One more Commands and Colors evening and another mini-campaign played! The idea was to bring to the table C&C Ancient scenarios featuring the Romans battles against migrating Germanic tribes at the end of the 2nd century BC. The prominent figures – Gaius Marius & Lucius Cornelius Sulla – had a tremendous impact on the Roman army development during that time and move from maniple to cohort system. A lot of other improvements were also implemented – like pilum or broadening the pool of recruits – which transformed that unit into the best fighting force of the time.
But a pretty big calamity had to struck the Rome before its leading figures were ready for such a move. And below set of scenarios tells this fascinating story. In order to reflect changes in Roman Army organisation, the Grey Blocks were used to represent Maniple Army, while Red Blocks are utilized to depict the reformed, cohort army.
Some of my articles regarding C&C system:
Commands and Colors games – my 3 favorite
[REVIEW] Commands Colors Ancients
[STRATEGIES] How to attack in Commands Colors Ancients?
[STRATEGIES] How to defend in Commands Colors Ancients?
The battles which are part of this campaign – all from Expansion 2:
- Arausio (105 BC)
- Scirthaea (103 BC)
- Aquae Sextiae (102 BC)
- Vercellae (101 BC)
Without further delay, let me invite you to the second century BC Rome. First and foremost – Arausio defeat!
Arausio (105 BC)
Following the Punic Wars, Rome set out to consolidate the territories it had captured beyond the Alps. At the same time a major migration by the Cimbri, Teutons and Ambrones under the Kings Boiorix and Teutobod was moving south, reportedly with over 200,000 men (a great exaggeration, more likely the fighters numbered about 50,000).
Two Roman armies were sent to stop this migration with nearly 80,000 legionnaires. However, bitter differences between the Consul Gnaeus Mallius Maximus and the Proconsul Quintus Servillius Caepio prevented the two Roman armies from cooperating, with devastating results.
The Roman forces were camped by the Rhone River, near Arausio (modern Orange). However, the armies did not camp together. Caepio pitched his tents closer to the enemy, and his dispositions are shown on the battlefield (Maximus and his army have made camp off map). The sight of two Roman armies made Boiorix cautious, and he entered into negotiations with Maximus. Caepio, motivated by hatred and envy of Maximus, foolishly launched an attack on the barbarians. Caepio’s army was annihilated due to the hasty nature of this piecemeal assault. With a boost in confidence from this easy victory, the barbarians proceeded to advance, pin Maximus’ army against the river, and destroy it also.
In terms of human lives lost, Arausio was among the most lethal battles in world history, and Rome’s worst defeat since Cannae. The terrible defeat had one beneficial result for Rome. It gave Gaius Marius the opportunity to come to the fore and radically reform the organization and recruitment of Rome’s legions.
We started with Arausio – the decision was I would lead Romans through all scenarios while Lukasz would be responsible for Germanic tribes. When you look above, the forces seems similar – but be not mislead! I had only 4 Command Cards while Lukasz had full set of 6 Commands at his disposal.
I was fighting as a lion – definitely better than Romans in reality. I even managed to locally counter-attack but then my whole right flank collapsed – where I lost 5 banners. Not surprisingly, the Germans won a decisive victory.
Scirthaea (103 BC)
The fiercest Slave revolt outbreak, before Spartacus, was known as the Second Sicilian Slave War (104-100 BC). Publius Licinius Nerva, governor of Sicily, in accordance with a Senatorial order that no citizen of an allied state could be kept as a slave in a Roman province, set free a number of Sicilian slaves. However, he ceased the emancipation after raising expectations, creating major unrest.
Athenion led a slave rebellion in the west, resulting in the Battle of Lilybaeum. Meanwhile, other slaves also revolted and elected Salvius as their king. In order to prevent internecine slave fighting, Athenion deferred to Salvius’ authority and became his general. Their combined armies were said to number 20,000 foot and 2,000 horse. Salvius defeated the forces of Nerva and the rebellion spread throughout all of Sicily.
The Roman Senate dispatched the Praetor Lucius Lucullus to Sicily with 1,600 reinforcements and he incorporated the remnants of Nerva’s army into his own. Salvius and Lucullus met near Scirthaea. During the battle, Athenion achieved miracles with the rebel cavalry until he was wounded and left for dead. The Romans then won the battle, and massacred most of the slaves rather than take prisoners. For partisan political reasons, Lucullus did not exploit his victory to hunt down the last of the slave rebels, but left a simmering rebellion to his successor C. Servilius, who proved to be incompetent. Thus the rebellion continued until 100 BC.
