Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Caesarian Romans vs Britons using BFE2 - Game 1

Caesar's two invasions of Britain in 55BC and 54BC have always fascinated me.

I think it's due to the many Victorian images of fur-clad tribesmen chucking spears at boat loads of Romans with the White Cliffs of Dover in the background.

That and the story of the Aquilifer jumping from the ship with the eagle to inspire the troops to follow him. See De Bello Gallico IV.XXV
The club played a lot of Field of Glory when it was first released. I painted up an Ancient British army using the Cassivellaunus option. Cassivellaunus sent the warbands home and kept only light troops to fight a guerrilla war aganst Caesar. This FOG army has only 1 warband unit, the rest is chariots , light horse, slingers and javelins.

Recently the club has been playing the colonial ruleset Battles for Empire 2. Therefore why not try BFE2 using Ancient Britons against Caesarian Romans.
BFE requires casualty markers which I don't have for this period, yet, therefore the yellow, green and red smiley faces represent 1 casualty, 4 casualties and Shaken respectively

Rule Changes

I wanted to keep to the BFE2 as much as possible but some rule changes were required

1. Generals attached to a unit can fight giving an extra dice in melee and disregarding the worst dice.

2. All missile armed troops can shoot in the 1st round of melee. Both defender and attacker can shoot. This allows Legionaries to throw pila and chariots to use javelins.

3. Skirmishers can evade. If a skirmish unit has not moved then they can evade by rolling on the UCC table as normal. If they can movement then they can recoil directly to their rear.

4. Interpenetration. All troops can interpenetrate friendly units. Both are disordered and the interpenetrated unit cannot move. If they have already moved then they cannot be moved through.

5. Shooting uses Version 1 combat tables and Melee uses Version 2 combat tables. This reduces the effectiveness of missiles

The Unit Conduct Chart is on the BFE yahoo group

The Forces

As most of the fighting is melee I went for a 2:1 unit advantage to the Britons

Romans 
1 Commander
2 Officers
6 centuries of Legionaries armed with Pila
1 troop of Legionary cavalry
1 troop of German light horse with Javelins
1 troop of German light footwith Javelins

Britons

1 Commander
2 Officers
4 troops of Chariots with Javelins
4 Warbands
4 troops of Light Horse with Javelins
4 troops of Slingers with Slings
2 troops of Javelinmen with Javelins

Light horse, Light foot, slingers and Javelinman are all classed as skirmishers

The Scenario

The game is set during Caesar's second invasion in 54BC. Cassivellaunus has sent his main force home and is fighting a guerrilla war. Caesar has sent a punitive expedition against a British village, Wyre Piddle, to take hostages.

The Terrain

The game was played on a 4x4 table
A track runs south-east to north-west through mainly open woodland, visibility 12", with the village in the north-east corner. There are clumps of dense woodland around the edges.

Troop Setup

The Britons can setup 6 units of their choice on the board

The remainder come on from Turn 2 by rolling a D6 to see how many units arrive and from which table edge

The Romans arrive on Turn 1 on the southern table edge.

The game (in brief)

Shaun and Steve took the Romans and Dave and Mike the Britons.
The Romans advanced on a broad front to the east of the track flushing out some light horse and javelinmen which were quickly destroyed by combined Legionary and light horse attacks.
The British started bringing reinforcements on from the north and building up a solid line of warband and chariots south of the village.
The two lines met with chariots engaging Legionaries and a warband unit charging into the cavalry.
The warband destroyed the cavalry who had already taken casualties from slings and javelins.
The chariots caused severe casualties on the Legionaries due to excellent dice rolling resulting in both Legionary units and a chariot unit being destroyed.
The Romans conceded as that point as the pub had called last orders and the village was still some distance away with a mass of warband in between.

Conclusions

My intention was to recreate the guerrilla warfare during the second invasion, provide scenario based games for Ancients rather than the standard 800 points per side line-them-up FOG fights and to see if BFE2 could be used outside of the 1870-1914 period.

To some extent they were all achieved although a but more fiddling is probably required

I was pleased with the initial try-out of BFE2 for this period. Rules had to be added or amended as the game progressed - skirmisher evade being the major one but essential there were no radical changes

I don't think BFE2 would be suitable for Ancient gaming in general but for scenario based games such as this it was fine.

I have a couple of other scenarios waiting in the wings. I may even a stand-up fight between these two forces at some point

There were a couple of heated debates, not unusual for our club. There is a standing joke that each turn has, beside the Move and Shooting phase, a Recrimination phase.

The 4x4 table should probably have been 6x4 to allow skirmishers to use the flanks better

The 2:1 unit ratio was maybe a bit too much for the Romans. I will drop it to 3:2 for future games. 

The Toys

The Britons were from Corvus Belli's excellent range

As I don't have any Caesarian Romans I proxied by borrowing Gordon's late Republican Roman army which I think is from Essex Miniatures. My apologies for any historical inaccuracies

The village is the Celtic farmstead from Hovels

Note the top two pictures are copyright their respective owners

More pictures can be found at photobucket

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