Saturday, 18 May 2019

Julian Vs Shapur II A Hail Caesar AAR

A Saturday game with Chris Flowers and the usual suspects at the barn in Nidderdale saw us re-fighting one of the battles between Emperor Julians late Romans and Shapur II's Persians.

Full disclosure, I forgot my camera and got caught up in the game so forgot to get a lot of pictures and also to see what else was going on around the table quite often. Fortunately Si got some good pictures I pinched to supplement my mobiles take on proceedings.

We played on a 13 foot table which was pretty bare other than the odd piece of scrubby rough ground or "Skirmisher hole" as Chris referred to them, and the oasis in the middle of the table

This represented the campaign that saw Julian push into the Persian desert with Shapur falling back after numerous defeats and fighting the Romans at an advantage wherever they could, eventually however Julians luck ran out and he was killed.

Our battle has the Persians falling on a small Roman infantry force guarding an oasis that is quickly reinforced, a lot depends on initial deployment for the Persians as they have a long way to go to get at the Romans and a narrow frontage so only those troops getting there first will see much in the ways of action. Mmm perhaps I should have thoughts about that in my initial plan!

The forces available were pretty huge so I wont go through the detail here, broadly though the Persians had 10 divisions. Two of purely Cataphracts, two of nomad cavalry which we would send in a wide encircling move to get behind the Romans, one of light cavalry, one of rather erratic Elephants and 4 of infantry and very mixed quality.

Our lead elements on either flank would be quality heavy foot and Cataphracts with the poorer levy bringing up the rear where they could do least damage. As the Elephants blundered on any doubles we left a very large gap around these in the middle.

The Roman force was slightly smaller with foot holding the Oasis and Cavalry coming to the rescue along with a division of Chris's newly painted and very lovely armoured camel troops (Jerry Miller of Parchment N Lead ), interesting to see how these guys would fair in their first outing.
The Persians deployed with their heavy infantry Division on the left and 4 feet up the table as we wanted them to hit the Romans first, is support of these would be my Cataphract Division followed by the Levy infantry bringing up the rear, int he centre with a wide gap all around them would be the Elephants.

The right wing was led by Richards Cataphract division, supported by Steves light cavalry division and another foot division this time mixed medium and levy foot. Richard and Marks nomad cavalry divisions both moved off table to outflank the Romans and come on in their rear.

Move one saw most of our forces mill around and not do very much at all, apart form the Elephants which for there first two moves got three actions of movement and so very quickly belted 3 feet up the middle of the table. The gap we left around them was due to their increased chance of blundering and the potentially devastating impact if they blundered into our own forces.
The Romans deployed their foot, mainly veteran legionaries, in a sharp V formation with the end of the Oasis at its apex. Move one and their horse were moving on. Predictably the camel troops deployed to the left of the Oasis failed to move at all for their first three turns!

Three turns later and Marks heavy foot on the left with Richards Cataphracts on the right are starting to get into action. Daves Roman archers and the Persian light cavalry are skirmishing in the middle of the table at the apex of the Roman formation. Steve is having the best of the skirmishing Whit his light cavalry and Mark is making progress with the heavy infantry but Richards dice are not on form today and the Cataphracts are finding it all very heavy going.

Another turn and the Camels finally make a move to their front to a cheer from all players, at the same time the nomad cavalry erupt in the rear of the Roman lines, Jerry, Si and Andy have already turned a fair proportion of their cavalry to counter this threat and some long range skirmishing kicks in.

Si decides to turn is camels to face the threat to his rear but they are back to refusing to move much to everyones amusement (except perhaps Si)
Our main battle lines have now closed and my Cataphracts are finally in action hitting the Roman foot at the centre left, Mark and I are steadily pushing the Romans back and having the best of the fighting. The nomads are keeping the Roman cavalry busy and whilst Richards dice are not getting any better he is hanging on and inflicting plenty of damage on Andys heavy Roman cavalry.

As CinC I remind Steve and Rich that they still have a whole division of foot of table but with two divisions of foot unable to close with the Romans due to the available space being full of fighting troops it hardly seems worth getting them off the shelves at this stage.

Mark and I are continuing to push back the Romans and whilst the Roman horse is much better than our nomads and charges are keeping our chaps at long range we have effectively tied up over half of the Roman cavalry and are steadily wearing them down.

At this point Steve points to the Elephants, the gap is no longer massive between them and the supporting units "Perhaps we should just leave those there?" he says "No get them forward!" sure enough they blunder, fortunately for me they dont quite reach the infantry on their right, disaster narrowly averted, sorry Steve.
At this point we need to call halt to proceedings, I feel like the Persians are having the best of things marginally and we still have a lot of troops in reserve to throw in as we need to but there is probably half a day or more of fighting still to do if we are to play to a conclusion.

Here are a few more of Si's great pictures.

Agreeing to disagree on who was winning we pack up Chris's beautiful collection of figures and go home having had a fun day of wargaming.


  1. Replies
    1. Cheers Klingula, it did look pretty awesome.

  2. One for a show? Maybe deploy on long table edges? Sorry I missed the spectacle of this one. Cheers Chris

    1. I think Chris would love to do this at a show.

  3. Yeah and next time the Camels might take part getting over the curse of the first time on table

    1. Maybe it's only when you paint the camels? I couldn't get through Moorish camels to shift

    2. The camels got a rousing cheer when they eventually moved and then stopped again!!!

  4. Looks like an epic game. Beautiful armies. Especially like those camels!

  5. magnificient guys a grand spectacle, I do love late Romans and Sassanids having at each other.

    Hercé Salon de Guerre