Tuesday 30 December 2014

2014-12-28 Hail Caesar - Rome vs Celts

On Sunday I had the delight of attending an irregular gathering of the Muffin Club, an off shoot of the Conwy Wargames Club.

The founder and host, Paul put on a 28mm Imperial Rome vs Celts game using Hail Caesar rules.

The Romans had wrecked a Druidic temple and the locals were not happy. Enough was enough and the locals had turned up to make the Romans go home. The Romans naturally wanted to civilise them.

8ft x 4ft flat heath land with a track yet to be paved by the Romans running up the middle. The aforementioned ruined temple was on the table edge.



Div 1 Army Commander 8

1st Cohort - large, drilled, elite, stubborn, tough fighters, testudo
2nd Cohort - all other cohorts standard Roman legionaries - drilled, testudo
3rd Cohort
4th Cohort
5th Cohort
Scorpion battery

Div 2 General 8

6th Cohort
7th Cohort
8th Cohort
9th Cohort
Scorpion battery

Div 3 General 8
1st Auxiliary - HI
2nd Auxiliary - HI
3rd Auxiliary - HI
1st Auxiliary Heavy Cavalry


All warbands Wild Fighters

Div 1 Army Commander 8
6 x Celtic warbands 
2 x Celtic warbnads with Druids
1 x small unit of javelin skirmishers
1 x small unit of slinger skirmishers

Div 2 General 8
2 x Celtic warbands
4 x light horse
2 x small light horse skirmishers

Div 3 General 8
2 x Celtic warband
3 x Chariot units
1 x small unit of javelin skirmishers

The Game

Paul graciously agreed to umpire, I chose to be Roman and Dave was the Celts. I've never won with the Romans and I have never beaten the Romans, but since I normally pick the Celts I thought I'd play something different. All of us had played the rules but Dave and I were a bit rusty. Dave perhaps more than I.

I always feel a bit of pressure playing Romans as they need a bit of thought to get the best out of them and historically they did quite well.

I decided on a tactic to cope with being out numbered by refusing my flanks and creating a solid battle line. I placed Div 1 on the right as it's their honoured position. They were deployed in 2 rows. The other Divisions were deployed one behind the other in single unit line, with the Auxiliaries in front to take the first Celtic charges. I would lose the Auxiliaries quicker this way but they would tire the Celts ready for the fresh legionaries behind.

The Celts massed their chariots on one flank and the cavalry on the other with infantry in between. Their divisions were in 2 rows with the army generals division in the centre.

Turn 1
Celt's 2nd Div on their right. My left just in view.

Celtic centre held by the 1st division

Celtic left held by the 3rd division

Celtic horde left, Romans on the right

Romans battle line with Div 1 on the left and then 3 in front of 2. The 2nd Div Scorpions on lined up with the 2nd division.

The temple the Romans wrecked earlier.

I won the initiative and fired my scorpions to no effect. My idea was to force the Celts to advance and hope they would separate the divisions allowing me the chance to isolate one and break it. The Celts first move was to advance all skirmishers. The chariots could skirmish but stayed formed, as did the light cavalry.

First shot of the scorpions on the left flank push back the Celtic javelin men disordered.
Turn 2

I forgot to use initiative moves and then promptly failed a command to charge my cavalry at the Celtic  horse skirmishers.  I wanted to do this to allow a general advance next turn to close the gap. It was clear Dave was going to nibble my flanks before committing his warbands and I had no skirmishers to reply. In effect he had negated my tactic and was forcing me to move.

Spotted Celts ready to make a quick get away. My appeal to the umpire to penalise such cowardice fell on deaf hears.

Dave's mounted javelin men shake my scorpion battery and push it back.
 Turn 3

This time I used initiative moves and charged my heavy cavalry in to the mounted javelin men who evade. I also moved up my 9th Cohort so that it could get in to a support position next turn.

Dave's javelin finally gets in to range last turn and discover I can throw pilum just as far as he can throw javelins causing him a casualty. I save my hits.

