Wednesday, 10 July 2019

To The Caves....!!!

The Battle of Arbela

As we left it the Romans were approaching Mount Arbel, and the fortified caves thereof...

An interesting little fight ensued, with Rebel missile troops holed up in the fortifications and their (token activated) close-combat supports springing out from caves and spider holes..... 




I was fighting the Romans, starting with only five active cohorts (bows, slings and two legion cohorts) and with lots of (token activated) enemy springing out from the caves and a harassing fire of dropping shots from the cliffs.

Things were looking potentially nasty - until the First Cohort and Vespi himself (token prompted) arrived on the scene. This helped, and there was some hard fighting.



Then, bad news from the Roman point of view, the (token activated) Marching Column started arriving and things began to get cluttered. What I did NOT want was damage to the Column.




With my perimeter being restricted and the column coming on I was forced to activate two Column Cohorts (so lost points) to make a "beachhead" as, bit by bit, all 8,000 of the hostiles came out to play... 




On the left flanks the stalwarts of the First Cohort, though heavily outnumbered, saw off several fierce, but uncoordinated attacks at minimal cost, and effectively broke the moral of this division of the enemy for the rest of the game (had the Rebels known it was the considerable amount of disruption/Shock they had themselves inflicted on the First Cohort which prevented that unit from launching counter attacks they might have felt a little happier with themselves; they were so upset they didn't even have the heart to throw stones).




The centre developed into a shooting match between the enemy javelin men and the Roman slingers and bows. Dropping shots from the cliffs caused some issues - but also inflicted some Blue on Blue casualties on the Rebel javelins.




The climax of the battle came with three hammer-blow charges from the two leading cohorts against the main body of the enemy (about 3,500) on the Roman right. 




Three times in three moves they charged, breaking one Rebel unit and pushing back others (though taking casualties) until shock and weariness broke the Rebel Army Morale...

And not before time; to the rear things were getting cluttered...




Without cavalry on the field there was no pursuit and the vast majority of the enemy (including their lightly wounded) withdrew to their caves to fight another day..

NOT a decisive victory, but enough of one to have cleared the field, allowed the column to pass, and a camp and artillery forward station to be established.

A fun game, but one which again reinforced the Rebels' need NOT to get drawn into the Romans' kind of fight...





Day Two:

The Romans have been busy, erecting some basic fortifications and setting up their artillery. 




Siege engines have to score a hit (on walls, for the heavy pieces, on men for the lighter) as usual. Men get no saving throws if hit. Wall sections suffer 1x6D damage and will take 20 hit points before collapsing. 




A Roman flanking force was despatched overnight to attack the enemy position from the easy approaches to the south. Only the Gods know where THAT force has got to and when/if it will arrive (token & dice driven)...

Enemy missile troops in the fortifications are limited to "dropping shots" into the Roman siege works. Enemy close-combat troops can try to run interference.

Initially the battle started as a missile v artillery one, with minimal casualties on both sides, but some damage to the walls. But then the main "steamroller" of enemy close combat troops assaulted the Roman fortifications.





The walls are low, so I allowed for the attackers "boosting" fellows up the walls (2 front rankers "boost" a rear-ranker). Initially, however, the first wall was fully manned, so that every "boosted" guy had two defenders to beat before he could get a foothold. 





Before any serious advantage could be gained, however, pila volleys and dropping-shots from the Roman bows caused casualties and disruption...

There was some stiff fighting, but THEN, to make matters worse for the Rebels, two (token provoked) cohorts "emerged" from an off-table gate and hammered into the Rebel flank, pushing it back.

But the Rebels rallied; there was a lot of heavy melee at the walls, with the attackers gaining a foothold on the ramparts, causing half of the ballista crews to scuttle for safety (I allowed the rebels a spiking the guns type "cutting the gut" throw for each move they were in possession of an artillery piece without fighting. 1x6D. Throw of a 5 or 6 and the piece was disabled). Five moves in, things were looking dicey for the Romans... 




However, with a surge both inside and outside the ramparts, the Romans pushed back a large body of Rebels and sandwiched another against the eastern ramparts. With close gladius work Rebel losses mounted. A cohort left the safety of the fortifications and, despite taking hits from the archers and slingers on the crags, threatened the enemy skirmishers on the western side of the fort, while another unit came in from off-table to hit them in a pincer movement. 




Rebel army morale was starting to drop now. Almost all of the units that had been in close combat had by now been forced to withdraw at some stage, the body of skirmishes got caught by the legionaries on the west side of the fort, and as the Romans regained control of the ramparts the units being sandwiched panicked. Suddenly it was over - leaving their wounded the Judeans fled back to the caves.




Day Three:


The following day it was the Romans' turn to be active.



Bombardment overnight and through the day laid low much of the defensive walling. There was little the defenders could do in reply, with their close-combat troops up on the plateau after the Romans had driven them from the field and the lower, undefended caves the day before...

All the rebels could do was watch, and send down harassing fire..



The Roman assault (in testudo, supported by artillery, sling and bows) was pretty much a formality.  Once the legionaries got among the caves it was all over....




The Roman outflanking force never appeared (SOMEONE will be getting a rocket from Vespasian) so much of the garrison, having stood idle, while the Roman war machine "got tore in" to their colleagues below, scuttled away safely; but the position fell and the caches of arms and matériel destroyed.

Job done.  On to the next town.....




Technical Note:


The "will-they-won't-they" lottery of the Rebels emerging from the caves/the Roman flanking force added some fun, and I have been messing around with customising Activation Tokens, rather than limiting myself to the vanilla Sharp Practice 2 ones.

This is to both add clarity during the game (yes, I did get my unit commanders mixed up a couple of times - when more than 8 sub-commanders a side are running about it gets messy) and to try to get away from the piecemeal activation - which works well with skirmishes and detached units, but not necessarily with large battles where battle-lines should be the norm. As always my
rules are a work in progress. As always I am reinventing the wheel....

Comments, queries, thought or criticism always welcome.... 


2 comments:

  1. Brilliant. I really like the "Basic" Roman defences and the Testudo are great. The idea to create them ..now why didn´t I think of that when I made one?

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  2. Cheers...

    As probably guessed, the rough n' ready ramparts are foamboard (for things that don't need to last for years n' years I've started using the stiff underlay used to go under laminate flooring. About as robust as balsa, and cheap as chips). Glued, slathered with PVA/wood glue and dipped in sand.

    The "toilet roll testudos" are, again, a tad rough and ready, but do the job and look quite cute struggling up the slopes..

    So long as you're not on the business end....

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Holding Post.....

A Busy Summer.... No recent posts due to work, the reenactment Fighting Season, catching up on some reading, board-game buying, DIY plumbing...