Author Topic: Asculum with Legion  (Read 77 times)

Justin Swanton

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Asculum with Legion
« on: July 29, 2022, 11:06:30 PM »
Here is a VASSAL game of Legion played between Phil Sabin and yours truly over two Sunday evenings. The historical Asculum was a hard-fought battle and the game was no different. Phil took the side of the Romans whilst I led Pyrrhus' army and screenshotted each player's turn. To get the best experience right-click on an image and select 'open image in new tab'. You may be taken to Imgur where you simply right-click on the image there and select 'open image in new tab'. Then use the zoom tool to click and zoom in and out of various parts of the battlefield - the zoom tool zooms into wherever you move and click it.

Rome had 13 average Legionary units, 2 average Light Infantry units, 2 double levy Light Infantry units (levy light infantry units are always twice the number of average units in Legion), and 9 average Medium Cavalry units. In addition the Romans had 2 uninspired commanders, Decius and Sulpicius.

The army of Epirus consisted of 6 average Pike units, 3 levy Pike units, 7 average Medium Infantry units, 2 average Light Infantry units, 2 veteran Heavy Cavalry units to one of which was attached Pyrrhus as an inspired leader. Leaders are a little different from commanders, one difference being that leaders never leave their unit. Then 3 average Medium cavalry units, 2 average Light Cavalry units and 2 Indian elephants. Pyrrhus' cavalry is superior to the Roman cavalry and his infantry outnumber the legionaries - more so if you count the elephants. Rome will have great difficulty winning this battle which can be countered by players bidding victory points to play the Epirotes, subtracting those points from their victory total (and maybe losing the battle even though they win it). In this game Epirus moved first.

Turn 1. Epirus
Armies deploy by entering the battlefield via the white edge hex at the top or bottom of the battlefield. Epirus deployed at the top meaning Pyrrhus could waste no time getting his troops, especially his pikes, clear of the wooded hill and onto the open ground where they could better fight the Romans. Full steam ahead! Movement is limited by command points. Each unit costs 2 CP to move in the first turn, 1 CP thereafter. An army has a limited number of CPs which are needed for moving and fighting. The number of CPs for each player-turn equals the points value of unrouted units, or half that points value (rounded down) plus the full points value of the surviving unrouted generals, whichever is less. Units have a points value of 1,2 or 4 depending on the nature of the unit. In this game the Epirotes initially had 48 unit points plus 8 points for Pyrrhus for a total of 32 CPs. Rome had 41 unit points plus 4 points for Decius and Sulpicius, for a total of 24 CPs. CPs are also needed for fighting: each unit requires 2 CPs to attack an enemy unit. CPs expended for movement are not available for combat, so the less moving the army does the more fighting it can do. This becomes crucial as the game progresses, reaching the point where furious fighting means little movement. It's important to get your troops where you want them to be early on. Once the thumpery starts there are few extra CPS available for grand tactical redeployments.




Turn 1. Rome
It make sense to get faster units onto the battlefield first, leaving more space to bring the slower units in afterwards. Rome deploys her cavalry and lights, followed by as many legion units as she had CPs for. Heavy infantry like pikes and legionaries can move 2 hexes, medium and light infantry and elephants 3 hexes, heavy cavalry 4 hexes, and medium and light cavalry 5 hexes.




Turn 2. Epirus
Pyrrhus feeds as many units onto the field as he can, being limited not so much by CPs as by space.




Turn 2. Rome
Rome has the same problem: so much to put on the battlefield; so little space to put it into.




Turn 3. Epirus
Pyrrhus finally gets everything onto the field. Any units still undeployed after turn 4 are considered lost and cannot be deployed.




Turn 3. Rome
Rome likewise gets her entire army onto the field, mirroring the Epirote deployment of infantry in the centre, cavalry on the wings.




Turn 4. Epirus
Epirus continues to shake out a line. Pyrrhus' plan is simple: deploy the phalanx in a single line in the centre and use the cavalry supported by medium infantry on the flanks to overwhelm the outnumbered Roman cavalry, then engage the exposed legions on front and flanks. The elephants are deployed on the right flank where Epirote cavalry is weaker.




