Saturday, July 16, 2022

Battle of Heraclea, May 280 BC

Historicon is less than a week away; here's the test game for Heraclea, played last month.  


The Romans automatically move first, and their cavalry crosses the fords on either flank. 


My scenario is based upon that for WAB by Jeff Jonas: Heraclea, The Initial Clash: republican Rome vs. Pyrrhus of Epirus

Deployment map from the scenario; I will be - I will be using a 6 x 12 foot table which scales perfectly to this 4 x 8 version. As usual for most Ancient battles, the terrain is not complicated!

Background of the battle from the same site: 

    When Pyrrhus’s scattered forces arrived in Tarentum early in the spring of 280 BCE he found his allies to be totally unprepared for war and unwilling to raise the troops that they had promised him. Undaunted he attempted to fill the ranks of his local forces by conscription and drilling the Tarentines, who deserted in droves until locked under guard by Pyrrhus’s veterans.  Pyrrhus in effect established himself as dictator of the unruly Tarentines.  If he could train this rabble he would have forces enough to go on the offensive, but his plans were cut short as the Romans hastily assembled three armies and began to systematically crush the allies of Tarentum.

    The largest of these Consular armies consisting of 50,000 troops, was led by Publius Laverius Laevinius and struck into Lucanian territories to keep them from joining forces with Pyrrhus. Even though the Tarentines were not fully trained, and his forces were outnumbered, Pyrrhus gathered his Hellenistic veterans and challenged the might of the Legions at Heraclea in May 280 BCE.

    Pyrrhus marched to Heraclea and made his fortified camp*, there he witnessed for the first time the Drill and order of the Romans. It was quite a shock to him to realize that not only was his opposition more numerous, but it was also a cut above the “barbarian” forces he expected to face!

    At least he felt confident that the Roman swordsmen would be at a disadvantage versus the phalanx, his superior cavalry, and his “Trump” card, the elephants. He reckoned that these factors would be enough to outweigh the Romans numerical advantage. Nevertheless, Pyrrhus deployed his forces behind the river Siris, smartly working the terrain to his advantage. Pickets and light troops covered the stream and the elephants were wisely kept behind the phalanx in reserve.
(*Apparently the Romans were so impressed with Pyrrhus’s walled camp that they copied it! Pyrrhus no doubt was well inclined to go to this unusual measure because of the tricks he learned from his first benefactor, Antigonus 1st.)

    The Romans for their part were unusually aggressive and spirited as they believed that they would deal with Pyrrhus’s army with the same ease that they had previously handled the Tarentine levies. Laevinius ordered out the Legions and they advanced on the Epirote pickets. The Roman and Allied cavalry were sent up and down stream and forded the river. The Epirote pickets along the stream fell back as their flanks were turned. 

 
Jared (above left) and Peter C. commanded the Epirote army, whilst John (above left) and I had the Romans. 


The Roman cavalry outnumbered that of Pyrrhus, but he had an ace in the hole - his elephants, beasts the Romans were completely unfamiliar with until then. 



A little oscurus digitorum on this shot from the Roman lines!


One unit of my Roman cavalry manages to get into the Epirote backfield... never a good thing for the enemy!


Roman center advances, somewhat disordered by crossing the shallow River Stiris. 


The Epirote phalangites moved up as quickly as they could, but were somewhat late to the party!
My cavalry can be seen sacking the first Epirote camp in the background...


Peter C. handled Pyrrhus, who is a Great Leader in To the Strongest terms, and his elite Epirote cavalry with skill.


Phalanx and Legion face off in the Center!


On the Roman right, the Epirote cavalry was dispatched fairly quickly, and then played cat and mouse with the Elephants, which the Romans called "Lucanian Oxen"!


Pyrrhus has the rear of the Roman Left in his sights!


Overview of most of the table near games end.
The loss of the second Epirote camp plus the destruction of a phalanx resulted in a narrow Roman victory.


