Gallic War - Battle One:
The campaign more or less automatically generates this scenario, since it seems so optimal for the Roman player. The Roman player is poised in the set-up for an attack on the Helvetii so that is what Caesar did. Using the terrain generator in the Polemos: SPQR rules, which to be honest need to be expanded for this campaign, I did generate some high ground and some farmland for the Celts to defend although it didn't exactly scream out "Switzerland" to me...
There are various combinations that Caesar can use in his invasion. My campaign Caesar picked one of the slightly more risky strategies, using a total of four legions in two groups of two against three contingents worth of Celt warriors.
9 bases of Trained Legionaries (Armoured)
2 bases of Trained Light Horse
3 bases of Trained Cavalry
10 bases of Raw Warriors
2 bases of Raw Javelinmen skirmishers
4 bases of Trained/Elite Cavalry
I was still slightly feeling my way with these classifications. The base boardgame for the campaign has the Romans as distinctly more effective unit-for-unit, but reflecting that was still a work in progress at this stage.
|The Helvetii are set-up in two contingents: one is on the hill...|
|...the other defending a small settlement and surrounding farmland|
|A closer look. Foot warriors defend the edge of the settlement boundary, with some mounted nobility and skirmishing youths supporting|
|With a further group of warriors holding the Gallic right flank (top-left)|
|A wider view; the two legions of the Romans (bottom) face three Gallic contingents (top-left, top-centre, right)|
|Quite predictably, the Roman left advances, hoping to engage and turn the Gallic right which is "hanging on the air"|
|The Gauls advance to meet the oncoming legionaries|
|A wider view of the advance|
|The bodies clash; both sides slightly overlap the other's right wings...|
|The Gallic skirmishers unfortunately for them having been caught and crushed between the main bodies, the fight develops across the line...|
|The legionaries have rather the better of the clash, with a quarter of the Gauls already casualties or fled...the Gallic cavalrymen on the flank (left) are doing rather better however...|
|Continued pressure is pushing the Gallic foot warriors back down the road...|
|More Gallic warriors flee (top) and the situation is looking grim for the remainder (centre, noting the shaken marker)|
|With the Helvetii's attention focused on the plain, the contingent on the hill doesn't move...|
|The last Gallic warriors are grimly holding out against the advancing Legion: the end cannot be far off...|
|However, the flanking legionary cohort (bottom-left) is starting to disintegrate...(note the shaken markers)|
|....and breaks! The last of the Gallic foot warriors on this flank has just broken too, however (top-right)|
|The wider position of the Roman Left and Centre: apart from the isolated success of the Gallic cavalry, the Romans are in a good position: the legionaries are in a position (centre) to attack the enclosures (top-right) from an undefended flank|
|Another Gallic cavalry charge goes on, achieving some success...|
|As does a further charge, putting pressure on the Roman cavalry guarding the Roman Right flank...|
Game Notes: The game worked as a narrative, producing an interesting and plausible encounter. It was less good as a gameplay experience: it had been a while since I had played Polemos SPQR and it showed a bit, not so much in me forgetting the basic mechanisms but more in forgetting my own or the author's clarifications of a few points. I asked a few questions and the author's answers are here.
I believe that ultimately the Polemos family of rules are a development of the DBx system, with an initiative system added and more nuanced, but also more complicated, point activation and modified opposed dice combat systems. The key question for a Polemos ruleset to earn its keep for me is does the overhead in complexity justify itself. In the case of Polemos: SPQR, the answer, again for me, is yes: the rules serve to make commanding a Roman legionary army a different experience to commanding a Gallic army which is much less the case with DBA, for instance. The way this works is for, very broadly speaking, Roman manoeuvre to cost less activation points than Gallic manoeuvre. The Roman general can therefore do slightly fancier stuff, whereas the Gallic leader has to broadly point his contingents and let them go. Wide-frontage Gallic contingents are difficult/impossible to get going and are more combat effective if deep, so there is also an interesting deployment dilemma for both sides: how narrow can each side afford to go? Experience has shown me that the best deployment for Gallic foot warriors is three ranks wide and four deep: if that lot get going, it is very hard for the Roman centre to resist it. Conversely, the best Roman deployment is two-wider and the same depth as the Gauls, to get some outflanking bonuses but not lose out in depth. However, both of those are very hard to acheive in practice with limited troop numbers...which is why it is interesting!
Figures and building from Baccus 6mm.