The Game Continues...
As we left it Titus had realised he'd made a boo-boo in not levying supplies for the coastal cities as he marched north. He therefore decided to backtrack, spending the next week going back down the coast, levying munitions from several cities, before pushing back up to Caesarea to resting his troops.
He then pushed across the hills to Narbata, which, while hostile, yielded to his massively superior force without a fight. Leaving a garrison here he pushed on to Scythopolis, reaching this town on the 16th.
Meanwhile, as Titus shuttles up and down the coast, and despite the savaging of his rearguard, Vespasian pushes on to Japha on the 8th..
The Road to Japha:
"historical Japha" the town has not been newly fortified
(Regional Card decision) but, like their historical counterparts, the
defending forces decide to form up outside the town to face the Romans anyway. There
are some 9,000 of them this time (as opposed to the "historical" 12,000. It might be noted that I have been tweaking the "draft" rules for this exercise. I decided the garrisons strength were too small).
To get a feel of what the terrain was like I
looked at Google; finding a page all about Japha of The Galilee, and
look at Google maps 3d & Street view to get an idea of the
topography. Looks like the ancient town was on a ridge with a very
steep slope on one side and a kind of undulating plateau fronting it on the south, with the road from the south/Scythopolis approaching up a wadi.
It seems reasonable that the locals would take advantage of this. I decided to strew the table with token "fields" - no high walls, nothing to interrupt movement, but supplying enough cover to conceal any enemy forces - and thus make my (the Romans') job more difficult.
However, I needed a way to allow the "enemy" to appear (or not) in a way to keep me guessing, so out comes the old "Pack of Cards" and Tables method again...
Japha Rules.. OK..?The actual fighting will be as per my usual House Rules (Activation as per SP, using commander/unit tokens, plus custom tokens and command tokens).
Defending Player Entry
dictated by the cards/dice. This side starts with three command
tokens, rising to 4 once 5 units (excluding Command) are on the
table. If the total of units reaches 10 another Command token is
added to the mix.
Once 12 units are/have been deployed on the table
an "Army Charge" token is added to the mix. If this token
is drawn ALL enemy units at once charge their nearest Roman unit to
assault in close combat.
No enemy units are deployed on
Roman first arrival. No enemy units are in view. They may be
Throw a dice for each move where a leading Roman
unit/Roman unit is moving with exposed* flank, rear or front. On the
throw of a "6" draw a card from the Revealed Enemy Pack (below).
Dice for the Roman unit affected if potentially more than one. Lowest
"loses". In the case of a "lowest" tie ALL tying
units are affected.
(*Exposed = no friendly units have already
crossed the ground within ahead or to side of said unit, no enemy
units are already occupying that position, the ground has not already
been crossed by fleeing/withdrawing enemy troops.
If existing unit
placements/range issues mean a new unit would have to be placed
behind an existing unit no new unit is placed)
Also, on the
drawing of a "Revealed Enemy Token" (C) from the Activation Token
Draw similarly draw a card from the Revealed Enemy Pack.
both situations apply the results below from the Revealed Enemy Pack
based on the card drawn until all enemy units have been revealed.
(Note: Figures in excess of the figure-mix or the
pre-determined enemy army strength cannot be placed. If other figures
types are available use those based on the Reveal List. If no figures
are available the opportunity is deemed lost. The only exceptions to
this are units placed as a result of a Card-Token draw of Ace of
Joker. Units drawn and placed of sight of the Romans are represented
by a token not figures. The unit size/make-up not revealed until
"seen" by the Romans).
