In which Minimus Gluteus imitates his legendary uncle, Maximus with another misadventure in the East

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

This is a very small Tactica game I played solo in December while recuperating from a mild heart attack I suffered late November while trying to put up some Xmas decorations at the insistence of my spouse. Not being allowed to do much, I was looking for some way to entertain myself and decided, "Why not play some Tactica"! It was done entirely at my computer using Battle Chronicler to do the moves using the Tactica II playtest rules. If you haven't heard of Battle Chronicler, you can check it out here:    Although a little cumbersome, its a decent program that enables one to make maps of the miniature battles. I apologize for the mountains that look like cow paddies, but that's what Battle Chronicler has to work with.  At any rate, I had fun doing it and it allowed Minimus to continue his journey to Germania while Pontic General Mitchradates continued battling the Romans in Cappadocia.  All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead or real events, is purely coincidental.

Book I: Battle of the Syrian Gates


Minimus Gluteus, Roman General had been defeated at the Battle of the Narrow Plain on the Pontic coast road between the town of Amisus and the Halys river. Trying to flee back to Roman territory, Minimus was apprehended by  a special armed guard from the Roman Senate at the Grecian Port of Nicopolis and sent north to fight naked barbarians somewhere in the wilds of Germania.
The Roman Senate raised new Legions and sent them East, hoping to finally bring the citizens of Pontus under Roman rule. Although if the truth be told, it was more the idea of large numbers of population not paying taxes to Rome that irked them than bringing Roman civilization to the world. The Roman General decided on a bold plan to attack Pontus from the South, up through Syria and into Cappadocia. Roman colonies in the near East would provide a convenient base to support his campaign. 

He advanced on several fronts hoping to out-flank the Ponts and their numerous allies. Most of the routes were in open terrain and the armies of Pontus with abundant cavalry were able to dispute any Roman advance. One route however, was through a mountainous region of Syria over the Belen Pass, also known as the Syrian Gates. Due to its narrowness, it could be defended by a small force. The Roman General decided to send a single Legion without support troops to take the pass. He hoped quick and decisive action by the Legion would overcome whatever token force the Ponts had to defend it. He thought that the Ponts would surely only defend the pass with light and maneuverable infantry that would be no match for his tough cohorts.

The Empire of Pontus had many troops but not enough generals. All leaders of adequate ability had been briefed and sent to defend the many avenues of possible Roman advance. Thinking the Romans not likely to use the Belen Pass because of its narrowness, the Ponts called on retired General Mitchradates who was on a vacation trip in Cilicia with his wife at the time. Mitchradates had previously been defeated by Minimus Gluteus at the battle of Dragonium, but had delayed Minimus sufficiently that the Ponts were able to raise enough troops in time to defeat Minimus at the Battle of the Narrow Plain. Tired of being harangued by his wife for not attending to chores around the household, Mitchradates readily accepted the command and set off to defend the pass. The only troops the Ponts had available were two infantry phalanxes and some Armenian archers. Not the best for difficult terrain, but the actual pass was fairly level clear terrain. So Mitchradates deployed his troops while the Roman Legion advanced up the pass hoping to find it lightly defended.


Mitchradates pondered how to best deploy his phalanxes. They were not very maneuverable and were very easily flanked in open terrain. Side by side they would completely block the Romans from advancing and in the narrow part of the Pass they could not be flanked. They could not support each other though and could easily be worn down if the Romans chose to attack only one and leave the other un-engaged. So Mitchradates decided to angle the phalanxes so that they could wheel slightly and advance to support the other if the Romans attacked on one side only.

Initial Deployment

The Roman Legate was surprised to see heavy infantry occupying the pass when he arrived, but it didn’t delay his attack. His Legion had fought whole armies with pike phalanxes before and won, so why should just two units of heavy infantry intimidate him. He decided to engage the phalanxes with as many units as possible and to maximize his Pila attacks. This meant deploying the cohorts individually so that they all had opportunity to throw their pila. In the narrow pass, the only way to get as many cohorts as possible to engage the phalanxes was to deploy the flank cohorts in line and the center cohorts in column. This would result in each phalanx having to fight two cohorts.
So the Roman cohorts advanced and were soon under missile fire by the Pontic archers, Mitchradates had sent in front of his phalanxes. They would get a couple of volleys off before evading behind their heavy infantry.

The Battle:

The Roman Legion advanced toward the Pontic Phalanxes, the leading Cohorts each taking minimal casualties from the Archers. The inside two cohorts advanced slightly ahead of the outer two in order to all hit the Pontic line at the same time. The Pontic archers evaded behind the heavy Infantry, their part in the battle concluded.
Mitchradates, seeing an opportunity in the Roman deployment, advanced his Phalanxes slightly to engage the outer Cohorts before the inner cohorts made contact. This enabled the Ponts to force Cohorts 1 and 4 to each exchange blows with a full Phalanx. The resulting melee was deadly with both sides taking equal casualties. Unfortunately for the Romans the deeper Phalanxes were able to withstand more punishment. Cohort 4 was totally shattered. Some Pontic phalangites after the battle commented it was as if in their eagerness to attack, they literally hurled themselves at the Ponts only to be impaled upon the eighteen foot sarissas of the Phalanx. The larger size of the Elite 1st Cohort enabled to stay in the fight, but they had lost almost half the number in this first round of fighting.

Initial Contact, 4th Cohort is broken

Cohort 5 moved up to take the place the misfortunate 4th as did Cohorts 2 and 3. These did not fair any better and soon Cohorts 2, 3 and 5 were all routed to be replaced by Cohorts 7, 8 and 9. Eventually the 1st Cohort was worn down and when it broke, the Romans decided to call it a day. They retreated down the hill leaving the Ponts in control of the Syrian Gates.

The Pontic Phalanxes had suffered heavy casualties but were never in danger of breaking. The depth of the phalanxes had proved to more than a match for the well trained Roman legionnaires and their Pila. As he directed the disposition of the dead and care of the wounded, Mitchradates thought about the cost of the battle. The armies of Rome were many and they would come again in an attempt to subdue the Pontic Empire.  But at least on this day and at this place he thought, they would not do it through him. He smiled as he considered that fighting Romans was far more enjoyable than being harangued by his wife. She damned near gave him a heart attack about doing chores around his estates this past season. He decided to send her a note that it was likely to be a long campaign.

