martedì 24 aprile 2012

Strasbourg 357 a.D.: the refight

After more than three years of preparation, yesterday we've at last played the battle.
Gianni and me have chosen to start the battle from the original positions and issuing the historical starting orders (leastwise what we know about ...).

Initial deployment

The roman army was 24.000 men strong: 
- 5.000 legionaries (Roman very centre, in two lines), 
- 8.000 auxilia (half centre left and half centre right, in two lines)
- 5.000 archers (behind infantry units),
- 3.000 light infantrymen (Roman left wing),
- 1.000 heavy cavalrymen (Roman right wing),
- 1.000 medium cavalrymen (Roman right wing),
- 1.000 horse archers (Roman right wing).
It is probably slightly more numerous than the real army of Julian, but this was the right way to represent all the units (legiones and auxilia) which were present on the field and, even more important, according to my rules the whole point value was similar to both armies.

The Alamannic army was 34.000 men strong:
- 20.000 warriors (Alamannic centre, formed in depth),
- 5.000 archers (behind warbands),
- 3.000 light infantrymen (Alamannic right wing, in the wood),
- 3.000 skirmishers (Alamannic left wing, mixed with cavalry),
- 3.000 medium cavalrymen (Alamannic left wing).

First moves ...
The battle has begun according to the real fact.
In the right Roman wing, the cataphracts have assaulted the facing enemy cavalry, supported by the horse archers.
In the centre the warbands have rushed against the first roman line (which consisted of three legions and 6 cohorts of auxilia).

The attack of the Alamannic warbands
Roman cataphracts charging

The cataphracts, heavily outnumbered, have been able to inflict some casualties to the Alamannic cavalry, but in the end they have been forced to rout due to the numeric advantage of the enemy.
Furthermore, the Alamannic cavalrymen were supported by a good number of skirmishers, who were able to hit and to wound the Roman horses.

Melee involving Roman and Alamannic cavalry
The warbands have hit the Roman first line; they have been capable to cause a lot of damage to the enemy, because when they are fresh they take advantage of their impetus.
During the melee, archers of both sides didn't chease to throw arrows against the enemy shooting from behind their lines, inflicting some casualty.

Clash of infantry

After two or three rounds of combat, Roman first line has been near to collapse.
Even if the Alamans had lost their initial impetus, the numeric advantage and the deployment in depth of the Alamans were more than a matter of concern for the Romans.
Julian has been forced to issue orders to the second line to advance and help the first line, while the initial massive deployment of the Alamans had been fragmented due to the more flexible Roman lineup.

Warbands vs legions
Warbands vs legions

Warbands line begins to fragment

While this happened in the centre, in the Roman right wing the Roman medium cavalry has assaulted the Alamannic cavalrymen, who were tired after the fight against the cataphracts.
In the same time, Julian has advanced and has stopped the fleeing cataphracts, who have been able to regroup, but who were too fatigued to suddenly return to fight.
Hit by the Roman second strike, the Alamannic cavalry, even if they doubled the number of their Roman counterpart, have begun to retreat.

Roman medium cavalry charging
Cataphracts taking casualties

Julian regrouping fleeing cataphracts

In the centre, the Roman auxilia in the centre - left and centre - right, supported and refreshed by the second line, have started to push the Alamannic warriors, who have begun to give way and retreat.
In the very centre the Alamannic nobles have leaded a fierce resistance against the pushing legions.
After having taken lots of casualties, the right side of the Alamannic warbands has taken the flight, and the same was near to happen to the warriors deployed in the left side of the warbands.

Roman second line moving forward

Roman second line on battle

Warbands fleeing
Alamannic bloc disrupted

The Alamannic light infantry in the wood has tried to attack their Roman counterpart, but the fate of the Alamans was already decided.
The Alamannic cavalry, pushed by the Roman medium cavalry and hit by the horse archers, has run away, chased by the Roman cavalrymen.

