The First Punic War draws to a close as the manipular legions of the Roman Republic crush the last Carthaginian resistance. The battlefield looks promising for the defending Punics and their large mercenary host, with a lovely defensive ridge line on which to nestle:
Facing them is a consular army of four legions, two Roman and two Latin. Each of these comprises 9 Velites; two units of 8 Hastati; two units of 8 Principes; and a unit of 8 Triarii. On each flank of the army is an ala of 36 Italian medium foot, an ala of 18 medium cavalry, and a unit of 8 light horse. Completing the mix is one unit of 10 Cretan archers in front of the Roman cavalry on the right.
I chose this lot and deployed them. I remain somewhat unsatisfied with how the Romans play out under the rules. The traditional three-line deployment, which I adopted for this battle, has a lot of staying power but in practice it is very inflexible. Since the Romans must deploy in this fashion in this period, it is very easy for anyone facing them to try a Cannae. So I changed the legion composition around a bit. There are still half as many Triarii as either Principes or Hastati, but the base unit is no longer the line, but an eight-figure maniple. I wanted to see if this would be too brittle, or if it would compensate somewhat for the triplex acies setup, by restoring some flexibility to the individual units.
My plan is to be as aggressive as possible with the Italian foot and the mounted wings so as to keep the enemy off the vulnerable flanks of the legion as long as possible, while pinning the enemy centre with the legions. I will then choose a point of attack depending on how the enemy presents. As I see the enemy deployment, I decide to hold the hill to my front centre with the Roman Hastati. The Latin legions will carry the attack towards the two units of enemy heavy spearmen, while the Romans simply hold the centre. This is a bit of a change from what was expected, and is a result of the enemy's central two-line infantry deployment. The Italians and cavalry will be used to stop the enemy getting onto the flanks of the legions, as planned in setup. All photos are taking from my command post behind the Roman lines:
Above is a shot of the infantry centres. The Roman legions are simply going to wait for the expected charge of the warbands.
The combination of maniples and the triplex acies system worked very well indeed. The Roman centre held nicely against the enemy masses while the Latin legions each picked on a single enemy unit and then enveloped the flanks of the enemy centre. Manipular flexibility worked well here, although it does have to be said that the Carthaginian foot had a very bad dice day. About time too, though, because so far in the campaign Rome has done very poorly.
In effect, this battle sees the end of the First Punic War as Rome kicks Carthage out of Sicily. There will be one more campaign turn, and then Hannibal appears. Peter has rolled to see what the Macedonians would do. Their glory-seeking King has decided to go one better than his ancestor Alexander, and finally subjugate the wild Illyrians to the north. That will be played in January, Scottish weather permitting of course. In the meantime, the Romans are off to a well-deserved Saturnalia.
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