1st Cohort finally Breaks

Turn by Turn
The following is a turn by turn log of the dice rolls and movement. It’s very boring unless one wants to see how the rules for combat are played. They are almost identical to T1. Where a unit fights more than one opponent, it must divide its melee dice evenly against all opponents. Heavy Infantry are awarded two melee dice extra for every rank deeper they are than their enemy. This is for each melee area, not each unit. Therefore you can see how a Phalanx with protected flanks is very difficult to beat. Romans would have been better off sending in "reinforced cohorts" ( i.e two cohorts combined) instead of piecemeal and concentrated on one Phalanx. To win the Romans must get at least 32 kills on one Phalanx to route it. As it happened they put 17 hits on each phalanx, well below their individual break point. Ponts must route enough Cohorts to get a total of 44 kills which they did.

1st Turn: Romans have initiative, they move first. Romans all advance 8 inches. Pontic Archers back up to stay out of Roman HI move next turn.Archers shoot getting 2 dice for every three archers due to Roman armour, so ten dice total. They decide to break it up 3:2:2:3 from left to right. They roll  6,5,4  :  1, 6 :  4,6, :  1,3,4  so three hits total, 1 ea on Cohorts 2,3 &4.
Turn 2: Ponts get intiative, but let Romans go first.Ponts divide shooting as before 3;2;2;3. They roll 1,1,1 : 2,2 : 5,3 : 3,4,6.  Only one hit on COH1.
Turn3: Romans get initiative and decide to go first. They all advance 8 inches except cohorts 1 & 4 which advance 7 inches so as to permit them to all contact on same turn. Pontic SK evade first behind the PH's. Pontic PH decide to advance to contact. They contact COH's 1 & 4.
Melee direction is Left to right.
COH 4 throws 8 pilum at HI1, 1 hit. 8 Melee dice results 6 hits. Total 7 hits oh HI1
COH 1 throws 8 Pilum at HI2 2 hits.  8 Melee dice results 4 hits. Total 6 hits on HI2
HI1 throws 12 dice minus 1 for the Pilum hit plus 6 for 3 ranks deeper. 17 Melee dice results 7 hits on COH4. That’s 8 total so COH4 is Routed. 
HI2 throws 12 dice minus 2 for the Pilum hit plus 4 for 2 ranks deeper. 14 Melee dice results  6 hits
COH 3 must take a morale test since rear of their unit is within 4 inches of COH 4. They roll a 7, passing barely.
COH 5 is beyond the 4inch rout path so don't have to Test. 

Turn 4

Turn 5: Romans get initiative.
Only move is COH8 moves up to support COH3 but beyond 4 inches.
Melee direction is left to right.
COH 5 gets 3 melee dice, scores 1 hit on HI1
HI1 gets 6 dice plus 4 for 2 ranks deeper. total 10 dice results 2 Hits on COH 5. COH 3 gets 4 dice, scores no hits.
HI1 gets 6 dice plus 4 , total 10 dice. Score 3 Hits on COH 3.
COH2 gets 4 melee dice and scores no hits on HI2.
HI2 gets 6 dice plus 4 for 2 ranks deeper. 10 dice results 1 hit on COH 2.
COH1 gets 7 dice and scores 2 hits on HI2.
HI2 gets 6 dice plus 4. Total 10 dice results 3 hits on COH 1

Turn 6: Melee direction is right to left.  Ponts get intiative.
There is no movement.
COH1 has 4 figures left. rolls 4 dice. Result 1 hit on HI2.
HI2 gets 6 dice plus 4 for 2 ranks deeper. Total 10 dice result 1 Hit on COH1.
COH3 has 3 dice. Rolls and gets no hits.
HI2 gets 10 dice against COH2 and gets 3 hits enough to break COH2.
COH3 must test morale, but others are safe. It rolls a 7 passing barely.
COH3 gets 2 dice and gets one hit on HI1.
HI1 gets 10 dice and gets 5 hits more than enough to break COH3. Luckily for Romans, there are no COH's in Rout Path.
COH5 gets 1 dice and scores no hits on HI1.
HI1 comes back with 10 dice and scores 4 hits on COH5, more than enough to break it.
No one is in Rout path.
HI1 decides to take no Bonus move and stays put.

Turn 7:. Romans get initiative.

Melee direction is Left to right.

Roman COH's 7,8, 9 all advance to contact.

COH9 throws 8 pilum dice and gets one hit.

COH9 throws 8 melee dice and gets 2 hits. Total 3 hits on HI1.

HI1 gets 6 dice minus 1 for the pilum hit plus 4 for 2 ranks deeper.

Total 9 dice, results 3 hits on COH9.

COH8 throws 4 pilum dice with no hits.

COH8 throws 4 melee dice with 2 hits.

HI1 gets 6 + 2 dice = 8dice. Results 3 hits on COH8

COH7 throws 4 pilim dice and gets 2 hits.

COH7throws 4 melee dice and gets one hit, total of 3 on HI2.

HI2 gets 6 minus 2 for the pilum plus 2 for one rank deeper, so total 6 dice. Scores 2 hits on COH 7.

COH1 throws 3 dice against HI2 with 2 hits.

HI2 gets 10 dice against COH1 and scores 3 hits, enough to break COH1.

Romans are now at 48 figures routed which is over their Break Point.

If you have any questions about the Tactica Rules, Battle Chronicler or wargaming in general, you can send an email to me at bandrsntch at wavecable dot com

Thursday, October 31, 2013

It's been awhile since I last posted to this Blog. I've had most of the report done. Was just waiting for some Art work I had trouble putting together. For some reason, I tried again and it miraculously came together. So here it is, the next adventure of Minimus Gluteus. We had a lot of fun with this battle which is part due to the simplicity of the T2 rules, but also because it was played amongst a group of easy going gamers. If you're not having fun playing wargames, you must be doing something wrong. I realize this fictional battle report is not for everyone, but if you like it, please let me know. it give me motivation to get the next one done. If you are interested in the Tactica rules, join us on the Tactica Yahoo Group. If you'd like more info on out gaming group, we have a West Sound Warriors Yahoo Group or follow us on our Blog:

Book VI: Minimus goes back to square one  By Mitch Berdinka

Cast:        Roman Genral:Minimus Gluteus- Tom Timmons, Roman Right Flank: Bitchaticus Dinkum-Mitch Berdinka,    
        Pontic General: Gareas Wilmaneas- Gary Williams, Pontic left Flank: Donnyzovag Timmonuxtani -Donny Timmons

Rules:    Game was conducted Port Orchard, WA  in August 2008 using a playtest version of the TACTICA  II (T-2) Ancients rules.  T-2 has been in development by Art Conliffe and is in the final stages of publication. Hopefully they will be available to all in the very near future.

