Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Adrianople, 378 AD (Part One: The Scenario)

Adrianople      378 AD

A Hail Caesar scenario

Background

The Germanic barbarians, collectively known as the Goths by the Romans, were under constant attack north of the Danube River by the Huns, scourge of the East. In 376 AD, the Goth tribes asked permission from the Eastern Roman Emperor, Valens, to settle in Roman territory. In exchange for Gothic warriors protecting the border, the Romans were to provide provisions and shelter. Instead, the Goths were abused by the local Roman authorities. A prime example of this cruelty was the demand for Gothic children as slaves in exchange for food. As the children were led away, the Roman authorities supplied dead dogs for the people to eat. One can understand the outrage of the Goths and it was only a matter of time before Duke Fritigern led his people in revolt. Gothic warriors pillaged Roman towns and villages at will. This area of the Eastern Roman empire was in total chaos. Emperor Valens was determined to quell this rebellion and eliminate the threat of the Goths once and for all.


Late Imperial Romans stand against the Goth onslaught


He arranged for his cousin, Western Roman Emperor Gratian, to march and combine with his army and face the Goths in open battle. As the two Roman armies marched to converge, Fritigern executed a stunning maneuver, marching to the East and to the rear of Valens' army. Deploying in the vicinity of Adrianople, the Goths now threatened even Constantinople. Not waiting to combine with Gratian's Western army, Valens countermarched to meet this threat. Valens' and Fritigern's forces faced each other on an open plain, with the Gothic warbands deployed on a hill. Behind the Goth troops, the many wagons of the populace were arranged in a defensive circle. The Gothic cavalry, which ironically contained Huns in addition to Alans horsemen, were away from the battlefield, foraging for food. At first, Fritigern sent emissaries to offer a truce to Valens; whether this was a ruse to allow the cavalry time to reach the field is unknown. Initially, Valens' officers counseled him to await Gratian's army, but the Emperor was in search for personal glory. Valens saw no Gothic cavalry on the field and undoubtably noticed that the Romans held a 3:2 advantage in numbers. Roman steel would definitely win this day !

The Battle

The Roman army marched onto the field with the infantry and archers in the center, protected by a wing of cavalry on each flank. There is much disagreement about the numbers present at the battle, but most sources agree that it was approximate to the following:

Goth infantry    10,000
Goth, Hun, and Alans cavalry   10,000

Roman infantry   10,000
Roman cavalry      5,000

Historians generally agree that the left wing of Roman cavalry impetuously advanced and attacked the Gothic warbands on the hill. They were summarily repulsed. At this point, whether planned or not, the Gothic cavalry arrived on the field. The right wing of Gothic cavalry countercharged the retreating Roman cavalry and utterly destroyed it. The left wing of Gothic cavalry also advanced and attacked the Roman cavalry on the right, winning the engagement decisively. It was all elementary as the Goth warbands charged howling onto the Roman infantry, while the Goth cavalry enveloped both flanks. The Roman army was decimated. Emperor Valens himself was killed as well. The battle of Adrianople was an incredible victory for the Goths and a humiliating defeat for Roman arms.




Most historians lay the blame for the defeat on the Roman cavalry, which not only performed timidly in battle, but prematurely charged the Goth warbands before the Roman infantry was fully deployed for battle. The arrival of the Gothic cavalry, which outnumbered the Roman cavalry by about a 2:1 margin, sealed the battle's fate.


Goth heavy cavalry overwhelm Roman horsemen


Afterwards, the Goths unsuccessfully attempted to attack the city of Adrianople. The new Eastern Emperor, Theodosios I, coordinated with Gratian and pursued the Goths. In a see-saw war that lasted 4 more years, neither side was ultimately victorious. A new treaty was signed in 382 AD, but the battle at Adrianople proved that the barbarians could defeat the Romans in open battle. The result of the battle was that the floodgates were finally opened. The clock was now ticking for both Eastern and Western Roman Empires.

The Scenario

This battle can be played on a 6' x 5' table. The Gothic wagon circle is assumed to be off-table behind the warbands in the center. With a larger table and enough wagons, that would be a great visual addition to the wargame.

Very simple terrain; view is from the Goth side of the table

Terrain The terrain is very simple and open. The large hill in the center of the table is the site of the Gothic warband deployment. Any trees or shrubs are purely decorative. The Gothic warbands, while on the hill, do have a saving throw advantage for being uphill during melee.


Initial deployment. Gothic warbands on the left. Roman infantry and cavalry on the right


Gothic Cavalry arrival 

Roll for each wing of Gothic cavalry separately. Using a 6-sided die, begin rolling for arrival on turn 1. If a 1 is rolled, the Gothic cavalry enter the table. On turn 2, if a 1 or 2 is rolled........and so on. If a 6 is rolled at any time, the Goth player secretly rolls another 6-sided die. If this second die is also a 6, the Gothic cavalry wing never enters the battle. It is imperative to keep this roll secret; the Roman player must not know of the Goth cavalry's failure to arrive. He'll figure it out by turn 6 anyway.


