This time around I wanted to check how the armies would behave in the full game. I have had Impetus for some time, but armies were not sufficient until now. Of course, since this was the first game, and perhaps I was still in the BI mode, several options that are available in the full game saw either no activity, or alternatively I just saw no reason. Romans on the other hand would probably have benefited from few things. All in all, I think few more games are needed but certain alterations are to be expected in the armies.
As before, both sides had two commands, Roman bitter allied cavalry wing and the main body of legions. Carthaginians had very strong cavalry wing and infantry that was formed from heavy center and light wing.
Romans were the defenders and that gave Carthaginians some room to deploy their forces to counter Roman plans. As usual (for Romans) bulk of the infantry stood at the centre, and heavily forested area on their far left was thought to be good enough flank protection along with more agile Principes. Right flank was then protected by the Greek trait… cavalry and raw legions deployed in great depth.
Since Carthaginian forces were deployed more loosely, leaving gaps between various factions, initial Roman deployment did show significant weakness. Line, while compact, lacked proper flank protection, and left side was practically open for the Iberian javelin men to exploit. For Romans, especially when encumbered by raw legions, speed is not an asset.
Therefore, plan of Carthage was simple enough. As usual, use the cavalry contingent to wipe the Greeks out quickly, then turn the flank. On the other side, use the light foot contingent to the same effect, but keep away from the legions front. On the middle, advance towards the roman line, and hopefully before the general engagement, both Roman cavalry command and other flank are turned. If the Romans turn their legions to meet the forces at their sides, then they are not part of the force against the center.
First surprise was the much increased range and firepower of various S, FL and CL units. I had already become used to the relatively weak BI version, and had to check several times that I had correct number of dice when shooting 5U or 15U away. Coupled with the tendency to advance as close as possible from the sides, javelin armed CL become real menace.
Of course, what appears to be already an tradition, the Greek allied cavalry contingent left the field of battle as soon as Carthaginian CL appeared to the scene, leaving legions to defend by themselves. Not an ideal situation in BI, albeit recoverable because the rate of advance is calculable, but in full game, no. Loosing the cavalry wing was devastating indeed, but the total effect was probably aggravated by mistakes in the setup. Deep formations, as mighty as they may be, are seldom maneuverable, and the Roman right – after Greeks left – became paralyzed by two raw and large blocks of legions. In fact, because they are discipline C, it is almost impossible to get them do anything useful – especially when the opposition can just scamper away from every attempt to engage
Roman left fared not much better, even though Iberians were having some troubles, they were still advancing much faster than anticipated and soon enough were in position to cause havoc and devastation among the legions. Even carthaginian Caetratii managed to cause serious blows agains the Roman legions that lumbered forward to engage the Carthaginian main line.
Eventually then, Carthaginian hoplites did what needed to be done and charged Romans in a single, solid group. Advancing full 3 movement phases to contact, disordered and worn Romans could do little but watch in terror the oncoming storm of spears. Clash of the lines was quick and albeit Romans fought bravely it was all for nothing. Being practically encircled, the Roman commander, now realizing his incompetence (rolled snake eyes) could do nothing but see his lines crumble and the ring to tighten up.
Messenger was then sent to Rome to beg for a yet another batch of recruits and another consul…
That said, the armies behave differently, mostly because missile weapons are a bit more effective, and cavalry is way faster to deploy where you need it. Troop discipline is now essential, and there is a real difference between various factions. Discipline C legions, albeit cheap, are terrible, terrible investment when combined with poor commander – choice which is unfortunately forced upon Republican player. Additionally, since the Romans do not actually have touch of Midas (except perhaps a reverse one) regarding cavalry, it would probably be wise to alter the force composition in that respect and resign from the idea of having separate allied cavalry wing.