Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Arminius vs Varus in the Teutoburg Forest

A Headless Body Production

Venue:   Havre De Grace Community Center
Event:    Barrage's L'Art de la Guerre's Open Tournament, Round 1,
Players: Phil Gardocki, running Republican Roman
                  Mark Cribbs, running Early German.
Game System: L'Art de la Guerre, 200 points per side.

Theme: Ok I lied in the title, but it is Romans vs Germans in the forest, It's just that after all the terrain was rolled up, it turned out to be a large glade in the middle of a forest.  
The Forces:
   Roman: Commanders  Publius Quinctilius Varus (Brilliant), Darrylius and Darrylius (Competent)
      8 Legionnaires, Heavy Impact Swordsmen, Armor
      2 Triarii, Heavy Spearmen, Armor (elite)
      1 Roman Cavalry, Medium Cavalry (elite)
      3 Velites, Light Infantry, Javelin (2 elite)
      2 Illyrians, Light Cavalry, Javelin
      1 Elephant (Mediocre)
      2 Extraordinarii, Medium Swordsmen (Elite)
      1 Thureophoroi, Medium Spearmen


The Germans records in written in some barbarian tongue, and thus indecipherable 


The Board:
The Romans win the initiative and elect to attack in the woods.


Turn 1:
The Roman Legions have penetrated the deepest part of the Black Forest by following the Wachtstrabe River.  And came across a miraculous clearing.
Early German?  What are your terrain choices?  Forest and nothing else.  But then the dice was settled, there wasn't so much forest to be seen.
With plenty of visibility, they set up camp between the river and a lake.
The early morning brought drums and horns.  Scouts from both armies quickly found each other.  The Roman Legions formed up, while the massive German Army marched out of the mist.
Off on the left flank, the scouts reported a large Celt formation as well.
The Roman Consul makes his first mistake and puts his flank catching Triarii on the right flank.  That flank is already secured by a river and so it was pointless.
Consul Varus, astride his white stallion, has a great view of the field.
Turn 1:
A total cock-up on the deployment.  On the Roman left, and in ambush, is the surprise I packed for armies with a heavy cavalry contingent.  It is loose order troops.  Elite Swordsmen, Spearmen, and an Elephant are in ambush.  I put them there because the medium foot can handle the woods.  But 6 units of Celts can handle it better.  

The Triarii command would have been better suited on the left flank.  Avoiding the woods and contact till the last moment.  The Elephant and the Medium Foot would not have done well on either flank, but they would at least not have been out numbered in that position.

The Romans double-time across the board.
An ambush is revealed.  Dead men walking.
With a mighty ululation, the Gauls run across the field.

Yes, there is no holding them back.
The Germans, a bit more pragmatic, and facing a solid Roman line, are not so quick to cross the field.
Turn 2:
Velites advance, knowing there was no slowing down this horde.
Here I hope to tease a few units out of place.
The Roman line slows to normal marching pace.  The Triarii start redeploying to a better position.
A bad picture, sorry.  The Gauls split in two.  Maybe there is hope for this flank after all.
The German line enters charge reach.  They are wider and have substantial cavalry reserves. 
Turn 3:
Mark and I go way back.  Several decades of encounters and team ups.  We don't have any real ego on the line here, so this is just going to be an enjoyable large action fight.
No tactics here.  Win, Lose or Draw, this fight will be over before lunch.
I am really having a problem with the camera today.  This is the best of five snapshots.  The clash of arms goes way against the Germans.  4 units take damage to one.
The Gauls attack with German support.  The Extraordinarii do their job, but the Elephant takes a hit.
Leaving the Thureophoroi nearly alone in the forest.
Turn 4:
Its been a exciting game, I'll give you that.  This is about 45 minutes into the play.

