Friday, 22 June 2018

The Barbarians are Revolting

For Chris Flowers monthly all day game this month another Roman vs Barbarian encounter. This time set in Brittania with Picts and  Saxons taking on the might of Imperial Rome.

I am being a little lazy with this one ( or shall we just say more organised?) I have taken pictures of the briefing, orders of battle and the stat sheets for each force so anyone interested can download them direct from the blog. Hope they prove useful for anyone interested. With that in mind I wont go into too much detail on the forces.

With that in mind I wont talk you though the full army lists but just give you an overview of the game.

 Each side had 3 commands. The Barbarians were notionally led by the Pictish Leader Lord McManus with 5 units of foot, 4 of horse and 3 small archer units. His main focus in this game was revenge on the Roman Commander, General Auranus, for past misdeeds. He hoped to capture the commanders family being escorted by several cohorts of Legionaries and two small units of elite bodyguards. His sub-commander (Brian the un-certain) commanded 4 units of Saxon foot with supporting archers and had forced the Roman escort into a ruined hill fort on Danfield hill. Both of these forces (The best and Worst troops for the Barbarians) were under my command.

The Picts had two forces of Saxon allies under Ultheric the bold and Teragondi the Deathdealer (Also known as Teragondi the smelly!) under the command of Richard H and Andy, who had agreed to defend the river line to prevent the Roman commander from relieving the escort and rescuing his family. To add some chaos Ultheric is far more interested in getting his hands on the Roman Cavalry commander Sergius. In total the Saxon allies had 9 units of foot, 16 units of horse and 4 units of archers.

Facing me the Romans had 6 units of foot a scorpion and 3 units of archers on the hill under Richard C, with 8 units of foot, 3 units of archers and 10 units of horse in the relief column under Chris C and Mark.

The expectation was that it would be a bit messy!

Brian the Un-certain

The Cohorts defending g the hill fort

General Auranus

The Saxon horse

What evolved from this scenario was a fast and furious game that kept all 6 players fully occupied. At various points all complained about their complete inability to win (suggesting that Chris had got the balance right) with so much going on I was only really able to keep my attention fixed on my third of the table so forgive me if the narrative is a little light for the larger action at the other end.

The game opened with the Saxon allies getting good movement rolls and marching out from behind the woods to block the Roman advance (Except Ultherics foot who decided staying in the wood felt like a good idea) The picts had 2 moves and Brian the Un-certain un-surprisingly led his force forward just the one move.

In response the Romans closed ranks around the Hill fort whilst the well drilled relief column began to press forward to cross the river.

My Picts were quickly into bow range whilst true to for Brians force remained uncertain and moved nowhere. The plan was to try and envelop the Roman right wing and wear it down with missile fire from my archers, foot and horse javelins whilst Brians plodding force kept the Romans guessing and leaving half the defenders ready to deal with them.

My first volley of archery saw really high dice with 2 double sixes forcing break tests on the Romans, both units of archers facing me being forced back with casualties. Over by the river the Roman horse archers were now also starting to make their presence felt.

Next go and with the Roman archers nutralised for a turn (they had picked up disorder markers) I focused on the legionaries whilst my cavalry bypassed the line and swung around the flank. Another double six  and one of the units of Legionaries is forced to pull back. I know it cant last and when we actually get to grips I will get marmalised but for now Richard my opponent doesn't and can be forgiven for thinking he is in trouble.
Next move and Saxons have begun to make contact around the river with charges going in between the opposing cavalry. Ultherics foot are still hiding in the wood earning him the new title of "Static the very steady" which sticks for the rest of the day.

On my flank Brian roles a blunder and his cautious command blindly charge forward, not quite reaching the Roman lines.  This has the advantage of putting me in javelin range and I start to pout pressure on the rest of the Roman line. On advice from his colleagues Richard charges two units of Legionaries straight at my Picts. In the ensuing melee one is destroyed and the other pushed back. I think this is where Richard starts to see that the Romans are in a much stronger position than originally considered.

The Picts advance

double 6 a blunder!

So as my cavalry lap around his flank Richard decides that his best defence is attack and charges me all along the line. He is concerned that the Relief force wont arrive in time but its already obvious to me that unless I continue to get exceptionally good luck the Picts and Saxons have had it.

The battle by the river is now a swirling mass of melees with the Saxons being slowly but surely pushed back.

Meanwhile having lost the first round of melee all along the line I reinforce where I can, charge the cavalry into the rear of the Legionaries and try to turn Brians troops into the centre where they can help.
The Scorpion proved not to be a wonder weapon due to its arc of fire but did steadily increase the pressure on my central units.
I have now seen off 2 units of Roman archers and a cohort of Legionaries at the cost of just one warband of Picts and my horse are into the rear of the Romans. We are doomed was the cry, well perhaps not, we had evened things up a bit and were doing OK. But disaster was only a move away.
In the ensuing melee the surrounded Romans held their own, whilst Brian the Un-certains command was smashed by the Legionaries to its front. Suddenly Brian was far less un-certain, a break test and he led the rest of his force off table as quickly as he could. The fairly strong position of the Picts was now on the verge of collapse.

At the river the Romans continue their inexorable advance with Richard and Andy throwing everything at them to slow them down if they cant push them back. To little avail.
The Roman wings in particular doing well and threatening the Saxon centre with being cut off.

The Romans pulled back and reorganised now having destroyed a further unit of Picts. Deciding the relief force was not going to break through Richard mounts the generals family on horses and flees the table edge.
My badly mauled remaining Picts are in no state to press forward. But do close again to try inflict more casualties with missile fire.

Brian the Un-certain waves fair well to his Pictish allies as his Saxons stream off the table ( A favourite command stand of mine this one)

The battle rages in the centre the Saxons have yet to realise that the battle is all but over for the hill fort.
Having got the family away Richard pulls his force back into a solid block barring me from chasing after them. With four units of Elite Legionaries against my 3 units of baldy mauled Picts I am not goign to try and break through.

In the centre the heavy cataphracts break through and trundle forward, there is still plenty of fight in the Saxons but the game has effectively been lost with our inability to take the hillfort.

So a full on furious two part battle which was thoroughly enjoyed (at least by me anyway) Even Richard my adversary at the fort enjoyed it once he realised he had won.

A great day thank you in particular to Chris Flowers for the scenario, the majority of the figures, the lunch and humour all day (much of it at my expense!)

A great game, hope you enjoyed it and feel free to pinch anything you find useful from the report.


  1. Looks very nice, a great period to play and a great report!

  2. It was another fun Hail Ceasar encounter. It seems like you can never predict what the outcome is going to be, although it does seem like quality does tend to triumph over quantity. Thanms to everyone for a great day.

  3. That looks like fun! Some lovely eye candy as well.

  4. I do like a good HC battle, and this was a great one! 😀. Cool scenario.

    I’m interested in the size of the table and the units, could you elaborate? There are so many dials in HC that I’m curious how people set it up.

  5. Hi Stew, table is 14 by 6 feet in this game, we have 3 bases per standar sized unit each 60mm front and 50mm deep, for the foot each person decides what looks best on that size, I personally put 5 foot on for non-Roman troops so they look for irregular. Most of the guys have 6 romans in two ranks of 3. The horse are all 2 to a base. Archers 3 to a base.

    1. Thanks Roger.
      For my own HC, standard units are 125mm x 75mm deep. It’s one big tray, and I put anywhere between 12 and 15 men on them.