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The Orkney Wargames Club meets

in Kirkwall on Thursday evenings.


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Clash on the Samara, 56 BC

The Roman World, To the Strongest, 28mm

We hadn’t played an Ancient game for ages, so we decided to run a small one, to remind us of the rules. As bad weather made the trip into town a little dicey, Sean 2 and I decided to play the game at my house. Due to the high wind I couldn’t be bothered dragging the 6×4 foot table out of the garage, so we played on my 6×3 foot dining table instead. That made a clash along a river almost ideal. In this game, the Legate Titus Pupianus was probing along the river Samara (Somme) near the town of Samarobriva (Amiens), when his detachment came upon a hostile bunch of Gauls – all from the local Ambriani tribe. In this game Sean opted for the Gauls, led by the tribal leader Picanmix, leaving me with the Caesarean Romans. It was a small “learning curve” game, with just six units a side. As you’ll recall, there aren’t any dice or tape measures in To the Strongest. Instead you use a gridded mat and playing cards. This could make for a fairly head-on type of game, unless you leve space on the flanks. That sort of dictated the small forces – four Roman cohorts, a detachment of slingers and a unit of Allied Gallic cavalry, against four Ambrioni warbands, a unit of bowmen and a Gallic cavalry band. We lined up facing each other across the Samara, with the Romans having a marching camp behind them.In this clash both sides chose to advance, with the Romans on the right fording the river before the Ambrioni could move. The clash though, wasn’t decisive – at least not at first, and the battle degenerated into a shoving an stabbing match, with neither side gaining an edge over their opponents. Still, the Allied Gallic cavalry were on their way to help, splashing across the river further upstream. In the centre the two sides faced each other off, with Picanmix spending much of the game failing to activate his warband. His sub-commander Times though, who is seen above being carried around on his shield, held the Romans nicely – right up until the moment he was hit in the flank by the Allied Gallic cavalry. That proved too much for his warband, which broke and ran. The unit of Gallic archers had done well to hold off another Roman cohort, which spent a couple of turns trying to rally from disorder. That gave the Gauls time to get their act together. They pulled back the archers, and when the Romans crossed they were charged and disordered. The Allied Gallic cavalry hit the Ambrioni warband in the flank, but not before the Gauls broke the battered cohort. In theory things were looking bad for Picanmix, as he’d lost two warbands, for the loss of one Roman cohort. Still, the Gallic commander had still had a trick to play. His own Gallic cavalry had crossed the river downstream, and now lined up to charge into  the flank of the Roman cohort facing Picanmix across the stream At that point though, Sean failed to activate them! It was something of a turning point. The Gallic archers were swept aside as the Romans on the Gallic left flank had now turned and advanced towards the Gauls lining the river. The third Gallic warband was hit in the flank, disordering it and threatening to roll it up.It all unraveled fast. Sean’s Gallic cavalry charged the flank of the Roman cohort in front of them and disordered it, but got a second  hit themselves. That was enough to see them break and run. It also robbed Sean of the last of his Victory Medals – which meant his Ambrioni had to quit the field. All in all it was a hard-fought little game. All of the three surviving Roman cohorts were disordered at the end of it, as were the two remaining Ambrioni warbands. Picanmix had finally charged across the river, only to be rebuffed by the Roman cohort facing him.The Ambrioni archers were still around, having evaded the Allied Gallic cavalry, and their arrows had even disordered the enemy horsemen. So, it was a somewhat relieved Tutus Pupianus that packed away his toys, leaving Sean eager for another rematch!





2 Responses “Clash on the Samara, 56 BC”

  1. SEAN 2
    5th March 2023 at 9:53 pm

    If only….activation Gods were against me this game. Good thought provoking set of rules. Enjoyable battle as ever. Thanks for organising, Angus. Picanmix lives to fight another day!

    • 5th March 2023 at 10:37 pm

      It was fun, wasn’t it. It went to the wire.

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