At the last meeting we had a game of Sword & Spear – Romans against Germans.
Jeremey took control of the Romans and Stephen had the Germans (we were joined half way through by Andy (Romans) and Tony (Germans) once they finished their Saga game). We did the River Crossing scenario from the rulebook, with the Romans on the attack. Victory conditions meant that if the Romans had half or more of their units on the opposite side of the river during any End Phase of the game they were automatically declared winner.
The Germans deployed first with their warbands stretched out facing the river to oppose any Roman crossing. On the left flank they had the cavalry and skirmishers.
The Romans had their legions facing the river with auxiliaries on the Roman left and the Roman cavalry on the right, having to make their way through rocky ground before getting to the river.
Both armies moved up quickly (we realised after a few turns that we read the group move rules incorrectly, but at least it got us stuck in quicker!). The German (lack of) discipline made moving up in any kind of order difficult and it turned out enough tribal leaders hadn’t arrived, so they also had a few command and control issues since the warbands on the further edges were out of command range (you can see I’m getting in the excuses early).
It reached that point – the Romans lined up on one side of the river and the Germans on the other. There’d been some desultory bow fire but it was quite clear how this was going to be decided. The Romans were on the attack and the onus was on them to win. So Rome’s finest did what they had to do and started wading across the river…
The main fighting was in the middle between the legions and the warbands. It started going the Roman way. They created a bridge head and units were crossing the river. It looked like this was going to be over quicker than we thought. The Germans brought up their cavalry to plug some holes. Out on the right flank things were going a bit slower – the Germans struggling to bring enough troops up and the Romans refusing the flank with their archers pouring fire into the tribesmen. Meanwhile, on the left, the Roman cavalry also took time coming up through the rocky ground allowing the German archers to advance to the river with bows at the ready once the cavalry came into range and sight.
The centre wore away. In one clash the Germans managed to destroy one of the Roman units taking the Roman general with it! The tide of battle was starting to turn and it looked as though the Germans may have a chance of victory. This had come at a cost though – the German units were starting to get weak and fragile from the battle. Realising they would have to be bold and daring to secure victory the German right flank finally managed to get to the river and decided to charge across it at the Roman archers and auxiliaries in the woods on the opposite bank. A bold attack, indeed, and one that was repulsed.
And there things came to an end. In that brief glimmer of hope the Germans had taken enough of a pounding to force them to quit the field. It had been no easy victory for the Romans – they had taken the river crossing but they had also taken a serious drubbing to achieve their goal. A pyrrhic victory at best. But a victory nonetheless.