BS05 Alesia V (52 BC)
The final battle
I once again went with Leadership cards ordering reinforcements here for sake of familiarity and consistency but I can see that it’s possible the Romans will never draw into one with their Command of 4, and so lose. However, I’ve risked that because I really like the idea of increasing Command as the senior generals of the army arrive in the nick of time (Labienus was Caesar’s second in command). I think reading between the lines of his matter of fact account that this was a desperately close thing and that Caesar almost lost the lot here, as evidenced by the terrible risk he took in sending cohorts outside the protection of the contravallation. I wanted that tension and feeling of imminent disaster while Rebilus and Reginus desperately hold out for reinforcements. I’m happy this will deliver. The rear assault by Caesar looks game breaking but from experience mistimed reinforcements behind enemy lines can go badly astray. Get it wrong, find the cavalry’s retreat paths cut off by the whole Gallic army, and the Roman player may find he has cut Caesar’s glittering military career abruptly short. Again, I may have taken historical licence here. Caesar never actually says that he led the cavalry outside the contravallation and considering the glory it would have accrued to him, I have no doubt he would have highlighted it in his account, so I suspect a subordinate led the outflanking force. However, some histories I’ve read state that he did lead the outflanking cavalry and as it creates far better narrative and I have the backing of learned scholars (and I had to put him somewhere in the battle), I’ve gone with him leading the final heroic charge (more on Alesia Design Notes HERE).
After the repulse of their first assault, the relieving Gauls sent an army of 60,000 under the command of Vercassivellaunus, a cousin of Vercingetorix, to attack a point on the northwest where the unfavourable lay of a hill had prevented the Romans from completing the contravallation. Once again the besieged army sallied out of Alesia and the outnumbered Romans were assaulted at multiple points on both lines of fortifications. Caesar sent his cavalry commander Titus Labienus with six cohorts to the relief of the northwest breach while he personally led a counterattack that repulsed Vercingetorix’s men from the circumvallation. Then seeing that the northwest defense was in imminent danger of collapse, he made a desperate move and took a cavalry detachment outside the protection of the contravallation to outflank Vercassivellaunus’ army.
“Suddenly the Gauls saw the cavalry in their rear and fresh cohorts coming up in front. They broke and fled, but found their retreat cut off by the cavalry and were mown down…….when the Gauls in the town saw their countrymen being slaughtered in flight, they gave up hope and recalled their troops from the entrenchments. The relieving forces immediately fled from their camps……a large number were taken or killed by the cavalry, which was sent in pursuit and came up with their rear soon after midnight. The survivors dispersed to their homes.” – Caesar, Commentarii de Bello Gallico
The next day the Gauls in Alesia surrendered. Vercingetorix was taken to Rome and five years later executed at Caesar’s triumph. The defeat at Alesia brought an end to organised Gallic resistance and Gaul became a province of Rome.
The stage is set. The battle lines are drawn and you are in command. Can you change history?
Take 5 Command Cards
Leader: Julius Caesar
Take 4 Command Cards
The Julius Caesar Rule is in effect.
The Marian Legions Rule is in effect (by this stage of the siege the Roman Legions were hungry and exhausted).
When a Gallic unit occupies the Fortified Camp hex at the start of the Gallic player's turn, remove the camp tile and the Gallic player collects a Victory Banner that cannot be lost.
There are two separate Roman reinforcement forces marked with yellow icons, one led by Labienus and one led by Caesar, that start off the map and may enter the battle by play of separate Leadership cards. If a section Leadership card is played, the leader’s unit must enter on a baseline hex in that section and all other units in the relieving force enter on adjacent linked baseline hexes. If a Leadership Any Section card is played the units may enter on baseline hexes in a section of the player's choice. Labienus' force enters on the Roman baseline and at the end of the turn it enters play the Roman player draws two cards and his Command is permanently increased to 5. Caesar's force may not enter play until Labienus is in play, enters on the Gallic baseline and at the end of the turn it enters play the Roman player draws two cards and his Command is permanently increased to 6. In both cases, reinforcement units may move their full movement on the turn they enter play, with the starting baseline hex considered to be the first hex of movement.
CLICK HERE to Download Vassal .SAV files about Alesia scenario
We played the scenrio four times today and all four games were all decided by just one banner.
If Caesar's forces can not enter because of Gallic forces on the Gallic baseline, they can enter the board along the a side. The Roman player plays a leadership card for the left, right or any sector, he then deploys Caesar on a side hex that is closest to the Gallic rear and the other units in the formation in a line adjacent to each other on that side.
We had one situation where two of the units were deployed in two rear hexes and the other units along the side.
When Caesar's force appears they must be deployed on the Gallic baseline. All of the relieving force must enter on an adjacent linked hexes.
We have discovered that the Gallic player can deploy enough units on the baseline that would make it impossible for Caesar's force to enter the game. They still would have sufficient forces to defeat the Romans.