Minimus Gluteus, Roman General had sailed with the intention of landing on the North coast of Bithynia from which to begin his assault on Pontus through Galatia. A freak storm however had blown his fleet East and he landed in Paphlagonia only a few weeks march away from the Pontic Capitol. The Ponts frantically gather a force together and under General Mitchradates , brought out from retirement, met Minimus at the small town of Dragonium.  The hastily assembled Pontic Phalanxes however, were of inferior quality and were no match for the well trained Roman Legions. Mitchradates was defeated but managed to escape with a sizeable portion of his army due to the disappearance of Minimus’s Legion commander, Adamius Gruntus during the late stages of the battle.

Minimus was delayed in pursuing the Ponts. Never one for administrative details, it took him awhile to consolidate his position and reorganize his command structure due to the missing Gruntus. There was much speculation in the army regarding the absent commander and suspicions were raised about Minimus’s part. By arranging for the transfer of certain dissident officers and appropriating the resources of the local Nudus Nectar beverage stands and issuing them to the troops, Adamius Gruntus was soon forgotten. The resulting intoxication of his army however prevented any effective follow up of the Ponts. After a few weeks, a new Legion Commander, Bitchaticus Dinkum arrived from the Northern regions of Dacia and progress was made in getting the campaign started again.  Soon the army was on the march toward Pontus and Minimus had high hopes this would be the final campaign in the war.  The Paphlagonians were happy to see the Romans leave as there was hardly a decent drink of spirits left within twenty five leagues of Dragonium.

Mitchradates returned to Pontus expecting to be castigated for his defeat. He found instead himself treated as a hero since with inferior troops he had only been expected to delay the Romans. Intelligence reports indicated the Romans were totally disorganized and would take several weeks to reach Pontus. This would allow the Ponts time to reposition their forces and gather good quality phalangites to go up against the Romans. Mitchradates received the thanks of the Pontic king, was paid handsomely for his services and allowed to go back into retirement.  The Armenian, Gareas Wilmaneas who had defeated Minimus previously at the Battle of Discordium (See Book IV) would now take command of the Pontic forces. Gareas always a meticulous dresser, had purchased a rather extensive wardrobe from the spoils of his last thrashing of Minimus. He now welcomed the chance to replenish his funds. To assist him, he brought the young Armenian prince, Donnyzovag Timmonuxtani to tutor in the fine art of conquering Romans while not soiling your clothes. Donnyzovag was an eager pupil and paid attention to every word as his mentor explained how to kick Roman butt.

The Ponts marched westward and scouts of the opposing sides contacted at a site on the coast road between the town of Amisus and the Halys river. Bordered by the Pontus Euxinus( present day Black Sea) to the North and a range of steep hills to the South, the field of battle left little room to maneuver and would force the armies to deploy very close to each other. For this reason it became known as the Battle of the Narrow Plain. Deployments:(See Figure 1)

Bitchaticus and Minimus were summoned when the way forward was found blocked by Pontic forces. Together they surveyed the field of battle from where the coast road took a turn inward.  There were a couple of low lying hills on each flank. In the center right was a much larger hill that blocked observation across the field. In front of them Minimus could see the usual array of Pontic phalangites, scythed chariots and supporting light cavalry and infantry.  Fearing what he could not see, Minimus curtly told Bitchaticus, “Take the right flank. I’ll deal with their main force on the left.” He hoped his tone would dissuade Bitchaticus from questioning his orders.   Bitchaticus shrewdly surmised the real reason for Minimus’s command.  He merely shrugged, saluted and asked permission to prepare his troops for battle. He knew full well that the hill could have hid much more of the Pontic Army but in all probability it was no worse than what they could see in front of them.

So the Legions deployed in a fairly balanced arrangement using the Acies Duplex/alternate formation with the 1st Cohorts in the center and in the front line.  Minimus put his heavy Roman Cavalry with a supporting unit each of light cavalry and light infantry on his left flank.  Bitchaticus had two units of Auxilia and a light horse unit on the Roman right flank. The skirmishers were deployed in front of the legions and comprised a unit each of bows, slings and javelins.

Photo 1 Overview of the battlefield, Ponts on Left, Romans on Right



 The Pontic deployment was a bit more complex due to the varied types of troops available. Gareas placed the Pontic Heavy cavalry with two units of light infantry on his left flank. The Pontic left flank was only covered by two light cavalry units, one Skythian, the other Pontic. The three main pike phalanx units were in the right center with the ex-slave troops on the right and the Brazen Shields just to the left center with the hill in front of them. To help out the ex-slave phalangites, Gareas put the scythed chariots in front to hopefully damage the legions as they closed. To the right of the ex-slave pikemen were the fearsome Bastarnae warband infantry and also a unit of light cavalry. On the far left center, where the Romans could not see, the Imitation Legionnaires and another unit of Armenian cataphracts were deployed. Between the cataphracts and the Pontic left flank there was a large unit of Thracian light Infantry. With their deadly rhomphias, they were to cover the left of the Pontic main battleline. In front, three skirmisher units were matched up against their equivalent opponents on the Roman side. So on a warm mid-summer day, the opposing sides stared at each other across a short field in what could be the end of the Pontic Empire or the dismal conclusion to the somewhat less than illustrious career of a certain Roman General of dubious character. Minimus silently hoped it would be the former.

Map 1: Initial Dispositions
Opening Moves:
Bitchaticus, a seasoned veteran of many battles ordered his lead cohorts directly forward to seize the high ground of the hill. He knew he would need every advantage available if he had to go up against the dense Pontic pike blocks. As he crested the hill he was relieved to find that he faced only one phalanx, the Chalkaspides (Brazen Shields) opposite his 1st cohort.  To their right were only some imitation legionnaires and some Thracian light infantry. He calmly ordered his second line of cohorts to follow up and reinforce the first line in accordance with the standard Roman deployment doctrine. The Light cavalry and infantry on his right advanced  to cover the flank of his cohorts. No complicated maneuvers were required. Just straight ahead, engage the enemy and defeat them with superior training and equipment.  It was what Roman Legions were known for the world over. While the enemy cataphracts he saw to the right might give him some trouble, Bitchaticus thought this battle should be an easy win for the Romans.

Unfortunately on the other flank, Minimus was having some difficulties in getting his cohorts into position. For some reason he wheeled half his cohorts dramatically one way and then later in the opposite direction.  Perhaps he was reacting to some perceived Pontic threat or was in some weird dissociative fugue from an overindulgence of Paphlagonian wine the night before. Whatever the reason, the maneuvers left his Legion in a less than optimum deployment. It later became known as the “Curly Shuffle”. The origins of this term are not clear as most evidence for it comes from Pontic sources, but it was thought to be mainly due to the “Nyuck, Nyuck” sound made from the riveted metal plates of the Sporran clicking against the leather Pteruges straps around the waist of the Roman uniform as the soldiers wheeled violently in one direction and then another. Regardless of the reason, it ended up with none of the cohorts being properly reinforced.  This would lead to severe consequences later on. Three cohorts on the left were angled back so as to protect the flank of the Legion as if Minimus had some premonition of things to come.

