With the current situation in the world, it is pretty safe to say that solo games plus Vassal are the best ways to play boardgames nowadays. With that in mind couple of days ago I set another Cataphract scenario to replay the struggles of Belizarius and Byzantine empire to re-unite Roman holdings. I really like that installment of Great Battles of History (GBoH) as the battles are limited in number of counters, pretty bloody and decisive. Also, very suitable for solitaire play.

My Great Battles of History Campaigns:
(SPQR) Bagradas Plains (255 BC)
(Alexander) Erigon Valley (358 BC)
(Alexander) Crocus Fields (353 BC)
(Alexander) Sellasia (221 BC)
(Alexander) Mantinea (207 BC)
(Cataphract) Callinicum (531 AD)

Historical background

The scenario I had chosen was:


The first of the western states that Justinian attacked was the Vandal kingdom of North Africa. In 533, Belisarius with a fleet of 92 dromons escorting 500 transports, landed in Tunisia with an army of about 15,000 men, as well as a number of barbarian troops, mainly Huns. They defeated the Vandals, who were caught completely off-guard, at Ad Decimum on 14 September 533. Carthage was captured by the Romans after that battle but the Vandals remained strong. After loosing Carthage, Gelimer fled in Numidia where he waited for his brother, Tzazo, who was campaigning in Sardinia. When the two brothers joined forces, they marched to Carthage.

Although the Vandal army was superior in numbers, Belisarius chose to fight outside the walls of Carthage. The two forces met at Tricameron  and the Roman cavalry immediately charged the Vandal lines, reforming and attacking two more times. During the third charge Tzazon was killed within sight of Gelimer. As had happened at Ad Decimum (where he had lost another brother), Gelimer lost heart. The Vandal lines began to retreat, and soon were in rout. 

With this victory, the Byzantines regained control of North Africa. This position became a springboard for the Byzantine invasion of Italy. The Vandals virtually disappear from history.

Source: https://byzantium.gr/battles.html

Session report

Initial deployment: before the game started – as there were limited number of counters – I clipped all of them! Yes, now they look much better! As for the disposition of the forces, we have Byzantine Cataphract line against 3 groups of Vandal cavalry.
Initially, Byzantines executed a tactical retreat on wings in order not to be exposed to encirclement.
And then, also using momentum, they attacked with their devastating composite bows. They are really accurate as you can see above!
Vandals knew – in order to have a chance – they have to close on enemy asap. First attack came on their left flank – a well prepared charge.
Unfortunately, that attack backfired at barbarians. They got one unit routed (see above) which resulted in unsuccessful roll on Undisciplined Army Morale and loss of +2TQ for all units. That will have long lasting consequences…
Having nothing to lose, Vandals now concentrated in the center (one Cataphract routed) and on their right wing.
But that was it for barbarians. The momentum rolls were poor for Vandals and then Romans had three leaders in a row, with good momentum rolls. The slaughter began and Gelimar can only watch his warriors routed…
The main Byzantine push was in the center where almost all units – save one LC unit, which can withdraw – were routed. In that phase 10 Vandals and 2 Romans started to flee.
But then Belizarius entered the game and that was it. He rallied two cataphracts (one died) and planned and encirclement attack on Gara, killing him.
The situation just before rout phase.
And after rout phase – to surprise of everybody, the game finished at that moment!
Final losses – Romans won 46 to 7.

Final losses – Romans won 46 to 7.


Wow, that was quick, brutal and decisive battle – just like in the history. And Belizarius even did not need the reinforcements. The key thing was an advantage in range combat as well as better units (Cataphracts) on Roman side, which often had Attack Superiority.

More session reports will for sure come!