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Author Topic: Lusitanians vs Romans - To The Strongest! battle report  (Read 3141 times)
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James Morris
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« on: August 25, 2016, 05:07:55 PM »

A few nights ago Martin and I met up to remind ourselves how to play To The Strongest! for our demo game at the Hereward show next weekend.  While we're planning an ambush scenario for the show with some suitably mountainous terrain, for our practice game we had to settle for what we could fit on a 6x4' on my kitchen table.


The armies deployed - Romans to the left, Lusitanians to the right.  In the foreground are the goblets containing the Victory Medals - if you lose a unit, you lose one or more medals.  When they are all gone, game over.

I've been doing a lot of reading recently about Viriathus (aka Viriato) and the Lusitanian war of the 2nd century BC/ BCE, so that's what our armies were based on.  One of Viriathus' first actions was to ambush the Roman army of Praetor Vetilius at the battle of Tribola in 147 BC, after which Vetilius was captured and killed (apparently because the Lusitanians did not believe that an old, fat man could be the general...)

We set up a fairly standard ancient battlefield with a few areas of rocky woods towards the flanks.  We decided that the Lusitanians would have the strategem cards 'ambush' and 'flank attack', allowing a couple of units to be left off table.  The Romans forewent any stratagem cards and we got down to playing.

Armies were as follows:
Romans
Praetor Vetilius, commanding two Roman cavalry units
3 Roman detached generals, each commanding a 'legion' of 1 x Triari, 2 x combined units of Hastati/ Principes, 2 x Velites


Romans in battle formation.  You can see the grid here - I've stuck different types of grass/ flock at the corners of each 'box' on my gaming mat.

Lusitanians
Viriathus, commanding two heavy cavalry and one light cavalry unit
3 attached Lusitanian chiefs
3 x Light cavalry
7 x Scutarii
6 x Caetrati
3 x Slingers


...and the Lusitanians.

It all looked very jolly when laid out on the table.

My plan was to draw the Romans forward so I could spring my ambush (a Scutarii unit hidden in a wood on the right flank) and launch a cavalry flank attack on the left.  Martin was trying to keep his line intact and deliberately clung to the cover on my left flank as he had correctly guessed that was where the flank attack was coming from!


Light troops advance to harass each other.  The rings on the back of the cavalry unit are ammunition markers.

Consequently we had a fairly cautious start to the game.  We both sent skirmishers forward, who shot at each other without much effect, but a Roman Hastati/ Principes unit that had advanced a little too far suddenly found itself stripped of its Velites cover.  Although the Lusitanians could not charge its flanks (it was only 1 'box' forward of its flanking units, so they still controlled movement to the flanks - one of the joys of playing a gridded system like TtS is that it is crystal clear what units can and cannot do), they could all shoot at it.  With a decent hand of cards I sent three light units forward, managed to hit it once - unsaved by Martin - then hit it again - also unsaved.  With that, the unfortunate legionaries broke and fled. 


Unsupported Roman legionaries get stuffed by javelin, javelin and sling shot!

Simon Miller has recently been developing the TtS army lists to reflect the new research that has been apperaing in Slingshot.  Basically, the Principes and Hastati, which had previously been separate 'small' units under TtS, are now combined into a single unit, representing the close cooperation between the two lines.  When disordered, the Hastati may (upon a successful Rally check) swap lines with the Principes, which replenishes the pila and increases the unit's armour save.  Had the Lusitanian missile fire failed to break the unit, the Romans would almost certainly have rallied and swapped lines, but the exposed position of the legionaries gave me the chance to finish them off.


Battle is joined all across the table.

Now the Romans started to advance on my right flank and pushed my rather weak command there all the way back to the edge of the table.  I had lost several units there and was hanging on with just a couple of Scutarii warbands.  I decided to spring the unit that was hiding in the wood - huge anticlimax! - as I failed to activate it (ambushing units need a 4+ card to appear), then failed to turn it around.  Martin sent a unit of Velites to sort it out and my hapless Lusitanians spent the rest of the game fending off flank attacks in the wood!


Nothing to see here...poorly planned ambush gets done over by a bunch of Roman teenagers...


Romans on the right flank giving my Lusitanians some trouble, with slingers fleeing to the right.  Miraculously, the warband at the bottom managed to hold on all game!


I'm seeing red!  Agema plastic Romans advance, from Martin's collection.

Fortunately the big hole created by the loss of the Hastati/ Principes unit gave me an opportunity in the centre of the battlefield and I sent as many warbands forward as possible to try to exploit it. 


Supermassive black hole in the Roman lines (well quite small actually), but with a Lusitanian warband busting through (top right)


The Triarii went next after a dreadful armour save card, then Martin sent Praetor Vetilius and his cavalry up to support.  I managed to wheel the Lusitanians round and catch him in the flank, and a long combat ensued with neither side gaining much ground - being disordered but then managing to rally and hold on. However, whenever units with attached generals take hits in TtS, the general has to make a save - usually a 2+.  In the final round, the Roman cavalry took a hit and saved it, but Vetilius managed an impressive Ace (Aces are always low in TtS!) and was cut down!  By now the Victory Medals were running out, and although the Lusitanians were taking casualties, the Romans were worse off.


