The title is a bit misleading, but the concept is intriguing. Roman Testudos are extremely difficult to disrupt, great in defense and can disband to create a wonderful assault force. What can the Judaean offer in comparison ?
The first consideration is Stacking. Testudos come 3 units high. So a Judaean Testudo must do the same. That means a Leader or ben Yair stacked with … two units.
The second consideration is Terrain. Judaean units defending in Built Ups get a +1 in Melee. This compares favorably with the +1 the Romans get for FHI as defenders. Built Ups also limit the Roman stacking possibilities. Judaeans defending in Built Ups, attacked only from Built Ups, creates the best possible defensive Melee odds for the Judaean. Add a Leader or ben Yair and the Judaean creates his own “Testudo”.
The third consideration is Situation. Ultimately, the Roman must Melee interior Built Up hexes. The Judaean formation of Zealots/Regulars stacked with Leaders/Commander in Built Up/Ediface/Breach/Slope hexes is the best they can offer. The Judaean “Testudo” is therefore defined as a 3 Stack in Built Ups or an Ediface or in a Breach or facing a Slope when facing an assault from Built Ups or an Ediface … or a Slope … or a Breach.
Roman Testudos are created and utilized within certain restrictions. So too are Judaean Testudos. And just as Roman Testudos are created with great forethought and used to accomplish a certain objective, so too are the Judaean’s. The Judaean looks ahead and determines the interior line of Built Ups to be defended, conserves enough Zealots/Regulars to occupy them, and places his Leaders/Commander to form them.
The Judaean has the opportunity to practice this “Testudo” formation in every Phase leading up to the one where the Roman MUST capture the Temple. He has the opportunity to do so and bleed the Roman Legions as he learns. The penultimate defense will be in the temple Ediface, where everything will be used to create a core of “Testudos” in its defense.
No matter what the Roman does up to the Temple assault, no matter how many Areas the Judaean loses, the fact is that the Judaean has a better than even chance to defend the Temple if he utilizes the Judaean “Testudo”. Better than even … I would think it is 80-20 Judaean. Probably zip if you play Aaron. The only chance you have against him is offering an exceptional wine (he is a fine judge) and following it up with incredible luck. He gets a bit testy when you trash talk him … but not enough to make him break.
Nor will the Judaean.
Best to all –
Judean stacked 3 high in built-ups and edifices are a very tough nut to crack, I would say nearly impossible by mere melee unless you are very lucky !
remember though, that the judean will never get more than five of these formations at any time in the game (whereas the roman can use a lot of testudoes and stack them 4 high with leaders !) and the obvious thing to do is avoid them and attack elsewhere if possible.
The judean can only hope to play that trick in the interior built-ups because, personnaly, I never attack exterior built-ups or edifice without preparing the assault with big missile fire over 28 FP : in this case the risk to get E,E results would deter any leader to stay there !
the roman should always stick to the taking of exterior built-ups : make a few lodgement, then extend the line on the sides still with the help of roman archers. He will sometimes be lucky and take interior BU as well but on the whole, the exterior ones are the most easy to take.
As for the temple, melee combat will never crush its defence ! the only solution (I myself took it twice but lost the game anyway, once due to roman casualties over 400, the other time because the judean escaped with all its leaders and a bunch of zealots and regs (Lot of VP believe me !)) is to control or destroy both interior gates (whatever the cost !) and shoot the guy inside to pieces. You need a good breach in the interior wall and should have dealt with the susa gate in previous AP as well as, if possible, control the antonia fortress before starting the assault ( the two fortresses closer to the temple are very good ballista nests so don't destry them, take them !).
the most bloody part during the temple assault is the taking of the exterior wall (where you should have a nice breach to start with) because you must go very quicly (you want to stack your archers there as soon as possible) and so you need to assault carelessly without waiting for the proper prep fire as you don't have much time : ramp will help a lot. Once you've got the exterior wall (2/3 turns) or at least part of it you can concentrate your fire on the temple quarter : while everything you have shoot at the units inside the edifice, the rest of the legions just sacrifice their testudoes, ram, towers to soak the hellish fire coming from the fortresses around and the part of the wall still in judean hand !
First of all, the temple central hex has a LOF over all the surrounding walls but the reverse is true : your 4 ballistaes can shoot 28 FP every turn (without the -1 indirect fire drm) which mean that the judean cannot keep 2 units and a leader there unless he wants to die ! Then, the part of the edifice just behind your breach (at least 3 hexes) should also receive killer shot every turn (4 stacks of syrian archer and 4 onagers = 52 FP which is a lot even with -1 drm, everything protected by testudoes ) : your archers must not be destroyed even by long range shot, so you must not mind the losses and soak judean fire with mandatory targets !
use the rest of your firepower to get some of the bastions or deal some more casualties but the real trick is : you must be able to have 2/3 turns of really good shots inside the edifice, keep your archers and arty safe (mean sacrificing a lot of units as mandatory targets) prevent the judean to ressuply the inner temple with fresh units (take the gates, or sacrifice testudoes to block the entrance, whatever the cost !). : after 2/3 turns bof this treatment, there should not be a lot of valid units defending the 2 or 3 exterior hexes of the edifice as well as the central hex ! judean will not as well stack his leaders ther (so no judean testudoes !) because he can not stand a shot at 36 in BU every turn ! Just enter with your HI and leaders and pray to wisthand the last judean counterrattack !
