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Subject: The battle of Tifernum - Samnite Slugfest rss

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José Herrera
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The Samnites under Meddix Tuticus Aegnatius are drawn to battle against a Roman consular army under Consul Q. Fabius Rullianus in the hope of defeating it before it can join forces with the other Consul, P. Decius Mus, thought to be too far away to join the action today,…

Initial dispositions. The Samnites have been lured out of an ambushing position. Will they now become the ambushed?


Prefect Soc Rebius ordered the Velites forward in order to pin the Samnite advance from the start.

In the mean time, Prefect Soc Plautius advanced the Hastati line, while Tribunes Cassius and Magnus ordered the Principes and Triarii forward. Prefect Equitum Corvus extended the frontage of his cavalry to ensure the Samnites wouldn’t outflank him.

Purple arrows show advance of Velites, Hastati, Principe and Triarii lines. Brown arrows show slow advance and extension to the left of Roman cavalry.

In the face of this Roman onslaught, Statius ordered the Samnite Light Infantry line to engage. The greatest effort was made against the Velites on the Samnite right, in an effort to clear the area for the Samnite cavalry, while the Samnite left saw only light skirmishing between a shallower Light Infantry line and the Velites. On the right, a bitter melee ensued as the Samnites attempted to break through, with the Velites standing their ground and even sending some units of Samnite Light Infantry back in disarray.

Red arrows show Samnite Light Infantry advance. Thick arrow indicates two Legio Linteata (white) LI units concentrating against a single Velite unit. Units to the Samnite left are more spaced.

Circles show units that have chosen to engage. To the Samnite right, arrow indicates routed Samnite LI.

Statius ably asessed the situation, throwing in several units of the Legio Linteata Light Infantry in a concentrated effort against the right-center that succeeded in breaking the opposing Velites. He further encouraged the whole line of engaged Light Infantry while sending orders to bring the victorious Legio Linteata units to a halt. They now had to get ready for even heavier skirmishing against the Roman heavy infantry.

Red shows victorious Legio Linteata Light Infantry, while the routing Velites are in purple.

Pontius gets his third activation, and is really putting a dent into the Roman Velites line at this point.

Pontius could see the Roman cavalry forming an extended line, and probably overestimated their number and capabilities. Instead of aggressive action against his mounted counterparts, he tried to aid Statius by throwing some poorly-armed Light Cavalry in a frontal charge against the closest Velites, overwhelming them quickly. The eager Samnite riders broke ranks and engaged in a bloody slaughter of the terrified Romans, riding far beyond their side of the battlefield as they butchered the helpless Velites.

Two units of Samnite LC, currently under the "Choose to shock" marker, are about to shock attack the defense-superior Velites,...

The Velites have been defeated, and the hot-headed Samnite LC, now under a "Pursuit finished" counter, pursue them all the way to the front of the Roman cavalry wing!

Rullianus understood that the Samnites were putting up a good fight, and rode up front from the rear, only to see several hundred completely oblivious young Romans run past him in terror, unkempt wolfskin garments covered in dust and many scared faces drenched in sweat and blood. His officers could barely contain some of the Velites in the center of the line, while one of the few victorious units of Velites even managed to run up to the Samnite vanguard. Meanwhile, Rullianus sent word to Corvus urging him to put an end to the bloody pursuit of the Velites by the Samnite Light Cavalry. A mere show of force by the Roman Cavalry sufficed to throw back the Samnite horse, who were allowed to retreat all the way back to their line as a fighting force. The cavalry on both sides seemed, for the moment, reluctant to commit fully.

Purple arrow indicates the path of Consul Rullianus. Blue circle shows where some some Velites have rallied, but more have fled the field. Blue arrow indicates advance of a single victorious Velite unit. Magenta circle shows Roman cavalry, currently under "Choose to shock" counter, about to repel the pursuing Samnites.