Reveal List; Order
of enemy type reveal, unless diced for, is:
Slings and bows. Once all of one type is deployed go to -
Slings, staff slings and bows. Once all deployed go to -
Javelin men. Once all deployed go to -
4th: Light close-combat
infantry (start by throwing stones)
Close Combat Infantry:
1st: Light close-combat infantry (start by throwing
stones). Once all deployed go to -
2nd: Medium close combat
infantry (no missile capacity). Once all deployed go to -
Heavy close combat infantry (ditto)
With a card activation
(only) Enemy unit placements are subject to the above restrictions
plus additional restrictions on the Revealed Enemy Table and the
following. Note that if existing unit placements/range issues mean a
new unit would have to be placed behind an existing unit place it,
but no movement/action/shooting is allowed on the turn of
Card activation (only) can lead to enemy troops
entering the table from behind Roman units and ground already passed
over by Roman troops, but they cannot enter from any Roman Entry Zone
(i.e. any point where Romans entered the table).
Enemy unit type is decided on the table below. Number per unit decided by a 10D dice throw (1pip = 100 men, on the table the ratio will be 1 figure represents 20 men).
Defender Options DrawEnemy individual unit/commander activation follows normal procedure, with a suitable Activation
Token allocated to that unit added to the Token mix once a unit hs been revealed.
a unit has been revealed add a Defender Options token to the Token
Mix (B). The drawing of this token will prompt a draw of a card from
the Defender Options Pack. This affects the enemy actions. Apply this result to all revealed units.
is deemed an encounter battle, so no units are on the table to begin
the Roman player has three tokens and four Command Tokens in the
token mix. Units enter the table when their token is drawn. Once on
the table normal Activation rules apply for individual units. A
further unit token is added to the token mix each subsequent move. In
addition, for every 2ft of table edge controlled by the Roman Player
an additional unit token is placed in the mix. Activation of
individual commanders/units/formations works normally, i.e. an
activated commander can command formation/s or unit/s as normal SP
rules up to his command ability.
When the Roman token count
totals to 8 unit tokens (all deployed unit tokens count - so even
unit tokens removed from the mix due to routing/annihilation still
count towards this total) another Command Token is added to the mix.
When the Roman token count totals to 10 another Command Token
(total of 6) AND a Cohort Command Token is added to the mix.
Command Token (CCT): When drawn, a CCT represents either:
The actions of experienced, professional Roman sub-commanders off
table. This allows the entry of up to four previously undeployed
Legion cohorts (up to the army strength limit) onto the table
(already formed up as a formation if desired) assuming there is
Roman-controlled deployment space free at table edges.
can be in line, column or any mix of the two.
If there is not
space for such a deployment at table edges under Roman control the
token confers no new deployment advantage and NO units/formations
enter as a result of this token being drawn.
coordination of units on the field by experienced, professional Roman
sub-commanders. When drawn (and not used as above in a move) the CCT
allows any four adjacent Roman legion units/units within 4" of
each other with no intervening units or impassible/hostile terrain,
to be deemed activated. Such units do not need to have already been
formed as a formation and not have to act as such.
Note: it is
the individual units that are counted when using this counter. Units
already making up a formation count as individual units for
activation purposes using the CCT EVEN if they then act as a
In the move after the CCT has been drawn an
Auxiliary Token (AT) is added to the mix.
Every time this
token is drawn either:
1) Two previously undeployed Auxiliary
units enter the table as per above CCT rules.
Auxiliary unit/formation may be deemed activated.
The Battle of Japha
field is apparently empty..... I push forward my African light horse
on my right as a screen and advance one of my slinger units on my
left. No enemy appear..
Next move I bring on an Auxiliary cohort and an archer
unit on and alongside the road. Pushing my African horse further
towards the town I want to screen the road while moving my heavier
troops up it at speed. But the Activation tokens are against
Move four; still no show on enemies part - but ditto re. my cohorts; presumably they're still struggling up the wadi.
