Saturday, March 09, 2013

Hail Caesar Battle Report - Rome vs Carthage

Two weeks ago Jonathan and I played another game of Hail Caesar.  Both of our armies are growing, starting to look like real armies.  We are also gaining an improved understanding of the rules, though only playing every few weeks is not really aiding in that.

The 2nd, 3rd and 4th Cohorts, forming the left wing of the army.

This game, again, saw my early imperial Romans fighting against Hannibal and his Carthaginians.
I had added a small unit of archers this time as well as another cohort of legionaries.  The full army was in two divisions, one of three cohorts of infantry and a scorpion, led by Rufus Corvinus.  The second was a cohort of veterans, one of Praetorians and one of auxiliary infantry with a small unit of auxiliary archers.  This one was led by the Emperor.  I am, by the way, fully aware of the anachronism of there being an emperor in an army fighting Carthaginians.  That's what happens when you have EIR fighting against an empire that was destroyed three hundred years before they existed.

The Emperor's division.  Veterans in front, praetorians behind.  Auxiliary infantry is to the (picture) left.
Rufus' Vexillary was back in the field, pursuing another small army of Carthaginians.  He had been reinforced by the Emperor and his cohort of Praetorians.  They had found the enemy army, who had chosen their ground well, ranked up between a large rock formation and some dense trees.

Veterans and Iberians and elephants, oh my!
The cavalry was on the Carthaginian left flank, behind the trees.
Rufus formed his Cohorts on the left, in the triplex aces (three lines) with his veterans screening the Praetorians and the auxiliary medium infantry on the far right.  The Carthaginian line advanced slowly while their horse raced forward, positioning itself in front of the forest, guarding the left flank.

The African horse advance to hold the left flank.
The emperor, seeing his chance, ordered the veterans to charge the horse in the flank.  The cavalry turned to face the infantry charge.  The emperor then ordered the auxiliaries to take them in the flank while his Praetorians moved up to screen the veterans.

The last moments of the Carthaginian cavalry.
The cavalry was crushed and routed, leaving the field for good.  The vaunted Praetorians, however, were pelted by sling stones from the approaching infantry line and turned and ran.  The jeers of the rest of the army  forced them to stop, and they reformed in front of the emperor.

While the horse was dying in a loud and grisly manner, the rest of the army advanced towards Rufus, anchoring it's flanks on the forest and the hill.  There was not quite room for all of the line to fit in, so one unit of veterans held back.

The Carthaginian infantry line positions itself for the fight.
Rufus ordered his scorpion and archers to fire into the enemy line.  Over the course of the battle this missile fire would prove to be crucial; locking the front Spanish infantry unit in place.  While his missile units engaged the enemy, Rufus tried to get his cohorts forward and formed up with the Praetorians, who were now in front of the veterans on the right.

The three lines of infantry attempting to form line to engage the Africans.
Rufus was able to form a single line, though his rear cohorts were in some disarray.  He ordered a charge into the enemy elephant, which was joined by the veterans.  The Praetorians, still stung from their flight, stayed put while the emperor tried to inspire them to do battle again.

The opposing battle lines are formed and ready.
The infantry combat on the left was brutal and bloody.  Both of the front cohorts were destroyed and forced to flee.  Rufus was beginning to feel desparate as the Praetorians continued to stand fast.  He rode to the last line, his final reserve, and led them forward in a charge.  This was the final, push, and it was just enough.  The  Fourth Cohort was able to drive off the elephant and strike down the African veterans who had bested their comrades.

The final line prepares to charge the African veterans.
As the Africans fell back and reformed on the Spanish, the Praetorians finally charged, supported by the veterans.  On the extreme right the Auxiliaries moved forward around the woods, now that the emperor could spare some time from his pampered pets the Praetorians.

The Praetorians finally get their act together and charge.
The Carthaginians adjusted their flank and moved the slingers and veterans over to block the auxiliaries, who were content to stand their ground, holding one of the best enemy units out of the fight.  The slingers continued to throw their bullets into the auxiliary ranks but they sheltered behind their shields and manged to avoid the worst of the enemy shot.

The auxiliaries accomplish their mission by threat and bluff.
The battle was finally decided in the center as both units of Spanish were driven from the field.  With the collapse of most of his army, Hannibal ordered the retreat, vowing vengeance for another day.

One unit of Spanish is already gone.  The next will follow soon.  The veterans wouldn't die, but they were pushed back repeatedly.
Hannibal's division is broken, leaving a single unit of veterans to contest the field.
This was a very hard fought battle.  At the same time that the ochre veterans were chewing through unit after unit of my legionaries, I was failing repeated leadership tests on the right, with nothing moving at all.  The elephant was brutal, adding to the already impressive fighting abilities of the African veterans.  My missile fire proved decisive; adding just enough damage to Jonathan's units to give me the edge, or in the case of the Spanish, to keep them from moving for almost the entire game.

I'm still loving Hail Caesar and the games are just getting more and more fun as we add more units.


  1. Great looking game! I have been dying to get this game on the table. My WAB dark age armies have not seen the table in years.

    1. Thanks. Glad you like it. Since you already play Black Powder the rules will be a snap for you.

  2. Great write up Aaron. Thanks for the game!

    1. I'm glad you liked it Jonathan. It was a great time, frustrating when my army wouldn't move, but very fun.


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