Naumachiae Naval battle Rome vs Carthage

We had ourselves a battle of Naumachiae to test some simplifications. There are some nice mechanisms that makes it a great game, but we are trying to scale down the book-keeping and make a large naval action playable in an evening.

 

We had a good game in the evening, landing on approx 5 hours.

The reason i like the rules so much is that they take in consideration how ships and fleets moved with communication limits and that speed and maneuver is crucial for success. I`m opposed to the idea that naval battles are just land battles at sea, and i think it`s important to try to emphasize the different tactical aspects of a land battle and a sea battle. So, that is why we simplify this good, but too complex game.

 

Battle in southern Uhio.

This battle is represented with Republican romans as Vilmir vs Greek hoplites and Early Germans as the rebels with allies. Names and places on the map is unfamiliar to most, but RED is ROME. GREEN is CARTHAGE with REBEL SCUM.

After the disaster at cape Mariol and the loss of Kletch, the Vilmirans have to consolidate and rethink their strategy. The rebels are now on the offensive.

 

Our battle is between Emilio and his Vargisians with Argimiliars Marines, VS Lord Hurlis of Krell and his two Legions with reinforcements. About 9000 rebels (Germans and hoplites) vs 11000 Vilmirians (roman republican army). As the Vilmirans have force marched they gain a -1 stamina disadvantage as they have not rested. This leaves the points a little more close, but they are still in far favor of the Vilmir side (romans). The points are about 850 vs 1100.

 

It had been a while since we had our last battle, so a few mistakes and silly things where done here and there, but it was great fun and exiting, although the Romans had the upper hand. The Romans won the field. And the rebels withdrew to a nearby fortress.

Losses landed on aprox:

2665 dead romans and about

3300 dead rebels.

The Lord of Krell will have to turn back to Uhio, to avoid beeing attacked by the Rebels further north. Great fun as the campaign rolls on.

 

 

The storming of Kletch

The rebels that landed in Uhio would, at the same time as the battle of Mariol, try to storm the city of Kletch, defended by 1600 levies and 400 veteran soldiers that had colonized the rebel city. The rebels, led by Kalvan, Arman and the allied Hasdrubal from Argimiliar started building the storming equipment. The attackers numbered about 7050 men.

The 5000 Argimiliarites was represented by the Syracuse list. Kalvans 550 men are Gallic war bands. Armans mercenaries was represented by the Carthage list, the 6 elephants was held back.

The attackers have enough ladders for 3 points of attack, two battering rams and four medium bolt throwers.

The defenders have 2 heavy artillery, 2 cauldrons of hot sand, 4 medium bolt throwers and 2 small bolt throwers.

We allow the unit climbing ladders to be supported and the units on the walls to be supported to the flank. We declined the rule from “the Dacian wars” that you can tear down the walls with units, as this is a little too abstract to our taste.

 

 

Conclusion:

The battle was hard fought and i am glad we could try a siege like this before the big ones commence. We need to get the balance right as there will be quite a few of these in the future. We both agreed on that the defense was too strong. Mainly there should have been more ladders, as the attacker could not use their superior numbers to outmaneuver the few defenders. The amount of artillery should be less for a small city like Kletch. Four light artillery and two medium should be more appropriate, but i think the attackers should still have the four medium.

The siege rules in “Dacian wars” suggest that units can attack the walls themselves and tear them down. I think this should only happen with wall  breaking machines and catapults sapping tunnels and things that have been prepared over time, as weakening a wall takes time. The “attacking the walls themselves” rule could be used to simulate the amount of ladders in an army, though, and the trouble of having them erected. The amount of troops carrying the ladders and equipment will also be determined by the size of the army. Half of the units in the army will then have such equipment. Then the superior numbers can be utilized properly. The attackers will also be facing the ditch rules then. During this battle we forgot the -1 to hit defenders on walls, but had the charge bonus included.

The defenders on the walls will, according to “the dacian wars ” siege rules be able to stretch their defense line by shrinking in size. Medium become small etc. We did not use this, but will in the future. We will lean a little more to the original siege rules, as they seem sound, but will scrap the “tearing down walls with swords” rule.