Once again, victory will come out of good use of roman fire support and clever placement of testudoes (mandatory targets) : it will not come cheap as you will have to sacrifice a lot of units to hinder judean movement through the gates and protect your archers from being anihilated with the very own bodies of your HI ! Be prepared to loose about 400 VP ! if it's 397 , you've done it and certainly win as the judean will not recover as well, if it's 405, bad luck, you just lost the game !
I would say that the assault of the temple, if well planned, is a 50/50 affair. Don't fret too much about the +1drm for judean attacking/defending in the temple : your plan should not take into account to take it by melee combat (I'd say impossible : attacking from breach (1/2 strenght) against edifice (defender*2) -1 drm !). so, forget about melee and try to plan how you are going to plug the entrance to both gates, where you're going to place your missile fire units and arty, how you're going to protect them from destruction !
Just one last thing : as usual, roman archers and arty are the most important units in your legions. Without these to prepare the assaults, your HI is helpless and will suffer lot of casualties, so, Don't loose your fire support during the previous assaults ! Roman Velitae and Feoderratti ARE NOT sacrifiable units : Better loose 5-8 or even 6-8 than a feoderratti ! use HI on the wall as mandatory targets, testudoes, ram, tower but dont sacrifice your velitae for this purpose !
Same hold true for roman Cavalry because Judean escape points can total a lot of VP (I got the experience already !).
See you soon, JC
Hi JC –
As you have noted, Judaean “Testudines” are a matter of geography rather than actual stacking. Interior Built Ups get a +1 drm, which has the same effect as a Roman Testudo in defense. On the other hand, the Judaean “Testudo “ can only be attacked by Romans stacked two high. The best the Roman can do against a Zealot Testudo is 4:1 flat, and that includes Titus and a Leader, (50/50 for a double result) and he needs a natural 6 to get Continuous Combat. The Judaean can get 10 of these … let’s say only 8 realistically … but their applied usage is as single stacks. An interior Built Up hex needs only one 7-7 stack to defend, as the 3 hex assault can only take place once unless Continuous Combat ensues. Add a Leader and the Melee odds are 3:1 flat. No chance to take a 3 stacked hex unless we get more Continuous Combat. Even a Judaean Testudo composed of Regulars and a Leader has a 2/3 chance to survive the best Roman attack. And then
what ? Advance into a hex that can be attacked on 3 sides ? Even if the CC keeps its momentum, it leaves the vacated hexes open to re-occupation and … eventually … a double 18/+2 Missile Fire attack. Having been there, like you, I’m not a big fan of assaulting interior Built Ups !
You got it right, Brother … “the obvious thing to do is avoid them and attack elsewhere if possible.”
So the Judaean puts them where they cannot be avoided and plugs the flanks.
Just as the Roman Testudines, the Judaean ones are formed and used to the best advantage. I count my units, front up with the expendable ones, and retreat with the good guys. It is somewhat deflating for the Roman to face a line of Zealots/Regulars where he has no Missile Support, no Cohort Integrity, and stacking reduced to 2. Of course, the exterior Built Ups fall. The Judaean can give 14 of them up … and if the Judaean is so lax as to give the Roman a front that long … he deserves to lose.
You are certainly correct about the Roman chances against the Temple if he relies on melee ! And of course, the Judaean knows this. Can the Roman really deny the Judaean entry to the inner Temple ? How on earth does he contest the Gate near the Coponius Fortress ? I ask this with all humility … and with an academic desire to see it done. Lower City in Phase I … City of David in Phase II with a Temple Mine Prep … I dunno …
Aaron and I have often punctuated our AAR’s with “If I had the Antonia Fortress, I could take the Temple”. Well, there is this proverb about wishes and horses. With due respect to your worthy Judaean opponents, JC, there is no way you can make any meaningful incursion in the Temple Area, gather in enough Levy Points to continue the Game, and actually take the Temple. Ain’t gonna happen against me. Ain’t gonna happen against Aaron for sure. I’m a good Judaean Player … Aaron is an order magnitude better. While we have used the “soaking fire” strategy to good effect as the Roman, and look forward to using Testudines to better effect, our consensus is that outer city Areas will fall more quickly and with fewer Roman casualties … but to no significant effect.
We look forward to proving ourselves wrong !
Best to you sir and all of our fellow gamers !