Carthaginians vs Barbarians

The Background
Nobody knows where Hannibal crossed the Alps. Therefore it is perfectly possible that, somewhere to the north of Italy, he met with the army of Barbarian King “Darik” (if he existed). If this is true the battle that followed could perfectly has been like the battle report described below played in the winter of 2003.

This battle report is not a turn to turn report. We picked out the mayor events and described them.

Jeroen Klijs played the barbarian army against my Carthaginians. Dennis Klinkenberg played a little voice.

The Plan
The barbarian army had planned to get as many as possible troops into action. As a result he would have the flanks. The centre would be able to hold the enemy for a short time. The flanks are covered by the most heavily equipped troops and the Noble Cavalry to give a hard punch to the enemy flanks. Finally the generals unit, joined with the battle standard bearer and a Shaman, would be the secret surprise unit that would break straight through the centre (avoiding the Phalanx units). The idea is not to attack the phalanx units in the front.

The Carthaginians had two Spanish Cavalry unit in the right flank to outmanoeuvre anything the enemy would place on that flank. Being able to change from skirmish to formed formation would mean that these units would be able to do a mean rear attack. And a unit of Balearic Slings on the flank can do devastating damage if they get the chance. The middle saw two phalanx units and two Celtic units. The phalanx to absorb the enemy’s attack and the Celts to counter attack and hopefully break the enemy due to the warband rules. The right flank saw two elephants, Italian allies and a Spanish Light infantry unit. The elephants would prevent the enemy cavalry from doing their job. When the elephants would get into close combat (and negate any rank bonus of the enemy, the Spanish infantry would get in for the kill. The Italians would be a tactical reserve for this job.

The Battle

1) The advance of the barbarians
As planned the Barbarians swiftly advanced on the right and left and center.


2) The Carthaginian right flank has doubts.
Due to the allies & mercenaries rule (allies may not move until a roll of 1-5 on a D6), three(!) out of five units had doubt is they should fight today, and thereby stopping the advance of the two other units that were behind them.

3) The Barbarian Cavalry gets it on the left and right.
On the Left flank the Barbarian Cavalry came to close and a hail of javelins made them flee of the table. On the right flank the Noble Barbarian Cavalry were getting sandwiched between to Spanish Cavalry, and decided to flee, but got overrun.

4) The Barbarian skirmishers dare not to attack the elephants.
When the Barbarian skirmishers on the left flank did not pass their fear check the effectively stopped the whole advance of this Barbarian flank.

5) Carthaginian Cavalry chooses to flee.
After destroying the Noble Cavalry, a Barbarian warband attacked the victorious Spanish Cavalry. They choose to flee, and rallied just 1” from the table edge.

6) Carthaginian ally Celts get beaten.
An enormous attack from the warband containing the King Darik, and his followers broke a Celtic warband. The centre of the Carthaginians was broken.

7) Panic throughout the Carthaginian lines.
All units of the Carthaginian right flank fled, when they saw the centre punched through. All skirmishers also concluded that the battle was over and lost and ran away. But the Carthaginian general on the left flank listened to a little voice and convinced the surrounding units that the battle was not yet over.

8) Recuperation and counter attack by the Carthaginians.
The Carthaginian Skirmishers left the battle, but al other units, including the Spanish Cavalry and the Celtic warband that got beaten the previous turn, rallied. The Barbarians in the centre decided to try to attack the centre Phalanx unit. The lost, but did not break. The Barbarian King again attacked the Celts. Now they fled of the table, pursued by King Darik.

9) The return of the king.
Now the Carthaginians went in for the kill, attacking the Barbarian on the right flank with the Italian phalanx, Spanish infantry. Attacking the Barbarian warband in the centre in the flank with a Celtic warband, and surrounding the warband on the left with the Spanish Cavalry and another phalanx unit.

The Result
When the King returned on the table, all these combats were ending in favour of the Carthaginians. He knew he returned too late.

The Aftermath
The Carthaginian general had better let the unit attacked by the enemies generals unit shoot and flee or just flee, instead of taking the charge. This would have prevented a devastating shock through his lines, almost entirely destroying the right flank and al his skirmishers. And he would have been able to counter charge the enemy the following turn, possibly into the flank.

The elephants performed great in the begin of the battle. Letting the enemy cavalry flee, preventing a skirmish charge and thus pinning the enemy.

The Spanish Cavalry always did what they should do. Annoy the enemy long enough and finally end up in a position to hit the enemy in the rear.

The Barbarian general, maybe, got to many Noble Cavalry into the action, costing to many points. Therefore he was not able to really outnumber the Carthaginians, as he would have liked to do. He also did not have experience fighting Carthaginians. That turned out to be a mayor disability for him. The Carthaginian general on the other hand knew the warbands by heart. Some advice Darik learned this battle: do not charge elephants with cavalry, or otherwise make sure they don't flee off the table. Do not put a shaman in a unit immune to psychology. You need more units to outnumber your enemy. Replace the heavy cavalry with skirmishers or light cavalry to counterattack the enemy light cavalry. And finally: winning skirmish battles may give you the charge.

As in every battle fought, there was a lot of discussing, looking up rules, and occasionally throwing dice to decide who was right this time. But that’s all part of the game. Both sides had a fun day and enjoined the after-battle-barbeque (kind of a tradition with us).

The Rosters



See also for information about the novel I wrote about the life of Hannibal.

back to the battles page

To the Index page