Tuesday 14 September 2021

Goths win on points at the end of the match!

This Saturday’s game was a return to the ancient world, or the late 4thC A.D. to pit my slowly growing Late Romans against an ever-expanding army of Visigoths and Ostrogoths, figures for which keep surfacing to the top of my unpainted box of stuff (like the fat on the juices of a roast joint....). It was also an opportunity to keep the excellent Sword and Spear rules fresh in our heads and induct Shaun and Dave (both back for the first time since before the first lockdown) into their use prior to the planned launch of the Late Roman campaign at the end of the month. From a setting up and playing perspective this period is always easier to prepare for as the terrain doesn’t need to be as ‘busy’ as for later centuries and the figures are all based as a unit on a single 180mm x 60mm stand so are easy to set up and put away. A couple of  the regulars were away on holiday or otherwise unavailable but there were still six of us; John, Paul, Neil, Shaun, Dave and me. Throwing for sides resulted in John, Paul and Dave taking the Gothic hoards while Shaun, Neil and me were the Romans. 

Both armies were approximately 1500+/-'ish points each under Sword and Spear, and by some fluke, they also had 163 strength points each as well! Now I know purists may say that the Goths have too much infantry for Ostrogoths, and too much cavalry for Visigoths, but what we here is a combined Ostro/Visigoth army. It also gives me the flexibility, and they're my toys and unlikely to encounter a bean counter in their little make-believe lives. I'd downgraded the Roman infantry considerably from previous games. There were only five Palatina legios, but there were also five not very good Pseudocomitenses and Limitanii legios and six bog standard ones.

What follows is the usual panoply of photographs detailing the progress of the game, or would be as some of them appear to be out of order, I think, but as I can't remember, and because it doesn't really matter that much, here they are. Enjoy, and click on the image to embiggen.

The armies prepare. Neil gives Dave a crash course in the rules.

"There are the Goths sir! Farsands of 'em!" The Goths had placed most of their cavalry on their left wing.

Goth infantry, also mostly on the left wing.

The Roman centre seen from afar.

The Roman centre from a bit closer.....

These are Dave's Goth cavalry on the opposite flank.
Neil's Roman cavalry on our right flank. When I put all the figures on the table  all the Goth cavalry were plonked at one end of the table. Once sides were agreed I reckoned that they might be too lazy to redistribute them elsewhere in their battle line so we deployed all our heavy cavalry on the one wing just in case I was right, and I was. We were still outnumbered though!

The battlefield seen from the garden end looking along the Goth lines.

Initial contact on the Roman right. From the start it was a grind and one the Romans were struggling with, but the superior numbers and quality of the Gothic cavalry couldn't be brought to bare due to the confines of the terrain .
An example of one of the melee dice scores. Neil's unit only had four dice while John's had eight.  Anyone conversant with the rule will appreciate how bad that set of dice was!

More Goths closer to their centre.
I commanded the Roman left, all light cavalry, facing half a dozen units of Goth heavies.

The Roman right again.

The Goth infantry steamrollering forwards.

Goth infantry from about as close as you'd feel safe going!

More of the Goth juggernaught.

On our left we'd managed to draw the Gothic cavalry away from our centre by some nifty skirmishing by my light cavalry enabling the Roman legios on the left of the first line to swing round towards the Goth centre.

The Roman centre turns to intercept the Goth attack.

While one legio was locked in combat with a Goth war band another is moving up in support.

The cavalry fight on the Roman right continues....

The Goth left/centre as seen from their rear.

Our war machines were particularly useless today and hardly scored any hits on the enemy, even the war band that finally hit them. The war machines were quickly overrun.

After destroying the Roman war machines the victorious war band was about to be charged in the flank by our cavalry.

Another shot of the situation in the centre. The Goths bottom left are about to be  charged in the flank and rear by the Roman cavalry.

Skirmishing on the Goth right/Roman left continued throughout the battle. The Goths pushed the Romans back to the baseline (or were drawn ever deeper into the net by the Roman light horsemen), loosing a couple of units in the process, while several Roman units were forced to evade off the table. The rest managed to slip between the Goth units or around their flank, aided by several units of our javelin-armed skirmishers. That resulted in a rapid withdrawal of the surviving Goth cavalry as they had nowhere to go and were in danger of being harried to death by my horse archers and other light cavalry.

Time ran out at that point, and when we calculated the losses, the Goths had one less point lost than the Romans, although neither were anywhere near a third losses (which would have caused an army-wide discipline test).  Tactically I don't think it was a Gothic victory, as the Roman legios had barely been in action, but at the time we had to stop that's how the points called it. Both sides made some mistakes, but for future reference I think I'll make more conventional deployments compulsory. 

It was an enjoyable game even if we didn't manage a definitive conclusion as we'd managed previously. Hopefully everyone had a good time and Shaun and Dave weren't too phased by the rules, which are really easy to pick up and work surprisingly well with games this size. Just as well as I don't 'do' moderation.

I've been preparing an ancient campaign which will begin shortly, and about which I shall write later.


  1. A spectacular sight again! Rooting for the Goths here of course.

  2. A good looking game there Colin.

  3. Go Goths! Adrianople redux! Memories of Battle of Verona now forgotten! LOL

    Great game and (I'm going to say it again) I hope to be able to make it one day!

  4. Superb looking armies and an epic looking game 👍