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Sunday 30 July 2017

Hannibal's Libyan Veterans

Just another refurbishment, expansion and rebasing of an older unit. I also wanted to add some command figures too and have a go free handing an embossed style bronze shield. These are some of my favourite 20mm miniatures from Newline Designs very useful for other 'imitation legionaries'.

Hopefully I will get some more games done soon but I will probably have a big push on painting. I plan on getting the bulk of my Seleucid pikes done. I also want to get some more Iberian Scutarii and Celtic cavalry painted up and some light infantry types. The hope is that I can get more bases for Lost Battles and get the battles looking larger... I think this will take quite a while I'm not the fastest painter!

Tuesday 25 July 2017

Lost Battles: Dertosa

I decided to give Lost Battles another go after enjoying the last play through. I could do with working on more Iberian heavy infantry, cavalry units and light infantry for Trebia and Ilipa (I could scrape something together really) but I came across the Dertosa 215BC scenario on Here's no great matter, again an invaluable source of inspiration for giving Lost Battles a go. 

I am getting the hang of the combat resolution modifiers, its taking time to get my head around the morale roll modifiers. It'll take a few more games to get it going smooth but the morale system is very neat.   

The Battle of Dertosa

The Scipio brothers, locating the Punic army of Hasdrabul Barca, opted to challenge the Carthaginian. Hasdrubal, emboldened by the news of Cannae and learning of Hannibal's methods, accepted the challenge. The field was an open plain without any visible obstacles.  

The Velites rushed forward towards the Punic lines and the legions trailed behind, Publius Scipio commanded the legions from the centre of the line. Gnaeus Scipio commanded the Roman and allied cavalry on their right flank. Some of the allied cavalry deployed on the left flank to protect the infantry.

Hasdrubal sought to pull off another Cannae, he placed the Iberian levies in the centre of the field, knowing they would not withstand the legions for too long and hoping the Romans would be pulled in as the tribesmen fell back. To buy them more time he sent the bulk of the skirmishers forward to cover the Iberian advance. The Libyan and Carthaginian infantry were deployed either side of the Iberians. Hasdrubal took command of the Punic and Iberian horsemen on the left flank hoping to smash through Gnaeus and his cavalry. The right flank was covered by the Numidians. Both wings were to receive elephants to help sweep away the Roman cavalry but the Punic officers had trouble getting the animals mobilised and they trailed behind, much to Hasdrubal's dismay.

After a short period of indecisive skirmishing the Velites, wishing to prove themselves, drove away the Iberian Caetratii and in their boldness, the violent recoil of the Caetratii and the subsequent javlin volleys inflicted casualties too on the Scutarii. The legionaries following the skirmishers caused further concern for the Iberian levies. Elsewhere in the line the Velites effectiveness with the javlin distruped the Punic close order troops and drove away the Belaeric slingers. The Romans did not come away unscathed the legions on the left took some casualties after the retreat of their Velites following the agressive Punic advance. 

The Velites in the centre showing true Roman virtue and emboldened by their own success continued to harass and press the levies, encouraged further, by the feebleness of their attacks. The levies fell back hoping that they could regroup before renewing resistance.

The Roman infantry on the right managed to wear down the Punic foot but they were still steady, however the Roman left was being pressed and was too much for some of the Hastati. They fled through the lines and the rest of the army were unmoved by the shock of this.

All the while, there was a bitter Cavalry battle on Punic left, and both the Roman and Punic horse were blown and at breaking point. On the Punic right there had been ineffective skirmishing and charges that were easily avoided by the nimble Numidians. Eventually the Elephants were marshalled to the flanks. On the Punic left the elephants repelled a Roman charge that would have finished off some of the Punic horsemen, then repaid the Romans in kind sending both the Romans and allies off the field broken and Gnaeus, dispite his best efforts, was unable to rally either. He was then himself swept away with them. Roman morale held firm but some of the tired light infantry took flight.  

The frustrated allied cavalry of the Roman left took out their fury on the approaching elephants and the ferocity of their charge caused disruption and the Numidians were also taken aback. However the elephants proved too much for the horsemen and the allies fled the field. The legions again unmoved by the cavalry fights poor results.  

The Punic foot on the right continued the melee causing more legionnaires to flee in an un Roman like manner it looked to be Hasdrubal's day, but the Romans just kept on coming, unwilling to give in to the severity of the Carthaginian's attacks. The Punic foot on the left proved to be a different story the legionaries prevailed over some of Hasdrubal's most experienced infantry, the shock of this was too much for most of the Libyans on the left and only the most committed stayed in battle formation. Seeing the Libyans flee inspired the Iberians to rout and the worn cavalry, who could not see victory on this day, also quit the field. All this happened much to Hasdrubal's indignation, but having no choice, fled with them. The Numidians on the right also followed suit.   

