In the east all has gone more smoothly: the troops have cleared one field of wheat and ransacked a village to so far bag three loads' worth of supplies to take back to the storehouse at the camp. Two more loads and it will be a good day's work.
But the alarm has now been sounded. A band of Gauls has burst out of the forest to confront these Romans who would rob them of harvest and kin, and the distant sounding of warhorns has the Thirteenth legion a little spooked.
And so they should be, for a mighty host has gathered.
[The Gauls roll high, and seven units appear in the vicinity of the hill fort]
|Dumnorix and men appear seeking vengeance!|
As yet unaware of the true danger they are in, the Romans continue loading their stolen stores into the wagons and on to the mules.
|The eastern column does not yet know quite what it is facing.|
In the west the fighting carries on. Another cohort is put to flight, but a band of Gauls also gives way. A second reserve cohort hurries west to secure the ford against any opportunistic Gallic advance.
|Romans have lost 2, Gauls 1, but the Romans have reserves on the way.|
This cohort reaches the ford before the Gauls can cross and there is a moment of respite as the two bodies of troops confront each other across the river. The Roman central cohort, having driven off its enemy, is asked by its commander to steel itself for another charge. Too exhausted, it refuses to budge. [Morale test fail!]
|The situation in the west.|
Back east the forward cohort is starting to sense that things are getting tense. "Is it just me or does that hill over there appear to be moving? Do we stay or do we go?"
|Sorting the wheat from the chaff.|
Dumnorix is faced with no such hesitancy. His Gauls will advance!
|Up and at them.|
Back west once more, fortune favours the big battalions as the second reserve cohort charges across the ford and drives off the defending warband. These Gauls have already put in a heroic performance in defeating two cohorts singlehandly and they can be forgiven for at last running a little short of blood sugar.
Nevertheless, their departure means that just one band of Gauls remains, and with fully equipped, grimly determined legionaries to its front and flank, it won't last much longer.
|The ford is cleared: just one unit of Gauls remains.|
In the east the cohorts so recently happily pillaging have finally seen the size of the force now bearing down upon them. The commander pulls them into a defensive position to cover the retreat of the wagon train. After all, he reasons, we're here for the food, not for the fight.
[Column fails a morale check and falls back. I wanted them to stand and fight, but once you commit to letting the dice decide you can't just ignore what they tell you!]
|Romans get the jitters (or see sense, depending on how you look at it).|
After four hours the Romans have almost seen off the challenge in the west, but it has taken five cohorts to do so. This leaves only half a legion and a squadron of cavalry to face the lately arrived Gallic force in the east and to get the supplies across the ford and back home safely to the camp.
|The map after four hours.|
In the west the Romans break the last batch of Gauls holding on there. One badly beaten up cohort pulls back across the ford, but the two reserve cohorts are still fairly fresh.
|Phew! Seen 'em off!|
The stand-in commander of the Thirteenth (the infamous Aaronius Bellicus Minimus) continues to pull back. It will take him two hours to get his stolen wares and troops across the river, and the Gallic force appears determined to make things difficult for him. "If I get my men slaughtered against this river, what will Caesar say?" he thinks.
|Romans pull back.|
For the Gauls, there are conflicting emotions on their left as the menfolk from the recently ravaged village arrive back home. What of the women and the children? Did they survive? Do we stop and take account, or do we continue on and catch the Roman dogs?
|Gauls surge forward, reclaiming the village.|
Dumnorix the Gallic chief, attaining the high point near the ancient obelisk, surveys the field.
|Dumnorix. Not one to eschew manly gestures, he grasps the opportunity to flourish his sword dramatically.|
From this elevation he can observe the true picture, and the victorious Roman cohorts across the river to his right do not escape his notice.
|The Roman left, now free to ford the river and turn the Gallic flank.|
Dumnorix halts to consults with his druid.
|The field at the moment.|
With the village now back in friendly hands, its menfolk anxious to tend to kith and kin, and the Romans with an observable and unchallenged force on the Gallic flank, Dumnorix considers the possible cost of driving on against these Romans and orders a general halt.
[Dumnorix bottles it! He fails a morale check and the Gauls stop]
Even so, well done to the Gauls - especially those on their right - who by keeping the Romans to just three loads of forage have won a minor victory.
And so the game concluded. I'd almost run out of time to continue on anyway, but as it has ended in such an interesting position I'm going to play out a final fight at a later time. The Romans should get their ill-gotten provisions across the river, but the troops are faced with a dicey situation: if they all stay they are safe; if some leave, the rear guard is vulnerable. The Romans will need to scout for additional fords to cross by. If they find some, they will probably be fine; if they don't, look out!
As a solo affair this approach ( a first for me) really was a lot of fun. The twists and turns in the story were both entertaining and, to my mind, believable. Thanks to Stuart Asquith for the germ of the idea, and to Dan Mersey for the nicely adaptable Dux Bellorum combat rules.