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, 20 December 2017

Polemos SPQR: Battle of the Sambre II

The Battle of Sambre re-loaded and done again!  Same details as before, but I'll just re-post the orders of battle for reference:

Roman Forces:

Julius Caesar (Inspirational)
Labienus (Average)

1 base Skirmishers (Average)
2 bases Cavalry
11 bases Legionaries (Armoured, Veteran)
3 bases Legionaries (Armoured, Average)

The legionaries enter at a rate of 4 bases per turn, on every turn after the first.  Labienus may enter with any group of legionaries.

Gallic Forces:

Boduognatus (Average)
17 bases of Tribal Foot (Average)
2 bases of Cavalry (Average)

The only difference was that this time the Belgae were permitted to use more efficient formations rather than being taken precisely the same as in the Lost Battles book.  The centre of mass of each body was the same though.

The Battle:

Once again, with feeling.  The only difference is the slightly more compact Belgae tribal foot.

Again, the roman cavalry plunges into the Belgae foot warriors just when they are disorganized from crossing the stream.

Defying the odds, the Belgae manage to throw back the Roman horsemen (right); otherwise, the Belgae begin to cross the stream.  In the Belgae centre (bottom-left), the Roman skirmishers disrupt the advance

The Belgae are struggling to get across the stream in a timely fashion, whilst the Roman cavalry on the right have managed to regroup and regain the advantage,

Caesar again leads a very successful cavalry charge against the vulnerable Belgae

The Belgae eventually get across the stream

A wider shot - although the Roman cavalry have been distinctly successful on the flanks, the Belgae have managed to get across in force now - a mixture of skirmishers, failed stream-crossing tests and lack of tempo points has caused a significant delay to the attack.

The Belgae cavalry rush to attack the Roman cavalry at their moment of victory

But the Roman cavalry on the other flank have managed to achieve their triumph and routed a second base of Belgae warriors

Roman legionaries are able to plunge into the warriors in the centre before they can get their own attack started

The fighting is fierce but the Romans broadly have the upper hand

...and the same situation obtains further along the stream...Caesar (centre) has led some legionaries personally and broken through the Belgae

Some success for the Belgae!  A Roman cohort runs for the rear...

But big elements of the Belgae are breaking...

The fighting is fierce but the Romans have the advantage...and their second wave is about to arrive to help out - but shortly after this the Belgae collapsed
Game Notes:
I won't rehash any comments from the previous battle, so this will be short and sweet.  I don't think that the way the factors work in this scenario with these rules gives the Belgae too much chance.  The way the tempo points work and the way that the river crossing works meant that it is unlikely that the Belgae will fully clear the stream before the Romans are able to attack, and the combination of attacking downhill whilst the defenders are disordered is just too strong.  Possibly one answer is to move the Belgae's starting point forward or delay the arrival of the legionaries, but there doesn't seem anyway to neutralize the Roman cavalry charges, so this becomes an automatic choice.  Does this seem right?  I am not sure.

Incidentally, the Belgae lost three (successive) commanders in this game: the Polemos SPQR rules are very unforgiving to commanders who end up on the losing side of a close combat!

The Belgae were in more efficient formations in this game but it didn't make enough of a difference to matter.  I am coming round to the idea that the most efficient formation for tribal foot is 3 wide and as deep as you like.  True, the Romans will get an overlap bonus but since the attacker can usually choose which order to do stuff in, then there is a reasonable chance of getting one attack with at least a +4/5 pro-tribal foot swing, which is near enough unstoppable, and even when one part is overlapped, depth of formation can overcome that (i.e. one base of depth is equivalent to a one flank overlap).

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