Middle Republican Romans vs Early Sassanid Persians

Curious about what it’s like to find yourself in the opponent’s skin, the generals from the previously reported battle switched sides. So now it was Middle Republican Roman army versus Early Sassanid Persians. This time it was a Magna-sized battle (medium MeG format, with a bit smaller units than Maximus) played on a 60 x 44 inch^2 table.


Both sides deployed their absolute best generals available – Legendary Professional Roman vs Legendary Instinctive Persian. Epic clash of the mythical heroes like Hercules and Rustam was about to happen!

Persians won the pre-battle maneuvers and chose the flat plain flanked by two thick forest areas with a small clearing in between them.
Horse army also outscouted the Romans by 20%.

Persians took the “epicness” really seriously and brought two units of the ultimate elite – the fearsome Royal Asvaran Cataphracts backed with three regular Asvaran Cataphracts, three Horse Archer TuGs and two SuGs for a total of ten units with one hidden in ambush (deep in the forest so probably not an elite one).
Romans decided to try a “horde” approach, with only a single superior unit of Triarii, four average Legions, significant number of foot skirmishers, small detachment of cavalry, elephants and three units lying in ambush – as close to the enemy as possible. So the possible total number of Roman units was between fourteen and seventeen (depending on which ambush cards hid real units).

Will the ancient tanks smash through the softer – but still heavy – Roman infantry or are they going to get stuck and overwhelmed by the sheer enemy numbers?
Read on to find out!

Turn 1

Persians did not hesitate and went full forward wherever they could. However, quick reveal of ambushing Roman detachment slowed their advance on the right. Two Italian infantry units (one regular and one Pedites Extraordinarii – yeah, Romans also had two superiors!) emerged from the forest to threaten the Persian flank, so the rightmost Asvaran unit turned towards them. Their decision to not press forward could have also something to do with the herd of elephants looming far ahead.

Roman battle line was somehow stuck due to the hesitation of the middle units, ahh those @$#@#%! uncooperative Consuls…
Not that there was any other plan for them than staying put awaiting the incoming ultra-heavies, while praying that situation on the flanks developed in the Roman favour.

Turn 2

Turn 2 saw a charge of the Persian leftmost Asvarans, who simply could not hold their horses, which cost them a quarter of the unit, but they managed to disperse Illyrian horsemen, who did not fall back fast enough due to their cantabrian-style shooting formation.
Equites took a step or two back in order to avoid fire from two Horse Archer units. So the right Roman flank was in a more or less controlled retreat.

Middle of the Roman line still could not decide if they came for battle or picnic, so one Royal Asvaran unit kept moving forward towards their flank, while Horse Archers controlled their front (pushing back the useless skirmish screen) and the other Royals turned to support the Persian right, which did not feel too secure due to being a bit outnumbered. Regular Asvarans in the middle charged the unit of Velites, but skirmishers safely fell back behind the Legion lead by ‘Hercules’.

On the Persian right some interesting moves happened. Elephants made a full forward attempting to threaten the Asvarans, while Horse Archers positioned slightly on the herd’s flank, however with not much hope to flank-charge it as in the next turn Romans were the active side.
Pedites retreated back into the forest and the other Italian foot unit turned towards the incoming Asvaran hoping that they will slow their eventual charge with a volley of javelins, which would left the horsemen flank exposed to the Pedites. Seeing that, the Persian only foot unit of Archers jumped out of the forest hoping to puncture some Italian backs.

Turn 3

Turn three saw some fighting, where Asvarans made a quick job with the Italian infantry (unskilled javelins are not the best tools for disrupting the heavy horsemen). Unfortunately cavalry did not manage to pursue too far away so the Pedites could attempt a rear charge.
Elephants charged the Persian Horse Archers who – surprise, surprise – skirmished to the front, which left the pachyderms a bit confused as their prey vanished from sight… Unfortunately this move drew the horsemen closer to the massed skirmishing archers, who immediately shot away quarter of them.

