409 AD Alans versus Dominate Roman Battle Report

Chris Harrod and I started playing the Fall of Hispania Campaign. Chris rolled Alans and I got Dominate Roman. The rules were Field of Glory.

The summary is: Chris played a good game as the Alans but I didn’t fair so well.

Deployment and Plans

The photo shows the table after the Roman’s first move. As the Roman player I’d tried to put a lot of Cavalry slowing terrain down but Chris managed to remove most of it.

Table after first Roman move

I put the Roman cavalry on the right. Chris put all his Nobles together on that flank. My cavalry were to take the hill and provoke the Alan Nobles – the only thing I could kill – into attacking. That was the good part of the plan.

Unfortunately I put my infantry behind the open fields in the centre. I sort of thought we’d fight on my side of the fields but as you’ll see I had miscalculated on Alan skirmishing.

I should mention that I had a couple of illegal ambushes. Some Horse Archers in the enclosed field to deal with the Alan Light Horse on the far flank and some Auxilia Palatina in the vineyard. Half way through the game I realised this was all wrong as these features only hide light infantry.

Aside from the fact I’d set up both badly, and incorrectly, the Roman army did look grand. Ross Pirie painted them and he had done a fine job.

Roman army

Aside from a few Huns I’d included to make up the numbers I painted the Alans. Perhaps the worst paint job I’ve ever done but actually they didn’t look too bad on the table.

Alan army

The Battle

Here’s Chris gazing at the sight of his “horde” advancing across the table.

Alans surge forward

My cavalry quickly reached the hill in front of them. The trouble was that only Chris’s Light Horse and Light Infantry were coming forward. His Alan Nobles were stationary in their starting positions. I needed some way to lure the nobles forward.

Roman cavalry seize hill

What better way than to offer some bait … in the form of the Huns. I swung this unit across my front, with general attached, to threaten the Alan Light Horse near the road. I thought that exposing my flank would entice him forward – and it did. I just hoped the Huns would be able to rout a unit before they got hit themselves.

Huns as bait for the Alan Nobles

Alan Nobles roll forward

A top view of the Huns angling for the Alan Light Horse

In the centre Chris ignored the threat of the Huns and pushed his Light Horse forward across the Open Field towards my infantry.

Alans bear down on Roman foot

Things were going ok on my right but my left flank was already a disaster. Masses of Alan Light Horse were riding across the Open Field on my open flank. It was at this point I realised my ambushes should have been visible all along and revealed them so this flank look a tad better … but it wasn’t enough.

Alans flank Auxilia Palatina

The appearance of my Auxlia Palatine in the vineyard made Chris pause a bit. However I still had only two infantry units, with a gap between, to face his three units of Light Horse. He left a unit skirmishing with each of my Auxlia and pushed the third through the gap between. It hadn’t been pretty before and now it was getting very ugly.

Alans encircle Auxilia Palatina

In the centre my legions had pushed their skirmishing opponents back into the Open Field – where the legions couldn’t follow. Doh! I’d started the charges with my infantry because Chris’s bow fire was wearing down my infantry. His units of four stands of Light Horse could dish out quite a bit of fire power. I had to do something so charged forward. This was ok for the auxilia as they could handle the Open Fields but the legions were less well equipped.

Legions hold off Alans

Meanwhile a cavalry maul was developing around the Huns. They had charged the flank of a Alan Light Horse unit but not broken it. So they were then charged in the flank by a unit of Alan Nobles. But the Huns held. So we had three units locked together in melee. More would soon follow as up on the hill the Equites Catafractarii were preparing to charge.

Roman Cavalry

Archery had fragmented one of my Auxilia Palatina units and Chris launched his horse archers into it – front and back. (The X markers are just to indicate declared charges.)

Doom Auxilia Palatina await contact

My Equites Catafractarii had charged into the cavalry maul and Chris decided to commit another unit of Alan Nobles to counter them.

Equites Catafractarii join the cavalry maul

Up on the hill my Equites were suffering from Alan archery. Those units of four stands really are wicked. But I was about to face fire with fire … my horse archers were coming to the rescue.

Roman Horse Archers challenge Alans

My cavalry were holding their own but my poor infantry weren’t doing so well. Both units of Auxilia Palatina were quickly routed – rather embarrassing really as they were superior. I now turned one unit of Legionaries around to face the Alans to their rear.

Alans start rolling up Roman foot

More fleeing Romans

Luckily the cavalry maul was starting to go my way. The legionary unit in the centre charged into the maul and routed the Alan horse archers fighting my Huns. The Huns then turned to concentrate on the Alans on their flank. The Legionnaires continued up the side of the maul to see if they could get another charge in (which they never did). On the right end of the maul more Alan Nobles had charged into my Catafractarii … and the slogging match continued.

Legionnaires enter maul

On the extreme right my horse archers took on the Alans opposing them and won.

Horse Archers

Sigh. Back to the infantry. One of my legionary units broke leaving just one legionary unit and a small unit of slingers to face the rampaging Alans. It wasn’t going to take long…

Surrounded Romans

But at least the cavalry maul was finally decided in my favour. The Catafractarii and Huns routed the two units of Alan Nobles facing them. The Huns set off in pursuit to ensure the enemy didn’t return.

Romans win cavalry maul

That left a reduced unit of Alan Nobles surrounded by three of my cavalry units. If my Equites had been fresh I would have charged there and then but as it was I paused to rally.

Nervous Alan Nobles

That pause was my downfall. Chris’s cavalry horde dealt to my remaining infantry and sacked my camp. Game over.

Last stand of the Roman foot
Alans in foreground about to charge the Roman camp


It was a close run affair in terms of number of units lost but I think Chris played a much better game than I did. He played the Alans like Alans and deserved his victory.

Although my cavalry successfully lured in the Alan Nobles and defeated them it was partly luck in combat that led to that success. My Huns lasted far longer than they should have. And their survival led to my eventual victory in the cavalry maul.

But my deployment and use of my infantry was really flawed. I placed them in front of terrain where they were disadvantaged but their opponents were not. I left a hole in the line allowing the nimble Alans to ride through and hit me from the rear before they looted my camp.

Next time I’ll try to do better.

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