Friday, 14 June 2019

Some Minor Irritations...

The Roman Advance Continues...
More movement in the "This Ain't Judea" campaign. Titus and his father had combined their two forces and moved, via the Camp near Mount Tabor, to the already-conquered Japha. Here we assessed the Butchers Bill from the Japha fight.

Legionaries of the Vth: 140 dead, 240 wounded, 220 light wounded. I tribune wounded.

20 African Horse dead. 20 wounded, 40 light wounded.
20 Gallic cav. dead 60 wounded 60 light wounded.
Gallic Infantry "The Blues": 100 dead 160 wounded 140 lightly wounded. Prefect dead
40 Syrian ("The Yellows") archers wounded. Prefect wounded.

Resting here overnight they reinforce the garrison before moving the short distance to Sepporis (one of the things that struck one when drawing up the map was the relatively "tiny" distances involved - albeit some being over rough ground. As Twain pointed out ". Palestine is only from forty to sixty miles wide. The State of Missouri could be split into three Palestines, and there would then be enough material left for part of another — possibly a whole one").

On approaching the settlement it seems as if, unlike historical Sepporis, new fortification works have taken place and the town is in arms.  The “Sortie” test shows that the garrison will try a sortie, attempting to block the Roman advance. A futile gesture perhaps, given their numbers (about 3,000 - and almost all lights), but there we are - if they had stayed put the town might have just surrendered. 

Although  Mr. Google indicates the approach to Sepporis looks pretty open once you get there, from street view there still seem to be a couple of places on the road from Japha/Nazareth where a blocking action would be feasible.  However, with the “Sally Party” being quite small,  and with the full Roman force (less the garrisons) coming up the road, this would not be a major problem for the Romans. 

Battle of the Sepporis Road

This time I gave myself the job of playing the Judeans, deploying my lads on the high ground. With only two close combat units (one light, one medium) of about 400 men each if it came to close quarters I had no illusions about the result. There were some advantages in my favour - the slope and broken ground fronting my position. 

I guessed that if the enemy did what they did last time (when I was in charge - oops..) the Rebels should at least have been able to maul their horse and missile troops again before the legions swept me off the table...

Enemy Victory conditions: to break me (causing maximum casualties) or, failing that, push though my army to clear the way for its baggage train (currently off table) within ten moves.

My job: to delay or prevent the enemy clearing a path for the baggage within those ten moves, to kill more of the enemy than they kill of mine and to end the game with at least 60% of my force alive, even if not on the field (i.e. withdrawn or broken units still count in my favour 'cos they would run back to the town).

As it panned-out the Romans did not mess about. They threw eight line cohorts and the First Cohort of Xth, plus a cavalry regiment and three cohorts of skirmishers at my 3,000 bods.

Initially they pushed out a skirmish line, but within a couple of moves rushed  their Line Cohorts forwards in pairs in a Frontal Attack, pushing though their skirmishers and up the slopes to my guys.
My missile fire cause a lot of discomfort and, as their lead units clambered up the ridge even my close combat guys managed to slow them for a couple of moves.
By move seven, however, they were right up among my guys, most were already skedaddling, and by the end of move eight their cavalry - which had kept out of the way of missiles for most of the game, charged up, taking down my Commander (captured wounded) and his staff.

That was that as far as my lads where concerned, and my last units broke and ran..

A good number of my guys got away, but casualties were bad - not least because the seriously wounded were left on the field; 639 dead/lost, 240 walking wounded.

The majority of my casualties came from enemy missiles and two disastrous pila volleys at move eight which broke my left wing, with only about 320 lost to close combat. 


Legionaries: 80 seriously wounded,  162 lightly wounded
Spanish Slings: 40 slingers dead. 120 lightly wounded.
"The Reds" Cavalry: 60 cavalry. 40 wounded, 20 lightly wounded.
Syrian "Yellow" archers: 20 lightly wounded.

Technical Stuff;
My House Rules use Random Activation (with tokens as per Sharp Practice and other similar rules systems), so we already have an element of chance.

However, for this skirmish I decided that, once both sides were set up, I would use the turn of my generic Tactical Card deck (like AH's "Caesar's Legions"/"1776" card deck)  to see what the enemy plan was, do once I had written out my own orders (which I could only change within my commander's command range or by using runners bearing new instructions).

As always, I was adapting, experimenting and tweaking, so I introduced an "Army" token for each army. This allowed the side whose token was drawn to consider all of its units activated for that move. Roman sub-commanders diced to see if they would actually move/attack, or use this activation to remove Shock..   Another "new convention" for this game was that after turn five I added a "feint" token to the Token Mix. If this token was pulled the enemy MAY have fooled me - I would test on the Feint Table to see if their "revealed tactical plan" is just be a feint, and, if so, where their real attack is coming in from...


I also tried out a "pinned" rule for (in this case Roman) heavily armoured/shielded infantry coming under intense, close range missile fire.

Any such unit receiving more than five Shock points/casualties from missile fire from within 12" in any single "volley" had to test for morale.

If they failed this test they were deemed to have halted and formed up close, in order to protect themselves from the missiles - and hence be deemed "pinned".

Next move, if still taking hits, they must test again to see if they break out of this "pinning"; either moving normally or, if the test is only just successful, moving as if in testudo - i.e. slowly.

(Rationale: I was unhappy with the Romans just marching on in the face of rapid, effective enemy fire, and thinking in particular about Roman Command teams - and their general lack of large shields. Based on my own experiences of being in a unit sheltering from incoming arrows etc. when equipped with a large shield; your vision is restricted, hearing orders is difficult and there is a reluctance to expose yourself. In addition, if the centurions, standard bearers & musicians have to hunker down behind the shields of their men because of heavy fire - their own shields being inadequate - this will have an impact on command & control).

This seemed to work quite well. 


The Sepporis garrison fled back home, the Romans in hot pursuit. An offer of surrender (unconditional) was refused, and the Romans set up a Marching Camp and prepared to besiege the town.

What with detached garrisons, wounded and desertions, despite their victories in the field, the Roman force does seem to be being whittled away at an alarming rate. Watch this space... 

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