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Somewhere in Spain 3rd C BC

It is finally time for my 6 mil Romans and Carthaginians to fight it out on the games table. I am also testing out changes to Legio VI rules with an eye on the Society of Ancients Ilipa Battle Day in March.


The armies face each other on a flat plain ‘somewhere in Spain’ in the late 3rd century BC.


The Roman legions in the centre are formed in their traditional three line quincunx (chequer board) formation.


The Carthaginian heavy infantry are mostly in a single line with light infantry and elephants in front. The Carthaginians have a significant light infantry superiority.


Numidians, with lots of light cavalry and only a few infantry, form the Carthaginian right.


The Roman Spanish and Italian allied cavalry are heavily outnumbered by the Numidian cavalry on that wing.


The Carthaginian left, commanded by Gisco, are mostly Spanish —  including Lusitanians and Celtiberians.


Facing them, the Roman right wing, led by Publius Scipio the elder, has fewer cavalry and light infantry but it does include an allied Italian legion and Spanish scutarii.


The Carthaginian player (Hasdrubal) chooses to fight a skirmish battle, holding back his heavy infantry while his light troops harass and wear down the Romans and his cavalry attempt to drive in the enemy wings — a fairly typical Carthaginian tactic of the era.


The Numidian light cavalry surround the Roman left wing cavalry, pelting them with javelins. The Roman light cavalry screen is easily driven off. A unit of Spanish cavalry is also forced to retire shaken. A counter charge by Roman cavalry, supported by a unit of Spanish infantry, then begins to push the Numidians back as they evade contact. The Numidians, however, continue to harass and surround the Romans as the latter advance.


On the other wing the Carthaginian cavalry superiority is neutralised when P. Scipio brings his Spanish infantry around to join the fray.


In the centre the elephants close in on Silanus’ legion. Neutralised by the Carthaginian light infantry, the Roman velites have failed to kill any of the pachyderms nor send them off on a rampage.


The legionaries hold their position when attacked but they suffer significant disruption as the elephants pass through their ranks.


The Roman player then pulls his velites back to deal with the elephants at the rear of the legions — sending one off in a rampage further to the rear and leaving the other halted in confusion.


The Romans then begin to close in on the Carthaginian centre. Due to limited time availability we had to call the game before the clash of heavy infantry lines could take place. The Carthaginians had the advantage at this point. One Italian legion was shaken, due to elephants and constant harassment from missiles. Although the Roman right had managed to drive off the Carthaginian cavalry there, the Roman left was in a precarious situation having lost most of their cavalry. The cunning tactics used by the Carthaginian player ensured that the main strength of the Roman army (the legions) were badly worn down while his infantry remained fresh.


The game played well even if not all aspects of the rules worked as I would have hoped. That, of course, it the point of a test game. The rule tweaks needed are not extensive. Round two will take place in the new year.


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Ernie Fosker
Ernie Fosker
Dec 11, 2023

Looking forward to Round Two, Simon, when I'll be available to take my place on the Spanish plain, via north eastern Suffolk! 😀 Ernie

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Simon MacDowall
Simon MacDowall
Dec 11, 2023
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Excellent! Let me know if you have a preference for Romans or Carthaginians.

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