Regular Asvarans in the middle charged the Legion lead by the Roman Army Commander, trampling Velites on their way. Royal Asvarans tried their best to get to the other non-hesitant Legion as soon as possible.

Roman uncooperative Consul was still totally uncooperative, which put his whole command in a grave danger as the elite Persian force positioned on their flank. Persian general forbade the Horse Archers to shoot the confused Romans, so they couldn’t shake off their torpor, until the Royals plunged their long spears into the side of Triarii.

Rightmost Roman flank saw another Asvaran charge, with totally ineffective shooting by Numidians and Equites, both falling back again. Seems that not much place for further retreat was left there… Something serious was going to happen in that corner soon.

Turn 4

Time for some serious fighting!
Pedites charged the Cataphracts in the rear and it was epic. Two skulls and a sword&arrow meant that the small clearing between the forests was also clear of live Persian horsemen.
Elephants still looked around searching for their enemies, while skirmishing archers continued their job of shooting away another base from the Horse Archer unit. Poor horsemen probably dreamed of being born many years later into the Middle Sassanid Empire, which would make them better protected against arrows…

Royal Cats clashed with Legion, who appeared much tougher than the light Italian infantry, despite fighting against the super elite lead by legendary Persian general. On their right, the other Legion lead by legendary Roman general slowly gained upper hand in the fight against the less-elite Cataphracts.

Hesitation did not pay off for the goofy consul and his elite unit was attacked by the Royal Cataphracts in the flank. Somehow (pure dumb luck maybe?) Triarii avoided the almost certain disaster. They only received minor damage and were able to turn towards the enemy and hold their ground when fighting on more even terms. Persian Horse Archers were finally ordered to shoot, but – guess what – they missed totally.

Situation in the right corner developed into a bloody melee between Equites and Cataphracts. Numidians didn’t make it as half of the Cats unit pushed 1BW forward during charge, catching and instantly dispersing them.

Turn 5

If you considered the previous turn as bloody, the real ‘fun’ was about to take place now.

In a dramatic turn of events, Equites managed to deal the final wound to Cataphracts and went on the offensive. Persian Horse Archers survived five yellow KaBs with only a single wound, after the broken Cataphracts routed through one unit and their general got killed.

Roman Legions in the middle finally broke their picnic and decided to charge the Horse Archers in front of them (and these did not flee to the surprise of the Romans). Triarii managed to hold for another round of fighting, even after being flank-charged again – this time by the Persian Light Horsemen. True MVPs of the battle.

Both Legendary generals managed to break the enemy units they were fighting and drifted away, without even looking each other in the eye.
Not so epic if you ask me…

Persian unprotected Horsemen finally succumbed to the continuous volley of the Roman arrows, so the Elephants (after they finally managed to turn back) must have thought they simply evaporated or teleported…
Dirty magic of all those Horse Archers kept surprising the Romans again and again.

Not much happened on the Roman left, only the last unit of Velites finally grew impatient and decided to leave the pointless ambush…
Meanwhile Pedites Extraordinarii changed formation to loose, preparing to enter the forest in search of the Archers who vanished back behind the treeline.

Turn 6

Final Turn saw a lot of killing again.

On the left Equites shoot&charged Persian Horse Archers, missed everything and received one wound in return, which sent them running away. Bummer.
They probably used up all their luck on defeating Cataphracts…

On the right Royal Asvarans moved towards the Roman poor unfortified camp, trampling Velites on their way, but not giving any attention to the Roman foot Archers, whose arrows would not be at all as effective against them as against the unprotected horsemen.

The battle was resolved in the middle, where the other Persian Royal Cataphracts finally crushed the Triarii while both Horse Archer units were sliced by the Roman gladii.
At that point Persian casualties reached the critical point and their army broke.

Hahaha! We were only pretending to hesitate!

Artworks by Johnny Shumate.

More reports to come!