Classical Rome & Greece at Brixham 2023
Spartacus' Slave Revolt vs Gallic
With a pasty safely consumed at lunchtime, the army of Spartacus was ready to march on its stomach and face the next opponent - this time an equally smash-em-up Gallic
This would see two sets of Furious Charge infantry heading into one another like a train crash with checked trousers, and no doubt a speedy resolution in the second game of the weekend
Gauls can be Medium Foot, and terrain loving, or Heavy Foot almost-Galatians that will want a wide open table - the latter option perhaps being more suited to also working for their more than decent (in period) cavalry and chariotry force as well which can either block, or take advantage of a flank if left carelessly available by an unwary opponent
The lists for the Spartacus' Slave Revolt and The Gauls from this game, as well as all the other lists from the games at Brixham can be seen here in the L'Art de la Guerre Wiki.
As the sun dipped below the yard-arm, tempting many to start tucking into the array pf pasties available on the harbourside in this early Devonian lunch break, an unruly legion of emancipated souls clad in a riotous tapestry of tattered garments spread themselves across the plain of battle like cream on a scone, ready to charge forward like a legion of rebellious laundry caught in a gusty Roman wind.
The supposedly barbarous Gauls however actually seemed to have a a plan. They huddled their own Heavyweight infantry together one flank and sought to refuse the other one with cavalry and chariots in a textbook display of how to take on a much larger, but poorer quality opposing force
What's Going on Here Then?
I'd expected a more traditional, evenly balanced deployment here from the Gauls, but what I am facing is a more cavalry-rich composition that is skewed towards my right wing.
This is a bit of an issue given that my "distraction" command comprised entirely of lesser-quality slaves is now facing the Gallic cavalry on my right, and my faster-moving command of Medium foot, cavalry and supporting levies is largely facing thin air (and some chariots) on the other flank
At least the best equipped gladiators were still in the centre - but even so they were facing almost identical troops in the shape of Heavy Infantry Gallic foot
The Gallic chariots swarmed like a plague of locusts out to the flank, pulling the Spartacan horde of freedom-seeking wanna-be Romans ever further towards the edge of the table as if on a mad dash for the liberty from servitude that only being caught in a sleeve of a jumper and then leaping to their doom on the floor far below could deliver to a 15mm high indentured servant .
The Servile Wars
The other flank saw a solid line of unimpressive but willingly participating peasants rolling forward towards a line of Gallic horsemen.
As their unwashed and odorous demeanour wafted through the air, creating an olfactory symphony that could make even a Roman bathhouse blush, the peasants and former slaves girded their loins in anticipation of taking on equine opponents
Let's just wait and see how that will work out for them eh, as frankly no-one really knows just yet given the total lack of horse shaped opponents in the previous game.
Armed with a ludicrous array of improvised weapons – broomstick pilums, ladle gladii, and spatula scutums – the Levy Infantry resembled nothing more than a kitchen gone berserk in the grandeur of their culinary and domestic uprising.
The Gallic cavalry had never seen such utensil-based nonsense in their lives, even though they hailed from the land of Disney's Ratatouille.
Spartacus' Little Known Links to Torbay
Spartacus and the Seaside Ice Cream Standoff: During breaks in filming in South Devon (which stood in for the Appian way in some scenes due to budget issues) the cast engaged in epic ice cream battles on the Torbay seafront.
The conflict allegedly inspired the famous "I am Spartacus!" scene, which was originally scripted as "I scream for ice cream!" before a last-minute rewrite.
In their uncountable numbers, the horde of hordes resembled many of the Classical Worlds most significant constellations, a celestial rebellion twinkling in unfeasible shapes in the dark Gallic night.
Each rebel was but a star in this vast cosmic tapestry of insurrection, united in a cosmic dance against the chains that sought to bind them, although right now many of the Hordes felt that their starts were aligning nicely as the better quality of the Gallic army had inevitably led to less width, a fact many of the slaves were now able to take full advantage of by flooding round their flanks like shooting stars on firework night
Never mind the whole "snails and oysters" malarkey, its right out there anyway)
What's Going on Here Then?
The Gauls have driven their chariots out to their far left flank (my right), but with the sheer numbers of troops in the Slave Revolt army I've been able to send a few units off to meet them while pouring the main part of my left wing command through the gap that has now opened up between the chariots and the Gallic centre
The Gaul's cavalry on the opposite wing are already chewing into the second-rate slaves on my right flank, but in a reverse-echo of the first game, the Gladiators and best-quality revolutionaries are racing to get into combat with the Gallic centre before the enemy horsemen can swing into their flank.
The Gallic chariots meanwhile were away and distracted, some locked in a battle against infantry slaves way out on the edge of the world, and some chasing Galatian cavalry shadows, all of them far from the key areas of battle.
The bravery of the former gardeners, hairdressers and bathhouse attendants who were pressed into chariot-distracting service were akin to gladiators who had discovered the secret weapon of invincibility hidden in the folds of their toga, and they were showing that as boldly as they could to the puzzled and somewhat disturbed Gallic horse-and-cart men.
