Welcome to Raglan's Imperial Roman Wargaming Blog:

This blog is dedicated to wargaming the Marcomannic Wars 168-175AD and the Roman Civil War during the Year of the Five Emperors 194AD. Both these wars are under reported in reference material, due to the fact that by this time in Roman history, Rome had almost lost the ability to catalogue and maintain its historic events for posterity. As I work through these 28mm wargaming projects, I will attempt to compile information that will be useful to both myself and other wargamers who are interested in this period of Rome's history.

Monday, 28 July 2014

War and Conquest - The Battle of Issus 194AD

The Battle of Issus was the third major battle in 194AD between the forces of Emperor Septimius Severus and his rival, Pescennius Niger. This was one of the major engagements during the Year of the Five Emperors. The battle was fought as usual, using the fantastic War and Conquest rule-set by Rob Broom. The forces of Severus were commanded by my friend John, while yours truly lead the legions of Niger. John O'Connor kindly provided the scenario for this battle, which can be found either on the War and Conquest Yahoo Group or on this blog in the Year of the Five Emperors section. 
The following view of the battlefield shows Serverus' forces attacking from the right across the river. Their objectives were to secure the Temple of Mars on the large hill to the left of the photo, plus the Roman villa in the centre at the far end of the table. Niger legions were tasked with denying Serverus these objectives, plus Niger was tasked with attempting to destroy two units of enemy cavalry. Victory points for this battle were allocated for achieving the objectives, 3 points for controlling the Temple of Mars, 2 points for controlling the villa and 2 points for destroying two units of Serverus' cavalry.   
The game was to last 10 turns, this time limit was something that John failed to take into account during his preliminary moves. Niger's forces began the game set-up on the table using "blind counters" to represent each unit in the army. Therefore, John was unaware of what forces were situated where on the battlefield, however he was able to see where I had concentrated my army. Adrian Goldsworthy talks a great deal about how ancient armies would have had no idea of where specific enemy units were situated in the battle-line, therefore I like to recreate this blind entry into engagement in our games (try it for yourself, it certainly adds another layer to tactical wargaming).     
John begins his advance via the easiest river crossing which was spanned by a pontoon bridge. As this was the most obvious crossing point for heavy infantry and cavalry, it was screened by two units of roman auxiliary archers support by some light cavalry. 
 Niger's formed archers were situated on the hill in front of the pontoon bridge. 
Skirmish archers were placed to the right and below the archers on the hill. These two archer units took a heavy toll on the first legion cohort to brave the river crossing. 
This was the unfortunate cohort before Niger's archers unleashed hell. Given it's loses, the cohort failed a morale check and became disordered. It subsequently blocked the crossing for several turns before finally clearing the bridge for other units to cross.   
As soon as the bridge was open, John correctly used the opportunity to charge his mercenary German Noble Cavalry across the river to threaten the pesky Roman bowmen. 
This view shows Serverus' legion cohorts which have deployed into battle formation to the right and left of the bridge crossing, leaving a gap for the heavy cavalry to charge headlong through the centre. 
Over on John's right, he was left with very little to do, as Niger's Praetorian Guard decided to give up the villa without a fight, under the overwhelming advance of large infantry formations.
  Syrian Auxiliary Archers.  
Mercenary German Warriors.
A first cohort of Roman heavy infantry. 
Niger's Praetorian Cohort conducting their rapid re-deployment. Unfortunately for John, Niger's elite heavy infantry, cruelly set fire to the villa before leaving the area. 
This act of destruction was particularly cruel for John to stomach, as he had only recently experienced a significant house fire which has put him and his family out of their home for several months.  
John stated that my sensitivity to his current predicament was truly over-whelming. 
Thank you John for those kind words!!! 
After three turns, Niger's Praetorian Guard were again in a good position to protect the left flank, which was now under threat from two flanking units of Serverus' light cavalry.
Flanking German cavalry supported by ....
Roman Auxiliary cavalry.  
By this point in the game it was turn seven, John held the villa and my forces were now in excellent defensive positions around the Temple of Mars. 
There was no way that John was going secure the Temple of Mars in such a short time and therefore he decided to concede the game 2 to 3 victory points in favour of Niger's forces.
Following the battle Niger withdrew and allowed Serverus to pray in the temple (it was the least I could do, considering the wanton destruction of the villa by fire). With history changed at the throw of a dice, we retired to a local curry house to discuss the events of the battle.   
This was an interesting battle of manoeuvre and counter-manoeuvre by both sides. 
The game demonstrates that in War and Conquest, games can be won through skillful deployment and objective focused movement, just as much as well timed charges into combat.
Cheers John, it's always a pleasure mate!!! 


  1. What a great looking game! Love your terrain and Man Cave.

  2. Great looking figures and terrain.

  3. Yeah, that's what i like to see, lots of nicely painted miniatures on great looking terrain- it just makes all the difference to a game.

    Fab stuff.


  4. Beautiful game. I've been waiting to see your guys in action!

  5. Wonderful, great figures, terrain and narrative.

  6. Crikey, that's something beautiful and not seen everyday! Brilliant.

  7. War is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

    Your article is very well done, a good read.