Due to the social distancing and forced lockdown – even with governments relaxing those restrictions to some extent – my main way of playing the boardgames is online, primary with Vassal. As I am big fan of Commands & Colors Ancients, so this is not surprising you can read many articles relating to that title on my blog lately.

Usually, I like to play ancient battles in scenario groups, linked via theme, belligerents or area where it happened. As you may have already read, we played with Marcin and Lukasz Ancient Greece CCA EPICs, and now we decided to move 800 years forwards and try the struggle between Imperial Rome and Barbarians (Goths and Alamanni).

I am really blessed with great friends, able to play regularly, each week. As we had 3 players, we decided to pally 3 scenario mini-campaigns. It would mean each of us would be overall commander twice and subordinate once.

What follows are three scenarios which present the late Roman Empire battles – all from 4th century. EPIC format is great for such important battle – I hope you will enjoy below session report!

1) EPIC Adrianople (378 AD) – Richard Borg version

Historical background (based on commandsandcolors.net/ancients/):

A collection of mostly Goth tribes with some allies petitioned emperor Valens to be allowed land and foederati status to escape the Huns. Valens badly needed allies and agreed, aided in the decision because the Goth leader, Fritigern, had accepted Christianity.

Unfortunately, the greed and brutality of the provincial commanders quickly prompted a Goth rebellion. Valens petitioned the Western emperor for help and took the field himself. In August, his scouts reported finding a large Goth camp and Valens moved in for the kill, electing not to wait. We can surmise Valens wanted to gain the victory himself. We do not know if he believed the Goth cavalry were off on a raid or what, but clearly he aimed to defeat the camp quickly.

When a hasty attack began on one (or the other) flank, Valens launched a general attack on the position. His army was heavily engaged all along the laager position when the Goth cavalry returned, hitting first one flank and then the other. About 2/3 of the entire Roman army was destroyed, including Valens and most of the top generals. The disaster changed the very character of the empire and made certain the Goths would be major players for the next several centuries.


Set-up. In our first scenario I was leading Romans and trying not to repeat Valens mistakes, while Marcin and Lukasz were in charge of Goths forces (click to enlarge)
Having nothing to lose – and 3 VPs for each barbarian camp hex – I moved quickly in center, before my wings would be overwhelmed. Cards really helped me (click to enlarge)
Despite Goths crushing my left flank, I focused entirely on center, with camps & lager and added a mounted charge form my left wing. That resulted in devastating mix which completely broke barbarian will to fight and ended in crushing victory for Rome! (click to enlarge)

2) EPIC Adrianople (378 AD) – Kevin Duke version

Historical background (based on commandsandcolors.net/ancients/):

Description of battle is exactly the same as in our previous play, but there is a significant change in both rules as well as game set-up. First, the  Goth cavalry will enter only if player leading barbarians will roll a double at the beginning of his turn. Secondly, the camp is much better fortified which is not surprising due to uncertain nature of Goth reinforcements. Let us see how did it play!


Set-up. This time I took the role of subordinate commander on Roman side while Marcin (Goths) and Lukasz (Romans) were preparing for the attack (click to enlarge)
And so it started. I quickly dispatched few of barbarians on my wing, Lukasz entered his reinforcements and started tedious attack uphill. The beginning was 5-1 for Emperor! (click to enlarge)
It has to happen sooner or later. The right wing Goth cavalry enters the game! (click to enlarge)
And now really interesting things started to happen. Despite begin outnumbered on Roman left wing and losing some units to cavalry charge, I managed in the end to break that barbarian onslaught, which ended in stalemate (good for Romans, believe me). The war of attrition near camp continued (click to enlarge)
Here they come – finally second Goth wing entered – at the exactly perfect moment – when both sides were 3 VPs from victory and on the verge of collapse (click to enlarge)
Despite being now outnumbered, Romans gave a good fight and lost only with 1 point. Great, EPIC and thrilling game! (click to enlarge)

3) EPIC22 Argentoratum (357 AD)

Historical background (based on commandsandcolors.net/ancients/)

Julian, the young cousin of the Emperor Constantius, has been named to recover the situation in the West. After a first campaign rebuilding fortresses and tribal relationships, he focused on the Alamanni, who were not willing to leave lands they now considered to be their own. Julian set up a clever pincer movement to trap and destroy them, but appears to have been betrayed (at Constantius’ orders) by the field marshal who was supposed to close the trap. Julian now faced the “trapped” Alamanni with a much smaller army than anticipated.

As with most ancient battles, troop numbers are hard to define, but we do know that the Romans had vastly superior cavalry, both in numbers and quality. Chnodomar, the Alamanni leader, knew this also and chose a position with one flank completely blocked by woods and concentrated his cavalry force on the other. He also mingled light troops with his cavalry, mostly hidden in tall grass or grain fields, aiming to surprise the heavily armored Roman cavalry and strike at their mounts from below.

Julian looked for a quick knock-out punch with his cavalry, but Chnodomar’s trap worked well and much of the Roman cavalry retreated in disorder. Seeing this, the Alamanni charged along the whole length of their line, finally breaking through the Roman center. On the left, Severus finished off an ‘ambush’ placed for him in the woods and now flanked the enemy in the center, while the rallied Roman cavalry pressed in on the right. As the Roman wings overlapped, the Germans were compressed too tightly to battle effectively, and the army dissolved into rout.

Let us see what happened in our game!


Set-up. I was again playing on Roman side, this time as main commander being assisted by Lukasz against Marcin and  (click to enlarge)
As right flank (cavalry one) was most important, I was playing good cards all the game there. Inspired Leadership, Mounted Charge, etc. flooded that section which started to quickly crush Germans (click to enlarge)
Once barbarian left was broken I decided to move the center and execute a pincer movement for central section (click to enlarge)
Marcin seeing this and having nothing to lose counterattacked both advancing forces. A fierce and merciless battle ensued with both sides taking significant losses. Still, the advantage built at the beginning allowed Imperial forces to prevail (click to enlarge)


That was fun to play those scenarios. First Adrianopole was a quick and decisive victory for Romans, while second version resulted in protracted, bloody and merciless battle of attrition. On the other hand, Argentoratum played pretty historically, with Imperial Rome winning although with some losses. Really, great plays. More session reports will come!