Punic Wars Revival!

Two games of Saga: Age of Hannibal with Sam had got my Ancient Spanish army out of its boxes and into action; the Iberian battle board is great fun, but I wanted to play something bigger. And so I threw together an encounter battle pitting my Republican Romans* against Sam’s growing Carthaginian force backed up by a substantial number of Spanish.

*For reasons of disclosure, these also included Scrivs’s Romans that have been living in my loft for the last five years. They threw dreadful dice!

Left: Carthaginians (left) try to hold off the Romans (right) from breaking through and taking the pass.

I had thought about using To The Strongest (Simon Miller’s fine set of card-driven big battle rules), but resorted instead to my own Midgard rules (still in playtesting, whenever real life allows. See the linked page on my site here: https://mogsymakes.net/midgard/ ). Midgard is designed to play fast-moving big battles with Heroes driving the action and actually worked pretty well for this game, although we dropped the rules for single combats, as it seemed out of scale with Punic Wars big scraps.

Under their commander Khemmitsbaal and two sub-commanders, the Carthaginians mustered:

1 x elephant and attendants

6 x Iberian warbands

4 x African spearmen

4 x Iberian skirmishers

2 x Greek archers

3 x Heavy cavalry

Right: African spearmen muster with the elephant in the centre

Facing off against them were Consul Vetilius and his two sub-commanders, Marcus and Metillius, with:

4 x Velites

4 x Hastati

4 x Principes

2 x Triarii

4 x Light Spanish Cavalry

The Romans were able to be arranged in a manipular formation due to the support rules in Midgard (having friendly units around you is critical to winning sustained combats) and some extra traits thrown in, allowing a fresh unit to replace a worn one. These kept the Romans in the game but the legions took quite a hammering nonetheless!

The game opened with the Romans making their advance in the centre and on the left, hoping to break through there with the legions, while Marcus and the Spanish Light Cavalry took on a delaying role on the right. The drilled trait that the legions had ensured that the fresh Roman units were able to keep up the pace and get quickly into position for the attack.

Marcus and the allied Spanish Light Horse face off against a huge Iberian warband in a delaying action, Marcus and his companion are Copplestone sculpts from Foundry, the Spanish are a mix of Gripping Beast, A&A and Foundry Miniatures.
The main action develops. The Iberian warbands are at the top left, with the Carthaginian centre facing off against the fast-advancing Roman legions. Commander Khemmitsbaal is with the Iberian warbands, clearly keen to get his hands bloody! Sub-Commander Ambon can be seen at the bottom (the metal beads are Might Points, used for heroic deeds and keeping control).

A full-on battle developed in the centre as the Roman legions came to grips with the Carthaginians. Some rough Roman dice rolling resulted in several of the Hastati units struggling to get the breakthrough I had hoped for!

Hold the elephant…hold the elephant….now! Elephant model by Victrix, painted by Sam. The Carthaginian spears and Greek archers are ebay purchases from Sam’s collection (Crusader Miniatures, I believe).
Bold Hastati finally get stuck in to the elephant (and bounce off…) These are Victrix plastics, painted and based by Scrivs. As Midgard works on a set unit frontage (and these are based on smaller bases than the rest), we placed a couple of Scrivs’ markers at either end of the unit to extend its frontage. At the top, you can see a few Roman Velites trying to turn the flank of the Iberians.

With some serious scraping going on around the centre, I was very much hoping to be able to break through. Alas, it was not to be. I had foregone my lucky green Welsh dice for the night and things went against my Romans in short order!

However, there was one lucky break; in combat with my Hastati against the mighty Iberian warband, Sam decided to commit Khemmitsbaal. With the Iberians taking some damage, Khemmitsbaal had to make a ‘Risk to Heroes’ check and ended up with a double 1 (you don’t need to know much about my rules to know that this is a BAD THING). Fortunately he was able to use his final remaining Might Point to reroll one of these dice. Less fortunately, he managed to roll a 1 (again) and was left being carried out of the melee with a pilum wedged through his lungs. Nasty!

My much loved Iberian warband arranged in an unsubtle but effective block. This is a wide variety of 28mm metals from Newline, Essex, Gripping Beast, Foundry, Crusader and First Corps that I painted back in the 2000s. All the shields are by hand, something that I just enjoy.

Alas, Sam got wise to my delaying tactics and pushed forward with all the skirmishers and cavalry on my right flank. Marcus’ Spanish Light Cavalry got somewhat thrashed, with Marcus narrowly making his escape.

Spanish cavalry get sandwiched, having run out of room to evade the Carthaginians. This is gonna smart (it did)..

This hastened the urgency of the Roman main attack, but the dice just wouldn’t come right and it was driven back.

Full-scale scrappage! I’ve missed this.

Nelly is finally felled by some accurate pilum chucking! (I need to get one of those nifty Gripping Beast dead elephant models for these occasions)

The Carthaginian Heavy Cavalry on my left flank fought heroically and just would not crumble, leaving my battered Romans pinned against the rocks. With the clock on two hours exactly, we decided to call it. Neither side had broken but the Romans had only 4 Reputation Tokens left against the Carthaginians’ 7, giving the Africans a solid victory. Had Khemmitsbaal not gotten a bit bloodthirsty in the earlier combat, the Carthaginians would have had an even greater margin of victory.

This was terrific fun and the rules worked very well indeed. I was pleased that my tweaks allowed the manipular system to be modelled to a limited extent and that the command and control felt pretty much just right for the period. Predicatably, I went straight home and pulled out the box of half-painted Punic Wars models that have been sat there since 2017 – we will most definitely be back for more!

Romans on a road to nowhere.

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