Wednesday 15 November 2023

The Battle of Tigranocerta 69BCE

[Note that this has nothing to do with the similarly named fort in eighteenth century North America].

After his last visit ooop t’north, Steve the Architect had offered to run a big Ancients game, so on Saturday we had the pleasure of engaging in battle between the Caesarian Romans, I think, and Late Successor types and Armenians. Apologies if that’s not quite an accurate introduction but I know little about this chunk of history, my Roman preference being the later more degenerate types of the fourth century AD, but who can’t like tough Roman legionaries vs cataphracts, phalanxes, imitation Romans, scythe chariots and similar. An Ancient World version of Charles the Bold’s mash up of the best bits of everything which together were somewhat less than effective.

Anyone interested in the background can find it Here.

Paul, Jim and I were the Romans and John, Nigel and Conrad played the army of Tigranes the Great. We used Hail Caesar 2nd edition, which to the uninitiated are the same as Hail Caesar 1st edition with new photos.  Somehow I got to be the Roman commander in chief, so my contingent began the game being harangued by my character to stop counting their loot and leave the camp to help the rest of the army strung out in column of march as the enemy army appeared on their right flank. I was too engaged in the game to understand what went on at the other end of the table but hopefully the photos will tell the usual story as the game unfolded. Any bias is purely intentional as this account will be read to the Senate.

Gallic observers view the battle from the safety of the encampment.

Tigranes the Great and his loyal lieutenants.

The Romans have turned to face the enemy and my command in the encampment has been convinced to leave and support their comrades. Paul on the far left commanded all our cavalry and did a great job throughout the battle neutralising and keeping the hoards of enemy cavalry off our flank.

My elite legionaries forming up to leave the encampment.

Super hard legionaries advancing rapidly.

Tigranes’ army begins its attack on the strung out Roman army.

Some nasty looking phalanxes advancing towards a gap in our centre.

To the right of the phalanx we’re several units of imitation legionaries. They may look the part but can they fight?

These next two are of general aspects of the battle, in the centre of the table, but in reverse order. It was a bit of a this way and that way affair, with the legionaries being more than a match for everything that was thrown against them. Good Generalship of course Jim.

My command marching as fast as their legs could carry them as they moved to roll up the enemy left.

Some of Jim’s legionaries 

Now in action against Iranian cavalry.

Our centre.

The phalanx attacked our flank but the Romans were able to turn to face and hold them off.

More of the grinding match in the centre. The legionaries held their own against the enemy cataphracts.

Caught in the flank? The legionaries just shrugged it off.

The end of the battle with my hard marching legionaries about to roll up the enemy flank and attack their rear. Apart from that my command didn’t even unsheathe their swords! 

Well, that was a tense few hours. I thought we were for it when the phalanxes turned up on the flank of our central legions, but they were held and beaten off, as were the cataphracts and other nasty Iranian and Armenian cavalry, who were driven back by the legionaries and ultimately broken. Paul did his job of keeping the enemy cavalry off our left flank, who were worn down and unable to engage effectively, or even ineffectively. Of course my command won the battle by threatening the enemy rear, and with one or two of their commands broken Tigranes the Great fled and a Roman victory was proclaimed.

A tremendous game. In truth my command did nothing as the real fighting was over by the time they were in position to strike at the enemy rear. A hard fought game, great company, lovely figures and an all round great way to spend a Saturday. Thanks to Steve for trekking up from Trentland and putting the game on. I’d forgotten how much I liked Hail Caesar, certainly the better than Pike and Shot and maybe even Black Powder. I do like the break test concept every time a unit has a ‘6’ scored against it rather than an automatic disorder. I have tried that in BP and it worked well so may give it another go sometime.

Next week there’s a big ACW game at the club but I can’t go, so John the Red is coming over for another game. Napoleonic probably……


1 comment:

  1. Looks like great fun! I think Hail Caesar MkII works really well myself.