Photo 2: Opening moves.  Romans doing “Curly Shuffle” at middle Right.

Minumus advanced the Roman heavy cavalry and light infantry on the flank to occupy the hill there. The Gallic cavalry however were sent on a long circuitous route toward the center for reasons unknown. It was thought that perhaps he wanted to drive off the pesky Pontic archers there or else it was related somehow to his “Curly Shuffle” maneuver. At any rate, he succeeded in driving off the Pontic archers, but some Thracian light cavalry advanced to meet his Gauls and Gareas sent his Scythed Chariots into their flank. Elsewhere the Ponts advanced their whole line to meet the Romans and across the field the continual clash of pike, pilum, javelin and sword could be heard along with cries of pain and shouts of victory.

On the far Roman left the more numerous Pontic Thorakatoi light infantry overcame the Italian lights and moved up to support the Pontic heavy cavalry who were in a slug fest with the Roman heavy horse. The Gallic light cavalry caught in flank by the scythed chariots didn’t have a chance and soon routed off the field with the Thracian light horse in pursuit. The scythed chariots were finished however and dispersed off the field satisfied they had made their contribution. The Thracians pursed the Gallic LC almost to the end of the field, but recovered, turned and charged to take Minimus’s 9th cohort on the flank. The Pontic Bartarnae were the only unengaged heavy unit left on the battle field and they advanced towards the refused left flank of the Romans. Both of Gareas’s phalanxes were engaged with the 6 cohorts of Minimus.

Map 3: Roman Wings failing

Bitchaticus, more organized than Minimus, had advanced beyond the center of the field and he had eight of his cohorts engaged with the Pontic Brazen Shields, Imitation Legion and Thracian light infantry. The more highly trained cohorts were making short work of their adversaries. His 9th and 10th cohorts however, were not so fortunate. The sight of heavily armored cavalry thundering straight toward them un-nerved the poor legionnaires and the cataphracts rode over them with hardy a pause. The Roman Auxilia bravely (or stupidly depending on your point of view) advanced to intercept the cataphract juggernaut in a desperate show of defiance while the Pontic and Roman light cavalry annihilated each other.

Photo 3: Ponts close in on Roman left Flank

Roman left in trouble:
Minimus’s 8th and 10th cohorts advanced to engage the Bastarnae. Unfortunately for them, the 9th cohort hit in its flank was overwhelmed and routed by the Thracian LC. The Thracian horse then advanced to catch the 10th cohort in the rear.  The Roman Heavy Cavalry on the left was finally overwhelmed by the Thorakatoi and Pontic HC and routed off the field. The Ponts showed admirable control and did not pursue the broken Roman HC. Instead they wheeled and advanced toward the Roman rear. Minimus seeing disaster, ordered his 6th cohort to turn and face the Pontic HC and sent his remaining slingers to hopefully support. In the center the six cohorts fighting against the Pontic pike blocks were holding their own except for the 2nd cohort which took heavy casualties form the Phalangites and eventually broke. The 1st cohort held firm however and continued the fight.

Map 4: Minimus in Trouble

Meanwhile, on the Roman right flank, the cohorts of Bitchaticus handily routed the Thracian Light Infantry and advanced to almost flank the Imitation Legionaires. The extreme Roman right flank was in trouble however. The Skythian light cavalry pre-melee missile fire had been devastating to the poor Roman Light infantry. It didn’t take much in the subsequent melee for the horse to defeat and pursue the Auxilia to the edge of the field. The Armenian Cataphracts continued their deadly advance and rode over the remaining Auxilia. They and the Skythians recovered from Pursuit before leaving the field and both turned to face the inviting rear of Bitchaticus’ Legion. So both sides now had serious problems and it would be a close race to see which side broke first.

Photo 4: Bitchaticus’ Legion winning but Cataphracts in his rear

A confused mess on both sides: ( See map 5)
The Skythian Horse Archers caught the 7th cohort of Bitchaticus in the rear, but they must have been exhausted as they didn’t manage to do much damage and the Romans killed enough of them to send them packing.  The Cataphracts continued their ponderous advance running over some Roman javelinmen in the process. The Imitation Legion was no match for the two Roman cohorts and it broke and fled leaving only the Brazen Shields and some miscellaneous skirmishers defending the Pontic left. The Romans were very close to a victory, if they could only break a few more Pontic units

Map 5: A Confused Mess

Things turned from bad to worse for Minimus over on the Roman left flank. His 8th and 10th cohorts caught between the Thracian LC and the Bastarnae were disorganized and broke. Their route unsettled the 7th cohort which decided it had had enough and it too broke. The Thracian LC pursed the fleeing Romans, but the Roman 5th and 6th cohorts held firm preventing a complete collapse.  A lucky thing, as the Pontic Heavy Horse had slammed into the 6th cohort. On the good side, the Pontic Ex-Slave Phalanx finally gave up the fight and routed off the field. This enabled the 4th cohort to come to the assistance of the 1st and it began to attack the sides of the Phalangites. The 3rd cohort moved to intercept the advancing Bastarnae.

Photo 5  Tough Fighting on Roman Left Flank

The last moves:(See Map 6)
It had been a hard fight on both sides. Bitchaticus still had most of his cohorts, but his supporting lights and cavalry were all gone.  He finally managed to route the Brazen Shields, but Cataphracts were approaching his rear. He would not have time to turn and face them without becoming disorganized.
On the Roman left, the Pontic heavy cavalry were finally routed by the 6th cohort, but it was too late. The Legion of Minimus had taken too many casualties. They had reached their breaking point and began to route off the field. The Pontic light infantry massacred them as they tried to evade the press of the Pontic pikes and the advance of the ferocious Bastarnae. Minimus who had done little to inspire his troops during the battle decided now to take action.  He promptly turned and fled as fast as he could go, back to Paphlagonia running over some of his fleeing legionaires in the process.

Map : End of the Battle

 Bitchaticus cursed Minimus and prepared to die with his Legion. To his surprise the Cataphracts held off from charging into the rear of his cohorts. An envoy from the Pontic side soon appeared and offered to discuss terms with Bitchaticus. The young Armenian commander, Donnyzovag, impressed by the disciplined Romans wished to raise more imitation legionaires, thinking they were the weapon of the future. To do so, he needed more Roman weapons and equipment and it was easier to do so if one didn’t have to clean all the blood and gore off those from captured troops. He offered to spare the lives of Bitchaticus and his Legion as long as they freely gave up all their armour and weapons. They could keep their treasured Eagle and for a small ransom, he would give them transport to the nearest Roman port. Bitchaticus readily accepted the generous offer and he and his Legion would live to fight another day.

