Saturday, 27 December 2014

Big Harry Scutum's Holding Action

In this battle a Roman vexillatio of 3 x cohorts of Roman legion under the command of Maximus Horatio Scutum (known to the Britons as 'Big Harry') has to fight a holding action whilst awaiting reinforcments.

Maximus Horatio (Big Harry) Scutum says: 'Oi, I haven't even had my tea yet!'

I was the commander of the Romans this month as I had commanded the great lime-washed in the previous game.  Ian commanded the Britons.


The Roman raiding detachment of 3 x cohorts has found that their punitive raid on the local tribal villages of the Catuvellauni is not going to plan.  The last few villages have been deserted and as the Romans form up in a clearing they are aware of the sound of drumming of shields and the racket of horns being blown in the woodline opposite them.  The drumming and hornblasts grow louder and the legionaries look around nervously as the noise reaches a crescendo.  Maximus Horatio Scutum, the experienced vexillatio commander reacts quickly - sending off riders down both directions of the military road to summon local reinforcements.  Will the reinforcements come in time to prevent their destruction?

Rules used are 'Hail Caesar'.

My first effort at making a map. This was done with Powerpoint - hopefully one day I'll use the software which I found with the 100 page manual but in the meantime this will do!

Roman's Briefing
You have 3 veteran cohorts as well as a battery of scorpions.  You know there are local auxiliary detachments nearby who can help they will be thrown for from game turn 2.  They will arrive on an escalating role equal or below the game turn number.  ie. 1,2,3 on  D6 in game turn 3, 12,3,4 on game turn 4 so by game turn 6 they will arrive. You don't, however, know the strength of the reinforcements or from which direction they will come from. Big Harry Scutum has a command grade of 8.

Briton's Briefing
Wipe them out.  Turn the tables on the punitive raiding force and defeat them before the reinforcements overwhelm your own forces, Of course you can take on the reinforcements and beat them too.  Should you decide to withdraw your army at any stage with no broken brigades a draw can be claimed.

You have 3 x Brigades:

Brigade 1:   2 x Warband units, 1 x Slinger unit   Commander graded a solid 8.

Brigade 2:  1 x Cavalry unit, 1 x Chariot unit.  Commander graded a solid 8

Brigade 3:  2 x Warband units, 1 x Fanatic (naked!) Warband.  Commander graded an excellent 9

Hopefully this relates to the map clearly enough. This is taken from the left side f the board (left side of map.  Road and hill should assist orientation

Game Turn 1

The Britons deployed their forces from out of the woodline (Ian's edge of the board).  The Roman vexillatio stayed put and put down Scorpion fire.  The bolts tore into the chariot unit causing them to test and making the unit hold their ground.  Any units held up were going to be very helpful for the Romans in staving the Britons off until reinforcements arrived.  No reinforcement throw permitted in this turn though!

Scary noisy buggers with much lime-washed hair

Game Turn 2

The Britons advance their right wing, presumably to allow all their units to hit at once.  The fire of the Scorpion battery scythes into a unit of warband, halting them for the next turn in confusion.

Maximus Horatio (Big Harry) Scutum directs his men to the Military Road

'Watch your left!'

Scorpion fire rips through shields and warband alike

Game Turn 3

The Britons advanced across the board, slowly and for them, steadily.  The Britons left warband brigade was delayed by the tree copse which it had to negotiate.  To allow room for being pushed back. Big Harry Scutum ordered his men to advance up to the military road.  This would also assist in allowing reinforcements to reach them quicker.  A round of pila are launched at the Briton's light cavalry who allowed themselves to get too close.  The pila force the cavalry to retreat.  The Legion commander thought this a satisfactory outcome - so far the whole British tribe was failing against his small vexillatio.  The reinforcement throw was not so good however.

'Prepare Pila!'

Game Turn 4

An advance to contact is made as a Catuvellauni warband charge the Scorpions who had been so troublesome in the early game turns.  The Scorpions and crews are completely destroyed.  The charge of the chariots is beaten off and they pull back together with their supports.  The throw for reinforcements is again a fail - needing anything but 5 or 6 the Romans throw a 6!

The demise of the excellent Scorpions

The courageous charge of the chariots as they are bloodily repelled

Game Turn 5

The battle is now desperate. The Romans had hoped to have bought enough time to gain assistance from their reinforcements before a general engagement took place.  The full weight of the warband attacks now pin the legionaries along their line.  One cohort is pushed back but on the plus side one warband is completely broken. Casualties stack up everywhere with units reaching shaken status up and down the line.  The Roman vexillatio has held magnificently and surely the reinforcements will arrive now to save the day.  Anything but a 6 will lead to their arrival.  The throw is a......6!

