Saturday 17 October 2020

Britannia Campaign: Introduction to Rome's Invasion of Britain

Over the past few months 3 new campaigns have been started. I now introduce you to my new ancients campaign which for me is a first for this period.

It is based on the Hail Caesar supplement "Britannia: Rome's Invasion of Britain". This is the invasion of 43AD and not Julius Caesar's of 54BC. 

The book features various historical scenarios and a campaign system. That system is designed for a fast moving game allowing opponents to conclude it in a relatively short amount of time. As readers of the blog know that is not really for me. I like my campaigns to be pretty deep and involving for the most part.

That said, this campaign does look interesting with plenty of potential. I have therefore taken its core components such as map, routes of movement and orders of battle adding my own detail to make it more involved.

Starting with the orders of battle. In the book you select a force of around 12 units from the Roman list whereas I have included every unit listed. To balance this out I have increased the size of the Ancient British tribes by approximately 50%. 

Each one of my Roman legions will consist of 1 cohort of 60 figures and 9 of 36 giving a figure ratio of around 1:13. Auxiliary cohorts are of similar strength. I have given the Ancient British tribes units of varying sizes with the overall tribal structure as listed in the book.

Also taken from the book is the method of calculating whether a tribe revolts or becomes allied. Each tribe is allocated a D6 number to be rolled and if equalled or exceeded it will rebel. They test as soon as they come into contact with a Roman force and in addition, any one other tribe may test each turn. This can include tribes that have allied themselves to Rome. If a tribe is defeated in battle it is classed as pacified and cannot rebel.

To win the Romans must capture Mona and have pacified or allied all tribes. Unlike the book I have not set any time limit for this. Again, unlike the book this will mean that potentially the Romans could be ejected from Britain. 

The rules I shall be using will be my own using the General de Brigade engine. This has been a work in progress over the past couple of years and I am now approaching the point in which I am reasonably happy with them. 

Continued -

The Romans invade with 4 legions. The 2nd. 9th, 16th and 20th with auxiliary cohorts attached to each. I will be giving each legion separate taskings which I will cover later. Turning to the map:

Taken from the Hail Caesar book 'Britannia'.
Here we have the locations of the various tribes and the routes that the Romans must take to travel around the map.

This is the situation in turn 1. The 2nd and 9th Legions have landed and making their way inland. The 16th and 20th are still disembarking. 

The 2nd Legion is tasked with taking the south west. The 9th will advance and capture Mona. 16th Legion will take the east, midlands and north. The 20th will act as a reserve remaining in the south east in and around what will become Londinium. 

The 9th Legion makes first contact with the Cantii tribe who respond well to the Roman offers of friendship. They agree to become allies and in return the King will be allowed a degree of autonomy along with Roman protection. Taxes will need to be paid of course!

Vespasian at the head of the 2nd Legion was assured that the Atrebates tribe would almost certainly welcome his arrival. It is one of the most benign tribes on the island (requiring a '6' to be rolled for rebellion). 

As the Roman column marches through the rolling hills of the South Downs mounted scouts race towards them. A large tribal force has been spotted across their line of march. The Atrebates have no intention of kowtowing to anybody!

A note on the tribal counter colours. For ease of reference, orange are allied, blue hostile and green pacified.

So the first battle of the campaign will be Vespasian's tough 2nd Legion against the Atrebates tribe set among rolling hills.



  1. Well I must say I'm really looking forward to this Jon:). Solo campaigns have the big advantage of not having time pressures, which is good. Keeping up the motivation tends to be an issue for me though!

    1. Thanks Steve. I will be covering later in the blog my reasoning for running several campaigns simultaneously in different periods. But basically it helps with the motivational issue. I tend to have phases when I am fired up by a particular period so I then switch to continuing the relevant campaign. When I run out of steam I put that one on hold and switch to whatever is the flavour of the moment.

      Big advantage of solo play being able to do that on a whim.

    2. I think I might give this approach a go as I was running out of steam towards the end of my Operation sealion campaign.

  2. An interesting start to your new project; I await future developments with anticipation, Jon!

  3. Jon, I will follow this with interest. I have the Britannia supplement, so with enjoy seeing the campaign engine in action. Already it has a good narrative (those pesky sixes :-) ).

    1. Pleased you will be following it Norm. Yes those damn sixes never arrive when you actually want them!

  4. I only ever skimmed my copy of the Britannia book, partly due to a Hail Caesar game where the Romans felt like an incredibly weak army. Although I played against Pyrrhus so this mgith explain things ;). I'm very interested in how your rules work and capture the period flavor.

    1. Using all the units rather than just selecting a dozen should help the Romans but it still could prove tough for them, especially with the Atrebates kicking off so early. Casualty recovery for the Romans, which I will cover in more detail in later posts, is rather better than for the Britons (provided they are not slaughtered).

      If I have got it right it should prove a tightly fought campaign.

  5. Very curious to see how this campaign will pan out. Looking forward to future posts.

  6. Another really exciting campaign Jon, really looking forward to watching it from afar.
    Regards, James