Today I visited Simon MacDowall (rule writer and Osprey author) for a game of Comitatus, his rules written specifically for the period of the Decline, Fall, and Dark Ages. Simon has a fantastic collection of Late Roman figures, which are beautifully painted and based; I'm afraid my photos don't do them justice (all are clickable).
The scenario was based on a fictional invasion of Gaul, by the Roman Emperor Majorian, in 458BC. Majorian was attempting to reimpose Roman authority over various rebellious Gallo-Roman nobles, led by the would-be Emperor Marcellus and their brave Visigothic allies, led by Theodoric II, son of Theodoric I (of Chalons fame).
Above, I played said Theodoric, noble descendant of Wotan. Aside from my comitatus of mead-pledged bodyguards, I commanded four Visigothic heavy cavalry units and a large wodge (a Germanic technical term) of infantry warband. My troops are pictured above, and constituted the right wing of our army. Although I stuck the cavalry on the extreme right, I had a cunning plan for them, that would mean they would not stay there for very long!
Above are my Roman allies; that's Marcellus (played by Simon) at the rear, with his Comitatus, and my troops in the distance. The Roman infantry weren't very good Romans, scruffy Limitae and Bacaudae, mostly, very few decent troops amongst them. I was hoping that there would be rather fewer Romans, of both sides, by the end of the battle; lebebsraum, and all that.
Beyond the infantry, on our left, were some scruffy Alans, and other light horse types. A bit effete, I thought.
Majorian's forces were drawn up in a long line, opposite us. The scribes failed to record the details of the Imperial army (sorry no photo), but they were more numerous and of a rather better quality than our army (their general was a chap called Dave Allen). Their infantry centre was formed from the Italian field army, including well-trained and armoured Palatinae, Comitatenses and some particularly aggressive-looking Suebi. There were a host of shock cavalry opposite my wing; Ostrogoths, Rugians, Gepids and the dread Heruls. Opposite the light horse on our left, were enemy light horse, including Huns.
That's me in the middle of the unit, above. The game opened well, when I rolled a 5 on an average dice for my Command ability; I was nothing short of a military genius, and a great leader of men!
Since it looked like my Roman allies were somewhat outclassed, and would lose in a stand-up fight, their leader Marcellus (at my suggestion), bravely rode forth to challenge the Emperor to single combat. Surprisingly, the latter accepted and rode out, alone, before his lines.
First they threw javelins at each other, and missed. As they closed, Marcellus (left above) gained first blood, wounding Majorian, but the Emperor fought back and wounded Marcellus, twice, in turn. Marcellus recovered and wounded Majorian, again, and the two riders circled each other, bleeding from numerous wounds, fighting almost as bravely as if they were Gothic heroes. Finally Marcellus stuck a fatal blow and the Emperor was dead! This greatly encouraged Marcellus' command, and all the scruffy militia infantry in our centre gave a cheer (as their Morale rating climbed from average to high; this would be significant, later).
Tomorrow, I'll describe our battle plan and the early stages of the battle.