Sunday, May 20, 2018

Somewhere in the Known World

Tom and Rob came over yesterday and we had a game of To The Strongest using my newly completed collection of 28mm troops for the Punic Wars.

Actually this was the first time I've had to whole collection out on a table at the same time and I was quite please with the look of the troops en masse.  I'm particularly please that I've managed to achieve this in about 13 months of building and painting!

The Roman army:

And the Carthaginians with their Numidian allies:

The scenario was a straight line-up-and-go-at-the-enemy job.  I prepositioned the armies but let each player have a bit of a switch around of units before we started.  I know that Rob repositioned his elephant and moved his Carthaginian general to be with one of his two units of Gallic warriors.  This was probably a good move as a big warrior unit backed up by a hero and a general is quite a powerful striking force (or it would have been if Rob's ability to draw the wrong activation chit just when it mattered hadn't come to the fore).

Tom, as the Roman commander Marcus Gaius Piso (on the left in the picture below),  moved first and threw his Roman cavalry forward on his right flank whilst his mercenary slingers moved towards the bad going forward on his left.  His centre was a bit slow getting moving.

Rob, meanwhile, as Carthaginian general Hanno, pushed forward the Numidian light cavalry on his right wing but was unable to get the Catrthaginian centre moving at all! It seems the trumpet signal for a general advance was misunderstood as, "Let's wait here and see what happens".

I had warned the guys that this was a game in which units could melt away a the drop of a hat if things went against you. Sure enough, the first offensive action of the game saw lead slingshot from the Romans' mercenary slingers caused a unit of Numidian light horse to flee the field.  More shockingly, they left behind the corpse of Prince Arabio, Rob's allied commander!  From now his army would be far harder to control.

[In act it would have been even harder to control if I'd remembered to apply the "out of control" modifier to all of the Numidian command's troops for the rest of the action.]

The shot below shows the Gallic horse on the Carthaginian left.  You can see that I used a variety of means including single trees, grass tufts and small piles of cat litter rocks to mark out the corners of the square grid that these rules require.  This seemed to work nicely without being too visually intrusive.

Command and control continued to prove unreliable for both sides.  The Latin allied legion (background in the pic below) moved forward aggressively but the Roman legion (foreground) seemed reluctant to move.

In the pics above and below we can see the Latin allied legion nicely lined up but further forward than the Romans proper.  Also in the pic below some allied Bruttian javelin men (left) are about to clash with the Carthaginian citizen levy (right).

At last, a clash in the centre!  The Romans finally get moving and their Velites throw javelins at the Carthaginian spearmen while the aggressive Bruttians go in to close combat....

On the other flank, a confused melee develops.  Numidian light horse threaten the Roman left.

In the centre a breakthrough looked possible as a unit of Gallic warriors drove off some Roman Velites and pushed forward into the gap they left in the Roman line.  Unfortunately Rob struggled to get them to turn into the flank of the adjacent legionary maniple.

The Gauls are old Lamming 25mm models but I didn't feel that their lesser stature was too noticeable as we were playing.

The confusion on the Roman left continued and as the Roman saying goes, it came down to the Triarii.  In the picture below, Numidian horse threaten Arius Marcus Scorpio, the Tribune in charge of the Latin allied legion (foreground) whilst Roman horse threaten the Numidians' flank!

Marcus and the triarii are all that stand in the way of the Numidian sweeping into the Romans' left flank.

At about this time, the Carthaginian elephant, galled by Roman javelins, panicked and rampaged through the Carthaginian lines.  Fortunately Rob had left a space for this to happen and no further damage was done.

Throughout the battle, Rob had been taking a steady trickle of casualties.  In the centre a Roman legionary unit destroyed their Carthaginian spearmen opponents and split the enemy battleline in two.

Although Rob had finally managed to turn his victorious Gallic warriors into the flank of a Roman maniple, Carthaginian morale was faltering...

... with the loss of a unit of Numidian spearmen somewhere on the right, the Carthaginians had suddenly had enough and their army broke for the hills.

The picture below shows the final position.  On both flanks General Hanno had superior cavalry strength but in neither case could Rob manage to draw the right chits at the right time to take advantage.  The loss of Arabio to a misfortunate slingshot in the first moments of the battle was crucial. Alive, he could have led his light horse to cause chaos in the Roman read. Dead, he was an early drain on Rob's store of Victory Medals from which he was unable to recover.

I'm pleased with how the game went though we didn't really get to try out the new rules for the Polybian legion's line replacement ability and of course the fancy new units (elephants, I'm looking at you) didn't perform as advertised.  Wargaming rule number one, the newly painted unit always fails miserably on its first outing!


Lee Hadley said...

Excellent looking game, and I love your game tiles. Sounded like a tough game and a close run thing for the Romans. The line replacement rules make the Polybian army a much tougher but to crack.

Counterpane said...

Thanks Lee.

To be honest, the Roman I don't think the Roman legionaries ever got disordered so we didn't get to see line replacement happen!