Tuesday 8 November 2016

The Battle of Trebbia 218 BC using To The Strongest [Edit]

Following an email from Simon Miller, pointing out that there is a new army list for Polybian Romans, I have edited this post with new photos and a slightly different set up. I have also added a few scenario notes, making this short post a little fuller.

I have been pondering marking my main table cloth with squares for To the Strongest rules for some considerable time. I have also been pondering what size of squares I would use, considering my unit footprints, because my unit footprints wouldn't allow the full eight squares cross table that the rules recommend. However, after a brief exchange of emails with Simon (author of TTS) he confided that seven squares across would be perfectly fine for all but battles involving two cavalry armies. Indeed, he admitted that many early stage play test battles were successfully fought on tables only six squares across - that swung it and I went for seven 25cm (10 inch) squares across table. My infantry unit footprints are based on four 6 cm stands, so when lined up, units will form an almost contiguous front.

I have marked the squares at the intersections (corners) with dots in dark green acrylic ink. They are easily visible, they are 2 mm - 3 mm diameter, but only when you are looking for them - for some reason the eye doesn't pick them up when scanning the armies. The dots, in the pictures below, are not the bits of 'scrub'.

The Ilkley Lads have played a lot of To The Strongest in Graham's wargame room, so we are now very familiar with the rules. They are incredibly fast play, so a I'm fairly confident that a battle this size can be easily fought out in an evening (2-3 hours). There are quite a few figures, but not that many units - both units are deployed in the confines of a thirteen squares wide by two squares deep deployment zones, separated by two squares. 

It is interesting to note that if the table was eight squares across the Romans would be deployed one square further forward and the back row would feature the Trebbia river.

We will play a couple of special scenario rules, effecting the Romans, to give this battle a little more historic feel . This will make winning the battle difficult for the Romans so the game victory condition is for them to break through the Carthaginian line, and get off the Carthaginian table edge, with more than eight units of heavy infantry. 

The set up from behind the Roman right.

I have used the Osprey book The Roman Army of the Punic Wars 264 - 146 BC by Nic Fields for the basic orbats and deployments. The battle was fought on a treeless plain, so it's pretty easy to set up.

The Roman Army deployed as though it has made one move towards the Carthaginians - historically they attacked, and this deployment creates a clear row of squares behind the Roman army. The Carthaginians will get the first move in the game proper.
The Carthaginian horde.

Trebbia has elephants! Trebbia is the only 2nd Punic War pitched battle in Italy where elephants were present. All but one of the elephants Hannibal brought over the Alps died  in the days following the battle - they died of the cold. He was resupplied with a few elephants at some point - they were used at Capua - but for something so famous, they were very little used (in Italy).
Trebbia was fought on a treeless plain. Nevertheless Hannibal found a steeply banked watercourse, overgrown with brambles, somewhat behind the Roman lines in which to hide an ambush party. It consisted of his best Spanish and Numidian troops (veteran status). It was led by his brother Mago, who later timed his attack into the Roman rear to perfection. Consequently, from turn 3 Mago and his troops can arrive anywhere on the Roman baseline, drawing an activation chip to do so - note they will arrive on an Ace but the activation will immediately end.

Hannibal rides before his battleline - he will be Heroic and Brilliant. Spanish and Gauls in deep units - these are 72-ish figures strong.

I will do a brief report on the game later in the week.


Norm said...

A very nice line-up. I am looking forward to the write-up (I like grids).

Jonathan Freitag said...

James, you always field the most impressive set ups!

BigRedBat said...

OMG that is impressive!

I had been planning a big upgrade to my own Polybian forces - but even with that they would look a bit skirmish-ey next to yours. ;-) How many do you have there?

I will drop you a line shortly.

Sgt Steiner said...

Very interested in your AAR for a set of rules I have had since publication but not got around to trying (mainly due to 'dot' factor)

Bruce Roeder said...

Beautiful work!

Phil said...

Most impressive set up, wonderful pictures!

Paul "TuffSkull" T. said...

Impressive doesn't quite cover it - like all your set ups and collections, this is most inspirational. I'm in the process of completing a 300-strong Roman collection I've been working on for the last few months, but as someone said above that makes for a mere skirmish! !

artourious said...

MY sort of warfare gameplay........

roma912 said...

Simply stunning!

Dave Smith said...

Beautiful! TtS are our fave set of rules, but currently played in 15mm on a 10cm grid cloth from the Bat Cave. Have you worked out the number of points per side?


I haven't worked out points per side. I'm currently working on a blog post following what was learned by the game last Wednesday. It will include a few scenario changes, a better worked out OOB, and a deployment map - I'll also include a points tally.

Warren said...


Stunning as ever. As you know you are directly responsible for my 15mm Punic Wars collection, the Romans stand at about 550 figures so far!

Keep up the inspiration please

Christopher(aka Axebreaker) said...

Very impressive comes to mind.