Fred proposed to play a game of Hail Caesar and base it on the battle of Zela (47 BC), Caesar against Pharnaces II, king of Pontus. The battle after which Caesar send his victory letter to Rome that included the executive summary: veni, vidi, vici.
Our game was loosely based in the battle. The early imperial romans were pressed into service as marian romans and the mithridatic army contained an overrepresentation of the gallatian contingent simply because I have many warband types. For the scenario we used to hasty attack from FoW with the romans as defenders.
We used oversized greek gods for objective markers and these were spread out so that the romans needed to cover a wide area. Still, with halve the army on table in prepared positions combined with the stream meant that they had a good position. Pharnaces deployed the phalanx and imitation legionaries on table and the gallatians were in reserve.
In the first turns the romans shifted the legions a bit in order to better face up to the position of Pharnaces who initially advanced. Skirmishers were send to shoot at the romans across the stream and the phalanx advanced until they reached the origin of the stream. There Pharnaces thought that advancing further would expose his right flank to much and so he stayed put.
In the mean time the gallatians started to arrive behind the phalanx. Also the romans reserves were arriving and they used this to further consolidate their line. The idea with the gallatians was to turn the units towards the left and in a column of units advance in a great outflanking move towards the roman right flank. Good idea!? in practice it proved very complicated. We found out the hard way that a piecemeal arrival of reserves is a time-consuming affair. The first three units were send ahead one move, the next units arrived and with a couple of turns with 9s for command dice turned the gallatian command in a long fragmented traffic jam. Because not much was going on between the phalanx and romans we were able to quickly play many turns. However, combining all the units of gallatians in one advancing column such that they could be controlled by a single group order proved impossible.
Then one of those moments occurred that turn man like Julius Caesar into accidental geniuses, only because he is the one writing the report. The romans players had the random thought: why don’t we cross the stream? This thought felt good and so they did. Good command dice and the roman legions swept the skirmishers from pharnaces running to the rear evading the romans. This opened the approach towards the flank of the phalanx and all of a sudden the pressure was on pharnaces. With the gallatians still trying to sort out their “brilliant” outflanking move things looked ugly for pharnaces. A unit of imitation legionaries was send to cover the flank of the phalanx, but they inly showed why they are referred to as imitation.
Eventually the whole roman line advanced and charged the phalanx and other imitation legionnaires. The next turn the romans were able to charge in a unit of legionaries into the flank of the phalanx. The gallatian commander took a desperate measure and ordered a “follow me” on his most advanced unit. This allowed him to charge the flank of a unit of legionaries. It was not to be and the legionaries only fell back, simply to be replaced by a next an fresh unit that charged the now exposed gallatian warband. In the mean time the phalanx was destroyed as well as the remaining imitation legions of pharnaces. Again Caesar could write home: veni, vidi, vici.