|Roman Adamklissi Metope, Istanbul Archaeological Museums|
Last night Craig, Bern, Garry, Justin and I had another Hail Caesar refight, the second battle of Tapae (101 AD), in our series of games fighting Trajan’s Dacian Wars. Justin, new to the rules, watched the game and one of the Roman players (myself) was pretty rusty having been on an extended tour of the Northern and Western provinces for some time.
Tapae was the decisive battle (a victory for Trajan) in the first Dacian War which didn’t end until 102 AD. Trajan built a monument - Tropaeum Traiani (modern Adamklissi in Romania) to commemorate this victory in 109 AD. It’s worth scrolling down this link as all 49 of the remaining metopes from the monument are clickable and expand.
We had five divisions a side and used the following special rules. As the battle took place during a fierce thunderstorm, no bow or torsion artillery may be used. All missile fire is at an additional -1 to hit, and all orders given at more than 12” suffer an additional -1 penalty (even for units with Marauders special rule).
|View of the table|
The game quickly developed into a cavalry engagement on the left flank and the infantry slogging it out in the centre and on the right. In previous games the Sarmatian lancers have been all but unstoppable and one unit quickly rolled the Roman guard cavalry off the table and followed in pursuit. At the same time the Roman Foederati cavalry heavily supported managed to destroy the other unit of Sarmatian lancers and then subsequently charged a Dacian warband.
|Dacian warbands advancing|
|Sarmatian lancers charge forward|
|The infantry on the right close|
|Light cavalry come to blows|
|Sarmatian lancers and Roman cavalry get stuck in|
|The infantry slog it out|
In the centre and on the right the infantry struggle favoured the Dacians initially, forcing the Romans to give ground but then the Romans’ superior armour, sustained values and ‘disciplina’ eventually reversed this situation. Back on the left the Foederati cavalry destroyed one Dacian warband but were then forced to give ground. The victorious Sarmatian lancers now returned to the field. At this point the Praetorian Guards, with Trajan leading from the front, swung around and advanced towards the threatening Sarmatians but did not charge them.
It was time to call it quits with heavy losses on both sides making the game seem a draw but in the last turn the Sarmatians charged Trajan and the Praetorians. Trajan and the Praetorians lost by one and were forced to give ground but a small cavalry unit of Sarmatian skirmishers to their rear blocked their retreat and they were destroyed! This seemed a bit DBX and caused a bit of discussion whether skirmishers or only formed troops should have this effect on other formed troops - especially Trajan with his Praetorians. ‘Them is the rules’ (p.77) was agreed to be the case and the Dacians had snatched victory in the dying stages of game. Thanks to Craig, Bern, Garry and Justin for another fun game which had plenty of interest right until the end.
|Another view of the infantry melee|
|Trajan and 'Praetorians' shortly before their demise|