Battle of Teutoburger Wald – 2005th Anniversary battle

With the club in its 30th year, we’ve been trying to lay on a few game involving most members. The battle of Teutoburger Wald was fought around mid September 9AD, so given the date of the 11th in the Osprey book this seemed a suitable subject for a club game being its 2005th Anniversary. As bit of background –

The name of the Teutoburg Forest in Germany will forever be connected to one of the most famous battles from ancient history,the defeat of the Roman general Varus. In September 9 CE, a coalition of Germanic tribes, led by a nobleman named Arminius, defeated the Seventeenth ,Eighteenth, and Nineteenth legions and forced their commander Publius Quintilius Varus to commit suicide. Not much is known on these legions, because of their destruction here, and they may have the surname of possibly Gallica or Germanica. The result of the battle was that Germania remained independent and was never included in the Roman empire

roman2

Varus’ forces included his three legions (Legio XVII, Legio XVIII, and Legio XIX), six cohorts of auxiliary troops (non-citizens or allied troops) and three squadrons of cavalry (alae). Most of these lacked combat experience, both with regards to Germanic fighters, and under the prevalent local conditions. The Roman forces were not marching in combat formation, and were interspersed with large numbers of camp followers. As they entered the forest northeast of Osnabrück, they found the track narrow and muddy. According to Dio Cassius a violent storm had also arisen. He also writes that Varus neglected to send out reconnaissance parties ahead of the main body of troops.

The line of march was now stretched out perilously long — between 15 and 20 kilometers. It was in this state when it came under attack by Germanic warriors. The attackers surrounded the entire Roman army, and rained down javelins on the intruders. Arminius, recalling his education in Rome, understood his enemies’ tactics, and was able to direct his troops to counter them effectively by using locally superior numbers against the dispersed Roman legions. The Romans managed to set up a fortified night camp, and the next morning broke out into the open country north of the Wiehen Hills, near the modern town of Ostercappeln. The break-out was accompanied by heavy losses to the Roman survivors, as was a further attempt to escape by marching through another forested area, as the torrential rains continued. The rain prevented them from using their bows because sinew strings become slack when wet, and rendered them virtually defenceless as their shields also became waterlogged.

Reconstruction of the improvised fortifications prepared by the Germanic tribes for the final phase of the Varus battle near Kalkrieseroman
The Romans undertook a night march to escape, but marched into another trap that Arminius had set, at the foot of Kalkriese Hill. There, a sandy, open strip on which the Romans could march was constricted by the hill, so that there was a gap of only about 100 meters between the woods and the swampland at the edge of the Great Bog. The road was further blocked by a trench, and, towards the forest, an earthen wall had been built along the roadside, permitting the Germanic tribesmen to attack the Romans from cover. The Romans made a desperate attempt to storm the wall, but failed, and the highest-ranking officer next to Varus, Legatus Numonius Vala, abandoned the troops by riding off with the cavalry. His retreat was in vain, however, as he was overtaken by the Germanic cavalry and killed shortly thereafter, according to Velleius Paterculus. The Germanic warriors then stormed the field and slaughtered the disintegrating Roman forces. Varus committed suicide, and Velleius reports that one commander, Praefectus Ceionius, shamefully surrendered, then later took his own life, while his colleague Praefectus Eggius heroically died leading his doomed troops.

Our game was based on the 1st scenario from the Germanica book , by Warlord games, ‘Death in the Forest’. We scaled up the force lists, and there were roughly just over 20 units per side. The table was 20’ long by just over 3’ wide. The Roman deployment was random along the length of the road. The randomness dictating where the baggage (valuable objective) would be , and there were some ‘dummy’ locations to enforce the stretched out nature of the Romans march column.

roman-deployment

Once the Romans had been deployed then the Germans were places randomly by section. The table edges broken down into 14 sections and the 7 divisions places upon a die roll.

The rules I selected were Hail Caesar. My own brief being that the game should be able support up to 16 participants (we had a few dropouts and had 9 or 10), and could be set up played to conclusion in a weekday game night (about 3 hours). Hail Caesar is a simple set and most players picked it up quickly without much prior experience.

The game itself played as expected. The first turn the Germans get a free ambush attack while the Romans are in column. This generally meant there was a fight where the Germans rolled 9 dice to the Romans 1! varus-committedThere was a special rule any Roman units that was broken as a result of this change wouldn’t be broken but would instead be reduced down to a ‘small’ unit for the remainder of the game. The net result of this was that of the 20 units only 1 Roman was broken in this way! It may be that we forgot the ‘wild fighters’ reroll for the Germans or the fact that the Romans had a 4,5,6 armour save!!

german-deployment

The second turn meant that the Romans could regroups as best they could and shake out into line (being drilled they always get a free move in the rules)., they could also remove any disorders they received in the prior turn. But still most the legions had taken several ‘hits’ as a result of the ambush charge. Most were well on the way to being at their 6 hits to become shaken (and then thing get bad!)

