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Saturday, January 26, 2019

Battle of Telamon, 225 BC with TtS!

With the Society of Ancients (SoA) planning the Battle of Telamon for its 2019 Battle Day, my interest was piqued.  It might be fun to stage this battle and compare our groups' results with the other participants.  Even without the advantage of having SoA's Slingshot describing the battle yet in-hand, Scott jumped at the chance to field his Romans and Gauls in a test of To the Strongest!.  Scott quickly rebased his troops and set upon creating an Order of Battle and layout for the game.

On game day, we arrived to see the battle laid out with scenario and OB presented.  The table showed a large Gallic force surrounded on three sides by Romans with a low hill and woods hindering the only avenue of escape.  The Gauls were trapped!  Look at the beautiful brushwork on Scott's Gauls.  Wonderful check and plaid patterns.  The Gauls comprised two forces.  I commanded the van while Scott took command of the rear.     
The Gauls
Gallic van
The Roman commands were divided between Austin's northern blocking force and Kevin's southern blocking force.  The Roman cavalry and light infantry harassing the Gallic rear were split between the two Roman generals. 
Regulus' command on the north
As the battle begins, the Gauls are slow to shake out from their columns.  The van under my command was particularly challenged to turn anything over that was not an ace for the first few turns.  The exception to this lethargy was the cavalry in the van.  They head off to take the high ground before Regulus' northern force could gain a foothold.  The Romans waste little in harassing the rear column.  Roman cavalry attempts to outflank the Gallic column before it can deploy.
Roman cavalry envelope the Gallic rear
Roman cavalry attack!
The Gallic cavalry in the van reach the hillock first.  The Romans counter with hastati but are driven off by the Gallic horsemen.  As the Northern and Southern Roman pincers begin to close on the Gauls, the Gallic van finally snaps into action.
Gauls begin to scatter in all directions
Gauls turn to face their enemy
The Gallic cavalry in the front tease the approaching Romans but withdraw to safety before the Roman heavy infantry can close.  As Regulus' infantry chases the Gallic cavalry off the hill, they expose their flank.  The Gallic cavalry turn and strike as the Gallic van closes.  One legion is destroyed and a second badly mauled. 
Romans expose a flank while the Gauls expose even more.
Gauls close
The Gallic rear column has not been idle.  Splitting their force, all opposing Roman cavalry are chased off.  Hastati fall to the Gauls.  With the Roman cavalry in the Gallic rear now showing signs of wavering, the Gallic warbands press on.  These cavalry are scattered to both north and south.  In the pursuit, Regulus' camp is taken. 
Gauls pressuring the Romans
Back to the action in the van.  The Gaestatae warband facing the south and buying time while Regulus' northern force is pressured, is hit in front and flank.  Miraculously the Gaestatae hold. 
Gaestatae hit front and flank repel their attackers
While the Gaestatae are keeping the southern Roman army at bay, the warbands and cavalry attack Regulus.  One Gallic cavalry unit crashes into part of a legion from the flank, destroying it.
Gallic cavalry overruns a Roman legion
Two more Roman units succumb to the ferocity of the Gauls.  One unit is lost in tough hand-to-hand combat; the other overrun by cavalry.  The Roman armies have reached their break point.  The battle is over.  A Gallic victory! 
The final clash
Based on my limited reading of the historical accounts of the battle, goig into gthe game, I figured the Gauls had not much of a chance.  the actual outcome was a big surprise to me.  The Gauls showed tremendous power against the two Roman armies and defeated one in detail before the other could close.  The Gallic cavalry cut through several legions while the Gallic warbands repulsed the Roman cavalry.  The northern Roman blocking army lost four out of his five units in battle.  The Gallic cavalry, alone, scattered three of those units.  Decisive!  For the Gauls, it was a fun and decisive day.  The path home to the north lays open for the Gallic warbands.  We look forward to fighting Telamon again and I am energized to get some Gauls into the painting queue. 
The battle was fought on Sunday.  On Thursday, SoA's Slingshot 322 with the Telamon Battle Pack arrived in the post.  I look forward to reading the material and applying this new information to our next battle of Telamon.  It looks like a good issue.  Several more Telamon battles await!

56 comments:

  1. Hi Jonathan, great battle report. I've just got my hands on For King And Parliament and like what I see. What do you think of To The Strongest, did its mechanics twist the outcome in anyway since I was pretty sure at the start that the Gauls would be crushed?

