Tuesday, February 2, 2016


A Headless Body Production

Caesar vs Pompey at Pharsalus

Location:  Phil's Basement
Event:       Weekly Wednesday  Game Knight
Players:    Bruce Potter, John Seydow and Philip H. Gardocki representing the Roman Republic commanded by  Gnaeus Pompey, Metellus Scipio, Afranius and Labienus.  
                  Steve Turn, Garth Parker, and Philip A. Gardocki, representing the future dictator Julius Caesar, Sulla, Marc Antony and Domitus   
Game System:      Fields of Glory, around 1,400 points each side.

Scenario:  The Republic of Rome has mustered it's forces under the banner of Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus ("Pompey the Great") to defeat the forces of Gaius Julius Caesar, who is in defiance of orders from the Roman Senate to step down as commander of his forces.  The resultant Civil War had Caesar running down Pompey in Greece.  But Pompey had Naval superiority, and only half of Caesars forces were able to land, and were not able to be supplied.  A description of the actual battle can be found on the Wikipedia page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Pharsalus.
Pompey's Legions are on the left and have the benefit of high ground across most of the board.  Caesar's Legions are on the right.  With a hidden battle group in the gully on the far right of the field.

Special rule in play.  Due to Pompey's determination to hold the higher ground, as long as any of the Republic's battle groups are on the hillside when first contacted, they will have the benefit of higher ground.  If they move after first contact, this benefit is lost.

Off of the bottom of the page is the River Enipeus.  Pompey is left, Caesar is right.

Alea iacta est! 

(the die is cast!)

Afranius orders his Auxiliaries to advance and engage Marc Antony's skirmishers.  And score 4 hits out of 4!  But the luck ran both ways as Marc Antony's skirmishers sloughed off hits.

The view from Pompey's center legions.  Which consist of the newly trained III Syrian (Poor, Armored, Impact Foot, Swordsmen) and the survivors of Crassis's invasion of Parthia in the I Syrian (Poor, Armored, Impact Foot, Skilled Swordsmen).  Both under the command of Metellus Scipio.

Caesar's Legion's double time it across the board.  Marc Antony's skirmishers chase Afranius's skirmishers back up the hill.

The lines of battle are closing. 

Pompey stands behind the newly raised I (left) and III (right) Syrian Legions.

On the far edge, Caesar's Cavalry (Superior, Armored, Light Spear) outnumbered 2-1, decide to run up the hill into the various cavalry units of the Republic (Average, Protected, Light Spear).

The official military observers look on. 

Caesar decided that Labienus's cavalry wasn't coming off of the hill and sends the 4th Line Cohorts to support his cavalry.

The cavalry charges.  It is Superior Armored Cavalry vs Average Protected and higher ground.
Turns 2-7:
The approach took many turns as Pompey's forces followed his historical strategy of keeping the high ground.  So Caesar's Legions had to do all the moving.  Ahistorically, Pompey's Cavalry also held the high ground despite having 2-1 superiority in numbers.  Which means they also avoided the ambush that historically sent them packing.

Caesar's cavalry charged uphill, and fought for many turns but was slowly eroded by superior numbers.  By turn 7, one unit still fought on.  Labrienus now daring to go onto the flat looking for targets to charge.

Now the main battle-lines have engaged.    This is a quantity vs quality fight.  Most of Pompey's forces are 6 stands of poor, swordsmen, standing on high ground. While most of Caesar's forces are 4 stands of superior, skilled swordsmen.  In essence, this means more dice vs re-rolling 1's, as the Skilled Swordsmen cancels the hill advantage. 

At the bottom, one of Mark Antony's legions is disordered by the Afranius's Spanish.  But in the center, Domitus's VI Legion has fragmented a I Syrian cohort.  Further up the line, Sulla's XII, "Fulminata", Legion has disordered a III Syrian battlegroup as well.
Turn 8:
Historically this was a long battle.  Caesar's legions walked across a long field, in the hot summer sun, then looked up a Pompey's newly raised (mostly) troops, and spontaneously decided that they were not leaving their positions up the hill, and took a break for lunch.  I can imagine the haranguing that went on there.  "You are not coming down here?  Fine!  We'll kill you after lunch."

And they did.  One of the I Syrian battle groups breaks before the VI Legion.  All the surrounding units survive the cohesion check.  

Turn 8.  
On the right flank, both Marc Antony's VIII Augusta Legion and Afranius's Scutari have disrupted cohorts, each being pulled back from the brink with rally attempts. On the left flank, Labienus's Cappadocian and Thracian Cavalry have opened a hole, but are still facing a separated force of a single cohort and a unit of auxiliaries.  And in the center, the I Syrian has a hole in it's lines, but can Metellus Scipio plug the hole?  Can he surround and destroy the VI legion? He has the units, but the pressure is on with Domitus's VI legion and Sulla's XII, "Fulminata", Legion to expand the break.

