Tuesday 20 July 2021

Goth incursion annihilated! Sword and Spear AAR

I had a long overdue visit from my old mates Robbie Rodiss and John Reidy, aka the Independent Wargames Group, on Tuesday. We’d settled on an ancient game as everyone was familiar with the rules, more or less, and less in my case! We diced for sides and Robbie took the Late Romans while I had the Goths. John generously offered to umpire. This was the first time I’d played these rules on a 1 to 1 basis NOT using the multi player variant for activation, which was to prove very interesting and incredibly frustrating for both commanders. We also played as they are written rather than implement the few house rules we’ve used in previous games.

The Goth left and centre.

I was out-scouted which didn’t really have a detrimental impact on my deployment. I managed that all by myself. The bulk of my cavalry were on my right and all my infantry was on my left as my plan was to throw subtlety out of the window and try and overwhelm the Roman left with 11 units of cavalry while my  six large war bands and remaining four cavalry units tied up the enemy centre and right.  

Early in the game fortune favoured my activation dice rolls and the Goths were slowly getting into a strong position on my right to launch an attack. Getting the infantry to move was another matter, especially as I couldn’t get my skirmisher screen out of the way. Doh! 

The Goth right, with some Hun allies covering the extreme flank. There were a fair few Romans facing me but I knew what I was doing…..

The main Goth cavalry attack was conducted in a very piecemeal manner, but it did it the frighten of the Romans.

The Romans launched a couple of cavalry charges on each wing which were moderately successful and upset my attacks. While the Roman Cataphracts demolished my Huns and heavy cavalry my other heavy cavalry hit the Roman Legios facing our right, but were held and eventually broken. Robbie’s cataphracts and heavy cavalry made short work of most of my cavalry on the right and one of my own Goth elite cavalry units was charged in the flank and destroyed. As my cavalry routed Robbie’s pursuit rode down and killed my C-in-C. My other Goth elite cavalry were pinned between a Legio and some nasty light infantry but held out until the last turn.

On the other flank we’d had a little more success. Several Roman skirmisher units were destroyed and one of my cavalry units had worked their way round to the rear of the Roman line. The Goth foot warriors only ever managed to get three units into action, mainly as two others were stuck behind some olive groves and the other just never got moving as there was always something more important to do. They were soon left out of command as the others advanced.

On the left the Romans had quickly overwhelmed one of my cavalry units which had pursued too far after breaking an enemy light cavalry unit. The Roman lights then pursued into the flank of my cavalry, but were held and then in return hit in their flank by another Goth unit. We then managed to overrun the enemy war machines and a Legio and we found ourselves with two units and a sub general in the Roman rear. But it was too little too late to change the outcome.

Meanwhile these two large units of warriors were stuck. I could have moved through the vineyards as  they were passable but I had it my head that they weren’t…..so why did I deploy them there? 

One of the Goth cavalry units on the right locked in combat with a Roman Legio before breaking.

My right is now a mess and is about to get messier. Both of us had been throwing some dreadful activation dice, but I had several turns with only one useable dice, and one at least with NONE! The collapse of this wing was sudden but not unexpected.

Two war bands did get into contact with the Roman main infantry body, but  by then it was too late.

My Elite cavalry rode down one unit of light infantry before being sucked into the maelstrom.
Esme plonked herself down in the middle of the Roman line and refused to let Robbie touch anything within her Zone of Clawing (ZOC).

I was too engrossed in the game to take many photos but suffice to say, my army soon reached the point where each unit had to pass a discipline test. Some didn’t. I conceded defeat shortly afterwards as my army had been effectively destroyed, ok it was pretty much annihilated. It was however a most enjoyable defeat. I thoroughly enjoyed the game, the rules, and the company; less so my dice rolling. But it was a fun if rather sweaty day’s gaming. Note to self:  I really need to finish some more Goths.


  1. Grand spectacle and AAR, but more Goths? The cat is becoming a fixture in your games too!

  2. Awesome game, the armies look spectacular.....even with the giant cat in the way! I have had the same issue....mine knocked a whole row of Carthaginians of the table because they were in his ZOC !

  3. Sorry for the delay in commenting Colin, for some reason I couldnt get into your site. Thanks again for the invite and the beautiful game you staged.As you know Ive never wargamed with the Goths or Byzantines which was a great treat.Sword and Spear are a set of rules that need to be thought over from the very start because to be out-scouted can come back to bite you in the bum. I thought your dice rolling in the first half of the game was very disconcerting but changed in the second half when it came to melee throws etc. Usually my rolling can be very erratic but not during the battle.I made some mistakes with my deployment, God knows how I overlooked two units that would have been a big help on the flanks.I also shouldnt have placed my better troops behind the broken terrain, that should have been the poorer quality troops, but I got away with it.My biggest concerns were your war-bands and Im pleased they didnt attack straightaway.All in all it was a brilliant game and a wonderful spectacle, so well done in having such lovely armies.

  4. Thanks Robbie. Pleased you enjoyed the game. Perhaps I can entice you both down again next month, maybe for Italian Wars or something you’re unlikely to have games? Hope so.