Tuesday, 8 October 2019

ROMANES EVNT DOMVS II: Blood in the Beqa'a

Andrew, Jim and I got together last week for a 1st century BC game of l'Art de la Guerre (in glorious 6mm naturally). When last Andrew and I met, his un-tested Triumvirate Romans were tried, tested and found wanting by Tigranes of Armenia in a most embarrassing way. This time I thought I'd see if I could repeat the cull with an untried army of my own - no.74, Aramaeans. The Aramaeans were the defenders and we chose to hold the line where the mountains meet the sea.

My Aramaean army was inspired by the Ituraean tetrarchy of Chalkis in the Massyas Valley - the modern Beqa'a. I commanded the tetrarch himself (on the left), leading three units of elite heavy cavalry and four units of horse archers, as well as a strategos commanding four units of heavy swordsmen and four units of bowmen (holding the centre). Jim assumed the role of the sheikh of my nomadic division leading a motley crew of two units of medium camelry archers, four javelineers, two bowmen and two units of skirmishing archers.

Facing us, Andrew had three divisions each with four units of regulation legionaries (impact, armour), supported by two Cretan archers on the left, two light horse and two Roman rubbish medium cavalry in the centre, and three skirmishers armed with slings and javelins on the right.

The battle opened with the Romans advancing and sliding to their right to try to anchor their flank against the coast line. The legate obviously wanted to meet my Ituraean cavalry head on rather than allowing a flank attack. Pitty.

The horse archers and the camelry sped forward to get into bow range while the rest of the Ituraean centre tried to adjust to the shifting Roman lines. Over on the inland flank, the Arab nomad archers pushed up to secure the peak of a steep hill, while a lack of command PIPS meant that their javelineers sat about for a while.

The lines slowly realigned in the shade of a hundred thousand arrows. The Ituraean and Arab archers, horse archers and camel archers peppered the Romans with shots. Look at that beautiful formation in the centre, with the Ituraean bowmen supported by their heavy swordsmen, safe in the knowledge that heavy swordsmen and archers can interpenetrate each other's units.

Running out of beach on the left, two units of ituraean horse archers swung around behind the infantry block in the centre to support the camelry.

Inland, the Arab javelineers begin their advance towards the Romans. They were obviously hoping that the Romans would tire themselves out in the hot sun as they advanced the entire depth of the battlefield...

The lines start to close in as more arrows fill the sky.

And then the Romans clash home. The horse archers, camelry and javelineers all evade skilfully, leaving the Romans frustrated, while the Ituraean heavy cavalry counter charge to bring death to the Romans at the tip of wicked, needle-sharp spears.

However, it was about this time that I realised that bowmen can't actually evade, so there was not going to be any skilful interpenetration of the Ituraean heavy swordsmen. Rather, the archers were to start to fall under the Italian farmers (most of those barbarians can't even speak Greek like a civilised man!). 

It was also about this pint that the Romans remembered they were all armoured. That might have helped during that arrow storm earlier...

The Ituraean cavalry remembered now that they could disengage, and did just that, hoping to come back with better odds and allowing the horse archers to shoot a few more arrows. Inland, the Arab javelineers began a sweeping advance down the flank, held up only by the Roman light horse who refused to flee.

Meanwhile in the centre, the Ituraean archers fled. As they did so, they started disrupting the swordmen to their rear who turned around to pull back, only to be charged by the legionaries who had just destroyed what remained of the archers. Remarkable, an Ituraean's rear is no easy target for a Roman, and even at a disadvantage, the Ituraeans won the initial combat.

The Ituraean swordsmen turned back the correct way and began fighting in earnest.

The Roman legions kept pressing forward, but the Ituraean cavalry charged back in again. The Ituraean swordsmen more than held their own, while one brave unit of Ituraean archers managed to continue to not die, assaulted as they were by the Roman cavalry. The Arab camelry too stood firm before the Roman swordsmen, as nomadic javelineers and archers swept down from the hills to hit the Roman flank. At this point, The Roman break point stood at 22/24, the Ituraeans were on 23/25.

The Ituraean tetrarch leads his elite heavy cavalry into the slaughter one more time...

The Ituraean bowmen teeter on the edge of defeat...

The Arab camelry find themselves greatly out numbered by legionaries...

But in the distance can be made out the empty space where once fought the Roman light cavalry. With their destruction at the hands of the Arab javelineers, the Roman army broke and began its withdrawal. By the skin of their teeth, the Ituraeans had managed the most marginal of victories!


  1. Smashing-looking game. I've always favoured 6mm for horse and musket, not ancients, but I have to admit, these posts are making me think about it.

  2. A great looking game with impresive mass effect...and wonderful close ups at this scale!

  3. Thanks both. I love my little scales - 6mm and 10mm are both favourites.