Tuesday, December 30, 2008

C&C Ancients - The Battle of Clusium 225BC

I went over to Friendless' house this morning for some more Commands & Colors: Ancients gaming.

We'd previously decided to play the Battle of Clusium 225BC from the C&C Ancients: Expansion Pack #2: Rome and the Barbarians and Friendless had the board already set up when I arrived. I happened to sit down on the side of the table that the Gauls were on and so the battle commenced.

The Battle of Clusium (225BC)

Historical Background (From the scenario booklet)

The Cisalpine Gauls (those living south of the Alps) had sacked Rome in 390 BC and fought intermittently with Rome for the next 150 years. After a series of defeats early in the Third century BC, the Gauls remained quiet for 50 years. Then in 232 the Romans began settling on captured Gallic lands. This roused the barbarians to prepare another invasion. This time, the Cisalpine Gauls were joined by their kinsmen from across the Alps, the fierce Gaesatae under their Kings Aneroestes and Concolitanus. In 225 BC a force of 70,000 Gauls descended on Etruria and overran the country looting and pillaging. When they reached Clusium, a city only three days’ journey from Rome, a Roman army led by a praetor appeared on their heels forcing them to turn back and confront it. The two armies camped for the night in close proximity. The Gauls kept their campfires burning, but withdrew their infantry, leaving only their cavalry behind. The horsemen had orders that when the enemy approached, they were to retire toward Faesulae and their infantry, which lay in ambush. At daybreak, the Romans, seeing the cavalry alone and thinking the Gauls had taken to flight, followed the cavalry with all speed. On their approach the Gauls sprang from ambush and attacked them. A stubborn conflict took place, but finally the numbers and courage of the Gauls prevailed. The surviving Romans retreated to a hill, while the Gauls set up a loose blockade. These fugitives would all have been lost, but the consul Aemilius Paullus arrived with a relief army that night. The Gallic kings chose to retreat with their booty rather than fight another battle. They broke camp before daybreak and retreated along the seacoast through Etruria.

The stage is set. The battle lines are drawn and you are in command. The rest is history.

War Council

Gallic Army
• Leader: Kings Aneroestes and Concolitanus
• 5 Command Cards
• Move First

Roman Army
• Leader: A Roman Praetor
• 5 Command Cards

6 Banners

Special Rules

  • When a Roman unit occupies a Gallic camp hex, it is removed at the Start of the Roman player’s turn. When all three camp hexes are removed, the Roman player gains one Victory Banner.
  • Barbarian Chariot rules are in effect.
  • Optional set-up. The Roman Army was still organized along pre-Marian guidelines. If the Roman player desires, he may use the gray Roman blocks from the basic game when placing his units.

Image from ccancients.net
Click for a larger image.

Game 1: In our first game I commanded the Gauls (green blocks), while Friendless commanded the Romans (grey blocks). After assessing the battlefield I quickly realised that the Romans were stronger in the centre than my Gauls. The Romans had a strong line of Medium Infantry capably commanded by two generals in the centre, while my Gauls had only one general commanding a mixture of Warriors, Auxilia and Light Infantry. There was no way I would win a stand up fight against the Romans in the centre. Realising this I looked to the wings of my Gallic army. On my left flank I had a nice little command of a general (King Concolitanus) commanding a Warrior unit, an Auxilia unit and a Light Infantry unit. On my right flank I had a similar mix of units but no general. The interesting thing was the placement of my three Medium Cavalry units holding the three fortified camps in the centre. What was I going to do with these? Mounted units received no benefits from defending camps and I didn't want them to sit there waiting to be attacked by the juggernaut that was the Roman centre.

My plan was to delay in the centre whilst attacking on both flanks where the weaker Roman troops were located. I initiated my attack by advancing King Concolitanus and his force on my left flank. The Romans countered by advancing opposite me on their right flank, with one of their Light Infantry units moving forward to claim the small wood.

I next ordered two of my Medium Cavalry units from the fortified camps to attack the Romans on my right flank. They charged into the Roman Light Infantry and Auxilia and caused some severe casualties. The third Medium Cavalry unit stayed put in the rear camp. I then moved King Aneroestes forward from his position at the rear of the battlefield to attach himself to the Medium Cavalry in the fortified camp.

