Over the two days of 20 to 21 August 2017, Legendary Wargames welcomed back the Katritzky family for another mini campaign and side adventure for Sissi. Eric took on the role of Gallienus and dad Rupert played the King of Kings, Shapur. The campaign idea which was a mix of fact and fiction was as follows.
The year is AD258 somewhere at Antioch
Emperor Valerian has been captured shortly before the visit of his son Gallienus. The Roman Consul believes that this must be the work of Shapur, the King of Kings, but at the moment no one has claimed responsibility. In reality, the true kidnappers are some Germanic mercenaries hired by Ingenuus, a governor in the Pannonian Provinces. Unknown to anyone, he is already responsible for the death of Gallienus’ son Valerian II, and is about to proclaim himself Emperor. His plan is to offer Valerian’s life in exchange for Gallienus, but in reality he intends that they all be killed in the exchange.
Gallienus has asked his friend, Ballista (a barbarian turned Roman, who had lost the city of Arete the year before after being betrayed by Valerian who had offered a relief army to help defend against Shapur’s siege ) to help Sissi who is Seesi, the High Priestess of Diana. She must track down the kidnappers as well as helping to support Gallienus’ armies with supplies from Antioch.
Shapur was not responsible for the kidnapping and is intent on recapturing the city of Antioch. He does however know that there are Germanic raiders up near the coast and he is negotiating with them to provide enough of a distraction so that it splits Gallienus’ force in two. He has sent his son, Bahram, with a smaller force to meet with the Germanic Raiders.
Day 1 started with a quick taster battle to refamiliarise Rupert and Eric (and Richard and myself) with the Hail Caesar rule set. Whilst this was going on, Sissi started her search for Valerian and his kidnappers with a visit to the Oracle at Antioch, some puzzles, a vision and a trip to meet a shady merchant in the back streets. This side adventure then resulted in a need for a chariot race at the Circus Maximum (everyone joined in) which proved great fun as chariots rammed other chariots, horses were whipped, and a late charge by Sissi’s red chariot resulted in the win she needed to get her next clue.
With that out of the way, we started the campaign for the guys. This was done on laminated maps where each player plotted the movements of their two forces. The starts were staggered so that their northern forces (Bahram, son of Shapur vs General Aurelian) stated 3 campaign days before the main event between Gallienus and Shapur. Both sides also had some decisions about where to send their reinforcements. However, due to some unexpected decisions by Rupert, the main event battle began before the sideshow battle up north, and it ending up being the only game we got to do over the two days. The initial forces lined up as shown below outside the gates of Antioch.
After drawing disposition maps, the setup then revealed that both sides had chosen to deploy nothing on their far right flanks. Eric deployed the majority of his force on his left outside the outskirts of Antioch with just a small mixed force right of centre. Rupert split his infantry into two columns, one on the right with the armoured and medium infantry, and the militia levies on the left with the untested Elephants.
Here’s a shot of Shapur’s magnificent command stand. I would at this point like to thank Chris Flowers for the loan of all the figures used,and the generous offer to use his wargames room for the weekend.
Sunday’s first day of action saw the two sides cautiously adjusting their starting positions. Rupert’s militia and elephants failed to move 2 out of 3 times whilst his Cataphract horde in the centre, supported by light horse surged forwards. Meanwhile Eric decided to take the attack to the Sassanid army on his own left flank and his forces started to wheel into position. The following picture shows how it was left at the end of day 1.
While this was happening, Sissi was steamrolling her way through the adventure we had for her. She completed a small D&Desque adventure to find a magic mirror that had transported her forward in time to meet Merlin (a link with last year’s weekends that they came to LW for) and solve the problem of the missing Knights of the Round Table. We now panicked a bit as she had almost completed her set adventure, so Sunday night was a quick scrabble for new ideas and extra content.
Monday, Day 2, started with Cataphracts launching themselves at a small Roman medium Infantry brigade in the centre which soon broke under the pressure.
The next picture shows how the Sassanid right flank has turned to meet the threat posed as Eric’s left continued to pivot round to threaten it. The Cataphracts are now turning in ready to make their next attack on the Roman heavier cavalry as the Roman lights try to withdraw to safety.
While this was going on, Sissi had completed a further chariot race to win help for Eric; solved more puzzles; and had tracked down the Germanic raiders responsible for kidnapping Valerian and rescued the Roman Emperor. She now returned him back to the battle at Antioch to bolster the morale of the Roman troops.
Rupert had now discovered the use of sending Shapur to get the elephants moving after their earlier reluctance to go anywhere near the Romans. Here they are advancing to support the cavalry attack on the Roman right.
A clash of Cataphracts as things heat up in the desert outside Antioch.
Real gaming time was now running out. The size of the forces involved, and the fact that this was a one a side game had meant that we did not get through what we anticipated and hoped for. The following is the final position as the whole game had swiveled around 90 degrees.
Things were now balanced on a knife edge all along both lines. It would have been great to play it through and see what happens. There had been some clashes of Roman Heavy Cavalry on their far left with some of the Sassanid Medium Infantry, but nothing decisive for both sides. More Sassanid Cataphracts were making a nuisance of themselves versus Roman Armoured Infantry in the centre around the Olive Grove. And the elephants were almost at the battle lines to support the Armoured Sassanid push against the Roman Cavalry right flank.
That said, Rupert, Eric and Sissi had enjoyed the games and we had enjoyed hosting them for what was now their 5th visit. We now look forward to welcoming them back in 2018, hopefully to our new purpose built Wargames Lodge, for what may be an Elizabethan Border Reivers campaign.
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