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Ilipa reversed

The Society of Ancients Battle Day was a huge success with a dozen games refighting the decisive clash between Romans and Carthaginians at Illipa (206 BC) with different rule sets using figures ranging from 2mm to 25mm scales.

After giving the opening talk, which seemed to go down reasonably well, I put on a game with my 6 mil figures using Legio VI rules. We had 3 players on each side.

Historically both armies deployed several days running with no battle taking place. Then Scipio changed his deployment and attacked early taking the Carthaginians by surprise. To replicate this we played a pre-deployment game using cards the night before. The players were free to deploy as they wished and decide whether to attack or hold (with certain restrictions).  This time it was the Carthaginians who were the tricksters.

The Carthaginians decided to deploy their best African troops on their right flank.

They massed all their elephants together with Numidians and mercenary foot on their left with the Spanish in the centre.

The Romans decided to deploy historically with legions on the wings and Spanish in the centre. They also withdrew maniples from the legions to extend their front to make up for the fact that they were facing a much longer Carthaginian line.

The Numidians, led by Massinissa, pushed hard against the Roman right, the light troops backed up by a ‘grand battery’ of elephants.

The Italian flanking troops on the Roman right were overwhelmed by uncannily accurate javelins thrown by the Numidians. They routed, and Lucius Septimus, their commander was captured. It is rumoured that Mago, who had overall command of the Carthaginian left, sacrificed several children to Baal the day before. The high proportion of sixes he rolled on his dice may be proof of this.

With his flank collapsing Scipio personally led his legions forward to engage Mago’s main line. He was hoping to break it before he could be enveloped by Massinissa’s Numidians.

The Spanish in the centre of both armies fought it out with their skirmishers for several turns. Then the Carthaginian Spanish withdrew their skirmishers to advance on their countrymen fighting for Rome. When the clash came there was much toing and froing and the battle lines broke apart into individual combats between units.

Mirroring Scipio’s historical manoeuvre Marcus Silanus, commanding the Roman left, wheeled his Legions to the right and then to the left to avoid being outflanked by Hasdrubal’s Africans.

After some inconclusive skirmishing between the light troops on the Roman left/Carthaginian right, the legions and African infantry came into close combat. The fighting was fierce and furious. Both Silanus and Hasdrubal were wounded as they fought in the front ranks to encourage their men. Eventually the Romans broke through, driving back several of the Carthaginian units and leaving the others shaken.

On the other flank the Romans were in peril. Assailed on all sides by the Numidians who had worked around their flanks and rear, Scipio’s legions were taking casualties from missiles. Then the Carthaginian elephants broke into their ranks from the rear. The elephants decided to continue through the Roman ranks and then through the Carthaginians as well but the Romans were so weakened that they could no longer continue the fight. Decimated, both legions turned and ran. Scipio fell on his sword to avoid capture.

Despite the success on their left, it was all over for the Romans. The engagement between the Spanish in the centre had been reasonably equal but had begun to tip in favour of the Carthaginians. The utter destruction of the Roman legions on their right and the death of Scipio meant that the surviving Romans would have no choice other than to retire to their camp. The war in Spain will continue.

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We Romans was robbed!!! 😂 Another couple of turns and we would've had 'em! Yeah right!

It was a cracking game, Simon, thank you very much for organising it and the presentation at the beginning of the day. Great fun.

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