Middle Imperial Roman

Historical Overview Section

The accession to the purple on November 20, 284, of Diocletian, the lower-class, Greek-speaking Dalmatian commander of Carus's and Numerian's household cavalry (protectores domestici) was a time when conflict boiled in every province of the empire, from Gaul to Syria, from Egypt to the lower Danube. It was too much for a single person to control, and Diocletian decided he needed a mate, and raised his fellow-officer Maximian to the office of Caesar, making him co-emperor. After his acclamation, Maximian was dispatched to fight the rebel Early Frankish Bagaudae in Gaul. Diocletian returned to the East where he fought the Later Sarmatians indecisively, did a deal with the Sassanid Persians to achieve a temporary peace, absorbed the Early Armenians.

Maximian had a tougher time, as the Early Frankish and Ancient British were in open revolt, which the Romans struggled to contain. The two emperors continued to act independently against various enemies, but they agreed on a joint campaign against the Early Frankish Alamanni in 287 whilst Diocletian continued to play diplomacy with the Sassanid Persians and Palmyrans to keep them quiet, and cut a deal with the Beja? too. Diocletian then conjured up two more Caesars in 293, moving the empire closer to a Rome and Byzantium format and this allowed the Empire to take on the Later Sarmatians again in the Balkans and the Dacian or Carpi tribes on the Danube. The Sassanid Persians new King Narseh declared war on Rome in 295 or 296 which was inconvenient for a while.

After Diocletian had split the empire and then retired, there was a bit of a rebellion by the Legions at the edges of the Empire, but it got sorted out after the Civil Wars of the Tetrarchy (306-324 AD) and a geezer called Constantine won. He was so happy he invented a city and called it after himself - Constantinople. Constantine rebuilt Trajan's bridge across the Danube, in hopes of reconquering the Dacian or Carpi tribes in a province that had been abandoned under Aurelian. In the late winter of 332, Constantine campaigned with the Later Sarmatians against the Early Visigothic and Early Vandals.

Constantine's death triggered another invasion by the Sassanid Persians, and another round of civil war, including the Battle of Mursa Major in 351, one of the bloodiest battles in Roman history. The winner, Constantius lived mostly in Milan, but also visited Rome - for the first and only time in his life - in 357, and, in that same year, he forced the Later Sarmatians and Early Frankish Quadi invaders out of Pannonia and Moesia Inferior, then led a successful campaign across the Danube against the Later Sarmatians and the Early Frankish Quadi tribe - but whilst his back was turned, the Sassanid Persians invaded again!

Constantius was succeeded in 361 by Julian (and his friend Sandy), after a bit of sharp practice in which Julian started off running Gaul for Constantius, but ended up running the whole shebang. Julians first action was a bit of a mistake, as in March 363, and despite a series of omens against the campaign, he decided to invade the Sassanid Persian Empire - possibly to keep the eastern Roman army happy (as he'd been running the Western one, and the Easterners felt they were missing out). This went badly wrong, "bad" in a "defeat" sense for the army and in a "death" sense for Julian personally. This let in Jovian for the next 30 years, and he just gave stuff away to the Sassanid Persians and Early Armenians to keep them quiet.

Valentinian and his brother Ritchie Valens then ruled until 375. During his short reign there were wars in Africa, with the Early Frankish and Ancient British tribes, and Rome came into collision with new barbarian peoples such as the Early Frankish Burgundians and the Early Anglo Saxons. Valens fought the Sassanid Persians, the Early Ostrogothic and Heruls and messed up big time at in Thrace when he marched against the confederated barbarian army led by the Early Visigothic and Early Vandals on 9 August 378 in what would become known as the Battle of Adrianople . When the battle was over, two-thirds of the eastern army lay dead. Many of their best officers had also perished. What was left of the army of Valens was led from the field under the cover of night.

Theodosius succeeded Valens, and Gratain succeeded Valentian. Gratian was killed in a rebellion in 383,and after 392 Theodosius ruled as sole emperor, appointing his younger son Honorius Augustus as his co-ruler for the West after a bit of a civil war. He was largely forced into doing deals with the various Early Visigothic and Early Vandal, (Dacian or Carpi)) and Early Ostrogothic and Herul tribes, recruiting them as Foederate troops.

