Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Monday, June 3, 2024

Sentinum 295 BC with Lost Battles

SP came around tonight for another session of Lost Battles. Our last ancients game was, looking at blog records, late last year, when we played Zama and SP carried off the Washbourn Trophy in triumph. This time around we would play Sentinum. 

SP elected to play the Romans. They have an advantage in fighting value, 69 as against 60 for the Samnites and Gauls, but most of that is taken up with superior Roman generalship. The armies themselves are pretty even - five units of cavalry for the Romans - one veteran, the rest average; five units of mounted for the coalition, four heavy cavalry, one chariotry.

In infantry the coalition has fourteen units of heavy infantry against the Roman ten legionary units and two levy light infantry units. The numbers favour the coalition, but the Roman legionaries have better morale and when fresh are harder to hit.

The Romans have an average commander in Fabius and an uninspired cavalry leader in Decius Mus. The coalition has Gellius Egnatius as an uninspired infantry leader.

So far there is not much between the armies, but at Sentinum the coalition is classed as fatigued: that is, their staying power is compromised. Once a Gallic or Samnite unit has taken a hit, it attacks thereafter at -1, meaning in effect that all things being equal a fatigued heavy infantry unit up against a legionary unit will need 11 or 12 on two dice to to score a hit, so the coalition troops have to try to make an impact early and keep as many units fresh as possible for as long as possible.

Looking from behind the Roman right.

As it eventuated, there was not too much need for deep strategy: it was one of those rare games when everything went right for my side and nothing for my worthy opponent. 

Our right wing engaged immediately, and the infantry in the three central zones advanced. I kept the cavalry on my left refused. They were outnumbered and I felt it was best to be circumspect at the outset.

One wing and the centre engaged. My refused left can be seen on right of the picture.

The Gauls on my right quickly made inroads and the chariots burst through after just two turns of combat, shattering one unit and routing the guard for the unfortunate Decius Mus and denuding the Roman left of any meaningful defenders.

A double hit is scored, Decius Mus is unable to rally either of them, and the Roman left is lost.

Why did the Romans not invoke Favour of the Gods and force a re-roll, Lost Battles afficionadoes may ask? The reason for this is that I had already had such frighteningly good dice in the centre that SP had invoked the gods there, and with the token now in my hands, could not do so again until I had issued an invocation of my own. 

The action continued apace.

Galvanised by the early loss of his left wing and cognisant of the need to fight fire with fire in the centre, SP put as many command points into combat bonuses as he could. This paid off with hits against the Samnite left centre under Gellius. But in doing this he neglected to make use of his cavalry superiority on the right.


The refused Samnite cavalry wing is left unmolested.

Gellius Egnatius leads the Samnites as the centres continue the fight. The victorious Gallic cavalry and chariotry can just be seen in the distance in behind the Roman left.

The Roman rear is now exposed and with three units to use for this purpose, the Gauls focus on getting deep in behind the Romans to interfere with their morale and prepare to strike in future turns. SP pulls two units of cavalry out of the line on his right to respond to the threat.

A double hit by Gellius on the Roman right centre sees another unit shattered and the levy light infantry flee.  

With options running out for Rome bold attacks are initiated by the cavalry, now split across two zones to meet threats from two directions, and by the legionaries in the central zones.

Black arrows show direction of Roman attacks in turn 6.

The chariots are hit, but do not break. The other cavalry fails to hit at all. In the right centre, a mighty effort smites Gellius's unit, but in a scene which epitomises SP's luck tonight, Gellius rallies the hit. There is another successful attack in the central zone, but not enough to turn the tide. 

A series of attacks by the coalition sweep away the remaining Roman cavalry and Fabius's sector of the infantry line. The rest of the army holds on for the remainder of the turn, but Gellius administers the coup de grace on the turn after.

Final attack: Gellius rolls up the Roman line, already beset front and rear, with an attack from the flank.

It was a rather unfortunate game for SP. He stuck at it but you can't do much when the dice are your enemy.

From my perspective The Gauls and Samnites were able to keep just enough units fresh to avoid the worst effects of fatigue, and seemed to manage to align their most important attacking moments with their most potent dice rolling. The luck went entirely my way, but it was interesting to see a Lost Battles Roman army unexpected defeated on the table: beat the cavalry, surround the infantry, wear them down until morale starts to fail. 

It was pretty much the historical formula.

Victory Points:


The coalition spent: 3 x average heavy cavalry, 1 x average chariot, 9 x average heavy infantry equates to 52 points

Samnites & Gauls:

Roman shattered: 2 x average legionaries, 2 x average heavy cavalry, 1 x veteran heavy cavalry equates to 32 points

Roman routed: 2 x levy light infantry, 8 x average legionaries, 2 x average heavy cavalry equates to 46 points

Withdrawn: 1 x average commander, 1 x uninspired leader, equates to 9 points. 

Handicap: 18 points

Fatigued: 20 points

Total points for Rome: 52; for Samnites & Gauls: 125, for a major victory.

I now get to keep the Washbourn Trophy for a spell, which makes a bit of a change!


  1. Lovely looking game Aaron, a good effort by the Samnite/Gallic coalition! We’ve played Sentinum with CCA and the Romans won easily.

    1. That's an idea! Sentinum is not one I've fought.

    2. Thanks gents, yes, Sentinum is an interesting battle. I don't recall playing a CCA scenario but it's a great excuse to get a variety of troops on the table, plus there's quite a good story too, the devotio and so on.

  2. Great write up Aaron! Fatigued troops against fresh lead legionaries are tough nuts to crack, but certainly hasn't hobbled the Gallic-Samnite coalition during this refight!

    1. It was a strange one! Rare to see things go so well for an inferior army in Lost Battles. Favour of the Gods had quite a big impact.

  3. Aaron,
    I know one can second a motion, but what it the term for being the third? "I third the motion" does not sound quite right. Anyway.

    Very nice looking table and figures. I have seen the battle in the professor's book, but have not really taken the time. I shall correct that mistake. Perhaps it would be interesting to try it with another set of rules? The idea of starting off one side with a disadvantage is also appealing. A change from the line up so many points worth and have at it kind of game.

    Indeed, the dice or other method of resolution can favor one side or the other. The dice can also give one gray (or grayer) hair, too.

    Is there a history behind the Washbourn Cup?

    Very glad to see that you are blogging with more frequency of late. Your contributions have been missed.


    1. Well, I second Chris in his interest in the history of the Washburn Cup and the joy of seeing your pleasing Lost Battles' refights out on the table with more regularity.

    2. Ah, the Washbourn Trophy. It's a token of current supremacy in Lost Battles between SP and myself. Contested since c.2020, the trophy itself is in appearance plain - it has been unkindly called a plastic imitation from the $2 shop - and while it was in SP's clammy hands (as it had been for the last couple of battles) it was a quaint reminder of a more innocent time, but now that it is my manly grip it epitomises excellence!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...