Special Rules  

The Gothic warbands are considered Wild Fighters and may re-roll three missed attack die during the very first round of melee that the warband is in. Gothic warbands are also Stubborn, which allows each unit to reroll a missed Morale role if the save is 5-6. Hun Horse Archers have the Parthian Shot rule, which allows each unit to conduct a closing shot before evading a charge.

Roman Comitatenses, in addition to being classified as heavy infantry are also Drilled, which allows one free move, even if the command roll is failed. The light Scorpion battery is also Drilled. All Roman Comitatenses and Limitanei  have the Pilum rule, which states that an enemy has a -1 Morale save modifier in the first round of any melee.  Limitanei are considered Levy troops, which must roll 4+ to recover Disorder any given turn.  Lastly, Roman Horse Archers also have the Parthian Shot rule (described above). 


Orders of Battle

The Romans:

Commander in Chief       Emperor Valens      CR  8

1st Division Commander   Sebastianus     CR 8
     
    3 Comitatenses Standard Cohorts   7 Clash, 7 Sustained, 3 Short,  4+ Morale,  6 Stamina

    2 Limitanei Standard Cohorts     6 Clash, 6 Sustained, 3 Short, 5+ Morale, 6 Stamina

    1 Scorpion Standard btry   1 Clash, 1 Sustained, 2 Short, 2 Long, 0 Morale, 3 Stamina

    1  Skirmish-bow Small unit    2 Clash, 2 Sustained, 2 Short, 2 Long, 0 Morale, 4 Stamina  


2nd Division Commander   Bacarius     CR 8

     3 Comitanses Standard Cohorts  7 Clash, 7 Sustained, 3 Short,  4+ Morale,  6 Stamina

     1 Limitanei Standard Cohort     6 Clash, 6 Sustained, 3 Short, 5+ Morale, 6 Stamina

     1 Archer Standard  unit     4 Clash, 4 Sustained, 3 Short, 3 Short, 0 Morale, 6 Stamina

     2 Skirmish-bow Small units    2 Clash, 2 Sustained, 2 Short, 2 Long, 0 Morale, 4 Stamina


Left Cavalry Wing    Commander   Valerianus    CR  8 (7)*

      2 Heavy Cavalry Standard units      9 Clash, 6 Sustained, 3 Short, 4+ Morale, 6 Stamina

      1 Horse Archer Small unit     4 Clash, 2 Sustained, 2 Short, 2 Long, 6+ Morale, 4 Stamina


Right Cavalry Wing    Commander  Potentius    CR  8 (7)*

      1 Heavy Cavalry Standard unit      9 Clash, 6 Sustained, 3 Short, 4+ Morale, 6 Stamina

      2 Horse Archer Small units     4 Clash, 2 Sustained, 2 Short, 2 Long, 6+ Morale, 4 Stamina

* For an added challenge and historical accuracy, rate the Roman cavalry commanders a CR7. This will substantially affect game balance though.


The Goths:

Commander in Chief       Duke Fritigern     CR 8


1st Division  Commander  Saurus    CR 8

       4  Warbands Standard units    9 Clash, 6 Sustained, 2 Short, 5+ Morale, 6 Stamina

       1 Skirmish-javelin Small unit    3 Clash, 2 Sustained, 2 Short, 0 Morale, 4 Stamina

       1 Skirmish-bow Small unit    2 Clash, 2 Sustained, 2 Short, 2 Long, 0 Morale, 4 Stamina


2nd Division    Commander    Alavirus    CR 8

       3 Warbands Standard units    9 Clash, 6 Sustained, 2 Short, 5+ Morale, 6 Stamina

       1 Skirmish-javelin Small unit    3 Clash, 2 Sustained, 2 Short, 0 Morale, 4 Stamina

       1 Skirmish-bow Small unit    2 Clash, 2 Sustained, 2 Short, 2 Long, 0 Morale, 4 Stamina


Left Cavalry Wing     Commander    Alatherus    CR 8

       2  Heavy Cavalry Standard units    9 Clash, 6 Sustained, 3 Short, 4+ Morale, 6 Stamina

       1  Alans Light Cavalry Small unit    5 Clash, 3 Sustained, 2 Short, 6+ Morale, 4 Stamina

       3  Hun Light Cavalry Small units   5 Clash, 3 Sustained, 2 Short, 2 Long, 6+ Morale, 4 Stamina


Right Cavalry Wing    Commander  Saphrax    CR 8

       2  Heavy Cavalry Standard units    9 Clash, 6 Sustained, 3 Short, 4+ Morale, 6 Stamina

       1  Alans Light Cavalry Small unit    5 Clash, 3 Sustained, 2 Short, 6+ Morale, 4 Stamina

       3  Goth Light Cavalry Small unit    5 Clash, 3 Sustained, 2 Short, 6+ Morale, 4 Stamina
      


Deployment:  The Gothic warbands should deploy on the top of , or slope of, the center hill. Roman forces should deploy no closer than 24" away (36cm if using 15mm figures like myself).


Victory: There is no other victory condition than to destroy or force the enemy off of the field.