Old school mate SP was free tonight so we arranged to play a wargame. Being a bit tired of the various iterations of Undaunted, it seemed like a good opportunity to set up a game of Lost Battles, and Zama an excellent choice to blood my new Carthaginian elephants.
Simon took the Romans. They are more straightforward to manage when it has been some time between games, and I was quite happy to have some nellies under my command again!
We used the historical scenario rather than the free deployment version to speed things up. To briefly describe the situation, both armies have a core of veteran infantry, but the Romans have significant cavalry superiority, and the Carthaginians have had to bring in less able troops to make up numbers, these not being a match for the veteran legionaries.
Carthage hopes to hold out on the flanks as long as possible, damage the Roman veterans to score points, and maintain a bit of flexibility to respond to circumstances as they develop. For Rome the plan is to negate the elephants with light infantry, hold with the legions, win on the flanks, and grind the Carthaginian infantry down.
|View from the Carthaginian right during turn 2.|
|And view from the left.|
It begins well enough for Carthage - a smattering of successes as the elephants and cavalry engage. Hannibal, feeling the pressure to hurt Rome fast, attacks with desperation; by contrast, Scipio, whose initial anti-elephant tactics prove wickedly adept, relaxes into a watchful and measured prosecution of the battle.
|The elephants have been beaten back, injurious to their own side, by the Roman skirmishers.|
The battle develops a pattern - ambitious Carthaginian efforts thwarted by careful Roman response, then countered by Roman riposte. In this way the Carthaginian right wing is bested. The Roman line, tested in the centre and on the right, holds. The Numidians on the other wing, countrymen matched against one another, circle and feint.
|The Roman heavy cavalry breaks through.|
Carthage pulls infantry from the line to prevent cavalry encirclement at the very moment Rome presses with the legions. The cavalry breakthrough is contained, but the line buckles. Everywhere Carthage strives for effect, but everywhere it is held just short of success.
|Hannibal urges the men on.|
Carthage's last infantry reserves are thrown in - the veterans of the Italian campaign. Again, Rome holds.
But on the left there is success at last - Masinissa is threatened by Hannibal's Numidians. One more hit will bring the wing to crisis. The hit does not come.
|The fight on the Carthaginian left.|
All along the line the pressure mounts.
|Rome outlasting Carthage in the infantry fight, but there is hope on our left.|
Abruptly, Masinissa breaks his opponent. He is through! Hannibal pulls elephants back to head off the victorious horse.
|The cavalry is contained - just - but the main line is weakening.|
Rome remains steadfast. Hannibal rallies his troops under pressure. On the right, there is a chance to see off the Roman cavalry.
|One chance! But Rome passes the test.|
And with that, the line collapses. Multiple hits in multiple locations have driven the Carthaginian army to breaking point.
The left and right centres have been denuded of troops. The collapse starts on the right, and all run.
|The moment just before Carthage is swept away.|
And Scipio takes the battle and the points, 116 to 83. A clear victory.
Well done to SP. He played a strong, calm hand. He used favour of the gods rerolls judiciously, aiming to reduce potential damage over pressing for success, and kept giving himself chances to hurt me until eventually he did.
It was a tense, exciting game throughout. I felt I was just one good turn away from doing some serious damage, but SP made sure that that turn never came.
Really good to play Lost Battles again, and SP is keen to go again as soon as we are able.