Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Friday, April 3, 2015

Romans and Gauls

Following on from our first game of To the Strongest on April 1st, we made an early start next morning so that we could get another battle done before Luke was due back in Osaka (Luke's report can be found here).

Simon Miller has said that Romans vs Gauls was a good match up under the rules, so that's what we decided to play. This time Luke took the Romans, generously allowing me the chance to squeeze into some tight trousers and don a checked cloak.

Luke won the initiative and pushed forward on all fronts. He had gone for a mixture of medium-sized legionary units supported by veteran small units. I enrolled eight bands of warriors and went for cavalry, hoping again to gain ascendancy on one flank and use my deep units to burst through where I could. I enlisted six heroes to lend weight to my attacks; Luke grabbed four.

My cavalry command was a bit slow to get moving, but elsewhere we were able to present a satisfyingly solid front to the dastardly Romans and their tricky commander.

The lines soon came into contact and battle was joined. Annoyingly for both of us, we kept forgetting to use our heroes to re-roll early missed attacks. I need to get some figures to use for the wee champions - little coloured blocks are clearly not obvious enough for our aging eyes!

The initial stages of the fight in the centre were characterised by much effort but little headway.
On the right we had some marvellous success: our cavalry stole a march on their Roman opposites, attacking from both the flank and the front.

Our cavalry can just be seen outflanking the Roman left
Unfortunately for us, the cavalry missed their next five attacks (and yes, I forgot to use my hero for two of them!), Luke got some veteran legionaries over as cover (a la Caesar at Pharsalus) and we began to take casualties.

In the infantry clash the legionaries began to wear us down with their combination of standard and small sized units. Under Luke's sure hand they were able to rally hits on the larger units and exchange lines to protect weaker/damaged units and or deliver a second attack (I thought line exchange worked really well here).

For us, we were unable to rally any hits successfully, and things were beginning to look a little shaky.

Gallic casualties mount as the flexible legionaries mount powerful attacks..

Luke effected a first breakthrough on the left of the Gallic line, but we were able to immediately plug the gap by bringing forward our reserve.

Reserves, eh?  
With the Roman cavalry threatening to outflank us via the stream, the cavalry on our left fired off a few desperate javelin volleys. Incredibly, both hit, and the turncoats (Aedui, no doubt...) broke! Thus inspired, the infantry redoubled their efforts (ie, we gave up trying to rally hits and just went all out on the attack), and the Roman line - thinner in the centre than at its ends - began, for the first time, to show signs of weakness.

Javelins over the stream...
But the situation on our right was now desperate as the legionaries stormed through there as well. With no reserve left, it was up to the warriors of our main line to make up for it, and they did, bursting through the Roman centre themselves.

The Roman line thins...

Our right is about to collapse.

And then we are through in the centre.

Could this be a glorious day?
With the battle entirely in the balance, both sides needed three victory medals to win. In practice, the Romans had to destroy one unit of warband or the cavalry and leader (in photo below) still trying to finish off the cavalry on the Roman left.

For the Gauls, victory would require the destruction of two standard units (cavalry or legion) or a standard unit and a small unit (veteran legion).

You have done well, but a little bit more help from you is required, mes ami!!
We held a slight advantage in that it was our turn, and we could choose where to strike, but we also knew that it had to be won right now: we could not survive the next Roman attack.

Accordingly, we decided to attack first on our left, needing one hit to defeat the legion there, and then to try our luck on the right again, hoping our cavalry could finally score the hit they needed to break their enemy.

Would it be victory or death?

The attack was launched on our left, but we could not land the hit.

Then the Romans battle back and break us!

A triumph, Gaius!

And so ended a tense and thrilling game.


Everything in the rules worked very well here. There were ups and downs for both sides, and while the Romans held the edge, the Gauls came back strongly and almost snatched a victory against the odds.

Luke played a very strong game, I thought. He used the army well mixing standard and small units in double line, and some quick thinking (and steady nerves) saved the breakthrough on his left from becoming a rout. To be honest, we were lucky to come back into the reckoning; but you have to take your luck when you can get it in this game.

Once again we came away thinking that Simon Miller has really got something good going with To the Strongest! It will be interesting to see where he takes things from here.

Thanks for reading, and hope you enjoyed the reports.


  1. Looks like an amazing game. Are your armies based specifically for To the Strongest? Do other basing systems work for it?

    1. Hi Kristopher, it's designed to work with any basing system, and especially to allow people who use different basing conventions to game together.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. What basing size did you use? Conventional DBx basing or your own size? It looks like theres enough room on those bases for the miniatures.

    4. The Romans are based as if auxilia under DBx basing, but I used double bases as well, so each unit is made up of 2x 40x30 and 2x 40x15. This gives some flexibility, and will eventually allow me to field up to 32 units for Roman Civil War battles (once the rest are all painted up!).

  2. Great looking game, and nice to hear you like Simon's rules. I've yet to try them, but it appears like something I'd like too.

    1. I don't get as many games in as I'd like these days so we've been waiting for a while to get these on the table. They were worth the wait though Dean!

  3. A real nail-biting finish, Aaron!
    Great looking game and tactics are beginning to emerge from your play.
    Let's see some more of this evolution.

    1. Hi Jonathan, I think the tactics are fairly straightforward, but pulling the right number at the time you want it is a little trickier!

  4. Great stuff, Aaron, It's good to see the Gauls having a good showing against the dastardly Romans...

  5. Golly Aaron, it sounds like you and Luke have really mastered the rules!

    Re warriors, as you learned it is rarely worth rallying them. Stack 'em two deep, pack them with heroes, stick a heroic general in front and chaaarge!

    I'm glad it was a close one- I wanted games to end with a bang, and with a clear victor, as in Command and Colors. It is surprising how many games come down to the very last medal.

    Best, Simon

    1. Yes, plenty to explore, and good fun to do so! Thanks Simon :)

  6. Dramatic game. Also nice to see rules that balance the Gaul Roman fights.

    1. Yes, they worked well David!

    2. How did you manage it with out cards all over the table?

    3. Hi David, this is the secret!

    4. Ah thanks Prufrock I saw them but didn't realise the significance.

  7. Great report and wonderful pics. To the Strongest is our game of choice here in KC. Also playing a lot of German vs Marian and Principate Roman.


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