But, enough of this edge-case nonsense. The real battle was about to be decided mano-a-mano, between the two blocks of Impetuous Heavy Infantry, their dense ranks slamming together in a game of who wins first round wins totally
With the audacity of Greek philosophers challenging the status quo, both sets of incoherent warriors thrust themselves into battle, a chaotic mélange of Asterix-wannabes and sharpened household item-wielding warriors, intent on bringing forth a revolution as absurdly surreal as a Roman banquet where the main course was a debate on the merits of togas versus trousers
What's Going on Here Then?
The slaves out on the far right are holding on manfully against the Gallic horsemen, but their time is limited - which makes the initial successes currently being delivered by the best-armed slaves and gladiators all the more important in the overall battle plan
The Gallic chariots have by now been successfully lured out of the parts of the battlefield where their impact could be significant in the near term, and there is a large chunk of well-equipped slave warriors who are poised to fall upon the exposed right flank of the Gallic infantry line as well.
The question is whether the resilient and numerous Gallic Heavy Infantry (all at 4 hits) can be swept away fast enough before things start to go wrong on both flanks with Gallic horsemen breaking through, or chariotry returning to the fray from their meanderings
Finally the Gallic chariots broke through into the wide open spaces behind the Spartacan lines !
Beneath the brooding Devon skies however, a legion of emancipated souls had already surged forth, a vast and uncountable horde akin to the grains of sand on the shores of the Tiber River which even now were sliding around the end of the main part of the Gallic line, far from the zone of influence of the exhausted chariotry.
Princess Catherine Zeta Spartacus Douglas Jones
The Gallic horsemen had now demonstrated that the advantage in factors lay with them, and not with barely armed peasantry on foot
Clad in tattered rags that fluttered like ancient scrolls, their odorous presence was being erased from the table with only a smell to remind everyone of where the Slave Revolt infantry had once stood against the mounted assault.
As these last embers of odium wafted through the air, they formed a pungent reminder of Spartacus and his men's rebellion against pleasant olfactory experience-led Roman oppression.
Les Dawson was Spartacus!!!
The two lines of proper infantry were by now really duking it out big time.
Having pretty much all of the proper military equipment in the Slave Revolt army concentrated in one place did give the Heavy Infantry a cutting edge that much of the rest of the army lacked, but even so the Gauls were just as good and in many cases a bit better by dint of being Elite - but the Slaves and ex-Gladiators were so far holding their own
(that's not a cheap toga-based gag. Many of them are in fact depicted wearing trousers)
Spartacus' Little Known Links to Torbay
Dalí's Uncredited Cameo: Surrealist artist Salvador Dalí was rumoured to have contributed to the film's set design, introducing surreal elements like melting clocks into the Roman architecture.
The Clock Tower in Torquay harbour, now a local landmark, was originally installed as part of the set for the film, and is said to have been Dali's most subtle nod to the Time of Spartacus
Armed with an arsenal as eclectic as the Senate's debates, their weaponry ranging from pitchforks and ladles to Roman-era (ie pre-Dyson) vacuum cleaners and feather dusters, the left wing of Spartacus' army reluctantly decided that they really needed to halt their headlong rush around the end of the Gallic line.
Displaying astonishing control, the Impetuous well-armed slaves spent the pips to turn about, and started the long trek back to try and prevent the Gauls chariots from eating their hard-looted baggage.
What's Going on Here Then?
The battle is grinding on, with the centre of the Gallic line starting to waver under the assault of the Gladiators, while the Gallic cavalry and chariots are both seriously threatening to return to the fray from each flank
There is now little strategy that can be done, the die is cast and all I can do is to pray to the same gods as Spartacus' would have and hope that my little lead guys can do the business in the situation they are now embedded in
Their caution was well placed. On the opposite flank the Gallic cavalry were ripping a new one into what had initially been a rather imposing line of poorly armed slaves, and what was now a few scattered and tattered remnants of the aforementioned shambolic mob
Their surreal symphony of household items-turned-weapons had looked good in theory, perhaps as if the gods themselves had raised a branch of the Roman version of John Lewis earlier that day, but when faced with experienced horsemen they had fallen like wheat under an expertly wielded scythe.
That Battle Scene
But the better part of Spartacus' army was a different gravy altogether. Like a gathering storm of rebellious spirits, they sliced and carved their way through the enemy with the precision of a legion of Caesar's ducks (no, no idea either), keen to have this battle done and dusted before the Gallic horsemen finished dealing with their half-skilled colleagues.
That chicken is Spartacus!
Huge gaps started to appear in the Gallic war host as ex-Gladiators and newly liberated former warriors did their worst to the Celtic horde before them
The sheer numbers seemed as endless as a Centurion's anecdotal war stories, stretching into the horizon like the winding roads of the Appian Way, yet more numerous than the excuses of a procrastinating charioteer.
