Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Battle of Telamon 225BC - Part 1

I went over to Friendless' house on Tuesday evening for some more Commands & Colors: Ancients gaming.

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

The Battle of Telamon (225BC)

Historical Background (From the scenario booklet)

Aenorestes and Concolitanus retreated northwards, pursued by Aemilius Papus with about 30,000 troops. It looked like the Gauls would escape with their booty. Then fortune smiled on Rome. The consul Atilius Regulus was returning from suppressing a rebellion in Sardinia with his army of 25,000 men. He landed at Pisae and was moving south along the same coastal road that the Gauls had chosen for their retreat. Upon learning from his scouts that a Gallic army was approaching, Regulus ordered his legions into fighting order while he advanced at full speed with his cavalry and light infantry to occupy a key hill before the enemy arrived. The Gauls at once sent their own cavalry, chariots, and some light-armed troops to dispute the possession of the hill. When Papus arrived from the south, he also sent his cavalry to the hill, and advanced with his legions. At first the battle was confined to the hill and both armies watched the fighting unfold. Regulus fell, but the Roman cavalry, after a stubborn struggle, gained the hill. Meanwhile, Aenorestes and Concolitanus formed two battle lines back-to-back as the Roman infantry converged on the Gauls from north and south. There was a dreadful din as the whole Gallic army shouted war cries and the Roman light infantry hurled javelins. The Gallic host rushed wildly on their enemy in a rage, but the Roman maniples held their ground. Finally, the Roman cavalry charged down the hill and the Gallic infantry were cut to pieces.

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

War Council

Gallic Army
• Leaders: Kings Aneroestes and Concolitanus
• 5 Command Cards

Roman Army
• Leaders: Atilius Regulus and Aemilius Papus
• 6 Command Cards
• Move First

8 Banners

Special Rules

  • Hill control was crucial to this battle. At the end of each player turn, check for hill control.
    a. If one side has more units occupying hill hexes than the other side, that player gains two Victory Banners. That player keeps the two Victory Banners until:
    1) The other player has more units on hill hexes at the end of a player turn (current player with the two hill Victory Banners loses them; the other player gains two Hill Victory Banners), or
    2) Both players have the same number of units occupying hill hexes, or no units occupying hill hexes (current player with the two hill Victory Banners loses them; the other player does not receive them)
    b. Hill hexes must be occupied to count toward control. If a unit leaves a hill hex vacant for any reason, that hex does not count toward control.
    c. It is possible for control to shift several times during a battle, having a major effect on each side’s Victory Banner totals each time control shifts.
  • The River on the left of the battlefield is the sea and is impassable.
  • Important Note: Each army must retreat and/or evade toward its side of the battlefield. The Gallic Army and Regulus’ Roman army have the potential to block each other’s retreat/evade routes.
  • 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: As this was a longer scenario (to 8 banners) we only played the single game this evening. I commanded the Gauls (green blocks), while Friendless commanded the Romans (red blocks). This looked to be a very interesting scenario, due mainly to the fact that the Gauls were surrounded both to the south and north and also that control of the hills on my left flank contributed to the victory conditions.

Friendless commenced the battle by playing a Coordinated Attack card giving his Romans an order in each of the three battlefield sections. His most devastating attack occurred on my left flank where two units of Roman Medium Cavalry, one led by a general, smashed into a unit of my Barbarian Chariots. The first Roman charge knocked out two blocks of my Barbarian Chariot unit but they were able to battle back dealing a single block of damage. The second Roman charge, commanded by the general, then destroyed my first chariot unit. This gave the Romans the opportunity to momentum advance and make a bonus attack on a second unit of chariots. That attack was also deadly, reducing my second Barbarian Chariot unit to a single block. However, as this chariot unit had survived, they now had a chance to battle back. I scored two hits on the battle back leaving the Roman Medium Cavalry unit commanded by the general vulnerable with only one block left. Banner check – Ozvortex 0, Friendless 1.

I responded to the Roman attacks with an Inspired Left Leadership card. Concolitanus, commanding a unit of Medium Cavalry, charged forward at one of the two Roman Medium Cavalry units. The Gallic charge was strong and the Roman cavalry fell. This successful attack allowed Concolitanus to momentum advance and have a bonus attack on the Medium Cavalry commanded by the Roman general. This attack was also successful and the cavalry were exterminated. This left the Roman general alone in the hex. I rolled the Leader Casualty check which gave me a 1 in 6 chance of also killing the general. My roll was good and the Roman general died. Banner check – Ozvortex 3, Friendless 1.