Herennius made his presence felt to the victorious Light Infantry, who cheered him and his officers as he rode along their ranks. Inspired by him, some of the victorious Legio Linteata Light Infantry refused to stop as Statius had encouraged them to, and despite being exhausted, worked themselves into another frenzied charge against the Velites Rullianus’s men had just managed to regroup. The shaken Romans, most of them poor peasants in their early twenties, broke ranks and ran in terror well before the Samnites could make contact.

Beginning of Herennius's activation. Red circle highlights Herennius. Arrow shows path of retreat of Samnite LC, caused by the Roman Cavalry, currently under "Pursuit-Finished" counter, during Rullianus's activation.

Herennius's path as he inspires his men removing cohesion hits, and allows the Legio Linteata LI, currently under "Choose to shock" counter another move to scare off the Velites, under the "Rallied" counter, who had just been brought back to their senses by Rullianus,...

While the Samnite Light Infantry recovered further, Herennius, second in command only to Aegnatius, advised Pontius to have his Heavy Cavalry extend their line to the right in an attempt to counter the Roman horse.

A successful momentum roll allows Herennius to rearrange the Legio Linteata Heavy Cavalry (red), flank the lone Velite unit that has made it through the Samnite LI line with some Samnite MI (orange) and keep recovering hits. The result of last picture's combat can be seen here. Herennius remains reluctant to rally routed units, preferring to leave that task to Aegnatius.

Aegnatius could see that the battle was having a promising start. His decision to engage the Roman Consuls while they were still separated had been a wise one. Soon, it would be time to throw in the bulk of his infantry to win the battle and crush these Roman upstarts once and for all! Aegnatius urged his subordinate officers to push the victorious Light Infantry forward, however exhausted they may be, and make sure the Velites were destroyed. In the ensuing charge, a few hundred wavering young Romans were put to the sword by the tired Samnite Light Infantry, while many more hundreds of Romans ran away from the carnage without ever looking back.

Further to the right, the Samnite Light Cavalry, already winded and with their weapons also red with Roman blood, succeeded in bringing their retreat to a wheeling halt.

Aegnatius (red) orders the Samnite LI to attack the fleeing Velites (all three under "Routed" counters). He also manages to rally the fleeing Samnite LC (purple).

In orange, the Samnite MI and Legio Linteata LI (red and white counters respectively, both currently under "Moved" counters) have destroyed their targets, while, in green, the Alae Sociorum of the 3rd legion have succesfully protected the routed Velites in their line, and in turn routed the offending Samnite LI (the routed unit was lucky and passed its TQ check).

Aegnatius rode toward the left of his army, keeping a close eye on the development of the fight with an unrepressed smile on his face.


ROME: 25 rout points
SAMNITES: 11 rout points


The Hastati of the 3rd Legion, led by Tribune Antonius, had had little time to rest in the last hours. Even while it had not yet dawned, they had been marching through broken, hilly terrain in an attempt to flank the Samnite army, which was expected to march out and face the Consul in the valley below. Antonius only allowed his men a couple hours of respite before sudden interruption after one of his scouts reported intense commotion a few stadia down the hill. If the trap was to be sprung, now was the time,…

Situation at the start of the second turn.

Prefect Soc Plautius ordered most of the Hastati line forward, relentlessly steamrolling any opposition by individual Samnite Light Infantry units.

Advances of the Hastati line under Plautius, causing a number of Samnite LI to either orderly withdraw or simply engaging and causing them to rout. These encounters have disrupted the line somewhat, and some of the LG to the left were even left out of the line entirely because of enemy ZOC interference.

Prefect Soc Rebius also managed to maintain the whole Principes line in slow but steady motion, so that it could pick up several Alae Sociorum cohorts that had become detached from the Hastati while entangled against the skirmishing Samnite Light Infantry. These Samnite units, the remnants of those who had shattered the Velites, were finally starting to waver, and one after the other these pockets of resistance were overcome and put to flight.

Advances of the Principes line under Rebius. In the circle, one unit of Principes has routed the Samnite LI that delayed the advance of the Left wing Alae.

