Since I got enough painted to make a 500 point army for Impetus, I played a game against JP's imperial Romans.
Unfortunately, JP demonstrated in short order why the Marian reforms were a good idea for the Roman army - he trounced me completely, losing only a single base of his own in the process!
I deployed in three commands - a block of two legions in the middle, then a legion with supporting cavalry on each flank.In the centre I had the principes behind the hastati to allow for line relief (the two can swap places during the game if they are one in front of the other). On the flanks I had them in line to cover more ground. The triarii were to the rear and I intended to use them to plug gaps.
JP also deployed in three commands - a single, very long line of legionaries in the middle with a small group of auxiliaries covering his left flank, a group of barbarians and all of his cavalry on the right.
I advanced the infantry on mass, moving them slowly to avoid them becoming disordered. JP came towards me more quickly, but was able to reorder his lines before we closed.
Then it all went wrong for me - JP's cavalry outmaneuvered my infantry on the left and kept up a hail of javelins that I couldn't do much about. Because he had brought his barbarians in close as well I couldn't turn to face one without being flanked by the other, and my left flank started to crumble.
On the right, I sent two bases of cavalry against the two auxiliaries, and caused some damage with javelins. However, I'd chosen the moment to attack poorly and charged between two hills - so I couldn't bring in any infantry in support and after the initial shock the auxiliaries got their act together and saw off the cavalry.
This left my two legions in the centre, with the remains of the right flank command. JP was now able to throw in his legions, as cavalry and more auxiliaries started to turn my flank. It was only a matter of time before I beaten (although this was helped out by some shocking dice rolls on my part). To add insult to injury, I'd kept the second wave too close to the first, so as the first waves fell back they disordered the rear and caused more casualties.
All in all a very poor showing, but I learnt a few things:
- I need to remember that units fall back when they take damage in combat and plan accordingly (that just came from my not having played Impetus in a while and forgetting the rule)
- A flank attack is a good idea, but it needs space to harrass the enemy and needs to be it's own command that works together. Crucially I need to not mind losing this group - Roman cavalry is pretty fragile. I think I'm going to add more of it to give some more survivability.
- I need to have a plan and stick to it! My original plan was to sit back and wait for JP to come to me - which I think he might have done in bits and pieces if I'd lured him with a feint somewhere. Instead I abandoned that and moved forward, getting in my own way.
- If I'm going to use triarii as a reserve (not a bad idea as they can move obliquely without automatically disordering themselves), I need to allow them space to move up without blocking the advance of other units.
So, some things for me to try next time there at least...