All in all a good game, but a little frustrating for the attacker. The civilians may have time to escape as the defenders prepare themselves for the inevitable last stand as the victorious enemy fleet will approach within days.

losses

attacker : 401 men

defender : 45 men

 

The battle of Mariol

Dux Elgar Esholta, Ongar Octaviar, Admiral Rhesus and Legat Castor attacked the main argimiliarite (Carthaginian) fleet with vigor and aggression. Loaded with heavy equipment, this proved to be a disaster for the Vilmirian (Roman) navy. We used the Naumachiae rules to fight the battle. This was a challenge as the rules are quite complex and we had no greek book-keper slave available.

The fleets seemed to be balanced, but I would swap speed for heavy equipment any day, I realized. The Vilmiran (romans) had heavy threes, quinqeremes stuffed with marines, catapults, corvus and towers mixed about. The argimiliarites (carthage) had incindiary ammunition and more ships of a lighter and faster class.

Each model represents 5 ships.

Tragedy at sea! What now?! The rebels will have won the seas and to rebuild the fleet will be expensive and time demanding. The battle was fun, although the complicated rules slow things down too much for a large scale action. Naumachia is probably best suited for fleets of five to ten ships per side. I guess these rules are some of the more precise and correct rule- sets when it comes to movement and behaviour, lots of good ideas and mechanics. But, we clocked 22 hours doing this game over a weekend. That is 18 hours continous play. It is not possible to achieve that more than once in the century so we will have to either simplify the rules (they do have great elements) or to find something else. Hail Agrippa have been considered, but since it pretty much removes the way a naval game is different from a land battle, it seems a little pointless. Maybe Poseidon`s Warriors will be a good substitute for naumachiae. I guess we would still use the rules for small scale engagement as the rules are so detailed. There is simply too much book-keeping and to many factors to remember to have an efficient game of 30+ ships per side. I wish there was a fast play version of the game as there is with the other games available from Langton minis.

Anyway, the battle was exiting (although the exitement beeing stretched out). We had guests during the battle, Mercenary Mike from England borrowed my Monteforino helmet and a gladius from our host and supplied the Vilmirian fleet with support and spirit. The phrase “sir, where are our support sir?!” Will be remembered until the next battle. Big thanks to our host whom held the event in this 30c + environment.

Then to the coclusion:

Vilmiran marines

Dead 1590

Prisoners 1435

Vilmirian sailors

Dead 5096

Prisoners 6404

Argimiliar

marines dead 887

sailors dead 1384

Critical advances in the campaign

After moving troops for a while we realized some of the earlier moves by the fleet was wrong. The troops of the Argimiliarite allies (greeks, carthaginians) did not have the freedom to move where they would like to. Their opening orders where to build two fortresses on the coast of the protectorates to establish a future trade colony. Therefore we moved the fleet to this location and had Lysander and his soldiers start building. Hasdrubal, though, had the opportunity to move elsewhere. We moved troops for about eight days (turns) before making critical contact.

A fleet is hired/expropriated/built. It uses two days to sail to Dolgar. One vilmirian army heading for Hrolford trned back to Jadmar. Meanwhile the main fleet of Vilmir, led by Esholta and strengthened by the fleet of duke Ongar Octaviars 25 quinqeremes, starts to hunt for the Argimiliarite fleet who just offloaded 7000 men at the shores of Klethc. This city is then besieged. 2000 retired soldiers man the walls as they prepare to defend their newly conquered homes. The Kletchians have returned for vengeance. Esholta has the opportunity to leave 3200 marines in the city, but wants to keep them for the potential fight with the enemy fleet. The Vilmirians frown upon this decision to abandon them. Meanwhile, Hrolford i further strengthened by a legion. The rebels led by Cato decides to give up the city and withdraws to Old Hrolmar for the defense of the city. From marful marches one of the northern border armies to the aid of the south.

On the tenth day, the fleets made contact and the siege of Kletch was fought.

