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Battle of Alesia: Caesar vs. Vercingetorix at Newbury

Updated: May 16, 2023



On the weekend of 13-14 May 2023, Philip staged a refight of the Battle of Alesia - Julius Caesar's great victory over Chieftain Vercingetorix in ancient Gaul (52 BC) - at the Newbury Historical Study Association's premises.



The game was preceded by a talk by doctoral candidate Gregory Coates, with an accompanying exhibition of ancient coins, early prints, weapons, and Roman armour; both of which made the history come alive.



Philip's preparations for the refight were almost as impressive as the original fortifications - which spanned 25 miles (both contravallations and circumvallations). 31 bespoke 3D-printed and pre-painted fortifications were ordered from Baueda Miniatures in Italy in advance, and together with further outer defences made by Neil Bosher, looked terrific on the playing surface.



Historically, c. 70,000 Romans and allies were besieging Vercingetorix with 80,000 Gauls in Alesia; whereas another 250,000 Gauls were attempting to break the circumvallations (outer defence lines) in order to lift the siege.



We used Swordpoint rules, with around 3,000 28mm Gallic miniatures, and 1,500 Roman ones (including auxiliary infantry and German cavalry) - representing eight Gallic tribes and four Roman legions and supporting troops. Most of the figures were painted by Reinforcements by Post painting service to a very high standard.



On the Saturday, in spite of a Gallic breakout attempt, the Romans sallied out of their lines and tried to escort supplies to safety, but were prevented from doing so by a Gallic relief force which routed them. This represented the loss of the Roman baggage train, affecting the status of Roman troops on day two.



On the Sunday, the Gauls attempted to breach the Roman lines at various points, and managed to do so in four locations. However, none of these successes was decisive, and Caesar counter-attacked, putting paid to one of the more serious Gallic attacks; even though Roman commander Labienus was killed. Vercingetorix's attack on the contravallations was also repulsed. The game ended with Vercingetorix still trapped near Alesia, with no clear path created for his army to escape Roman encirclement.



Overall, this was a stunning spectacle and a friendly and inclusive game. Most players were new to the rules, but received expert guidance from the dedicated assisting umpires, which really helped. The cumulative effect of the fortifications, terrain and models was little short of awe-inspiring. My thanks to Philip for the lift, invitation, and congratulations on all the work and attention to detail that went into this classic refight.




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