Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Monday, December 26, 2016

Caesar at Munda

And now to a battle report. Munda, Caesar's last victory, was the scenario. As usual, the rules used were Lost Battles, but I did tweak the scenario slightly.

Caesar's account gives the impression that he was trying to tempt the Pompeians to come down off their hill onto the plain, while the Pompeians for their part were trying to induce Caesar to attack them in their hilltop position.

To reflect the tension over this, I would dice each turn until one side gave in and advanced. I also decided to dice for other potentially critical moves, such as the timing of cavalry charges on the wings.

Finally, I downgraded Caesar from a brilliant general to an inspirational one because he didn't seem to do anything particularly tricky at Munda except for nearly lose. The two armies were therefore very closely matched, with Caesar's just superior at a fighting value of 90 versus the 83 of Pompeius Jr. and Labienus.

Turn 1: 

Deployment, as described by Phil Sabin in Strategos II. Caesar has all-veteran legions; Gnaeus and Labienus have a mixture of average and veteran. Caesar has the edge in cavalry, but the Pompeians the edge in position.

Turn 2: 

Gnaeus adjusts the positioning of his wings, but does not advance off the heights. Bogud takes his Numidians to the far right wing. Caesar brings all the troops forward, with unrulier elements shouting at their opponents to come on down and fight.

"Come down here and fight!"

"How about you come HERE and fight!"

Turn 3: 

Gnaeus and his men remain on the hill. Caesar's also remain in place, continuing to indulge in 'banter' with the enemy.

Turn 4: 

They've had enough. Gnaeus senses the dissatisfaction in his ranks and brings his men down off the hill. The cavalry wings remain in place with one legion to reinforce the right flank and another to stay on the hill and support the left.

Caesar gleefully attacks, and a third of the Pompeian legions are spent in the first onslaught.

Turn 5: 

The Pompeians recover from the first attack and strike strongly at the Caesarian centre. Elsewhere, however, they make no progress.

Caesar hits Gnaeus' command again, putting him in a precarious position and in need of reinforcement. On the right, Bogud advances with his horse. Although the attack is against Caesar's better judgement (a 6 is rolled in answer to my 'will he or won't he?' question), he drives off the light infantry, so the great man is not unhappy.

Turn 6: 

The Spanish cavalry take the attack to Bogud, hitting the Numidians in a powerful countercharge. Disaster is avoided only by Bogud's personal intervention. Gnaeus, given the fragility of his position, pulls his command back onto the hill. Not only will it buy time and space, but it will break up the continuity of Caesar's infantry line and so prevent him from being able to easily relocate reserve legions to needy areas.

Caesar follows up, but is forced to leave one legion behind as a reserve. The fighting continues along the line.

Turn 7: 

The cavalry strikes Bogud again. Once more he rallies, but the attack on that wing is proving to be a drain on Caesarian resources. In the centre, the Pompeians push, and, catching the veterans at a bad moment, maul them badly. One unit shatters, and Caesar is obliged to find reserves for two places at once.

Turn 8: 

Inspired by the success of the centre, Gnaeus' command also falls upon the enemy with renewed vigour. Another unit is shattered in the centre before the reinforcements can move into line, and Caesar is now under genuine pressure. Bogud is again hit, but this time cannot rally his men, and they too are now in a precarious state.

The veteran legionaries of Caesar's centre-left restore calm by shattering a unit under Labienus' command. Seeing this, and knowing that the Pompeians have weakened their right to strengthen the centre, the Gallic cavalry of the left judges it an opportune moment to engage. An all-out-attack sees them clear the light infantry from the foward slopes of the hill, but it is harder going against the Spanish cavalry.

Turn 9: 

Following the loss of his lead unit (and the example of Gnaeus), Labienus also pulls his command back onto the hill. On the opposite end of the infantry line Gnaeus scores another hit against Caesar, who must commit yet another of his fast-dwindling reserves.

The Spanish cavalry on both wings now turn their position to account: a double hit on Bogud's zone sees him killed and his command destroyed; while on the right, the cavalry on the hill perform similar feats, shattering the lead Gallic unit and forcing the other to flee.

The tide has surely now turned in favour of the Pompeians.

In such a desperate situation, Caesar is heard to say that he must fight now not for glory, but for his life. The men respond, shattering one of Gnaeus' units, and another in the centre.

Bogud hit and killed.

The Gallic cavalry swept away.

Desperate times for both sides, but Caesar has lost his cavalry.

Turn 10: 

The Pompeians seize the moment, shattering two more units, in Caesar's zone and (again) in the centre. But Caesar's men are veterans, and do not run.

