On Good Friday we took our Chalons game down to the Wigan wargames club to try out. What happened was one of the oddest games I have yet played.
We take the battle from the point where the Visigoths have occupied the hill and the Ostrogoths have been told to take it.
So the armies of both sides are static except for the Ostrogoths on the Hunnic side. As soon as they contact the Visigoth infantry on the hill, the entire Hunnic army is released and can start moving. But if the Visigoths rout an Ostrogoth unit in combat, the entire Roman army gets released.
In effect this gives the Ostrogoths three choices;
1) Suicide a unit up the hill but not much of an advantage as both armies will be released.
2) Straight forward attack, straight up the hill but this tends not to work.
3) Attack round the flanks of the hill and then attack the Visigoth infantry in the flank, the most successful option.
So our experienced Ostrogothic commander attempts option 3 but is totally repulsed, the attacking Ostrogoth cavalry are broken (releasing the entire Roman force) with the Visigoth cavalry in hot pursuit.
There then followed a couple of turns of the Attila urging his compatriot to attack the hill quickly and not bother about the fancy tactics, as he was now faced with advancing Romans and little chance of stopping them if he could not move his own forces.
So the infantry attached to the Ostrogoths were sent up the hill in a rather doomed frontal attack and so it proved. At this point we were looking at an overwhelming Roman victory, the first time this had happened.
But since contact on the hill had been made, the Hunnic army was also released, some forces moving to help the Goths and the others attacking the centre.
After a couple of turns of fighting the pursuing Visigoths were stopped and indeed thrown back in disarray. With their cavalry gone the victorious Visigoths infantry flanks and rear was exposed and soon the Ostrogoth cavalry swarmed round them and started to destroy the enemy infantry.
In the centre the Alans fled before even making contact and a unit of Hun Noble cavalry broke through a unit of Roman allied Frank infantry, broke them, rallied immediately and then charged into the flank of some Frank cavalry which had been fighting against other Hun cavalry, breaking them immediately.
Only one part of the Roman army remained intact, the Roman left wing under Aetius, who were fighting rather indecisively against the Gepids. With centre gone, it was obvious that they too would be surrounded and cut to pieces.
Perhaps it was a rather impetuous Roman pursuit that was our undoing but it had all looked to be going so well, so could the Roman players be blamed for trying to take advantage of the situation.
Anyway Saturday is another day, perhaps the dice will bring a Roman victory this time.