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Subject: [AAR] Sambre al fresco rss

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Philip Sabin
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Today we had unseasonal bright sunshine and minimal breezes, so I decided to conduct a solo refight on a table in the garden, as shown. One should do this only sparingly, since even light winds can play havoc with the components and too much direct sunlight can warp the tiles, but I couldn't resist giving it a go. (I tried to get one of our cats to pose in the picture, but she simply wouldn't stay still in the bright sunshine!)



We have refought the Sambre many times, including at a Society of Ancients Battle Day a few years ago, but I see from Thomas's wiki that he couldn't find an online AAR, so I decided to fill the gap. I used the historical initial deployments as shown below, with Caesar's army at the top in black starting the battle surprised.



On turn two, the Romans scored 3 hits with their screening forces, and then Caesar brought up 4 legionary units and deployed himself into the right centre. The Belgae did even better, scoring 5 hits (one all-out) and shattering one of Caesar's Gallic cavalry units, before advancing their trailing units into the fray.



On turn three, the Romans scored 5 hits of their own, shattering the enemy cavalry and making the entire enemy centre spent. The Belgae returned the favour and inflicted a further 5 hits themselves(one all-out). This battle was going remarkably fast, and the Roman reinforcements were becoming spent as soon as they could be thrown into the fray. Caesar chose to have an average legionary unit shattered in order to keep some of his veterans fresh.



Turn four saw a further 5 hits by the Roman line. The decisive point was in the centre where they accepted an all-out attack by a veteran legionary unit in order to inflict two hits and shatter two enemy units. This was rewarded when the other 4 Belgic units in the square broke and fled, allowing the Romans to advance into the vacated square. The Belgae then withdrew their two surviving units on the right back into the wood, while the surprisingly unscathed mass of Nervii on the left pressed on and scored 3 more hits on Caesar's beleaguered right, shattering a second average legionary unit.



On turn 5, Labienus sent his men in pursuit of the retiring enemy and rode himself to join the central forces, which turned against the flank of the Nervii and inflicted 3 hits on them in conjunction with Caesar's frontal attack. The Belgic right continued its withdrawal off the field, while Boduognatus sent two units back to guard against encirclement. This turn he managed only one all-out attack against Caesar's wing, which had just received all the remaining reinforcements.



Turn 6 saw the fresh legions from the Roman left use double express movement to seize the Belgic camp, where they were joined by light infantry from the centre. Labienus then struck the decisive blow by inflicting 3 hits on the flank of the Nervii, even though the river meant that he could only attack with two units. Boduognatus's rally attempt failed, and with a -3 morale penalty for having had 4 units shattered, having lost their camp and being outnumbered by 14 units to 7, it was no surprise when the remaining Nervii broke and fled. The last picture shows the field at the time of this climactic morale test.



The Belgae got a handicap bonus of 42 for their initial inferiority, giving them a score of 98 when they added the points for the 3 shattered and 9 spent Roman units. However, the Romans got their own handicap bonus of 22 for being surprised and for average legionaries being easier to replace, and this gave them an overall total of 110 and a margin of 12 points. With the threshold for a major victory being 17 (40 minus 23), this gave Caesar a comfortably clear victory in game terms.

The battle developed fairly historically, with the weaker Belgic centre and right giving way in short order, allowing Labienus to advance to seize the enemy camp and to pull Caesar's chestnuts out of the fire by outflanking the mass of the Nervii. Had the Belgic centre survived on turn four, it would surely have pulled back into the woods and probably turned at bay on turn five, thereby guarding the camp and giving Boduognatus extra time to assail Caesar's right. Both sides had unusually successful attacks in the early turns, but it was in the centre where the battle was won and lost, as the Romans used the river and hill to offset their inferior numbers and to create the decisive breakthrough.
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pagsab wrote:
We have refought the Sambre many times, including at a Society of Ancients Battle Day a few years ago, but I see from Thomas's wiki that he couldn't find an online AAR, so I decided to fill the gap. I used the historical initial deployments as shown below, with Caesar's army at the top in black starting the battle surprised.

I saw the SoA Battle Day 2005 page, but this is no session report. On the other hand it will be interesting to add such detailed information to the wiki page, even if it is not directly linked to Lost Battles, that's why I named the wiki page just "Lost Battles" and not "Lost Battles AARs" or similar. I just added the link for Sambre, others to follow.
And yes, finding "holes" in the available AARs was one of the goals I tried to reach with the wiki page. Thanks for filling one of the last few gaps
 
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David
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Excellent session report that has motivated me to fight this battle.
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Robert Carroll
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Agreed, excellent report. Thanks for the posting. Do you enjoy this system?
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Philip Sabin
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I am reminded of the episode from the film 'The Dam Busters', when Michael Redgrave (playing Barnes Wallis) is asked how on earth he can justify being given the use of a precious Wellington bomber for his bouncing bomb experiments:

'Perhaps if you told them I designed it, do you think that might help?'
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David
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Well have managed to get this battle fought as I said I would after this great session report.

Ended with Belgae on 68 points and Rome 88 points.
Belgae received 42 h/c points and the Romans 3 for their three initial units (I hope I got that one right?).

The Ave Legions didn't take hits so the final was Belgae 110 and Rome 91.

19 point margin, Major Game victory to the Belgae.

I haven't played this in a while so I'm open to correction before I return to the tent to celebrate and sacrifice some Roman captives.
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Snowman wrote:
I haven't played this in a while so I'm open to correction before I return to the tent to celebrate and sacrifice some Roman captives.

So we will see a session report from you on this?
And as they say here: "Pics or it didn't happen"
 
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