Minimus did not stop until he reached Abonuteichos in Paphlagonia, where he first landed at the start of this campaign. There he commandeered the first ship he found available and immediately set sail. He hoped to get to Roman territory and send a message to Rome to detailing how Bitchaticus and his Legion had failed him.  Raising the threat of a Pontic invasion had worked in the past and as long as he had someone to put the blame on, he was sure the Roman Senate would see it his way. He fully expected that Bitchaticus and his troops were either dead or sold as slaves.

Unfortunately for Minimus, the boat he had selected was a “mail boat” and it made several stops on the way to Roman territory. News of his defeat reached Rome before Minimus had even cleared the Aegean Sea.  In the Greecian Port of Nicopolis  a special armed guard from the Roman Senate caught up with Minimus and before he could utter a single word, he was apprehended and locked up in chains.  He was delivered to a rather derelict merchant vessel which transported him to northern Italy where he was unceremoniously loaded into a prison cart and sent north. In a few weeks he found himself somewhere in the wilds of Germania. At the start of his campaign, the Senate weary of his continuing requests for monetary support advised Minimus in no uncertain terms that he had better produce results or he would find himself in one of the penal Legions fighting naked barbarians in the far northern regions of Gaul. True to their word, the Roman Senate had arranged for Minimus to be placed in command of one of the worst Legions in the Empire in the hopes the barbarians would do away with him once and for all. This allowed them to adroitly hide the embarrassment while not offending some of Minimus’s rich family and friends back in Rome. Minimus had many adventures in Germania and managed to survive, but that is a tale for another time.

Back in  Paphlagonia, the inhabitants debated about changing the monument they had erected to Minimus after his initial victory there at Dragonium. It had been engraved with the words  "Veni, vidi, discessi". (“He came, He saw, He left.”). After a very short debate, they decided to just leave it as it was.

Notes on the game:
This game was closer than it looked.  The Pontic phalanxes had fought hard and had taken a beating. When the Brazen Shields broke, we figured the Ponts had lost, but in adding up the points both sides were over breakpoint. The Romans had the higher percentage loss however, so per the rules, they were the losers.
The Roman deployment was faulty on their left. In all fairness to Tom Timmons, this was his first Tactica game and although I had explained the Roman reinforcement rules to him, he got it wrong. I should have paid more attention but as Bitchaticus, was busy on the Roman right. In order for the reinforcement rules to apply, a cohort must first deploy into line and then be reinforced. Tom mistakenly deployed most of his cohorts in column, side by side. Hence they only counted as eight man units and reached breakpoint faster than if they deployed reinforced counting as sixteen man units. As far as the “Curly Shuffle” is concerned, I don’t know what he was attempting to do, but like I said, he was new to the rules. As it was, he lost some time with the maneuver that might have been better spent in forming a solid line. Before he could get organized, he was just overwhelmed.
The Ponts usually have much more cavalry than the Romans, but its often hard for them to make a difference before things are decided in the center. For example the Pontic Cataphracts took out he Roman right flank, but it took them a long tome before they could turn around and get back into position to threaten the Roman right flank cohorts. Gary did admirable work as Gareas in using his mounted and foot troops together to wear down the Romans. With most of the Pontic pike phalanxes against him, Tom would have had a hard time even with a better deployment. But if he could have held out for just one more turn, victory would have gone to the Romans.

Monday, October 11, 2010

This is a reprint of an episode from the original Courier Magazine series. I had to scan and convert the text from jpg versions and corrected the obvious spelling errors. Remember, these were done before computers were commonly available. Hope you like it. They were what got me interested in ancients wargaming a long, long time ago.


in which Maximus Glutus finally defeats Sexto Hermaphrocomedie

Cast: M.Glutus - Dick Bryant; S. Hermaphrocomedie - Arnold Hendrick

After his generally dismal record in the previous year, Maximus Glutus resolved to renew the war with the east with fresh vigor and new tactics. Glutus brought over the green XXIV Legion, some of them even lacking metal armor, and a host of auxiliary slingers. These he drilled in rapid-maneuver tactics, including one where the left flank centuries of a cohort ran behind the center and reformed on the right, to allow the cohort to move sideways faster than it could normally march forward. With these and other maneuvers he planned to defeat the previously invincible phalanxes, if his traditional light cavalry - heavy cavalry combination, which he generally led, failed him.

The first engagements against the Seleucids, under the greatest general of the east, Ginicles Maglo, were encouraging. The Romans performed well, but Glutus found himself continually carried from the field, and the battle lost. He made too good a target to Maglo's levy archers! Despairing of victory against the champion Ginicles, he took ship, forced the Hellespont, and landed in Bithyania, challenging the Ponts under Sexto Hermaphrocomedie. His inveterate enemy was soon on the march against him.
At trepza ridge in the Anatolian highlands, the armies of Pontus and Rome finally met. Glutus led elements of his brand new XXI Legion, using the novel tactic of attaching 250 auxiliary slingers to each 500-man cohort, to support them with missile fire, and protect them from enemy missiles. Predictably, he personally led a force of Maximan household heavy cavalry covered by some Numidian light horse. Sexto, short on phalangites, had made up the difference with the best of the Pontic horse, 250-man formations of combination archers and javelinmen.

A cavalry general by disposition, Sexto naturally engaged the Roman horse first. As the Numidian lights galloped onto the ridge, he was not surprised to observe one of his light horse units charge into it, while another on the far flank spun into column and charged their flank. However, he was surprised to see Glutus himself leading his heavy horse forward to support the Numidians, striking the flankers in the flank. The resulting melee eventually caused the center Pontic horse unit to chase the Numidians off the battlefield, and in such an enthusiastic fashion that by best estimates they would not arrive until late afternoon (ed note: the WRG rules require units that leave the battlefield, often a result of winning a melee, to dice for their return). Meanwhile, the heavy horse had naturally defeated the right flank Ponts. As they pursued them, the ever alert Sexto charged into their flank with a paltry 160 javelinmen. Sexto joined the javelinmen himself, since by attaching himself to the infantry, he could avoid being carried away by the pursuit (further note: since the commander is light cavalry, the chances are good that he will follow the routing heavies right off the battlefield, and of course have to dice for return).

