Legio Wargames

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Chalons revisited

By smacdowall, Nov 17 2016 05:24PM



The 6mm Pharsallus game at the Society of Ancients Battle day last spring inspired a couple of us to work on a version of my Legio VI rules to cover the late Roman period. We decided that the Catalaunian Fields (AD 451) would be a good test game — large armies, lots of cavalry and a good variety of troop types.


New Hun recruits emerging from the painting table
New Hun recruits emerging from the painting table

Legio VI Julia Augusta (covering the late Roman republic and early empire) were tweaked, merging some of the Comitatus mechanisms. Masses of Huns were painted — in the end we had over 100 of them — and various substitutions were made with Normans, Saxons and even Persians being drafted in to make up some missing figures for other units.


The Gepid contingent with Roman auxiliary cavalry filling out the ranks
The Gepid contingent with Roman auxiliary cavalry filling out the ranks

This is one of the advantages with 6mm. In larger scales, substitutions of inappropriate miniatures stand out like a sore thumb. With the smaller scale you have a bit more leeway.



Overview of the battlefield from the Montgueux ridge looking north
Overview of the battlefield from the Montgueux ridge looking north

Fighting on an 8 x 6 foot table with small figures allowed us to represent the entire battlefield with the dominating Montgueux ridge and the flat plains beyond, stretching out to the Seine river where Attila probably had his camp.


The Huns advance in wedge-shaped masses
The Huns advance in wedge-shaped masses

Advancing in three divisions — Gepids on the right, Huns in the centre and Ostrogoths on the left, Attila advanced his army to close with the Romans and Visigoths.


Initial deployment from the Roman lines looking east towards the Seine
Initial deployment from the Roman lines looking east towards the Seine

We decided to start the game after Thorismund’s Visigoths had seized the Montgueux ridge and were hidden on the high ground ready to charge down at the opportune moment (dice willing).


The battle lines close
The battle lines close

When they came into range, the Hun horse archers circled around, pouring arrows into the ranks of Romans, Alans and Visigoths opposing them. With foot archers supporting the heavy infantry, Aetius’s men were able to respond but inevitably they were out-shot by the Huns and some of the Roman and allied units began to feel the strain.


The Ostrogoths (on the right)  prepare to charge
The Ostrogoths (on the right) prepare to charge

Closing in on their Visigothic cousins, the Ostrogoths had little missile support so they did what they did best and that was to charge into close combat. The Visigoth foot and dismounted cavalry held their ground. The Ostrogoths were repulsed, wheeled around and tried again with the same result.


The Huns drive back Sangiban's Alans
The Huns drive back Sangiban's Alans

In the centre the Huns drove back the Alans, creating a hole in the allied line, separating the Roman and Visigoth contingents — just as happened historically. On Attila’s right the Gepids made some headway against the first line of Romans but were stalemated by a second line of reserves.


Thorismund's men charge down the ridge
Thorismund's men charge down the ridge

Just as the Ostrogoths were gearing up for a third charge against the Visigoths, Thorismund’s contingent came charging down the Montgueux ridge into their flank. Thanks to some brilliant dice rolling the Ostrogoths held out, even their archers managing to stand their ground despite heavy casualties. This stopped an immediate rolling up of the flank, giving just enough time for Attila to switch some Hun units from the second line of his centre to swing around to meet the new threat.


The Ostrogoths hold out despite being shaken
The Ostrogoths hold out despite being shaken

The lefthand units of the Ostrogothic command were pretty shaken even if they had been able wit withstand the initial Visigothic charge. They could not hold out much longer. The Huns had broken through in the centre and managed to force back a number of Visigothic units after weakening them with archery and then following up with a timely charge.


Despite this success, as dusk fell, it was clear to Attila that he could not break the enemy and there was a great danger if battle continued advantage would shift to the enemy. Therefore he ordered a controlled withdrawal back to his camp, knowing that the Romans and Visigoths were in no condition to pursue.


So it was a draw, with advantage to the Huns. Aetius’s army had suffered far higher casualties and although the Romans/Visigoths had managed to hold their line they would not have been able to prevent Attila from achieving a clean break.


Legio VI Constantiani - rules for 6mm miniatures, are available as a free download from my website here.





6 comments
Nov 17 2016 08:24PM by Christopher TenWolde

Looks great, and thanks again for the generous gift of your rules! I hadn't really considered 6mm for ancients before, but I recently inherited about 10k of figures (Republican Romans & Greeks for the most part), and I have to admit they do look great en masse.

Nov 18 2016 11:58AM by barry carter

Now that's why the smaller scales work and 28mm doesn't! Excellent.

Nov 18 2016 12:25PM by Shaun

6mm on a table this size really shows where they shine for ancient battles. It looks spectacular!

Nov 18 2016 04:10PM by Ken Takacs Jr

I like the detail with 28mm, but a battle like this works better in 6mm, as the armies were large. It looks like the Ostrogoths' stout resistance was one of the keys to giving the Huns a marginal victory.

Nov 18 2016 05:50PM by smacdowall

I have always refered 6mil for the big battles of the Macedonian and Punic war. Something like Pharsallus with 21 legions involved is pretty hard to do properly in 15mm let alone 28s. Dark age battles were often much smaller affairs so I had not tried out 6mm for this period before. But with a larger engagment and lots of cavalary with space to manouevre 6mm is hard to beat. I really enjoy painting the little men too -- and yes they do look good en masse.

Nov 18 2016 05:51PM by smacdowall

I think if the Ostrogothic flank had been rolled up when Thorismund came charging down the hill then the result would have been the other way around - as it was historically

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