Monday, 10 January 2011

Trasimene set up - observations / suggestions please

All being well, the Ilkley Lads' demo game for Sheffield Triples (21st & 22nd May 2011) will be the Battle of Lake Trasimene 217 BC. Although I still have plenty of figures to paint for the battle (the bright bits of paper under troops show the footprint of these figures) and some terrain to make, I thought it was time to roughly set out the troops on my table to get an idea of the layout I'll do.

Please forgive the very rough looking hill shapes, the terrain colour and the lake edge (the white strips of card), but eye candy was not my prime concern here. I'll cut out the actual hill shapes (over which I'll throw a green cloth) and make the lake closer to the event. There are no trees on the table either, which will change the look quite a lot.

I think this is the basic layout of the battle I'll use, but if you have any observations or suggestions that would make the game better, I'd like to hear them.

This is the overall deployment. The Romans are centre left and just climbing the hill in the foreground, the Carthaginians are in a crescent surrounding them. The lake is on the extreme left (white card border).

The head of the Roman column. Here the extraordinarii are beginning to climb the hill to engage what they believe is the Carthaginian rear guard of skirmishers. The first Roman legion and first ala have deployed into three line battle formation to support this attack. Hannibal's veteran Spanish and Libyans are lining the hills immediately to the right of their skirmishers.

The Roman column marching up the defile with the Carthaginians lying in wait on their flank. I have decided to include Sempronius' force (remnants of Trebbia) at the rear of the column for a total of 6 Roman legions / ala. They are only mentioned by Livy(and Mark Healey's Osprey?), but I've included them to increase the 'mass' of the column and give the Romans a better chance. The Gauls can be seen occupying the gullies and spurs in the centre of the Carthaginian line, "Zulus, sir, thousands of 'em....."

The rear of the column has entered the defile and the Spanish and Numidian cavalry are deployed to close any escape route to the rear.
OK. So what do you think?
Are the 'terrain lines' about right?
What do you think of the deployments at the head of the column - do they look like a reasonable hypothesis of what would be happening following the initial contact by the extraordinarii?
I've used most of my reference books as sources, picking and choosing the bits I want to use from each. A list of the books can be found in this blog's 'labels' section (see book lists).
Your thoughts please,
Figures are almost all Renegade 28s, The table is 12' x 6'. One figure represents about 60 men (ish).


Caliban said...

Hi James, it looks really good to me, kind of how I imagine it from Connolly's diagram. Do the Romans have a chance at all?


Veni Vidi Vici said...

No its is a suicide job for the Romans (they tried to swim the lake but most drowned).

Caliban said...

Yes, that's pretty much what I thought happened. Are you going to use the game to showcase your own rules?

Cheers again


Hi Paul,

I'll be using a variation of Command & Colors for this one - very little brain power required - which is to the benefit of all at a two day show (especially, after an overnight stop over, on Sunday morning!)

SoA Shows North said...

Trasimene at Triples.

Sounds good to me ... starting the year with an ancients game again!

Looking forward to it.

Phil Steele

Ray Rousell said...

Looks great

Paint-In said...

Not sure bout the Numidians in hot pursuit.... Sort of strange to see these guys following the column from the rear ? Being the eyes and ears you would expect them to be in front more or less playing the "bait". Just a "feeling" not based on any historical readings or so. All else absolutely superb.


Hi Paint-in,

There is little doubt that Hannibal used the Numidians and Spanish to close the base of the trap and prevent the Romans from retreating back the way they had come. (according to Polybius, Livy, etc.)

He used them in this way because they were his most reliable cavalry (they had to be cavalry to do it swiftly) and he could not rely on the Gallic cavalry to fulfill the role.

Although light cavalry by nature, unable to withstand the shock of heavy cavalry (such as Roman) in melee combat, Numidians were aggressive and quite able to pin down infantry and nimbly able to frustrate heavier cavalry by evading their charges and enveloping them once disordered. They were deadly - so much so that, later, Scipio invested a great deal of time, energy and personal risk to seperate them (through diplomacy) from Carthage before he invaded Africa. Their defection was a telling factor at Zama.

Also, the Romans were marching in column and there would be much baggage at the rear. I have not featured the baggage (space precludes) but it would be a prime target of 'raiding cavalry' and its destruction would form a barrier to mass movement of troops until the bulk of the Carthaginian army got stuck in.

It might look odd, but that's where they were.

michael said...

I get confused on what a "demo" game is. In the US a demo game is where you set up the game an folks can come along a play. In the UK it means something else, I think.

The problem with Trasimene as a game (demo or participation) is that the players know it is a trap and will act accordingly. You will need to be careful how you manage that game and what restrictions you place on the Roman players. If you put too many restrictions on the Romans, what's the point of the game?

The Trebia would be a much better game to demo at a show IMHO.

Trasimene could be a good game just don't expect the Carthaginians to win without some sort of special umpire intervention. Having said all that, it will look spectacualar!

Mike B

Guidowg said...

Looking fantastic.
So when are you coming to Perth??? :`)


Hi Mike,

UK shows tend to have more 'to watch' games (demo) than 'to play' (participation) games.

This, IMHO, is due to this being a small island with lots of gamers who can easily find regular opponents locally. There are at least a dozen players within 5 miles of me, hundreds within 20 miles (though I don't know them all!). Consequently, people go to British shows to look and buy, rather than play - most spending only 2 - 4 hours in the venue.

The Ilkley Lads always advertise their games as 'demos' though we frequently let, and encourage, some 'punters' join in (most don't have the time). The only thing we don't like is being used as a child minding service. At Leeds last year a wargamer asked if his 5 kids could roll some dice, "of course they can" we said, he then buggered off for about an hour and a half - the kids were mostly under 9s. The kids were great, and no problem but.... It's not the first time we have been used like this, and we think it a liberty.

Trebbia, was my first thought for a game. It's one of my favourite Punic battles. However, I thought it might be interresting to do an army sized ambush - you don't see many. Also the terrain (for visual effect) is totally boring at Trebbia - a treeless flat plain with a small river. Our aim is to inspire gamers with a visual feast - how successful we are I'll leave to others to judge.



that's some drive - will you pay the petrol? LOL.

A hotel would be nice too.


Prufrock said...

This will look spectacular, James. It's a tricky situation though - do you have any ideas about how to make the game more interesting for the Roman player?

If you're using your C&C:A variant would you perhaps look at using relative rather than real victory conditions? In this way, the Roman players could get a technical victory if they performed better than in the historical encounter, even though one would assume they will lose the battle on the field.

Perhaps you could employ a variable game ending by introducing a 'morale break' mechanism for the Romans, and once that is reached tote up VPs to find which side is the (relative) winner. Obviously, if the Romans triumph on the field there would be no need for such petty measures :)

Look forward to seeing this project develop.



Hi Aaron,

Peter J. and I did away with C&C victory conditions some time ago. The game works well until you need just 1 or 2 more flags, then any realistic tactical plan goes out of the window and you just look for the 'easy wins'.

I was planning on setting victory conditions for the Romans by counting the units that escape. A 'battlefield victory' will be probably be impossible for them.