Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Romancing the Romans

A Headless Body Production

Venue: Valley Forge Casino and Convention Center
Event: Historicon, 2021, Open Tourney, Round 2
Players: Phil Gardocki running Scots Isles and Highlanders
               Tom Zimmerman/Mark Turner running Republican Roman
Game System: L'Art de la Guerre, 15mm, 200 points per side.

The Forces:
Republican Roman, list 53
Commanders, one Brilliant, two Competent
3 Heavy Cavalry
2 Light Cavalry, Javelin
8 Hastati/Princeps Heavy Swordsmen, Impact, Armor, 4 are Elite
2 Triarii Heavy Spearmen, Armor, Elite
4 Velites, Light Infantry, Javelin, possibly Elite
Breakpoint 20

Scots Isles and Highlanders, list 187
Led by Larry, the Brilliant and his brothers Darryl, Ordinary and his other brother Darryl, also Ordinary
4 Islemen , Heavy swordsmen 2HW, Elite
4 Islemen, Heavy swordsmen 2HW
4 Irish Mercenaries, Medium swordsmen 2HW
1 Young Warriors, Heavy swordsmen Mediocre
8 Highland Archers Medium swordsmen bow
2 Wee Bairns, Light Infantry, Bow
Breakpoint of 23

Display Conventions: When you see a word bubble like "Ouch!", "Heus!" or "Och mah bahookie!" this implies a disorder from missiles. Letters in parenthesis represent some value change for the specific unit. For commanders it is s for strategist, b for Brilliant, c for Competent and o for Ordinary, u for unreliable. For troops it is e for Elite, and m for Mediocre. Other abbreviations, Hvy Heavy, XB Crossbow, LB, Longbow, Jav Javelin, 2HW 2 Handed Weapons, B Bow, Kn Knight, HKn Heavy Knight, HC Heavy Cavalry, Md Medium, Sgt Sergeants, LC Light Cavalry, Chr Chariot, Cat Cataphract, Pa Pavise, LI, Light Infantry, HG Hand Gun, FKn Foot Knight, Hvy Spear, Heavy Spearmen.

Inappropriately capitalized words are used to highlight terms that are specific to the game. For example Brilliant, Competent and Ordinary have specific game values for the commanders.

"XX" implies a unit killed in that location on that turn.

The Board: The Romans win the initiative and elect to defend in the plains.


On the Roman right, five units of cavalry
While on their left, the legions are massed on a hill in front of their camp.
Brother Darryl is deployed on the Scot's left with 4 units of Highlanders.

Highlanders are Medium Sword with bow and not half and half, so they fight and shoot normally. At 9 points this list takes advantage of the 1 point discount Medium Swordsmen get in version 4.

Larry's huge command takes the center. The Irish Mercenaries take the left, and the Islemen on the right.

They are kind of crammed with between the third command and the terrain.

His other brother Darryl's Highlanders are set to run up the coast.

Turn 1:

Looking at the board, I don't like the match up of "Other Brother" Darryl's Highlanders against fully armed and armored legions. Their bows are +zero to +2 in shooting, then its Impact+sword and the legions take 4 hits to just sword and 3 hits, sans armor. But I am the attacker and have the initiative to redress this.

I had reason to believe the Romans will stand on the hill and will give me time to fix this.

The plan is to advance slowly with the heavies, and give the archers time to shoot up the Roman Cavalry, and turn the flank of the hill before investing it with Islemen Warriors.

Brother Darryl's Highlanders march to challenge the Roman cavalry.
While Larry does a short march, oblique right.

And Other Brother Darryl rolls a surplus of command points and makes a triple march away from coast, to support his brother against the Roman heavy horse.

Across the vast Mare Nostrum, another disagreement is being aired out in public.
The Roman light horse swings very wide. Their heavy horse advance cautiously.

I'm going to have to do something about that. Light horse in v4 has a ZOC, and is not easily ignored as it was in v3. Also, my camp is unfortified and currently only has an empty ambush marker to protect it.

The legions advance as quickly as they could. Scot's lights prevented a double march on their right. Their left double marched.

Turn 2:

Darryl moves forward and slides towards the lights, preventing them from double moving again.
His other brother Darryl advances as far to the left as he can. Another turn of sliding left and I'll have 8 archers dedicated to peppering Roman Cavalry
Larry's Islemen advance minimally, and extend their line.
Roman lights take up a position on Darryl's left flank
Their heavy horse moving to a support position of the Roman Triarii
The Roman march full forward, moving in perfect lockstep.

So much for the idea that they will stay on the hill.

Turn 3:

Darryl orders a unit of Highlanders against the lights. Their first volley is ineffective.
But their arrows fly true and well against the Roman heavies.
Larry fearlessly advances to charge reach. Sliding right and filling in a gap. He has an overlap on one side and two units in reserve.

Of course he is fearless, he hasn't seen the pilum yet.

The Romans take a chance on a roll the dice. With Javelin and support, it's +2 to +1, and they didn't make it.
Their heaviest blow is on the center of the line. Their heavy cavalry join the infantry in the charge, negating the Scot's overlap advantage.
It's a Roman commanders dream. Charging all 10 cohorts at once.
It's 6 elites vs 4, and +2 on contact to +1 down the line. The Scot's pay a heavy price, losing 9 of 11 battles.

Turn 4:

The Scot's luck seems limited to the men of the Highlands.
Not all of the plan is trashed. The Roman line is turned.
Scot's and Irish units are beginning to break, but some cohorts are hard pressed as well.
When in only corner to corner contact, a unit must either move off, or conform. The Equites decide to move off, out of arc and out of range.

 There is a camp to be looted.

A Roman heavy cavalry is dispersed by arrows alone. The other equites find targets to charge and win.
More Irish and Scots are routed, taking a couple of cohorts with them.
The Scots are dangerously close to collapse. 17 points towards their demoralization of level of 23.
The Romans are more comfortable with their score being 11 of 20.

Turn 5:

Highlanders jog to effective range and loose arrows.
Their brethren hold the line, and are threatening to overwhelm the Roman horse.
Larry commits his reserve units.
The Scots are at 19.
The Romans are at 13
Equites shake off their losses and advance towards the camp. So close!
The Highlanders have a flurry of good dice. The remaining Roman Cavalry is destroyed, and a Velite is routed through.
The Islemen are near exhaustion,
But they will not quit!
The Scots are still at 19 of 23
And so are the Romans!

Turn 7:

Suddenly, it is the Romans that are in desperate straights. There are 4 Scot's units on their last legs, but the Romans need to pick up all 4 of them to win, while the Scot's need only 1.

The skies darken, dispersing the last Equites.
Which verifies the Romans will lose

But will it be a mutual destruction?

Highlanders charge the main Roman infantry line, disordering a Triarii.
An Isleman is routed.
But the other depleted units hold for a Scot's win.

So what went wrong?

I know I won the game, but it was not a convincing win. The final score was 20 all, and only the lower Roman break point caused their premature retirement.

I over estimated how effective my 2HW Islemen would be against fully armored legionaries.   And how fast the Romans would react to my adjustment of commands from right to center.

Placing the Irish Mercenaries as part of the main line was a mistake.  They had no advantages and are fragile.  They would serve better as second rank reserves.  They can react better because they are faster.  I could do with 3 of them vice 4 using the points to buy another Isleman and upgrade the mediocre unit.

Hills and coastal zone are fabric, printed on demand and available at in the US. UK's site is



  1. The UK Travelterrain website is at

  2. I have updated the article to include the UK link.