Sword and Spear, with Romans and Goths

Following our last go at Sword and Spear we decided to try it out with Romans and Goths. There’s a tradition in our club that any new set of ancient rules is tested with the Roman and Goth armies in the club cupboard, so it only seemed right that we gave them a run out with Sword and Spear.

As we speak cruel time is fleeing. Seize the day, believing as little as possible in the morrow.
– Horace, Roman lyric poet.

Hey now, hey now, now, sing This Corrosion to me.
– Andrew Eldritch, Goth lyric poet.

The Romans were comprised of 6 units of legionaries and Auxilia of various quality, supported by some 2 light infantry, 2 cavalry, 1 cataphract and 1 unit of horse archers. The Goths were 2 noble cavalry, 3 heavy cavalry and 8 warbands.


^ The Romans deploy. Heavy cavalry and cataphracts on their left.


^ The Goths have split the warbands, and cavalry in centre and both flanks.

The Goths advanced towards the mainly stationary Romans. Heavy cavalry and the formidable cataphracts confidently moved forward to defeat the Goth cavalry and threaten the infantry flank. The Goth left struggled to co-ordinate an advance, while the Romans on that flank made a half-hearted effort to begin skirmishing.


^ View from the Goths’ hill. Both generals can be seen leading their cavalry on the Goth right.

As the cavalry arrived at charge distance, disaster struck for the Romans. The Goths were able to activate both their units on the first phase, but the Romans could only activate the cataphracts. The Goth cavalry swept the Roman cavalry from the field in one combat, leaving the cataphracts in danger. The cataphracts were unable to defeat their opponents before the other Goth cavalry unit returned from pursuit.


^ Victorious Goth cavalry turn about to charge the cataphracts in the rear.

The Goth charge destroyed the cataphracts and killed the Roman commander. All looked lost, and the Roman sub-general attempted to move his light cavalry across to the other flank to stem the tide. The Romans were in desperate trouble and launched an attack from their right to try and win the battle before their left inevitably collapsed.


^ Battlelines close. The Roman right lunges forward to engage the enemy, while the horse archers gallop to the aid of the left. The far left Roman legion will step back to try and refuse its flank. Meanwhile another Gothic cavalry unit from the centre has joined up with the right wing.

The Roman attack manages to catch a Goth cavalry unit unprepared, and these are swept away by the charge. The Roman left is badly damaged by charges from Cavalry and warbands. At this point we’re both thinking that the ‘impact’ ability (that all the Goths have) is severely overpowered. However, the Roman line holds, and the right wing Roman cavalry returns from pursuit to aid the Roman infantry which is succeeding against the Gothic infantry.


^ Roman cavalry about to charge Gothic cavalry that has arrived from their left wing to support the centre.

With the Roman left clinging on, the Roman right is victorious and begins to swing around to help.


^ The Roman legion on the right prepares to charge the flank of the Goths before the Roman infantry breaks, on the left a Roman legion hangs on against the cavalry.

In a critical turn, the Romans manage to fend off the Goth cavalry, and the horse archers are able to destroy another cavalry unit with shooting before it can charge to the rear of the infantry.


^ The Roman horse archers in the foreground have shot down the Goths. The white-shielded Romans had turned to face in expectation of a charge.

Finally, the last of the main Goth infantry was defeated leading to the collapse of the army and a hard-fought victory for the Romans.


^The end for the Goth infantry.

Another very enjoyable game of Sword and Spear. Considering I almost gave up as the Romans following the catastrophic loss of the cavalry so early on, it was a great comeback. The Roman infantry were able to hang on despite getting mauled in the first (impact) turn of combat, either through more dice versus the cavalry, or better armour against the infantry, and aided by a huge slice of luck. Combat in S&S appears to be a very unpredictable business and the game will likely have many twists and turns. Again, I’d highly recommend giving the rules a go, it’s a really good game, with lots of challenges and decisions to make.

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One Response to Sword and Spear, with Romans and Goths

  1. mikethemagi says:

    If I played that game again, I wouldn’t have spread the Goth line so wide, and would have amassed them all on the low ground on the right with Cavalry to man the flanks. I think two lines would have given me more flexibility, and being able to quickly throw Fresh Goths into shakey legionaries would have been a great boon.

    Damn fun game however, and I look forward to playing it more when I get my Carthaginians on the table.

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