Legio Wargames

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By smacdowall, Mar 28 2017 04:00PM

The second battle of our celebratory wargames weekend was a re-run of the Eagle in the Snow game I first staged a couple of years ago. This was a re-creation of Wallace Breem’s fictional account of a Roman last stand as the barbarians crossed the Rhine mid winter AD 406.

After playing out several strategic moves by email we ended up with Maximus, the Roman commander taking a stand at the ‘30th Milestone’ after falling back from Mainz. We played it out on a table sprinkled with snow for atmosphere (although we could have used a bit more) using my Comitatus rules and miniatures from my 15mm late Roman collection.

Maximus sends out a messenger to the horde Suebi advancing out of the woods
Maximus sends out a messenger to the horde Suebi advancing out of the woods

After sacking Koblenz, Rando, king of the Suebi, cut a deal with Tibatto, leader of the Roman rebel Bacaudae. In an exchange for a share of the loot the Bacaudae led the Suebi through hidden paths to bypass other Roman garrisons and emerge to the immediate north of the 30th Milestone.

Rando challenged Maximus to personal combat. A Roman champion met the challenge and killed the Suebian king. This resulted in a furious but doomed assault by Rando’s comitatus against the Roman fortifications.

Roman reinforcements arrived along the road from the north, causing the Vandals, who we’re advancing from east to west, o turn to meet them. In a short fierce engagement Quintus, the leader of the Roman reinforcements was killed, the Romans were flanked and their line broke but Gunderic, king of the Asding Vandals also met his end and Fredibal, leader of the Silings was wounded.

Meanwhile a contingent of Alans who had taken service with the Romans arrived on the southern tale edge. They, together with a Roman cavalry unit, were the survivors of the sack of Worms by the Burgundians. The Alans, led by Goar, were quite happy to take advantage of Maximus’s difficult position to squeeze more tribute from the Romans.

After regrouping the Suebi, supported by the Bacaudae, surged forward for another assault on the Roman fortifications as the Vandals closed in from the east. There was a fierce back and forth combat around the west gate with the Romans only just holding on.

Meanwhile the Alans extracted yet more tribute from Maximus in return for charging in against the bacaudae and Suebi who were threatening to break through.

More troops arriving from the West raised the hopes of the beleaguered Roman garrison that the Gallic field army had come to their rescue. As it turned out it was Artorius, magistrate of Trier, who had gathered up the civic militia to do his bit for the glory of the Republic.

The Suebi prepare for a second assault
The Suebi prepare for a second assault

In the end the Suebi, Vandals and bacaudae were thrown back from the fortifications. The Alans turned against their Roman employer and took as much loot as they could carry before heading off to the West.

Maximus held the 30th Milestone but it would have been cold comfort as at this point the barbarians would have bypassed him to march on Trier which was now undefended. Tibatto of the bacaudae would no doubt carry on ruling his patch of territory in the Rhine/Mosel valleys like a prototype Robin Hood.

By smacdowall, Nov 3 2016 03:44PM

I have found it rather enjoyable getting back into Ancients after a bit of a pike and shot interlude. I will be returning to the latter before long, however. My French and Spanish armies for the Battle of the Dunes still require a few more units.

Warlords & Rebels game at the SoA conference
Warlords & Rebels game at the SoA conference

I think it was the Society of Ancients conference that inspired me to get out my 15mil ancients and Comitatus rules again. Before long I will do a full report on the battle I staged there, set in Gaul, 5th C AD.

Roman infanty in entrenchments with Huns out in front
Roman infanty in entrenchments with Huns out in front

Earlier this week it 15mm figures again but the game was set a century later (AD 530). The Rast Roman General Belisarius was defending Daras from the more numerous Persian army commanded by Perozes.

We used the Comitatus scenario which can be downloaded from my website here. This plays out only the action on the Roman left wing. It is an enjoyable scenario if you like lots of cavaly (I do) . I have played it several times with both Persians and Romans winning on different occaisions. We used Comitatus rules with the optional ammunition supply rule.

I introduced a couple of tweaks to keep add to the fog of war. One was the addition of a unit of Arabs in the Persian army with one or two of them riding camels. This made the Roman player nervous in case his horses shied when they came close. However, I had decided in advance that there were not enough of them to scare the horses.

The same was true for the lone Persian elephant. He was untrained and therefore not fit for combat or else he would cause as much or more damage on his own side. He was there for show only.

The Roman player was allowed to keep Pharas and his Heruls hidden until the after the third move when they could appear on the Persian right flank. Belisarius and his bucellarii were off table in reserve.

Deployed in three lines, the Persians opened the battle with their first line of mostly light horse archers delivering some devastating volleys.

The lance armed Roman foederati were shot to pieces and Hermogones, the Roman commander on their left was killed. This sent his shaken bucellarii charging out to avenge his death — a noble act with resulted in the death of every man. Such heroism will be long remembered around the campfires.

As Roman archery and countercharges began to tell against the first line of Persian cavalry, some pulled back as the second line of heavier troops advances.

Amongst the second line were heavily armoured cataphracts who never actually made it into combat.

The clibanarii of the Persian second line move up against the Roman heavy horse archers who evade out of the way after shooting a volley of arrows.

Swarming around the flank of the Romans, the Persian light cavalry, inspired by their commander, swoop in for the kill.

By the time Pharas’ Heruls and Belisarius’ reserve came onto the table there were very few other Romans still standing, apart from the infantry safely behind their trenches. We decided that at this point, Pharas would have turned to find the nearest other Roman army while Belisarius would have withdrawn the infantry back into Daras and prepare for a siege.

By smacdowall, Oct 24 2016 11:23AM

I had so much fun painting up my 15mm villagers (see previous blog post - Good Scenics) that I decided to put away the 28mm figures for a while and try my hand once again with smaller miniatures.

The success of the 6mm Pharsaullus game at the Society of Ancients Battle Day inspired a couple of us to look at a 6mil version of Comitatus rules and test them out with loads of Huns. After all the smaller scale is perfect for wide ranging cavalry actions with hordes of troops.

It has been a while since I have painted 6 mil figures and I was not sure if the old eyes were still up to it. With good lighting and good glasses it all went very well. The first miniatures (Huns above) were quickly knocked out in half a day. More are primed up and ready to go.

I had forgotten just how simple and quick painting the smaller miniatures can be. I am looking forward to doing more. My method for painting 6mm figures is different from the accepted norm. I prefer a white undercoat as I believe the smaller miniatures require lighter brighter colours to stand out on the table. Conventional wisdom says 6mil calls for a black undercoat but I find this dulls them down far too much. My 6 mil painting method is detailed in the 'Painting Tips' sectopn of my website here.

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