Melee between opposite light infantry
Alamannic cavalry fleeing


In the centre, the Alamannic warbands have not been able to resist anymore against the legions and the auxilia.
The Alamannic army has surrended and has fleed, having lost half of their men after less than two hours of real time (around two hours and half of game time).

Last stand of Alamannic centre

The outcome
In conclusion, a funny afternoon and a very historical outcome: the Alamans have lost around 18.000 men, the Romans around 6.000.
To tell the truth, the Roman casualties in the real affair have been reported as much less, but we can argue that Roman propaganda played a role in this ...

The massive deployment of the Alamans has been effectively faced by a more flexible Roman army.
Roman tactic of first and second hit with the cataphracts and then with the medium cavalry, both supported by the action of the horse archers, allowed the Romans to beat the Alamannic cavalry, even if it was supported by the skirmishers and even if it was more numerous.
Speaking of the infantry, at the time of Strasbourg the single Roman warrior was not so different to the German one, in terms of armor, weapons and fighting skill, but the Roman army was accustomed to fight in multiple lines, in order to save the second line until the enemy was tired.
And this was exactly what happened here.
The historical deployment in two lines has proved to be very effective and this was the main reason for the Roman victory.

Turnkeeper mouse: my girlfriend Monica's special gift for the battle!
Back view of turnkeeper mouse

giovedì 19 aprile 2012

Strasbourg 357 a.D.: the complete battlefield

At last the work has been done: we are ready to play the battle!
The battlefield in my dining room is now complete; to be honest, my main desk is unavailable since three months, because I decided to use it as a battlefiled until everything was set: a good way to speed my painting work!
I hope that in the next days we'll have the time to play the game.
But nonce I hope you'll like the finished work, even if it needs some minor improvements.

North east view (Alamans)
North west view (Alamans)
Alamannic centre
Alamannic centre
Alamannic right wing

Alamannic left wing
South west view (Romans)
South east view (Romans)

Roman centre
Roman centre

Roman left wing

Roman right wing

Roman right wing

Roman right wing

Caesar Julian himself!

venerdì 13 aprile 2012

Casualty markers

In "Magna Acies!" you need to count the casualties until you reach the normal "Morale factor" of the Units which compose the Division, then you remove a single base; for instance, if you have a Division composed by ten stands of Warbands, you remove a stand only when you take three casualties (because three is the "Morale factor" of a Warbands stand); before that, you need to remember the one or two previous casualties.
Until now, we used red (plastic ...) gems for this purpose, but now we have made much better.
Take a look!

Normal figures
Modified poses

Draw area on card
Fill with acrylic pumice

Insert figures
Cut cardboard

Paint grass
Prime figures

Paint figures
Finished casualties

Casualties on the battlefield

sabato 7 aprile 2012


Two days ago I have gone to visit my friend Gianni in order to play a battle with him.
Previously, he had said that he was preparing a "surprise" for me!!!
I was very curious about the "surprise" and I could not imagine what it was ...
This is the reason why I have been very wondered when I discovered that, instead a pitched battle, he had prepared a stretch of wall and siege machines in order to play a episode of the battle of St. John of Acri!
I have said to him that I never played Magna Acies! in a siege, but he has not been worried about this.
During the battle, the rules have proved to be flexible enough to manage the different situation.
We need only to improve a bit the existing rules concerning fight against entrenched enemies and to develop some special rule.
But the main problem was the scale: Magna Acies! has been created to play large battles, so it's not suited to simulate an almost skirmish fight around a short stretch of walls!
In order to develop the rules to play the siege of St. John, I have suggested to him to build not only a part of the walls, but the entire circuit of walls of the old city!
I know that it's not an easy task, but I'm sure that this will be a fascinating challenge for our next future.
Gianni has said that the real siege of St. John of Acri was a quite complex affair, with not only siege works and assaults against the walls, but also landings and sorties: I think that play it will be very interesting.