 The battle is desperate as the Romans hold on for their lives

...and they are fighting well - a warband bounces back in disorder 

...But the weight of the unrelenting attacks takes it's toll.  The red cohort is forced back, disordered.  The line starts to waver!  

Maximus tries to keep the orange cohort in line

'Hold them....Hooooold them!!!!' The legion are pushed back.

Game Turn 6

The chariots rally and charge back into the fray.  The wavering red Roman cohort  break and flee. The yellow legion which had done so well are forced back.  The orange cohort fights bravely on winning their combat but warbands are now steaming in from their flank.

Oh good news...The reinforcements now automatically arrive...but alas too late. The reinforcements are two units of auxiliary foot and one of cavalry, not enough to repel the Britons - not on their own anyway.

Outflanked! The brave yellow cohort has a horde of warband steaming in on its flank!

An overhead view of the impending disaster

Desperate fighting, but breaking point is moments away...

Here they come - right in from the side

'This is just like the film '" Bridge Too Far"...we are XXX Corps and we get there just in time....oh hang on....!'  

The field clears as the Romans break

And there the game ended.  It really was an excellent game which we both really enjoyed.  The Romans clung on so well and appeared to actually look like winning the game on their own for a few minutes!  Alas they were whittled down in the end until they broke.  If only the reinforcements could have arrived sooner!  Though whether they were strong enough to take on the warband we can only guess.

The rules gave a superb game.  The legionaries are a hard target to break when attacked frontally and only broke when all the factors stacked up against them. The previous game got me back into the Hail Caesar frame of mind and it flowed much more quickly this time.  A few less units this time also meant that I could focus on the detail of fewer actions rather than too many complicated actions. 

All in all - fantastic fun! I am currently painting up the magnificent Foundry 'Gaius Suetonius Paulinus' set hopefully in time for the next game.


  1. Bloomming heck, I read your title as big hairy scrotum at first!. Lovely looking game though.

    1. Hi Paul, Glad you liked the game. Yes I couldn't resist the slightly risque humour. It came about during the game when talking about shields and I thought it great name for a commander! I was tempted to throw some more double entrendres in the post but kept it on the straight and narrow.
      Best wishes,

    2. Good report, and I assumed the commander's name was meant to put us in mind of that which Paul cited above - my long time freind used to call my Spanish Scutarius, "Scrotariums" anyway. I thought Vexillatio had all the potential double entendre potential needed, LOL!

    3. Hi Peter, I will never think of Scutarius in the same way...or vexillatio for that matter! :-)
      Best wishes,

  2. Great looking game and figures, Jason - also being played with my favorite set of Ancient rules too. That PP map looks great and should be very useful. I've used it PP in the past (not so nice as yours though) for game set-up to good results. Happy New Year! Dean

    1. Happy New Year Dean. Thanks for your kind comment. I might be brave enough to try the mapping software sometime but I think I'll need some serious time to suss it out. In the meantime it's going to be Powerpoint which does the job nicely enough.
      Best wishes,

  3. Fantastic report Jason, love these armies and the pictures...great write-up!

    1. Hi Phil,Glad you liked the write up - I wasn't sure if starting off with a double-entendre and risque names in the title might put people off reading! I'm pleased it didn't!
      Best wishes,

  4. Sounds like Big Harry had his hands full on the day!


  5. Hi Aaron,
    Ha ha! Like it! It's true, shame Big Harry couldn't quite pull it off!

    Best wishes,

  6. All the scrotum jokes have been done so can I just ask for clarification on the sheep attack that appears to have taken place in some of the pictures? I read the write up several times and could see no reference to them? Or am I mistaken and it was simply low lying cloud?
    Many thanks, K :)

    1. Ah yes - the fluffy stuff. We also had red-blob jelly fish behind units as you can see - all nasty and aggressive I assure you. It is odd to use the ubiquitous cotton wool disorder marker for ancient games - instead of palls of smoke. I guess it now signifies 'dust-cloud of panic' for the pre-gunpowder era. I should really find something more suitable for this time period.

      Ok that's the wargamey reason....they are sheep - big angry ones - you saw right through it - I threw a double one - sheeps eyes we call it and they came on at the charge - Baaa-ing noisily..... actually I wrote that in jest but that might be fun to do on reflection! :-) :-) :-)