Tuesday 5 November 2019

Battle of the Pellia Valley

One small corner of the Operations Room
Its been a while since my last solo game at home but at long last, my Operations Rooms is up and running! The room isn't completely finished but enough has been done that I could start using the space for some actual gaming rather than just DIY! I'm still waiting for my new storage units to be delivered (hopefully in the next week) and I need to put up some bookshelves today and start to bring my reference book collection out of storage. The room is coming together slowly, but this weekend I just needed to roll some dice and so I quickly threw together a small solo game using the To the Strongest! rules. 

The Setup
Hanibal has been defeating the Romans on Italian soil and with each victory, more Gaulish tribes have turned on their former masters. One tribe has decided the time is ripe to raid some of the lowland villas for plunder (and a little payback) but has quickly drawn the attention of a small Roman garrison in the area. This is a fictional encounter between two equal-sized armies in a small valley. The Romans had sent their light cavalry out to scout for the Gauls but the tribe used the hills to get into position opposite the smaller body of Roman infantry. They need to close the gap quickly and let their weight of numbers count against the disciplined Romans. 

Orders of Battle
General Trivinus (Mounted, Detached, Senior)
    4x Hastati/Principes (Legionaries, Special)
General Hastagus (Mounted, Detached)
    2x Allied Light Cavalry (Light Cavalry, Javelin)

General Vestigius (Mounted, Detached, Senior, Brilliant)
    3x Gauls (Warriors, hero, deep)
    2x Veteran Gauls (Warriors, hero, deep, Veteran)

The Action
The Gauls have appeared on a ridge opposite the Roman camp. The Roman Light Cavalry are returning from a scouting mission and can be seen in the far corner of the table. 

A Mounted General leads the Light Cavalry and as soon at they see the Gauls they speed up aiming to harras the flank of the barbarians. 

The Gauls advance quickly, all except the last unit in the centre which rolled a one for activation. The General was in the same box and allowed a re-roll....another One! 

A couple of turns later the Gauls have advanced in better order and seeing the light cavalry on their flank oblique forwards allowing four units to face off against the Romans and the last group of warriors are tasked with seeing off or destroying the cavalry. 
Lots of Javelins are lobbed at the advancing Gauls with only one disorder marker resulting. Pretty ineffective considering. 

Melee commences and both sides take damage. The end Gaulish unit is in a bad way but similarly one of the Roman units is damaged and vulnerable. 

Meanwhile, the Gauls are able to see off one Light init and destroy another as it tries to flee. Both Light units have expended their javelins but could still be a problem is they arrive behind or on the flank of the larger warrior units. 

The Roman Hastati/Principi units fall back to attempt a Rally (having failed to do so as part of the line exchange). The Gauls meanwhile have lost a unit on the end of their line. The Romans could outflank the barbarians, if only they can make the most of the situation. 

Two Roman units are vulnerable now but the Gauls just don't seem able to exploit the situation. 

Disaster for the Roman commander. With units, in disorder, he wanted to fall back to Rally but instead, the first unit, outside command range of the general, rolls a ONE! The Roman turn is over having achieved nothing. 

The Gauls now destroy a Roman unit and threaten the other damaged unit. Fortunately, it passes several saving rolls and clings on. 

Now its the Gauls turn to roll a One on the first unit to activate, and again the General is too far away to help! 

The Romans take advantage of the breathing space and turn to attack the flank of the Gauls. After several rounds of combat, the Gaulish unit is destroyed and the advantage seems to have passed back to the Romans.   

Fortunately for the Gauls, they have mauled the Romans who have to retreat out of their Zone of Control to attempt to rally. Meanwhile, the Roman Light cavalry managed to evade the enemy and begins to swing wide behind the Barbarians. The warriors that had been harassing them now turn round and head back into the centre to support their comrades. 

The battle has swung a full ninety degrees. Now, at last, the Roman units have rallied and reentered the fray. The light cavalry, however, keeps rolling multiple ones for activation and fail to move on the exposed rear of the Barbarian line. 

The two weary forces clash again and both sides take damage, but the Gauls are better able to absorb this than the Romans and continue to press their attack. Meanwhile, another set of snake eyes mean the Roman light cavalry still haven't moved!!

A crucial moment. One of the Roman units is destroyed and are now just one point away from breaking entirely. 

The Romans attempt to rally but again fail and this time the Barbarians are able to overwhelm them, destroying another Roman unit. With the breaking point of the army reached the surviving Romans flee back to their camp. 

A fun and relatively quick game to play. In fact, it took longer to set up than it did to play. There were several moments when I thought the Romans could win this but the dice gods were just not with them in the end. I can't recall a game where I rolled more ones for activation, often in multiples!

I notice that when I play alone like this I tend to ‘narrate’ the action out load to myself. Mostly this is talking through the next step of the rules as I play but sometimes I find myself cajoling troops that failed activation rolls or spurring others on when there is a crucial moment of the game. Most of the time I’m doing it without even noticing but it suddenly struck me during this game that this is the modern equivalent to making shooting noises as I played with my toy soldiers when I was a kid! (“Pew pew, pew pew!”). It made me laugh because I’m often accused of having never fully grown up... and at fifty I have no plans to do so in the near future!

So there you have it, my first game in the new Operations Room. I'll post more pictures of the room when I have finished putting up shelves and when my storage units arrive. Cross fingers another couple of weeks and everything will be done. Then I can start working on my preparations for this year's Painting Challenge


  1. Great to see the Operations Room up and ready, looking forward to the virtual tour.

    1. Won't be long now. The shelves went up yesterday and my metal storage units arrive tomorrow and then I just need to extract all my 'stuff' that currently resides in a dozen different cubby-holes around the house.

  2. Strange but the battlefields look so 'epic' with the masses of tiny figures. I wish I had the patience and skill for 6mm/10mm because I love the look of the massed bases. Lovely stuff.

    1. That was a pretty small battle really. Just 80 points apiece. Bigger battle will take place when I get the room properly organised and I have more time for setting up etc.

  3. I wonder what it's like being a grown up? I'm with you Big Lee, life's too short to not continue growing. Sound effects maketh the man. Room looking good, love the 6mm ancients.

    1. There's a quote I often use (I can't remember who said it) that I think sums me up:

      "I was wise enough to never grow up while fooling most people into believing I had"

  4. Nice looking game Lee.......and you won too!!! I'd live to have been a fly on the wall listening to you making all sorts of noises! And as for growing up? Never! I for one will forever be a Peter Pan!

    1. In my battle log it's down as a solo game not a win. I'm desperate to turn my ratio of defeats around, but not this way!


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