At the last meeting we had a game of Sword & Spear – Romans against Sarmatians.
We decided to do one of the scenario games listed in the rules: Attack A Prepared Position.
The Romans (Andy King and Dave Sime) were defending which meant the Sarmatians (Tony Gibbs and Stephen Tucker) had to break them or they lose by default. After the sixth turn a dice is rolled each turn and depending on the roll that could be the end of the game.
So there was no time to lose.
The battle field was set up with a hill and wood on one flank, and on the other was another hill, an area of rocky ground, and a villa/farm. The Romans also had a fortified camp which they put in the middle of their table edge.
Since the Romans were defending they had to deploy first. They used their legionaries to form a strong line linking the farm and camp. They kept their cavalry in the rear as a mobile reserve, and put their auxiliaries in the farm with the wall to protect them. Their skirmishers – some light cavalry, slingers, and a few archers – they had out front in the open.
The Sarmatians deployed with their cavalry in the middle. On their left they put the light cavalry archers, and on the right they had a few skirmishers with bows and some Gepid mercenaries.
The game started with the Romans remaining stationary. There was no need for them to advance after all.
Tony’s Sarmatians on the left made good speed, advancing to threaten the Roman skirmishers and light cavalry. The right flank was somewhat tardy in its advance – the rocky ground and poor activation dice making progress difficult.
First blood went to the Sarmatians, who made short work of the Roman skirmishers. It was never looking good for them out there in the open against all that cavalry. There was a desultory exchange of bowfire between the Roman auxiliaries in the farm and the advancing Sarmatian skirmishers.
With the Roman light troops routed the Sarmatian left flank advanced on the Roman line. The Romans feared a mighty cavalry charge and moved their own cavalry into position where they might plug any gap should the inevitable happen. The Roman legionaries around the villa wobbled back and forth, unsure whether to make a charge or to hold their line (they chose to hold the line) and the Gepids finally managed to move up.
The turns ticked by. The Sarmatians were ahead on points but this game wasn’t about who killed most – the Sarmatians were against the clock and if they didn’t break the Roman line quickly that would be it. So in went the Gepids and in went the Sarmatian cavalry!
The Gepids delivered a whallop, but the Romans paid that back with interest. The cavalry charge wasn’t all it could have been and the Roman line held and pushed them back.
It hadn’t been enough.
Dusk fell, and time was up. Game end!
The Sarmatians had destroyed more Roman units but had failed to break them before the last turn.
Though bloodied, the Romans held the field and were declared victors.