domenica 26 gennaio 2014

Romans vs Macedonians: the glamour of 6mm!

Some days ago, my friend Gianni and me have made the decision to re-feel the charm of my old 6mm soldiers and we have organized a game with a very classic and intriguing challenge: II cen. b.C., Roman legion against Macedonian phalanx.
We, I mean as moderns, are lucky enough to be able to read the comprehensive and precise account written by Polybius concerning the tactical issues of the manipular legion against the late phalanx; the Greek historian was sure of the superiority of the legion, due to its better tactical flexibility and the better individual training of the single Roman soldier.
Anyway, our battlefield was a 2km plain between a river and the outskirts of a Greek town.

The two armies deployed in font each other (Macedionans top, Romans bottom)

The Roman lined up with the infantry in the centre: 7000 heavy infantry (romans and socii) on the left, in "acies duplex" and screened by velites; 4000 medium infantry (greek allies) on the right, in "acies simplex" and screend by archers and slingers.
The Roman cavalry holded the wings as usual: 1500 light cavalry (Numidians) on the left wing; 1500 medium cavalry (Romans and socii) on the right, with a specific sub - commander.

Roman heavy infantry and velites

The Macedonian general made almost the same, but with an important difference: his 9000 men strong phalanx lined up (three lines deep) in front of the legions, and a 3000 men strong medium infantry faced the Roman medium infantry, but, just after them, the Macedionan fielded a "wedge" of 3000 Thracian warbands.
Small corps of skirmishers were attached to the medium infantry and to the warbands.
1000 Odrisian light cavalrymen faced the Roman Numidians, and 1500 Thessalian and Macedonian medium cavalrymen faced, on the other wing, the same Roman counterpart.

Macedonian army

So, this is the assumption, but let's see what happened:

Romans moved first: Numidians approaching enemy light cavalry ...
... and medium infantry and velites moving forward too, while the legions stood.
The Macedonian general ordered the attack to all his divisions
The Macedonian phalanx approaching Roman velites
Near the town, Numidians beat easily the worse and outnumbered Odrisian cavalry ...
... but near the river the challenge of the opposite cavalries is well balanced.
General view of the battle after three turns: on the right side of the picture, Numidian cavalry is approaching the flank of the phalanx; at the centre, phalanx is moving forward, but the legions are standing, while opposite medium infantry and Thracian warbands are fighting; on the left side, Roman cavalry is taking losses by the enemy counterpart.
While the melee between medium infantries and Thracian warbands follows up ...
... the Roman cavalry near the river flees, chased by the Thessalians.
At last, the phalanxs clashes against the Roman legions; before that, the Roman general choose to sacrifice his velites in  order to slow and fatigue the enemies, but with no effect apart from losing his men
Triumphant (but almost useless!) cavalries: Roman Numidians throw all their missiles against the flank of the advancing phalanx, causing small damage, but they don't dare to attack the phalanx and point to the centre of the battlefield ...
... while a very tired Thessalian cavalry turns back slowly after defeating and chasing Roman cavalry: resting and recovering is absolutely necessary before being ready for a new attack
The turning point of the battle: while opposite medium infantries suffer heavy losses, the Thracian warbands are able to pierce the enemy formation ...
 ... which flees, but it is chased and totally wiped out by the warbands. At the bottom, Numidian cavalry is chasing the fleeing Macedonian medium infantry.

Macedonian phalanx begins to take losses from the legions, but it's too late
As a last chance, the Roman general orders to his very tired Numdian light cavalry to strike the flank of the Thracian warbands, but the Numidians are wiped out. Roman legions are almost intact, but the Roman army has lost more than half its men, so, according to the rules, the battle ends.

So, the Romans lost the battle!
I know, this is not "historical", but the oucome could have been very different if the Roman general had not delayed the action of his legions.
Against the phalanx, in my game legions suffer an immediate inferiority, but if they are able to resist for a pair of turns (and usually they are, if well deployed), they can easily win due to the fact that the "acies duplex" enable them to fight without fatigue and the fact that their forntage is normally wider than the phalangite one.
Furthermore, the Macedonians had a very strong centre, but a too fragile right wing, so after few moments of battle their army had a very, very weak point: the right flank of the phalanx was exposed and defenceless; the Roman, too, was not able to take the opportunity to disorder the phalanx.
So, stay in touch for the next battle!

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