We called it for the evening to be picked up next week.  Stay tuned!

Recap from last week.
Roman Civil War!  Caesar refuses the Senates orders to stand down from control of his legions and crosses the Rubicon.  Cut off from his senior legions, Pompey, along with a number of the Roman Senate,  flees to Greece where a number of Legions are training.  Caesar sees an opportunity to destroy his enemies in detail and pursues them, but is short on shipping and only half his army arrives, then to be cut off by the Senates superior fleet.  Having used up his supplies, Caesar decides it is time to attack.  Pompey, holds the higher ground and superior numbers and waits for Caesar.

At this time, Caesar's cavalry has attacked the numerically superior Senate cavalry under Labienus.  The fight is not going well for Caesar's cavalry, having superiority in armor and skill, but not position or numbers.  Half of Caesar's cavalry is destroyed, and only Caesar's personal intervention is staving off defeat of the other half.  

In the center, Caesar's XII and VI Legions, under Sulla and Domitus, have engaged Scipio's I and III Syrian Legions.

On Pompey's right.  Skirmishers dominate the action, but with little result.  The exception is one of Mark Antony's cohorts of Legio VIII Augusta is engaged with two battle-groups of Afranius's Spanish Scutari. 

Our Story Continues...

Mark Antony's legions take their time crossing the field and are only now getting haphazardly engaged.  The VII Legion climbs the hill and charges the I Cilician, while the cohorts of the VIII Augusta run into Afranius's Thracians.

Marc Antony is throwing his cohorts piecemeal into the fray.

And like last week, the first dice thrown radically favor the Senate forces!

Sorry for the blurry shot.  At the top edge is the "Tree of Woe", and the forces next to it are the dead units so far.  Climbing the hill the Legionaries of the "4th Line Cohorts".  Just in time to see Caesar's final cavalry fall.  Caesar avoided being killed/captured 3 times, winning the race to the relatively security of the 4th Line.

The VI Legion continues to pursue the I Syrian, deep into the Senate lines.  Racing past the Syrian supports who now have to make a decision to either support their comrades still fighting or crush the penetrators.

The question is rendered somewhat moot as the III Syrian cracks, with one battlegroup routing, and another fragments.

The hole widens.

But the other shoulder holds with the assaulting troops of the VII Legion losing half their stands and fragmenting!

On the far right, 2 large battlegroups of Spanish, despite having high ground and 3-1 in numbers are failing to crush a single cohort of Marc Antony's VIII Augusta.  One of the reasons is that Marc Antony's skirmishers javelin throwing has been effective against the Spanish Scutari.  Afranius orders his skirmishers to attack and they catch their fleeing opponents. Fragmenting one, and taking the other out of the missile fire game.

Afranius's Auxiliaries are too late though, as one of the Spanish Scutaris breaks and runs.

Followed very quickly with the other Scutari and the Thracians.

The I Cilician, destroys their opponent, and turns to hit the heavily engaged XXVII Legion in the flank!

There are not pictures of this, but on the far left, Caesar had joined the 4th Line Cohort, which went to square formation.  Largely offsetting the numbers of cavalry slowly surrounding it.  The 4th Line is being whittled away, but still stands as Caesar's last stand!

In an effort to control the breach, the Evocati, Pompey's personal bodyguard, engage cohorts of Domitus's Legion.  And promptly disordered.

How bad do you have to be to lose this fight?  The I Cilician hits a weakened cohort in the flank, and is repulsed!  Then rolls snake eyes on the cohesion check and goes straight to fragmented!

Another shot of the "Tree of Woe"  Senate forces on the left, Caesarian on the right.  The cavalry are still in the process of surrounding the 4th Line Cohort square.

Within the 4th Cohorts square, Caesar is dictating his history to his scribes.  One where Labienus's cavalry was lured into an ambush and defeated, exemplifying his genius.

On the other end of the field, Marc Antony, unconcerned about his outnumbered legions, is rallying his auxiliaries.
The dead are now piled so high, it is difficult to complete the surrounding of Caesar's 4th Line Cohorts.

End Game.
The score is 20 to 7.  5 more points and the Senate will reach it's army break point.  The only question now is, will Caesar survive the war.  The square was crushed, and once again Caesar managed to escape.  Leaving the field to his generals, Sulla, Domitus and Antony to win the day.

Unable to flee to his camp, Pompey fled to the III Gallica, a legion of some repute and, in truth was his best legion on the board, and so far untouched.

Not knowing Caesar's fate, Sulla negotiated Pompey's surrender, and allowed him to leave the field unmolested.  Where history tells us, he fled to Egypt, and was assassinated.

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