Asculum (Republican Romans vs Pyrrhus)

The Scenario & Background

Based upon the description from Dionysius of Halicarnassus, I designed a scenario to play Asculum. Click here for the scenario and the historical background of the battle.

The Setup

This is how the battlefield looks:

Elephant battle Pyrrhus' infantry Pyrrhus' Cavalry Pyrrhus' Cavalry Pyrrhus' Elephant Rome's Legions Rome's Cavalry Pyrrhus' Cavalry Rome's (fleeing) Cavalry

(move over the picture to get unit info)

A Battle report

We played this scenario and here is the result.

The Plans
The Epirotes wanted to push the center back whilst trying to get the advantage on the flanks. It was a gamble where to put the Agema cavalry; On the Epirote left to counter the arriving Daunii flanking force, or on the Epirote right to fill up the cavalry lines. Pyrrhus chose to support the right flank.
The Romans planned to hit the weaker spots in the Epirote line, thus opening up the line for flank attacks. On the flanks the wanted to keep the superior Enemy cavalry at bay long enough to be able to destroy the center. Therefore they redirected the triarii to the flanks making them hold this part of the battlefield with their stubborn lines.

The Early Stages
The Romans managed to hold the flanks and prevented the wedges to deploy. (In an earlier try-out of this battle the Epirotes managed to put their wedges to good use, totally destroying the flanks before the center battle was really good on the way.)
On the Epirote right the Samnite and Roman cavalry were evenly matched. The light troops on both flanks counted each other out too. The Epirote left was the stage for a large light troops against cavalry battle that lasted for several rounds.


The Breakthrough
Finally the Romans managed the break the weaker units in the Epirote line. The Samnites, Tarantines and Peltasts could not stand up to the violence of the Roman charge. Now the time was right to attack the Macedonians and Epirote Phalanx in the flank. The Romans announced that the battle was as good as won.
On the Epirote left the Triarii entered the light troops battle. The Daunii turned the Thessalian wedge charge and ran them of the table. This would certainly mean a breakthrough here too.

The Revival
But than the unpredictable happened. The Macedonians and Epirote phalanx held on for dear life. Supported by the battle standard and generals they doubled their attacks with astonishing good dice rolls. In the mean while the Samnites rallied and returned to help rebuild the battle line. By now the Romans had their maniples spread out too much to do the flank attacks to meet the returned thread from the Samnites. The Samnites overran the remaining Hastati and the battle turned in favor of Pyrrhus.
On the Epirote left the Triarii got attacked in the flank by the Aetolians before forcing the breakthrough they expected. Panic spread through the Roman lines. Disaster had struck!



The result
The battle had become quite messy. Everywhere there were pockets of heavy fighting. In the last turn the Romans admitted defeat, but at a very high cost for the Epirotes! Indeed one more such a victory and Pyrrhus would loose the war in Italy.

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


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