Friday 14 June 2024

Britannia Campaign: Turn 4 - 20th Legion v The Cantii


The situation in turn 4. The Cantii have rebelled necessitating the 20th Legion, held in reserve around Londinium, to be despatched for lessons to be administered.

This is the setting for the next game of the campaign:

Continued -
I decided it was high time to look at rules that have been introduced over recent years as an alternative to my home brew set. Particularly I am looking at rules that speed up play that are both enjoyable and with outcomes that look believable.

I have purchased 3 that I intend to trial over the coming months, primarily using them in my Britannia campaign. They are Age of Hannibal, To The Strongest and L'Art de la Guerre (ADLG). 

First up is Age of Hannibal by the Little Wars TV chaps.

The table is 6' x 4' and I have dug out my old Games Workshop mat for the job. Little Wars TV has their 6mm figures on 40mm x 40mm bases. I have opted for 40mm x 30mm and for now will temporarily house my existing small-based figures.

The terrain placements are as a result of using the system in Age of Hannibal.

   Orders of Battle
I have retained my existing Orbats merely having one base representing one unit.

I have included points out of interest and it is purely chance that they are pretty much equal. I would like to say it is my brilliance at picking the orbats but perhaps not!

The situation in turn 2 with the Romans content to sit and wait for the Cantii to do all the hard work. The Roman Legionaries in particular are more than happy perched on their large hill with an uphill advantage.

By turn 4 the action hots up on the Roman left flank. A unit of Roman cavalry intercepts Cantii light horse attempting a flanking move around the woods. Another Roman cavalry unit along with the Equitata light horse charges the approaching chariots. All 3 Roman units win their melees each inflicting a demoralising factor (DMZ) on their respective opponents.

I should add a note here. I cocked up the number of Roman auxiliary units placing 3 when there should have only been one equitata. 2 of the 3 bases in the photo were promptly removed and at this stage of the game have had no impact.

Despite demoralising the Cantii chariots, they turn their fortunes around destroying outright the Equitata light horse. The single Auxiliary equitate cohort is thrown in to support the remaining medium horse unit.

The Romans have more success on their extreme left with the cavalry unit destroying a Cantii light horse and demoralising another.

Action begins to hot up in the centre. Roman artillery slowed the advance of the Cantii skirmishers (javelins and slings) but now fell back to be replaced by the 3 auxiliary cohorts.

Disaster looms for the Romans as the action continued on their left flank. Cantii chariots overcome both Roman cavalry units leaving the single auxiliary equitata cohort holding the line. The Roman Lieutenant in command of this flank gallops towards the single Roman cohort to bolster its abilities.

The two Battavian Equitata cohorts hold the Roman right flank. A mix of Cantii medium and light horse approach to challenge them. A single Cantii light horse unit negotiates rough ground to threaten the Battavian flank.

Finally good news for the Romans on their left flank. The Cantii light horse that had been threatening ot outflank them are defeated utterly by the single Roman medium cavalry unit. They are now free to assist the lone auxiliary cohort.

9 Roman legionary cohorts advance down the slope to within charge range of the Cantii warbands. This allows them to retain the uphill advantage while triggering mass wild charges by the unruly warbands. The veteran 1st cohort is held in reserve.

In the background auxiliary units attempt to disrupt some of the main body of warband. 

Cantii mounted units charge the Battavians with a light horse successfully completing a flanking attack. So far the Battavians are holding the Cantii.

Warbands across the entire front of Legionaries tear into the solid line. The impetus and ferocity of their charge causes a wobble in the Roman line with several cohorts pushed back and one lost entirely. Roman drill and discipline though steadies the line and having absorbed the initial impact begin to turn tables on the warbands with several lost and other demoralised.

Disaster for the Roman left flank has been averted by sterling work by their lone auxiliary cohort with their commander leading from the front. A chariot unit is destroyed and another demoralised. The single Roman medium cavalry unit fresh from its success of defeating the Cantii light horse, charges into another chariot unit destroying it outright. 

Roman artillery and auxiliaries seek to preventing Cantii skirmishers from interfering with their main attack in the centre.

On the Roman right flank the Battavian auxiliaries grimly hold on having lost their 2 medium cavalry units to sustained Cantii attacks.

