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Subject: Zama x 2 rss

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Philip Sabin
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At the Colours show in Newbury last weekend, we conducted two leisurely refights of the classic battle between Hannibal and Scipio at Zama, using Mark's 28mm figures. Scipio is favoured to win this scenario (the fighting value differential is 93 to 79), but with brilliant generals and plenty of veteran units on both sides, it would be a bitter and bloody struggle before the Carthaginians finally gave way. The initial deployment is shown below, with Hannibal's elephants set to launch their famous opening charge.



In our first game, the main lines engaged and the elephants bore the brunt of the initial fighting. Two elephant units were shattered on turns 2 and 3, and the last one panicked on turn 5 (their vulnerability to panic makes it logical to use them as a dispensable screen, as happened historically). Both sides gradually moved their supporting infantry lines up to join the fighting. The Roman cavalry and Masinissa's allied Numidian horsemen exploited their superiority to break through and outflank the Carthaginian infantry on both sides on turn 4. The picture below shows the battle at this stage, with Eric and Alan in the background talking to Society founder member Neville Dickinson, who established his famous 'Minifigs' company over 50 years ago.



Both sides were suffering heavily in the central infantry contest, with the Carthaginians making three all-out attacks on turn 4 to try to break through before the cavalry encirclement could take effect. However, on turn 5 the victorious horsemen galloped around behind the Punic line in very historical fashion, and seven Carthaginian units were shattered or routed as the right of Hannibal's line gave way. The left of his line continued to push on with the courage of desperation, and it managed to shatter three legionary units before finally breaking on turn 7. The handicapped victory calculation gave Scipio 116 points to Hannibal's 105, translating into only a narrow game victory for the bloodied Romans.

Our second refight went rather differently. Hannibal's right flank cavalry pulled back pre-emptively, but this did not save them from being overrun in short order by the Roman cavalry. Masinissa's horsemen also prevailed by turn 4, but meanwhile the Punic elephants and supporting infantry (after a disastrous start) had been inflicting great damage on the legionary lines. The Roman right centre actually retired pre-emptively on turn 3 to avoid being shattered, and Scipio's centre was also badly shaken. As shown below, it looked for a moment as if Hannibal's men might pull off a battlefield victory against the odds.



The crisis came on turn 5. Hannibal inflicted two hits which should have shattered two legionary units, but Scipio overcame his usual risk aversion and intervened in person to rally his men. He then went on to inflict no fewer than four hits on his own turn, gutting Hannibal's centre and panicking the Punic right centre which by now had been surrounded by the victorious Roman heavy cavalry. Hannibal decided to play for time and to pull his surviving infantry back to his rear zones on turn 7, hoping that his intact left centre could hold on until the game ended on turn 10. However, he had reckoned without the enormous movement potential of Scipio's veteran army, which quickly pursued and surrounded the retiring Carthaginians, as shown below. Spearheaded by the heavy cavalry, who were very much the heroes of this battle, the Romans ground down the remaining resistance by repeated charges, and put the Carthaginians to flight on turn 8 with plenty of time to spare. This time the victory margin was 120 to 104, signifying a clear game victory for the Romans after a rollercoaster contest.



Both refights mirrored the characteristics of the real battle, with the Carthaginians expending their cavalry and elephants to gain time and inflict damage in the hope that their veteran infantry would be able to stand firm and break through the exhausted legionaries before the heavens fell in. The central infantry contest was indeed as bloody and balanced as Polybius describes, but in both refights the Roman horsemen played a decisive role in surrounding the enemy and securing eventual victory. We can recommend this scenario as one of the real classics within the Lost Battles system.
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Kent Reuber
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I'm curious how the table was set up:

- How large are the terrain squares?

- What constitutes a unit? Just one base, or does this vary?
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Philip Sabin
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The terrain squares are 500mm square carpet tiles, and in this scenario each one represents an area 800 metres across. Each separate clump of figures is a unit, so there are about 20 units per side. The smaller units are veterans, and the larger ones are levies. Sharp eyed observers may notice that the unit layout differs slightly from that in the published Zama scenario. I left it to my colleagues to set up the units, and I only belatedly realised the discrepancy. It had little impact on the game, though it may help explain why the Punic left did better than the Punic right. See my report here on BGG of two earlier Zama refights a couple of years ago for instances of Carthaginian game victories.
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pagsab wrote:
See my report here on BGG of two earlier Zama refights a couple of years ago for instances of Carthaginian game victories.

The earlier report is: Zama refought at SELWG
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