Friendless then played Order Mounted Troops. Regulus, the general of the Romans blocking the retreat of the Gauls behind the hills, attacked with his Medium Cavalry. Of course he went straight for Concolitanus and his cavalry. The Romans dispersed the Gallic cavalry leaving Concolitanus to find a way to retreat. Friendless failed to kill Concolitanus in the Leader Casualty check but then Concolitanus had to retreat through two units of Roman Medium Cavalry. Friendless only needed to roll a single Leader symbol on any of three dice to have another chance of killing Concolitanus. I held my breath as he rolled. Phew! No Leader symbol! Concolitanus retreated to the hills. As a result of this, I now controlled the hills which gave me a bonus two victory banners. Banner check – Ozvortex 5, Friendless 2.

I played Line Command which allowed me to move units from the centre closer to support the fighting going on near the hills on my left flank. One of my Warrior units attacked Regulus and his Medium Cavalry who evade toward the Roman side of the board.

Friendless then played Outflanked. The notable attack of this order was near the hills on my left flank. Regulus and his Medium Cavalry rally and counterattack the last of my Barbarian Chariot units, totally destroying it. Banner check – Ozvortex 5, Friendless 3.

I play Leadership Any Section to move a further three Gallic units to reinforce Concolitanus in the hills. Concolitanus takes command of another Medium Cavalry unit.

Friendless responds by playing Order Light Troops. His Roman Light Infantry send a rain of javelins into Concolitanus and his Medium Cavalry in the hills, managing to knock out a single block.

I play Inspired Right Leadership. Aneroestes, commanding a unit of Warriors, and two units of Gallic Auxilia advance towards the Roman side of the board. I plan to fight a delaying action against the Roman general Papus and his troops while moving as many other Gauls as possible to support the fight for the hills.

Friendless plays Order Four Units Left. Roman Auxilia unit throwing their javelins score hits amongst my line. The Roman general, Papus, commanding a unit of Heavy Infantry attacks a Gallic warrior band. He scores hits and also forces the Gauls to retreat. As a result of this the Roman Heavy infantry, commanded by a Leader, is allowed to make a momentum advance and bonus combat. Papus does so and the Gallic Warrior unit is destroyed. Banner check – Ozvortex 5, Friendless 4.

I choose to play the Rally card. As a result of this I mitigate some of the damage I'd recently taken on my right flank by bolstering a unit of Light Infantry to recover a block and also to add two blocks to Aneroestes' Warrior unit, bringing it back to full strength. Both these units are ordered to attack back towards their line of retreat, towards Regulus' troops on the Gallic side of the board edge.

Friendless sees the Gauls attempting a fighting withdrawal on his left flank. He plays Order Two Units Left. Papus and his Heavy Infantry advance again almost killing a Gallic unit of Light Infantry which barely manages to evade. A Roman unit of Auxilia also almost destroys a Gallic unit of Auxilia.

I respond to the Roman attacks on my right flank by playing Order Three Units Right. I pull back more troops to attack the line of Medium and Heavy Roman infantry blocking my line of retreat.

Friendless plays Order Three Units Centre. His Heavy Infantry commanded by Papus, as well as two units of Medium Infantry advance with deadly purpose. Concolitanus and his Warrior unit is again reduced to half strength.

I now play Line Command. I had been positioning Concolitanus and other Gallic units for an attack on the Romans on my board edge. These were troops in Regulus' command, however their general was not with them, being occupied in the fighting for the hills. Concolitanus and his Warrior unit charge into a wounded Roman Medium Infantry unit managing to kill it. The Gallic warriors then momentum advance and make a bonus combat attack against a unit of Light Infantry managing to kill it as well. Banner check – Ozvortex 7, Friendless 4.

I'm only one banner away from victory. Friendless plays Order Four Units Right and sends Roman units from both the south and north to occupy the hills. He manages to outnumber my forces and the hill victory banners go to him! Banner check – Ozvortex 5, Friendless 6.

I play Coordinated Attack. One of my Auxilia units finishes off a wounded Roman Medium Infantry unit. Banner check – Ozvortex 6, Friendless 6. The game hangs on a knife edge.

Friendless plays Order Three Units Centre to allow Papus and his Heavy Infantry destroy a unit of Gallic Light Infantry. Banner check – Ozvortex 6, Friendless 7. Friendless is one victory banner from winning!

I now play Order Three Units Left to move three units of Gauls into the hills. My attacks cause a Roman Medium Cavalry unit to retreat from the hills. At the end of the turn I outnumber the Romans in the hills by three units to two. The Gauls now control the hills and as such the two hill victory banners revert to me. Banner check – Ozvortex 8, Friendless 5.

Victory is mine!

What a close and exciting game this was!

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

When Friendless and I next meet we will change sides and replay the Battle of Telamon.

After the game Friendless showed me a new game he'd recently purchased - Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear! - 1941-1942.

Conflict of Heroes

This is a game of tactical combat in WWII and one I've been following closely on BoardGameGeek for some time. I'm looking forward to playing this with Friendless in the coming months.

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