16 March 2011

Two WAB reports

The past few weeks I've played a couple of WAB2 games with my Romans... much to my Romans chagrin. The games have been against Seleucids and Early Achaemenid Persians.

Both games played out more or less the same way...

First up Rome vs. Seleucids

Romans on the left had four regular legions, one unit of Spanish scutarii (auxilia), some Gallic heavy cavalry, and an assortment of skirmishers.

The eastern menace had four phalanx units, four heavy bolt shooters, a catapult, two units of archers, and an assortment of sling and javelin armed skirmishers.

Turn one the catapult snipes my general. From there it went downhill. I got close to engaging in combat (see photo below) but taking some last minute heavy casualties from shooting forced some panic tests, and resulted in the Romans fleeing, leaderless, from the battlefield. I don't think their odds would have been that great in combat anyway, considering their diminished numbers were facing fresh phalanx.

Game two, against the other eastern menace -- the Persians.

I fielded the same Roman army.

The Persians had about four units of Immortals, two units of levy, four bolt shooters, and some skrimishers.

I had wanted to take advantage of the Roman drill to try to fast march, but the bolters were a bit of a deterrent again. As it was, it wouldn't have made much difference by my after-the-fact calculation of the distances. That and I would have been eating six ranks worth of bolt shots instead of 2-3 after the first turn of shooting annihilated the skirmishers.

So that would be the pattern. The first turn saw the skirmisher "ablative armour" blasted away. The next few turns whittled down the legions and allies so that only a few lonely Romans actually made it into combat through the hail of arrows and other missiles. And like last game, they had to face fresh troops at a combat advantage (these were behind spara, rather than the phalanx benefit.)

In considering the assorted "stupid roman tricks" I'm not certain how to approach these all-shooting armies. In both cases my infantry units more or less equaled my opponents. So even if I bump up the skirmishers or try some shooting of my own, it will come at the cost of dwindling melee troops. Seems to be six of one, half dozen of the other -- in either case I won't have much that survives to actually get into combat. Maybe taking the raw recruits is the answer... go for cheaper troops?

I want to solve the puzzle with the Romans, but the easiest option seems to just switch back to the Germans & Gauls. ;)


  1. could you not have formed tessudo (think that how its spelt), Or failing that a bit of light cav to dash over and sort out bolt throwers. My main problem with celts was that I was always fighting 2 ranks (phallanx or thrusting spear) and could not compete.
    Peace James

  2. If they formed testudo, they would have had a good armour save against the arrows, etc. but not against the bolt shooters.

    It would have also slowed them down so much that its impractical anyway. When in that formation, they can only move 4" per turn. Deployment is a minimum of 24" apart, but many of the shooters were deployed further back than that -- I think you can see how the Persian line angled back in the photos.

    As far as the Celts competing with spear/pike armed units, that's why most people seem to throw a chieftain into each warband unit -- to give them an extra punch to even things up. I also like the new mixed weapon rule, as it also helps the "barbarians" a bit.

  3. My answer to shooty armies was to get a bigger shooter,like a stone thrower. Other than that,not much option with Romans,at least when I played Late Roman.

  4. In my opinion your Romans were facing some serious bs with one fielding a stone thrower(I didn't see any walls) and the other with Persians fielding a bolt thrower battery for heavens sakes!
    Also, should have used the Testudo early for the first two turns.
    This I feel has skewered the picture some.


  5. Some lists allow stone throwers in regular games. This was one of them. :(

    Like I said above, if I formed testudo I would have been moving half speed (no marching,) so it would have taken twice as long to get there. Didn't seem worth it. Especially since the ballistae and stone thrower ignore the benefits of testudo anyway.

  6. It's irrelevant if a list allows you to do it or not IMHO, it's the darn principle of it all. I assume you played a club game where sportsmanship and some pretence towards history is attempted.


  7. I have an old friend who is really into history and historical gaming (we both have history degrees from the same university,) who replies on this blog sometimes anonymously. But he's now something like 1.5 hour drive away.

    I take what I can get. Games with historical figures & rules. Better than no historical gaming at all.

  8. Its often not the drive(although $3.50 gas carries alot of persuasion).Its more about loss of time with my daughter,thus I usually restrict myself to a couple of games a month.However,as she's getting older,there's more variety in activites for her that she does that I'm not included in(girl stuff),so I'm hoping I will have more free time for games.In a year or so I'm hoping that she might take some interest in playing some games as well,but so far she hasnt really.Although we do like to do "crafty" stuff together. I recently had her design a doll house,and we are building it out of foamcore.She's the designer /decorator,and I'm the building contractor. :)

  9. I'll be in that same boat soon, as our daughter is due at the end of summer.

    Quick correction on the first battle. The Selucids only had two ballistae and one catapult. Not four and one.

    Also there is some objection to my use of the term "sniped" in regard to my general being catapulted to death. ;)

  10. You get to look forward to "tea parties",the joy of dolls,and dress up.Dont worry,lip gloss comes off pretty easily,lol!Always remember-Daddy is her hero!

  11. Yeah, my mate would have over laoded one side of the table with his legions, and would have forced the Persians on a narrower frontage. That would mean that there would be less units in range/arc of his units, and he would have had to turn his line to face all your units, meaning they get the -1 to hit for moving, and the inevitable units in front of their friends. It appears you went for a classic line out, which only plays to a shooty army I think (I know cos I love shooty armies, but my mate always gets round it by the strategy above!)

    Hope that helps bud,


  12. @Arken: I had thought about that just recently. I was going through several ideas in my head. Either loading one flank or the other, in depth. Or I could keep my army on my baseline and out of line of sight and/or range and call the game a draw. Or I could take an army that's got nothing but light melee troops in skirmish order, move through cover as much as possible, avoid the formed units and try to knock out all of the missile troops, artillery, etc.

    Against the Selucids,about four units of phalanx went down first, so I started deploying my legion units opposite. I was expecting a pike vs. pilum match up.

    I maybe should have caught myself on the deployment against the Persians. But even then, I didn't know what was going to be their full deployment, whether there were going to be some cav units on the flanks, etc.

    If I had seen the either of the armies/deployments before I deployed my own, I may have changed things.

  13. Yeah, I hear ya. My weakest part of my game is my set up, but I play better once things are moving.

    So how do you do your set up? There's several ways, I presume from your response that its a "I put one down, you put one, I put one, you...?" If so you can easily put down your more flexible units first and an open order/drilled unit that will be put to one side to entice your opponent to place on one side, and allowing you to keep the guessing and string out their line.

    A method I use against such armies is to have several small expendable units of skirmishers, around 7-12 models each, and possibley have 2 lines of them and another protecting a flank all supporting at least two units of legion. The ablative armour effect you mentioned should sustain at least one round of shooting (ie they die but the legion is fine) and allowing the legion to fast march towards the enemy line. Backed up by some decent skirmishing cav and you would hopefully be able to deal with loading a flank and getting march blocked. A small elite army should reasonably be expected to do this I think so why not.

    If none of that helps then yes, crack on with the Germanic hordes, they also are a pain in the bee-hind too! :)