I still want to push my light troops forward -
but suddenly the ground to my front left and right is alive with
enemy. Arrows and slingstones rain down among my sling troops. Some
casualties are taken, but the enemy have opened at long range. We
reply, but, leading from the front, I will have to look to Vespasian's safety if they move any
Over on the right the missiles from some 700 enemy
slingers and bowmen tear into my horsemen, bringing down their
Prefect and taking down a several score troopers. One my left I face another 600 assailants.
again, my Activation options are torn away from me - and more
missiles pile in; reducing my cavalry to a fleeing scatter . Five
moves in and I already have a broken unit.
Next move I get
the chance to bring on another unit, but the road is already choked with an Auxiliary unit.
I bring up a Legion cohort on my left. More missiles bring down more
of my slingers. They reply, but to no effect.
token draw reveals/forces enemy action - Seven card: "Enemy
missile troops deploy/redeploy to engage the head of any leading
advancing force and engage at effective to max. range only".
The enemy left moves to comply - basically following my fleeing
horsemen. But suddenly my luck changes. I get a chance to rally my
slingers and push the Auxiliary cohort and archers forward. All
looking more positive.. Until....
The enemy commander emerges
from the town. Whether inspired by his presence, some prearranged
signal or the pulling of a Token (OK.. It's the token) enemy missile
troops spring from cover and open fire on (test for unit).... Oh, no
- my bloody archers... To make matters worse ALL of the enemy slings
& bows are on the field and now a thousand javelin men swarm up from
the concealing slopes on the flank of my archers and lob their deadly
pointy-sticks.. OK - at effective rather than close range, and the
effect is basically shock, but I do NOT need this... We return fire,
but given that it started well, this has NOT been a good move..
Over the next few moves things don't get much better. My African horse and the archers bolt for the table edge and I am forced to pull back my slings before they do the same. A couple of Legion cohorts arrive, but so do more enemy, then an enemy close-combat troop rushes the Auxiliary cohort, breaking it.
of Legion cohorts arrive, but so do more enemy, then an enemy
close-combat troop rushes the Auxiliary cohort, breaking it.
Over the next few moves there is a lot of "wave effect" action. I push cohorts forward. Enemy close -combat troop charge - and get pushed back, but the enemy missile troops and stone throwers (light close combat enemy can chuck rock - "They've got them up there, lying around on the ground..") batter my Legion lads, not causing many casualties, but inflicting severe shock - to the degree that one cohort actually breaks, only to be rallied by Vespy himself, and I have to pull them back to allow recovery...
A token-dictated Card decrees the enemy try a mass attack. This get thrown back, but my bacon is only really saved by a "Cohort Token". Four fresh Legion units enter, soon to be followed by two cavalry troops.
Although enemy casualties have been relatively light (except among those foolish enough to come within gladius range) the pushing/withdrawing of their close combat guys is having an effect on their Army Morale...
One good attack by my leading cohorts, coupled with a repulse of a counter attack and the catching of an enemy unit on front and flank at the same time is enough. The Home Side reaches breaking point.
I send my cavalry rushing forward to hack up all they can reach, but my foot troops are exhausted. Most of the enemy flee north and east, with only a couple of units running for the town. A mere scatter (approx. 240) enemy skirmishers get into the town, with my horse at their heels. The town falls....
With Japha destroyed a Marching Camp is established on the ruins. Leaving a garrison of the Xth Legion and attached auxiliaries here, plus the wounded, to recover from their exertions, Vespasian takes the remainder of his force into the Decapolis.
Gadara, Hippias and Pella are only too keen to open their gates and supply support. By the 17th Vespasian is back at Scythopolis. From here the two armies proceed to Japha together, then on towards Sepporis...
One useful aspect of this campaign is that it is helping me test/hone my
House Rules for larger actions. The addition of the “Cohort Token” and
“Enemy Reveal” and “Enemy Actions” tokens/decks seemed to work well.
The effect of mass missile fire/stone throwing
on the legion cohorts was interesting; really piling on the shock but
with (relatively) few casualties. I feel that some kind of “forced
withdrawal” mechanism as a result of mass stone-throwing/rapid slings at
close range might be worth trying. Watch this space....