Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Battle of Firmum, 104 BC (fictional)

Alarmed by the disasters at Arausio and Vercellae in 105 BC, the senate had ordered three new legions to be raised and had recalled two legions of veterans, with associated ‘auxiliaries’, from Hispania and Africa. These were placed under the command of Quintus Servilius Caepio and Gnaeus Mallius Maximus, with Caepio in overall command.

Hearing of this, consuls Silanus and Marius had attempted to win glory for Rome (and themselves) by attacking firstly the Teutones (Silanus/Longinus alone) and then the Cimbri (the four armies combined), but these actions at Comum and Perusia respectively had resulted in further defeats (albeit minor ones) for these unfortunate generals and for Rome.

Now, with the barbarians overrunning Italy and the Cimbri pushing towards the very gates of Rome, Caepio saw his chance to reverse the tide of the war and to gain vital prestige and political influence for himself. Finding the Teutones alone in the provence of Firmum, he arrayed his army of veterans and partially-trained recruits for battle. The Teutones responded in kind…

We played this fifth game of the campaign on 22nd June. The Teutones had elected to make a stand in lightly wooded terrain with a small hill on their right flank.

Overview of the table with our usual set-up of Romans at right and Teutones at left.

Close-up of the Roman dispositions, Maximus with the partially trained legions at right and Caepio with the veterans at left. Note the Numidian cavalry in Caepio’s command—I was looking forward to doing some tricky stuff with them!

The same for the Teutones; skirmishers and cavalry ahead of the warbands.

A die roll was required for the two new Roman commanders to determine their command quality. Oh dear, here we go again; Caepio is ‘incompetent’ and Maximus ‘poor’.

Perhaps not though, a double-six for Maximus’ first command roll means he is having a good day (and perhaps a good campaign) and is now considered to be ‘fair’!

 The Romans advanced…

as did the Teutones' skirmishers and cavalry. Note the limited move of the Numidian cavalry in the foreground.

The Teutones’ cavalry dealt aggressively with the Numidian horse, defeating them once…

following up, and
dispersing them. So much for having fun with these fellows! A great move by Mark.

Better news for the Romans on the front line as the Numidian javelinmen and Cretan archers dispersed a unit of Teutones javelins.

On the left, the Italian cavalry saw a chance to catch the barbarian cavalry at the halt, but the ‘usual’ result ensued—comments of ‘the chasseurs of the ancient world’ ring in the ears…!!

Their Spanish mates tried to recover the situation, succeeding only in pushing back the Teutones, with loss, but failing to pursue.

Above and below, the battle at this early stage. Note the un-turned cards for the partially-trained Roman legions.

 Spanish and Teutones resume their mêlée which has descended into an indecisive maul.

The Italian cavalry broken by a charge of the right-most warband.

Back on the Roman right, the legio Hispania faced an onslaught by two large warbands, got the better of it, but not decisively.

Over on the left, Maximus’ lead legion was charged in turn. The card revealed a seven of clubs, meaning that they were rated low on the ‘untrained column’ (VBU of 4, impetus of 2 and ‘C’ class—compared with the veterans 6-2-B).

Yet, they held their own, drove back the warband and pursued.

On the right, the victorious Teutones cavalry threatened, so Maximus sent part of his rear-most legion to protect the Roman army’s rear.

 The battle at its height.

Legio Hispania drove off two warbands,

only to be faced by another.

In the centre Maximus’ recruits did well against the chief’s veterans. 

but the charge of their counterparts against the cavalry-destroying warband did not end well.

The Roman rear-guard and Teutones cavalry fought one-another to a stand-still.

More cards indicating low quality for the remaining legions in Maximus’ command.

They were not to be tested however, as the Teutones and Spanish cavalry fought one another to oblivion, ending it for Teutobod’s army.

Finally a Roman victory!

It has to come if you play often enough. It was that combination of better troops, improved play and better luck. A tight tussle all the way that ended up being a smashing victory for the Romans. With over double the VD losses to the Teutones (25 against 12) so that they took permanent losses of 75%, while the Romans suffered none; what a turn-up!

It this the turning of the tide, or merely an aberration?


  1. Caepio victorious! Romanum Firmum will go down as a brilliant victory. With Impetus, the game really is never over until it is over, is it? Great BatRep and great choice of rules!

    1. Thanks so much Jonathan. Yeah, we are really enjoying the Impetus rules and what they bring to ancients games. In fact they 'converted' me from an occasional player of ancients to a collector of armies and have really spurred my latent interest. Having got on top of the basics of the rules quickly (a key feature of their appeal), we are now beginning to play them at another level, thanks to a couple of re-reads and more game experience.

  2. Nice report, nice minis, nice Roman victory...and nice double six!

    1. Thanks Phil. Your responses are always quick off the mark and your comments always most encouraging!

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks Ray. None of the cheeky humour of your great reports (which are top stuff), but I'm pleased that you enjoyed it!

  4. Well SPQR and all that... Rome finally comes up a winner, and in a big way. Too bad aboput the Numidians, though!