Using the army in ADLG against Huns or similar

Assume you lost the initiative and are in a mostly open table. First, what is each side’s “theory of victory” in this match-up? If you don’t have conception or plan about how you win you probably won’t…

Romans: You need to force the Huns to actually fight you, while avoiding being flanked decisively. The base calculation here is that if you advance 2 UD every tu! rn, starting from 5 UD in at deployment AND keep the Huns in front of you in turn 5 you are 15 UD and in turn 6 you are 17UD across the table and at about that point the Huns have to fight or flee off the table. Now the Huns know this as well so they are going to try and avoid this and try and slide around your side so they aren’t going straight back, they will try and arrange to fall back somewhat diagonally to buy themselves more time/room, try to get you to spend time not advancing and pushing them, etc. The nastiest thing they will do is shoot then fall back and march to the other side of the table YOU MUST NOT LET THIS HAPPEN. Your job as a Roman is to nullify as much of this BS as possible and push them back or into a corner where they have to fight.

So how do you do this?

First, you deploy carefully. DO NOT leave multiple open flanks. Bow armed cavalry are basically just as expensive as legions so are unlikely to outnumber the legions. So you should be thinking in terms of one elements of HI for every cavalry. If a legion charge a cavalry it is a fight in your favor at +1 (armor) vs. +0 (elite) this is a good fight for the legion. Stay together don’t expose two flanks, you probably can’t avoid exposing one. The Huns might/will try and turn your flank. The one thing you don’t want to do is have your potent "Elephant+anything" groups isolated on their own – especially on the open flank. If you do that you can guarantee that the Hun will send every man on a horse to kill them. They are much much more vulnerable than the legions. This goes equally for small groups of cavalry or light cavalry in a Roman army. If you put them somewhere the shooty cavalry can get at them they will do it and do it hard. They can’t compete with masses of bow armed cavalry – don’t try. This is equally true for a Roman cavalry group. NO the Romans can’t take a few cavalry and “skirmish” with the Huns. That leads to a lot of dead Roman cavalry. They aren’t useless but you have to use them extremely careful.

Put that group in one of two places depending on the terrain. It either goes in the middle of your army OR it goes on the edge of the army next to a waterway. Both of these are dangerous locations for our Hun to mass cavalry and you would in fact like them to do so. Why? In either location you push forward and there is a line of legions that are placed to cut off the retreat routes. Sure they can just flee away but that is what you want and eventually the Hun is going to flee and want to turn to one flank or the other to find more space. This is the secret sauce if you will of pushing someone off the table. They need to make this turn while they still have table space to get out of the way. If they can’t march (and more on marching below) that means the cavalry is going to turn and move 3 UD one turn and maybe more 4 more UD the next turn. You need to be able to catch them before they squirt off to the side of your legion by any means necessary. Your ZOC extends out 1 UD and as you advance you can slide 1 UD to the side for free. Always be looking to get the Hun into a position they can’t turn away to the flank. Normally, a cavalry army needs to start thinking about this maneuver when they are about 5 UD from their base table edge at least.

5UD is usually the magic point as that is the last spot they can be assured of not fleeing off the table and being pretty sure they can turn and start moving sideways. When the Huns decide they are going to try and can opener your flank – be ready for that and start turning. Be ready to get heavy troops all the way to the table edge or nearly the table edge. This is a place the M Cav can help if you are careful. They move a bit faster so you can use them to fill the last little gap BUT they need legions supporting them or they are victims.

Get the rest of your army turning as well – remember you have a legion for ever MC Bow. Yes the LC Bow are annoying and will shoot at you and you want to keep them from getting behind you but fundamentally they aren’t that dangerous. Again M Cav + L Cav can help keep them corralled. Or you have “extra” width with the elephant/cavalry group to help. One key to remember is that you are marching on an interior line, behind your rear, so you have less distance to cover than the cavalry player. This can often let you match any big turning/flanking maneuver.

Once all this has happened do what you can to prevent the MC from being able to march move again. March moves are sneakily dangerous.