Anything but an ace, Praetor Vetilius...oh...

On the left flank, my heavy cavalry flank attack had done nothing, but Viriathus had led his bodyguard up to the attack - as a heavy cavalry, veteran unit with a couple of attached heroes, it was hopefully going to do some damage, and it did.  The Romans became disordered, but failed to rally - again - and were finally destroyed and fled from the table.  Two Victory Medals lost from the Romans' cup meant that they were broken, and the game was over. Victory to Viriathus!


Viriathus' chosen men take the fight to the Romans.

It was a really enjoyable game, and took about two and a half hours with plenty of banter inbetween.  Although the 'no rulers, no dice' approach of TtS requires a bit of a mind-shift to start with (for me, anyway), the game itself is elegantly simple.  We didn't have any situations that we felt were unrealistic and really enjoyed the clarity of playing with a grid, thus avoiding those very dodgy 'my unit in front of you and slightly to the side is charging you in the flank' situations that I encountered so many times playing WAB.  We discussed how to run an ambush scenario and have started laying plans for Peterborough.  Looking forward to Hereward!


Game over!  A blow struck for Lusitanian freedom.  Just wait til the Senate hears about this!
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rumacara
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« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2016, 10:21:16 PM »

Lovelly game and miniatures. Love Love
Its very rare to see someone Reading about Viriato.
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TWD
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« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2016, 10:42:24 PM »

Lovely stuff James and Mog
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James Morris
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« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2016, 11:11:29 PM »

Lovelly game and miniatures. Love Love
Its very rare to see someone Reading about Viriato.
thank you! Another good reason to game this fascinating period. Everyone knows about Hannibal and co but very few about Hispania.
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Mithridates1
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« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2016, 01:06:56 AM »

Good to see those lovely figures in action.   Always keen to read accounts with a light hearted touch - those victory goblets are a great idea.   The comment about where best to place markers gives me pause for thought, integral with bases is a good idea.
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Hu Rhu
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« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2016, 09:36:25 AM »

Excellent AAR and some great figures as well.  Nice to see the Spanish get a good outing.  I have to say they are fast becoming my favourite ancient army.
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Normsmith
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« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2016, 09:37:40 AM »

Very nice, are your units on 80mm frontages?
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James Morris
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« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2016, 12:29:24 PM »

Very nice, are your units on 80mm frontages?

Thanks! The Roman hastati, principles and triari are all on 80mm frontages. All others are 120mm.
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MamlukRaider
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« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2016, 05:35:53 PM »

Thankyou for posting the report it was great. Your miniature collections looked great too speaking of which how many Romans would i need to field an army for this system about 100+ or less Smiley
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James Morris
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« Reply #9 on: August 26, 2016, 10:10:44 PM »

Thankyou for posting the report it was great. Your miniature collections looked great too speaking of which how many Romans would i need to field an army for this system about 100+ or less Smiley

That's a really good question. There's no set unit size in TTS, you can play with any number of figures on a base as long as frontages are roughly similar. Our 150 point armies came in around 120 figures for the Romans and 160 for the Lusitanians.  With smaller 120 point armies you're probably looking at 100 figures depending on how you base them. We had skirmishers in bases of 4-8, Roman legionaries in 8s, and Spanish warriors in 12s. All the army lists are free and online for TtS so you can do some calculations before you buy.
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powerfrog99
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« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2016, 01:57:38 PM »

Thanks for sharing I really enjoyed pictuers and story  Smiley Smiley

cheers Thomas

P.S. These unit bases look great, I am really tempted...
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archiduque
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« Reply #11 on: August 28, 2016, 12:34:17 PM »

Excellent game!! Wink
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Happy Wanderer
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« Reply #12 on: November 20, 2016, 10:25:53 PM »

Hi James,

Sorry I missed this post...excellent AAR and a lovely layout and minis as usual - top stuff.

TtS certainly does bring clarity in many respects with the grid. Probably the biggest challenge I think from the games I've seen and played is that for more traditional layouts the trick is getting units to measure into the squares properly ie so you get a continuous battleline of sorts.

 TtS makes this work very well when units 'fit' the box but can create a 'gappy' look when they don't, detracting slightly from the battleline effect. Simon's layouts always look great as his bases match his grid size...to my eye, this is key to maintain the look of the battleline as we perceive it and impart the effect of continuity along the line.

Once again, great stuff.

Cheers

HW

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olicana
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« Reply #13 on: November 22, 2016, 10:05:04 AM »

Great report, thanks.

The new rules for the Romans are much better than before (IMHO), aren't they? They will make the Romans much harder to beat, especially with the 6 / 5 saving throw, which I'll probably downgrade for early battles versus the Carthaginians.

As you said, the grid completely gets rid of the petty squabbles over flanks, angle wangling and distance measuring, and the fact that it is squares rather than hexes (like Command and Colors, which I've also used for miniatures games) gives a good 'straight battle line' ancients feel. The games I've played, in several sub periods, have always been great fun and the basic activation mechanism provides great moments of tension, disappointment and elation in equal measure.

Keep the reports coming,

James R.
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