Tuesday, 28 May 2019

The Battle of TelAMWmon

In recognition of the Society of Ancients' battle day this year, my large scale AMW ancient re-fight this late May bank holiday was the Battle of Telamon.

Usually I turn to Phil Sabin's "Lost Battles" or "Strategos" to help me set these up. This time I was forced to read the sources (well, source: it's Polybius or nothing)  myself and work out my own orbats and layout. Either Phil doesn't trust the sources of the battle just breaks his system.

The battle features an army of Gallic plunderers returning home with their loot being trapped between two Roman armies, and having to fight back to back.

AMW isn't too kind to Warband armies, so I re-wrote the combat factors, and made some adjustments for the Gaesati, who fought naked and were greatly trouble by the javelins of the Velites.

Rather than hand out a rules printout, I wrote the changes up on my new-ish whiteboard:

For the afternoon we had a good turn out. Both of our Chris' took one Roman army, and Phil & Steve the other. Richard & I ran the Gauls. I got the army with the Gaesati. The two pairs of Roman players split the armies between Romans and allies.

I think it is easy to tell where the Gauls are, and also the two Roman armies. In the distance is the  hill where the Roman cavalry won a famous victory at the cost of a Consul. The other hill, which would be near the camera, where the Gauls placed their baggage wasn't put out. It just took up space, and doesn't feature in the battle as essentially it just secures that flank. I relied on the edge of the world instead.

The flank near the camera is a bit open for the Romans, so both sets of commanders looked to close it out early on. I should note now that this is quite a hard battle to describe, especially if you are taking part in it. Just sit back and enjoy the pictures.

We had an early clash of cavalry, as I tried to force my way round the Chris' right flank. The Gauls are fresh painted Italeri Gallic Cavalry, part of my haul from Peterborough last year.

Here we see Chris K and Richard having a "are you sure you want to do that" conversation.

Initially Richard was more aggressive than me. He pushed forwards, and moved his second line out to try to envelope the Roman left flank. I held back to keep out of javelin range, as the Gaesati don't get saving rolls. I needed to engage quickly when the correct time came, and use my second line to exploit any breakthroughs or cover any break ins.

On the hill Phil tried to ride down my light infantry and had a shocker, as I killed a base and then he failed a morale check. Not having his Consul involved saved him from severe embarrassment and avoided copying the historical commander death.

Then it was time for my line to attack. There are some hit rings on a Roman unit in the middle,  inflicted by my chariots, which, honestly, played an absolute blinder throughout the entire game

This back to back business gave Richard and I some game management issues. Alas I do not have the removable table centre in the style of Blue Peter, nor, I believe, the Brigadier Peter Young.

The Romans facing Richard were looking a bit overwhelmed as he threw everything at them. Steve was particularly perplexed at this point. Phil is sitting back, glad it isn't his problem, and wondering how he is going to recover the position on the hill.

Having crushed my cavalry in the earlier melee, Chris K immediately turned in on the flank of my Gaesati. I rushed my chariots up to intervene (NB They count as having 4 bases, - I just don't have enough models)

Richard, meanwhile, has got round the Roman flank, and is pounding them hard.

The cavalry flank charge kills a base, but the unit passes its morale check.

Our lines are now more of a bubble shape, with our cavalry and chariots floating round outside it. My chariots have drawn off Chris' cavalry, but my Gaesati units are starting to evaporate, except for one, which has found an open flank. I'm able to shore things up with my reserves, but away on the hill top Chris A has bailed Phil out by throwing his cavalry into the melee, catching my horse from behind.

It's hotting up between Richard and Steve. That kneeling single base unit of Gauls holds on for a long time, enabling Richard to develop his flanking move further.

My flanking Gaesati perform a superb two turn destruction of some Hastati. Perhaps things are turning my way (and, yes, those Roman allies are being played by Greek Mercenary hoplites).

The cavalry melee on the hilltop increases in intensity.

My end of the bubble has sort of opened up. My triumphant Gaesati in the middle go a step too far, and are reduced to half strength in short order by the Principes line of the Roman allies. Off picture my chariots are doing a number on Chris' cavalry.

Richard is going very well. Steve has had to form a flank to avoid being overwhelmed. However, he is confident of finally destroying the singleton Gaulish unit (now known in game terms as a "Valerie*"), pre-announcing his victory in no uncertain terms.

 And then rolls 4 ones. Read the omens in those entrails, Roman.

I've sent the chariots in the distance up to the hills to forestall the cavalry, but Chris A's remaining troops start to turn in on my far flank. Steve has also now finally punched a hole in Richard's line.

Phil has got Richard's left flank in a vice with both foot and horse. I have forced Chris A to divert some foot to deal with the threat my chariots are posing to his cavalry.

Richard is counter attacking on Steve's flank, and think he sees a glimmer of hope (he hasn't looked at my level of casualties. They aren't obvious as I've put the broken units back in their boxes as I'm trying to clear the table as we are going along. A BBQ post game is scheduled, and the rain pounding on the Shedquarters roof suggest we'll probably be eating inside).

My one ray of hope are my chariots, which I try to use to ride down an isolated unit of Velites whilst one of my last warbands tries to finish off some Principes.

Alas my chariots finally crack and are broken, as is my army, finally reduced to four units, the game break point for each army. Richard is on his own now. Doubly so, as my remaining units are removed, and I go outside to take advantage of a lull in the weather to light the BBQ.

When I get back it is game over. Steve has managed to hold on, and Phil has carried on destroying units. Richard's army is broken too. There'll be no drinking round the Gaulish campfires tonight.

It was a close game, and most of the mods I made worked out okay. I got the chariot/cavalry factors a bit wrong, but that didn't spoil the game. The army deployment seemed to go okay as well, so that was well worth the 30 minutes research I did. The whole game took about three hours, which for 6 players and the number of figures on the table wasn't too bad at all.

Yes, a fine way of spending a Bank Holiday.

* As in Valerie Singleton, a reference lost on any non-British readers, and those under the age of 55.


  1. Valerie - brilliant! I am indeed British and 55+.

    Nice report. Has immediately made me consider a 2 player DBA game with three forces. The 'filler' in the sandwich is played by the two players, each of them taking the half facing their opponent's other force - like the SPI game Battle for Germany.

    Now combine that with these strange ideas, of which you tell, about a double DBA battleline with the battle fought as two separate rounds and where do we end up...?

    I might have to consider that.


    1. We did do this as a DBA battle with the Gauls in a Roman sandwich. There's a report somewhere on it. Be trying it again tomorrow, probably.

  2. Super looking game with a lot of interesting action. Telamon is a battle I have been working towards but am nowhere close to fielding all of the troops needed. Do you have an OB you care to share?

    Again, great stuff!

    1. I'll try to put up an orbat, but basically the two sides had the same number of units, so work out your two Roman armies and match the Gallic numbers to them.

  3. Excellent game, Graham.

    The chariots are certainly annoying. I would go with IRL's interpretation of them being mobile missile platforms, and think that Phil's idea of increasing the intra-cavalry factors to obtain a quicker resolution has merit. Who knew that the Gallic baggage contained chocolate pudding as well as barbecued sausages?

    Regards, Chris

    1. And lemon cheesecake. Don't forget that.

  4. I took your advice and sat back and viewed the photos. A wonderful looking game.

    1. Thanks. Now you are familiar with what's going on feel free to go back and read the words.