Sunday 29 August 2021

l'Art de la Guerre - Roman Triumviral Civil War

This week's l'Art de la Guerre outing saw Andrew (Imperator Lucullus) and I (Legate Onerous) embark on a 6mm Roman Triumviral civil war battle. 

Lucullus's army consisted of six elite legionary units, and six regular units, supported by a single unit of equites, an elephant, some Thracians, two skirmishing archers, and a couple of Numidian horse units.

Onerous commanded a scant four elite Roman legionary units, but his engineers provided two heavy artillery as support. He also personally commanded some Cretan archers and Thracians of his own; his tribune commanded two units of heavy cavalry equites. The smaller Roman army was supported by an Armenian prince, Tirdat, and his entourage of archers, horse archers and elite cataphracts.

Wanting to do something a bit different, we decided to play in a wooded area and Andrew helpfully chose an impassable water feature which was placed on my side of the table. After the re-jigging of terrain, it ended up in the centre of the battlefield resulting in a less than customary deployment. In the top corner, Lucullus' elite legions have formed a straight line across from the coastal zone. The regular legions are in column, effectively forming a box around his camp. The Numidians are sitting out on their own on the far side of the deployment area.

Onerous has deployed his elite legions and Thracians in a matching line in front of his own camp, with artillery in the centre, flanked by Tirdat's archers, cataphracts and lastly the horse archers on the far left. Onerous' tribune and his equites were dispatched on a wide sweeping flank march. Too wide as it turned out as they never appeared on the field of battle.

Lucullus pushed quickly forwards. hoping to minimise the impact of Onerous' artillery fire. Tirdat angled his elite cataphracts to try to threaten the flank of the Roman column.

On the far left of Onerous' line, Lucullus' Numidians were playing silly buggers and drew out Tirdat's horse archers.

The main lines closed quickly. Onerous' artillery fire was screened by Lucullus' skirmishers, but as they lost cohesion and scattered, they passed cohesion losses to the units behind them anyway.

Tirdat led his elite cataphracts personally, charging straight into the front of the column of regular Roman legions.

In the tussle of light horsemen on the left flank, the Numidians charged into melee. Tirdat was fairly happy that he had the numbers to win over on this flank and throughout the game, would focus his attention on his own struggles with the legions. Despite losing one of their two companies early on in the fight, the remaining Numidian company would route every one of those neglected Armenian horse archers.

As the lines of elite legions met, Onerous' ineffective Cretan archers evaded behind the lines (admittedly few skirmishers are much used against armoured elite heavy swordsmen!). By and large, Onerous' veterans got the better of the struggle and Lucullus' men started to lose cohesion. 

After their initial success, the Armenian cataphracts started to feel the wight of numbers as the Roman column slowly unwound, and Lucullus' elephant charged their flank. Amazingly, the out-flanked cataphracts hung on long enough to allow some of Tirdats foot bowmen to charge the flank of the elephant which routed the following turn.

As the big fight between the veterans became a war of attrition, Tirdat's remaining cataphracts and archers managed to destroy Lucullus' regular legions in detail. Despite losing all of the horse archers, and the palpable absence of Onerous' tribune and his equites, it was Lucullus' army which reached its breakpoint first. Lucullus 20/20, Onerous 19/21.

In the aftermath of battle, Lucullus, still alive, went on the run. Imperator Onerous was merciful and offered to enlist all captured Lucullans in 'his' army of the Republic. And he's going to have a word with that bloody tribune whenever he shows up too!

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