Saturday 11 February 2023

Difficult Passage

‘I am sorry, but I really cannot let you pass.’

‘You permitted the Sarmatians to go through your lands.’

‘I did not. They fought their way through.’

‘Well, if you do not permit us, we shall have to fight our way through.’

‘Look at it from my position for a moment. The Romans are very unhappy about the Sarmatians. They have invaded my lands twice in retribution, and I could really use not giving them another excuse.’

‘But a little bird tells me that there is also the question of an unpaid bill between you and the Romans on your account, as well as your help to the Sarmatians in storming the Roman camp.’

‘I got the money from the Sarmatians for services rendered. I have no interest in where the money came from, it was due to me.’

‘The service rendered, though, was fighting the Romans and beating them. And it was Roman money, because they had bribed the other Sarmatians onto their side. But they changed sides.’

‘Yes, but now the Romans have come for what they regard as their money, twice.’

‘And you have beaten them, twice.’

‘So you see we are a tough army. So you do not want to fight us. You can go around my lands, you know. I’ll give you a guide.’

‘It is so much easier to go along this road, my friend. The Romans build such nice roads, so convenient for invading places, I find.’

‘Convenient for them as well, of course.’


Poor Dubolwhiskos is, of course, being invaded again. His realm seems to be the motorway from barbarian lands to invade rich Roman territory, and no-one seems willing to go around. It does lay him open to charges of collusion with the invaders. He did fight the Sarmatians under Vodkaschnapps, but the Romans still blamed him, and now it is happening again with a Germanic tribe.

The occasion for this wargame was, firstly, my recovery from a bit of a cold (“there is a lot of it around”) and also a celebration of completing my Dacian and German armies, the final 132 figures of each. So, what else should I do except revive the Sarmatian Nation campaign, with the Germans as a further complicating element? Sooner or later, Vodkaschnapps will catch up with his cousin (or brother) of the other Sarmatian tribe, and that will cause another wargame, very different from this one.

A bit of dice rolling yielded a clash in the hill country. The Germans are nearest to the camera, seeking to proceed along the road to the far edge. The river is, in fact, fordable, but that is known only to the Dacians. Dubloswhiskos’ plan was to delay and disrupt the Germans with his light troops and archers, hold any attack with his tribal foot, and then counter-attack with his reserves and the Sarmatian cataphracts.

The German plan was to sweep in the light troops and mask the archers and tribal foot while the German tribes deployed four deep, and then charge home.

A few moves in and the plans are developing. The German skirmishers on the right are giving the Dacian light horse a hard time, while the Dacian skirmishers are in some jeopardy from the German cavalry. The German foot is just starting to deploy.

I have to confess that Dacian dice rolling was awful on the day. The light horse was routed by the skirmisher bases, and the Dacian skirmishers were routed by the German cavalry, which trotted into them and thus did not pursue into the archers.

The German left developed into a bit of a stand-off between the archers and German cavalry, who were hanging around screening the tribal foot. On the other flank, the Germans were also deploying, covered by their skirmishers.

The Germans took their time before launching their right flank foot, but won the initiative just at the right point, charged through their own skirmish screen, and then routed the Dacian foot on a flukey 6-1 roll. I told you Dacian dice rolling was rubbish on the day.

Dubloswhiskos has already got his left flank reserves moving into position and they managed to countercharge the Germans in the confusion but to no avail. While they did manage to push back one of the German columns, at the end of the turn the dreaded morale roll was required. Having already lost three bases, and then adding another four, the total was, well, it was not quite a rout. Let us say that the Dacian interest in defending their land against the next wave of invaders evaporated at this point.

So a decisive victory to the invading Germanic tribe, and another failure to defend his own country by Dubloswhiskos. It was a lot tighter than you might think from the casualty list, however, and quite tense. It really came down to the question of who won the initiative on the move when the two sides were in charge range, and then a really bad Dacian roll on the charge resolution. If they had managed to hold on, the first round of combat might have been kinder to them and anyway, the Germans had committed 8 bases to beat 4, which is not really a decent rate of return.

But there is always, I suppose, the bigger picture. The Germanic tribe is now about to invade the Roman Empire proper, and we shall have to see what the Romans make of that.


‘All right, all right. I’ll let you through. But you have to fight the Romans. You’re not getting any help from me.’

‘It would seem, my friend, that we do not need any help from you.’

‘Have you fought the Romans before?’

‘No. They are just soft southerners. Why should I bother about them?’

‘They are quite a lot tougher than you seem to think. And they do not stop. If you beat them, they shrug it off and come at you again. And again.’

‘And yet even you have beaten them, my friend. We shall see. They think they are soft.’

‘That is just Latin rhetoric, you know….’


  1. I'm enjoying these occasional forays into Dacia.

    1. Glad you like it. A lot depends on what I have just painted. Now I have to work out why the Spanish might be invading Dacia...