Turn 4. Rome
Rome begins deploying her legions into 2 lines, weighted towards her right flank whilst keeping her cavalry back on the left. Line relief in Legion is simulated by the hit transfer mechanism. In combat, some units have 2 steps, meaning that they can receive a hit and lose a step without being routed (other units with one step rout immediately). If a 2-step unit receives a second hit, it may transfer that hit to an adjacent unit with 2 steps provided that unit is at least of equal points value to itself. The unit to which the hit is transferred must be adjacent to the unit that has been hit and adjacent to one of the attacking enemy units. This means in effect that unit receiving transferred hits must be part of a line engaging the enemy.

Legionary units are different. They must be adjacent to the unit hit but do not need to be adjacent to an attacking enemy unit. This means they can be behind the line engaging the enemy. Legionary units thus can transfer hits not only to front line adjacent legionary units but also to second line adjacent legionary units. This makes them exceptionally durable - legionary infantry will last a long time in combat, as they did in this battle.




Turn 5. Epirus
The Pyrrhic pike units finally get clear of the forest. This is important. Pike units get a +1 modifier if they are fresh (i.e. have received no hits and haven't lost any steps) and have no enemy in a flank or rear hex and are attacking non-pike heavy infantry not next to any non-clear terrain. This means that the pikes will get a bonus against legionaries if they attack legionaries in open ground and are well clear of the wooded hill. Pike units are at their best in flat terrain with their flanks secure. Pyrrhus has them where he wants them.




Turn 5. Rome
The Roman double line continues to form up. Decius and Sulpicius hold their cavalry back, intending to hit with their legionaries first.




Turn 6. Epirus
Pyrrhus advances his cavalry at full speed. His pikes are good but it is not certain they will be able to outfight a double line of legionaries. He must engage and defeat the Roman cavalry asap and then hit the Roman infantry flanks. Meanwhile the Epirote medium and light infantry begin to engage the Roman leves.




Turn 6. Rome
The Roman cavalry move up to engage their Epirote counterparts. In Legion is it always a good idea to get your attack in first: in a player turn one's own units attack and score hits against enemy units without suffering any losses themselves - those come when it is the opponent's turn and he attacks.




The attack destroys one Epirote cavalry unit on the right and drops an Epirote cavalry unit on the left from fresh to spent (spent means one of two steps has been lost).




Turn 7. Epirus
The Epirote cavalry counterattack furiously, destroying a Roman cavalry unit on the left and two cavalry units on the right. Meanwhile medium infantry and elephants begin to engage the Roman legions' left flank but fail to do any damage.




Turn 7. Rome
Roman cavalry on the right attempt to outflank the Epirote horse. On the left one Roman cavalry unit abandons the hopeless struggle there and pulls back to the legions. In the centre the Roman leves destroy an Epirote LI whilst two legionary units score a hit on an Epirote medium infantry unit.




Turn 8. Epirus
Pyrrhus pulls back his left flank cavalry and advances his phalanx whilst pressing the attack on the Roman left flank though without effect. The pikes do succeed in destroying one Epirote double levy LI unit.




Turn 8. Rome
The Roman right flank presses forward, flanking the Epirote line there and scoring a hit on the Epirote MI at the end of the line whilst destroying the spent MI on the left. Rome is doing well. Notice the quiescent left flank cavalry engagement. Neither side had enough CPs to spend on that fight.




Turn 9. Epirus
Seeing the threat to his left flank MI, Pyrrhus pulls them out, replacing them with spare pike units and then scores hits on two legionary units. The left flank Epirote cavalry attack the Roman horse, destroying a unit. Meanwhile the Epirote cavalry on their right flank finally rustle up enough CPs to destroy the last Roman cav unit there. The Roman double levy LI on the Roman left flank is also destroyed, obliging Sulpicius to move to an adjacent friendly legion unit (commanders can move from one unit to another; leaders like Epirus can't - if his unit is destroyed he is destroyed with it).




Turn 9. Rome
Legionaries move up to engage the pikes, and two pike units are spent. With their wings now gone, Decius and Sulpicius must win in the centre, engaging and destroying the pikes as quickly as possible. Punching a hole in the pike line will give them a real advantage as legionaries get a +1 modifier for attacking pikes in their flank or rear.




