Wednesday, 25 May 2022

Warband historical - Punic Rome vs Tribal Spanish

After far too long away from the table, this week we finally got back to wargaming in person. Over the pandemic we’ve been gaming online, and quite often this has been playtesting the Warband Historical rules. 

In physical form have a 28mm Roman army and a partly built Carthaginian army. 

My friend Mal (the Weardale Wargamer (WW)) has built a Spanish army, and so we decided that for our 2022 inaugural table game we’d do a 500pt Warband Historical battle. The Spanish were led by the Roman rebel Sertorius, and I put together a Punic Wars Roman force.

At this stage the rules are pretty stable, but there are still some tweaks to be made. And of course the army lists are still to be finalised.

Here’s WW’s lovely Spanish force on its first outing. It’s a mix of Scutari (both “formed” heavy foot and medium foot, supported by caetrati medium foot. Its flanks are held by cavalry and light cavalry.

We set up the terrain. I chose the minimum possible with a road, and WW placed a couple of hills to accommodate his “hill folk” units. We randomly determined season and weather, which turned out to be a hot summer day.  This means that from Turn 8 units would start to take automatic hits from thirst and exhaustion (unless they are near friendly baggage or a water source like a river or lake).

We then deployed, and we both choose to put the full army down and not to keep units in reserve, flank march, or ambush. We deployed the armies in facing lines. 

The Roman left flank is held by auxiliaries and cavalry.

The spanish scutari heavy foot hold the centre of their line, commanded directly by Sertorius.

Spanish skirmishers...

...face off against the Roman velites

The lines begin their advance!

I deployed the Romans in the famous “checkerboard” formation in the centre. Within the Warband Historical rules, the Punic Romans have a “support” special ability that increases their Protection if they are in contact with friendly “support” units. The checkerboard formation is useful to allow units to fall back from enemy hits while maintaining support contact. It also looks like a proper Roman formation too.

The opening phase of the battle saw a general advance by the Spanish line. I threw out my velites skirmishers to match the Spanish skirmishers. 

The skirmishers head for the opening clash.

The skirmishers fight!

The lines advance.

This combat saw off the Spanish, and the velites then proceeded to hold up some of the heavy Spanish foot. However, it was an inexorable advance to contact in the centre. The heavy infantry here would trade blows for the rest of the battle with both sides suffering attrition, and a unit or two from each side breaking off.

Roman auxiliaries push forwards under the leadership of the Roman sub-commander.

On the Roman left flank, the opposing cavalry circled the hills and set to, with both taking losses and retreating to take no further part in the fighting.

The main action happened over on the Roman right flank. Low quality Roman auxiliaries faced the lighter Spanish foot and a large force of Spanish skirmishing cavalry. The Romans took some losses, but managed to rout the Spanish cavalry, demoralise the caetrati and push on into a position to turn in on the Spanish centre. As WW commented, in the Warband Historical rules once units are locked in melee, its hard then to react to breakthroughs without uncommitted reserves. Some tactical insight to consider for future games!

Roman right flank fighting results.

Spanish scutari "seeking an urgent appointment elsewhere" - routed by brutal Roman attack.

Sertorius personally overseeing the action in the centre. those Roman yellow-shield auxiliaries look ripe for attack.

Spanish medium foot on the Roman left flank felling in search of a drink.

Romans pushing on as the heat of the day takes its toll on the Spanish.

Then turn 8 rolled in, and the Spanish water ran dry. Their shaken troops broke and ran, exposing their flank.

It was late so we agreed to call it there. In the final tally the Romans had lost 155pts, and the Spanish 133pts, so a technical win for the Spanish under Sertorius! We agreed that a turn or two more would likely have seen the Romans swing it for the win.

Overall, a wonderful evening’s gaming. It was so good to finally get back to pushing toy soldiers about! The Warband Historical rules are working well.

A note on the 28mm armies. Both forces have used the excellent Victrix figures line. We agreed that these are amazing figures, full of character, easy to build, and that take paint well. They are based for Warband Historical, being on 100 x 50mm bases, and these will be useful for other games that use unit bases like this.  I’ll be looking to get my Carthaginians finished off for the big Dertosa fight I think.

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