The Romans moved slowly forward. On my left flank I moved King Concolitanus and his force forward to attack the Romans in the woods and hills. King Concolitanus and his brave Warriors forced the Light Infantry from the woods and then went on to destroy a whole unit of Roman Medium Cavalry in a momentum advance attack (I rolled 4 blue triangles!).

The Romans did move on to my vacated camps but I was able to launch a counter attack and force them off with a quick charge by King Aneroestes and his Medium Cavalry with support from some Warriors. Remember, if the Romans took the three camps they would receive a victory banner.

The Romans advanced again in the centre and forced King Aneroestes and his troops to retreat. Not long after that the Romans had taken the camps and received their victory banner. Meanwhile, on my right flank I had succeeded in destroying most of the Roman light troops. On my left, King Concolitanus and his Warrior band were chasing down a lone Roman Light Infantry unit which refused to die (but eventually did).

The Roman Medium Infantry in the centre was finally able to reach my troops who had been slowly retreating to the rear. One of the Roman generals and his Medium Infantry did destroy King Aneroestes' Medium Cavalry unit. King Aneroestes was forced to evade off the rear of the board.

However, by that time my Gauls had claimed their sixth banner and victory was mine!

Final score was me with 6 banners for the win against Friendless with 3 banners.

The placement of forces at the end of the battle. Viewed from the Gallic side.

Game 2: We swapped armies so I now commanded the Romans (grey blocks) and Friendless commanded the Gauls (green blocks). My plan as commander of the Romans was to attack with my greatest strength which was my infantry in the centre. One of my goals was also to get my lone Heavy Infantry unit forward into action. It was too valuable a unit to be left behind. So my plan was to keep pushing forwards in the centre while denying the enemy on my flanks. With a long line of Roman troops in the centre I was desperately hoping I would get the Line Advance card in my initial hand. No such luck.

Friendless' Gauls went first. Their first move was to advance their three Medium Cavalry units from where they had been holding the fortified camps in the centre to attack my light troops on my left flank. I think in their first devastating attack they destroyed an Auxilia unit and severely wounded two Light Infantry units which only barely evaded to safety. I responded by moving my Heavy Infantry unit up to protect the flank of my Medium Infantry line. The second charge of the Gallic Medium Cavalry on my left flank was equally disastrous for me. I lost a unit of Medium Cavalry, had another of my Light Infantry units almost wiped out and lost a block from my Heavy Infantry unit. Suddenly I was two units down and the battle had hardly commenced!

Although panic started to grip my heart I held steady to my plan. Keep moving the centre forward. I was able to use a Rally card to replace one block from my Heavy Infantry unit and one block from one of my wounded Light Infantry units.

I was very worried about the Gallic Medium Cavalry on my left flank. Whenever they attacked my Light Infantry I always chose to evade. This is what skirmishers did in ancient battles when they were faced by cavalry or heavier infantry and C&C Ancients elegantly reproduces this tactic by having the attacking unit only hit an evading unit with dice rolled of a matching colour. I closely watched the die rolls and noticed that had I not evaded, my units would have been eliminated on several occasions. Luckily, I was able to get my Heavy Infantry into action against one of the Medium Cavalry units and also my Light Infantry was able to block the retreat of another cavalry unit and before I knew it I had destroyed them all. Cavalry can be big hitters but are also vulnerable with only three blocks per unit.

With my left flank now relatively secure I continued to advance my centre. My plan was working. At one stage I was able to use a Counter Attack card to copy a Line Advance card that Friendless had just played. I was able to take the Gallic fortified camps and then advance further into the centre. I was soon able to get my Medium and Heavy Infantry units into action against the Gallic Warrior and Auxilia units. The result was as I expected it would be. The better training of the Roman troops soon saw the Gauls either destroyed or put to flight.

Final scores were me with 6 banners for the win and Friendless with 2 banners.

The placement of forces at the end of the battle. Viewed from the Roman side.

The final total score of both games was me with 12 banners to Friendless' 5 banners. When Friendless and I next meet we will play the first scenario of Commands & Colors: Ancients Expansion Pack #3: The Roman Civil Wars - Colline Gate 82BC.

Here's a link to Friendless' account of the battle.

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