AAR – Syracuse vs. Carthage

Syracuse and Carthage were old and bitter enemies that fought over the control of Sicily which was divided in half. Western half was controlled by Carthage and wars between Syracuse and her allies were frequent. Very often, however Syracuse could put up against her adversary but could not conquer the whole island of Sicily. Carthage could not finish the conquest either and odd standstill remained for centuries until Second Punic War put end to it (and third that put the end to Carthage as military power).

Syracuse vs. Carthage01

Syracuse deployed on a hill.

Last time conflict was between Rome and Syracuse, with end result that Syracuse won the field. Now it is time to take a look how they fare against their ancient enemy. Since Syracuse was defender, they set up first. Army of Syracuse was set up on a high ground that dominated the valley below. Centre was formed of hoplites and artillery as usual. Cretan archers and Peltasts on the right to refuse the flank and set up a barrier on the wooded area at the bottom of the valley. Left flank had both light Tarantine cavalry and Peltasts to keep Carthaginian cavalry from causing havoc from that flank.

Archers move to forest on a right.

Archers move to forest on a right.

Carthage set up African infantry, Spanish Scutarii and Gallic Warband, screened by Caetratii  at the centre, and then as faint, one Iberian light cavalry to the left to draw the Peltasts and archers in. Another Iberian light cavalry, and the medium african cavalry took the right wing to prepare nasty surprise for the lone Peltast of Syracuse.

Syracuse vs. Carthage03

In first few turns, centre of Syracuse remained still, protected by the heights and the artillery piece. Left wing oriented to meet the newly discovered cavalry threat. Tarantine cavalry took off and proceeded to move forwards to be able to harass the carthaginian centre. Right wing moved towards the woods to take position to protect the gap.

Syracuse vs. Carthage04

Carthage committed both, the light and medium cavalry forward, fainting advance on the left, and advancing towards enemy positions on the right. For non-existent cavalry force of Syracuse, Carthage is really dangerous. If enemy cavalry is able to infiltrate behind the lines, it will cause great disorder. Centre lumbered forward, while Gauls and Scutarii gained a bit of gap by their faster rate of advance.

Syracuse vs. Carthage06The faint of Iberian light cavalry almost worked, but the cavalry pulled away before the archers reached the woods and Peltasts occupied the gap between. This unfortunate turn of events had long lasting effect, since now the archers and Peltasts had change to maneuver what would be the flank of the Carthaginian centre. First units to find out the true nature of the trap were the impetuous, unfortunate Gauls.

Syracuse vs. Carthage07At first it appeared that Tarantine cavalry was to charge head on to the Carthaginian superb cavalry contingent, but pulled away at last moment and avoided the enemy charge. This move positioned the cavalry wonderfully on the midst of the Carthaginian center, and was able to pick targets for javelins quite freely. There was not much effect, but it is annoyance that Carthage needed to deal with before the lines met.

Syracuse vs. Carthage08Eventually the Gauls came close enough, just in time for a point blank shot by the archers. Peltasts were forcing Gauls to charge. To charge, Gauls would need to wheel and be disordered, ignoring charge they would receive fire from both Peltasts and the archers and then be charged by the Peltasts. For Gauls, that was no-brainer. They charged, and the charge of Gauls were received by battle hardened Peltasts who stood their ground. Whole of the disordered Warband lost momentum and disintegrated in the battle that ensued.

Syracuse vs. Carthage09While the bitter fight went on between the Gauls and the Peltasts, Caetratii and Scutarii had finally reached the Hoplite line. Peppering the lines with javelins was too much for Hoplites and they charged forward. While mercenaries performed well against the Caetratii routing both. Citizen Hoplites did not, and were routed by the Scutarii.

Syracuse vs. Carthage10Thus far Carthage had entered the battle uncoordinated at best, something a kin to a historical events. Last element of them to arrive was the African infantry and cavalry. Infantry plodded away slowly towards now somewhat disordered hoplites and yet another trap was set. Lone Tarantines were neatly behind the infantry, blocking their retreat i and Hoplites charged home. Predictably, surrounded Africans routed. Last word was for Carthage though, and the African cavalry routed yet another hoplite phalanx but that was too little and too late. Carthage was not able to withstand losses and the reminder of the army fled.Syracuse vs. Carthage11


Second game in with the new mat, and it seems that larger surface makes Basic Impetus even better than before. Of course it means that it will take more time for some of the slower units to make it to the destination, but that only highlights the importance of lights and skirmishers. Especially this battle had very nice flow and pretty good historical feel to it, judging from the records that have been preserved until today from the history of Syracuse.

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3 Responses to AAR – Syracuse vs. Carthage

  1. Beautiful mat and landscape. Are the fields and road part of the mat or can you remove them? I assume underneath you have the landscape carved from foam?

  2. Tichy says:

    Thanks. No, roads are fixed feature. I elected to keep them so, because normally the real ground scale is not that much, perhaps no more than three square km (more likely under two) or so and would not accommodate many major roadways in pre 1900 countryside. I experimented with removable roads but could not make the look nice for the scale. However, that is probably more due to me than the idea in itself.

    Elevations are not foam, but cork sheets. They allow pin tree placement and also keep the mat contours very well. Again, because the area represented is relatively small, any significant hill or valley would be out of scope really (or encompass large part of the mat if not all).

    Mat is rather thick, so if for example book is placed under, contour becomes relatively realistic and therefore no detailed foam cuts are needed.

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