And so Hannibal assembled his forces for battle at the Gates of Rome, in so doing he deliberately sacrificed his cavalry superiority (as did Phyrus before him) for a disadvantaged dagger thrust at the heart of what he deemed to be an evil empire. The scene was set for a juicy campaign battle, with Carthage already one up in the series, with all to play for.
Of note, dramatical political events had taken place behind the scenes in Rome, it would be uncharacteristic for this not to happen. Certain powerful Roman senators had obviously been perturbed by the annihilation of their fabled Republican Legions in Gaul. These senate 'armchair generals' had decided to take direct control of the organisation of the army. The battle reports of blades and spears being trampled underfoot by elephants and hacked down by frenzied warbands seemed to have adversely affected their previously granite faith in the traditional Roman Army system. The Carthaginian invaders thus encountered an army that seemed to be manned more by Roman allies, fielding a maximised allied cavalry force, numerous auxillia and warband contingents, in preference to the traditional Roman "strong farming boys" stock-in-trade of blade and spear.
Warband abounded on both sides:
This strategic/operational decision certainly maximised numbers but reduced the important element of quality. More worryingly perhaps for the fate of Rome, the "pickers" of the new Army List then retired safely behind the walls of Rome and left the "Battlefield Generals" to get on with the job with a strange odds-and-sods collection. Interestingly, the Carthaginian Army is a much different force from that what the senators had expected. Abiding by historical restrictions it was without the dreaded elephants but still heavy in auxillia/warband and strong in cavalry, still very much a Carthaginian polyglot. The Carthaginian has to know how to play with and without his "column of many" elephants so is relatively unphased by this.
Hannibal on tabletop leading a mobile column of reserve to where it is needed most.
The Romans deployed defensively, maximising difficult terrain, but importantly left Carthage (aka Hannibal) the opportunity strike first. Carthage chose its preferred flank, refused the other and struck hard. Although it is still early days the Romans have to respond with a good round of combat or face an uphill struggle. In terrain unsuited for quick manoeuvre the Romans (despite being the more numerous) seem to have lost the "local" strength at key points where Carthage wants to win.
To be continued ...