The cavalry comes down off the hill to engage the light infantry, and the other cavalry outflank Caesar himself.

The Caesarians strike back by shattering two units in the centre and centre-left. Suddenly fearing a rout, the Spanish cavalry skedaddle, easing the pressure on Caesar's zone somewhat.

(In normal Lost Battles the game would be up after ten turns, but this is not normal Lost Battles, so we continue.)

Turn 11: 

Troubles multiply for Caesar: three shattering hits are inflicted on his centre. His veterans are too stubborn to rout, but he can muster nothing in return.

Turn 12: 

The Spanish cavalry shatter the light infantry. The coup de grace sees the centre give way, and all, for Caesar, is darkness.

And in this manner was Caesar defeated, hunted down by his enemies, and slain.

Caesar's last battle indeed.


  1. Nice battle! Very Roman looking. On the bright side, no Ides of March!
    Our group plays Romans but using To the Strongest. I know you have played those too. How would you compare those to Lost Battles?

    1. Haha, yes, that's a fairly decent bright side, especially for the local cleaning ladies! To compare the two, Lost Battles is more broad-brush than TtS, using 20 squares as opposed to the 100+ you'd get with TtS, and it's intended to model historical battles. It's less exciting I suppose, but I find it relaxing to play solo and the action plays out like Caesar, Polybius, Livy et al read. As you already know, TtS is a fun and lively game, and is excellent with a group. They scratch different itches, for me. If I want to study a battle I'd play Lost Battles, if I want to have a few mates over for a game and perhaps some beers, TtS would be a better choice.

      Hope that helps!

  2. Great read, nicely done on both sides!

  3. Very interesting fight, I am left wondering what the outcome would have been if Pompeians had stayed firm on the hill from the outset and / or if another rule set had been used, whether the quick succession of broken units would have brought an earlier collapse / victory?

    It all looks rather splendid on the new board.

    1. Hi Norm, good questions. If the Pompeians had stayed firm on the hill from the beginning they would have had a slight combat advantage, but would have been at -1 for morale for having given up the centre. Morale in Lost Battles is tested with a d3, so a -1 is quite significant. The legionaries would have been all right, but the cavalry and light infantry would likely have been routing off fairly early on, giving Caesar the chance to attack on the flanks and from the front. Also, with a solid line, Caesar would have the advantage of being able to move reserves from place to place seamlessly and pick and choose where to attack or hold back.

      Another set of rules would undoubtedly have see Caesar's army rout sooner, but veteran legions are gluttons for punishment!


  4. I concur with Norm. Your new terrain mat is quite pleasing to the eye in a minimalist fashion. Terrific result!

    Excellent BatRep making it so easy to follow the action. Was the Pompeian stratagem of advancing down from the heights to tantalize Caesar into committing to the attack and then pulling back onto the heights part of their battle plan? If so, those Pompeians are a wily lot. If not, Fortune smiled on them this day.

    Nicely done!

    1. Wasn't exactly planned, but was always available as a - shall we say - fallback option :)

  5. Sounds great, a beautiful battle with nice pictures!

    1. Thanks, Phil. Makes a nice change to be able to have available space to play! Hope the holiday season is treating you well :)

      Best wishes,

  6. Good report, thank you. Admittedly I've never played Lost Battles but it does seem to give a historical looking game, I wonder if that's something to do with using squares as opposed to giving players the use of a tape measure?

    Question now is will the Republic continue or will Octavian still become emperor?


    1. Yes, great question. I think Octavian would be too young yet, and it would be Anthony's moment. Could he be diplomatic enough to muster support to fight Gnaeus and Sextus? I don't know. I think a sort of interrum period until one side got the upper hand. I think I would have to favour the Pompeian faction long-term though after a victory at Munda and Caesar's death. What would your thoughts be, Richard (or anyone else!)?

      Cheers, and thanks for dropping by!

    2. Yes Anthony would potentially get his moment early but I think Octavian would still rise as Caesars only died a year earlier than he did in reality. Anthony would still need allies to carry on the fight against the Pompeians so may be the Second Triumvirate would be formed early and the civil war would be a little bit longer as another battle or two would be needed to settle the issue.

    3. You might be right - it's probably silly of me to underestimate Octavian! With both of Pompey's sons alive, and one a victor over Caesar in fair and open battle, I think it would be a real boost for the Optimate cause. Hmm. Interesting situation!

  7. Good excuse for another game then :-)

  8. Aaron, do you live in Tokyo? I do and am thinking of getting back into ancient wargamng.

    1. Hi Steven, I'm actually just south of Osaka, so don't really get up to Tokyo very often, unfortunately. do you get down this way much at all?



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