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Monday, 19 December 2011

Warhammer Ancients Celts vs Republican Romans

About 2 years ago I used the Wargames Factory Celts to build an army for a local tournament called Toy Soldier.
We were using Warhammer Ancient Battles rules (WAB) and the lists allowed me either to take cavalry or chariots but not both. I chose the option of an earlier army with the chariots. So my army looked like this
General and army standard bearer
3 large units of Gallic infantry (warband) and 2 smaller ones
2 units of chariots
3 units of skirmishers, 2 with javelins/shield another with slings.
I like to mix up the size of Gallic units as different sizes are useful for different things. A large unit is useful to charge into combat with as the extra size takes a lot of punishment and can just overwhelm the enemy. On the other hand a large unit is over-kill if you just want to clear away some skirmishers or are hitting an enemy flank.
My opponent (Phil Stirpe, the cheerful chap in the striped shirt) was using Republican Romans a rather tough army using the triple line formation which allowed him to replace tired units with fresh troops from behind. It is a sad thing that most wargames rules only allow the Republicans to perform this manoeuvre when it continued to be used by Imperial Romans as well but that is a side-track into history. Phil was fortunate to get 2 woods on his side of the table to secure his exposed flanks and thus place his army in the best position to beat mine.
My plan however was simple, to go straight down the middle and out-fight his army. Whilst not being subtle I have found the simple plans work best for barbarian troops. Just in case my simple plan did not work, I also tried to go around both of his flanks.
The situation on the table after my first move

a unit of chariots and a small unit of infantry on the left, 2 big units of infantry in the middle and large and small units of infantry on the right supported by skirmishers. One of my units of infantry has charged the Roman skirmishers and is about to wipe them out.
Close-up on the centre, with the chariots about to fight the skirmishers. You can see the tightly packed Roman army here in a 3 line infantry formation.

the skirmishers stood no chance and were easily beaten. The units of skirmishers either side failed leadership tests and also broke, clearing the way for the chariots to pursue into the Roman heavy infantry. It was a suicidal action but would inflict a bit of damage on the Romans and also prevent the Roman infantry from re-positioning his forces. So I did it.
At this point both my units of chariots have been destroyed, the Roman cavalry counter-attacking on my left very effectively. My only comfort was that the Roman cavlary took so many casualties that they were a spent force, even one round of javelins should finish them off - if I could catch them. But in the centre my infantry had charged home, it was all coming down to my superior numbers. On my right I had no Romans to fight so had swung the forces on the right to help out in the centre.

And the crunch comes. My forces from the right have swept round behind the Romans cutting off their retreat  and although I have lost one of my big units of infantry, half of the Roman army was at this point routing  - I have to say though awful leadership rolls by my opponent.
A hard fought game on both sides and one where both players used their armies strengths to overcome he enemy. Mine vast numbers and his the line replacement system which allowed him to take damaged units out of the line before they broke.

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