Saturday 30 December 2023

The Elephant In The Room

I finished last year with a post featuring elephants too. 

Then, it was due to event that had happened leading to me gaining some frankly massive armies for the Punic Wars.

This year it's because our big Christmas game actually used those those armies in a massive clash using the rather excellent (especially if you only play a certain period very infrequently) Kings of War Historical rules.

I split the forces available into two roughly 3300 point armies. Unfortunately, Wes was unable to join us this year, so I took control of the Carthaginians and their Numidian and Iberian Mercenaries, whilst Matt and Pete became the bickering Consuls leading the Republican Roman legions and their Italian and Gallic Auxiliaries.

I'm not going to go into the exact forces, but broadly the Roman force had bigger and better blocks of infantry, whilst the Carthaginians enjoyed a significant advantage in cavalry and had the aforementioned elephants.

The Roman deployment was fairly conventional, with the legions in the centre and their cavalry and auxiliaries out on the flanks.

The Carthaginians also concentrated their infantry in the middle, but massed their cavalry on their left flank, and left the right flank to the elephants supported by light infantry.

Opening moves saw both lines advance. The Carthaginians took up an oblique line as the elephants pushed forwards on one flank and only the Numidian Cavalry sallied forwards on the other.

The Romans issued a more general advance as the legions moved up at the double, keen to bring their weight to bear. 

Somewhat surprisingly, the Gallic Light Cavalry charged into the elephants, which went about as well as you might expect.

This appeared to happen because one of the two Consuls (obviously they both blamed each other) couldn't tell the difference between his allied units - which felt fairly historically accurate.

This began an ongoing process of the Romans throwing Gauls at the elephants in an attempt to slow their advance, safe in the knowledge that they wouldn't have to pay their auxiliaries the following day.

Over on the other flank, Numidians harried the Italian Auxiliaries, driving off cavalry and peppering the infantry with javelins.

More Gauls were hurled at the elephants and to their doom. However this strategy was keeping the elephants penned in and starting to whittle down their nerve.

All the while, the legions advanced.

The lines finally clashed as Roman Legionaries fought Iberian Scutarii at the base of the hill, whilst the last of the Italian Cavalry was destroyed by the Numidians.

After Light Cavalry, Noble Cavalry and Fanatics had all failed, it was the turn of the massed horde of Gaulish Warriors to take a crack at the elephants.

These two would end up trampled beneath the feet of fate, but by the time they were gone, the elephants would be in a much worse condition.

Another legion crashed into the Iberians in the centre of the Carthaginian line. The Romans had weight of numbers, but the Scutarii were bolstered by the reassuring presence of the Army Standard and the Sacred Band.

The Roman Commander could only watch in horror as his flank seemed to collapse under the feet of the elephants.

Triarii were hastily brought forward to hold the line.

With most of the Numidians finally driven off, the Carthaginian Cavalry crashed into the Italian Auxiliaries inflicting significant damage.

However, Gauls roared in to drive off the last of the Numidians, whilst Roman Cavalry launch a daring attempt to assassinate the enemy general by taking their horses through the trees to assault him.

The attack failed but did create issues in the Carthaginian lines 

Huge bodies of men pushed and shoved along the line, but no breakthrough was achieved by either side...

...until the Carthaginian Cavalry finally broke the Italian Auxiliaries whilst the Iberian Cavalry that had been held in reserve were brought forward to stem the tide of Gauls and Roman Cavalry that were threatening to break through.

Only a lone regiment of Triarii remained to hold back the Carthaginian Cavalry. Fortunately, holding back cavalry is what the spear-armed elites do best.

Meanwhile, on the other flank, the final Roman Legion rushed forwards hoping to reach the action before the last of the Gauls were destroyed by the Numidian infantry.

They managed to make it into the Africans' flank before they could sweep the Gauls away, just as the long spears of the Triarii finally drove off the rampaging elephants, securing the Roman left flank.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the battlefield, the charge of the Iberian Cavalry had failed to have the desired impact and the Gauls now began to look like they might turn the Carthaginian flank.

However, in the centre, one of the Roman Legions finally broke, but the Scutarii were in no stat to pursue and were surprised to find themselves charged by the Roman Signifier, who somehow held them in place.

This gave the Triarii the freedom to concentrate on the cavalry and a full on collapse of the Carthaginian flank was underway.

A similar collapse was underway on the other flank. Although the last of the Gauls had fallen, so had the African infantry, and only a solitary Iberian regiment and some Balearic Slingers stood in the way of an entire legion.

The fight finally came down to the centre, where following the rout of one of the Scutarii units, the Sacred Band faced a very tired Roman Legion.

Both sides took heavy casualties, but both sides held thanks to the presence of their Army Standards strengthening their resolve.

At the final count, the Romans came away with a victory which would have been overturned had the battered legion in the centre not stood their ground. 

The battle had initially seemed to be going massively in the Carthaginians favour, but the stalwart nature of the Legions, combined with some nick-of-time action from the Triarii and some frankly ridiculous behaviours from the Roman Signifier blocking the Carthaginian advance won the day.

Overall it was a lot of fun to play and proved that Kings of War is a versatile system that's really easy to use and excellent for people who play certain eras extremely infrequently. I'm sure experts could find fault with the historical accuracy, but given that we're unlikely to play ancients again any time soon, it felt right.

In other news, I was 'kindly' given the Battletech Beginner Box by Pete as a Secret Santa present. He's been on at me to get into this for some time and now I've got no excuse.

It has two models and the quick start rules but he knows me well enough to know I'll by at least a couple more mechs to be able to play the smaller scale version of the game.

In return I gave him some Morannon Orcs so we can play the Gondor At War campaign for Lord of the Rings, which I've been on at him about (,you get a sense of how we use Secret Santa here), and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man I received recently as he's a big Ghostbusters fan.

So that's it for gaming this year. I'll be back tomorrow with my review of last year's resolutions and you find out just how badly I've done.

Yes, I have counted up how many miniatures I've gained.

No. I'm not telling you until tomorrow.

Yes. It's bad...very very bad.

Acquired: 291
Painted: 323
Lead Mountain: 589


  1. Very entertaining battle Kieron and great looking armies.

    You say "Yes, I have counted up how many miniatures I've gained. No. I'm not telling you until tomorrow. Yes. It's bad...very very bad."

    So not very many? 😁

  2. PS. thanks for all your blogging through the year. Very entertaining and inspirational.

    1. Glad you are enjoying it. I mainly do this to keep myself focused, but it's nice to know it's entertaining someone.

  3. Beautiful armies. I am very envious of the Garrison figures. Well done.

    1. Thank you. Which ones are the Garrison miniatures? The only manufacturers that I know are the later Carthaginian models (usually on paler bases) that are the WAB Army he painted for me, and the Roman Legionaries are Hinchcliffe and (I think) Dixon.