Thursday, 27 November 2014

Games Day 1 - Metaurus

So, on a misty, moist morning we gathered for a day of armed conflict. Richard L had driven up from the depths of Wiltshire and Chris A & Phil had come from just down the road. The day was set for some solid wargames action, interrupted only for tea, coffee, biscuits, cake and a visit to the pub.

First up was my AMW take on the battle of Metaurus. The Romans were commanded by Chris & Richard whilst I ran the Carthaginians until Phil arrived. Chris took the role of the brilliant if slightly rash Consul Nero, and Richard was Consul Salinator. The centre was a joint command thingy between the two of them. Don't look too closely at the Roman forces. There's quite a few imposters bulking up the numbers.

The classic opening move. The Romans advance everything, and we get what I am now realising is the "Lockwood Variation", - a compulsion to turn lots of units to an angle whether it's needed or not.

In my role as Hasdrubal, and taking my tactical advice from Livy, I immediately headed for the Romans with my centre, whilst refusing both wings. Essentially I wanted to punch the elephants through the velites before they got javelined to death whilst hiding out in the woods with my warbands and putting off the inevitable with my outnumbered cavalry.

It doesn't look too bad in the centre at this point, but then the fighting hasn't actually started. The Romans are being a bit tricky and are widening their initial deployment to take advantage of their extra numbers. Hardly fair, is it? They should see how it is done at Cannae. The elephants have hit the velites. Let's see how that goes.

Well, after a turn or two's fighting the results are a bit mixed. True, the velites are suffering but so are the elephants (NB for new viewers, elephants lose a base for every hit they take, normal units need four hits to lose a base. There's something in an earlier blog about our elephant amendments to stop them killing everything). One part of the elephant group has gone berserk into my foot. Other rogue elephants have also distributed their bounty in various directions.

More elephant bits and pieces go on the rampage, and one velites unit has done its job by preventing the elephant hitting the legionnaries. I was hoping for some serious softening up before the infantry lines clashed.

Over on the left Consul Nero starts to work his way into the woods. I love this photo. Airfix Ancient Britons on a block wood hill next to one of those Britains Alder Trees. That's Old School Wargaming as far as I'm concerned. If only I'd got my Bellona river in as well.

The elephants finally break through and at least when they go berserk now they're running into Roman units.

The last elephant dies, but it's still inflicting damage. But is it enough?

The struggle in the wood is becoming intense. The warbands have the advantage, but Consul Nero (looking awfully Alexandrian) is there to encourage his men.

Now some news on the cavalry fight. This has been going on for several turns now (BTW Phil joined us a few turns ago and is running all the Carthaginian army except for the Gauls) and has been fairly evenly matched. At this point tho' this combat has finally tipped decisively in the Roman's favour with a failed morale test and the death of the Carthaginian commander on this flank. Out of shot Phil is doing one of his legendary light horse pieces of work, drawing on Richard's flanking heavy cavalry without letting them get into contact.

Next turn it's the Roman's turn to have a command break down as Porcinius dies. Luckily he's an NPC.

A few turns on and a better view of the cavalry fight. The Romans under Salinator have been brought up short by a gallant flank attack by some skirmishers. The Numidians are still playing tag, and have inflicted a few hits on the Roman cavalry. Alas they are now virtually behind their own line.

A wide angle shot shows that the Carthaginians are starting to be encircled, with their left isolated in the trees.

I think it's clear what's happening here.....

The wood fight sees the end of one unit of warbands (they're levy, and failed a morale check or two) but the Romans have taken some serious damage too.

However, it is now deemed that this flank has turned out to be sufficiently awkward that the "Nero flank march" rule is invoked by Chris. His unengaged units are withdrawn from the table. Where will they re-appear?

Actually they never reappeared. It was time to go down the pub, and although there was another hour's play in the game Hasdrubal was stuck in a pocket. Having run out of places to hide the Numidian cavalry was finally caught and by the end of this turn were seriously damaged. Phil had done a good job in the middle, but he was simply running out of units. The Romans were starting to get a lot of 2:1 combats, which mean you die quickly. Hasdrubal was going to lose. It as just a question of time.

Everyone announced themselves pleased with the game. It's not one I would really return to. There's too little in the sources to make this a real refight (the whole cavalry deployment and fight is a common fiction agreed by most authors on the subject), and the only bit we can be sure of is the fight in the woods. After all we know there were woods with Gauls in and Nero attacked them with 6,000 troops.

The elephants performed to spec, doing fairly equal damage to both sides before all being disposed of one way or another.

Stay tuned for part two.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks. Lots of toys on the table always looks impressive.

      Even when they're the wrong ones.