Tuesday, November 30, 2021

The Roman Invasion of Britain - Scenario 2

River Stour (54 BC)

This is the second scenario in our campaign representing the Roman Invasion of Britain based on my own campaign rules.

The scenario was played using the Commands & Colors Ancients rules but on hex terrain from Kallistra and using paper figures from Peter Dennis instead of blocks.

During the winter of 55–54 BC, Julius Caesar planned his second invasion of Britain for the coming summer. Determined not to make the same mistakes as the previous year, Caesar gathered a larger force than on his previous expedition with five legions as opposed to two, plus two thousand cavalry. 

The troops embarked at Portus Itius (Boulogne) in 800 ships and crossed the channel, landing at beach that Caesar had identified the previous year (near Sandwich). Intimidated by the size of the fleet, the Britons under the command of Tinpotarus did not oppose the landing but retired inland to give them time to gather their forces.

The British charioteers shadowed the Romans but waited to attack!

As Caesar marched inland and encountered a delaying force of Briton charioteers and cavalry at a river crossing on the River Stour. As in the previous year, Julius Caesar commanded the centre and legate Gnaeus Hostilius Aper commanded the right wing.

The Scenario Set-up

Note: This is scenario 218 from Commands & Colors Ancients - Expansion 2. The Romans have 2 glory points from the previous scenario and the Britons have 2 glory points. Glory points in our campaign rules are an addition to the standard C&CA rules.

The British chieftain Tinpotarus had sent messages to the tribes in central Britain, but he needed to gain time for the warbands to gather. When Tinpotarus saw the Romans advancing towards the river, he drew up his chariots and cavalry in a long line, planning to stop or at least delay Caesar's crossing. 

View from the British side of the battle.

Tinpotarus looked at the advancing Roman troops and was worried. He thought that the Roman centre with Caesar in command looked far too dangerous a prospect. Tinpotarus decided that waiting for the Romans to advance would be just playing into their hands, so he would have to attack their flanks. He ordered his light troops; the five units of light chariots in the British centre split right and left and attacked the skirmishing Roman light infantry.

On the left flank, with Tinpotarus himself commanding, the attack was not the success that he had hoped for. The Roman light infantry, encouraged by the presence of Gnaeus Hostilius Aper, fought off the British chariots causing them light casualties.

The attack on the right flank fared even worse. Again the Roman light infantry fought off the chariots and caused half of them to retreat back to the banks of the River Stour itself.

Gnaeus Hostilius Aper took personal command of his unit and the three adjacent ones. He ordered his light infantry into the woods, out of the way, and the charged the pesky British chariots with a unit of legionaries, a unit of Auxilia and a unit of cavalry.

The British chariots were fast and mobile and evaded the charging Romans although the right had unit took more casualties and was now so under-strength as to be almost useless. 

Tinpotarus was now unsure how to handle the situation, he couldn't think of any attractive options. So out of desperation he ordered his medium troops (one cavalry unit on each flank) to attack.

On the British left flank, the cavalry were encouraged by Tinpotarus himself as they charged their Roman equivalents. Thanks to presence of Tinpotarus, the British cavalry wiped out the Roman cavalry.

On the British right flank, the cavalry attacked the Roman light infantry. Even though they got no support from the nearby chariots, the British cavalry destroyed the light infantry with no loss to themselves.

Seeing that the British cavalry were in a precarious position, Gnaeus Hostilius Aper led his infantry in the attack.

The Roman Auxilia led the assault on the British cavalry taking heavy losses, but then Gnaeus Hostilius Aper followed up with his legionaries completely destroying the cavalry. He then turned his attack on Timpotarus and the chariots but they evaded taking only light casualties.

Tinpotarus rallied his chariots and led a lone charge into the understrength unit of Auxilia.  

The Auxilia were destroyed so Tinpotarus turned on the unit of legionaries who were supporting them and attacked again. The legionaries lost half their strength and were forced to retreat.

Julius Caesar ordered a coordinated attack. Two units advanced against the British right flank. On the Roman right flank, one unit of legionaries was rallied using a Glory Point. 

The British rallied one of their chariot units on their right flank using their second Glory Point. The British commander then ordered 3 units on his right flank to attack: two units of chariots and one of light cavalry.

The left hand chariots attacked the Auxila causing slight losses on both sides. Then the second chariot unit attacked the Auxila again causing them to retreat, they then continued their advance and attacked the legionaries who lost half their strength while causing fewer casualties on the chariots. The British light cavalry attacked the Roman medium cavalry with their javelins causing some losses.

The Roman commander ordered the units on his right flank to shoot at the British, resulting in the chariots retiring out of range.