I had problems with camera focus all day.  I suspect it has to do with the very uniform green board provided by our host.
The Thureophoroi are scattered to the winds, only some Velites stand to hold the far flank.  The Extraordinarii  are indeed extraordinaryOne destroys a Gallic Warrior, the other takes a hit. 
The Elephant, having took all it could, and fled to the relative comfort of the forest.  Where legends persist to this day in Bavaria of a snake headed beast waylaying travelers in the forest.
The scrum continues.  This would be the third round of combat so far.  One Roman Legio has been routed, two others damaged.  However the units they are facing all have serious damage themselves.
One unit of Triarii still guarding the right takes a charge in the teeth, and 2 hits.
And in the following round, is destroyed.  The Germans do a happy dance, then turn to follow up their victory.
The Roman Cavalry confront a warband turning the left flank.  The Warband charges, and the Roman Cavalry flees off frame to the right.
The Woods battle is winding down, A single unit of Velites holds up the line of Gauls for a turn. and actually wins it's fight!  But an Extraordinarii, which foolishly pursued its routing foe, was in turn destroyed.
Turn 5:

And again, the Velites are damaged, but hold the line.
German war bands begin to fall.  3 are crushed, the remaining ones all have multiple hits.  The single unit of Roman Medium Cavalry decides to plug a hole and charges damaged war band.

And dies on contact.  Roman cavalry is useless.  Both Roman flanks are turned.  Can they crush the center before the flanks fall?  And will it matter?  The German army is 28 units.  Even if every unit the Legions are contacting is destroyed, they will still be 2 points short of the 28 they would need to win.
Turn 6:
I am beginning to see the problem with the Roman Army.  They don't have the ability to "seal the deal"  Their method of winning is to out endure their opponents.  Armor and 4 hits per legion.  And it works OK, till the flanks are turned and the Legions start popping.  But they are tough, and the flanks still hold.

Illyrians see a flank and charge it.  And pay a heavy price.  Only a couple of war bands remain in front of the legions after 6 rounds of combat. 
The Roman left is charged both front, flank and rear.  But holds its ground.

With the Velite nuisance dispatched, the Roman camp awaits to be looted.

At this point, it was the Romans that reached their break point of 21, compared a demoralization level of 19 out of 28 for the Germans.  Even if they hadn't hit it at the bottom of turn 6, there was only about 6 points to be had from the war bands being faced, and the 28 points required just wasn't reachable.

So what went wrong?  Getting both flanks turned was key.  The gimmick command of Medium Foot backed by an Elephant can intimidate a cavalry command, but against a command of 8 or so Medium Foot, it was just so much fodder.  Better the Triarii command on the left to bend the line back, be hard to reach, and when reached rely on armor, morale and rallies to hold. 


  1. Hey Phil. At least you didn't move the elephant thru the woods. Did the Germans hvy foot charge the Romans at a +1 vs Roman at +2

    1. The Romans are Impact Sword. The Germans are just sword.

    2. Well, reviewing the goings on, I think Mark's Germans got screwed. If the Romans charged them, and they did, the Germans keep the impetuous impact bonus. I am sorry Mark. I am glad you won anyway, but your score would have been higher.

  2. Another excellent report Phil. Thanks. I was most interested in this, since I too have Early Germans #90. I assume Marc did not upgrade his warriors to 'elite' nor his medium cav to 'elite'. If he would have done that, he would probably only have 22 or so units. I also have a Triumvirate army, which is very similar to your Romans. Instead of extraordinari, I have Gladiators, no Triarii, but heavy Gallic cav. Really wish ADLG would take off around here [KC]. Be nice to have a few of my old Armati buddies playing this.

    1. Set up a board with both sides, and invite them over for a beer and a game. If you take the logistics out of the setup, I think you will find just about anyone will play. In my local, there is only one other Ancients player. But I can get the WWII and Modern players to sit down to a table.

    2. Good idea. I did that with an old Armati buddy of mine, but we played To the Strongest, which is also a fun set of rules. I think ADLG lends itself better to one guy with experience teaching a novice, rather than 2 inexperienced players trying to work through the mechanics of moving, PiPs, etc. With TtS, it's an area game [like C&C], so no worries about movement issues.

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