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Thursday, 13 September 2012

Chalons Battle day project

In 2013 the next battle project for the Society of Ancients will be the battle of Chalons AD451, the Hus vs a confederation of allies including the Romans.
So I thought it might be appropriate to throw the new Die is Cast ancient rules into the ring and see how they fare. So lets start with an order of battle.
Using 6mm armies (I have not painted the armies so for this game we just used blank 40x20 bases with the unit ID marked on, no pretty pictures of troops I am afraid). All units are 4 bases except light troops (skirmishers) which have 3 bases to a unit. Light troop bases take 2 wounds, cavalry bases 3 wounds and infantry 4 wounds. For more details on using element based figures in the Die is Cast rules, see page 29 of the rules.
Order of Battle
1 unit Roman cavalry
HC, guard, elite, javelins, sword, shield
2 units Roman legionaries
MI, steady, veteran, javelins, sword, shield. Sheildwall
1 unit Roman auxila
MI, average, seasoned, javelins, sword, shield, loose
4 units Visigoth cavalry
HC, steady, veteran,  javelins, sword, shield
3 units Visigoth infantry
MI, average, seasoned, javelins, sword, shield, shieldwall
2 units Alan cavalry
LC, raw, seasoned, bow
2 units Frank infantry
MI, steady, seasoned, pila, sword, shield
1 unit Frank cavalry
HC, steady, seasoned, javelins, sword, shield
1 unit Allied cavalry
LC, average seasoned, bow, sword, shield
Roughly, 1600 points
1 unit noble Hun cavalry
HC, steady, veteran, lance, bow, sword, shield
8 units Hun light cavalry
LC, steady, seasoned, bow, sword, shield
6 units Ostrogothic cavalry
MC, raw, seasoned, javelins, sword, shield
1 unit Ostrogothic infantry
LI, raw, seasoned, bow, shield
2 units German infantry
MI, raw, seasoned, javelins, sword, shield, shieldwall
1 unit Frank infantry
MI, average, seasoned, pila, sword, shield
3 units Gepid cavalry
HC, raw, seasoned, lance, sword, shield
2 units German infantry
MI, raw, seasoned, javelins, sword, shield, shieldwall
Roughly, 2300 points

Initial setup
A fairly bare battlefield with a dominant hill on the right of the Roman line. Table 6x4 foot at Portcullis games, Bolton.
In the picture above the Romans (red marker pen) are nearest us and the Hunnic forces on the far side of the table. Special rules for the game:
Romans were passive so they cannot start moving until an enemy unit comes within their charge reach.
Huns tried to take the hill first so the Hunnic player can only move 1 division of their army until they have contacted a enemy unit on the hill. In this case the Hunnic player decided to use the Gepids to take the hill, in the actual battle the Ostrogoths were given the task (and they failed).
The Hunnic cavalry certainly fought hand to hand and there has been some debate about how to represent them. In this game we are simply going to suspend the normal rule that light troops cannot charge other troops frontally and make the Hun cavalry rather good, with high morale and combat weapons as well as their bows.
Once the Romans have broken an enemy unit, then the entire Roman army can start to move freely.
Move 2. Showing the hill lined with Visigoth infantry in shieldwall and their leader (Thedoric a 3/2 general).
Move 3. Gepid cavalry moving round the hill toward the Visigoth cavalry, who are there to prevent the enemy getting round the infantry flank.
Move 5. On the hill one of the Hunnic units of German infantry attempted to charge but instead became Shaken and so the Visigoths decided to take advantage and launch their own attack, downhill. The combat went to the Visigoths (Roman) and the Germans were forced to Retreat.
Move 5. Overall view, with the Hunnic forces in contact with the defenders on the hill, the rest of the Hun army is free to move.
Start of move 6. The Germans have retreated, followed up by the Visigoths but that exposes the Visigoth rear to a charge by the Gepid cavalry. In an attempt to put the Gepids under pressure the Visigoth cavalry now declares charges on the right.
With a miserable pre-charge morale roll of 4, one of the Visigoth cavalry units instead Retreats in the face of the enemy. One of the principles of the Die is Cast is the morale roll, you can do anything you like with your troops so long as they are under your control. Fail a morale roll (as above) and all of a sudden, they are doing what they want to do. Morale rolls are taken; when attempting to charge, receiving a charge, taking casualties from shooting and when losing a round of melee, for example. In other sets of rules a command and control roll is used instead.
The above situation now leaves the Visigothic infantry on the hill to its fate and a lone unit of Visigothic cavalry to fight against two units of charging Gepid cavalry (who with lances have a slight edge in combat anyway).
End of move 6 combat. The Visigoths lose on the hill. The unit on the far right, sandwiched between the German infantry and the Gepid cavalry is literally annihilated and taken off the board (little pile of counters on the end of the hill). In the centre the Visigoths break and flee and on the left the Visigoths are defeated but led by their general are merely forced to retreat. The Hunnic player tried to stop the Frank infantry from pursuing the retreating Visigoths but failed the morale throw and had to make the pursuit move, exposing their flank to the Visigoth cavalry on the far left of the picture.
End of turn 7 combat. The Visigoth cavalry have lost a full base and have taken 2 wounds (yellow die) on another base. They are forced to recoil under the pressure of two enemy units attacking them (they will fight with 4 dice against 6 enemy
Thats all we had time for in this gaming session, in total it took about 1 and a half hours to play through and was a lot of fun for both sides. With a full day to game (perhaps 3-4 hours) two players could fight this through to a conclusion I am sure.

26th of September we tried it again, this time with the Ostrogoths attacking the hill. As per the original game the  first action was the Hun player trying to swing round between the hill and the edge of the table. Both cavalry forces (Visigoths and Ostrogoths) threw their javelins, resulting in one unit of Visigoth cavalry Retreating (just as in the first game) and a unit of Ostrogoth cavalry Routing. Continued pressure saw the remaining unit of Visigoth cavalry first Shaken then Routing and the following wave of Ostrogoth cavalry attacking the flank of the Visigoth infantry on the hill and breaking them. So that is the way will play the next run of the game, which should involve some painted figures, Ostrogoths attack the hill, defended by Visigoths. The early part of the scenario works, the next game should see a full run through.


  1. Blimey that will look great when you get the figs on, how long to paint though? :-)


  2. I think it will be a stunning looking game, as well as fun to play. We can put some of the figures painted on the table right away because some of the players already have painted Gepids and Huns.