Follow by Email

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Piercing the Cissa Line - The battle of Cissa 218 BC

The third battle in our series, we seem to be doing well, three consecutive, planned, linked scenarios; what's happening! We settled down to two games of this on Tuesday. The player arrangement was a little different with myself playing the Carthaginians both times, and Ed and Daz each taking a turn as the Romans. Here's the background to the scenario... As the Second Punic War began (218 BC), Hannibal first conquered northern Spain. Before heading to Italy, he left his brother Hasdrubal with about 15,000 men in southern Spain and Hanno with 11,000 men in the north. The consul Publius Scipio had been assigned an army of 24,000 with which to invade Spain and defeat Hannibal. However, when Scipio arrived at Massilia, he vvas shocked to discover Hannibal's army vvas headed to the Alps. Publius returned to defend Italy, but he sent his army on to Spain under his elder brother Gnaeus. The Romans were not expected so late in the year, and quickly overran northern Spain and then advanced on Hanno's camp at Cissa. Hanno had been reinforced with a few thousand Illergete warriors under Indibilis. Although stili heavily outnumbered, Hanno decided to occupy a strong position on high ground rather than retreat to join Hasdrubal. Gnaeus Scipio did not hesitate and charged his army up the heights in a frontal assault. The fighting was brutal, but the outnumbered Carthaginians were eventually driven off the heights in flight. Reportedly, Carthage lost 6,000 killed and 2,000 captured, including both Hanno and Indibilis. Despite suffering heavy losses, the Romans had the victory. The Romans had established a foothold in Spain. Indibilis was later released, an act of clemency Gnaeus Scipio soon carne to regret. Publius finally arrived a year later, bringing a third legion of 8,000 reinforcements. Each of the Scipio brothers could now command his own army in Spain.    

Anth' thoughts

  This scenario felt like it was going to be pretty straightforward in the way it played out. The Romans would win or lose based upon their ability to pierce the Carthaginian hill line.  The Romans had stronger troop types, however the presence of the hills for the Carthaginians meant that the combat results would be fairly even.  The fact that the Carthaginians would be battling with three dice downhill and the Romans two dice up hill meant literally that it was going to be an uphill struggle for the Romans to gain a foothold. Even though the Carthaginian auxilia were weaker troops, they would take maximum advantage of their hill disposition.  Even when the slow Roman front lines reached the hills they still had the problem of causing enemy retreats due to only rolling two combat dice and the Carthaginians being supported by their fellow troops to ignore one flag.  The surprising part of the game for me was the Carthaginian ability to lay down hails of fire disrupting the Roman front line.  In the first game I was lucky enough to choose several line command cards which allowed the light troops and auxilia to continually fire missiles at the Roman medium foot, causing casualties and broken lines.  The Romans were further hindered by the fact that they had very few light troops of their own to be able to win a prolonged shooting match.  I was also considerably helped in the first game by some very accurate slinger fire on the right flank; the Romans were unable to breach the wall of shields presented to them.  Off the genuine victory of six banners to three banners.  The second game had a similar start with accurate missile fire disrupting the Roman lines.  This time however the Roman general attacked the Carthaginian right flank and gained a foothold onto the hill line.  The Carthaginians tried to react by moving their battleline more towards the right.  The presence of generals certainly helped staunch the flow of Roman attacks. ultimately however this was not enough to stop the Romans from wearing down the defenders. A close, hard fought Roman victory of 6 banners to five banners.  Looking at the scenario from the Roman perspective maybe a little patience in managing the command cards would help the Romans climb the hills to the flanks of the Carthaginian battleline.  Then with some line command or leadership cards the Romans could engage the Carthaginians from both the front and flanks,  allowing their superior numbers to tell.  Patience however can be difficult when faced with the frustration of continual missile fire from the heights above.  


 Ed's thoughts

 This evening it was the turn of the Battle of Cissa. The Romans are in a pretty good position for this one, they have better troops, more of them and more Command cards. The Carthaginians, however, hold the high ground. Historically, this was a win for the Romans. This really didn't go well for me. The cards weren't kind at all, which meant that I couldn't get a coordinated assault together on any part of the line. Anth's dice also seemed to be on fire whereas mine seemed to be lukewarm at best. It was, literally, an uphill struggle. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and what I should have done here is wait. With the Carthaginians on the hill (and out of bow range), I should have just played my rubbish cards and done nothing, building up a decent hand for when I do attack. The Carthaginians could move down from the hill to attack, but that would be giving up their key advantage. Waiting would have made for many dull turns though. By the end of our 2nd Punic War battles I'll hopefully have put some of the things I've learnt into practice.

Daz's thoughts (and a sneak mention of our other project)

  Never really played ancients or much of command & colours,the idea of blocks never appealed to me as I couldn't really see the forces, so too speak. So when Anth decided to use figures it appealed to me. I used Ed's Romans. And not being a tactician of ancient battle tactics,and being abit unconventional. I dived in. What I did find is that a well shuffled deck and getting the right cards and using them well is a must. Anth & Ed eased me into the game,with help and advice as how best to use what cards. The battle was a close fought affair, with the action moving back and forth, until the Romans gained a foothold on the heights.the light troops harried the flanks, allowing the medium & heavy troops to attack the centre. It was 5 all, until a couple of well drawn cards and lucky dice rolls secured a Roman victory. It's always enjoyable to win,for a change. But ,the game of "to the strongest" proved to be a totally different affair,with the Roman force being all but annihilated. I think the figure element that's been added to this boardgame works well and adds a better and more interesting dimension to what could be a drab looking boardgame. I'm looking forward to playing more games with this system, as I'm gradually building a Macedonian Successor army.  
  Here's the current state of play with a little fudging of the league table 
 Finally, in an effort to remove clutter from the board, I made some figure markers to show hits on units, and also firing markers to show how many dice are to be rolled from missile fire


  1. Excellent CCA series! Don't think I have played Cissa but I will!

  2. Thanks Jonathan...This scenario came from the C3i magazine and can be found on the command and colors net website

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks Gunfreak...anything similar yourself?

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.