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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Battle of Moguntiacum -

The city of Moguntiacum is a modest trading center in the province of Germania Superior along the Rhenus River. It's location is near - but not too close, to the traditional regions of the Franks, Burgundians and Alemanni thus making it ideal for the location of Roman military equipment and stores in the 4th Century. The King of the Visigoths, Alaric, given a high position by the Emperor (to guarantee "good" behavior) and commanding a Roman Army, has decided to use his "influence" to control the taxes and all government positions in not only Germania Superior, but also the nearby province of Belgica. His flagrant abuse of his position is too much for even a weak emperor.

In desperation, the Emperor turns to the only general he can trust to contain or eliminate Alaric - Flavius Aetius, Friend of the Huns and last of the Romans!


Upon hearing that another force is closing in on him, Alaric "convinces" the garrison in Moguntiacum to join him and resupplies his force. As Alaric's forces leave Moguntiacum, the first of Aetius' scouts ride up and both forces deploy for battle . . .

The terrain I set-up for this fictional battle provided an inadvertent twist to it by virtually putting one third of the gaming board out of the action. The city of Moguntiacum (ignore the GW Dwarf artwork on the buildings!) occupies one corner of the table with a river running to each long edge of the table. There are various wooded areas near the river and some woods in other areas. The combination of the river, woods and town initially pushed both armies toward each other and contributed to an interesting and enjoyable game. We rolled for the length of the game and it came out to be 6 turns.

We purposely designed both armies to be similar, which is the appeal of the Late Roman period for wargaming: All units can be on either side! It is one of the advantagouses of collecting figures for this period.

Since I set up the terrain, Honorable Son# 2 (Alaric) got to choose which side of the table he wanted and he set up first. I thought it was interesting that he placed his archers in a skirmish formation in front of his main battle line.

Alaric's forces deployed for battle

Alaric's Bucellarii (personal bodyguard) are in the center with the Roman Regii Seniores regiment in the upper left and the Visigothic warband in the lower right.

The Regii Seniores, a heavily armored Roman infantry unit in Alaric's army.

In my role as Aetius I was not impressed with light skirmishers in the open in front of my powerful battle line. The other item that I thought was different was that he placed the Secunda Britannica to hold his left flank with cavalry to the right of them and then the bulk of his infantry. There was nothing near Moguntiacum . . . hmmmm.

The extreme left of Alaric's line from left to right: The super heavy cavalry Sagittarii Clibanarii, the Roman light cavarly regiment Promoti Iuniores and the famous Secunda Britannica Infantry.

I set up second with an eye to getting my light cavalry on my right (his left) but most importantly to get my mounted Hun archers in the fight.

Looking at Aetius' deployment from his right; the Huns are on the extreme right flank with the Gaulic light cavalry right behind them.

This was going to be the first battle for both units of Huns; hopefully they would not suffer from shiny new unit syndrome. I wanted to take advantage of the the Hun's ability to "shoot and scoot", harass and hopefully turn his flank with more cavalry. Of concern to me was his unit of Clibinarii, a small, but powerful unit of heavily armored horse archers.

Virtually impossible to destroy and with their bow and heavy hitting power, I have used the famous Sagittari Clibinarii regiment to good effect in the past - now I would be facing them.

The center of Aetius' line: On the left is the Mattiaci Seniores and on the right is the Lanciarii Gallicani

Deployed slightly to the left are the Franks and behind them on the left is Aetius with his Hunnic Bucellarii and to the right the Roman Heavy cavalry regiment Equites Armigeri

As I mentioned earlier, my opponent had placed nothing near the city of Moguntiacum. I positioned my slingers (skirmishers) in the wood near the river; with their mobility I might be able to take advantage of this and get them around his right flank. To keep an eye on the slingers, I positioned the Senior Roman officer Maritus Salvius near them.

Maritus explaining to the Frankish warband why our barbarians are better than Alaric's barbarians.

No one is between Aetius' forces and the city of Moguntiacum

Turn 1:

As Aetius, I get to choose whether I want to move first or second and I decided to move first. The Hun archers moved quickly toward the
Secunda Britannica and let loose a stream of arrows as they rode by, killing one hapless legionnaire.

Here come the Huns!

The Secunda Britannica withstands the arrows of the Huns.

As the rest of my line advances, my slingers (which can move quickly through rough terrain) run through the woods and start to cross the river at the ford encouraged by the brave
Maritus Salvius.

Alaric's reaction to the threat to his left flank was to launch the Promoti Iuniores, a unit of Roman light cavalry to chase off the Huns. After pointing at the Romans and making rude gestures, the Huns fired and decided to flee. As the saddles of the Romans started to empty, they decided to end their pursuit. So far, the Hunish light cavalry was performing as advertised.

Meanwhile, in the center of the line, Alaric's barbarian archers let loose a barrage of arrows at the Mattiaci Seniores Regiment, a tough unit of mostly German tribesmen trained to Roman standards. Aetius snorted with disdain at the enemy skirmishers as he ordered the
Mattiaci Seniores stand and raise their large Roman shields. Uh, guys - RAISE YOUR SHIELDS!!! Alaric grinned as the Mattiaci Seniores lost 5 (!) figures and decided to flee the battle field. Nothing like having a hole in the center of your battle line on the first turn.