Turn 10. Epirus
Pyrrhus pulls out a spent pike unit on his left flank and replaces it with a fresh one (who says phalangites can't do line relief?). An elephant units leads the charge on the right flank in a attempt to destroy Sulpicius' unit but without success. Stubborn bastards, these Romans. A legionary unit in the centre is however knocked to spent.




Turn 10. Rome
The Romans stand and fight. They must punch a hole in the phalanx and then roll it up. One pike unit is spent. Getting there...




Turn 11. Epirus
The Epirote left flank cavalry crash into the Roman right. Roman front line legionary units are hit but they are able to transfer the hits to the legionary units behind them. A legionary unit on the left is hit to spent. The fighting is furious...




Turn 11. Rome
Rome finally destroys a pike unit on the right whilst hitting a pike and MI unit to spent elsewhere. The battle teeters in the balance.




Turn 12. Epirus
Pyrrhus pulls back spent infantry units on his left and then leads the charge himself against the Roman right flank, destroying Decius' legionary unit and obliging him to move to another adjacent legionary unit. A LI unit on Pyrrhus' right flank is pulled back to leave room for an unengaged pike unit to swing in on the Roman left flank in the next turn.




Turn 12. Rome and Turn 13 Epirus
I seem to have skipped a screenshot. Rome bolsters her right flank with Decius and a surviving cavalry unit and continues fighting in the centre, dropping another pike unit to spent. In the next turn however Pyrrhus hits hard on the flanks and centre and most legionary units are now spent. Decius and Sulpicius must break the Epirote pike soon or all is lost.




Turn 13. Rome
Decius moves to the centre whilst a legionary unit move up to strengthen the left flank. Another pike unit is spent. Things are beginning to look fragile for the Epirotes.




Turn 14. Epirus
In a furious succession of attacks Pyrrhus destroys two legionary units and one LI unit on the Roman flanks. The Roman position is beginning to fall apart.




Turn 14. Rome
The legionaries finally punch a hole in the phalanx. But is it too late? Battered legionaries fall back on the right whilst cavalry move up to engage on the left. The moment of decision has been reached.




Turn 15. Epirus
Pyrrhus again leads the charge against the Roman right flank, destroying a legionary unit. Another legionary unit is destroyed in the Roman centre and a third unit spent on the right. The Roman line is crumbling.




Turn 15. Rome
The Romans led by Sulpicius move into the gap in the phalanx line but fail to destroy the outflanked pike unit there. The Romans however succeed in hitting the MI on their left to spent.

In the following turn Epirus destroys another legionary unit, eliminating enough units to reach the Roman panic threshold of 28 points, and sending the rest of the army packing. Game over!


« Last Edit: August 03, 2022, 11:02:27 AM by Justin Swanton »
  • Justin Swanton

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Re: Asculum with Legion
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2022, 09:16:25 AM »
A dramatic refight, Justin.  Obviously, Pyrrhus won but, in game terms, did you overcome the handicap of the bidding process to claim victory?
  • Anthony Clipsom

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Re: Asculum with Legion
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2022, 09:43:49 AM »
Very detailed report and a hard fought game. Watch out for the house tiles next time
  • Dave Hollin

Justin Swanton

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Re: Asculum with Legion
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2022, 10:09:54 AM »
A dramatic refight, Justin.  Obviously, Pyrrhus won but, in game terms, did you overcome the handicap of the bidding process to claim victory?

We didn't bid but Phil seems to think so. I won by 36 points, so if I had bid 30 VPs for the Epirotes (which seems about as much as Phil would have bid) I would still have made it by 6 points. I must add though that Phil had some pretty grotty dice throws at crucial moments. What can I say?
« Last Edit: July 30, 2022, 10:32:52 AM by Justin Swanton »
  • Justin Swanton

Justin Swanton

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Re: Asculum with Legion
« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2022, 10:10:56 AM »
Very detailed report and a hard fought game. Watch out for the house tiles next time

They do say life is healthier in the country.

Justin Swanton

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Re: Asculum with Legion
« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2022, 12:45:06 PM »
Phil asked me to add that this game used the Legion II rules, which are simpler than the original Legion. I can give links to the ruleset (free) and the VASSAL module (also free) for anyone interested.