This Thursday evening saw a 400 point game of Sword and Spear with Early Imperial Roman against the forces of the Pontic King - Mithridates. Rob returned to the earlier Roman list after trialing a later list with large units of impact troops which didn't match his expectations.
The Romans above with their fortified camp. They decided to drop a sub-general hoping that the camp would keep troops in command. The Romans are always wary of being flanked and like to pay a defensive game.
Mithridates can be seen behind two units of pike. These are discipline 5 units and can be hard to motivate to move, charge and they just don't rally. But they are still pike and with 6 hits don't moev too easily.
I was trying my scythed chariots for the first time in this battle. I think they look great but would prefer to have another unit of light cavalry or peltasts for the points.
The Temple of Apollo stands in the background and before it the Pontic left wing. Heavy cavalry backed up with thracian foot and javelinmen. These would try to turn the Roman right. (Sword and Spear is usually always decided on the flanks.)
The early turns saw the Pontic plan materialise. Don't fight the strong Roman centre and work around both sides. My imitation legionaries would try to hold the hill while any bonus dice would drive the scythed chariots into the Roman horse.
Mithridates struggled to get the pike block moving. They weren't too keen to go forward at the Romans in any case. I hoped I could decide the battle elsewhere before most of the Roman legion could march into contact.
The Romans decide to storm the hill ... a little sooner than I hoped.
Those pesky auxilia on the far right had moved into a position which prevent my chariots from smashing into the horse. But, in turn, the horse would have to charge my heavy foot ... then my chariots would thunder in ... what a plan!
Wait for it ...
Blast and bugger ... the Roman horse charged and annihilated the imitation legionaries in a single combat then pursued through ripping apart my chariots before coming to rest on my second line - the Thracians. This medium foot unit bought this monumental charge to a halt inflicting two hits on the horse. There was now a gap in my line. But now Tyche - who had smiled so favourably upon the Romans with this charge deserted them ... from here onwards in the battle they would struggle for good activation and combat dice.
This photo should have been just before ... you can see the gap created by the Roman cavalry as they race onto the hill ... their pursuit will have them impact into the Thracians in seconds.
Here is cavalry versus medium foot. In the background my cavalry has charged into the auxilia on the end of the line. Another Pontic horse unit is moving around the flank. In the distance are two dead cohorts ... I'll describe the fight in the centre soon.
The centre saw two Roman units assault the remaining imitation legion manning the hill. This was the first sign that Fortuna had turned her back on the Romans. Two cohorts charged and both recieved three hits for their trouble. When Mithridates goaded a pike unit into charging the Roman cohorts their final hit was taken. Now the Roman flank was in danger.
This is quite simply going to hurt ... the Roman line was being rolled up.
One Roman cavalry unit against 4 Pontic units ... it didn't last long. Six Roman units had routed from their Right flank. The battle was drawing to a close.
The Pontic right flank executed the plan very well. They were deployed far out in a position to ride around the Romans and threaten their camp. The Roman general committed three units to try and prevent this and it also delayed the advance of several other cohorts who were wary of exposing their flank if the Sarmatians turn back into the fray rather than continue to flank the Romans.
This is what they did and their ferocious fighting qualities soon won over the Romans whom the dice gods had cursed.
And thus it ended ... a steadfast cohort was caught in the rear by Sarmatians and flanked by more imitation legionaries. In the rear can be seen two Roman units who were simply left in the dust after trying to guard the camp against a more mobile enemy strike force.
The Romans were decisively defeated. Pontic losses consisted of one pike block and one imitation legionary unit. The cavalry advantage of the Pontic army is hard for the Romans to deal with ... especially if deploying in the centre of the table. Trying to defend the fortified camp was also probably a flaw as the additional cohorts could have decided the contest in the centre. There was only a one unit advantage for the Pontic force over the Romans but both their flanks were turned. After an early incredible charge things did not go the way of the Romans. A comely goat should be sacrificed to Fortuna at once. Mithridates and his Pontic force will rejoice at humbling the greatest empire in the world ... the last heir of Alexander has triumphed. Rematch in a fortnight.