Thursday, December 23, 2021

The Roman Invasion of Britain - Scenario 4

Medway (43 AD)

This is the fourth 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.

In 43 AD, almost one hundred years after Julius Caesar visited Britain, the Emperor Claudius created an army under the command of the distinguished senator Aulus Plautius, to once again invade Britain. This time for conquest, the Romans were planning on staying. The pretext for the invasion was to reinstate Verica, the exiled king of the Atrebates.

The strike force consisted of 40,000 men, half of which were 4 legions of heavy infantry and the other half was a mix of auxiliary units (cavalry, mounted infantry and light infantry). The main invasion force departed from Boulogne in three divisions and landed at Richborough, on Kent’s east coast. 

The British were ready to meet the invasion force on the beaches, but when they saw its size, they retired inland. The Romans advanced with only minor skirmishes until their scouts finally found the enemy camped on the northern bank of the River Medway, near Rochester. Togodumnus and Caratacus, the commanders of the Britons, believed the river would halt the Roman advance. 

The Britons were surprised when on the Roman right flank, auxiliary light infantry units, led by the Batavians, swam the river and attacked.

Appius Titus Aper, grandson to the famous Gnaeus Hostilius Aper was pulled across the river on a raft made from inflated sheeps' stomachs towed by six swimming Batavians. He ordered his auxiliary light infantry units to deploy and advance.

Appius Titus Aper - by MW

While the Britons were preoccupied with the auxiliaries, the Legio II Augusta under Vespasian, constructed a pontoon bridge on the Roman left flank and as night began to fall crossed the river. They were to be followed by the remaining legions.

The next day the Britons attacked, aiming their strength at the bridgehead and planning to push the legions back into the river. Gnaeus Hosidius Geta led his legion across the river in daring counter attack.


Note: This is scenario 407 from Commands & Colors Ancients - Expansion 4. The Romans have 2 glory points from the previous scenario and the Britons have 1 glory point. Glory points in our campaign rules are an addition to the standard C&CA rules.

Special Rules:

  • To determine which side will move first, both players will roll dice equal to their command.  he player that rolls the most Leader symbols will move first. If a tie results, roll again.
  • The river is only fordable by light foot units. Other troops treat is as impassable terrain for movement and in retreat.
  • Use standard bridge rules for the pontoon bridge, which is located under the Roman Medium Infantry unit that starts on the river.

The Romans gained the advantage and started to move.

The Roman legate Vespasian ordered his main body on the Roman left flank to advance in line, trying to get his legions over the river and into action.

Seeing the Romans advancing, Caratacus on the British left flank ordered a mounted charge. Four of his chariot units flew at the Romans with himself in command.

The chariots slaughtered two units of Roman Auxilia and one of light infantry, but lost one of their own chariot units and a second with severe casualties.

The fight on the Roman right flank was getting desperate, so Appius Titus Aper ordered two of his units to attack the pesky British chariots.

The understrength British chariot unit was destroyed, but the second chariot unit, under the command of Caratacus, evaded the Roman attack.

Not to be discouraged by the Roman success, Caratacus ordered three of his units on the left flank; these chariot units attacked the Roman flank.

The chariots destroyed the first Roman Auxilia unit, causing Appius Titus Aper to flee back across the River Medway where the chariots couldn't follow. The second Roman Auxilia unit retreated with slight losses.

On the Roman left, legate Vespasian ordered his line to advance towards the British.

The British commanders ordered their light troops. On the British right flank, a javelin armed inexperienced warband moved out to the flank in order to expose the experienced warriors behind.

While back on the British left flank, Caratacus once again led 3 chariot units to attack the last remaining Roman Auxilia unit.

The chariots overran the Auxila and the continued into the light infantry which evaded into the river with slight casualties.

Appius Titus Aper ordered his two remaining light infantry units to attack Caratacus and his chariots from behind.

The desperate attack was not successful. One unit of light infantry retreated back into the river. The second stood firm but lost half its strength. The Roman commander used his two Glory Points to rally it back to full strength ready to meet the British counterattack. Glory points in our campaign rules are an addition to the standard C&CA rules.

Caratacus could see that the Romans were on the brink of breaking. So he ordered his light troops to attack. Four chariot units surrounded the Roman light infantry. This was the moment of truth, so even the understrength chariot unit had to charge.

The British commander used his only Glory Point to encourage a chariot unit to become heroic. While heroic, the unit will score a hit for each leader symbol rolled in close combat and may ignore one flag. Glory points in our campaign rules are an addition to the standard C&CA rules.

The chariots fought heroically and slaughtered the light infantry which didn't have a chance to evade. 

The Romans, seeing that their right flank had been destroyed, paused their advance giving the victorious British even more time to retire safely and regroup for the next battle.

Scenario Result 

British Victory: Romans 2 - Britons 6

Romans 2 victory banners and 1 glory point

Britons 6 victory banners and 3 glory points

Campaign Result 

  Victories     Banners  
  Romans       1     17
  Britons       3     23

Thursday, December 16, 2021

The Roman Invasion of Britain - Scenario 3

Invasion of Britain (55 BC) 

This is the third 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.

When Caesar resumed his march inland, the Britons united under Timpotarus and the newly appointed Cassivellaunus. The Britons were ordered to avoid pitched battles with the legions. Instead, they were to just harry the flanks of the legions and to wear down the Roman cavalry by drawing them into skirmishes, only to retire after a brief fight. Caesar was impressed with the mobility and open order fighting capability of the tribesman. He countered by increasing the size of his foraging parties and emphasizing the need for mutual support between the legionnaires and the cavalry. 

