Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Friday, September 24, 2010


Following on from the previous post, which detailed a Lost Battles Dertosa scenario based upon Patrick Waterson's interpretation of the battle in Slingshot 271, it's now time to provide a report of the action from the first playtest.

The purpose of this test was to check whether the Dertosa scenario was workable as written and to a lesser extent to see whether the Lost Battles system would support Patrick's contention that Hasdrubal could have turned this encounter into the Cannae of Spain.  The Carthaginian plan therefore was that of Patrick's Hasdrubal: to encircle the Romans from the left flank and use the veteran infantry to outflank the Roman foot (represented here abstractly by each veteran unit counting as half a unit towards the attack limit, thereby increasing the number of attacks that the Carthaginians can launch from the zones which contain veterans).  The Roman plan was simply to induce the Spanish infantry in the central zone to flee precipitately and then deal with the rest of the army, as happened historically. 

Naturally, one playtest is not going to generate any conclusive results, but the outcome was interesting nonetheless.

Anyway, enough blabbing.  Into the action! 

We take things up in the second turn, which sees the Roman centre double-move forward to take the Carthaginian key zone and keep the levy troops pinned back on their baseline.  The rest of the infantry line advances at a more staid pace, while the cavalry holds back from caution and a dirth of commands.

The shot belows shows the situation after the Roman move (all photos will enlarge if clicked upon).

The Carthaginian response was as one would expect: the infantry in the zones left and right of centre advanced into contact, while the levy centre attacked.  The cavalry prepared themselves to charge on the left and to hold their ground on the right.  What was not predicted was the ferocity of the levy attack.  They light infantry inflicted a hit on their Roman counterparts, as can be seen in the picture below (wooden circles denote spent units).

The infantry lines, now in contact, began pounding away at each other.  Except for the levies in the Carthaginian centre, which continued to land hits while deftly avoiding taking any in return, not much progress was made by either side. 

Meanwhile, due mainly to two turns of low command rolls, the cavalry did not engage until late, and when they finally did the action on both flanks was fairly even.

The picture below shows the situation after the third turn.

As the infantry fight continued into the fourth and fifth turns, the Spanish troops began to set about themselves with a joy-in-battle that belied their levy status.  They scored hits at will, and by the fifth turn Publius Cornelius was forced to begin rallying units to avert shatters.  He saved two, but could not save the third.

The shot below shows the entire Roman centre spent (Note that for the look of the thing each Roman legionary unit here is represented on table by two of the psuedo-maniples in shot.   That's why there are only four spent markers for eight groupings of heavy infantry).

At this point any sensible Roman commander would have pulled back in the centre to buy some time.  That was not part of the plan here however, so Publius and company stood in place.  Their confidence was raised by the fact that the levies now had a unit or two spent of their own, and it would only take three hits to cause a shatter and (hopefully) induce the rest to rout.

Elsewhere in the infantry fight, things went on slowly. The shot below is of the Roman right centre.  Even into the fifth turn there has only been one hit apiece. 

By this stage the cavalry fight had swung decisively.  Gnaeus had been forced to leave the field ungracefully after his cavalry units were shattered by two double hits in a turn; on the other flank the opposite occurred, with the Numidian cavalry fleeing after the light infantry support was shattered. 

On this flank at least things were beginning to look a bit more historical!

The shot below shows the moment at which the Numidian cavalry as a collective decide that it would be preferable to run and have each man preserve both of his horses than to stay and perish with one.

With the cavalry fights resolved and both sides' remaining cavalry units - Carthage with three and Rome with one - racing to encircle the enemy as best they may, the infantry lines started to take things more seriously.  Pressure began mounting on the Roman left centre, which suddenly found itself with all units spent...

...and enemy to front and rear.

Meanwhile, during the Roman seventh turn the Spanish levies finally decided they had had enough, but not before they had inflicted nine hits (three of which were saved by Publius) and shattered one of their opposed units.  The Carthaginian centre was at last open, and the veterans' interior flanks exposed!

But any feeling of triumph is short-lived, for in the Carthaginian phase of that same turn the Roman left centre gave way entirely.  Outnumbered and exhausted, it fell beneath a hail of 6s!

Hasdrubal's ride around the enemy now complete, he was cheered wildly by his right centre!

Publius swung to the right in an effort to destroy the Punic left centre and put the rest of the army to flight, but the veterans were made of stern stuff.

On their turn the Carthaginian veterans scored another hit, and the Romans, surrounded and having lost half of their infantry force shattered, elected to rout.  It is a glorious victory for Hasdrubal - he has indeed pulled off a Spanish Cannae!

It was a great wee battle, and although played solo it kept me interested right until the end.  More in-depth analysis than this will have to wait for another time, but the final victory point tallies may help readers to reach their own conclusions about the extent of the victory, so here they are.

VPs gained by Rome
Shattered: 1 x LHI, 1 x ALI for 10 points.
Routed: 2 x LHI, 1 x LLI, 1x LLC for 12 points
Spent: 3 x VHI, 4 x AHI,  2 x AEL, 2 x AHC for 36 points.
Total Roman points: 58.

VPs gained by Carthage
Shattered: 6 x ALE, 2 x AHC for 48 points.
Routed: 6 x ALE, 1 x AHC, 3 x ALI for 40 points.
Lost: AC, UC for 9 points.
Handicap: 31 points.
Total Carthaginian points: 128.

Result: a resounding Carthaginian victory!


  1. ...and Zama would never happen! :)

    Thanks for the report Aaron!


    John (Acar)

  2. Hey John, thanks for dropping by! Always nice to know you're around :)



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