Your goal here to create a fight where the Huns are forced to fall back to and edge somewhere so they can’t simply keep retreating. That can be their back edge, your back edge, or a side – somewhere they are going to commit their troops. DON’T let them commit then slide sideways to an open part of the table. That is how you lose. If you have to this is the point to sacrifice some cavalry/light cavalry/medium infantry to hold them in place while the legions catch-up.

When you do this ALWAYS charge them every t! urn you can. It forces them back – closer to an edge and it stops half their shooting. Even better is if you can force them back and break up their groups. That over time will pip starve them and they will become less efficient and/or leave you elements you can scoop up by preventing flees. Similarly, don’t let your army get broken up into tiny groups. Each Corps can fairly easily support two groups, but once you are at three or more you risk being unable to charge due to lack of pips.

LMI and especially MI shooters are extremely useful here. DO NOT place them alone on your flanks as unsupported they are vulnerable and a good target. Nestled safely in the midst of heavy infantry they provide powerful firepower and are like all weak points in an unpleasant place to attack.

Terrain considerations:

Always try for the waterway, it is generally helpful. If you get a waterway don’t bother with the village it isn’t helpful as it most likely is sitting on your base edge on the waterway which is not a useful spot.
Don’t get overly obsessed with RGo especially of the fields/brush sort. Unless you have a lot of medium infantry – especially medium infantry that shoots (not a Roman forte) it doesn’t make that much difference. Its biggest value is letting LI stand up to mounted so it is of some value but not hugely. Next biggest use is dummy ambush markers preventing marches..
If you are somewhere that isn’t steppes/plains then you want DGo. The single most dangerous thing you can place for the Huns is a piece of DGo (or impassable) sitting on their baseline dividing up the deployment zone. This generally will compact their army which is good and even better dramatically cut down their ability to march away from your advance. Watch out as the counter-move to this is often to flank march. That is not terrible for you unless you deploy badly and get caught out by it.

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Army Lists

Sample army lists for this army
USTT 2018 200ap
4 Legionaries and Praetorians Heavy swordsmen armor impact Ordinary 11 44
2 Auxiliaries and Lanciarii Medium swordsmen armor impact missile support Ordinary 11 22
2 Light Infantry Bow Light infantry bow Ordinary 4 8
2 Catafractarii Cataphract Ordinary 11 22
2 Light Infantry javelin Light infantry javelin Ordinary 4 8
Competent E Arab Ally
1 Other nomads Light cavalry javelin Ordinary 6 6
2 Scouts on camels Light camel bow Ordinary 7 14
3 Nomad javelinmen Javelinmen Mediocre 5 15
2 Light Infantry javelin Light infantry javelin Ordinary 4
Ordinary Included
2 Equites Alares* Heavy cavalry Elite 11 22
2 Equites Alares Heavy cavalry Ordinary 9 18

200AP USTT 2018
3 Heavy swordsmen armour impact Elite
2 Medium swordsmen armour impact Elite
1 Bowmen
1 Light infantry sling
1 Light infantry javelin
3 Heavy swordsmen armour impact Elite
1 Heavy swordsmen armour impact
1 Bowmen
1 Light infantry sling
1 Light infantry javelin
Comp, Unreliable
1 Heavy cavalry impact Elite
1 Heavy cavalry impact Elite
2 Light cavalry javelin
1 Light cavalry bow

200 point list from Derby 2017
3 Legionaries and Praetorians Heavy swordsmen armour impact Elite
1 Light Infantry Javelin Light infantry javelin Ordinary
2 Lanciarii Medium swordsmen armour impact Elite
1 Auxiliaries and Lanciarii Medium swordsmen impact missile support Ordinary
3 Legionaries and Praetorians Heavy swordsmen armour impact Elite
2 Light Infantry Javelin Light infantry javelin Ordinary
1 Legionairies Heavy swordsmen armour impact Ordinary
2 Equites IllyricanI Light cavalry javelin Ordinary
2 Clibanarii Heavy cavalry impact Elite
2 light bow Light infantry bow Ordinary

  • etc
  • etc

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