In a last ditch effort the Punic right drove away yet more legionaries, it was down to the Triarii, worn though they were. The Romans knew it was their day and the Roman right broke the committed Punic veterans. The last remaining legionaries on the Roman left worn out by the hard fight they had thrust upon them, savagely smashed the Punic line. The Punic line crumbled, as half the units were cut down the other fled, in a final bitter blow. The elephants on their right fled with them, and the other elephants, seeing no other course, promptly withdrew. Publius Scipio took the field but at what cost? 


The Roman Velites earned their wolf skins in this fight although they would probably have been Leves at this point in history? Either way they caused a lot of damage to the Punic lines. The cavalry contest was neck and neck until the lumbering elephants caught up, if Hasdrubal had some better initial rolls they would have arrived to that fight earlier. 

Ultimately the Roman cavalry had bought the legions enough time to defeat the Punic and Spanish foot though the Roman left paid a heavy price for victory, the Roman centre took no hits! The battered Roman right finished the game off in style as the last spent unit shattered both a VHI and an AHI finishing off the Punic forces. But the critical hit of the battle was not the simultaneous shattering of all of Rome's cavalry, but the loss of a unit of Punic veterans, the poor morale of the spent Carthaginians was too much and 11 units around the field fled in complete rout. Rome took their punishment with much higher spirits.  

Great scenario and great game, I didn't know which way it was going to go, just as the Carthaginians were starting to make head way the Romans flipped the battle their way. Without Hannibal's quality cavalry, better infantry and much better leadership, Hasdrubal could not pull off his own double envelopment though it is not impossible. When playing Cannae Hannibal's morale bonus was critical to offset bad luck. 

Below is an attempt at working out the victory points, I used the book version rather than the board game rules, they seemed slightly easier to work out (if I have it correct in the first place).


Shattered: 3 x VHI, 1 x AHI  
Routed: 1 x VHI, 3 x AHI, 3 x LHI, 1 x LLI, 1 x ALI, 1 x AEL. 1 x LLC, 3 x AHC, 
Withdrawn: 1 x AEL
Lost: 1 x AL.

106 VP


Shattered: 3 x ALE, 3 x AHC.
Routed: 1 x ALI.
Spent: 3 x ALE 1 x ALI
Lost:  1 x UC.

73 VP
+26 handicap (double the difference in FV)
99 VP

If I have this correct the Romans may have won but it was closer than it my have appeared during the fight. The Romans may stand in the fight for longer but Carthage took flight to fight another day. Although the shattering of their best units was too much on the day the Romans probably broke the back of the Punic army. Back to Carthago Nova for fresh levies! Forget Italy, Punic Spain must be defended!

Sunday 23 July 2017

Republics at War!

I just wanted to get as many models out line them up and get some army pics. This was the goal here, also to have some kind of very basic wargame no rules in particular just trialling various ideas from different sets. I had took these pics before the Cannae report but I hadn't got round to sorting them out and wanted to get that report written while it was fresh. All the miniatures featured are Newline Designs 20mm Ancients range. One day they might be accompanied by some Hat miniatures, which are sat upainted in a boxes somewhere, especially cavalry and light infantry. I have just expanded and refurbished a unit of African veterans just need photographed. Also I'm hoping to find time soon to give Lost Battles another go.

Monday 10 July 2017

Lost Battles: Cannae

This weekend I have been trying to get to grips with Philip Sabin's Lost Battles. The book has a walk through of the battle so gave it a go. I first came across Philip Sabin's work whilst at uni a few years back now, on JSTOR I downloaded and read The Face of Roman Battle. It is a fascinating article and was eager to get hold and read Lost Battles. If you are interested in ancient warfare I highly recommend the book even if you have no interest in the model itself, there is a wealth of information in there.

I took to the internet looking for guidance and inspiration on gaming it with miniatures. The yahoo group is a great help and Board Game Geek site have some great resources. I was mostly helped and inspired by Aaron on 'Here's no great matter' and his great youtube videos, Lost Battles: Trebia with miniatures. These have helped me greatly to get going with the rules!

The pictures below of the battle leave a lot to be desired but hopefully do the job. The battle needed wrapped up so some of the events did not get a picture. In the future I should have more time for pics as I get used to the rules. 

