Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Baetis River 80 BC - Strength and Honour Game


Romans deployed on the left, Sertorius's forces on the right

Sertorius' light cavalry advance

Sertorius attached to a Spanish legion

Forces advance

Light cavalry combat

On Wednesday I played a small, solo Strength and Honour game out in the shed. The scenario was Baetis River 80 BC, with Sertorius' forces (Marius' Populares) fighting Lucius Fufidius' forces (Sulla's Optimates). Not that much is known about the battle, it was fought on the swampy, Baetis River estuary in Spain, where Sertorius' local knowledge was an advantage. Sallust, History frag 1.95, says:

Afterwards, Fufidius arrived with his legions. He discovered that the banks of the river were steep, and if they had to fight, the ford would be hard to get across. Everything favoured his enemies more than his own side.

Plutarch in his life of Sertorius doesn't describe the battle but does provide information on the composition of Sertorius's forces on his return to Spain from Africa, just before the battle. According to Plutarch he had about 8,000 men - 2,600 Romans, 700 Libyans/North Africans and 4,700 Lusitanians. Fufidius presumably outnumbered him but no further details are known. 

Anyway the scenario I came up with provided a fun small game that proved to be quite a tussle. The Romans were the attackers and enjoyed early success when they pushed back Sertorius's slingers and skirmishers off the table. A light cavalry combat on the opposite flank saw the Romans pushed back and then rout. Sertorius' Lusitanians pushed back a raw legion in the centre and further push backs for the Romans saw flank attacks. The Romans fought back well, rallying from disorder and surviving multiple discipline tests, risks to the general and lost eagles and high centurion casualties. In the end they only broke on the third Homonculus Est activation of the Spanish! Interestingly, looking at the Spanish set back and disaster cards after this, they had also reached army break point.

Roman levy legion is reluctant to advance

Sertorius' slingers and skirmishers on the left flank
are pushed back off the table

Roman raw and levy legions are pushed back

Fufidius' legion is disordered

Roman Spanish allies and skirmishers rout

Romans finally break on the third
Homonculus Est activation!


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Michal, it was fun, quite a close one.

  2. Great looking close run battle, I thought of you as I wandered through the Egyptian section of the British museum on my way to the Stonehenge exhibition!
    Best Iain

    1. Thanks Iain, I envy you being able to visit the British Museum anytime!

  3. Nice looking game, always glad to see Ancient battles!

    1. Thanks Phil, it was good to get the Spanish out for a game.

  4. Replies
    1. Thanks Stuart, I’ve really enjoyed the S&H games so far.


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