|The two legionary units side by side in the centre. Pretty much where they would be when they were surrounded and slaughtered!|
So first playtest last night. Full disclosure - the Romans got trounced! We played bloodbath as a chance to try out the lists. There were two areas of rough ground approaching either flank, one closer to the Roman side, one closer to the Gauls and the Romans were attacking. Romans consisted of 2 units of legionaries, 2 units of Numidian skirmishers, 1 unit of Cretan archers and one unit of Numidian horsemen. The Gauls had 1 unit of Noble cavalry, 1 unit of light cavalry, 1 unit of expert warriors, 1 unit of warriors, 1 unit of Gaestati and 2 units of skirmishers.
|The Gallic deployment. Hard to tell what is what in their black undercoat stage, but left to right we have: Gallic Noble cavalry, skirmishers, warriors, Gaestati, expert warriors, light cavalry, skirmishers.|
|Opposite side the Romans. Left to right, Numidian cavalry, skirmishers (in the woods), Legionaries - 2 of them - Cretan archers, Skirmishers.|
|Initial light cavalry skirmishing. About this stage my phone ran out of charge, so sorry, no more pictures.|
In the centre the Gallic warriors got themselves into a position to Attack the legionaries. Mike (who was playing the Romans) then decided to charge which negated his drilled and pila special rules. It did mean he caught the Gauls on the defensive though, so his 4+ Attack value outdid the 5+ defence value of the Gauls. The Gauls had to retreat. The other legionary unit stood on the defensive and the pila and drilled rules were effective. The Expert Gauls suffered 3 casualties to the Roman's one. This was pretty much as expected, but if this had happened against the other warrior unit with its 2+ armour half the unit would have been wiped out. It has made me think that when it comes to playing with the stats increasing or reducing armour is a potential game changer and risks unbalancing the game. For that reason the pila rule will be changed to reduce the enemy's Attack or Defence value by 1 - with no effect on values that are 6 anyway. The ultimate expression of the power of armoured ratings was when the drilled Romans carved up the Gaestati, who were able to launch a counter-charge but whose lack of armour saw them cut to pieces. These troops usually spearheaded the charge, but they were the last unit to manage to activate. To order a move will therefore go to 5+. I won't be playing around with anything else here, because the Gaestati did have some rather crappy dice throws, but despite failing their courage test and being routed after one combat they did inflict a decent number of casualties on the legionaries. I guess you could call them 'expendables'.
The Drilled and testudo rules are about right. The combination of Gallic skirmishers hurling their slingshot and the presence of Gallic warriors was an effective combination. The threat of being charged prevented the Romans forming testudo to more effectively resist the slingers. Those sort of combos rewarding good tactics should be kept in play.
The three remaining noble cavalry charged out of the trees into the Cretan archers, who were hardly even an effective speed bump. They did roll snake eyes for their courage test though. Again, this was probably a side effect of moving them too close to the woods where they didn't have a chance to whittle down their enemies prior to contact.
On the other side of the board the the Gallic light cavalry and a unit of skirmishers combined to to whittle down the Numidian horsemen and then the Numidian skirmishers. The short range of javelins seems to be quite a disadvantage when the have such low armour. The slingers stood off and made large holes in them I'm wondering if the Light cavalry also need hard to hit to reflect their hit and run tactics a bit more?
By this stage only the legionaries were left and although depleted the Gauls were surrounding them. Bombarded by slingshot and charged in the rear by the Gallic cavalry - we decided that this meant that the unit would lose their drilled special rule - the Romans were cut down to a man.
The games was quick, brutal and bloody. The legionaries are hard, but few and the auxiliaries that support them are very fragile. I'm thinking that rather than Cretan archers the Romans would be better off supported by some Gallic Noble cavalry. It is hard to know after only one battle, where the vagaries of dice rolling and inexperience in using units means some poor choices at times. The Romans made mincemeat of the core Gallic foot units, it was on the flanks that they fell apart. New tactics might alter this.