In Lost Battles expending commands is the main driver of a players turn and I knew I would (and did) lose track of commands. I knocked up some chits using 20mm square bases I had lying around. I left them blank but for the commanders' exceptions I marked them with E and attack exceptions with AB. I think overall I played the rules correct with only a couple of things missed, forgot to give flanked squares an extra attack sometimes. Also the river is missing but I observed the limitation it caused to the attack limit in those zones.   

I tried to follow the deployment as described in the book as close as possible although Hannibal had received less command than in the book but only meant that the all three Carthaginian heavy infantry were left in the centre rear section. 

The Battle of Cannae

The battle opened with ineffective skirmishing between the opposing lines, whilst on the Roman right flank by the river the Equites rode hard to inflict an early blow to Mago's Gallic cavalry. The Gauls were unmoved and Mago countered with his Iberian horsemen, veterans of the Barcids campaigns, sent the Equites reeling off the field though Mago's horsemen had pressed the initial attack and casualties had been taken. The Roman battleline continued on expecting the Equites to quit the field early on. On the left the Italian Allied cavalry lead by Varro held back protecting the flank and inviting the Numidians to attack.


The main battle lines closed the skirmishers, worn from their duties, were recalled on both sides to take shelter behind the heavy foot. The Roman Legions then proceeded to press on and pressure the Carthaginian line comprising primarily of Gauls and some Iberians. The Roman formation was deep much deeper than the Carthaginian line but the Romans struggled to make head way, though the Legions on the left exerted themselves inflicting losses on the Carthaginians significantly weakening the Punic right so much so even the African veterans were becoming concerned. 

The Carthaginian centre was slowly being ground down, but their left was resolute and even inflicted reverses against the Legions. Mago lead his heavy horsemen around the Roman right flank hoping to inflict losses to the Roman right to sap the morale of the Legionaries in the centre. The Numidians after giving and receiving blows eventually drove Varro and the allied cavalry from the field and gave chase. Hannibal's beleaguered centre saw some Gauls take flight unable to with stand the Roman onslaught despite Hannibal's personal example of bravery in the face of the Romans. The rest of the Carthaginians stood firmly confident in their commanders plan.

The Roman left because of their previous efforts were winded and could not quite prevail over the Punic line and now the Numidians threatening their rear scattering the sheltering skirmishers. The Legionaries, still holding on, were then confronted by a column of African veterans in their captured Roman arms. The hardened veterans broke through the Legionaries and their comrades broke with them. The rest of the Roman troops held on in the centre though the skirmishers panicked. The Roman right held also probably unaware of their comrades' rout as they were contending with infantry in front and cavalry behind. They withstood several waves but then broke.

The Roman centre being lead by Paullus were fighting to break out and the Punic centre had retreated to prevent collapse. The Carthaginians then went on to surround the Roman centre sending the still fresh Celts and Iberians to intercept the Roman inevitable advance whilst a detachment of Gallic cavalry and veterans assembled on their flank. The Numidians and veterans to the other flank. Mago and the bulk of the cavalry to their rear.

The Romans resisted still inflicting blows to the fresh troops to their front some running away in terror, Hannibal brought up the regrouped centre to prevent the Romans breaking out. The remaining Romans had attacked with great ferocity sending another unit running and then another only a few remained to fight on owing to Hannibal's continued personal example. The Carthaginians despite the last throws of Roman resistance stood their ground, proceeded to break the trapped Romans and begin their cruel work.


It was an interesting and tense game. Enjoyable as a solo game also and I am looking forward to another game at some point. The Roman Legionaries are tough to beat they took some hammering to break, if they had not been surrounded they would have continued the fight on the wings. Overall the Carthaginians had higher command rolls and were able to give out more attack bonuses whilst the Romans suffered a few low rolls but still managed to beat back the Gallic and Spanish infantry. Hannibal's morale bonus really helped keep the rest fighting. If the Romans had higher command rolls and Hannibal lower the Romans might have just won it. The last few rounds the Romans got some good rolls and the attack bonuses posed a big threat to the Punic army, the last Roman attacks inflicted a hit and then a double hit Hannibal negated only one.

The battle lasted longer than in the book's play through and I don't think I used the 'flipflop' of the turn order that Hannibal could use efficiently enough. I only pulled back the centre and swept round with the heavy cavalry. At the time it was the best thing to do the centre was on the brink and Hannibal needed some results from his cavalry in the next couple of turns. He got those and still the Roman centre held until it took a shatter in that zone. I am sorry I didn't work out the VP results I lost track and status of the units in the rush to get it finished.

I would of liked to have used more of my collection but I need to finish more light infantry and cavalry units.