Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Romans Against the World (hypothetical)

We play a set of Home Rules for Ancients. One of the guys in the club wrote the rules and painted the first 6 armies before we played a single game. They are relatively easy to play rules but they do capture the idea of all the different troop and weapon types of the long ancient period. Another member of the club recently raised two Roman legions, early Imperial. By a misunderstanding he raised them at about double strength of any of the original armies. One Friday in early October 2013 we decided to through a mess of troops, purely non-historical, at the two legions to see what mass would be necessary for an even fight. We didn't empty enough boxes!

The set-up was simple. One Roman legion (XX) would attack straight at a big Numidian army that was set up and defending a town. The second Roman legion (VIIII) was coming to support but would be surprised by an army of Helvetians/Gauls falling on one flank and a Persian army falling on the other.

This was the Numidians first time on the table. The battle went much as one would expect with the Roman heavy infantry inexorably pushing back the lighter but more numerous Africans. Unfortunately for the Numidians, their cavalry did not perform up to historical standards and were also pushed back.

Whereas the XX and the Numidians were battling over fairly even and clear terrain, the approaching VIIII Legion had some rough terrain to march through. It had the further complication of dual Consuls having been appointed to command and they were bickering over the distribution of the various ancillary units.

The (completely ahistorical) allies struck simultaneously from each side of the Roman relief column. Unfortunately for the attackers they were discovered far enough away from the column by scout dogs that the VIIII was able to deploy to meet the concentric attacks.

On the Roman right, the associated warbands of the Helvetian tribes struck. Their cavalry and chariots heading off the column, cutting them off from the city. Unfortunately for the alpine tribes, this left them overextended and they were meticulously pummeled by the Roman cohorts.

The Persians struck the Roman left and had better initial success. Their massive tower elephants pushed back a veteran cohort and their hoplites engaged in a stand-up slaughter with two more cohorts. However, there was just not enough weight to the Persian attack and it withered under the midday sun.

The end of the game found the relieving VIIII laagered comfortably, watching the Persians and Helvetians trail away while the smoke began to rise from the distant city.

One final, humorous anecdote. We have a single unit of hapless mercenaries which are often added to one army in our ancients games. This hapless unit is painted as Thracian medium infantry from the period of Alexander. It is understrength, having only 12 figures (most medium infantry being 16 or 18) and it is rated D class (one of very few to have this least desirable rating). In this game, however, they had their moment of glory as, unopposed, they marched up to a Roman battery of scorpions and charged!

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Friday, October 4, 2013

Early Spring 1777 - New Jersey (hypothetical)

Colonel Ebenezer Driscoll’s American brigade stomped out of their winter quarters in search of some rations and shoes. General Howe dispatched Brigadier Dirk Patch to spoil the American’s excursion and keep them hungry and barefoot.
The two columns met near Dricut’s Store on a cold sunny spring day.
Major Scudbucker had been stripping Farmer Northey of what was left of his larders when word arrived of the British advance. He sent a courier thundering (actually trotting, the horse was too lean to do much more) to Driscoll and called his men into formation. Captain Forrester’s Connecticut Light Infantry stretched out to cover the American south flank in an open wood lot. He then deployed his two companies of Pennsylvania Continentals behind fences and outbuildings on Northey’s farm supported by a section of 3-pounders. Scudbucker deployed his German Flats militia behind and in support of the guns.
Driscoll had personal control of the rest of his small command. He deployed his Connecticut Line to cover the American north flank in thick woods. The 5th Company of the 4th New York Line deployed on an open hill to the right of the Nutmeggers. His small detachment of riflemen moved to a copse of walnut trees between the hill and Northey’s farm. Coming up from the rear, where they had been “guarding” (more like looting) the already filled supply wagons, were the 3rd and 4th companies of the 4th New York.
Patch deployed his force in a long thin line opposite the Americans. Quickly the two forces were heavily engaged. The 42nd Highlanders led down the farmer’s trail with a 6-pounder lumbering by their side.  A slugging match ensued between them and the American riflemen on one side and the First Pennsylvania on the other.  The uneven struggle fixed the Americans’ attention to fatal consequences.
Major Jonathan Dimsdale led the 33rd Regiment of Foot sharply through the woods and into line in support of, and just north of, the Highlanders. From behind the Highlanders a company of Marines moved into the farm building opposite the Pennsylvanians and took up shooting positions under cover of the thick log walls. This, despite the New Yorkers deploying in support of the Pennsylvanians and delivering a measured volley.
The tide of battle, a battle only 15 minutes old, now turned distinctly in favor of the redcoats. While the Highlanders fell back the 33rd decimated the riflemen with rapid volleys, forcing them to likewise retire. On the far northern flank the dismounted 17th Light Dragoons started to drive the Connecticut lIne through the woods, though stubbornly opposed.
At the same time three companies of grenadiers approached Scudbucker’s center.  The Pennsylvanians did their best, standing stoically behind Northey’s fences but the balls arrived with much too great a regularity. One by one the Continentals fell out of line, dead, wounded, or just done in by the ferocity of the British fire. The cannons banged away but mostly ineffectually, getting only a single telling canister shot in that beheaded a poor lieutenant of the 23rd Foot and cut an entire section in half.
The coup de main in Scudbucker’s area was when the Grenadiers of the 5th Foot moved forward, bayonets glittering in the sunshine. The Americans had had enough.
On the far south flank the Light company of the 10th Foot methodically cut up the American Light Infantry and then chased away the militia, bravely led forward by Captain Van Eyken, with a deliberate fire by platoons.
With the riflemen and the Pennsylvanians falling back it was now the turn of the 5th New York company to be
decimated on their exposed position on the naked knob.
In apoplexy Driscoll watched his command melt away under the British fire. Captain Iverson’s company of New Yorkers and Miller’s Connecticut line, from cover of woods west of Northey’s farm, checked the British pursuit long enough for the remnants of the American brigade to slink away. All in all the Americans lost 211 men out of only 1120 engaged. Another 55 simply disappeared into the countryside, never to return to their units.  Patch’s regulars, by contrast, brought 1400 men to the fray and suffered a bare 96 men lost to all causes.
This battle was fought in 25mm in January 2013. We use A Continent in the Balance rules.