ROME   TOTAL   275 Points   74 VM (25)


Tribune Ophlax

CMD

Description

Save

Spec/Ammo

Pts

VM

1

Far Left Flank (Allied) Cavalry 





1

General, Mtd, Heroic

3+

Replay

6

2

1

Cavalry, Javelin

7+

2

9

2

1

Light Cavalry, Javelin

7+

2

5

1

1

Light Cavalry, Javelin

7+

2

5

1





25

6


CMD

Description

Save

Spec/Ammo

Pts

VM

2

Left Flank  (Allied) Cavalry 





2

General, Mtd, Heroic

3+

Replay

6

2

2

Cavalry, Javelin

7+

2

9

2

2

Cavalry, Javelin

7+

2

9

2





24

6



Proconsul Decius

CMD

Description

Save

Spec/Ammo

Pts

VM

3

Left Flank Infantry





3

General, Heroic

3+

Replay

5

2

3

Legionaries Quincunx,  Legio VII

7/6+

Pila, exchng

15

3

3

Legionaries Quincunx,  Legio VIII

7/6+

Pila, exchng

15

3

3

Leves - Light Infantry, Javelin, Raw

8+

1

3

1

3

Leves - Light Infantry, Javelin, Raw

8+

1

3

1

3

Army Standard



2

1


Hero


Replay

1






44

11


CMD

Description

Save

Spec/Ammo

Pts

VM

4

Left Center Infantry





4

General

2+

Replay

4

2

4

Legionaries - Quincunx Legio V

7/6+

Pila, exchng

15

3

4

Legionaries - Quincunx Legio VI

7/6+

Pila, exchng

15

3

4

Leves - Light Infantry, Javelin, Raw

8+

1

3

1

4

Leves - Light Infantry, Javelin, Raw

8+

1

3

1


Hero


replay

1



Camp



1

3





42

13



Consul Publius Laverius Laevinius

CMD

Description

Save

Spec/Ammo

Pts

VM

5

Right Center Infantry





5

General

2+

Replay

4

2

5

Legionaries - Quincunx Legio III

7/6+

Pila, exchng

15

3

5

Legionaries - Quincunx Legio IV

7/6+

Pila, exchng

15

3

5

Leves - Light Infantry, Javelin, Raw

8+

1

3

1

5

Leves - Light Infantry, Javelin, Raw

8+

1

3

1


Hero


replay

1



Camp



1

3





42

13




CMD

Description

Save

Spec/Ammo

Pts

VM

6

Right Flank Infantry





6

General, Heroic

3+

Replay

5

2

6

Legionaries Quincunx,  Legio I

7/6+

Pila, exchng

15

3

6

Legionaries Quincunx,  Legio II

7/6+

Pila, exchng

15

3

6

Leves - Light Infantry, Javelin, Raw

8+

1

3

1

6

Leves - Light Infantry, Javelin, Raw

8+

1

3

1

6

Army Standard



2

1


Hero


Replay

1






44

14


Tribune Gaius Mincius

CMD

Description

Save

Spec/Ammo

Pts

VM

7

Right Flank (Roman) Cavalry





7

General, Mtd

2+

Replay

5

2

7

Cavalry, Javelin

7+

2

9

2

7

Cavalry, Javelin

7+

2

9

2





23

6


CMD

Description

Save

Spec/Ammo

Pts

VM

8

Far Right Flank (Roman) Cavalry 





8

General, Mtd, Heroic

3+

Replay

6

2

8

Cavalry, Javelin

7+

2

9

2

8

Light Cavalry, Javelin

7+

2

5

1

8

Light Cavalry, Javelin

7+

2

5

1





25

6




CMD

Description

Save

Spec/Ammo

Pts

VM

C

Publius Laverius Laevinus, Mounted Senior Detached General

2+

Replay

7

2

(Proved not to be useful in the test game, will replace with 2 units of Leves as camp guards plus an additional Hero)




EPIRUS    TOTAL:   275  Points        76 VM (26)