Aegnatius, who now enjoyed a full view of the center of the field, remained optimistic all the same. His skirmishers had done an incredible job at besting the Velites, and now his intact Samnite Confederation Vanguard would storm the uneven Hastati line and seal the fate of the invaders in one glorious clash. Then, alerted by one of his aides, he turned his attention to the left. And, as he did, his contemptuous smile suddenly froze.

From the woody hillsides emerged a cloud of dust and the thunder of hundreds of Roman sandals deploying into combat formation. A very real chill went up Aegnatius’s spine as it the same undoubtedly happened to hundreds of Samnite warriors at that very moment. Everyone knew there was another Consular army campaigning against them, now that the Etruscans had signed an unexpected peace with Rome, but until this very instant it had remained only a dim threat, a distant battle that would need to be fought once this Consul’s army was vanquished. Even the cheerful roar of support and shield banging from the uncommited Samnite ranks that had accompanied the early exploits of the Legio Linteata’s Light Infantry faded, as all looks now shifted towards the newly arrived threat. The morale of the Samnite Light Infantry plummeted, as their orderly withdrawal towards friendly lines now met with the sight of their cowering brothers in arms being flanked by the vanguard of a whole Roman legion. In a matter of seconds, panic struck in dramatic proportions, and hundreds of these Samnite hillsmen discarded their weapons and ran in all directions.

At a sign of his arm, whistles were blown and the men of the 3rd Legion,led by Tribune Antonius, picked up momentum and clashed against the Samnite flank. The Samnites absorbed the initial shock rather well, and a tightly contested and even more tightly packed shoving-contest styled melee ensued with no clear winner in sight.

The dramatic entry of Tribune Antonius and the Hastati of the 3rd legion has taken the Samnites completely by surprise. All Samnite units within 10 hexes of them are about to take a severe blow to their morale which, in the case of the three routing LI units, will outright remove them from the board.

Soon, word spread that something dramatic had happened at the far right, just behind enemy lines. Tribune Magnus, acting of his own accord on a hunch that it must be Antonius’s men or, better yet, the first waves of Consul Mus’s army, hurried to the right and ordered some units of Velites to run up there as fast as possible, where they plunged right into the rear of the already flanked Samnite warriors, who held their ground with the tenacity of those who see their doom approaching from all sides.

Tribune Magnus is shown in the circle, while the advance of the Velites, now with "Choose to shock" counters, to relieve or directly assist the Roman flanking force, is shown with the arrows.

In the mean time, on the left flank, Tribune Cassius sent a couple selected maniples of Principes to repel the last remnants of the Legio Linteata Light Infantry, paving the way for a more generalized assault.

The lone Principes that first routed one of the Samnite LI has now pursued and eventually routed another one, clearing the way for the whole line to advance unhindered.

Prefect Equitum Corvus finally found the resolve to order his Roman Cavalry forward, while keeping the Alae Sociorum in reserve and redressing the Romans who had just repelled the Samnite pursuit. The Samnite riders, already under strain and clearly less well equiped, were quick to turn, break ranks and flee.

Corvus removes cohesion hits from the Roman Cavalry marked with a circle, while sending the other RC against the depleted Samnite LC, routing it once again.

Pontius realized that the tables were turning, and assuming full responsibility in the absence of Aegnatius, who clearly had his hands full elsewhere, gave the order that the whole Samnite army had been waiting for. The Samnite vanguard began a massive charge! In the confusing minutes that followed, coordinated waves of tightly packed Samnite tribesmen picked up momentum and then clashed brutally all along the line. At the right distance, thousands of pila flew in both directions, and the carnage on both sides was appalling. All over, the fury born of hatred and desperation, coupled with a fierce will to defend their families and livelihood, saw the cramped Samnite maniples prevailing over the Romans in an incredibly violent close combat, with plenty of stabbing swords, shields and small teams of warriors pouring through the gaps and wreaking havoc. Only on the very right flank did the Roman Alae Sociorum of the 5th Legion hold their ground after sustaining tremendous punishment. The Samnites on this side were constantly reminded of the presence of Tribune Antonius and, as they saw it, a whole other Consular army right behind their backs, and were quick to break ranks due to poor morale. Here and there, in the thick of combat, Pontius and Statius could be seen directing more and more men into the fray, receiving briefings from commanders of different units and, once the whole Roman line was in disarray, inciting their men to pursue and butcher the fleeing enemy beyond all reason and limit.

