Saturday, 23 October 2021

Ancient Campaign Turn 3 - Battle of Aternum 213 BC setup

This game is the second land battle in turn three of my Ancients campaign. Earlier in the campaign turn Rome had finally secured a victory in Northern Italy. While they are still in a precarious position in the campaign the victory was most welcome and the attention now turns to Southern Italy where Hannibal is running amok with a strong Carthaginian force. Will Rome's recently found momentum continue, or will it come to an abrupt halt?

Campaign Map at for turn 3

The game preparation went through the usual three step process:

  1. Decide the terrain and prepare the tabletop
  2. Select the forces and prepare the chance card decks for each army
  3. Deployment of the armies

Terrain and prepare tabletop

The terrain was selected and the tabletop prepared for this weekend's gaming. As per usual terrain cards were used. Four terrain features are randomly selected from a shuffled deck of eight terrain features. These 4 cards are added to four open (blank) terrain cards and shuffled, then six cards selected and placed in two rows of three to represent a 6 by 4 foot tabletop.

If there are no opposing terrain features on the flank areas the terrain gets positioned equal distance from both table base edges. This adjustment does not occur in the centre to ensure the centre areas of the tabletop remains open terrain. The rocky terrain in this instance will be an impediment to any army deploying along that edge.

8 terrain features are shuffled together in a deck and 4 are selected. The selected 4 cards are added to 4 four open (blank) terrain cards and shuffled.

From the deck or 4 terrain and 4 open cards. 6 cards are randomly selected and placed to represent a 6x4 foot table top. Each card representing a 2x2 foot area.

If there are no opposing terrain features on the flank areas, as with the woods and town, the terrain gets positioned equal distance from both base edges. This adjustment does not occur in the centre so ensure the centre areas of the tabletop remains open terrain. 

Select forces and prepare chance cards

To select the order of battle for each army I use the approach from One Hour Wargames and have created two tables, one for the Romans and one for the Carthaginians. A D6 is rolled and the forces selected. Both armies will always have 7 units. Where one side has a larger army, as is the case with the Carthaginians here, then the army will have additional rally cards in their chance card deck.

Rome's order or battle generator table. I have been using the table during the campaign, but have yet to write it up.

Rome rolled a 3 and will have the following order of battle:
  • 4 x Heavy Infantry (HI) units (the Roman commander is assigned to one of the units)
  • 2 x Light Infantry (LI) units
  • 1 x Catapult (CAT) unit
Carthage's order of battle generator table.

Carthage rolled a 4 and will have the following order of battle:
  • 3 x Heavy Infantry (HI) units (one of the units will be Gauls who don't fare so well against missiles)
  • 2 x Light Infantry (LI) units
  • 1 x Heavy Cavalry (HC) unit (Hannibal is assigned to this unit)
  • 1 x Light Cavalry (LC)
No elephants (EL) in this game.

Next is the preparation of chance card decks for each army. There are differences between the cards used for Carthaginian and Roman armies. These differences are to reflect the experienced mercenaries used by Carthage and Rome with their well discipline legions and army organisation.

For this game Carthage will gain two additional cards: one initiative card for being commanded by Hannibal and one rally card because they have the larger force. These cards replace two no event cards in the deck.

Carthage's standard chance card deck.

A rally card for having a larger force and initiative card for having Hannibal as a commander are added, replacing two no event cards.

Rome has their standard deck.

Rome's standard chance card deck prepared for the game.

Army deployment

The deployment of units on the tabletop follows some simple rules. Players dice to see who begins the deployment and they alternate deploying their first, second and third rows. There are limitations to placing heavy infantry on the flanks.
The deployment rules

Rome did not only lose the dice-off to decide which side they are to deploy on, they also lost the second dice-off and will start deploying first. Here are a few photos of the deployed armies...

The Roman centre. Each unit has 3 bases and 27-36 foot figures depending upon unit type and 12-18 mounted figures.

Both armies are deployed. Rome in two lines and Carthage with three lines.

A view from behind the Carthaginians

Hannibal with his heavy cavalry.

A view from behind the Roman army with their catapults are closest in the second line.

The next post will be of the game.


  1. Looking forward to your battle, Peter!

    1. All being well I will get to play this afternoon or evening. It may take a few days to post about it thought.

  2. Your game set up mechanisms are magnificent. I've already engineered your deployment system into some ECW rulesa nd may do the same with the terrain, but terrain is still causing me some gaming issues I need to solve first.

    1. Thanks. I hope you are able to work through the terrain issues and repurpose the deployment mechanism to ECW.

    2. The deployment worked a treat, but the deploying in three lines suits ECW just as well as the Punic Wars - sorting terrain will have to await another day but the bits of the rules exercise gave an enjoyable game. Actually terrain still needs to be tested, it might work OK - I avoided it this time with guest players just in case.

  3. A nice elucidation of your very clever, fairly simple, but effective mechanisms. A Roman loss here will really place Hannibal ad Portas!

    1. I like simple mechanisms and by writing them in my blog I can reference them when I forget :-)
      The Carthaginians are certainly well positioned this campaign turn.

  4. I have to say, this is a hugely rewarding series of battles after all your hard work in getting everything painted. they look great on the table.

    1. Thanks. I do enjoy getting the HAT figures out on the tabletop, and the campaign is providing some interesting context for the games.

  5. "The more you put in the more you get out" sums up your style of wargaming Peter. A lot of us could learn from you.

    1. I find if I can stick to running one campaign and one painting project and not getting distracted with other shiny wargaming things I get more done.