Sunday, March 25, 2018

Late Imperial Romans versus Sassanid Persians test game

For a project that started in 2015, it's taken us a long time to play our first game. This was a quick Sassanid versus Romans tester game, to "break-in" our units, and to iron out the kinks before the campaign.

[1] Arjun and I set up with the Romans on the left, and the Gothic allied contingent on the right commanded by Arjun. We had 3 units of Clibanarii, 2 of Equites, 2 Comitatenses infantry, 2 Palatina infantry, 3 Gothic warbands, and 1 unit of Gothic Noble cavalry. Facing us was a massive Sassanid Persian army, with enough cataphracts to make us worried we did not have enough cavalry ... or infantry for that matter!

1. Initial Roman Deployment

Unfortunately, I didn't have time to learn the names of all the Persian units: we were too busy being awed by the array of heavy cavalry facing us!

The Roman general, with a standard bearer bearing the image of the Emperor - just in case the troops needed reminding who they were fighting for!

 A block of Comitatenses infantry, with spear-armed heavy infantry in the front rank, and archers supporting from the rear.

A unit of Palatini, holding the top of a hill, with supporting archers behind.

On the left, Equites cavalry, and on the right, Clibanarii heavy cavalry.


[2] We decided to play it safe and wait for the Persians to attack. On the right flank, the Gothic cavalry charged forward to test the Persian infantry: on our left, the Sassanid cataphracts advanced, with one unit and one light horse circling all the way around a clump of trees on the left (out of frame).

2. Both right flanks advance

[3] We had to realign our infantry in the middle: one unit of Palatini turned left and advanced to cover the approach with archery, while a second remained on the hill but turned. The Equites moved to cover the gap between the Clibanarii and the infantry, and the Roman general, commanding the other unit of Equites, moved to the top of the hill to get closer to the action. Meanwhile, the Persian cataphracts split up, with 2 units moving in closer. The flanking unit completed their turn around the clump of trees, and began to threaten the rear. On the right, the Gothic cavalry continued to push ahead.

3. Romans re-align left; Persians continue to sweeping around the flank

[4] Trying to stall the Persian advance, we charged with our Cataphracts: one unit of Cataphracts turned left to deal with the flanking forces, and one unit of infantry moved ahead to get within shooting range. 
4. Cataphracts charge each other; Goths get surrounded

[5] On the right, the Gothic cavalry got swarmed by infantry, repeatedly charged in the flanks and rear, and eventually got worn down. The Gothic warriors moved forward to support, but too slowly to save the cavalry, and they too were then destroyed piecemeal.

5. Gothic cavalry swarmed

[6] The left flank was where the fighting was fiercest: by the end of the game, 4 Persian Cataphracts and a Light Horse faced off against 3 Roman Clibanarii and 2 Equites. Both Persian and Roman generals were dragged into the melee, and to be honest, it came down to the luck of the dice rolls. A multi-turn attrition fight saw the Persians get worn down due to a few unlucky rolls, and the fight could have gone either way.

6. The decisive clash

[7] In the final turn of the game, the Persian general was surrounded by Roman cavalry, with the Roman general moving around to the rear to complete the envelopment. 

7. Endgame

In the end, this was a game more decided by the randomness of the die rolls than anything else: the forces that took part were fairly evenly matched, and both right flanks advanced and were destroyed by the defenders. A block of Persians in the middle, including two Elephants, did not take part in the fight at all, due to failing command rolls, always a problem when there are too many units to command: the Persians started with 19 units, while the Romans had 12, and in the end, the Persians found it harder to command all of them. We were using a hybrid of Dux Bellorum and Impetus rules (our own house hybrid, courtesy of Capt Arjun), and we're definitely going to continue this campaign. 


Martin's beautifully painted elephants, who did not manage to make it to the fight because there were too many units to control.


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