 stands of Roman shock and 8 stands of skirmishers; after three turns, it's now down to just 12 stands of shock infantry committed and 12 stands of skirmishers. The balance has shifted to Rome.

Jason_Langlois
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Post by Jason_Langlois » Wed Jul 09, 2008 3:35 pm

THE TITANS CLASH

Roman Turn Four (Rome 0/17AP, Carthage 1/17AP)

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On the Roman right, Legion IV continues with the plan to move towards the Gallic foot - the velites are lined up to act as a screen against the elephants, spearmen and cavalry (which I still thought were light horse). The scutarii and pedites move forward to secure the flank of the center and to support the anticipated move of Legion IV. On the Roman left, the Italian foot stays in the fields, with the veteran Legion I on is far flank - moving the medium foot into the open in the face of the cavalry, elephants and Gallic foot seems a bit like suicide. Meanwhile, the Roman cavalry - isolated, cut off, surrounded - begins its attempt to fight out of the bear trap its stepped into. In the center, the Roman velites charge forward and drive off the javelinmen and slingers, exposing the mercenary scutarii in the middle.

On the far left, I was hoping my Legion and Italian foot could threaten the flank of any force that tried to wheel in on the flank of my center Legions, so I held it back. On the right, emboldened by the slow advance of Carthage and safe in the belief that there was only a light horse unit to threaten my flank (d'oh), I continued to maneuver to gain superiority over the Gallic foot that was advancing.

Carthage Turn Four (Rome 0/17AP, Carthage 1/17AP)

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On Carthage's right, the elephants, spearmen and cavalry don't really advance but shift for position. The Gallic foot comes forward, now committed towards the exposed Roman scutarii and pedites. In the center, the mercenary scutarii charge the velites and drive them off, but end up in charge range of the Roman hastati & principes. The slingers move up on the scutarrii flank to provide some fire support. The Gallic foot on the left wheels towards the center and the light horse wheel and advances out to the right to screen the Roman legion. Meanwhile, the elephants and spearmen on that right side turn around and face away from the Roman line towards the Roman cavalry.

Over in the back, Carthage cavalry engages the Roman armoured cavalry, while the Numidian lights pepper the Roman protected cavalry (in the gully) with javelins.

The elephants and spearmen turning around was an interesting move - with them facing away, I felt that me left flank was no longer under threat and that I was free to move the Italian allies out of the terrain (as you'll see). Definitely the key move in this turn for shaping the flow of the battle. Another possible key, had I realized they were cavalry and not light horse, would have been the lining up of the cavalry on the river bank to point at my Legion - however, thinking they were just light horse, I didn't adjust my plan much at all.

Roman Turn Five (Rome 0/17AP, Carthage 1/17AP)

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The real fighting begins...

Legion II, in the center (a BG of 8 Hastatii & Principes) charges into the mercenary scutarii and despite being disordered manages to win impact and melee. Legion III (the other H&P BG), screened off by the conforming of its partner, turns to move to better position. On the Roman right, the Roman scutarii throw themselves at the Gallic foot to no effect... the pedites move into position to provide help in the next Roman turn. On the far right, Legion IV does some mental math and decides that the elephants and spearmen on that side may come in quick - it dresses the lines to face them. The velites go to screen what they think is light horse, to prevent it from dashing in on the flank of the now engaged medium foot past the open field.

On the left, feeling emboldened by the reverse of the elephants and spearmen on that side, the Roman velites come out to toss ineffective javelins at the light horse and the Italian allied foot begins to march out of the enclosed field. Meanwhile, the Roman cavalry fights on - the armored engaged and the protected futilely chasing after Numidian lights in the gully... while Carthage lurks and waits for its chance to do a flank charge on the unwary equites.

I expected the scutarii to be broken by the Gallic foot (they don't have the greatest track record for me so far), so was maneuvering the Legion III to fill that hole when it appeared. Despite being disordered, I figured I had a good chance to hold the mercenary scutarii in the center... my plan being to get the velites on the flank of that battle. I had totally written off the cavalry by this point, and was just happy that my two units were apparently tying up 6 units of Carthage.

Carthage Turn Five (Rome 1/17AP, Carthage 2/17AP)

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Carthage's left organizes itself, with the elephants and spearmen getting into line again. The cavalry moves past the velites screen and aims for the Roman flank (of course, I'm still thinking its light horse, so am not too worried about the shooting... *sigh*). The scutarii come off worse against the Gallic foot, but aren't broken yet. In the center, luck goes with the Romans, who manage to win by a hit and fragment the mercenary scutarii. The Gallic foot on the right moves up threateningly... but the light horse moves away, heading towards Carthage's far left.

In the cavalry battles in the rear, a flank charge by the Numidians is telling, and the Roman equites begin to falter and crack.

I'm amused how much my ignorance of the true nature of that cavalry on the river side influenced events. Had I but clicked that it was not light horse earlier, things would have been different on that flank. As it was, my biggest fear about it was that Malcolm was going to run it past my Legion to overrun my camp for the 2 APs.
At this point, it looked like my outflank had drawn off 7 Carthage battlegroups - nearly a third of the army was either fighting or facing the Roman cavalry. This definitely gave me the confidence to move out on the flanks, since I felt my own flanks to be fairly secure.


Roman Turn Six (Rome 3/17AP, Carthage 2/17AP)

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Not worried at all about the "light horse" on their right, Legion IV turns and aims itself to march towards the center... the plan is back on to try and plug the gap between the open field and the plantation. Unfortunately, their commander had moved away so the battleline was broken and they moved separately. The scutarii hold the line, but take more casualties. However, the support from the pedites, which join the fray, helps to balance the odds somewhat. Legion III is still expecting a collapse, though, and sets up to deal with the resulting hole.

The center battle between Legion II and the mercenary scutarii goes nowhere, with both sides holding steady. The velites on the left of the Legion move up, while the Italian foot organizes itself in front of the enclosed fields. Legion I wheels and aims towards the Gallic foot as well, anticipating they will advance into range... Legion I's velites move to screen off the light horse, in case it comes back.

The Roman equites break and route off the table... the other Roman cavalry finally is lured into position for the lurking Carthage cavalry to launch its flank charge.

The elephants and spearmen on my right had been so passive to this point, I decided I could probably screen them with the velites and march the Legion away with impunity. On the contrary, I think presenting my flank and rear to the Carthaginians was a bit like handing them a Red Bull and waving a red flag. My thinking with the velites was that I had to get that Gallic foot committed away from the center... I wasn't sure my Italian foot would hold against it, but with Legion I getting set up to come in for support, it was worth the risk.

Carthage Turn Six (Rome 5/17AP, Carthage 5/17AP)

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Carthage lurches into activity on the flanks ... on their left, the elephants plow ahead through the open fields, driving off the velites screen and threatening the Legion's flanks. The cavalry also moves up to threaten the rear. The Gallic foot breaks the scutarii, opening the hole that Legion III was waiting for - the pedites, being superior, hold their ground.

In the center, one of the mercenary scutarii cracks and runs to the rear - this shakes its partner battlegroup badly. The Gallic foot charge the velites, but end up impacting the Italian foot, who get lucky and manage to fragment the Gallic barbarians. On Carthage's right, the light horse is free to roam and runs around the flank... meanwhile, the elephants and spearmen reverse and point back to the Roman line.

Over in the gully, Carthage sticks in its cavalry and begins the destruction of the last of the Roman equites.

This is the point where I clicked that the "light horse" wasn't so light, realized I'd made a pretty big mistake turning the Legion as I had. The reverse of the elephants and spearmen, combined with the light horse running around my flank tossed a wrench in my plans a bit. That wing was once more threatened... but with the Gallic foot fragmented and the scutarrii wavering, I felt I could recover. On the other wing, though, I had broken my new rule and split the Legion and had no real plan to recover in the face of elephants, cavalry and spearmen.

Jason_Langlois
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Post by Jason_Langlois » Wed Jul 09, 2008 3:36 pm

THE BALANCE TIPS

Roman Turn Seven (Rome 6/17AP, Carthage 6/17AP)

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Having realized that there is cavalry, not light horse, on the Roman right flank, Legion IV starts wheeling and maneuvering to cover itself. The triarii which were originally just supposed to shoo off some shooters finds itself committed to keeping the cavalry at bay, while the rest of the Legion steels itself to face off against the elephants and the expected approach of the spearmen.

Legion III joins the pedites in the fight against the Gallic foot, taking loses and dishing them out. The Gauls, however, hold. The mercenary scutarii also hold, despite their fragmented state. Further to the Roman left, the Gallic foot breaks in the face of the Italian allied foot and begins its run to the rear where Hannibal is trying to bolster the routing scutarii.

The far left of the Roman line decides to leave the triarii behind to deal with the light horse, while the infantry begins moving forward in hopes of joining up the line with the allied foot and prepping for the expected spear & elephant charge by Carthage.

In the gully, the Roman cavalry is stomped into the muddy earth by the Carthaginian cavalry.

I notice that I forgot to conform units of Legion II up against the mercenary scutarii, which might have been a few more dice in the fight. Whoops. The triarii on the far left of the line were doing what the triarii on the far right were intended for - holding off the light horse.

Carthage Turn Seven (Rome 6/17AP, Carthage 9/17AP)

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Carthage sticks in the elephants on their left flank, but the Roman infantry holds and checks them. The cavalry waits, given pause by the spears of the triarii, while the African spearmen move up. Further to the center, the Gallic foot finally collapses along with the mercenary scutarii. The Carthage center is in retreat! On the right, the elephants move up, supported by spears, slingers, and many light horse. Meanwhile, to the rear, Carthage cavalry reforms and begins trying to ride back to the battle.

This was a bad turn for Carthage, no question. By the attrition points, though, things are still close... it's come down to the elephants on the flanks, pretty much.

Roman Turn Eight (Rome 6/17AP, Carthage 8/17AP)

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In the center, Legion II & III, with the pedites, pursue but the steep hill looming to their front promises to slow their advance. Meanwhile, the triarii in the center turn 90 to face the Roman left - they expect they'll be needed there eventually. On the Roman right, the hastatii & principes start to shake under the pounding of the elephants.

On the far left, Legion I is prepping to take the Carthage charge, but is growing nervous about all the forces on the flanks. The Italian foot, being medium in open ground, is also nervous about the returning cavalry but has to move up to secure the center legion flanks.

Meanwhile, Hannibal bolsters the scutarii and stops their flight.

Carthage Turn Eight (Rome 8/17AP, Carthage 9/17AP)

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The left wing elephants break the Romans in front of them and hit the triarii. The cavalry, which had been fighting the triarii, has broken off. Meanwhile, the spearmen on that flank end up facing away from the action, but are prepared to do a 90 and head into the fight.

In the center, Hannibal continues to attempt to bolster troops and rallies the other scutarii. The javelinmen move down to slow the Legions advance and buy some time. On Carthage's right, the cavalry slowly returns to the main battle but the elephants, having charged the velites and ended up impacting the veteran hastatii & principes are broken and route off the table. The light horse on that flank does its best to harass the Legions.

A big mistake here - the triarii, having been contacted in the flank by the pursuit of the elephants, should have immediately dropped a cohesion level and become disrupted. This would have mean the cavalry would not have broken off in the JAP.

The loss of the elephants on the right was the tipping point, I think. They were the big punch on that flank, and with them gone there wasn't going to be enough oomph to crack that veteran Legion. Had we called the game here, though, it would have been scored a Draw, though.

This is another element of the game that was new to me - in my other battles, the attrition points were decisively in one sides favor by around turn 6. Here, we're up to Turn Eight, and the matter is, by points, undecided. I really felt that the dice could fall in such a way that I'd lose Legion IV on the Roman right and that with the return of the cavalry in the line on the Roman left, my medium foot in the open was vulnerable to breaking as well. The dice would fall in my favor, though...

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Post by Jason_Langlois » Wed Jul 09, 2008 3:37 pm

THE END GAME

Roman Turn Nine (Rome 8/17AP, Carthage 8/17AP)

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Still a draw, thanks to the rallying of another scutarii by Carthage. Not much to say at this point - the wings are mucked up in battles with Rome managing to hold the advantage.

We continue to forget that units contacted in a flank by non-skirmishers lose cohesion - the elephants should have dropped last turn and broken this turn. Or maybe not, since the triarii would have been rolling less dice and... well, the what ifs are many.

Carthage Turn Nine (Rome 8/17AP, Carthage 7/17AP)

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Strangely, Carthage briefly gains the AP advantage as one of the scutarii comes to disrupted from fragmented. Things are not decided yet.

Roman Turn Ten (Rome 8/17AP, Carthage 14/17AP)

No picture of this final turn. Carthage's elephants break on the Roman right, causing the cavalry to break... but it has to rout into the velites and is removed. On the Roman left, the African spear also break ... and with those extra 6 APs, we have enough to declare a Marginal Victory (Rome has at least 2 more APs than Carthage, but not greater than or equal to 2:1) and we pack up.

How much of it was just table talk, I don't know, but it seemed that my deployment and use of the outflank threw Carthage off his game plan. Even so, after 10 turns of slugging it out and with his center broken and all, the battle still almost came down to a draw. Another turn may have been needed to make the outcome decisive, which is rather amazing to me.

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Post by Hobilar » Thu Jul 10, 2008 3:07 am

Nice write up. It's good to see the game doesn't get too unweildy at 1000 points, and you were able to handle playing the entire army yourself without too much trouble.

Bodes well for the rules set overall I'd say. :)

Anyway, keep up the good work. I like to see the AARs with pictures, and it's great to hear what other people think about before during and after playing a session.

ars_belli
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Post by ars_belli » Thu Jul 10, 2008 12:33 pm

Nice AAR and pics... thanks for sharing!

Cheers,
Scott

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