Leonatus

CMD

Description

Save

Spec/Ammo

Pts

VM

1

Left Flank Cavalry - 





1

General, Mtd, Heroic

3+

Replay

6

2

1

Thessalian Cav: cavalry Javelin, Veteran

6+

3

11

2

1

Greek Cav: cavalry, Javelin

7+

2

9

2


Hero



1






27

6


CMD

Description

Save

Spec/Ammo

Pts

VM

2

Left Flank Infantry





2

General

2+

Replay

4

2

2

Tarrantine Phalangites: Pike, Deep, Raw

8+

Pikes

10

3

2

Samnite Javelinmen

7+ 

2

7

2

2

Samnite Javelinmen

7+ 

2

7

2

2

Hero


Replay

1






29

11


Milo

CMD

Description

Save

Spec/Ammo

Pts

VM

3

Left Center Infantry





3

General

2+

Replay

4

2

3

Pike, Deep

7+

Pikes

13

3

3

Pike, Deep

7+

Pikes

13

3


Hero


Replay

1



Camp



1

3





32

11


CMD

Description

Save

Spec/Ammo

Pts

VM

4

Left Center Light Troops





4

General

2+

Replay

4

2

4

LI, Bow

8+

3

4

1

4

LI, Bow

8+

3

4

1

4

LI Javelinmen

7+

2

4

1

4

LI Javelinmen

7+

2

4

1

4

LI Javelinmen

7+

2

4

1

4

Light Cavalry,  Javelin

7+

2

5

1





29

8



Megacles

CMD

Description

Save

Spec/Ammo

Pts

VM

5

Right Center Light Troops





5

General

2+

Replay

4

2

5

LI, Sling, Veteran

7+

4

5

1


LI, Bow

8+

3

4

1

5

LI Javelinmen

7+

2

4

1

5

LI Javelinmen

7+

2

4

1

5

LI Javelinmen

7+

2

4

1

5

Light Cavalry,  Javelin, Veteran

6+

3

6

1





31

8



CMD

Description

Save

Spec/Ammo

Pts

VM

6

Right Center Infantry





6

General

2+

Replay

4

2

6

Macedonian Phalangite: Pike Deep Veteran

6+

Pikes

16

3

6

Macedonian Phalangite: Pike Deep Veteran

6+

Pikes

16

3


Hero


Replay

1



Camp



1

3





38

11



Pyrrhus of Epirus, the "Eagle King". 

CMD

Description

Save

Spec/Ammo

Pts

VM

7

Right Flank Infantry





7

General

2+

Replay

4

2

7

Pike, Deep

7+

Pikes

13

3

7

Chaeronian Guard: Hoplites, deep veteran

5+


15

3


Hero


Replay

1






33

8


CMD

Description

Save

Spec/Ammo

Pts

VM

8

Right Flank Cavalry





8

Pyrrhus: Attached General, Mounted, Heroic, Senior Heroic, Great Leader

3+

Replay; Great Lder

11

3

8

Epirot Agema: Cavalry, Lance, Veteran

6+

Lance

11

2

8

Epirot Horse: Cavalry, Lance

7+

Lance

9

2


Hero



1






32

7


Unassigned

CMD

Description

Save

Spec/Ammo

Pts

VM

9

Elephant Reserve





9

General

2+

Replay

4

2

9

Indian Elephants, Deep

6+

Elephant

8

2

9

Indian Elephants, Deep

6+

Elephant

8

2





20

6


14 comments:

  1. Nice. TTS! aways worth a game. Will be a spectacular affair on the day I'm sure. Table and troops look splendid.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Aaron. I've never had a game of TTS! that wasn't enjoyable! :-)

      Delete
  2. That was a close game which means it should be fun for all involved, The river is in an awkward place for the Romans, but at least it is shallow.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was very close; without the loss of the Camps it probably would have gone the other way. I will probably decrease to one Epirote Camp for Historicon, with fortifications and a garrison, as the camp historically was noted to have been fortified... evidently, the Romans learned that from Pyrrhus!

      Delete
  3. Splendid looking game and good to be close! I didn't know that about the camp, every day's a school day!
    Best Iain

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Iain! Every army must have at least one camp in TTS, but you can have up to one per command. Adds victory medals, but they are vulnerable, especially if you're inferior in cavalry.. especially Light Cavalry!

      Delete
  4. Figures and scenario look excellent. Hope it goes well at show.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Gary; getting ready to pack it all up tomorrow, and depart Wednesday for Lancaster.

      Delete
  5. I agree about TtS - it can throw up some odd results and situations occasionally but its always entertaining! This looked like a classic. Hope all goes well at the show and no doubt we will be treated to full details of how things went kin a future post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Keith. Yes, usually some pics and a post will be forthcoming eventually! :-). History serves up some odd results as well! :-)

      Delete
  6. Excellent looking game! One of my first ever 25mm wargaming armies was Republican Roman; that project came to grief as I just didn't enjoy the WRG 7th Ed. that was in vogue at the time. The TTS rule set would have been much more my to my liking had it been around then!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Robert.
      So what's to keep you from trying it now? :-)

      Delete
  7. Great looking playtest Peter and it sounds like a close one too!
    They are gonna love it at Historicon.
    Regards, James

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, James; "film at eleven", but the game went great there as well.

      Delete