Meanwhile, the Pontic infantry climbed the ridge in their heavy armor. The Romans were busy maneuvering on the other side, attempting to get their cohorts in position for a combined attack on the phalanx. The Pontic light horse was doing triple duty, charging various sub-units of slingers in turn, driving them behind the covering Roman heavy foot. The slingers, with their shields, proved more than a match for the Pontic archers, who were deprived of their longer range advantage by the ridge. However, the slingers were unable to stand up to the horse, and evaded behind the legionnaires (who the light horse declined to fight, being unable to stand up to them). Once behind the legionnaires, the slingers were useless, since they had no indirect fire ability. Alas, there were three units of slingers, but only one of light horse. It was only a matter of time before the bolts cut down the horsemen, driving them from the field.

Maximus Glutus himself had avoided the disaster that had overtaken his heavy horse. After a considerable pursuit of the Pontic light horse, which much to Sexto's disgust failed to carry him from the battlefield, he turned about. Overweight or not, when Glutus observed the inviting rear of Sexto and javelinmen, he literally flew into battle. Sexto was obliged to flee for his life. Un-fortunately, he was caught among the routing javelinmen, and could not use his superior speed to escape. Glutus and bodyguard spent the rest of the morning in pursuit, and after hacking down most of the javelinmen, and some of Sexto's bodyguard, managed to capture Sexto's hat. Feigning a wound, rolling under a bush, and quickly changing into the clothes of a camp follower, the ever androgynous Sexto managed to effect a timely escape from certain death. Glutus, however, was well pleased with capturing his adversary‘s famous hat.

Deprived of leadership at a crucial moment, their covering cavalry driven away, the
phalangites desperately tried to save the situation. To their left the supporting heavy infantry spread out in a long single line frustrating legionaries and slingers alike. To their right, however, the archers were unable to stop more than the slingers. As a result, the phalangites were struck in the front and the flank by legionaries covered by slingers. Disorganized, the phalanx was cut to pieces. The Pontic army disintegrated, and Glutus had won an overwhelming victory.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Book V: a Clean Roman Victory

October 7th, 2010 Loaded all the photos and diagrams. Only took two evenings to do. A big improvement on the first book. Am slowly learning how best to do these. It takes awhile to get all the photos and pictures in the right place. If you are interested in doing the cartoons for this blog, please contact me as I am certainly no artist and it takes a lot of effort to draw them. I know what I want to show, just am not very good at it. Looking for something like the style of the original Courier cartoons . Guess I have to go back and upload Book IV or wait until I get done writing Book VI. Mitch

Cast: Roman Genral:Minimus Gluteus- Chuck Monson, Roman Right Flank: Adamius Gruntus-Adam Workland,
Pontic General: Mitchradates- Mitch Berdinka
Rules: Game was conducted at the 2008 Dragonflight Game convention in Bellevue Washington using a play test version of the TACTICA II (T-2) Ancients rules. T-2 has been in development by Art Conliffe and it appears they will publish in the very near future.

After his defeat at the Battle of Discordium, it was some time before Minimus was able raise two more Legions for his interminable campaign against the Ponts. The Senate was growing weary of his continuing requests for monetary support and he was advised that in no uncertain terms that he had better produce results this time or he would find himself in one of the penal Legions fighting naked barbarians somewhere in the far northern regions of Gaul. By exaggerating the threat of Pontic terrorists and appealing to public sentiment by freely handing out little yellow ribbons that said, “Support the Troops”, Minimus was finally able to induce the Senate to finance his campaign. It was that or his offering of lucrative army contracts to businesses owned by key Senate member that did the trick. At any rate, nine months after his last fiasco, he was on his way again to the Eastern Empire.
Minimus sailed to Ilium in Asia Minor to meet up with one of his Legions being assembled there. Its commander, Adamius Gruntus was a young and upcoming leader. Minimus knowing the Ponts would throw anything and everything at him, wanted a co-commander who was versatile in fighting a variety of opponents. Adamius bragged he could defeat any enemy and then went into a long dissertation on his many victories. By the time Adamius got around mentioning trolls, goblins and orcs Minimums had tuned out the conversation paying more attention to some passing serving girls. It wouldn’t have made any difference as beggars can’t be choosy and with Minimus’s reputation he felt extremely lucky to get any help at all.
They next sailed to Byzantium in Thrace to pick up the 2nd Legion. It was Minimus’s intention to then disembark at Diospolis on the North coast of Bithynia to pick up some allied troops before heading inland to Galatia where there was a decent road leading into the Pontic Empire. Unfortunately (or fortunately as it ended up) a storm caught his fleet unawares and carried them eastward. When the weather finally settled down, the Romans found themselves just off shore of Abonuteichos on the north central coast of Paphlagonia. This country was situated between Bithynia to the west and Pontus to the east, and separated from Galatia by a prolongation of the Bithynian mountain range. The Paphlagonians, long resentful of Pontic domination, readily received the Romans as liberators and cheered them heartily as Minimus’s troops quickly overcame the local Pontic garrison. Minumus was well pleased with himself for having by-passed the major Pontic armies and arriving only a few weeks march away from the Pontic Capital at Amasia. Although entirely the result of blind luck, Minimus did not hesitate a moment before sending messengers back to Rome to proclaim his great Strategic maneuver and getting his army moving along the coast road toward the Pontic border hoping to catch his nemesis opponents unawares.
News of the Romans landing in Paphlagonia, however, quickly reached the Pontic throne. Normally the Ponts with the Cicilian pirate allies would have had plenty of advance notice of the Roman movements. Their slipping by in the storm had caught the Ponts completely unprepared. Having dealt with Minimus previously however, they knew that his usual indecisiveness would give them time to react. Therefore all available troops were organized, levies called up and by appealing to Armenian and Thracian allies, enough troops were raised to confront the Romans before they could approach Pontus proper. To command this impromptu organization of available troops, an old retired General then living in Sinope in the northeastern corner of Paphlagonia was called. Although really an engineer more familiar with sieges and naval battles, Mitchradates was induced into taking command of the Pontic forces by an appeal to his patriotism and the explanation that he needed only to delay the Romans until the more experienced Pontic forces could be brought up. Mitchradates reluctantly agreed somewhat due to his intense hatred of anything Roman, partly due to a subtle threat of massive taxation of his retirement assets, but mostly because he was just plain tired of being bossed around by his wife who had a never ending list of chores for him to do.

