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Subject: Zama refought at SELWG rss

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Philip Sabin
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Our refights on Sunday were at the other extreme from the swift and one-sided cavalry clashes at Gaugamela last month. Zama is a prolonged and bitter infantry slogging match, and we managed only two refights, each lasting around two and a half hours.


The first refight proved very frustrating for the Romans, due to an unbroken run of poor combat dice. The Italian heavy cavalry did shatter the Punic horsemen and forced two successive veteran infantry units detached to check them to retire spent into the right of the infantry line, which the Roman troopers surrounded by turn 5. In the centre, though, Scipio made very heavy weather of the frontal combat against the successive lines of enemy elephants and infantry, and he only held his own troops firm by risking two successful rally attempts on turn 8.


The real Roman nightmare occurred on the right. Masinissa proved utterly incapable of hitting the outnumbered enemy light horse, and on turn 5, he himself was removed from the field after a failed rally attempt. The Romans, muttering darkly about Numidian treachery, pulled back their hard pressed right centre the following turn, but on turn 9 this was overwhelmed regardless and Hannibal's Numidians galloped into the Roman rear in what had become a classic 'revolving door' battle. On turn 10, Scipio scored a hit which could have carried away many of the exhausted Punic troops, but Hannibal successfully rallied his men and ended the game having fought the Romans to a standstill despite his army's inferiority. He was rewarded with a victory point margin of 129 to 81, giving him a major game victory by almost double the required threshold of 26 points.


Our second refight drew in 3 or 4 participants per side, besides Alan and Mark who switched sides to advise their former opponents. (It was Mark's beautiful figures which we used for this game.) This time the Romans performed much better, and the outmatched Punic horsemen on both flanks were swiftly withdrawn to the left and right rear zones where they were bolstered by an infantry unit apiece and used to guard against cavalry encirclement. Masinissa challenged this flank guard directly on turn 3, while the Italian cavalry turned to fight the Punic right centre.


In the centre, Hannibal had an outstanding run of luck on turn 4, scoring no fewer than 5 successive hits and shattering two legionary units. The Romans brought up their reserve lines and scrambled to shift fresh legionaries from the left of their line using treble movement to bolster their flagging centre and right. Gradually the Punic flanks were ground down, but single veteran units held on stubbornly in the right and left centre zones, and on turn 7, the unit on the right shattered a fifth legionary unit and prompted four more units of Roman cavalry and light infantry to leave the field.


The following turn, Scipio scored two hits in the centre. Hannibal rallied his men to negate the first hit, but the second hit struck home, shattering a tenth Carthaginian unit. Finally, the Punic run of excellent morale rolls was broken, and all except three stubborn infantry units broke and fled. The Romans turned in to encircle this hard core at long last, and on turn 9, one of their many attacks struck home and it was all over. The victory point count was very close, with both sides having suffered tremendous losses, but in the end Hannibal had done just enough to win a narrow handicap victory by 129 points to 123.


The game system worked very well to capture the bitter and hard fought nature of this classic engagement. Hannibal's elephants were removed fairly quickly, either because they were left in front to absorb a second hit or because they panicked due to being ineligible for the +2 morale bonus enjoyed by heavy infantry with or next to Hannibal. The superior Roman cavalry found it difficult to execute their decisive rear attack until the very last minute when faced by careful delaying tactics. The real struggle was between the successive infantry lines on both sides. Although Lost Battles captures only abstractly the separate line deployments, it does reflect very clearly the grinding and exhausting character of this infantry battle, with both refights lasting for all or most of the 10 turns available.


Now we must prepare for our next classic refight, which will be another drawn-out engagement, this time the highly asymmetric contest at Carrhae (at the Warfare show on November 16th).
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Robert Mosimann
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Professor Sabin

Could you provide a summary of play of the battle: Gaugamela,
which you mention from last month ???

My appreciation,

Robert Mosimann
 
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RobertMosimann wrote:
Could you provide a summary of play of the battle: Gaugamela,
which you mention from last month ???

You can find the report on the wiki page "Lost Battles", the one you are looking for is: Gaugamela x 4
 
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