The Romans did not have it easy – repelling the Germanic invasion from the North, while trying to squash huge revolt in the South. This time I had 6 Commands while Lukasz 4. I told you, this campaign is pretty balanced, allowing both sides to have their victories.
To be honest, I never suspected it will be such a close battle. Despite my advantage in cards, it was a really hard to squash all those warriors and auxiliary forces. They charged head long (Double Time) and rolled pretty nicely. Win by 1 point was a minimal and I was even afraid I might lose!
Aquae Sextiae (102 BC)
Following the disaster at Aruasio in 105 BC, Rome elected Marius as Consul to deal with the emergency. He was granted a reprieve as the Teutones and Ambrones decided to invade Spain rather than Italy, and spent the years 104-103 reorganizing the Roman army.
Then in 102 BC, the Germanic tribes once again moved toward Rome. They reportedly numbered over 110,000 men, but half that number is a more likely estimate. Marius crossed the Alps with an army of over 40,000 legionnaires and Ligurian auxiliaries and set up camp near the coastal route being followed by the Teutone and Ambrone tribes under their King Teutobodus. Marius allowed the two tribes to pass and then followed them until they came to Aquae Sextiae.
He occupied the high ground in view of the enemy, after posting an ambush force under Marcellus. Hostilities began almost immediately. The tribes charged up the hill but the terrain was in the Roman favor and they forced back the barbarians. At this time Marcellus’ ambush force appeared, and charged into the enemy rear. The entire horde broke and fled. Tens of thousands of the barbarians were slain, and many captured, including Teutobodus. Hundreds of the Germanic women committed mass suicide rather than become slaves of Rome.
So the Germans – after ransacking Spain – came back to Roman territory. Above we see already reformed (red color) Legions, well entrenched on the hills, with ambush forces in the rear. Time for reprisal – avenging Arausio!
As you can observe on above picture – the battle was fierce and I do not even had a time to release the ambush force! The barbarians managed to reach the hill and even kill there three of my units. But in the end the encircling maneuver took them into side and gave me so much needed victory!
Vercellae (101 BC)
Following his victory over the Teutons and Ambrones at the Battle of Aquae Sextiae, Gaius Marius moved east to join Quintus Lutatius Catulus against the Cimbri in the Po valley of northern Italy. Beorix, the Cimbri king, had been waiting for his allies, the Teutones, to join him. However, when Marius brought the Teuton kings out in chains, he rashly decided to fight alone.
The two armies drew up for battle on a level plain. The fighting opened with the Cimbric cavalry moving to attack Marius’ left. In the center, a huge mass of infantry headed straight for the center and Catulus’ legions. Marius’ well-trained veteran legions foiled the Cimbric cavalry charge and then joined Catulus’ legions in the center that were taking the brunt of the Cimbri attack.
Meanwhile, Marius’ lieutenant Lucius Cornelius Sulla was winning his battle on the right wing. The legions of Marius and Catulus in the center ultimately forced the Cimbric infantry to fall back, and the retreat turned into a rout as they fled back to their camp. Thousands of Cimbri were taken prisoner while many more were slain, including Beorix. As a result, the tribes from the north ceased to pose a threat to Roman expansion. Disputes over the credit for this great victory sowed the seeds of the later Civil War between Marius and Sulla.
One more scenario with significant advantage of Romans in command structure (6 to 4 cards) while Germans with tremendous superiority in numbers. Marius and Sulla hand in hand against human wave of Barbarians. Will be fun!
That is really demanding, long and exhausting scenario. 8 banners means simply annihilation of opponent. I lead main attack on the left, driving Germans even out of map and reaching its edge. Lukasz focused on center where he achieved some victories. In the end my reformed Legions prevailed but it was a victory hard to achieve.
That concluded our 4 scenario, mini-campaign. We played with great pleasure, having fun both from gaming experience but also reenacting history. We also tallied the scores:
- Lukasz (Barbarians) 21 – Michal (Romans) 23
That was a surprisingly close campaign with both sides having their moments of glory and victory. The change of Roman army composition and abilities was very visible and gave an additional twist to those games. Tons of fun and a time greatly spent!
More session reports to come!