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The Roman Invasion of Ireland AD61


A one-day campaign using the article ďNo More Bookkeeping!Ē by Norman MacKenzie in Wargames Illustrated 133.

Mr MacKenzie's article describes a campaign system for DBA or HOTT armies based on a map of Ireland. There are two campaign turns per year, summer and winter, with optional rules including campaign movement restrictions in winter. Army size is determined by the number of territories controlled at the start of each campaign game turn. Possession of a number of territories with special features or resources gives additional troops. Unlike the DBA campaign system an armyís losses are not carried forward to subsequent turns.

Each campaign turn each player rolls an initiative die, adjusted by similar factors to those determining Army Size. In descending order of initiative each player then chooses to

  • Pass, i.e. wait to see what others do.
  • Invade a nominated territory adjacent to his largest group of territories.
  • Defend. This gives the player an extra element of his choice for that turn only.
  • The player with the lowest initiative cannot choose to pass. This cycle is then repeated until everyone has not chosen to pass.

    A few additional rules were made to the campaign system for this game.

    If a player was invaded before he chose the Defend option he did not receive the extra element, assuming that the invader moved before the defender could put his territories into a state of defence. Also, if a player was unfortunate enough to have two of his territories invaded in the same campaign turn he could defend only one of them, but he could choose which one.

    On the map each territory was numbered. The costal territories were numbered 1 to 19; the inland territories were numbered 20 to 32. Title cards (shades of Monopoly) were prepared for each of the territories. Twelve of the territories were marked as territories with special resources, giving an extra element and campaign initiative point for each four held. Five were marked as bordering the Great Lake, which gave an extra element and campaign initiative point if all five were held.

    The following amendment was made to the DBA combat factors.

  • -1 - if 3Wb and in bad going on or off road
  • -2 - if any but 3Wb, 3/4Ax or 2Ps; and in, or mounted in contact with enemy in, bad going on or off road
  • This benefit was given to 3Wb to allow them to fight more effectively in terrain common in their home territories.

    Our campaign was based on the premise that following the Roman assault on the Isle of Anglesey in 60AD, the Romans decided to pursue escaping rebel leaders and druids across the sea to an island further to the west. To hunt these rebels down a punitive expedition would be organised, and the XIV legion was assigned to the task.

    The potential Roman involvement was not briefed to the players; it was to be a surprise. The Roman army would be controlled by the umpire (myself) and would be based on the normal v1.1 Early Imperial Roman list. I chose the following: 4x4Bd, 4x4Ax, 2x3Cv, 1x2LH, and 1x2Ps. One of the Blades contained the general.

    Two special rules would apply to the Romans :

  • 1. They would not enter the game before turn 6, and needed to roll 6 on 1D6 to so do that turn, the score required reducing by one each turn. The territory in which they arrived would be determined by rolling 2 average dice.
  • 2. As they would primarily be dependant on the Roman Empire for reinforcements, they would carry forward any losses from one campaign turn to the next. Reinforcements would be diced for at the start of each Summer campaign turn using the following table :
       1) No reinforcements
       2) 1x4Ax
       3) 1x4Bd
       4) 1x4Ax and 1x4Bd
       5) Either 1x3Cv or 1x2LH, playerís choice.
       6) 1x4Ax, 1x4Bd and either 1x3Cv or 1x2LH, playerís choice.
  • Players present at the start of the meeting each represented a Scots Ė Irish tribe, using an army list based on the DBM lists scaled down to a total of 12 elements.

    The army lists were:
    0 to 2LCh*
    6 to 123Ax* or 3Wb*Elements must all be 3Ax or all be 3Wb
    0 to 32Ps
    0 to 14WbAttecoti Mercenaries

    The General must be one of the elements marked *.

    Terrain was chosen as per DBA 1.1 from the terrain types specified in the DBM list. Woods and marsh were compulsory. Rivers, hills (steep or gentle), rough going or built up areas were optional. All of these except rivers and gentle hills were treated as bad going in DBA terms. Rivers proved to be a popular choice, and were decisive in one battle.

    Anyone arriving mid game would enter the game as an invader, using an army from a contemporary list. The invader would determine the territory in which he would land by the roll of a D20 (with a score of 20 meaning no invasion this turn).