Photo 1 Roman General Minimus giving orders to his subordinate Legion Commander, Adamius Gruntus

So by the time the Romans had gotten themselves organized and moving toward the Pontic border, Mitchradates was on his way west to meet them with a motley array of substandard Pontic troops. Eventually the opposing forces ran into each other just outside a small village known as Dragonium. It was called this not for any history of dragons, but mainly for the scent the local wine tended to give ones breath from drinking it. Fortunately for both sides, the rush to deployment took place so quick there was no time to sample the local brews. That would have to wait until after the battle.
Deployments:(See Figure 1)
The plain of battle outside Dragonium was almost completely level. There was a small hill in the center of the field that lay slightly more toward the Pontic side. On each end of the field were small woods. The one on the Pontic left (South Side of field) was larger and centered exactly between the Pontic and Roman lines. The smaller woods on the North side of the field lay completely on the Pontic side of the field. There was also another small hill and woods a bit further from the Pontic Right, but it would have little effect on the battle other than narrowing the field.

Figure 1: Initial Dispositions

Mitchradates placed his doubtful phalanxes in the center, hoping to take what advantage the small hill offered there to his substandard troops. On their right he placed the Bastarnae and Galatian warbands. To the left of the pike blocks were the ever useless Scythed Chariots which he backed up with some imitation legionnaires, fully expecting the chariots to live up to their usual ineptness. To the left of the chariots and making up the extreme left of his main battleline, was a unit of Armenian Cataphracts which he hoped would be able to overpower the Roman Cohorts by the force of their charge. Mitchradates placed the bulk of his cavalry on the left flank where there was ample room to maneuver. He had however, only one unit of Pontic Heavy horse, the rest being a mixture of Scythian, Thracian and Pontic Light Cavalry. On his right Flank, he placed his two Light Infantry units to make use of the woods and a lone unit of Scythian Light Horse on the extreme right.

Minimus dithered trying to figure out a plan of attack while the Ponts deployed. Finally, not liking the looks of the ferocious looking cataphracts there, he told Adamius Gruntus to take the right flank, admonishing him to not let himself get flanked. He gave Gruntus most of the cavalry while keeping two units of Light Horse and two Auxilia units for his left flank. Even Minimus with his limited intellect, could see the woods on his left would not be beneficial for cavalry. So the Romans deployed in the usual fashion, infantry in the middle and lights and cavalry on the flanks. Minimus took the left of the Roman Line and Gruntus the right.

Opening Moves:
Mitchradates, never one to hesitate, got his Ponts moving first, hoping to take and hold what terrain features there were to his front. The Ponts advanced quickly and were soon halfway across the field of battle before Minimus took notice. The Pontic lights seized the woods on the right and advanced to within javelin range on the left. The Scythians on the left flank advanced to take on the Gaulic lights while the Scythian horse archers on the right attempted to get around the woods. Minimus finally aware of the Ponts bearing down upon his troops, ordered his Auxilia forward to meet the enemy in the woods and he sent a unit of Paeonian light horse to counter the Scythians. The Roman Infantry line did not advance, but the rear cohorts marched up to reinforce the forward ones as they deployed into line. Gruntus meanwhile dispatched the Gaulic light horse to melee the Scythians, but was very cautious about moving up the rest of his troops.

Photo 2 The Roman Generals, deep in thought

The entire Roman right was soon fully engaged by the aggressive Mitchradates. The Cataphracts crashed into the reinforced 1st Cohort but failed to make any impression with their impetuous charge. Likewise the scythed chariots plunged into two reinforced Cohorts, but failed to intimidate the Romans in any fashion with their flashing blades. The Pontic Ex-Slave and Brazen Shield Phalanxes advanced into a line of three reinforced Cohorts while the remaining Phalanx occupied the crest of the hill and vainly tried to coax the Romans to advance up the hill by making obscene gestures and taunts at them. Mitchradates held his warbands back in and echelon formation knowing their effectiveness against the well trained Cohorts was doubtful. Minumus however, seeing easy targets for his trained legionnaires advanced his left flank Cohorts to engage the warbands. And so with the exception of the phalanx on the hill and the Roman Cohorts taking insults from them below, both armies were now fully engaged.

Roman Right Victorious but leaderless: ( See Figure 2)
On the South side of the field, the Roman cavalry and light infantry proved more than a match for the Pontic horse. The Scythian light horse archers could not stand up to the ferociousness of the Gaulic horsemen and soon routed. A unit a Thracian light horse sent to support the Scythians was met by a unit of Roman Heavy cavalry and also soon routed. The Gauls pursued and were met by the Pontic light horse who wheeled into them. Now Adamius who seemed distracted during this whole affair, for some reason sent the victorious Roman Heavy horse wheeling up to support the Gauls but became they entangled behind the Gauls allowing the Pontic Heavy cavalry to wheel into their flank. Meanwhile the remaining Thracian Light horse advanced to charge some Roman Auxilia who had moved up past their skirmishers. The Auxilia readily beat off the Thracians who routed off the field. They then moved up to assist the Roman heavy horse who were having a hard time with the Ponts. It was too late however, as the Roman Cavalry not liking being attacked on the side, broke and fled to the rear. The Pontic horse found itself being attacked from the side and due to mounting casualties soon broke. The Gauls ignoring the loss of the Roman heavies, finally overcame the Pontic Light horse. During this whole time the Pontic Cataphracts had been deeply engaged with two cohorts. The Romans eventually proved too much for them and they broke just as the Pontic lights ran, leaving the Romans in sole possession of this end of the battlefield.

Figure 2: Demise of the Pontic Left in 8 turns.

Unfortunately at this time Adamius Gruntus was no where to be found. The Romans sat idly around relishing their victory until Minimus noticing the apparent lack of movement, road over to investigate. Locating Adamius' headquarters, he inquired into the whereabouts of the young leader, but they could only shake their heads and stated that he was shouting something about the Call of Cthulhu and then rode off to the South not to be seen again. Minimus quickly gave them orders to attack the open Pontic left flank and then rode off to deal with his own legion.

Photo 3 Cavalry Melee on Pontic Left Flank

The Roman Left disintegrates:(See Figure 3)

The Ponts had better luck on their right flank. The two light infantry units quickly seized the woods while the Scythians circled around them to the right. Minimus sent his two Auxilia units forward to contest the woods but after a long fight the Ponts were victorious. The larger Pontic light infantry not having full cover advantage of the woods, suffered more casualties and decided they had had enough at the same time the Roman Auxilia broke. One unit of Paeonian Light cavalry sent against the Scythians has no stomach for the fight and quickly broke. The Scythians pursued and the remaining Paeonian horse unit wheeled and charged them. After a fairly short fight they exhausted each other and retreated off the field leaving Mitchradates' Thurephoroi in sole possession of this side of the battlefield. They started to advance to help the main battleline but by now it was too late. Events had reached a critical stage there and the battle was soon over.

