The Battle of Watling Street 61AD – a Black Powder Scenario
(All page references unless stated otherwise are taken from Hail Caesar Britannia, Rome’s Invasion of Britain)
|View from the Right shoulder of the Roman defile down to Watling Steet|
|The Iceni Warbands|
Wedge Formation – Romans only. Free move on failed order. Counts ‘front’ all round to attacks and own ranged attacks, +1 morale save, cannot support nor be supported, can make own attacks all round, enemy giving ground to front are burst through, can make 3 moves when enemy break or are burst through. A wedge can only move forward. (Hail Caesar, pp.106-107)
(We all took advantages of lulls in the battle to fuel up and keep hydrated, but for Philip it appeared the battle was one long lull!)
Command and Signal
Praefects of Auxiliaries (May only command Auxies) Leadership 8 (p.24)
Legio 7 7 3 0 4+ 6 Drilled, Pilum, Testudo
Auxies 6 6 3 0 5+ 6
Archers 3 3 2 2 5+ 4 Small unit
Bolter 1 1 2 2 0 3
Drilled – Free move on failed order. Move through or out of way of friends without risk of disorder.
Britons – Iceni and Trinovantes
Boudicca, Queen of the Iceni Leadership 9
Unit Clash Sustained SR LR Morale Stamina Special
Large War’d 11 8 3 0 5+ 8 Wild Fighters
Warband 9 6 2 0 5+ 6 Wild Fighters
Skirmishers 3 2 2 0 0 4 Small unit
Lt. Chariots 6 5 4 0 4+ 6
Medium Cav 8 5 3 0 5+ 6
Lt. Cav 7 5 3 0 6+ 6
Wild Fighters – Re-roll missed combat attacks in the first round of the game (and half of missed attacks after first recall)
As the Roman C in C I first set up the Romans in a rather loose formation, thinking to allow our cavalry room to launch disruptive attacks on the British masses as they moved across the valley below. However I was soon politely but firmly told by my Legate Thomas that this was the height of folly and that what was required was a good tight line with all Legion units shoulder to shoulder in mutual support...
And how right he turned out to be...
The game attracted a lot of interest from new faces, one of which volunteered to play, and Thomas emerged as an experience Hail Caesar player, which the rest of us are not, so I lost no time appointing him Legate!
The Iceni warbands, half of Bodicca's army, however, were not - and this, in the form of Mark's unfortunate command dice rolling, despite working his way through nearly everybody's dice, was to persist throughout the game....
Of course we tried to sow discord by suggesting Boudicca was happy to fight until the last drop of Trinovantian blood, but our taunts fell on deaf ears and the tribesmen kept the pressure on:
It was good to see that both sides maximised the use of supports in this first series of clashes, and for my part, having reserved the use of the cavalry to myself as overall Roman commander, I also used them to support the infantry, where there were insufficient Auxiliary cohorts to form a complete second line.
But what I suspect made the difference in recieving the fierce British onslaught was our discovery, thanks to Thomas, of the 'lock shields' rule, whereby heavy shield armed infantry can gain a +1 to their save, and the expense of a -1 to their attackes. A small thing, but seemingly crucial in this situation.
And of course the Britons were fighting uphill...
Eventually the Trinovantes ran out of puff and were clearly getting nowhere...
So Queen Boudicca summoned her heralds to sound 'Recall' and the gallant Trinovantes drew off from the sweating, bloodied Roman line and rejoined the fresh, and, one hopes, somewhat sheepish Iceni, to get ready to go in again...
However, nothing daunted, Bryan the British cavalry and light chariots warlord was confident he could pressurise the Roman left flank with chariots alone...
whilst continuing to use the light cavalry on the other flank to give the long suffering Trinovantes the edge. Unfortunately our cunning Legatus Thomas had prepared his archers in ambush...
The use of chariots, now supported by the tardy Iceni, gave us our most dangerous moment...
But the jusdicious use of Auxiliaries, I'm happy to say in this case my Cohors I Batavia, proved sufficient to stabilise the line...and the Britons had run out of time to change the course of history...