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Author Topic: Battle Report: Wars of the Republic- Romans vs Slaves  (Read 734 times)

Offline Easy E

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Battle Report: Wars of the Republic- Romans vs Slaves
« on: November 29, 2021, 08:45:03 PM »

The Wars of the Republic rulebook has some army lists for the Late Republican Romans to take on various slave revolts.  Of course, the most famous is the 3rd Servile War against Spartacus.  The book has a scenario for the Battle of Vesuvius.  Today, we are going to continue the theme of Romans vs. Slaves but we are going to be playing a different scenario then the one in the book. The Battle of Vesuvius has some strange circumstances that made the scenario a bit unique.  Instead, we are going to play a much more straight forward, ahistorical battle. 

In the winter of 72-71 BC Crassus had assembled his army.  He marched out to face Spartacus and his army.  It is not entirely clear, but some scholars believe that the two armies met.  In the ensuing skirmish, Crassus won and this was what caused Spartacus to turn Southward. 

This turn is often seen as the beginning of the end for Spartacus and his army.  It led to the failed attempt to leave Italy to Sicily.  Then, the Slave army was hemmed in at Bruttium and only managed to escape after breaking out of a costly siege. 

There is no clear, definitive record of this battle.  In fact, it may just be local myth.  This will give us as wargamers some space to play a game where the outcome is unclear.  We only know that this "skirmish" took place after Crassus had ordered a "Decimation" of  his own men to "boost morale" of his troops. Spartacus had opted not to cross the Alps and leave Italy earlier in 72BCE. 

If you have further interest in playing out this conflict beyond what is in the Wars of the Republic rulebook, my first supplement for the game is available on the Wargame Vault.  This supplement is called Revolt!  and details the Spartacus' campaign including 15 new scenarios, more historical details, and appropriate army Lines of Battle for different phases of the campaign. 


We know a bit about how a Late Republican Roman force was outfitted.  We also know that Crassus recruited veteran troops back to the Eagles for this campaign.  Velites and Cavalry had been phased out of the legion and instead replaced mostly with auxiliary troops.  The main body was made up of cohorts instead of maniples now. 

1 Veteran Legion - Crassus
1 Legion Regulars
1 Militia Legion
2 Light Infantry

The Slave Army was made up of mostly escaped slaves.  They were using looted weaponry and gear.  Most had little or no combat experience, and non-combatants had to move with the army.  It is estimated to be an army around 70K+ people.  Of course, many of them would not be engaged in the fighting.

1 Elite Infantry with Pila - Spartacus
1 Drilled Infantry with Pila
2 Light Infantry
1 Archers/Slingers

At this point, it is VERY unlikely anyone was still armed as a gladiator.  However, the Elite infantry will be composed of Gladiator models, and I will be using gladiator models as leaders of the other units. This is purely for flavor and one of my favorite things about the Third Servile War, I can use some of my Gladiator minis!

We rolled for the mission and scored Recon in Force.  The Romans are the Attackers as they try to get the position of the Slave army.  In this mission 6 numbered tokens are placed face down.  The Romans need to reveal 2 Even tokens to win.  The game will last 8 turns or until 2 even tokens are revealed, or one of the opposing armies collapses.

Again, we used the rulebook to determine the set-up.  We are playing on a 72MU x 48MU board.  1 MU equals 1 inch.  We are using the grid system to lay out the board and randomly determined the terrain.  1-3 is the Roman side, and 4-6 is the Slave side.

1= Walls - We used a temple
2= Swamp, Spring, Water
3= Walls- We used a temple
4= 1 level hill
5= Swamp, Spring, Water
6= Swamp, Spring, Water

We decide to connect 2,4, and 5 with a river moving through the table.  The river is fordable, but considered dangerous terrain.  There is one ford which is just difficult terrain, but not dangerous between 3 and 6.   The defenders place the tokens around the board.  We decide not to use any other complication for this battle.   

The Romans deploy from their left to right the following: The Legion Regulars are near the temple and along the road to the ford.  Next to them is light infantry, then Militia Legion, and light infantry by the riverside.  On the opposite side of the river by the circular shrine is the Veteran legion.

The Slaves deploy opposite them and left to right is Light Infantry on the flank on the road to the ford.  Next to them is drilled infantry, then Spartacus and his elite infantry, archers in the shadow of the hill, and light infantry on the right flank.   

You can see how the battle turned out at the Blood and Spectacles blog here: http://bloodandspectacles.blogspot.com/2021/11/battle-report-wars-of-republic-romans_0809513933.html
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Offline guitarheroandy

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Re: Battle Report: Wars of the Republic- Romans vs Slaves
« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2021, 11:31:27 PM »
Excellent report! The more I read, the more keen I am to try these out!
I have dragged my Marian/Caesarian Romans out of the loft to put together a force in the hope that someone at my war-games club might be up for a game (while I get cracking on painting my Samnite Wars forces.)

Offline Matakakea

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Re: Battle Report: Wars of the Republic- Romans vs Slaves
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2021, 03:13:30 PM »
I doing a similar thing with my ex-Slaves, but I'm planning to drill out the face plates on the helmets and put in bare faces. I reckon they'd want to swap out arena showiness for better sight and hearing. Okay, so they'd probably have ditched them all together, but it looks good on the table top right? :)
I'm not a mercenary. Killing's more of a hobby for me.

Offline Easy E

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    • Blood and Spectacles
Re: Battle Report: Wars of the Republic- Romans vs Slaves
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2021, 03:34:49 PM »
I know that historically the Gladiators ditched their Gladiator gear as soon as they could BUT..... it looks too good on the table so I ignore the facts for style!  :D


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