Tuesday, 18 August 2020

The Valley Raid

 Monday night saw a return to the times of Ancient Rome and a game of Romans versus Celts. We used the scenario set out in the Hail Caesar Rulebook.

I won't spend too much time describing this as there maybe readers out there interested in playing this for themselves and suffice to say it works better (especially if you are the Roman players)only to have a basic understanding of the scenario.

In summary a Roman general has been despatched with a sizeable force to 

a) beat up the local natives

b) capture and plunder the locals

c) retrieve roman prisoners and standards

Surprise, surprise.... these can all be found in a local valley. 

The Romans enter the head of the valley and can see a small village to their left and a watchtower halfway down the valley on a small hill.

Further into the wooded valley they can see a herd of cattle and in the distance more woods and a larger Celtic village. The table is 6ft x 10ft in this scenario.

The Romans are divided into four divisons - one cavalry and three infantry units.

Our Roman commanders (Mark & John) debated their strategy and they would target the village nearest them first. Fearing an ambush at some point they would march cautiously up the valley.

Where could the celts be??

Quite quickly one Infantry division stormed the first village and ran into a bunch of woad coloured hunters emerging from the woods. These chaps didn't last very long

In nice neat lines the Romans steadily advanced.

Unbeknownst to them until they got within 24" of the watch tower or crossed midway across the valley floor the Celts would stay sleeping in their beds.

Eventually the Roman advance sounded the alarm and the Celt warbands were roused and the first tribe flooded onto the table

These chaps were a mixed bag of warbands, cavalry and chariots

Fearing their lines might be overcome the Romans girded themselves for action

The first Celtic tribe advanced ready to spring into action. Alastair lead this first war party. My party steadfastly refused to enter the valley

Some pushing and shoving in the ranks finally lead to the charge, with the warbands rushing past the chariots support and into the pilums of the Romans

By now the druidic fanatics had entered the fray (far right) and were about to lead the assault.

The two sides were poised for combat.

Crunch - the barbarians crashed into the Romans and it was carnage Serious casualties on both sides, the Romans quickly losing a veteran and auxilliary unit. Both Druidic fanatics were wiped out.

It was at this point the Romans really thought they were going to lose and began to complain bitterly that the Celts had all the advantages in the charge and that their troops should be faring better. 

Yes the Celts had inflicted serious damage but in subsequent rounds this advantage lessened and the Roman staying power began to shine through.The Celts were also advantaged buy Alastair's die rolling - it was stupendous - he was saving when saves were needed and inflicting sometimes 90-100% hits.

A few tuts and sighs from Mark as his forces took a pasting. John's cavalry and infantry were faring somewhat better but I got the distinct sense that these rules were not to his liking.  

As the combat continued the attritional losses on the Celts began to tell and after three to four rounds of heavy fighting Alastairs forces had been decimated. With six units wiped out or shaken. The Celts could lose this.

Skirmishes had now erupted across the fragmented battlefield but the Romans had maintained their battlelines and were hastily rallying some of their shaken units.

By now my tribe had emerged from the woods but it was late in the evening and with limited time left to play we considered how the game might end.

Realistically almost half of the Celts were shattered and as such almost at breaking point and yert the Romans had fared somewhat better. With the clock ticking we called it a draw.

A few more photos...

The following morning , before I cleared the table away I considered both armies positions. Had the Romans attacked there was every likelihood they would have broken the Celts. However were my tribe able to get into the action earlier it would have been a much closer affair.

For the record I like Hail Caesar - it can deliver a big game in a short period of time. It works for a multitude of periods and we have had some great games spanning the Dark Ages, Crusades and now Roman Britain. 

Like all rulesets its going to take time to bed in with all the players for a particular genre and for some it might still not work.

There are others rules we can try (eg To the Strongest) and we will in the coming months

Have fun folks & Stay safe




  1. Stunning game. I do also like Hail Ceasar, but with it is like with Marmite, you like it or dislike. You cannot make everyone happy...

  2. Perhaps you should play smaller games to full

  3. A splendid spread and report, I like how the Roman players got in to the arrogant we are Roman and must be better mode😂
    Never warmed to Hail Ceasar myself, which is strange as I like Black Powder, it just never felt like an ancients battle.

  4. Hi Eric- Splendid Ancients Battle- well done - I do like your Roman Legions- I had Romans in 1/72nd ESCI Plastic and Celts ( 100 figuers each) -though never played a game - guess it'd be so much fun. Cheers. KEV.

  5. Great game and report. Probably Hail Caesar is the easiest game that can give you the feeling of commanding an entire army.

  6. Great looking table and game. I like the game but Hail Caesar fared poorly with my gaming group as well. Ah well.

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