Spartacus also had his own cavalry - not that many to be fair, but deployed as a reserve they now sprung into action to help close the door on the sweeping flank move of the Gallic chariotry
The infantry too were moving toward the enemy, despite the scene of carnage that was occurring on the opposite flank against similar Gallic horse troopers.
Their bravery was a flame that burned brighter than Nero's ego, lighting up the chaotic battlefield.
Faces smeared with the unguents of freedom, they wielded spatulas and colanders as if they were Gladius and Shield as they advanced toward the chariots, laying down their lives to buy time for the ex-Gladiators in the centre to win the battle for Freedmen.
The clash of improvised weaponry echoed like the disgruntled murmurs of a Senate in session, tumultuous and unpredictable as the best elements of the Spartacan army completed their grisly work, this time on the battlefield instead of in the arena.The Gallic cavalry were now poised to attack, but the rest of their army was melting away in an ever-increasing flood of routing Gauls.
The Army of Spartacus have just about gotten over the line - the result is a fingernail-hanging-on victory for Spartacus, with 28 out of 34 units down!
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition, or read on for the post match summaries from the Generals involved, as well as another episode of legendary expert analysis from Hannibal
Post Match Summary from Spartacus
My fellow warriors, free souls, and those who have tasted the intoxicating sweetness of victory!
Today, we stand on the blood-soaked fields of triumph, not against the legions of Rome, but against the opportunistic Gauls who sought to exploit the chaos of our rebellion for their gain. They underestimated us, my brothers and sisters, thinking we were mere chattel to be trampled upon. But today, we have proven that we are a force to be reckoned with – a force that will not bow to the whims of oppressors!
In the heart of battle, our finest troops, the once-gladiators who knew the taste of iron and the roar of the crowd, drove through the Gallic barbarians like a tempest unleashed. Their might, born in the crucible of the arena, shattered the main body of the Gauls' infantry. But let us not forget the valiant souls who stood with us, those ill-equipped and desperate, who placed their bodies in the line of danger. Though they may not have emerged victorious, their sacrifice bought us the precious gift of time.
To the left, where the Gallic chariots sought to encircle us, our brethren held firm. They faced an onslaught with tools of the kitchen and garden, symbols of the oppression that once bound them. Yet, with hearts afire and a spirit unbroken, they stood against the chariots, turning what seemed like a desperate defense into a breakthrough. Through that gap burst forth a surge of our own, flanking the Gauls and aiding our brothers in the center.
Today, my comrades, we have seen the power that lies within us – not just in our best-equipped warriors but in the resilience of every man, woman, and child who yearns for freedom. We are a united front, a force that transcends the boundaries of class and origin.
In the echoes of victory, let us remember the anachronistic tools that some of our comrades wielded – symbols of the humble origins from which they rose. Kitchen implements and gardening tools turned weapons of defiance, and through them, we struck a blow for our shared liberation.
And so, my fellow warriors, let our voices rise once more: "I am Spartacus!" Let this cry resonate through the ages, a testament to the indomitable spirit that courses through our veins. As long as breath fills our lungs, we shall march forward, for there are more battles to be fought, more victories to be won.
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
Ah, Spartacus, thou art a leader of men, and yet, thy victories seem but a dance with folly. Congrats on thy hard-won triumph against the Gauls, though I cannot suppress the disappointment in witnessing the sheer lack of strategic foresight.
Thy former gladiators may have triumphed in the center, but lo and behold, the Gallic cavalry danced upon the right wing of thy forces like ravenous wolves among sheep. Where was thy plan, Spartacus? Did thou not consider the potency of a well-coordinated cavalry charge? Methinks thou didst come close to tasting the bitterness of defeat.
And what of the Gallic chariots, those wayward chariots that got lost on the way to the battlefield? A jest from the gods, a stroke of luck, for had they found their mark, thy left wing might have crumbled like parchment in the wind. Oh, how thou dost tread a thin line between victory and disaster, relying on fortune's fickle favour.
Thou art like a shepherd who leads his flock blindly, hoping that the wolves of misfortune do not descend upon thee. I, Hannibal, would have foreseen the Gallic cavalry's threat, countered it with precision, and emerged victorious without the whims of fate intervening.
And once again, thou dost ignore the wisdom of elephants, those magnificent creatures that could trample the Gallic cavalry like blades of grass beneath their mighty feet. Methinks thou art deaf to reason, Spartacus. The roar of elephants would have drowned out the laughter of fortune that smiled upon thee in this battle.
So, my lackluster tactician, thou art victorious, but at what cost? Learn from thy oversights, Spartacus, for luck may abandon thee in the next dance of war. As for elephants, should they still roam the zoos, liberate them before thy next campaign, and mayhap thou shalt find victory with a touch more certainty.
Fare thee well, thou fortunate fool, and may thy next game be guided by more than the capricious whims of fate!
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition