Sunday, 9 January 2011

Return to action

A much longer lay-off than originally planned over the Christmas and New Year break. Three games were cancelled due to the weather and ill-health; but this week saw a return to the wargames table.

The action was set on the northern borders of the Roman empire, with a punitive expedition against some Pictish tribes. The Roman orders required the destruction of the barbarian village, the Picts had to stop the Roman advance and save their village. The Picts had gathered three warbands, a largish force of cavalry, some chariots and some missile troops, slingers and archers. Their opponents had 4 centuries of legionaries, two units of auxilia, three units of archers, two small units of cavalry and some scorpion missile engines.

The Pictish army may not have been totally historically accurate, but it made for an interesting game and it also gave us a chance to try out the chariots for the first time. As the Pictish commander I decided that my tactics should be to disrupt the orderly advance of the Roman force and if possible destroy the auxilia and missile units and then deal with the legionaries. To this end I placed all my cavalry on my right supported by the chariots. Two warbands defended the stream in front of the village, whilst a third was on the flankof the Roman advance.

As the Roman advance began my cavalry advanced hoping that their superior numbers would quickly overcome the Roman cavalry on that flank and thus threaten the legionaries' flank. Meanwhile the chariots manoeuvred around the flank of the auxilia hoping to get a chance to charge home. Unfortunately, I got too close to the auxilia and the main Roman archer unit and lost a third of the chariots to their javelins and arrows. The ground must have been too bumpy to allow for accurate fire from the chariots because the Roman were virtually unscathed. As the chariots withdrew the Roman commander (counting as heavy cavalry) charged them and caused even more casualties. However, some balance was restored as one of my archer units inflicted heavy casulaties on a unit of auxilia as they advanced. On the right flank, the cavalry melee was not going too well. Even though I outnumbered the Roman cavalry, I couldn't drive them backwards.

Even worse, two units of legionaries were coming to their aid. The melee dragged on with casulaties rising, yet the Romans held on. Then, the infantry joined in. Suddenly I had lost half the unit and breaking off seemed the only option. The remaining remnant of Roman cavalry did pursue, but losses inflicted by them were small in comparison to what the infantry had been causing.

On the left flank the warband on the hill thought they saw an opportunity to attack the advancing auxilia whilst they were preoccupied by the chariots. Surging forwards they edged away from the legionaries focussing on the auxilia. However, the second Roman cavalry unit had moved round behind them, threatening to charge them from the rear. The rear of the warband turned to face the new threat and managed to hold off the cavalry, but the pause in the advance gave just enough time for the legionaries to get into contact. Attacked in the flank the warband was in serious trouble. As the legionaries got to work butchering the warband, the cavalry withdrew, ready to intervene if necessary.
The unequal contest was over quickly, with the Romans barely losing a man. Although the Roman orderly advance had been disrupted my casulaties had been heavy and those of the Romans very light.
Perhaps emboldened by their success the auxilia pressed forwards towards the stream. One unit was destroyed by combined archery and slingshot, the other charged across the stream to attack the nearest warband and also fell to a man.
So,with the Roman main force nearing the stream, less two cohorts of legionaries who were moving around my right flank and the affair in the balance, battle will hopefully be rejoined later this week.

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