A Punic Wars Battle

 (Republican Romans vs Carthaginians)

The Plan

The Roman republican player was Steven de Bel from Belgium. He wanted to use the battle line rules from lochagos.com . This would make his tactic more rigid, but very strong against attacks in the center.


The Carthaginians wanted to force a flank attack with a numerical advantage in cavalry models on their left flank. The right was guarded by an elephant and a Celtic warband.


We played this battle at the Red Baron's convention XVII in Gentbrugge, Belgium.


Learn more about the Roman Tactical Checkerboard Formation here.


The Battle

The Carthaginians had the first move. They immediately fast marched to the right flank of the Romans. The Romans had only one cavalry unit there.

The Romans reacted quickly reforming their battle line to face the tread from the Carthaginian cavalry and so to be able to stop the flank attack. They dispatched two Triarii units to their left to guard the other flank.

The second turn the Carthaginians got in position to charge the Roman flank. The Romans were bracing themselves for the worst.

The third turn the Carthaginians attacked with all their Spanish cavalry and a Numidian skirmish unit, but they did not break through the battle line as they had expected. The Romans were holding and fighting back. The Roman cavalry even managed to break the Carthaginian cavalry. Things were looking grim for the Carthaginians.

The Roman republican army in checkerboard formation gets surrounded by a majority of Carthaginians.
(Romans on the top, Carthaginians at the bottom)

The Carthaginians did eventually manage to break the most right of the maniple units of the Romans, but the Battle Line stood firm once again. The pursuing Carthaginians were exposed to the Roman infantry and in charge range.

The Romans started a counterattack, and the Spanish Cavalry choose to flee.

After that the Roman pursuing cavalry was confronted by the rallied Spanish cavalry unit. After a few turns the Romans broke and fled.

In the centre the Carthaginian phalanx hit into the Roman battle line, but turn after turn the line held.

An impression of the fierce fighting in the centre.
(Carthaginians left, Romans right)

On the Roman left flank the attack finally started after a prolonged skirmish fight with the Celts and the elephant attacking the Triarii. The drilled Triarii managed to evade the elephant, and the Celts were quickly exposed of. The Triarii followed and destroyed the unit. The second Triarii unit could now move towards the main battle, knowing that the thread from this flank was eliminated.

In the centre the armies were wearing each other out. The Romans could regroup fleeing units behind the Battle Line. But in the mean while the Carthaginian cavalry started moving through the manipular gaps in skirmish formation, preventing the Roman first line from regrouping and chasing them of the table.

Just before the Triarii could skip the balance in favour of the Romans, the general and battle standard got caught in the fight and fled. This effectively destroyed the Battle Line and the Roman centre became crumbling.

The Result

The battle ended with a victory for the Carthaginians. This was mainly caused by the the breaking of the battle line at the end. The battle was swinging from side to side at various moments. It could have gone either way. This shows that the battle line rules are a good answer to the very strong AoA Carthaginian army list.

It was great fun playing against Steven in a good battle.


Lochagos.com  Battle lines

A 'battle line' must be declared after deployment before the start of a game. The loose definition are two or more manipular units facing the same direction deployed in a line with roughly less than a 4" gap between them and all of the line's units are in good order.

The Romans may form up to three battle lines (the hastati, principes, and triarii).

  • All manipular units in good order that still have a standard within 12" in front of or behind a battle line receive a +1 to their leadership tests, fleeing units within 12" behind a battle line receive a +1 to their attempt to rally.
  • Any fleeing units that successfully flee through a subsequent battle line are considered to have escaped their pursuers, even if the flight was due to being broken in combat and the pursuers would have normally caught and destroyed the fleeing unit.
  • The radius for all panic tests affecting subsequent battle lines is halved. A single unit is considered "in good order" if it is not engaged in hand to hand combat with an opponent to it's the flank or rear and it has not taken more than 50% casualties. As I said above all the units in a battle line must be in good order for the line to be considered in good order.

It is possible for units in a battle line to be drawn out of position, either due to a failed panic check or normal movement. When this happens the line is considered split - units in front of the newly created hole no longer receive the 'battle line' benefits until that hole can be plugged. Other contiguous parts of the line still qualify as long as the rest of the line is in good order. Note this means that once you start turning the end units to face down a flanking threat the units in front they were 'supporting' are now in trouble and the turned unit does not get the benefit of the reduced panic range. Although once a unit in the line is broken in HTH combat that line is 'destroyed' for the purposes of the battle line rule.

It is possible to fill the holes in an otherwise unengaged battle line. It requires a unit in good order from either a line before or behind to step up into the gap. In this manner it is possible to 'swap' your forward maniples by simply disengaging the fighting units. Drilled units will not generally have a problem, non-drilled units will have to rely upon passing the required leadership test. Should that fail you are still likely to escape and rally, that is the purpose of the line behind. The astute reader will notice a sweet spot between six and seven inches: Six inches is just far enough to ignore break test panic checks, seven inches is the average flight result on two dice, and still close enough that the unit which successfully disengaged its eight inches will still "roughly" form a line.

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