The Samnite vanguard line has just charged into battle, confronting the Hastati line, some of the Roman Cavalry and a small part of the flanking force at the same time. Here, all units are just about to perform their pre-shock TQ checks,...

Combat has now been resolved, with many units engaged or routed. Red areas indicate the Samnites have gained the upper hand, while in green areas the Romans are managing to repulse the assault. The following pictures follow the development of the clash across the activations and momentum of Pontius and Statius, until trumped by Consul Rullianus.

Consul Rullianus trumped in desperately in an attempt to avoid a generalized collapse, and under his direct supervision several last-ditch counterattacks were launched, especially against the right, where the Samnite assault had by this time been clearly repelled. He even succeeded in sending yet another unit of Velites against the Samnites engaged with Antonius’s men. This proved to be the last straw for an already hard-pressed unit. No surrender was possible, and the helpless Samnite tribesmen, now a panicked mob, were surrounded from all sides and mercilessly slaughtered to the last man by the victorious Romans.

Main directions of the counterattacks launched by Rullianus in his first activation, in an attempt to overrun fleeing Samnite units and help the flanking force devastate the Samnite left.

Taking advantage of the moment, Rullianus pressed on and oversaw the detachment of some maniples of the very finest of the Principes, as well as the counter charge of the battered 5th legion Alae Sociorum. These units attempted to engage severely shaken Samnite units, as well as to mop up and kill off stragglers of the opposition.

Detached Principes from the second line, in purple, defeat and rout several of the Samnite units in the center of the battlefield.

Aegnatius and Herennius now both mirrored the actions of their enemies, throwing individual units of their second line into the fight while trying, and quite tellingly often failing, to regroup some of the already retreating Samnite vanguard units. Overall the Roman Principes were beaten back and a precarious Samnite dominance was established in the very middle of the battlefield, while the attack on the right flank had been a complete success and the left flank, while uncontested, was severely compromised by the looming menace of Antonius’s ambush force.

The following pictures show some of the most relevant advance and rally actions performed by Aegnatius and Herennius towards the end of the turn. Both armies were trying to reassert themselves in the center, anticipating a final clash of second lines that finally didn't materialize,...


ROME: 87 rout points
SAMNITES: 88 rout points


Although it appeared that the Samnite assault had broken the Roman center, that impression turned out to be deceptive. From the moment the Roman flanking force made its early entry through the left of the Samnite army, their fate was probably already sealed. Many Samnite warriors around this sector had lost heart even before the final charge, and had not even managed to break through the Hastati line as a result. In reality, the Samnites were trapped, and knowing it didn’t make them fight any better,…

Situation at the start of the third turn.

Prefect Soc Plautius ordered the Principes forward, consolidating positions all along the center and starting to dispute the left in another violent charge. The Samnites, although still in posession of a second line themselves, were starting to falter,…

Part of the Principes line detaches to clear the way,...

Prefect Soc Rebilus threw in the rest of the Principes line, shattering the rest of the hard-gained Samnite center. In the mean time, Tribune Antonius directed his men around the back of the Samnite left, cutting down ever greater numbers of disheartened Samnites as they went.

And then the main line takes over and mops up the fleeing Samnites.

Finally, the flanking force's exploits drive the demoralized Samnites to their breaking point. Although they haven't commited their second line yet, the Samnites have lost the will to fight and quit the field.

At this point, the whole Samnite army collapsed, as the will to fight had completely disappeared. Rome had won, but at a cost.


Rome: 87 rout points
Samnites: 127 rout points

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