Monthly Meeting Saturday 2 September 2002

after action report

photos to be added soon!

 

Duel For Empire

 

As the Fifth Century opened the struggle for the throne of the once mighty Caesar entered its final phase.  When it came down to it on that grim September day the resources of the two contenders were remarkably equal. Emperor Neilís mostly Eastern Late Imperial Roman force was divided between him and Master of Horse Philippe on his right, with the Patrician Chris on his left, with his mixture of Romans, warband  Rugii, and fierce charging Herul and Scirii cavalry.  Opposed to them Emperor Dieter took the centre, with Master of Horse Wayne on his right, and Dux Bellorum Peter with a huge, Amorican British command on his left.

 

The armies met on the rolling plains of Gaul .  A few gentle hills and a large villa were the main features, but several woods and areas of cultivation limited the use of cavalry and close order troops and put a premium on the auxilia that both sides had in abundance.  Neil had the initiative and as the early morning mist rose the Dieter faction were alarmed to see that Neilís two Roman commands had both been concentrated against Dieterís centre, ignoring Peterís large, but practically immobile British shieldwall.  Clearly the fate of the Empire would be decided here as Chris and Wayne fought their own private war on their own flank whilst Peter attempted to bring his British cavalry to bear on Philippe and thus ease the pressure on Dieter.

 

Taking advantage of the first move Philippe seized the villa with his auxilia whilst further to the right Neil sent his own auxilia to take the central wood which was gamely, but ultimately forlornly, contested by Dieterís psiloi.  In between these two features Neil came forward with a mailed fist of clibinarii next to the villa supported by two legions next to the wood.  Far to the rear came a line of light horse.  Against these Dieter fielded a smaller unit of clibinarii, a line of auxilia, line cavalry and a legion to backstop the wood.  As Neilís front line advanced, increasing the distance between it and its light cavalry supports, Dieter stood on the defensive and formed three supporting lines by falling back the psiloi of the auxilia units and bringing up the light cavalry supports.

 

On their flank Chris and Wayneís battle centred on three struggles of barbarians versus regulars.  Chrisí warband took on two auxilia units in the open and the result was a stalemate.   Wayne ís warband took on Chrisís auxilia in a cultivated area and came of worse. Finally Chrisí barbarian fast knights took on one of Wayne ís legions deployed in depth and spent themselves trying to ride down the solid Romans.

 

On the other flank Peter threw completely average movement dice, (two ones, followed by two sixes,) and used these to bring his cavalry to bear on Philippeís line.  Although Peterís shieldwall played no part in the battle it was so large that he could afford to lose all of his cavalry without his command breaking.  Thus he could afford to launch frantic hasty attacks against Philippe as his cavalry came up.  None were successful and most were easily and bloodily seen off so Philippe was never really threatened.

 

In the centre Emperor Neil led his men from the front, taking the central position between the clibinarii and the legions, whilst Emperor Dieter decided that discretion was the better part of valour and took his command post out of the front line and put it safely behind his legion. As the lines clashed the advantage should have been with Neil.  The clibinarii should have ridden down Dieterís auxilia but, although they killed a few, their place was take by psiloi and light horse who made things very difficult for the heavy horse.  The crisis came when Emperor Neil became isolated from both his clibinarii and legions.  He was flanked by some psiloi appearing through the dust and taken from the front by cavalry.  The combat was theoretically equal but the gods were not with him and down he went. His troops were not demoralised by his death, (perhaps this was an omen in itself,) but the command control problems meant that Dieter was able to survive ďa Near Run ThingĒ and eventually grind down Neilís command.  When Neilís command eventually broke Dieter did not take the opportunity to pursue and destroy it, but then he didnít have to. As night fell Dieter was, at last, the uncontested ďNoblest Roman of them All.Ē

 

All in all a fun game that marked the debut of Neilís Late Roman army that has been sitting in boxes for 12 years.  It was a bit unusual in that we made each command exactly 200 points and then randomised the commands and players.  The Late Romans are a good army to play with and the game showed again that DBM is at its best when played ďin periodĒ.  Itís nice to talk about, and field, units of Auxilia Palatina and Legionaries and the rules give you all the advantages that you should have for deploying your units in historical formations.  The barbarian/regular actions on Chris and Wayne ís flank were especially instructive in this respect.  A good time was had by all, and several people left with large bubbles over their head saying: ďThinksÖ were have the makings of a good campaign hereÖĒ

 

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