Monday, 5 March 2018

Lost Battles: Ilipa

I had a chance to set up another solo game of Lost Battles and after finishing the latest batch of Iberian Scutarii I went for Ilipa as planned. Being my first play through of this battle I followed the historical set up provided in the book which sees the Carthaginian army larger than the Roman though completely out generated and a sneaky ploy by Scipio has the Punic army fatigued. Also Scipio being a brilliant commander has the ability to flipflop the turn order which compounds the pressure on the Punic forces. Things are not looking promising for the Carthaginian enterprise in Hispania! 

The Battle of Ilipa

Hasdrubal falling for Scipio's ploy had formed his troops and without food and waiting for a long while in the Spanish sun were becoming weary. He had deployed forward his light troops and elephants, his Libyan phalanx in the centre to shadow the expected legions and his Iberian allies flanked the phalanx. The Numidian horse screened his left flank and his Spanish horsemen sallied from his right flank. However Scipio having made Hasdrubal accustomed to the legions deploying in the centre on the day placed them opposing Hasdrubal's Iberian foot and Scipio's own Spanish allies marched forwards to contest the centre. Scipio sent his veteran Equites to challenge the Spanish horse and his other cavalry to drive away the Numidians. 

Hasdrubal himself, was succumbing to the pressures of the day, was not his usual self and it was felt through the whole of the Punic army. His lack of vigor was in stark contrast with Scipio's well drilled and well lead troops which stormed towards the Punic army which watched in awe. Hasdrubal had been wrong footed. This rapid advance took its toll on the Punic avant garde and the cavalry fight began also with ferocity. 

Soon the main lines closed and again fierce melee ensued with both the Romans and Carthaginians pushing themselves beyond endurance in what was almost a Heraklean labour. Both lines began to suffer but the earlier suffering of the Punic army was beginning to take a telling toll upon the men. 

The Numidians managed to somehow break the will of the Roman cavalry but the veterans at the other end of the field although suffering themselves sent the Spanish horsemen off the field scattered. The remaining horsemen then went on to harass and threaten their opponents. Despite the initial ferocity of the battle exhaustion had brought stalemate in the centre. However the Roman legions began to break their Spanish adversaries and with the victorious cavalry now threatening their rear they fled the Punic right. The Punic left had began a similar decline as a shocking attack upon the Spanish Scutarii had led to the elephants becoming embroiled and they shattered fleeing the field. The legionaries inspired and extolled by Scipio continued to grind the Spanish tribesmen eventually pressing forward to threaten the African Phalanx. Silanus mirrored Scipio and threatened the other flank of the phalanx shortly followed by the Equites. 

A valiant last effort from the victorious units caused a unit of legionaries to panic but Scipio by his personal example inspired the men to stay in line and a last ditch push from Hasdrubal's faithful Africans broke a Spanish warband but it was not enough he was surrounded his men exhausted and the Romans closed from all sides to finish Carthaginian aspirations. Scipio now ruled Hispania in the name of Rome!

Battle Results

A black day indeed for Carthage! With Rome having both a brilliant and an average one to Carthage's single uninspired general made a massive difference. The command and attack exemptions generated freed a lot of commands for the sectors that lacked a generals direct influence. The flip flop to reverse the turn order from turn 2 allowing Scipio to deploy second with quite a few commands then attack first really hit the Carthaginians hard who then struggled to muster effective attacks. 

I used both armies aggressively any unit that was eligible for an all  out attack was taken. For the Romans they wanted to take advantage of the Carthaginian fatigue which penalises attacks by spent units, and for the Carthaginians, they wanted to inflict as much damage as possible before the Roman onslaught took its toll.   

The scenario is a good scenario to explore what ifs and tweaks, such as if Hasdrubal had not been so rash and had been more on the ball giving Carthage more commands and not suffering fatigue for example. Maybe the next battle will be an alternate Ilipa but I also have Trebia in mind once I get some more Numidian horse finished.

I would also like to create a solo campaign system to give context to some battles in which the outcome would affect control of regions and such depending on the level of victory etc. something I am mulling over. Still the game was under 3 hours which would have went quicker without taking pics and if I played the rules more frequently (amongst other distractions). I wouldn't mind finding a ruleset that could be set up a played quicker for when I don't have time for a Lost Battle, I have enough rules to test out so I'm sure one will do  or I could make my own up, yet another project to think about. So just to finish off the scores firstly showing the turn order of the losses then a working out of the victory points:

Carthage's Losses

Shattered(Turn): 1 x AHC(4), 1 x AEL(4), 1 x AHI(4), 3 x AHI(5), 1 x AHI(7).
Routed(Turn): 4 x AHI(5), 3 x ALI(5), 5 x AHI(7), ALC(7), 1 x UC(7).

Shattered (double the FV): 1AHC (6), 1AEL (6), 5AHI (30) = 42
Routed (FV + 1): 3ALI (12), 9AHI (36) ALC (4), = 52

Withdrawn (FV): UC (3) = 3

This gives Rome 97 VP.
Rome's Losses

Shattered(Turn): 1 x AHC(3), 1 x AHI(6)
Spent: 1 x VHC, 3 x AHI, 3 x ALI, 3 x VLE, 2 x ALE

Shattered (FV x2): 1AHC (6), 1AHI (6) = 12
Spent (FV): 3VLE (12), 2ALE (6), 3AHI (9), 3ALI (9), 1VHC (4) = 40
Fatigued = 20
Handicap = 26

This gives Carthage 98 VP.

A narrow game victory for Carthage, but without the handicaps a clear Roman victory. Many thanks to Aaron Bell for helping me with the VP score, I had misread the victory point calculation rules in my haste to post and missed some other things also.