It gives me a great pleasure to play large, EPIC battles in Commands & Colors Ancients with my boardgaming friends. Having played all the official scenarios – and pretty many of the fan-made – I decided it is high time to put my experience to use and design some battles myself.

As you might see on my blog, I decided to focus on the Roman Civil War, and exciting clashes between Julius Caesar and Gnaeus Pompey. So far with my group we played EPIC Illerda (49 BC) battle as well as EPIC Dyrrhachium (48 BC). Both gave us so much fun and satisfaction – especially when moving and fighting with those huge masses of heavy infantry – that it was only matter of time to plan for a next scenario. The choice was obvious – Pharsalus (48 BC) and final showdown between the both opponents. So please, enjoy as always picture-rich session report from our session!

PS. As always, you can click on each picture to see the details.

Some of my articles regarding C&C system:
Commands and Colors games – my 3 favorite
[REVIEW] Commands Colors Ancients
Strategy Article – Skirmishing and Evasion
Strategy Article – Breaking The Line, Holding The Line

Dyrrhachium (48 BC)

Historical background

After Dyrrhachium, Julius Caesar pulled back to regroup his army. Gnaeus Pompey failed to follow up his victory and pursued slowly. After a winter of maneuvering through Thessaly, Pompey encamped at the foot of the mountains near Pharsalus and was persuaded by the senators in his camp to settle the issue with Caesar once and for all.

Pompey had a numerically superior but inexperienced force. Caesar’s army was much smaller, but still composed of crack, veteran legions. Pompey’s plan took into account his strength in cavalry and called for it to out-flank Caesar’s right. Caesar saw what Pompey planned and formed a line of legionary veterans in reserve to counter any out-flanking maneuver.

As the fighting began, Pompey’s cavalry charge rolled over Caesar’s horse. However, when confronted by Caesar’s reserve, this mounted force was thrown back in turn by legionaries using their pila as spears. The Caesarian legionaries who routed the Pompeian cavalry now turned their attention to the exposed left flank of the Pompeian infantry line, pushing back some of Pompey’s better legions stationed there.

Caesar’s legions in the center and on the left now began moving forward. Pompey’s foot units were ordered to hold their ground. Normal battlefield tactics would find both sides advancing to the attack but Pompey’s troops did not advance, hoping Caesar’s infantry would tire themselves out in a long charge. Instead, Caesar’s more experienced legions just halted within a few yards of Pompey’s line, reformed and then made a headlong attack.

With his cavalry defeated, his left flank turned and the center and right hard pressed, Pompey fled back to camp, leaving his army to disintegrate. Most of the survivors surrendered to Caesar the next day. Pompey fled to Egypt, where he was assassinated by Ptolemy XIII. Caesar was now clearly ascendant, but mopping up the remaining Pompeians would still require much hard fighting in the east, Africa, and Spain.


The initial disposition of both armies on one, large picture (click to open in the new window). This time I played with both Kubas while Lukasz and Filip were opposing us.
The left wing was kingdom of Kuba J (Caesar) and Filip (Pompey). Pretty straightforward line of heavy units with some light trapped in front of cohorts – an easy pick for cesarian troops.
On the right we had the most interesting part; a huge Pompeian Cavalry led by Lukasz vs my lights and Caesar reserves. With Kuba G controlling center and overall battle as Overall Commander on our side.

Session report

Let the fight begin! Of course, Lukasz got the great Mounted Charge Card and significantly harassed my troops, killing two of them in the process.
But the response was swift and merciless – Caesar himself arrived decimating and simply destroying the left Pompeian wing. 4-2 for Cesarians!
Let us see if our forces will fare equally well on the other wing. Kuba J approached exposed light, even get rid of one but then… first got a devastating, “3 reds” battle back from Auxilia…
…only to be completely crushed by Filip’s counterattack. Two and a half of legion annihilated alongside with Marcus Anthony! That was a huge blow both to the result and morale of Cesarian troops – the result was 5-5 at this moment.
So, let us try in other, central section. Here linear set-up of Pompeian forces (Lukasz) and lack of leader allowed for a strong blow to be struck by Cesarians (Kuba G) which created a huge gap in senatorial ranks.
Mid-game situation. Caesar leads 8-5. And here comes a trick – as Lukasz was not able to stay till the end of the game, I took his place and along with Filip tried to salvage whatever possible from Pompeian forces.
Dance of death started in the center, where both sides committed huge, heavy forces. Pompeian numbers (me) started to tell over qualitatively superior but quantitatively inferior cesarians (Kuba G).
Then Filip’s wing outflanked the center and even despite enemy First Strike, obliterated two legions.
Still, all of this was not enough – in the end Caesar arrived, encircled poor Bowmen, and completely destroyed them in one attack, finishing the game.


Final look at the map – what a close call, with Caesar winning the battle by one banner! And the map witness to a true carnage…
Close-up on My/Kuba G/Lukasz wing with marked main areas of fighting. The Pompeian Cavalry after first successful turns, was decisively and fundamentally broken by Caesar himself.
Close-up on center and right wing – Kuba J/Filip. Here the Pompeian forces were victorious and on verge of encircling the cesarian center.


What a great and exciting game it was! EPIC Command & Colors – especially played face to face, in larger group – is always such an excellent experience. The Pharsalus scenario turned out to be pretty balanced, interesting, and brutal game and I hope fellow players would find it appealing!

That experiment proved that transposing regular CCA scenarios to EPIC format can give impressive results and fantastic gameplay. I will definitely continue and post scenarios to the:

They will be also part of the updated Vassal module.

More session reports to come!