So I went down to the club the other day for some ancients action with clubmates Jeppan and Pål.
We played a homebrewed Hail Caesar scenario, and ended up having a cracking time.
The focus of the scenario was this sacrifical grove – obviously a holy place for the Celts, and now the target of a Roman punitive expedition. The Celts have to defend it at all costs, since the Romans will do their best to burn it down.
The Celtic host – led by the legendary Boudicca herself together with the slightly less famous Castroulofix – gathers around the nearby village, just in time to amass those warbands and unruly fanatics before the legion shows up…
And here they are, just in time. I can’t for the life of me remember the names of the Roman commanders, so I’ll just call them Biggus and Naughtius.
At the sight of those darn imperialists, the Celts start moving, pouring out of the village en masse.
Meanwhile, the Roman cavalry (made up of interloper Celts, of course) makes a bold flanking move to the right, galloping straight for the holy grove. Behind them, auxilia troops move up at the double.
A defending warband rushes forward, barring the way towards the grove. At the sight of all those ginger heads and pointy sticks, the cavalrymen suddenly have second thoughts, and literally hold their horses.
Meanwhile on the left flank, Boudicca is having some problems getting her authority across to the men. Chariots blunder away off table, fanatics take some silly “shortcuts” through the village, and the main host is advancing rather snail-like across the field.
And to make matters even worse, the Roman veterans now arrive at the scene, slightly delayed but a real threat nevertheless. They take aim at the right flank and follow the auxilia…
…who close in on the defenders, while getting peppered with javelins from the forest.
The initial clash draws plenty of blood. But the combat is even, and the Celts hold their ground. For now.
And finally Boudicca has managed to get some troops to advance against the enemy on the left flank.
The chariots pester the legionaries with projectiles from afar, provoking Biggus to advance one of his units…
…which promptly gets charged in the middle of the field.
Meanwhile, more Celts rush to the defense of the grove, trying to aid their comrades who are starting to lose ground.
The bodies are piling up in this sacred place. Sacrilege! Or perhaps a fitting gift to the blood-thirsty Celtic gods?
Out in the fields, the battle is starting to rage in earnest as more and more warbands pour in. The legion finds itself spread out a bit too thin, but discipline is sometimes worth more than sheer numbers…
…something which becomes painfully obvious as the auxilia forces manage to rout the defenders in the grove, despite being massively outnumbered.
However, they soon find themselves engaged again as more defenders charge in. The grove is not lost yet!
And in the fields, Boudicca herself joins the fray. She inspires her troops to fight harder, but also puts her own life at risk. A gamble, to say the least.
This time the dice gods favor the Romans. The defenders suffer some hard blows, and Boudicca herself falls in battle (the man in the picture has chosen to remain anonymous).
Now the situation is looking rather grim for the Celts. On the right flank, the only thing standing between the imperialists and the sacred grove are a couple of skirmish units, and a single warband who is getting mauled by the combined force of the Roman auxilia and the veterans. On the left flank, the Celts just lost their main commander.
The defenders of the grove finally feels the time has come to “live to fight another day”, and breaks away. That grove is just a bunch of trees, anyway, right? Not something worth dying for, right…?
Encouraged by the fall of Boudicca, the Roman commander Biggus joins his men for what he thinks will be the final push. The Celts are slowly retreating, so this should be an easy affair, he tells himself. Alea Iacta Est!
But today, the gods really do play dice. Biggus proved to be not so big after all, and collapses in the mud, mortally wounded. This fatal blow provides some much-needed respite for the Celts.
But it is too late. All that remain of the brave defenders in the grove are some skirmishers. They make a desperate last stand against the inevitable onslaught, but it’s merely a symbolic gesture.
The Roman veterans, having saved themselves for this last epic move, utterly annihilates the skirmishers and then calmly march into the sacred grove, laughing and making crude jokes in plebeian Latin.
And soon the air thickens with the smoke from burning oaks. A sad day for the Celtic resistance, indeed. But for the Romans, it’s all in a day’s work – another job well done, keeping those natives in check by killing them and burning down their places of worship.
All in all, it was a great game. Action-packed, full of tactical decisions, and unpredictable until the end. Stay tuned for more bloodshed in Britannia in the near future!