The next Roman foraging party was almost 20,000 strong, with three legions and all the cavalry. Caesar assigned the legate Gaius Trebonius to lead this detachment. Despite being aware of the large amount of Roman infantry in the column, Tinpotarus and Cassivellaunus broke their own rules and attacked.

Seeing that the infantry could be encircled, legate Gnaeus Hostilius Aper brought up the Roman cavalry in support of the legions.

View from the British side of the battle.


The Scenario Set-up

Note: This is scenario 219 from Commands & Colors Ancients - Expansion 2. The Romans have 1 glory point 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.

Tinpotarus and Cassivellaunus saw the Roman foraging party advancing towards them and decided to attack and destroy before it could link up with the rest of the army.

Tinpotarus ordered his troops to encircle the Romans - by MW

Cassivellaunus ordered 4 units on his right flank to advance. A unit of light cavalry skirmished with the Roman flank. Two javelin armed infantry units advanced on the Romans and opened range combat. No serious losses were inflicted. Cassivellaunus himself followed behind with a unit of seasoned warriors.

The Roman commander ordered his light troops to skirmish, but without causing any serious casualties.

Tinpotarus ordered 3 units on his left flank, two of chariots and one light cavalry, to attack the Roman Auxilia which had advanced unsupported.

One unit of chariots took heavy losses. The Auxilia fled from the attacking British, but regrouped behind their cavalry without having taken any serious casualties. From the cover of the woods, the British light cavalry threw their javelins at the Roman cavalry causing some loss.

On the Roman left flank, their commander followed by 4 units widened their line and attacked the British light cavalry.

The British light cavalry evaded the attacking Romans but took heavy losses in doing so and retreated to the hill in its rear.

Cassivellaunus ordered his infantry to double time at the Romans, he himself led one unit of warriors into the fray.

The Roman light infantry evaded the charge but the legionaries stood firm.

Cassivellaunus unit slaughtered the legionaries to their front, but didn't succeed in capturing their eagle.

The other two units of British warriors caused severe losses to the second unit of legionaries but were then both forced to retreat out of the fight. 

In the face of the attacking warbands, Gaius Trebonius, the Roman commander, rallied the depleted unit of legionaries to which he was attached. To do this he used his only glory point. Glory points are an addition to the standard C&CA rules in our campaign rules.

He then ordered his two units that were in contact with the enemy to double their effort and they attacked with a clash of shields.

Cassivellaunus was killed and the unit of warrior totally eliminated. Gaius Trebonius had been lucky! However he decided not to push his luck, and ordered the legionaries to stand firm rather than advancing and capturing the British battle standard.

When he later reported on the action to Julius Caesar, Gaius Trebonius explained that this was the moment, when his skill and the legionaries bravery, turned the tide of the battle.

To his right, the Roman light infantry attacked the British chariots which evaded but in so doing lost two-thirds of their number.

After rallying one unit of warriors up to full strength using his first Glory Point, Tinpotarus ordered all his centre units to advance and attack the Romans. 

The warriors charged into the line of legionaries while the javelin armed infantry opened up on the Roman light infantry. 

But Gaius Trebonius, the Roman commander, had been waiting for this and he ordered the legionaries to strike first before the first (full strength) unit of British warriors had a chance to attack. This was unexpected and half the warriors were casualties, the rest retreated.

The second (half strength) unit of warriors then attacked the Romans without doing any damage, and they themselves were wiped out in the Roman counterattack.

The Roman commander ordered a mounted charge. 

On his left flank, two units of Roman cavalry charged the British chariots which skilfully evaded without loss.

But on the Roman right flank, the mounted charge was much more successful and the chariots were destroyed while trying to evade.

Tinpotarus ordered a counter attack and the British performed a mounted charge.

On the left flank, a unit of light cavalry with some understrength chariots attacked both Roman cavalry units. Tinpotarus used his second and last Glory Point to join the light cavalry charge.

The Roman cavalry destroyed the chariots but the light cavalry, with Tinpotarus at their head, slaughtered both Roman cavalry units.

On the right flank, two chariot units charged the Roman cavalry.

The British chariots and Roman cavalry both took equal casualties, but without any decisive result.

The Roman Auxilia and their full strength cavalry unit then each attacked a British chariot unit. The Auxilia eliminated half the chariots without taking losses themselves. The second British chariot unit evaded the Roman cavalry without loss.

The British commander then ordered his light troops to attack. On the right flank, the chariots charged. On the left and in the centre, the light troops threw their javelins at the two Roman commanders hoping that a lucky shot would kill a Roman commander.

The chariots eliminated the weak Roman cavalry unit. The desperate attempt to kill a Roman commander failed (as expected, it was only a very slim chance.)

Both side now needed one victory to win the battle, but the understrength British chariot was in a poor position, not having room to evade, and it was eliminated by the Romans giving them the victory.

The Roman infantry knew that they would have been in serious trouble, had not legate Gnaeus Hostilius Aper brought up the cavalry so quickly. So as a play on his name, they presented him with a pig from their foraging.

Gnaeus Hostilius Aper with his soon to be roast pig - by MW

Scenario Result 

Roman Victory: Romans 6 - Britons 4

Romans 6 victory banners and 2 glory points

Britons 5 victory banners and 1 glory point

Campaign Result 

  Victories     Banners  
  Romans       1     15
  Britons       2     17