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    1. Thank you! Very good to see that you have recovered from your recent home improvement episode!

      I only have a handful of TtS! games under my belt, thus far. Luck of the draw seems to hold a big component in game play. Perhaps, the luck factor evens out over the long haul or one learns to mitigate those risks. Time will tell but it is a fast, fun, and (sometimes) frustrating game.

      I thought the Gauls would be in trouble before the battle begin too.

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  2. I too was surprised at the outcome. Mind you I get the impression the actual battle wasn't a completely one-sided affair, even though the Romans prevailed there.

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    1. We really do not know too much about the battle outside of Roman sources. Given that, it is difficult to know what actually transpired. Given the historical accounts, the Gauls likely were in a bit of trouble having been boxed in by two Roman armies.

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  3. lovely armies to grace the table and a most interesting fight. By chance, I was browsing my Basic Impetvs 2 yesterday and that set me off on a journey of internet crawling. I came across a chap who named several modern rule sets, to include Sword & Spear and Impetus and he felt that the games too readily allowed games to break down into a load of small engagements, with units sort of doing their own thing, rather than having the line have to behave more like a cohesive whole.

    I want to explore this further, it may of course the case that our games might be thought of in effect as giving exploded views of various sectors of the line as they 'do their own thing' but that perhaps overall, the army should still be thought of as being in line. I don't know.

    I wondered what you might think of the bloggers concerns and whether TtS largely 'behaves itself' in this regard.

    Good post and look forward to more.

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    1. Scott is a fine painter and his figures are always a pleasure to push around the table.

      As for your question of ancients' games devolving into a number of sub-battles within a larger scope, do we know that did not happen? Commanders in ancient battles may not have maintained the same level of command control as more modern armies displayed. When engaged in hand-to-hand combat, I bet your vision of the battle and how your position relates to other formations becomes quite myopic. That is, your mind and body are fully engaged in "your" immediate situation.

      This perceived command breakdown can be exasperated in multiplayer games. In this battle, the two Roman commanders were on opposite sides of the battlefield with very little communication and coordination. Even with the Gauls holding the center position, we each pusued separate priorities that pulled are cohesive groups apart as the battle progressed.

      Is TtS! any different in this respect from other ancients rules? I need more games to assess that.

      Thought provoking questions, Norm. Thanks!

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    2. Ancients has the same problem as dark ages regarding no one really knows how the battle line or shieldwall worked. My personal opinion is that it behaved both ways: it certainly devolved into several smaller combats all across the line but the line also supported itself across its whole length. If the line was thinning in one place the men nearby would certainly file over to support before a breach happened. This filing over would act like a wave radiating out and down the line and eventually everyone would be distributed across the battle line.
      In this way, unless a breach happened very quickly like a puncture, eventually one side or the other would be ground down to the point where the line would be at it’s breaking point every where, and then collapse at once.
      The complete collapse is hard to model for wargaming bc it leans more toward isolated combats where on part of the line breaks but other parts are more stable.
      Hope that all made sense. It was a lot to type with thumbs on an iPhone. 😀

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    3. Stew, your explanation makes perfect sense and I really appreciate your effort in tapping this out with thumbs on an iPhone! That skill is way beyond me!

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  4. Just to say, I have gone back in, enlarged the pictures and had a good old roam (no pun intended) in there ... lovely armies!

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    1. Yes, Scott's work on the checks, stripes, plaids, and shields is impressive. Lovely armies, for sure!

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  5. TtS is on the list of systems I need to try. Impressed that you got a Gallic victory. I'm looking at doing a game for the SoA Battle Day next year, but I've not settled on a rules set or approach yet.

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    1. I was impressed to get a Gallic victory too! I am sure we will be refighting this battle more than once as new information arrives and time permits.

      Give TtS! a try. It is a fun and bloody game.

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  6. Great report and excellent pictures Jonathan - and nice to see another TtS game!

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    1. Thanks, Keith! TtS! is beginning to see some rotation in our game schedule. That is good.

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  7. Replies
    1. Thanks, Ray! For the Gauls it was a cracking good game!

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  8. TtS looks more and more interesting - thanks for the write-up, Jon.

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    1. You're welcome! I am learning a bit more with each game. Soon, useful tactics may begin to develop...

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  9. The Gauls are indeed fantastic, beautifully painted. I love the chap in the first picture, running into battle holding a severed head! Terrifying.
    I am sure that a lot of ancient battles devolved quickly into sub-contests as command and control went by the wayside.

