Time for another experiment – a “real” war game over Facetime – 2 hours actually playing allowed us 2 full turns, so I finished off the game off solo based on instructions from the Roman General before he hung up. The Roman deployment occupied the area around my left flank marsh with skirmishers, light cavalry and 1 unit of heavy cavalry – they were backed up with a legion of 2 units Hastatii/Principes and 1 of Triarii. I matched this with 2 units of light cavalry, one of heavy cavalry and slingers/Caetari, holding the Scutari behind them in reserve, thinking it would take the Legion a while to skirt the marsh.
I put my 2 units of Veteran Libyan Spears interspersed with Elephants in the centre and at the end of the line was a Gallic warband. This was faced by 2 legions with Italian allies facing my warband. Beyond the rough group on the flank we both placed our remaining unit of cavalry with a commander, though mine was Gallic armoured superior against Roman average, so it should be a walkover 🙂
The Roman had the first move, so charged on the marsh flank – light cavalry into light cavalry and 2 units of Velites into my Caetari. I fared better in the light cavalry melee, but my Caetari lost badly, and had broken by turn 2, forcing me to insert the Scutari into the gap – unfortunately this gap already contained the legion, so the Velites were able to evade back through them when the Scutari charged them.
I had managed to block my heavy cavalry off with my 2nd light cavalry unit (doh!) so had to get them out of the way before I could move up the heavies. My slingers had been disrupted by Roman javelin shooting then charged on turn 2, but managed to hang on in the impact phase against the short spear bonus, then were stuck in a melee in the marsh for the remainder of the game, despite the Roman Velites being fragmented.
On my other flank, I confidently charged my Gallic heavy cavalry into the inferior Roman cavalry, but got a shock – the Romans not only won the impact phase, but killed my commander – a morale roll of 4 on 2 dice took the Gauls to disrupted right away, and a loss in the melee phase saw them broken and fleeing gleefully pursued by the “inferior” Romans.
With the battle lines still to clash, the Roman general was called away to lunch. In the next turn, the action around the marsh turned in my favour, with my heavy cavalry breaking the Roman heavy cavalry, getting the kill roll and then staying in contact in pursuit to auto break them.
My Numidians who had been engaged since the start of the game finally got lucky and broke the Roman light cavalry, losing them in pursuit but with no-one to rally them, the Roman cavalry soon routed off the table.
Now came the crucial turn for Carthage – I charged all along the line, except for the veteran spears nearest the marsh who were worried about the line being flanked by the left-most legion.
It didn’t start well – Hannibal led the other unit of veteran spears and some elephants into a unit of legionaries led by the Roman General, but they lost the impact badly, went down a base and were disrupted. Then, out of the blue, a 12 was rolled for the Roman General fighting in the front rank, and down he went. He can’t have been very popular, as none of the surrounding units even came close to failing their morale test for seeing him hacked down at the very moment of a victory which would surely guarantee him a Triumph back in Rome.
Next along the line were the other Elephants and Gauls against some reluctant Italian allied spearmen the Romans had brought along to make up the numbers. They should be defeated, but needed to be quickly because the returning Roman cavalry were breathing down the Gaul’s rear. It wasn’t to be – the impact phase ended in a draw with no casualties caused – bugger!
On to the melee phase. Hannibal won his melee, but the Romans morale again stood firm, and worse, each side lost a base and the veteran Spearmen were down 25% of their strength (as were the Romans, but they fight to the last base regardless – maniacs!). The Elephants and Gauls managed to do better against the Italian spears in the melee phase, killing a base and sending them disrupted. The turn ended with each side 5 points towards their break points of Rome: 16 and Carthage:12.
The Romans charged the Scutarii and Libyan veterans on my centre left, winning both impacts and sending the Scutarii disrupted with a base loss and the Libyans disrupted. The melee phase was a strange one, with combats drawn all along the line, apart from the Gauls and Elephants killing an Italian spearman base. In the Carthaginian turn, the Scutarii beat the Principes facing them and killed a second base, but the Libyan veterans lost badly and dropped to fragmented. Hannibal and his Libyan spears needed to win, but their fight ended in another draw and though the Gauls and elephants finally broke the Italian foot, it was too late as the Romans were moving first in the next turn.
The one Roman charge was straight into the back of the Gauls, whose pursuit of the Italian spears had actually made it easier for the Roman cavalry to skirt the rough ground to charge them in the rear. In the impact phase I forgot to send the Gauls disrupted straight away for being charged in the rear, but remembered in time for the melee phase, in which they were broken. Elsewhere, the Scutarii had a stunning 7-1 victory over the opposing Principes, broke them then auto broke them by staying in contact and costing them a base. The Roman commander with the unit died on a roll of a 10, making 3 generals killed in the battle – a 50% casualty rate! Unfortunately the “superior” Libyan spear chose this moment to lose their melee and roll low on their morale test – they were also reduced to auto broken in the ensuing pursuit. The Carthaginian turn brought more grief with Hannibal’s unit of Libyans broken and wiped out, though he survive the casualty roll and moved to join the other routing Libyans in the Joint Action phase.
I ended the game there, with the Carthaginians 1 off their breakpoint at 11 while the Romans were 6 off at 10. Although the Carthaginian cavalry had broken through on one flank, only the Numidians were in good shape, with the Spanish heavy cavalry fragmented and no commander anywhere near to rally them. On the other flank the Roman cavalry were chasing the broken Gauls off the board, but it was in the centre that Carthage’s situation was hopeless – only the Scutarii and elephants remained facing 3 pretty much intact legions, as one of the veteran Libyan units had auto broken while the other was heading broken towards its own baseline (though admitted with Hannibal alongside, they would probably rally).
Given that 2 turns took 2 hours and that I can’t leave games set up, FOB:AM is probably not ideal for this format – the full game would have taken us 6 hours. However, I did get to play against a Roman deployment which I wouldn’t have made had I been playing solo. I then tried to play out the Roman orders which were given to me after the game went solo, so as a start for a solo game it was excellent – thanks to the Roman general for taking part (though not for accusing me of cheating when he found out about the “12” rolled to kill the Roman general) 🙂