Legio Wargames

Adrianople game

The game was played using Comitatus and the special rules for this scenario. It played out almost exactly as the historical original.

On the first turn the Scutarii of the Roman advance guard charged the Gothic left wing. They were compelled to do this by a 'control test' (a Comitatus mechanism that decides the action of troops beyond their commander's influence). They were knocked back by the Goths in short order.

On the second turn the Alatheus' cavalry arrived. Sebastian's cavalry were able to wheel around to meet them but they were defeated, as were the retiring Scutarii. The Clibanarii had some initial success but when all their supports retired and Sebastian himself was killed, they too broke.

Meanwhile Fritigern's men charged down the hill, pushing back the first Roman infantry line.

Saphrax's Alans and Huns arrived on the third turn and immediately followed up on the success of the Gothic cavalry who were now mostly in pursuit of Sebastian's men. They charged into the left flank of the Roman infantry who were engaged to their front against Fritigern's foot and their morale shaken by the routing cavalry.

On the Roman right there was some success as the Auxilia Palatina supported by archers and Victor's cavalry, pushed back the Roman deserters. But it was too late. The main Roman infantry line collapsed and Valens and his Comitatus were defeated by Alatheus' men

adrian2 end2 cav med

A close-up of the cavalry action on the Roman left at the end of the second turn


We played the game on an oval dining room table measuring 64 x 42 inches at the widest points. Had we gone for a 6 x 4 foot table we could easily have doubled the numbers in 15mm or played it with 25/28mm figures.

Since the actual battle was fought on a ridge line with steep sides sloping off to the east and west. Therefore you do not actually want to give too much space for wide manoeuvres.

Can the Romans win?

It is tough going for the Romans and I think they need a bit of luck to win. If the Roman Scutarii had not been compelled to charge the Goths on the first turn, they may have been in better shape to help deal with the arrival of the Gothic cavalry. I played the Romans and in retrospect I think I should have been a bit more aggressive with the infantry. Had I pushed hard, especially on the right I might have broken through to the wagons before the enemy cavalry had defeated my left wing. It would also have helped had the Gothic cavalry been delayed a turn or two.