Monday, April 22, 2013

Hail Caesar Battle Report - Rome vs Carthage

Saturday was the monthly Hail Caesar game.  The local shop was running a tournament so I hosted Jonathan at my place.  Our armies have both grown to the size where we can get some interesting tactical situations going.  It was both fun, and frustrating, and resulted in a staggering loss for Rome.

By the way, I recognize the anachronism of a Roman army with an emperor fighting against Carthage.  It is what it is, those are the armies we have.

Lots of maneuver, not many Romans left.

Marcus Furius, Legate of the II Legion, was escorting the Emperor through central Italia when his scouts reported the presence of a large Carthaginian army.  Marcus would normally have welcomed a chance to strike at the invaders, but not with the Emperor present.

One of the Barcid boy's division.
At dawn the two forces left their camps and shook out into battle lines.  Marcus was not surprised to see the polyglot army facing him, Libyans, Numidians, Spanish and elephants, about what he had come to expect.  He was disconcerted, however, when he realized that he faced Hannibal himself.

Hannibal's division.  As should be expected they were the key to victory.
The Emperor took personal command of half of the army, adding Furius' veterans and the auxiliary infantry to his bodyguards.  With the emperor on the right, Marcus took his three remaining cohorts, the archers and the Numidian light horse to the left flank.

The third Carthaginian division.  Having three divisions was helpful to Jonathan.
The three cohorts of Marcus' division.
The battle lines drawn up.
The two armies faced each other, not moving.  Marcus saw no opportunity to use his light horse on his flank but it appeared that the Carthaginians had left a gap on their left flank.  Taking the bull by the horns, Marcus ordered his Numidans to race along the front of the army and fall on the enemy.

Numidians and Auxiliaries clash while the Roman Numidans prepare to race around the open flank.

The emperor, seeing the same opportunity, ordered the auxiliaries forward.  The Roman infantry and the Numidian light horse clashed, fighting back and forth before the auxiliaries were defeated and fled the field.  (These guys seem to be armored in suck and armed with slightly pointy suck; they have yet to accomplish much of anything).

The clash.  Not an epic 80's rock band.
Marcus' Numidians got into the rear of the enemy army, forcing a unit of Spanish to turn and face them.  Several volleys of javelins flew back and forth before the Numidians fled the field.  With one entire wing of the Carthaginian army drawn out of position it should have been the opportunity to attack that the Romans needed, but Marcus' division chose this moment to freeze in place (for five turns he didn't get to move a single unit).

The Carthaginian left in chaos.  They were able to see off their tormentors and get back into the fight in plenty of time.
To Marcus' front the Carthaginian right was also in chaos.  The Spanish on this flank, like their brethren on the left followed orders, marching forward to extend the line of the Libyans.  The Elephant charged the Roman lines to be met with volley's of javelins.  The great beast was angered by the wounds but it's mahout managed to keep it in control and turned it, to lumber back to join the Spanish.

The charge of a lone elephant.
As shocked as they were to see the elephant charging alone, the Romans were even more surprised to see the African cavalry turn and ride from the field. (Jonathan rolled two blunders).  Marcus attempted to use the confusion to inspire his men to advance, but still, they held back, waiting for better omens.

The cowardly Carthaginian cavalry, caucusing in Cyrenacia.  Seriously, these guys sucked.
Hannibal, seeing his line collapsing on both flanks ordered his Libyan's forward.  The scorpion drove off the skirmish screen of slingers.  The Praetorians had formed into a testudo to avoid the bullets, taking position flanking the veterans.

That's a testudo in the foreground.  Really.  It is.
As Marcus watched in shock the enemy charged the veterans, who broke at the first contact, running in fear and leaving the emperor with naught but his Praetorians in attendance.  To make matters worse, the Numidians came screaming around the flank of the hill.

The Praetorians are about to earn their keep, the hard way.
Seeing the danger to the emperor Marcus' cohorts finally sprang into action.  The praetorians shook themselves out into line and Marcus tied his troops in with them.  The scorpion fired into the Numidians, sending them fleeing from the field.
The Roman line, re-forming.
No sooner had things started to look like they were under control than another unit of Libyan veterans, supported by Spanish, slammed into Marcus' line.  Yet again the Romans could not stand before the fury of the invaders and another cohort was destroyed, leaving a gaping hole in the line.  Marcus began to despair.  There were now three units of the enemy infantry moving to surround the Praetorians and the emperor and Marcus had two more units moving to tie up his two remaining cohorts.

Marcus wondering where his infantry has disappeared to.
With a cheer the Praetorians charged the veterans to their front, destroying the unit, much to the shock and dismay of Hannibal.

The Praetorians charged and destroyed the Azure shields to their front.  Too little too late.
In order to buy time for the emperor, Marcus led his two remaining cohorts forward, pinning down half of the Carthaginian infantry.  It would prove too little, as the Praetorians were attacked from the flank and rear.

The last moments of the Emperor's guard.
One of Marcus' cohorts charged the elephant while he led the last one against the two units facing him, only to see them struck down.  As the survivors fled past him, Marcus Furius realized that his army had been decisively defeated.

This was an interesting battle.  There was a lot of tactical maneuver.  There was also a whole lot of nothing as generals failed command rolls repeatedly.  My left wing didn't move at all for half of the game.  My Numidians got into the perfect position and then sat there stupidly until the Spanish drove them off the table.

Jonathan suffered his share of failed rolls as well.  Much of his army was uncontrollable for a lot of the game. One critical advantage he had was that he had three generals to my two.   This was a very fun game, but next time we are going to try raising the leadership of all of our generals by one and see if that improves the experience.


  1. What a tremendous looking game and great report!

    1. Thanks Michael. The armies are definitely coming along.

  2. I had a very enjoyable afternoon Aaron. Thanks for an excellent fight! It is really fun seeing those armies on the table :)

    1. The spectacle is one of the things I like about this game. I also had a great time. I'm looking forward to the next go around.


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