Tthe-head-of-the-columnhinks weren’t all their way for the Germans. The head of the Romans column had done particularly well, this may be the fact that they had encountered most the German skirmishers, and had driven most off back into the woods

The game was brutal and soon degenerated into localised bloodbaths down the length of the table. The game was always going to be stacked in favour of the Germans and after 3 hours the Romans’ break point was reached. The scenario book did have a pointing system for the result based on unit destruction, capturing baggage and killing commanders.

varus-committedThe final score came in at 169 points to the Germans to 89 for the Romans. A solid German victory

your-generals-dead-steve!

I’m sure we got a lot of the rules wrong, but fun was had by most, and the game seemed to play out OK.

mid-game

Notable Awards go to …

  • Andy and Bob – who used the wrong morale result column for the whole of the game
  • Steve – for committing his one and only commander into combat, Ray then obliged with a 12 and killed him, paralysing a section of the German attack
  • Ray – for losing the Praetorian guards with Varus leading them. A morale roll of 4 , re-rolled because of stubborn veterans , down to the 2!

Teutoburg Forest 9AD – 11th September – game update

I’ve had a change of heart on this game. Rather than invent the wheel, I’ll stick more closely with the Warlord games Germania. Rather than 4 parallel games I’ll just focus on the ambush from the woods, described as –

 “Lucius Eggius harrassed by the Bructeri passing Kalkriese Berg. Followed by the subsequent ambush by Arminius and the Chercusci.”

I’ll use the ‘Disaster in Teutoburger Wald’ scenario in the Germania book. Its pretty much what I have planned anyway. It’s the first part of the battle. If it’s a success then we can continue with the other parts of the battle.

So to amass the troops I need to get some commitment for folks to bring the troops.

Germans

For the German I plan to use a ‘standard sized’ units of 12 bases of DBM Warband. 3×4 (perhaps dropping to 9 if figures are a problem)

There needs to be 3 command , each of 3 ‘divisions’. A German command being

 

Command Division Bases no of units total bases
Cavalry 6 1 6
Warband 12 3 36
Light infantry bow 6 1 6
48
German Division #1 Bases no of units total bases
Warband 12 3 36
Light infantry javelin 6 1 6
42
German Division #2 Bases no of units total bases
Warband 12 3 36
Light infantry javelin 6 1 6
42

 

So just over 100 bases of warriors per command (and there are three commands 2 Chercusci and 1 Bructeri).

I have over 100 stands of warriors, and I believe that Steve, Pete and Dene all have some (so we should be OK I’d say)

Romans (which may be more of a sticking point)

3 command each of 4 ‘divisions’ –

Command Division Bases no of units total bases
Veteran Legion 6 1 6
Legion 6 1 6
Raw Legion 6 2 12
Light Artillery 1 1 1
Auxiliary Cavalry 6 1 6
31
Romans Legion #1 Bases no of units total bases
Legion 6 3 18
18
Romans Legion #2 Bases no of units total bases
Legion 6 3 18
18
Romans Bodyguard Bases no of units total bases
Infantry Archers 6 1 6
6

We’d need over 100 bases of legionaries (can we do that?) I might have about 20~

We’ll also need 6 sets of baggage wagons and 6 sets of ‘civilians’

This is aimed for about 10-12 participants if we can manage it. If not we can scale it back. I’ll come round Thu for commitment

Any thoughts?

Club Game – Teutoburg Forest 9AD – 11th September

I’d like to propose a club game to refight the destruction of Varus and his legions in the Teutoburg Forest in 9AD. The date given for the battle is mid-September, and the date in the McNally book is actually the 11st September, so given that is a Thursday this year I suggest that this be the date.

roman

I’m proposing using the more recent evidence from Mjr. T Clunn, which places the battle near modern Kalkriese.

My current thought is that we fight 4 battle simultaneously reflecting the 3 phases of the battle. I’ll use the Osprey titles for each phase as they seem as good as any. They all take place after Varus and his officers commit suicide

An Army at bay.

Lucius Eggius harrassed by the Bructeri passing Kalkriese Berg. Followed by the subsequent ambush by Arminius and the Chercusci.

A second smaller battle of the Numonius Vala and the auxiliary alae being ambushed by the German cavalry after leaving the Felsemfield (Marching camp). This will be a quite small affair, but has some cavalry so adds a bit of colour.

A Desperate Situation

The Germans set up a fortification along a sandy patch that the Romans must cross. The Romans detach 6 cohorts who advance in Testudo to attack the ramparts.

roman2

Death in the Forest.

The remnants of Caeonius & Eggius try to reform and escape.

To do this we would need 8 players. If I can drum up the interest I can flesh out the detail. We would need quite a lot of figures. Probably about 300 stands of Germans – but I have 100. I know Peter has a chunk and Steve most likely.

We’d need about half of that in Romans. But I’m sure we can get that together.

I propose using Hail Caeasar, to make it fast, an get a resolution in an evening.

Please let me know your thoughts.