The British chieftain ordered two units on his right flank to attack the Roman cavalry. First the chariots attacked, they were slaughtered without causing ay losses to the cavalry. This attack was followed up by the British light cavalry who caught the Roman celebrating their victory, the Romans were so shocked by the attack that they turned and fled the battlefield.

The Romans now advanced their whole line of infantry while rallying the legionaries on their left flank. However the British were to far back for the Romans to be able to contact.

Tinpotarus now ordered a mounted charge and five units of chariots charged towards the Romans.

On the British right flank, the chariots charged into the legionaries. The chariots lost three-quarters of their numbers while doing little damage to the Romans.

On the British left flank, led by Timpotarus himself, the chariots charged into the legionaries.

The charge wiped out the first unit of legionaries, causing their legate, Gnaeus Hostilius Aper, to flee  and then decimated a second unit. But the British chariots themselves suffered heavy loses.

Caesar ordered a coordinated attack. The light infantry in the woods shot at Tinpotarus but with no visible effect. The decimated legionaries withdrew. The Auxilia on the Roman left flank attacked the chariots who tried to evade but were eliminated.

The British counterattacked. The British light cavalry on their right flank, threw javelins at the Roman Auxilia. Timpotarus charged his chariots at an understrength legionary unit. The frontal attack failed; the British chariots were slaughtered. However Timpotarus attacked with his chariots from behind and destroyed the Romans.

The battle was over. The British had succeeded, at least temporarily, from stopping the Romans from crossing the River Stour and thus won time for all the chieftains around Britain to gather their warbands. However the Romans had decimated the British chariot force; there would be fewer charioteers when Caesar next encountered the British in battle.

Gnaeus Hostilius Aper was chased by Tinpotarus in his chariot. However the chase ended when Tinpotarus came across two supply mules belonging to Gnaeus Hostilius Aper, which were found to be loaded with the best Roman wines.

The British victory was celebrated with the captured Roman wine - by MW.

Scenario Result 

British Victory: Britons 6 - Romans 4

Romans 4 victory banners and 1 glory point

Britons 6 victory banners and 2 glory points

Campaign Result 

  Victories     Banners  
  Romans       0     9
  Britons       2     13

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

The Roman Invasion of Britain - Scenario 1

Invasion of Britain (55 BC) 

This is the first scenario in our campaign representing the Roman Invasion of Britain based on my own campaign rules.

The scenario was played using the Commands & Colors Ancients rules but on hex terrain from Kallistra and using paper figures from Peter Dennis instead of blocks.

With most of Gaul under his control, Caesar saw a need to pacify the nearby British coast, lest this island serve as a sanctuary and base for anti-Roman Gauls. Caesar sailed to Britain late in the campaign season with two legions (Legio VII and Legio X) in a fleet of eighty transport ships. 

The intended landing sight, above the cliffs of Dover, was lined with Britons, which forced Caesar to sail further north-east following the coast to an open beach. 

Having been followed all the way by the Britons, the landing was opposed. To make matters worse, the loaded Roman ships were too low in the water to go close inshore and the heavily laden Roman troops had to disembark in deep water and wading ashore, all the while attacked by the enemy from the shallows. 

The troops were reluctant, but  were led by the aquilifer of the Legio X who jumped in first as an example, shouting: "Leap, fellow soldiers, unless you wish to betray your eagle to the enemy. I, for my part, will perform my duty to the republic and to my general."

The Scenario Set-up

Note: This is scenario 217 from Commands & Colors Ancients - Expansion 2. Statistics show that the Romans have a 73% chance of winning this scenario, therefore the number of Roman command cards is reduced from their "normal" 6 to 5, this due to difficult nature of an opposed amphibious operation.

The battle started with the 10th Legion ashore, leading the charge.

View from the Roman side of the battle.

The view from the British ranks was worrying, the Romans were ashore with 5 units of legionaries and even more troops were jumping out of their ships into the water.

View from the British side of the battle.

Tinpotarus, the British chieftain, decided to attack the Romans before they could get any more troops ashore. He ordered his line to advance and the infantry moved forward leaving the cavalry and chariots behind.

With a band of seasoned warriors in the middle, flanked on both sides by younger less experienced troops, he charged straight at the 10th Legion.

The British started the combat by throwing javelins and followed this up with a charge from their younger troops which caused some casualties among the Romans but caused more casualties among the Britons, forcing them to break off and retreat. This was followed up by a charge of the seasoned warriors which wiped out the Roman unit. The Britons charged forward in an attempt to capture the Roman eagle but without success.

Continuing the charge, the warriors attacked the second line of legionaries, this time under the command of Julius Caesar himself, causing serious casualties with no loss to themselves.