 

Wreck counters for naumachiae

The ancient naval wargames rules naumachiae use wrexked ships as part if the gameplay. The langton miniatures provides wreck models, but i have noe aquired them yet. But, i used spare parts and some green stuff to make a few homemade ones of various size. There are aleays a few spare parts in the langton sets. Very nice for creativity.

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Dux Bellum Elgar Esholta storm the walls of island fortress.

Having assembled the main Vilmirian fleet, Dux Elgar sails into the bay of hrolmar to chastise the rebel “king” Avan. To block the city of Old Hrolmar from the sea, negating the grain import monopoly of Argimiliar and supplies, Dux Elgar has to capture at least one of the two fortresses built on the islands close to Hrolmar harbor. These islands would then serve as base for the fleet, so that a continuous blockade can be maintained. If captured, the islands would no longer count as friendly shore and could not bombard the Vilmirian fleet, if a sea battle was to take place in the bay. The young “king” Avan has stationed 3500 men on the islands. Dux Elgar has 8000 marines and plans on attacking with 3000 men on each of the fortresses. The first fight is led by the supreme commander himself. The fortresses has to be stormed, with just one days preparation, due to the threat of the large Argimiliarian fleet coming from the south to protects its new trade partner, the rebel “king”. For a possible sea battle, the marines has to be ready and cannot maintain a prolonged siege. This meant that only ladders, battering rams and medium ship artillery could be used in capturing the fortress.

Here is what happened:

This was our first siege battle and we used most of the rules from the Dacian Wars supplement and a few home rules. A few issues came up, but nothing that did the game harm. The attacking marines are all Princepes with pilum in three divisions, and two artillery batteries. The rebel defenders are Hastati Levy and one Princepes unit representing the grey guards of Hrolmar. The Rebels all deployed in one division with Kragon Vrix as their commander of level 7. Elgar Esholta, being the supreme commander of the Vilmirian forces has level 9. We started off with the intentions of playing 8 turns, but ended up palying 11 as the game was hanging in a tight balance.

 

A very close game for both sides. My opponent felt that it was too easy to take the fortress, but i think it was a bit too hard. If the gate had not been broken, i would have had small chance in capturing the walls. With +3 added to the morale save its quite tough to win a combat, and with the other combat modifiers. I had counted on 2/1 beeing juuust enough men to capture the fortress, and i was almost right. A ratio of 3/1 would have won the day. It may also be a good idea to attack the walls with troops of high clash value to win that first round of combat. The first round was played without support on the ladders, but we changed this to give the legionaries a chance of winning the combat.

Inside the fortress gate, things got a little complicated. We defined each tower, rampart and gatehouse as a separate buildings, but we where a little unsure in how to solve the charges, withdrawals and fighting in close quarters. The rules stated that you are allowed to charge out of a building, so we did. My opponent did not like the fact that i could charge out of a tower door and onto the rampart, i think this is ok. If you chose to stay inside the tower, you get the fortification bonus, but 2 attack dice. Choose. The other thing was withdrawal. As Esholta lost the combat in the courtyard he withdrew to the gatehouse, as i think this would be the natural thing to do, as they were not broken. My opponent objected and suggested that they would either be destroyed against the walls or pushed out the other side of the building. i think this takes away some of the pleasure with fighting a battle inside a fortress, as the point is to capture the different levels of fortifications and use them to your advantage. But, this was no big problem, but a nice thing to clear out before our next siege. My compromising suggestion would be to differ between “good order” retreat and “disordered” retreat. Good order can withdraw to a safe position, disordered will cram up against the walls and make the best of it.

I think the rules for siege worked out well, considering it was our first. We skipped the “attack the walls themselves” rule, as we found this a little strange without proper equipment (i have built siege tunnels and so forth and plan on using them).

As always a great game. A little over time, 11 turns instead of 8, as it proved very hard to work against the clock in a siege, and since we had the time, we could finish it properly (and the beers). About 5 hours standard time.

The tents are from Baccus, the ships are from Rod Langton.