Legio Wargames

Goths Huns and Romans

"In the consulship of Theodosius and Festus the Romans broke the truce (with the Visigoths) and took up arms against them in Gaul, with the Huns as their auxiliaries...  So then, with the Huns as allies under their leader Litorius, the Roman army moved in array against the Goths. When the battle lines of both sides had been standing for a long time opposite each other, both being brave and neither side the weaker."  from Jordanes, The Origins and Deeds of the Goths.

Historical Background

This  scenario is set in AD 428 when the Romans under Aetius were trying to re-establish control over Gaul. He was fighting the Franks in the north, the Burgundians in the east, the Bacaudae (Gallo-Roman rebels) in the west and the Visigoths in the south. At that time Aetius was heavily engaged with the Burgundians and Baccaudae and when the Visigoths moved north and laid siege to Narbonne he sent his lieutenant Litorius to deal with it, his forces augmented by a sizeable contingent of Huns.

 

In 437 Litorius succeeded in breaking the Visigoth siege of Narbonne. The following year the campaign continued with Litorius engaging the Goths in a number of successful engagements before being defeated at Toulouse. This scenario represents what could have been one of them. I have called it 'Goths Huns and Romans' not only becasue those were the nations involved but also to commemorate my very first book, published in 1990, which went by the same title.

 

We know nothing about the campaign of 428 other than it seemed that the Romans were generally successful. In 429 Litorius laid siege to the Gothic capital of Toulouse but failed. losing his life in the attempt.

Theodoric mid res

The Visigothic King Theodoric and his Comitatus. A mix of converted 15mm figures, mostly Essex

The Scenario

The assumption behind the battle is that the Romans have followed up into Visigoth territory after relieving Narbonne. The Visigothic King Theodoric has chosen favourable ground to make a stand. Using 15mm or smaller scale figures the game can be played on a 6 x 4 foot table, larger scales will require a bigger table.

 

Players are free to choose their own terrain but, in order to make a balanced game, there should be a significant piece of high ground in the centre of the Gothic deployment area on which the Gothic player can set his infantry. At the far edges of the table there should be some difficult terrain such as woods or a river which prevents the Romans (really the Huns) from completely enveloping the Gothic flanks. Other than that the table layout should be uncluttered and open.

Hun Cavalry croped

Forces Involved

One of the beauties of games in 5th C Gaul is that the 'Roman' forces had very few Romans in them and many of their opponents might have been more romanised in their appearance. This is certainly the case here. the Visigoths had lived inside the Roman empire for several generations and would have been well equipped from former Roman arsenals. The Roman force, on the other hand, has the relatively poor remnants of the Gallic field army with the Huns providing the most effective contingent

 

As this battle may or may not have taken place, players are free to vary the orders of battle to suit the figures they have. I have based the forces on a scale of 1 heavy infantry stand (a 40 x 30 mm base for 15mm figures) representing approximately 1000 men and a  cavalry stand of the same dimensions representing 500 men. I have set the game up for Comitatus rules but as ever have tried to keep the descriptions generic enough that you can adapt them to whatever rules you prefer to use.

Visigoths

King Theodoric, General

Theodoric's Comitatus 4 Shock Cavalry, partially armoured, B Grade, Exceptional Morale.  

 

Visigoth Cavalry divided into 2 Commands:

Subordinate Commander, 3 CPs

Comitatus: 2 Shock Cavalry, B Grade, High Morale

Subordinate Commander, 3 CPs

Comitatus: 2 Heavy Javelin Cavalry, B Grade, High Morale.

Cavalry: 8 units of 2 Heavy Cavalry, B Grade, Average Morale.

Light Infantry: 1 unit of 3 Skirmishers, C Grade, Average Morale.

 

Visigoth Infantry

Subordinate Commander, 3 CPs

Comitatus: 2 Shieldwall Infantry, Armoured, B Grade, High Morale.

Warriors: 3 units of 3 Shieldwall Infantry, B Grade, Average Morale.

Nobles: 1 unit of 4 Shieldwall Infantry, Armoured, B Grade, High Morale.

Archers: 1 unit of 4 Foot Archers, C Grade, Average Morale.

Archers: 1 unit of 5 Foot Archers, C Grade, Average Morale,.

 

Romans

Litorius, General

Comitatus, 2 Lance & Bow Cavalry, A Grade, High Morale.

 

Huns divided into 2 Commands

Contingent Commander

Comitatus: 1 Lance & Bow Cavalry, B Grade, Exceptional Morale.

Subordinate Commander.

Comitatus: 1 Light Horse Archers, B Grade, High Morale.

Nobles: 1 unit of 2 Lance & Bow Cavalry, B Grade, High Morale.

Warriors: 6 units of 4 Light Horse Archers, B Grade, Average Morale.

 

Roman Infantry

Subordinate Commander

Comitatus: 1 Heavy Javelin Cavalry, A Grade, High Morale.

Gallic Comitatenses: 2 units of 3 Roman Infantry, B Grade, Average Morale.

Gallic Comitatenses: 2 units of 3 Foot Archers, B Grade, Average Morale.

Auxilia Palatina: 1 unit of 2 Roman Infantry, A Grade, Average Morale.

Frankish or Saxon Foederati: 1 unit of 2 Shock Infantry, B Grade, Average Morale.

 

Roman Cavalry

Subordinate Commander

Comitatus: 1 Heavy Javelin Cavalry, A Grade, High Morale

Limitanei: 1 unit of 3 Light Javelin Cavalry, C Grade, Average Morale

Comitatenses: 1 unit of 4 Light Horse Archers, B Grade, Average Morale

Palatine Cavalry: 1 unit of 2 Heavy Javelin Cavalry, A Grade, Average Morale

Foederati: 1 unit of 2 Shock Cavalry, B Grade, Average Morale

 

The Huns are the most effective part of the Roman army. 15mm Black Hat miniatures

Goth inf mid res roman vertical mid res

A shieldwall of Visigoth infantry. After several generations inside the empire and having control of Roman armouries the Visigoths would have been very well equipped and looking sometimes more Roman than the Romans. A mix of 15mm converted figures, mostly Khursan Miniatures with some Outpost and Magister Militum mixed in.

Lest we forget there are some actual Romans in the battle too. 15mm Essex figures

Deployment

The Visigoth player sets up the terrain and deploys his troops first: infantry in the centre and cavalry split between the two wings.

 

Once the Visigoths are set up the Roman player can choose how he wishes to deploy his forces. His infantry should also be in the centre with the Huns on one wing and the Roman cavalry on the other. The Huns will be his mots effective force and his tactic should be to use them to crush one of the Gothic cavalry wings.

 

The Gothic Player should initially keep Theodoric and his powerful Comitatus in reserve to the rear, moving him to take control of the wing facing the Huns once he sees how the Romans have deployed. I made the mistake of putting Theodoric on the opposite wing to the Huns and as a result suffered a serious defeat.

Victory Conditions

The Romans need to dislodge the Goths from their position in order to be able to advance on the Visigothic capital of Toulouse.

 

All the Goths need to do is hang on. This sounds simpler than it sounds. The Goths have no real answer to the masses of Hun light horse archers and try as they might it will be very difficult to prevent them from overwhelming one of the Gothic wings. Their only hope really is to try to break the Roman centre or the Roman cavalry wing before the Huns make their position untenable.

 

When I played it I took the part of the Visigoths and my right wing was overwhelmed by the Huns before I could inflict any damage elsewhere.