Heretical Gaming is my blog about my gaming life, featuring small skirmishes and big battles from many historical periods (and some in the mythic past or the far future too). The focus is on battle reports using a wide variety of rules, with the occasional rules review, book review and odd musing about the gaming and history. Most of the battles use 6mm-sized figures and vehicles, but occasionally 15mm and 28mm figures appear too.

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Polemos SPQR Romans vs Britons Command Challenge Scenario

The scenario for this game was converted from one of Steve Jones' "Command Challenges", this one published in Miniature Wargames 361

He set it in the Fifth Century AD but having looked at it, I thought it would do nicely moved 400-500 years earlier on into a Romans against Britons scenario for Polemos SPQR.  I omitted the possibility of some lurking tribesmen "rushing to the aid of the victor" which was in the original scenario, but I will definitely include it if I have another go at this scenario!

Polemos SPQR

The Britons:

General Rhodri  - Inspiring

2 bases of Chariots (Veteran/Elite)
2 bases of Chariots (Veteran)
3 bases of Light Horse (Raw)
1 base of Tribal Foot (Veteran)
5 bases of Tribal Foot (Trained)
5 bases of Foot Skirmishers (Raw)

The Romans:

General Laurentius - Inspiring

2 bases of Cavalry (Veteran/Elite)
2 bases of Cavalry (Trained)
2 bases of Light Horse (Trained)
2 bases of Legionaries (Armoured, Veteran)
6 bases of Legionaries (Armoured, Trained)
1 base of Archers (Trained)
4 bases of Foot Skirmishers (Raw)
1 base of Artillery

No messing about in this scenario - this is a straightforward set-piece battle, fought until one side collapses...

The Set-Up:

A relatively flat plain, with only a marsh and a pond to anchor a flank upon.  The Britons are approaching from the bottom, the Romans from the top.

The Legionaries and the bolt-thrower form the centre of the Roman line.

The Roman cavalry are concentrated upon the Roman right flank,

A view between the armies, Romans to the left and Britons to the right.

The Britons' general is with the chariots, next to the mass of tribal infantry.

The same, but from behind.
 The Battle:

The Briton's light horsemen watch the advance of the Roman and Numidian (left) cavalry...

A wider shot

The Britons' have halted the Roman advance with their aggressive skirmish tactics

The Briton's foot skirmishers and tribal warriors advance towards the main Roman line

Can the Britons break the seemingly solid wall of Legionaries?

The bolt-thrower causes some casualties amongst the veteran British warriors in the centre of the formation of tribal infantry

The Roman cavalry advance pushes back the Britons' mounted javelinmen; the British general takes his chariots forwards to threaten the right of the Roman line

The Roman infantry are refusing their right flank and advancing with their left (top-right); the Roman skirmishers seem to be doing very well against their British counterparts

As can be seen more closely here - an excellent performance by the Roman light troops has driven their opposite numbers back into the marshes in considerable confusion

Both sides continue advancing in the centre...

Roman archery checks the Britons' elite charioteers

At last the Roman General gets his cavalry forward and pushes back those irksome Light Horse (bottom left)!

The main lines clash: despite having taken some losses, the veteran tribal warriors make some progress (left), but elsewhere the legionaries have the upper hand; the Britons' foot skirmishers are in serious trouble now (right)

A closer view of the infantry clash

The Romans, led by Laurentius, break and scatter the Britons; light horse

The continuing effective archery is pinning the Britons' charioteers (left)

Further Roman advances increase the pressure upon the Britons' right wing

...and it begins to collapse!

Roman cavalry pursue the remains of the Britons' horsemen

The Briton's charioteers finally get properly into action and push the Roman legionaries back in some disorder

However, this comes too late!  The Britons' foot skirmishers are now in full retreat...

As are their warriors!  The Briton's overall army morale collapsed at this point...

Game Notes:
Quite a straightforward scenario this one given the nature of the ground, so the main interest was in seeing how the different troop types interacted.  Some units were much more effective than I expected them to be.  In one case, that of the foot skirmishers, it was simply down to freak dice that the Romans so severely worsted the Britons opposing them.  Other cases were more interesting:  the chariots were more effective in a frontal attack than I had supposed they would be: some of that advantage was down to their veteran/elite status, but not all.  Light horse and archers proved quite effective in delaying and stopping attacks from shock troops, although since they can't convert that into destruction easily, in the long-run that favours the shock troops, since they only have to be lucky once.  The Roman line was too thin - although they won, it was probably harder and slower than it needed to be; double-ranks of bases is really the way to go for shock foot.  As it should be, it was much easier to manoeuvre in this game than in other SPQR battles I have done: terrain plays absolute havoc with ancient-era manoeuvres!!
The only comment I would make really is that the combination of lots of combat factors, plus lots of troop-type factors, probably puts the game beyond easy memorization which will always reduce its speed.  In common with Polemos ECW, it may have a few too many factors.  They aren't difficult to go through exactly, but they can accumulate quite quickly to make near "sure things" as marginal differences add up very quickly to huge advantage when the basic combat mechanic is an opposed D6 roll.   This also places a lot of stress on hoping that the effect sizes of the modifiers are well-calibrated.  DBA seems to work a little better in my opinion, by using fewer modifiers and reducing certainty.

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