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    1. Scott did mighty fine work on painting these Gauls!

      Very good to have you back, Michael!

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  10. Excellent battle report and a fine display of figures!
    I don't know much about TTS, and have only dabbled in ancients, but the fact that the Gauls had the day indicates to me that the rules have validity (in most games I've played, a Roman victory is a bygone conclusion).

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the battle report, Ed! Scott gets the credit for the figures.

      As for the battle, I am unconvinced that the Gauls should have such an easy time of it having been bottled up by two Roman armies. We will play it again and see what happens.

      Scott played the battle out four times solo this week and the count was 2-2. Pretty even match-up as designed.

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  11. Really impressive report, Jonathan! I enjoyed reading it.

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  12. A beautiful report with such awesome armies, thanks Jonathan...and congrats to the Gauls!

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  13. Lovely looking armies! Nice to have a rule set where the Romans don't automatically win,if you read Livy there's plenty of times when the Republican Roman armies came up short against Celtic opposition, I think we tend to view such conflicts influenced by Caesar by which time the Romans had worked out the best tactics to use against the Celts.
    Best Iain

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    1. Iain, given the historical outcome, this result was a welcome surprise since I was commanding one of the Gallic formations. The Romans were not superhuman in this outing. History is greatly influenced by Caesar. He was a great propagandist.

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  14. Great report Jonathan, suprised by outcome too but not that familiar with this battle either :)

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  15. WoooW! Report looks fantastic Jonathan!

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  16. Great minis and AAR Jonathan. And a big well done - pulling off a victory in those circumstances is no mean feat, especially against Romans.

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    1. Thanks, Mike! The Gallic victory was an unexpected outcome.

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    1. This is Scott's (http://macpheesminiaturemen.blogspot.com/) table and troops. He gets the credit for hosting a fun and visually pleasing game.

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  18. I was rooting for the Guals the whole time. 😀
    I think using a grid based movement system would really help with scenarios that use flank attacks: just more clear on who is where.

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    1. You know how to pick a winner!

      Grid-based games make a lot of things more clear while speeding up play.

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  19. An excellent historical battle with marvelous troops, Jonathan! I've yet to try out TtS, but there are a few locals who like them.

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    1. Thanks, Dean. Give TtS! a try sometime and let me know what you think about it.

      Good luck in your upcoming move.

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  20. Thanks for taking part, Jon! That was an enjoyable game. My solo plays have been evenly split: three victories each for the Romans and the Gauls!

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    1. As always it was good fun! Who said, "I hate rules that try to screw me?" I will remember that line forever...

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  21. Great looking table and figures! We've played TtS about 10 times so I'm not expert but we find it to be a fun game with lots of twists and turns and it certainly has spectacle.

    How did you find the Polybian Roman line relieve rules as outlined in the Even Stronger supplement?

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    1. Hi Bill!

      Lots of twits and turns, for sure. He few games we played are fun.

      As for Romam line relief, we discussed this process prior to the battle but I do not recall the Romans actually employing such in the game. Perhaps that would have helped?

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  22. Impressive result by the Gauls, and another fine looking game!

    Cheers,
    Aaron

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  23. Scott's Gauls are awesome! For a TTS! Polybian army, their Cavalry arm is a weak point, and it seems you got far more out of your Gallic horsemen than the Romans did of theirs. The modified rules in "Even Stronger (free) are really a necessity for the Polybian army; they were too weak in the original version, which had the Heavy Infantry as a bunch of small units. The Rally and exchange rule allows not only the recovery of disorder, but rearming of the Pila and an upgrade in Morale Save by 1 point. Of course, if they are hit in the flank and destroyed, none of that will help a bit! :-)

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    1. Yes, it is always a pleasure to play with Scott's finely painted toys.

      We discussed the use of the "Even Stronger" rules and the line exchange, rearming and disorder removal but I don't recall it ever being put into practice during the game. That may have helped the Roman legions but as you say, not when struck in flank!

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  24. Interesting looking game. I am still interested in trying these rules out some more. I am thinking of doing a small table top boardgame and using my 6mm ancients rather than the big stands to see how it plays in the dining room.

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    1. I look forward to giving these rules more time at the gaming table and would certainly enjoy seeing our Biblicals in action again.

      Looking forward to your small-scale experimentation.

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  25. Wow what an interesting game, Jonathan! Very dynamic. Only just stumbled across it- on a French Forum, of all places. Best, Simon

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