Wednesday, 14 October 2020

The Battle of Mons Ardua - 91 AD, with Soldiers of Rome

A one-off of game of 'Soldiers of Rome', just for fun, as my legion takes on the rebellious and hairy Britons of the Andvertii tribe under their infamous and independently-minded queen… with her gathered nobles, warriors and allies drawn up to face the hardened (and somewhat fed-up and cold) men of Legio II.

The battle would take place on the slopes of Mons Ardua, a significant (and fictional) feature of the tribal lands. Time to teach these proto-Brexiteers, keen on self-autonomy from the European super-power, a lesson on why it’s best to remain in the big club! Either that, or we burn their roundhouses down! Pax-Romanus…

My hardened Legio II forces was as follows.

Battle Plan. All Out Attack - Initiative 3.

Battle Hardened Legion 10 pts, -D3 MV

Centre Battle - Charge!
Vet Legion Cohort    4 stands    32 pts        3 MV
Vet Legion Cohort    4 stands    32 pts        3 MV
Legion Cohort          4 stands    24 pts        2 MV
Praetorian Cohort      4 stands    32 pts        3 MV
Aquilifer Party          1 stand      15 pts        +D6 MV    with legionary cohort
Aux Javelineers        2 stands    8 pts        2 MV        Baggage Guard
Baggage Train          1 stand      0                *

Left Battle - March
Vet Legion Cohort          4 stands    32 pts        3 MV
Aux Spears                     4 stands    16 pts        2 MV
Allied Tribal Warriors    4 stands    12 pts        1 MV
Aux Cav                         4 stands    16 pts        2 MV

Right Battle - March
Vet Legion Cohort        4 stands    32 pts        3 MV
Legion Cohort              4 stands    24 pts        2 MV
Aux Spears                   4 stands    16 pts        2 MV

Totals                    301 pts    32 MV (after rolls)

A simple battle plan and army selection, go at them, hard, up the middle with solid support on both flanks. Beat them in the centre and on one other flank (whichever looks weakest) and that should secure the victory. If only it was so easy!
 

As it happened, the Barbarians were also attacking in the centre, and harrying both flanks… so the battle would be an all-in arm wrestle with our best combat forces on the central hill. If that was a stalemate, then it would be whoever did best on the flanks, his light troops with their hit and run attacks, or my remorseless but slow march after them if they would not fight.

A rough estimate of the Barbarians -

Battle Plan - Attack and Harry - Initiative 2.

Chosen Champion of the Gods in a chariot.

Centre Battle - Charge!
Nobles
4 Chariots
Gestatae Mercenaries spears
Mounted Warriors
Warriors
Armed Civilians
Armed Civilians
Baggage Train

Left Battle - Advance, Loose, Retire
Fanatics
Fanatics
3 Chariots
3 Chariots
War Dogs
War Dogs

Right -Battle Advance, Loose, Retire
Slingers
Slingers
Archers
Warriors
Warriors
Warriors


‘Antecessum!’

The Roman lines surged forwards, up the slopes of the hill as fast as heavy infantry in close order can go, which isn’t much. But they would be relentless and drive on until they found some barbarians to stab. On my left, the celt skirmishers, many slingers and a few archers came forwards to fling stick and stones, then run off. That fight would go on, a perfect use of light skirmishers that my slow troops could not catch as they ran well forwards with room to then fall back. Harassed by their many attacks, my own allied tribes men rushed forwards and drove off some slingers in the woods, then pursued them. Those slingers would panic and run, but the damage inflicted by them would also see my barbarian allies retire for the day, job done for them! That left my spearmen auxiliaries and legion cohort to plod on. I had moved the auxiliary cavalry into the centre to support my main attack, which was, in hindsight a mistake, because they would have been quick enough to chase down those pesky slingers with ease. Bad use of my very limited cavalry.

In the centre the barbarians were also climbing their slope of the hill, but had some payment issues to resolve with their own mercenaries, who stop to check they were defo getting paid for today’s work, because a lot of mean-looking Romans were coming the other way! On the right, his naked fanatics surged forwards with many chariots behind in support and I marched up to meet them, here would be the first melee clash, and it was messy. My veteran cohort tore into the fanatics with pilum and gladius, who equally did a lot of damage back as melee cards flew. The fanatics were massacred, but it also broke my veteran cohort, a good result for the barbarians really. His suicide troops had achieved their objective and died.

The two centres closed at the hill’s summit, the mercenaries now back on-side and ready to fight. My battle plan’s Charge! action card drove my cohorts upwards, closer, closer and then straight into the tribal noble and mercenary warriors.

The armies were fully engaged now, pressure left, right and centre made the card plays hard decisions, where needed it most, and you cannot save everyone! The damage inflicted would have been far greater if I could draw a Melee or extra Charge! card. 3 turns, and not 1… as my grand attack stalled. The Barbarians hung on and continued  to rally-off any damage I did do. Fear cards, Challenges and ill discipline in the Barbarian ranks all had limited effects, but my cohorts need to get going and start the serious killing!

On the left, my hard pressed auxiliary spearmen, battered by rocks and full of arrows, were counter-charged by hairy warriors, but saw them off with excellent fighting and a useful ‘well-disciplined’ special event. The celts fled and his right flank now looked weak. On the hill top, stalemate with no attack cards and ny attrition that was always being countered. On the right, similarly, this fight had stalled.

We (well I) needed a reshuffle of the card deck, and at last it came. Now, with cards available again, the second phase of the fighting began. Melee cards, at last I’d see one, and the cohorts turned up the hurt to 11… desperately the Celts threw away cards to try and stay in the fight, but in the end the pressure told. First the mercenary warriors went down in a bloody massacre after long resistance. Then the nobles broke, and their champion warlord(ess) was wounded, but in doing so a cohort also broke. The serious dying had started and the Celts moral plunged, in fact to 0… and they ran.

The Romans stood victorious atop the hill, now littered with dead and dying Britons. From a starting 32 Morale, I had 9 left… but it had been a really tough fight, full of incidents. The Andvertii rebellion had been broken on the slopes of Mons Ardua, but that damn rebellious queen got away… next time a battle to finally corner and capture her.

Roma Victor! 


The tribe's left, Fanatics and chariots. Put some clothes on!

Legio II deploys, right and centre, to climb the hill.

The centre's cohorts, terrible pictures, sorry!

Facing them, tribal nobles and more charioteers.

My left, cohort facing many harassing skirmishers. Allied tribal warriors rush the woods to see off some slingers. Green dice records Disorder on the unit.

On! Cohort marches on with auxiliaries now joining them. A long plod towards the village huts.

Mercenary warriors in the centre, losing their discipline. War dogs behind, did very little but bark a lot.

First big clash, cohorts massacre his crazy fanatics to the man, but not without heavy losses.

Leaving the legions to face the chariots, and curses of his shaman. 


A big clash in the centre, as the struggle for the hill top gets under way.


The left still going, still chasing the skirmishers... still getting hit by rocks.

Warriors charge, and are just seen-off by the auxiliary spearmen. They had a hard day, but earned their pay.

On the summit, my veteran cohort struggle with his noble and more supporting chariots, matched by their support cavalry. They just won the fight, the nobles broke, ran and the day was for Rome!


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