    The four players starting the game, their initial territories and army choices were:
    John(West, territory 13)2xLCh, 8x3Ax, 2x2Ps
    Alan(South West, territory 17)2xLCh, 6x3Wb, 3x2Ps, 1x4Wb
    Dave(South East, territory 1)2xLCh, 8x3Wb, 2x2Ps
    Ian(East, territory 6)9x3Ax, 3x2Ps

    Refer to map 1 for the starting positions of the tribes.

    The game started in the summer of 57AD. During the first 5 turns the tribes contented themselves with peaceful expansion, respecting each otherís territory. This was not to last!

    In the winter of 59AD (turn 6) Alan and Dave clashed over territory 27 in the southwest, with the honours going to Dave. This war continued in the summer of 60 in territory 29, with Dave taking control of the territory, but while he was doing so John nipped round the back and took over territory 27.

    In the winter of 60 AD the first invader braved the Irish Sea. A British tribe under Steveís leadership, (fugitives from Anglesey fleeing the Romans perhaps?), landed in the northeast (territory 10) and defeated the locals of Ianís tribe. Steveís army comprised 3xLCh, 2x2LH, 6x3Wb and 1x2Ps. Meanwhile in the south John and Alan fought over territory 27, with John holding on to the real estate this time.

    The summer of 61 AD saw the Romans making their mark on the emerald isle, landing in the east (territory 6) displacing Ianís tribe after a battle in the woods and marshes. The Romans lost a Light Horse and an Auxilia element in the process. Back in the south it was John and Daveís turn to fight over territory 30, possession going to Dave.

    In the winter of 61 AD Alan and Dave clashed over territory 19, while John and Steve disputed territory 12, victory going to Dave and Steve respectively. During this carnage the Romans quietly took over territory 5 unopposed, the current occupants being engaged elsewhere.

    The Romans, down to 10 elements, eagerly awaited the first shipload of reinforcements in the summer of 62 AD. Unfortunately Roman bureaucracy let them down and none were forthcoming. The only other conflict in this season was in territory 3 between Ian and Dave, with Ian taking the honours.

    In the winter of 62 AD the Romans, perhaps rashly, decided to expand westward and challenged Ian for control territory 22. Despite the locals deploying in the densest terrain they could find, and an unsuccessful opening gambit by the Roman Cavalry to raid the defenderís camp, the Roman Auxilia and Psiloi eventually managed to eliminate the required number of elements to win the game, but lost an element of each in the process. Round four of the Dave vs. Alan contest found them fighting it out in the midlands, territory 30. Perhaps inevitably the honours went to Dave, making it 4 Ė 0 in the series.

    Something terrible then befell Alanís tribe, as over the remaining winter months they completely disappeared, leaving their six territories up for grabs. Were they suffering from some kind of severe psychological domination by Daveís tribe leading to mass suicide, was it some terrible plague, or could it be explained by Alan having to leave to pick up his children?

    The summer of 63 AD saw a complete lull in the fighting, as the remaining tribes expanded into the vacuum left by Alanís extinct tribe. The Romans, initially down to 8 elements were grateful to finally receive some reinforcements, although the empire bureaucrat who decided that more cavalry was in order was not that popular with the commander of the XIV legion!

    The winter of 63 AD and the summer of 64AD saw little conflict in the south where the tribes continued to take over Alanís territories. In the north Steve twice tried to wrest territory 23 from Ian, being defeated on both occasions. The reinforcement clerk in Britain fell into even more disfavour with the Roman commander, as he sent yet another element of cavalry across the Irish Sea, really useful in all those bogs and woods!

    The final turn of the campaign turned out to be the winter of 64AD, as Dave invaded Johnís territory 27. This proved to be the deciding battle for the campaign, as both held the same number of undisputed territories, the winner of this game would win the campaign.

    John, in fully defensive mood, deployed on the banks of a river, in a mixture of boggy, hilly and wooded terrain.

    To Daveís frustration the river proved to be in full flood, and was very difficult to cross. In the end he had to give up his attempts to reach Johnís troops, let alone defeat them, leaving John in possession of the territory.

    So the campaign ended with the following statistics
    PlayerTerritoriesBattlesWonLostPercentage
    John942250%
    Dave875271%
    Steve642250%
    Ian563350%
    Andy4220100%
    Alan05050%

    Refer to Map 2 for the final division of the island at the end of the campaign.

    Starting Positions of Tribes

    Key to Maps

    Final Division of Ireland


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