Figure 3 Roman Left disintegrates in 8 turns

Photo 4 View from Roman Left.

Resolution in the middle: (See Figure 4)
Mitchradates had doubts about his hastily gathered army being able to contend with the well trained Romans. These doubts would prove to be correct however the usual ineptness of the Roman leadership would allow him to survive. As stated previously, the Ponts had aggressively advanced to the center of the battlefield. The Romans deployed and reinforced the forward line of cohorts with those of the second and met the Ponts in the middle. Only on Minimus’s side of the field did the cohorts not advance preferring instead to endure the unending tirade of insults from the pikemen on the hill.

Figure4 : Resolution in the middle

Minimus’s thinking was that a terrain advantage is of no advantage to the enemy if you refuse to fight him there. At any rate, after the usual skirmishing was done, the whole Roman battle line was engaged except for 4 cohorts of the 1st Legion sitting at the bottom of the hill.

On Gruntus’s side of the fields the scythed chariots went charging into four cohorts but failed to make any serious impact. The legionnaires simply stepped aside and pelted the chariots with pilum. What was left of them turned around and fled. Mitchradates, expecting just such an event had backed them up with Imitation Legionnaires which he had kept a safe distance back so they wouldn’t be affected by the route. The Romans reformed ranks and quickly advanced upon their imitation opponents. There was now a period of time in which both sides slugged it out while the resolution of the flanks was going on. In general, the Ponts seemed to take the worst of it, the Gods favoring the Romans today. Mitchradates knew he had to break several Roman cohorts in order to survive and one of his best fighting units was sitting idly on the hill. He therefore ordered them forward and with a ferocious cry they slammed into Minimus’s cohorts.

The Brazen Shields, the best Pontic Phalanx unit eventually routed the two cohorts in front of them. They advanced and wheeled into Minimus’s lead cohort already engaged with the other phalanx that had come down the hill. Mitchradates hoped the combined attack would overwhelm the Romans but it was too late. On the Pontic left, the cataphracts finally broke after a long fight with two cohorts. The Imitation Legionaries and the Ex-Slave Phalanx soon followed. Before his phalanxes could do any serious damage the Basternae on the Pontic right also broke. Mitchradates saw that with his whole left gone and a hole on his right, further struggle was useless. He sounded the retreat hoping to save what he could of his remaining troops.

Photo 5: End of the Battle

Fortunately for the Ponts, Gruntus was no where to be found and Minumus seeing an apparent victory, was too dumbfounded to order a pursuit. It was not something he was used to, winning that is. So as the Romans reorganized and looted the dead and wounded, Mitchradates was able to extract most of his best troops and with the rest of the retreating rabble, made his way back into Pontus. Gruntus’s cavalry who could have easily wiped out the survivors decided that without their leader to motivate them, that they had done enough for the day and headed back to camp to enjoy some of that fine Paphlagonian “dragon” wine.

Mitchradates fully expected the worst from the Pontic high command, but was surprised to find himself treated as a hero. Seems he had never been expected to win, just delay the Romans. In the time it took for him to return to Pontus, intelligence reports indicated the Romans were totally disorganized and hadn’t moved much beyond the site of the battle. The Pontic armies had now been repositioned to counter any Roman move into Pontus and the next battle would see good quality phalangites go up against the Romans. Mitchradates was thanked for his efforts and paid handsomely for saving the empire. He decided to go back into retirement rather than accept another command, but at least now he could afford to pay someone to do the wife’s “honey do” list of chores for him.
Minimus spent some time reorganizing his troops, gathering reinforcements and filling out endless paperwork. A thorough report of the battle was required by the Roman Senate before they would authorize any more funds or troops. Most of the victory had been due to the Legion of the missing Gruntus who had managed to destroy the whole Pontic left flank. After giving it some thought, Minimus decided to do the only thing a Roman could do in such a situation. He took all the credit himself emphasizing the extra effort he made once his subordinate commander disappeared. He again however, found himself in somewhat of a pickle despite the victory. Gruntus had important friends in Rome and some suspicions were raised regarding the cause of his unusual disappearance. By being careful to not disparage the missing commander in his reports and forwarding the remains of Gruntus' back pay to his high ranking family members in Rome, Minimus was able to alleviate the accusations. After a few weeks, it was all sorted out and Minimus marched toward Pontus for what he hoped would be the final battle in the war.
The Paphlagonians soon found Roman taxes to be as onerous as Pontic ones with the exception that with the Ponts, at least they didn’t have to learn to speak Latin. In memory of his victory they erected a small monument which summed up their attitude toward Minimus. It was engraved with the words "Veni, vidi, cessÄ«". (“He came, He saw, He left.”)
Notes on the game:
This game was unusual in that it wasn’t even close. Most of our TACTICA II games are a lot more even where the game could go either way and is decided in the outcome of a final melee. In our last game, the Romans were one point over breakpoint, the Ponts just two short. In another game, both sides went over breakpoint, but the Romans had the higher percentage of losses, so were declared the losers. In the Battle of Dragonium, it came down to the Romans just rolling better dice. The Gods evidently favored the Romans this day. Of the four Pontic units that had a chance of getting “Impetus” against the opponents they charged, not one Roman unit failed to make their morale roll. Impetus would have given the Ponts extra dice in the first round of melee. Although several Roman cohorts were close to breaking at the end, only two Roman cohorts routed in the whole game. Roman Legions are always tough to break, and they were played well by Minimus (aka. Chuck Monson) but this game was out of the ordinary.
To break the Roman legions the Ponts had to use their best troops (the Phalanxes) to knock off as many cohorts as possible. Cohorts are tough. Unlike other units which normally break at two third casualties, for cohorts you must kill every one of the SOBs. A single cohort is only eight figures but they can reinforce one another so now you have to kill 16 of the buggers. In the case of the enlarged 1st Cohort, it’s 24 figures if it is reinforced. Offsetting this to some extent is the Legion Breakpoint rule which says the whole Legion breaks when about two thirds of its figures are killed. This includes figures killed in unbroken cohorts that are still on the table. So the Legions are tough, but not unbeatable. The phalanxes will usually get depth bonus against them, but that doesn’t help much if you roll bad with the extra dice.
Mitchradates realized his mistake too late in leaving one of his best units idle on the hill while the Roman Cohorts were piecemeal routing the rest of his army around him. By the time he got it into action, the Ponts were already near breakpoint. The disappearance of Adamius Gruntus (aka. Adam Workland) during the last part of the game, allowed poetic license to let Mitchradates survive and perhaps come back in a later game. Minimus however, will continue to have a difficult time regardless of whether he wins or loses.