The Roman forces faced a humiliating defeat at the Caudine Forks in 316 BC. Despite this defeat, the Samnites were the ones to be unsettled. The Romans were incensed to fight on to regain their honor. However, the prospect of continuing the war took time and the “Caudine Pax” took hold. Despite an official peace, the war still boiled around the edges.
In 315 BC the war started in earnest again. He war raged on until 304 BCE. During this time, the Roman army evolved from the Phalanx formation into the Manipular Army of the Triplex Acies. There were any number of battles and skirmishes between the two sides and their allies. Besides local Italian tribes and city-states, the Etruscans also became embroiled in the war between 312-308 BCE. It was a Pan-Italian conflict. The winner would be poised to control northern and central Italy.
Conquest! Rome in Italy is a derivative of the Men of Bronze engine with special rules and units to help match the flavor of combat in ancient Italy. These rules cover a long period of time fromt eh founding of Rome until the Pyrrhic Wars. The rules are still a Work-in-Progress, but those familiar with Men of Bronze will have a general idea of the rules being used here. Since I ma int eh testing phase, behold my amazing paper template armies in action!
You can read all about a previous battle of the Great Samnite War here.
Rome had a three part strategy to contain the threat of the threat of the Samnites.
- Isolate them them from their potential allies
- Colonize deep into their territory
- Beat them on the battlefield
As part of this strategy, the Romans had to establish and build colonies deep in Samnite territory. Naturally, the Samnites did not appreciate this move to enter their territory. When possible, they would raid and attack these settlements. Roman troops would try to drive them away and secure the settlements. Many such battles will be lost to history as they were not recorded, but if Rome's settlements were destroyed, her three part strategy to defeat the Samnites would be for nothing.
Today's battle will be a Roman column coming to defend a settlement but the Samnite have all ready ransacked it and are waiting for them.
1 Drilled Hoplite
2 Drilled Infantry- Pila
2 Warband Infantry
This is a Recon-In-Force scenario. The Romans are the Attackers and trying to find survivors from the Samnite raid in the ruins of the settlement. There are six counters on the board, some are even and some are odd. The Romans are trying to touch and reveal 2 even number tokens of the 6. The Samnites are going to try to stop them. They have 8 turns.
The Romans are lined up with the skirmishers on their right in a grove of trees. Then the Principes, Triarri, and the Hastati on the Roman Left. The Samnites are lined up with velites on their left across from the Roman Skirmishers. Then both units of drilled infantry, then the warband infantry, followed by the rest of the Velites.
The ruins are difficult terrain, and the fields are not.
The board has several ruins and 6 counters scattered near the middle. These counters are the objectives. The Romans want to hold two even ones by the end of the 8th turn.
The Samnites generate 6 Honor points to the Roman 5. Neither side bids to go first. The Romans win the roll off.
The Roman skirmishers use an Honor Point to move through the difficult terrain of the grove as skirmishers. There is a general advance across the Roman battle line, but none of the units form Legion.
On the Samnite side, the same general advance occurs.
This time, the Romans bid 1 to go first. They are unopposed by the Samnites.
Immediately, the Roman skirmishers rush forward and reveal an objective. It is a five, they find nothing of value in the ruins. The Hastati see the Velites on their side of the battle line lurking near an objective by the groves, and they form a Legion unit and advance. The second Hastati stays in open order as they approach the ruins in the center of the board. The Principes also form legion and advance seeing the Samnite horde across from them. The Triarri move to back them.
The Samnites do not attempt to interrupt. Samnite Velites use an Honor Point to skirmish up into the ruins to deny it to the Roman skirmishers. Meanwhile, the Drilled and Warband infantry continue their advance, they are not going to let the Romans claim any more easy objectives. The last Velites stay camped near the final Objective and wait for the Roman Hastati to come for it.
Again, neither side bids to go first, and the Romans win the roll-off.
The Romans press forward, led by their legion of Principes. The triarri move behind them and form up at a slight angle, moving to secure the large ruins the Samnite Velites are in. The Skirmishers just consolidate around their objective, not wishing to engage the enemy forces yet. The Hastati also advance, with the loose formation lagging behind the formation in Legion.
The Samnites have their Velites secure their position in the Large ruins and the grove on their right, safely defending Objectives with their missile fire. Meanwhile, the Warband infantry press into the center ruins to deny easy objectives and possible secure flank positions. Finally, one of the Drilled Infantry units steps forward to challenge the Principes.