End of my turn 

Celtic slingers advance and loose causing a casualty

One unit of mounted javelin men pursue the pushed back scorpions while the previously pushed back  mounted javelins move to the side and support the charging light cavalry who additional supported by another light cavalry unit. I cause 4 casualties but lose the combat and the break test and my heavy cavalry flee the field.
Turn 4
My previous missed opportunity to use initiative moves have given me an advantage coupled with the Celtic war-bands hanging back. A clearly can't allow the Celtic skirmishers to whittle me down and I need to advance.. My infantry can't charge cavalry without becoming disordered but I can through pilum at them at short range. I swing my 2nd division of legionaries around and march to my flank. I can't quite make a 2 deep and 2 across battle line line but my short range missile attack routs a light cavalry unit. and pushes back another. Now I can see from the photo that one of the light cavalry, that so far from my pictures hasn't yet engaged, has a hit token. How this token was scored I can't remember. I may have missed out a turn in the all the excitement. 

The Auxiliaries advance, as do the out of shot 1st Division 
Turn 5 or is it 6 
This photo is the aftermath of bloody melee. Dave had moved 1 warband to support his line of cavalry. My 2nd Division formed a 2 unit wide and 2 deep battle line, chucked pilum with one unit and the right hand unit charged the newly arrived warband. The result was another light cavalry routed by pilum chucking and the warband ran away, after losing and then being attacked again by  the Romans using their sweeping advance order then passing their disorder test to attack again at full strength. Dave's left wing division had now lost more than 50% of its units and was broken. For the rest of the game it would be obliged to retreat out of the way of formed units. It could still fight if attacked and use ranged attacks but for the purposes of the Romans defeating the Celts it was gone. The Romans now needed to destroy one more division to win.

The Auxiliary charge doesn't have enough legs to charge home but skirmish at short range instead causing casualties.

The grand advance of the 1st Division. A unit of chariots has been forced off table by skirmish attacks. It's not destroyed and can return when ordered too, but will count as destroyed if I can kill enough units on the table to bring the division to over 50% strength. Dave now realises his danger and forms one unit of chariots into skirmish line before failing a command test resulting in the rest of the division staying still. The advantage of the chariots in skirmish line is that they can move around easily. Chariots are like cavalry and infantry are disordered charging them, but are brittle if they sit tight and get hammered by my pilum chucking, and they definitely want to avoid melee against my front.

My victorious 2nd division ...

... did I mention they'd broken a Celtic division

.... rather enjoying the gaps where Celts used to be
Turn 7 ish
Another after melee shot. At this point my Auxiliaries had fought the Celtic centre and held. 2 cohorts from the 2nd Division charged the Celtic centre in flank. We all forgot about incidental contact but the Roman victory was so large 2 warbands broke taking a Druid with them. If we'd got it right there was a danger  my lead attacking unit on the flank could have been disordered. Using sweeping advance again and passing the disorder the test the victorious Roman legionaries from 2nd Div hit the Celtic centres' centre in flank. This time we worked out the combat correctly. My centre Auxiliaries were pushed back, Celts being helped by  Druid who was wounded in the process. The centre Celts turned to face the legionaries attacking their flank.


The Celts had recovered their missing chariot unit and everyone went in to skirmish order to avoid the  legionaries and maneuver to attack from the rear.  Their supporting warbands saw no choice but to charge to ensure they got their charge bonus. This they did bravely but the 1st Division won and they lost their break tests and fled. This left the Celtic 3rd division 1 unit away from breaking. Meanwhile the Celtic 1st Division in the centre needed 2 units destroying before it would break.  The Romans however had only lost 1 unit. The Auxiliaries needed to 2 units to be destroyed or 1 more to be shaken to be deemed broken. The legionary divisions need 3 cohorts each to be destroyed. At this stage the Celts through in the towel and admitted defeat. 

The Celtic chariots bottled up in a corner and the Celtic centres left flank open for a charge by legionaries.

Very pretty Wargames Factory Celtic chariots.

Warlord Games legionaries

The centre action. All Warlord Games plastics.

Dave's defeated general


Great game. My first win with Romans. My dice was great and didn't fail me during the game. After a rocky start where my lack of plan was saved by Dave;s tactics giving me a chance to come up with one. If perhaps Dave had used his light horse and chariots in open order from the start then the result would have been different. The Romans would definitely have suffered more casualties from missile fire and opportunities for flank and rear attacks would have presented themselves. In open order these Celtic units could have been easily maneuvered to support their warbands giving some extra dice in attack and defense. 

I enjoyed Paul's umpiring because when the battle gets exciting I certainly forgot rules that would be useful to either side and I like to play fair. Each time a rule was pointed out I remembered it which was great but I wouldn't have if it had not been mentioned. Hail Caesar as always provided an entertaining game which was fluid and needed thought.

Thanks to Paul for hosting and providing tea and muffins and to Dave for being a great opponent.