SIEGE (Carthaginians vs. Romans)  


The History

In 249BC the Romans besieged the Carthaginian city of Lilybaeum on Sicily. Due to its high walls and support from the sea, the Romans were unable to take the city. The second siege of Lilybaeum took place around 245BC, however very little is documented from this event and history seems to avoid the subject. We played with the draft rules from the new Siege supplement, to get an idea how this forgotten battle might have been fought.

The defenders had 1500 points, and the attackers 3000 points.


The Setup

The Roman army besieged the city of Lilybaeum from three sides. They were, again, unable to take the cities harbour. Because of this, the city would be able to hold out for a very long time. So the Roman commanders decided not to wait but attack the walls immediately.


The Choice of the generals 

The final assault scenario was very much fun to play. The rules seem to work quite well and give us a good feeling of the difficulties both sides face during a siege. With the addition of some buildings and siege equipment the whole battle was very appealing to look at. Definably a good game for everybody who wants to try something else for a change.

A drawback was, that there wasn't much the Carthaginian army could do, but close the gates, man the walls and await the assault...

Close the gates!

Man the walls!

But they didnít have to wait long!!


Onagers are the attackers' best friend. At the start of the battle they can do some serious damage to the defender. However using them while friendly troops are closing in, is very risky.

Archers take cover behind mantlets.

Stone throwers are preparing to shoot.



For the defender, bolt throwers are very useful, but they won't do much for the attacker as he can only hit one model most of the time. Archers are, as expected, good on both sides.

Bolt Thrower


The Assault on the walls begin

First one on the rampant becomes a centurion!

To the front, the Hastati pushed forward the battering ram, and a siege tower, towards the walls!

Sappers were also closing in, to undermine the walls. A unit of Triarii was supporting this attack.

On the other two sides of the city, brave cohorts of Hastati and Principe were attacking the walls, with ladders. On the walls Carthaginian's finest awaited them bravely.

History tells us stories of terrible sieges. When the mother of Alexander the Great was besieged in Pydna, many died of starvation, including all the elephants in her army.

Alexander himself had to climb the walls of a town in India to persuade his soldiers to do the same. He nearly got shot by archers. He had to jump down from the walls to seek cover inside the enemy city! His followers were shocked and at last attackers the walls and rescued Alexander, taking the city at the same time.


The battering ram reaches the enforced gate.

Battering rams are very powerful and even reinforced gates have no chance of holding out very long.

While the assault on the walls raged on, the battering ram had reached the gate and started pounding at the gate.

How long would it hold?


Demetrius 'poliorcetes' (the besieger) built the largest siege tower known in history. It was 40-43 meters high, needed 200 men to get it going, had 8 floors and contained 16 bolt throwers. After he managed to take the walls of Rhodes and break them down, he discovered that the enemy had built a new wall behind the wall he just managed to take...

He never took the city, and afterwards the people of Rhodos built the Colossus of Rhodes (one of the seven wonders of the world in ancient times, next to the pyramids, etc.) from the towers he left behind.


Undermining the walls takes time and patience.

The defenders push back against the gate doors, trying to make it harder for the battering ram on the other side to break trough. Meanwhile the strong city walls proved to be to much for the sappers to undermine quickly. Although they managed to do some damage to the walls it wasnít enough to influence the outcome of the battle.

Disaster at the western walls! The Hastati and Principe were driven away by the defenders! However, their superior numbers strengthened their morale and soon after they rallied and prepared to assault the walls again. A small group of defenders faced the grim task of holding them off once again.




Archers loose control of the fire.

A direct hit from an Onager almost killed an entire unit of archers on the top of a tower. The last two man, however, refused to flee and continued to light their fire arrows. Meanwhile a few Principe had gained a foothold on the eastern wall and a fierce fight started with the Carthaginian veteran infantry to gain control of the wall.




The Carthaginian defenders were, by now, fighting a loosing battle. The battering ram breached the gate and the Hastati ware ready to attack the last reserves defending the courtyard. Meanwhile the Principe finally defeated the defenders on the eastern wall and gained control of it. The city was about to fall.

Cross section of a Roman Camp built around a besieged city

The Conclusion of the Siege

Desperate fighting in the courtyard followed! The Carthaginian veteran infantry fought till the last man. The Hastati were relieved by the still fresh Triarii while the Principe assaulted the courtyard from the walls. The Roman command clearly wanted to end this battle quickly. It proved to much for the Carthaginians and the last defenders were finally broken. This city of Lilybaeum had been taken.


The Final Assault Scenario

A siege is an awesome sight.

The scenario is, as one might expect, more fun to play from the attackers point of view. There isnít much the defender can do then shoot and try to hold the walls. Their numbers are to small to try anything else.


But assaulting the walls by ladder is still very hard for the attacker. The chances of gaining a foothold are very slim. It is very important for the attacker to assault with superior numbers. This way the expected losses at the walls result, worse case, in a push back from the walls and not a normal flight (causing panic in even more units). This way the attacker can continue to attack the walls. Even when his chances of winning are small, he only has to win once, while the defender has to win every time.


If the defender breaks, the result is far more disastrous, as most defending units are close to each other, causing a ripple of panic through all army.


We enjoyed the game and will play another siege in the near future.




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