The Mattiaci Seniores

Turn 2:

Okay, I need to get that unit back in the fight. Fortunately, after breaking and fleeing, the Mattiaci Seniores remembers that they are soldiers of Rome and they rally. As the Huns reposition to fire at the Sagittarii Clibanarii my Gaulic light cavalry charge the Secunda Britannica. The Huns kill one of the heavily armored cavalryman and the Secunda Britannica stands firm to receive the charge and lets loose their javelins, dropping one of the Gauls. The shield wall holds firm and the Gauls lose the melee break and flee . . . never to be seen again in this battle.

Runaway!!! The Gauls break and flee early in the battle.

While all of the excitement is happening, Aetius' slingers successfully get into the outskirts of the city and start to threaten Alaric's right flank.

Turn 3:

The main battle lines continued to advance toward each other as Alaric desperately orders his light cavalry to protect his right flank. The Huns fire on the Sagittarii Clibanarii causing casualties and forcing the elite unit to break and flee.

Tired of the harassing fire of the Visigothic archers, Aetius orders the Equites Armigeri heavy cavalry to charge. With discretion being the better part of valor, the archers flee before contact and will continue to run, leaving the battlefield in Turn 4.

The Equites Armigeri.

The Visigothic warband, unable to sit quietly anymore, decides to charge on their own initiative straight for the Roman line smashing into the tough Lanciarii Gallicani. The Visigoths win the melee, but the Romans hold.

Alaric declares a general advance and fighting breaks out amongst the entire line.

Alaric and his Bucellarii.

Turn 4:

Sensing an opportunity, the Equites Armigeri charge the Sagittarii Clibanarii and rout them and scatter the stunned survivors.

Taking advantage of the confusion, the Huns break through and get behind Alaric's line firing into the rear of his forces.

Alaric's light cavalry charge the enemy slingers as they advance on the flank. The slingers decide to stand and fire, killing one but they are broken in melee. Even though I had sent a senior Roman officer with them to stiffen their spine, I forgot that in skirmish formation, the skirmishes are too spread out to take advantage of his leadership. Something else I forgot (and Honorable Son #2 smiled about) I forgot that slingers could fire twice in a turn if they move less than half. Even though the slingers were out of the game, they caused enough casualties to make the light cavalry disperse, leaving one character from each side on the bridge.

Turn 5:

How best to describe Turn 5? Mass carnage everywhere as the infantry on both sides held from last turn and both army generals get involved in the fight.

The Hunnic light cavalry continues to go where ever they want and pepper the Secunda Britannica from the rear and then they are charged by Aetius himself.

Shooting them in the rear.

The Secunda Britannica loses the fight but hurts the bodyguard cavalry.

Alaric's reserve, the Regii Seniores had moved forward and are immediately charged by the hard working Equites Armigeri.

All units on both sides, with the exception of the light Huns and the , are still involved in melees from last turn and this turn. Tough hand to hand combat on both sides; however, Alaric's units start to get smaller and smaller . . . and on the bridge, a furious one on one fight between two characters start.

The Melees:

Alaric's Bucellarii fought three straight rounds of melee - they're tough!

Turn 6:

The situation at the beginning of Turn 6.

Charges and counter-charges and both sides are locked in furious combat. Alaric's Visigoth's break and are destroyed fleeing but Aetius's Mattiaci Seniores regiment will also be destroyed. Though it looks like Arlaric's strength is about to fail, three significant events will happen in Turn 6 which will change the course of the battle:

1. A Roman leader in Alaric's army leading the weakening Secunda Britannica challenges his counterpart in the other unit to single combat. Exit one of Aetius's leaders and victory points.

2. Aetius' other officer loses the dual at the bridge - more lost victory points.

3. Aetius and his bucellarii break and flee. Though Aetius is not off the battlefield, he is fleeing at the end of the game and as the general, gives 100 points to his opponent.

Final Tally:

Aetius Victory Points:

Visigothic Warband: 228 points
Clibanaraii: 156 points
Archers: 90 points
Roman Light Cavalry: 95 points
Captured two unit standards: 200 points

Total: 768 points

Alaric Victory Points:

Gaulic Light Cavalry: 112 points
Slingers: 60 points
Mattiaci Seniores 255 points
Two Roman Senior Officers: 220 points
Captured one unit standard: 100 points
General Fleeing: 100 points

Total: 847 points

Alaric wins!

After Action Report:

Wow! What a great game. It had been awhile since we played Ancients and it showed the first 2 turns (hard to transition sometimes from tanks to spears!). In the first turn it looked like Alaric (Honorable Son#2) was off to a fast start only to start collapsing as the game progressed under steady pressure from me. And then at the end I lose 2 main characters and my general is in retreat. Here are the lessons learned; first Alaric:

Have a plan! I fought the army as individual units instead as of army. Fortunately Alaric's bodyguard cavalry refused to give ground, allowing the rest of the army a reliable anchor. Remembering the challenge rule at the end of the game allowed me to eliminate a powerful character and by keeping the lines steady help the units support themselves at the end. I'm not happy with my employment of my cavalry - for the most part they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Now me:

Don't throw away victory at the end! Seriously, the major mistake was the one-on-one combat at the bridge. I should have withdrawn that character and brought him back to the rest of the army. All in all I was pleased with my plan and the battle; sometimes you just lose. I was surprised at how long some of he melees lasted, but that's the way it goes sometimes. The Huns performed up to expectations - don't leave home without them!

Again a great game!