Julius Caesar ordered the two legionary units in the centre to attack the British warriors. The powerful Roman legions wiped out the lone British warrior unit causing their leader, Tinpotarus, to retreat back to his other troops in the rear. The Romans had a chance to capture the British boar standard, but Caesar ordered his troops to hold their ground and not to advance after the retreating Britons.

Seeing that the sacrifice of his warriors had weakened the Roman centre, the British chieftain ordered a mounted charge.

The chariots and cavalry from the left flank, supported by the cavalry from the right flank charged into Caesar's legionaries. 

On the left flank, the chariots supported by some light cavalry charged at the light infantry unit on Caesar's flank, hoping to push them back into the sea.

The charge wiped out both units of Roman legionaries and Julius Caesar had to take refuge in a unit of Auxilia to his rear in order to evade capture by the British charioteers. One unit of British cavalry fled far to their rear.

Julius Caesar now ordered a coordinated attack. On his right flank, the light infantry moved forward to skirmish with the British light cavalry. In the centre, the legionaries advanced and attacked the chariots. On the left flank, the legionaries attacked the light cavalry.

The chariots retreated without loss, the light horse evaded (four hexes instead of two!) loosing half their remaining strength.

The British chieftain then sent orders to his light troops. The light chariots on his right flank tried yet again to push the Roman light infantry back into the sea but without effect. Those light troops in range, threw their javelins at the Romans and other light troops moved forward in an attempt to build a defensive line. 

Julius Caesar now inspired his troops and three units of legionaries and one of Auxilia followed, advancing onto firm land and causing the British cavalry to evade.

Unsure how to handle these advancing Romans, the British commander sent orders to his troops to darken the skies with their javelins and kill the advancing Romans. Fortunately for the Romans, this did not have the expected success.

The Roman leaders then ordered their infantry to double-time and hit the British defensive line.

Gnaeus Hostilius, the Roman legate on their right flank, knowing he was attacking under the watchful eye of Julius Caesar himself, hit the British hard, destroying first one infantry unit and then a second.

As the second British unit was destroyed, their chieftain, Tinpotarus, fled over the hill leaving behind the Boar Standard to be captured by the exuberant Romans. The Boar standard was presented there and then on the battlefield to the legate, Gnaeus Hostilius, by the unit's Primus pilus

Note: Capturing a Boar Standard or Roman Eagle is an addition in our campaign rules. The unit capturing a Boar Standard will, unless at full strength, immediately rally one block. For the rest of the scenario the capturing unit may make a bonus close combat attack after a momentum advance even if not normally permitted to do so.

Somewhat shocked by the Roman attack, the British chieftain ordered three units from his centre to attack an understrength unit of legionaries on the Roman right. This unit had earlier taken casualties from javelins being thrown.

The legionaries killed and their commander retreated to the safety of another Roman unit to their rear. The British decided to hold their line rather than follow up.

The Roman commander decided to counterattack. He sent one unit of legionaries to attack the British chariots in the flank and another two units, one legionary and one Auxilia to attack frontally.

The chariots evaded the attack but lost half their number when doing so. The frontal attack caused many casualties to the British infantry but also to the attacking Romans. The British cavalry were unscathed.

The British chieftain decided to try a coordinated attack and moved to join the cavalry which he ordered to attack the understrength Roman legionaries to their front.

Having overrun the understrength legionaries, the cavalry bypassed the full strength legionaries and attacked the Roman light infantry which had been skirmishing with the British chariots. They were successfully pushed back into the sea.

Ignoring the battle on his left flank, Caesar ordered his four units in the to advance. These were ignored by the British commander who instead ordered one unit of infantry to double-time towards the battle on his right, where they attacked the under-strength Roman Auxilia.

The Auxilia lost half their strength and retreated towards the beach.

Caesar then ordered his light troops to move towards the enemy unless in range, open fire and then for the Auxilia to move away. The fire had little effect.

Tinpotarus, then ordered his medium units and the cavalry charged the fleeing Auxilia wiping them out and thus winning the scenario.

The British cavalry rejoiced their victory! 

Julius Caesar's first expedition to Britain in 55 BC was un-historically pushed back into the sea by the British chieftain Tinpotarus. But Caesar will return in 54 BC and the Roman Invasion of Britain will continue!

Having left Britain, and now on the "friendly" shores of Gaul, Julius Caesar honoured the bravery of legate Gnaeus Hostilius by now naming him Gnaeus Hostilius Aper; who paraded the captured Boar Standard in front of the legions.

Gnaeus Hostilius Aper was heard to utter the now immortal phrase,
"I came, I saw, I got a very nice souvenir" - by MW

Scenario Result 

British Victory: Britons 7 - Romans 5

Romans 5 victory banners and 2 glory points

Britons 7 victory banners and 2 glory points

Campaign Result 

  Victories     Banners  
  Romans       0     5
  Britons       1     7