Why Do Romans?

Second Scenario in the Campaign

Romans Storm a Bridge on their fight back to their marching fort

I’ve recently gotten back into Roman history (I blame the movie CENTURION!), and my favorite implacable foe, the Celts. Fortunately, I still had a mess of figures left over from last years’ “recruitment”, that I could start painting immediately. I even found a dozen primed auxilia in a box ready to go. Add that to some reading material, particularly Stephen Dando-Collins’ Roman Legions series, and I was off.

On a side note, the two of his books I’ve read so far, CAESAR’S LEGION and NERO’S KILLING MACHINE (about the 10th and 14th legions respectively) are what I sort of call ‘ripping yarn’ history… full of great details and action, and just enough citation of the source material to be taken as history. Anyhow, I can’t recommend them enough if you’re looking for some great scenario suggestions.

Which brings me to my subject heading: why do Romans? Unless you’re playing in a game very loosely based on reality, the Romans should always win a stand up fight against barbarians. Paulinus’ defeat of Boudicca (outnumbered 2o to one or so) is an extreme example of this rule, but it proves the point. There is an inherent force multiplier in the Roman’s training, that the more of them they have on the field, the more deadly they become as an overall force. So why game them?

When I got into wargaming 25 odd years ago, I was only interested in the “big picture” battles. The movements of Battalions and larger were all I was interested in because otherwise what are you simulating? Just some side show? Then as I got older, and read more battle accounts, I became far more interested in the private soldier’s combat experience, and small unit actions drew my attention because more often than not, the larger movement of troops were more predictable. You could see what was about to happen two turns in advance.

This lead me to the skirmish game, and small unit actions, roughly the size of platoons or companies. The details of those ugly face-to-face battles are grim and unpredictable stuff, and that’s where the Guerrilla/ Barbarian tactics of certain armies can find an equal footing with their more disciplined, professional foes. This is where Varus is defeated by Herman, where Cerialis’ 9th legion cohorts are broken by Boudicca. Not multiple legions lined up in proper battle lines, but isolated cohorts fighting for their lives.

I think this is where some interesting gaming can be found between the mighty Romans and the brave but woefully disorganized Gauls and Britons. To this end I’ve devised a new mini-Campaign concept that I will blog on about next time.

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