The battle for Capua (Carthaginians v. Romans)

29 April, 2010

Last Tuesday I caught up with Joel for a game of DBA. As the Carthaginians were ready to take the field, I chose them. After a little discussion about opponents, Joel went with the Marians. This suited me, as I had already created a somewhat fanciful scenario for these two armies to meet.

After the battle of Vienne, Dumnorix was preparing for the invasion, make that liberation, of Cisalpine Gaul. At this point he was offered some assistance by Camulogenus, the chief druid (he’s one of the figures on element used for the Gallic camp, so I felt he should get to do a little more). Camulogenus claimed that he could raise an army of Carthaginians from the Other World to face the Romans. Dumnorix saw no downside to this plan and provided Camulogenus with the resources he needed to effect this spell.

Camulogenus summoning the Carthaginian army.

The first the Romans learned of this new threat was when reports of a fleet off Naples reached Rome. These reports were followed quickly by news that the enemy were Carthaginian and were heading for Capua, their favourite watering hole in the 2nd Punic War. Caesar took what he could spare of his army, leaving Labienus to defend Cisalpine Gaul, and marched to meet this unlikely enemy. He was reinforced by what forces were stationed near Rome ready for provincial service.

A Carthaginian priestess sacrificing for good omens in the upcoming battle. Mago's in-laws look on.

Caesar’s army was the same as it’s been for the last few battles, and he held the initiative (he was the aggressor, although the Carthaginians have the same aggression). The Carthaginians, however, were without their elephants, as it seems Camulogenus was unable to summon them, being unsure what they looked like (or so the story goes; actually they watched impatiently half-finished from my painting table). Despite there being some advantage to taking some warband against the Romans, I went for all the new, as yet unused figures and fielded: 2x3Cv (1=cmd), 2xLH, 3xSp, 1x3Ax, 4xPs. The commander of this army was Mago Barca (Camulogenus didn’t have enough clout in the Other World to gain the services of Hannibal).

Caesar contacted the Carthaginians on the coast above Naples, in an area of woods and marsh. Mago deployed between two woods; he had his skirmishers on the left flank, hoping to get them into the marsh and harass the Romans from its safety. He had his cavalry on the right flank. Caesar deployed on a narrow front with his cavalry in reserve.

Initial Deployment: The Carthaginians on the left and the Romans on the right.

Mago succeeded in getting the psiloi into the marsh, but on the other flank, when Caesar extended his line, the Numidians decided to double back and try and get to the left flank. Unsurprisingly they were caught halfway by the advancing legions. They could either go back where they’d come from, or turn and attack. Mago decided to attack the legions, figuring they would either flee or be recoiled and then could move to somewhere more useful. Unfortunately one got a stick and the next turn was flanked and destroyed.

First blood to the Romans, a Numidian cavalry element is destroyed.

Mago then brought the rest of his cavalry around to join up with the skirmishers and threaten the Romans’ right flank. Unfortunately he appeared to have lost some proficiency as a leader of Numidians in the Other World, as he had them facing the Roman cavalry, their nemesis. In the ensuing combat they were routed and the Carthaginians were two down.

Caesar forces the Libyan cavalry to recoil with his psiloi-backed legions, leaving the Numidians overlapped to cavalry, who put them to flight.

Mago then throws in his spear to try to pin the Roman centre while he tries to break through on the flank. This gains some results when he breaks one of the legions that is forced to recoil into its cavalry.

Some Carthaginian success on the left flank while the Libyan spear confront the Roman legions.

Mago follows this up by then destroying the Roman cavalry, which is overlapped on both flanks. However, the Libyan spear on the right flank cannot stand the pressure, and flanked by skirmishers is destroyed.

The battle is now 3-2 to the Romans, but Caesar is looking very exposed.

As the Libyan spear start to falter, Caesar advances a legion behind the line of the spear facing him. In the ensuing combat, the spear are recoiled and break on contact with this legion, which in turn is disordered and breaks. However, at this point the Carthaginians have had enough and quit the field. Caesar has saved the Republic from an unlikely threat, though Dumnorix still remains to the north.

Roma victrix! The Carthaginians are put to flight, not without heavy fighting.

  • Review:

Joel apologised profusely for using the ‘buttocks of death’, but it was his best chance of getting my fourth element; otherwise in the next turn his general was in serious trouble. Still, it was a well deserved victory, one that gives the Romans a reprieve from their string of defeats in Britain and Gaul.

This was my first use of the Carthaginians and I don’t think my choice of terrain placement was too smart. I allowed the Romans to form up on a narrow frontage and prevented my cavalry from getting around his flanks easily. The marsh might have been better more centrally. I was somewhat unlucky to get a stick with my LH, but on reflection it would have been wiser to let them be attacked and then I could have retired in my turn if I got a stick (come to think of it, forcing the Romans to retire would have been just as bad). The psiloi on the flank were largely neutralized by the cavalry. They needed some support to be able to challenge them; warband would have been better, but even the auxilia would have made a difference. Throwing in the spear was a desperate attempt to gain time. They held quite well, but not quite long enough.

2 Responses to “The battle for Capua (Carthaginians v. Romans)”

  1. TWR Says:

    Speaking with the Roman commander he still sounds a little guilty for his victory

    • Mark Davies Says:

      After the recent run of failures for the Carthaginians, I may have to try and milk that for all it’s worth!

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