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.

Friday, 16 October 2020

Gallic War Campaign Battle 4: The Revolt of the Treveri

Battle Four: The Revolt of the Treveri (57 BC)

The next battle in the campaign was quite a surprise.  After a string of defeats, Ariovistus resorted to diplomacy to gain an advantage: in this case, persuading the Treveri who had initially fought with him, then defected to the Romans when their homeland was occupied, to defect back!  They agreed to do so, immediately attacking the IX Legion which had been supporting them in the previous battle.

The Romans have been caught by surprise by this sudden change of allegiance but have just had enough warning to form a line of battle to meet the oncoming onslaught...

The Forces:
IX Legion
Commander: Geta (Inspiring, Steady)
2 bases Veteran Legionaries, 4 bases Trained Legionaries, 1 base Trained Cavalry, 1 base Trained Skirmishers

Gauls (Treveri):
Commander: Casso (Average, Cautious)
Tribe 1:
1 base Veteran/Elite Cavalry, 1 base Veteran Tribal Foot, 3 bases Raw Tribal Foot, 1 base Raw Skirmishers
Tribe 2: Sano (Average, Cautious)
1 base Trained/Elite Cavalry, 2 bases Raw Tribal Foot, 1 base Raw Skirmishers

The Set-Up:

The IX Legion has formed in the low ground, as the Treveri warriors appear on the hills

Casso decides to lead his elite horsemen in person

Sano meanwhile leads the host of Treveri foot warriors

Another view

Whilst the Treveri youth have been sent to harass the Roman right flank

Geta has deployed his main body in the centre, with his veteran cohorts and horsemen in support; his skirmishers guard one flank

A closer look

The Battle:

Given the situation, the Gauls have nothing to gain by waiting, so Casso launches his warriors into the attack!

The Gauls close in upon the Romans

Geta manoeuvres to protect his left...

Whilst seizing the initiative and launching his own charge in the centre!  The leading Gallic warriors fall to the volley of Roman pila...

The leading Treveri foot warriors have all been killed or have fled or have been pushed back up the hill

The Gallic Horsemen rout and hunt down the Roman slingers (right); the Roman Legionaries look on impassively (left)

The Gallic warriors do not give up easily, despite their heavy losses, going back into the fray against the Roman Legionaries in the centre

The veteran Roman legionaries on the left flank waver as they receive the brunt of the Gallic horsemen's charge (left)

The youth of the Treveri harass the Roman artillery and reserves whilst the main fight rages in the centre

The veteran legionaries grimly hang on (left), whilst the victorious Gallic Horsemen try to rally from their charge (centre)

The Romans in the centre are under severe pressure from the renewed attack of the Gauls; both Geta and Casso are in the thick of the fighting (right)

The overall position - the Roman left is under severe pressure, the centre is witnessing some intensive hand-to-hand fighting but on balance the Romans still have the upper hand, whilst on the right, the Roman artillery is proving more than a match for the Treveri's javelinmen

The Roman legionaries under cavalry attack are slowly losing both ground and heart (left); the Roman cavalry cannot be persuaded to charge the disordered Gallic cavalry...who are in turn resisting their commanders' efforts to restore some order

The Roman artillery is proving remarkably accurate!

The advantage in the centre has tilted irrevocably to the Romans: more Treveri warriors are in flight, fleeing over the hill (top-centre)

Some of the Treveri youth cannot bear to face more Roman missiles and run for the hills too

The last Treveri foot warriors join the flight

The Roman cavalry win the race too launch their charge before the Gallic horsemen can reform, and they are soon driven off too

Casso breaks and slaughters the flanking Roman cohort, but too late to change the fortunes of the battle...

Game Result:

The Treveri tribes have largely been destroyed as a military force, with only some of their horsemen and skirmishers left intact: but their direct casualties amount to nearly 40% of their force, with the same again fled and wandering.  The Roman casualties have been severe too, approaching 25%.  Surprisingly, despite being in the thick of the fighting, all of the leaders survived the battle and escaped being taken prisoner.

Game Notes:

A smaller but very exciting battle. The key moment in the game happened quite early on: a combination of winning the Tempo at the right moment and then getting a decent break allowed Geta to charge the advancing Treveri host, rather than the other way around.  As Gallic foot warriors are most effective in the first flush of fighting in the Polemos: SPQR rules, this removed the sting from the Gallic advance.  The Gallic cavalry was effective but suffered from not rallying at all after their initial victory, so were unable to exploit and were eventually vulnerable to the Roman counter-attack.  The Roman artillery was surprisingly effective, the Gallic skirmishers typically ineffective.  

The way that the Army morale rules work makes some sizes of armies distinctly more tough than others. A c.10-base army is distinctly tougher than a c.20-base one, relative to its size because the assumption of armies in approximately 20-bases chunks is baked into the morale loss levels.  With this in mind, it may have been better if I had used a different multiplier to generate the scenario forces.  So far, I have been equating 1 campaign Strength Point as equivalent to 1000 troops (more or less); so a maximum 4SP Roman Legion would have about 4000 men (doesn't seem too out of kilter with campaign strength forces), plus it makes the maths easier than assuming a 1250-man SP.  But it could be taken up to 1500 men (making a full-strength legion 6000 men), or I could do that for smaller battles, making a base roughly 333 men, so this battle would have been 13 bases against 15.

The overall scenario was a delight to me, since the narrative was entirely generated by the campaign rules' mechanisms, but could have led to a genuine 'Eagle of the Ninth' scenario!  Unfortunately for my sense of romanticism, the Romans had a bit of luck and pulled this one out of the bag - but IX Legion is weaker now, and looking distinctly exposed by itself in Belgium...

Figures mainly by Baccus 6mm, with a couple of Rapier Miniatures there too.  Rules were Polemos: SPQR.


  1. The Romans certainly seemed to have had the Gods on their side, as I though they might lose their flanks at one point, but 'twas not to be. I'm glad the scenario came about via the campaign rules, which tends to throw up games you normally wouldn't fight. I'm certainly looking forward to the next game:)

    1. Thanks very much Steve. There were basically I think two 'moments' in the game: the successful charge of the Roman legionaries and the failure of the Gallic cavalry to quickly crush their opponents. Both of these were roughly 50-50 moments, so the Romans getting both of them really helped them out. Caesar definitely seems to have had the rub of the green so far in this campaign! As a player, I am hoping this evens out soon.