What initially looked like a collapse of the Roman left flank has now seen a total change of fortunes. The Auxiliary Equitata spearmen have completely destroyed the last of the chariots (bottom left). A combination of cavalry and auxiliary attacks on the Cantii skirmishers is causing them great difficulty with one base destroyed.

Likewise, in the centre the Roman legionaries, having recovered from the initial impact of warband charges, benefit from their good drill and not only stabilise the line but destroy several warbands in the process.

On the Roman right flank the Battavian spearmen are proving very resilient. They destroy a cavalry and light horse unit leaving just 2 cavalry units on the Cantii left flank. The Cantii Lieutenant joins one unit who is looking decidedly shaky. 

The morale clock for the Cantii has now dropped to 4 signifying the beginnings of a collapse in morale.

The Cantii Chieftain joins the last warband in an effort to restore some pride having seen the utter devastation across his centre. After the initial wobble the legion has fully restored its line although it took the intervention of its General to steady a couple of cohorts.

The Battavians on the right flank attempt to destroy the two remaining shaky Cantii medium horse units but the latter prove resilient inflicting DMZ markers on both auxiliary cohorts.

The end arrives for the Cantii with the loss of its chieftain and the last of the warbands. Their morale clock is at 2 so potentially could continue, but with only two horse units left on the table I called it a day for the Romans.
The Cantii are now pacified and the 20th Legion can resume its reserve duties in Londinium. It had permanently lost one legionary cohort, one light horse and one Battavian medium horse units. Additionally one cohort was placed on garrison duties in Cantii to maintain good order.

So how did the Age of Hannibal rules perform? A few mistakes were made early on, particularly around the morale clock. I misinterpreted the rules only adjusting them after a full turn. i.e. each side and completed their turns, when in fact it should have been adjusted at the end of each sides' phase. When I realised the error I turned the morale clock down 1 for each side but it probably should have been more than that.

Partly as a result of that, and the fact that the army sizes were at the smaller end for the rules, meant that the number of activations was overly generous for both sides. 

I had initial doubts over the realism of the rules when the Cantii appeared to be rolling over the Romans a little too easily. This was helped by securing good dice rolls but when the initial charge looked as though they were going to utterly mince the legionaries they looked implausible. However, the Roman Drill rule which allowed them to extend support to not just those in side contact but those in diagonal contact (up to a maximum of 2) helped them turn the tide. Any concerns proved unfounded with it being east to imagine the fight for the large hill. Roman army absorbs initial impact of charge which included the buckling of the line and some losses before restoring order and defeating the ill-disciplined rabble.

These rules are definitely worth closer examination and it is my intention to play one or two more games before trialling others. I have decided to double the number of units in the orbats which I feel would be better suited to these rules making activations more challenging.   


  1. Great game!
    From initial line-up photo I thought the Romans were going to have an easy time of it - just shows how wrong I can be - a real nail-biter.

  2. That is a fine looking game.

  3. Another lovely game there Jon. I looked at AoH rules and have them, but after trying other rules too, I have settled on Hail Caesar!, purely because most of my games now use the same core engine, so it is easy to swap from one period to another.

    1. Many thanks Steve. I have Hail Caesar and tried them with my 15mm figures but not yet with 6mm. May well give them another try and as you say, it helps when they use the same core mechanisms of other rules that you are familiar with. One of the reasons I stick with General de Brigade and its stablemate Guns at Gettysburg.

  4. Hi Jon, I've just discovered your blog and been avidly reading it and am now re-reading your Napoleonic campaign. I would like to say a heart felt thank-you for creating it. You've helped someone who had lost his love for the hobby rediscover it and given me the desire to start afresh. I now want to start Napoleonic gaming!

    1. Excellent Colin. Pleased you are back in the hobby and many thanks for your kind comments.

  5. Hi Jon,

    A fantastic looking game as always and great timing as I have (almost !) finished new Roman and Carthaginian armies based for Age of Hannibal. Always interesting to read about experiences with these rules as, six months in, I have yet to play a game (typical for a new wargaming project). I would support your suggestion about doubling the number of units - I understand that this game is very much designed for larger armies. I am going for something like 60 bases per side - nearly there now after a long painting journey. Definitely looking forward to hearing how the other two rules choices fare as well.

  6. Great AAR- campaign, figures and rules. Thanks for posting.