The Romans are running out of time. They will need to move quicker to secure some Objectives. Again, neither sides bids to go first, but the Samnites win the foll-off. They are in no rush to move into Roman charge range. The Samnites make some slight adjustments to their lines, as time is on their side. They are content to let the Romans come to them!
The Romans grimace and move forward, they know time is against them and they are moving into the Samnites attack range. The real battle is about to start.
The Samnites bid 2 to the Roman 0. They will be going first.
They start by declaring a charge with their Drilled Infantry who are also using a Pila attack on the Principe. The Principes decide to counter-charge and Pila attack as well. The Romans lose one Courage, but completely route the Drilled Infantry in the process. The Romans then try to steal the Initiative, but fail. However, a flank charge in support by the Samnite Warband also hits the Principes and reduces them another Courage and forces them to be disordered. However, they will also be routed with the Drilled Infantry.
The Velites on the right fall back into the woods, while the Velites on the right charge into the Roman Skirmishers. The Skirmishers try to evade, but it is not far enough. The fighting pushes the skirmishers back and causes the Romans to fall into disorder. However, both sides took casualties.
The Roman Hastati charge the warband infantry in the center ruins. However, the terrain forces them out of Legion formation. The Samnite warriors manage to push back the young Romans and cause 1 Courage loss.
The Roman Triarri keep marching to their objective, as do the Hastati on the Roman left. The Samnite Velites melt before their approach.
The remaining Samnite Drilled infantry passes their morale check after seeing their comrade defeated by the Roman Principes.
With their loses, the Samnites only generate 4 Honor Points to the Roman 5. The Romans need to recover their Principes before they get charged and bids 3 Honor points. The Samnites also bid 3. The Samnites win the roll-off.
The Samnite Drilled Infantry immediately declare a charge which will use their Pila. The Romans are disordered and can not spend Honor Points to Counter-Charge or use their own Pila this time. It is a bloody fight in the center. The Principes are pushed back and the Triarri behind them get caught up in the melee as well.
The Samnite Velites and the Roman skirmisher continue to battle to a stalemate in the edge of the ruins.
The Hastati in the center ruins and the Samnite Warband are at a standstill with neither side gaining the advantage.
Finally, the Hastati on the Roman left manage to charge into the Velites in the woods and push them back. The Velites took two Courage loss and the Romans none. However, the Romans are no longe rin Legion due to the terrain.
With everyone in melee, both sides hold on to their Honor Points for re-rolls and the like. Samnites win the roll-off.
The battle turns for the Samnites as the Drilled Infantry in the Center manages to put the main Roman force to rout! The Principes and Triarri decide to run for it in the confusion of the battle. The Samnite Velites also manage to rout the Roman Skirmishers.
Meanwhile, the battle in the center ruins and continues to be a stalemate. However, on the Roman left, the Hastati are whittling away the Samnite Velites to secure the objective. Next turn they should have it.
The Hastati units pass their Collapse test.
Turn 8- Final Turn:
The Samnites have 4 Honor Points and the Romans 2. The Samnites bid 1 to go first and win the initiative.
The Drilled Infantry and Velites on the Samnite left try to swing around to support their colleagues. However, they will not get their in time to make a difference.
On the Roman Left, the Hastati route the Velites!. They mange to find some Roman colonists hiding in the woods. That is one even objective!
In the center, it is a stalemate again. The Roman Hastati have been denied their objective there. That's the game. The Samnites have won the battle, but at a terrible cost.
The Samnites won. However, I am still unsure if the Roman Legion rules are overpowered or not. When the Principes routed the Samnite Drilled Infantry in one round by dealing 5 Courage loss to 1 Courage lost in return, I was a bit nervous. However, the additional flank charge and managing to disorder them to lose the legion rules really mattered. To break a unit in Legion, the Pila rule is a must.
I also learned that the Samnites must make use of terrain in a defensive manner to boost their own Armor ratings and to deny the Romans their Legion rules. They also have to make use of the flanking and support attacks. If they do that, they can beat the Romans as they greatly improve their own sticking power.
In this scenario, time was not on the Roman's side. The Samnites had the luxury of delay and stalling, while the Romans did not. They had to move aggressively, and that allowed the Samnites to set the terms of the battle. Overall, a good time.
Perhaps next time I play Conquest! Rome in Italy I will try out some of the other army lists such as Etruscans vs Romans? The Etruscans did get involved in the Great Samnite War as allies of the Samnites. We will have to wait and see what happens.