Friday, 11 September 2015

Warband Historical playtest game: Late Imperial Rome vs Goths

This evening we tried something a little bit different.  Following the successful release of my Warband fantasy wargame rules, I'm working on a historical version (among other projects).

This evening we took them for a spin with a trial game, and things worked out pretty well.

Note: the figures are 15mm, based WRG style for Field of Glory, and fixed in sabot bases to upscale to Warband units.  Supplied by my good friend and stalwart play-tester Graeme.

Late Imperial Rome fielded an average commander, with a shieldwall of Legionarii and auxilia palatina, supported by a heavy clibaniarii cavalry unit.  Low quality, and basically defensive heavy infantry, with rear ranks of archers (not shown on the bases), they would sit back and wait for the inevitable Gothic charge.

Across the field came a Gothic horde of fierce and impetuous foot warriors, plus a powerful flank of cavalry and horse archers.  

this was going to be a tough fight that hinged on the Goths being able to weather the arrow storm and control their advance well enough to take in that devastating fierce charge.  The Romans had to hope their archery would soften up the Goths enough for the shieldwall to hold and the heavy foot to grind down the barbarians.

the battle lines are drawn up.  Neither side chose much terrain and so it would be a fair fight across an open plain somewhere north of the Danube.

The Romans deploy to the south (left), and the Goths advance rapidly from the north (right).

Matters open on the east end of the line.  The Gothic cavalry led by the horse archers advance rapidly, and the Roman clibaniarii and auxilia palatina move out to meet them.

The Gothic infantry also advance, their general barely able to restrain his men.

The Gothic cavalry crash into the auxilia palatina who hold their ground, hunkered down behind a shieldwall.

The east flank is inconclusive, and the clibaniarii move in to try to break the Gothic mounted wing.  The Gothic infantry finally make contact in a brutal fierce charge.  The Romans have little room to retreat, having held their starting positions to maximise their rear support archery.

So far, the legionarii are holding firm...

But a storm is brewing on the eastern flank.  Numerically superior, the Gothic horsemen have outflanked the Roman line.  things do not look good for the Romans.

In the centre, although the Romans shieldwall protects them, the relentless onslaught of fierce Gothic infantry forces most the legionarii to withdraw to relieve the pressure.

The Gothic cavalry badly maul the auxilia palatina, which withdraw in a desperate bid to save themselves.

The Roman general, sensing that the tide is turning, comes out from behind his legionarii and charges into the heart of the Gothic horde.  The two generals meet in a climactic struggle that would rage for several turns.

The generals clash!  Command points are poured into the fight to try to break each other, leaving the rest of the battle lines to their fate.

And that fate is for the Gothic cavalry to break the eastern flank and sweep into the legionarii...

Eventually, the generals disengage, both severely battered.  They survey the battle about them, to the joy of the Goths and the dismay of the Romans.

The Gothic riders chew up the Roman east flank.

And the Roman general goes for glory, in a last desperate bid to bring down the Gothic commander.

Its not enough though and while half the Gothic infantry are fleeing in rout, their cavalry are roaming free and swarming all over the collapsing Roman army.

In the last turn, the Roman general prevails and brings down his Gothic foe.  But it is too little too late and the Roman losses attest to a battle hard lost.  All told it was a narrow win for the Goths, who were a couple of units off breaking when the Roman army collapsed and fled.  The twilight of Rome fast approaches...

Overall, this was an excellent tryout for the Warband: Historical rules and they hung together well.  The two armies performed as planned, and their were no real issues to note with the rules.  Many, many more playtests to go the thrash out the various army lists.  What a chore!


  1. Nice report! Looks like the romans had little chance once the gothic cav started chewing up that flank.

    Maybe I need to go and read earlier posts, but I see some of the units have d6s *and* tokens signifying '2 hits', '3 hits', etc. I assume both aren't for marking hits/casualties?

  2. Hits are sustained during the turn. The dice on the bases are the running total of morale loss.