Might of Arms
Recently played in another game of Might of Arms with the rules author Bob Bryant. Bob has been experimenting with various schemes to represent the line exchange tactics of the Republican Roman legions and this game was a test of the latest ideas (probably changed by now 🙂 ).
The Roman force consisted of eight units of Hastatii/Princepes in two lines. The Triarii were converged into a couple of units. The main force infantry were supported by skirmishers and some light and heavy cavalry. The opposing Greeks had an equal number of units of heavy infantry and a small advantage in cavalry.
Both sides adopted a rather conventional deployment, with the heavy infantry on line in the center and the cavalry deployed in each wing. Some skirmishers were sent out in front of the main lines. As the forces closed the action started on flanks. I commanded the right side of the Roman line and had a simple plan for my cavalry: keep the Greek cavalry and light troops deployed on my flank too busy to interfere with the main action. Fortunately my plan didn’t require that I actually win the cavalry fight! I quickly lost a unit of light cavalry, but was saved by one of my units of heavy cavalry, which became engaged with some Greek heavy cavalry and remained stuck in melee for several turns. This fight was right in the middle of the maneuver space for the cavalry units and so served to clog up movement on the flank, which suited me. Throughout the game my cavalry managed to lose slowly, which was just good enough.
In the center the lines closed with little interference from the pesky skirmishers. Bob’s scheme for line replacement had the Hastatii and Princepes in small three-stand units each compared to the larger six-stand Greek units. So while both sides fought with approximately equal combat values, the Romans absorbed hits and became fatigued much faster. They could then exchange with the line behind them, allowing a fresh Roman unit to enter the fray. The combat proceeded in much this way. The Hastatii engaged first, inflicting a number of fatigue points on the Greeks, but rapidly become fatigued and worn themselves, leading to failed morale tests and units becoming shaken. On the left Ken’s front line held out an extra turn thanks to a series of great morale rolls. Once they were shaken, we each removed the Hastatii from the front line and sent in the Princepes. The Greeks however had developed a crack in the line – one unit in the center of the line had become shaken and when the fresh line of Romans hit, this unit was routed. The resulting hole left the neighboring units with threatened flanks and the morale penalties began to really stack up for the Greeks. Despite being heavily fatigued and worn by heavy fighting, the Romans were in better morale state than the Greeks at this point and several Greek units were routed, setting off a wave of morale tests from seeing friendly units rout. In the end, six of the eight Greek heavy infantry units had routed and the Romans held the field.
Bob’s line replacement scheme worked pretty well and certainly had the right feel with the first line going in to soften up the enemy so that the second line could move forward and finish them off. It was still a very close run thing and a bad break or two could have turned the tide. On my side the extreme right of my main battle line was about to give way, which would have allowed the Greeks to begin rolling up the line. While the Hastatii had retired and recovered from being shaken, those unit were all worn and in little shape for any sustained fighting. I was truly on the verge of it having come to the Triarii.