Saturday, 15 October 2016

Ancient wargames from the past

Yes, it's tautology central here today.

Back in mid-late June Mark and I took advantage of a lull in our combined work schedules to play out a series of small games. This lead to us playing five wargames in two weeks, a record by our standards.

I managed to report only one of these at the time, so now intend to catch up, slowly but surely, on the others.

Numidians v Caesarean Romans

I'll begin with the second of our games, set in the time of the divine Julius and loosely, as one of those summer blouses that I'm sure "The Donald" loves, based on the battles in North Africa in 49 BC between the Optimates (Pompeians) under Publius Attius Varus and Populares (Caesareans) under Gaius Scribonius Curio.

Before engaging in battle against the Optimates and their Numidian allies, I naturally looked to the auspices.
A coincidence of the full moon and sunrise at dawn foretold of a great victory for our side!

The armies faced one another across a broad valley, broken by a small wood and rise in the middle of the field of battle.

Curio advanced the entire Populares' line, sending his Gallic and Thracian cavalry against the Numidians on his left and right.

... with initial success on the latter flank!

The Populares' legions reached the central hill.

Varus sent forward his elephants.

Surely our veteran legions would chew up a few Loxodonta africana?

On the left, our cavalry were being over-whelmed by the Numidians.

Overview of the battlefield.

After their initial success, the cavalry on our right could not resist the onslaught of elephants and those pesky Numidians!

In the centre and centre-right, our legions continued their struggle against the obstinate Pachyderms.
... while pressure mounted on their flank.

With the grey beasts finally beaten off, Curio sent his legions to deal with the Pompeians pseudo-legionaries.

While the light infantry tried to hold off the Numidians.

Fresh to the fight, the Optimates legions were getting the better of it.

Though outnumbered four to one, the cavalry on our left flank launched a desperate counter-attack.

The legions were fighting each other to a standstill.

After their unexpected success, the Italian cavalry pursued into the next line of Numidian cavalry...
...only to be flanked themselves, with the expected result.

The legionaries suffering reverses in the centre and with both flanks threatened, the Populares' army broke.

It had been clear from the beginning.

In their overzealousness to please, our wise men had missed the obvious portent of the coming storm.

Seen clearly pointing to the Caesarean side in this image from the gods!


  1. Looks like it was a classic fight to win before the nimble Numidians enveloped the wings.

    1. Yes, the Populares trump was the legions but I did not manage to use them to best effect (was not allowed to by my opponent) and so by the time they came against the opposing legions they were severely compromised by casualties and disorder.
      Initial success against the Numidians had me excited, but they were numerous and effective!

  2. Always useful to look at the Auspices...Great report James!

    1. Thanks Phil.
      Important to interpret them correctly too!

  3. Another excellent battle report - the moral seems to be don't look out the window before a game...

  4. Nice report! You clearly erred, though, in failing to consult the sacred chickens!

    1. What a goose, I did not think of asking me chooks!! :)