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Thread: Roman Camillian Legion - Historical formation & misc?

  1. #1

    Icon5 Roman Camillian Legion - Historical formation & misc?

    Hi all,

    I've just downloaded EBII for the first time and it's phenomenal. I'm absolutely loving how much I am learning just by playing the game and reading the wealth of information provided.

    Forgive me because I'm quite rusty on early roman history; I'm trying to use historical formations and army compositions and was wondering if there were any history buffs that could provide some advice:


    • Am I correct that the Camillian army functioned more like Hoplites in phalanx formation (in three rows - Hastati, Principes, Triarrii), and that the Triplex Acies didn't come into play until the Polybian reforms?
    • I notice that the Hasati and Principes are using small swords which look like a mix of Gladiuses and Falcatas, but I thought they were still using spears around this time period?
    • From what I've read, it seems like most armies featured some sort of auxiliary/local contingent (Etruscans, Oscans etc.). Does anyone know whether these contingents were kept self contained and separate from the main force (e.g. to harass, flank, or anchor a wing), or were they instead integrated into the main battle lines?


    Thanks in advance!
    Get to the trireme!

  2. #2

    Default Re: Roman Camillian Legion - Historical formation & misc?

    I too would love to get an answer for this. I end up using my Triarii often just because i dont like them sitting back there doing nothing all the time.

  3. #3
    Lusitanio's Avatar Content Staff
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    Default Re: Roman Camillian Legion - Historical formation & misc?

    The standard Roman battle formation was the triplex acies, based around the three lines of legionary heavy infantry, with gaps between each line and formation, which is something not quite understood how they actually functioned in battle.

    Both the Hastati and Principes were already using swords.

    Allied units were usually left in the flanks while the Romans would be left in the center. There are exceptions of course, for example, while marching, the extraordinarii would be at the front of the army and when retreating, they would be the last ones.

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    Default Re: Roman Camillian Legion - Historical formation & misc?


  5. #5

    Default Re: Roman Camillian Legion - Historical formation & misc?

    Thanks very much everyone for your replies.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lusitanio View Post
    The standard Roman battle formation was the triplex acies, based around the three lines of legionary heavy infantry, with gaps between each line and formation, which is something not quite understood how they actually functioned in battle.

    Both the Hastati and Principes were already using swords.
    That's interesting! Everything I've read/watched before seemed to indicate that the Romans used spears and standard phalanx formations until around the time of the Polybian reforms, when the triplex acies was introduced. I suppose, like most reforms, this was actually more of a gradual evolution over time? If so, does the year that the game starts at therefore represent this transitional period between Camillian and Polybian era tactics and equipment?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lusitanio View Post
    Allied units were usually left in the flanks while the Romans would be left in the center. There are exceptions of course, for example, while marching, the extraordinarii would be at the front of the army and when retreating, they would be the last ones.
    Thatís useful thank you. Interesting that the extraordinarii were used as a buffer when on the march or retreating (at least thatís what I assume the intention was!).

    Thanks for sharing; I had actually already downloaded this Ė itís a fantastic resource. I also really like how it includes the distinction between Praetorian and Consular armies Ė great for role playing.
    Get to the trireme!

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    Lusitanio's Avatar Content Staff
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    Default Re: Roman Camillian Legion - Historical formation & misc?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord-Fisher View Post

    That's interesting! Everything I've read/watched before seemed to indicate that the Romans used spears and standard phalanx formations until around the time of the Polybian reforms, when the triplex acies was introduced. I suppose, like most reforms, this was actually more of a gradual evolution over time? If so, does the year that the game starts at therefore represent this transitional period between Camillian and Polybian era tactics and equipment?
    I would say our time period is actually when the Romans are ending the Camillian period and starting to use the equipment and tactics that Polybian describes. The year the game starts is just the traditional starting date from the first Rome Total War and also because Epeiros is still a powerful faction. Had the game started one or two years later, Epeiros wouldn't be a faction.

    From Adrian Goldsworthy, "The Fall of Carthage": The maniples of the hastati deployed perhaps six to eight ranks deep, with an interval equivalent to the frontage of the unit between each maniple. The formation of the principes was the same, but the maniples were stationed behind the gaps in the lines of hastati. In the same way, the smaller maniples of triarii covered the gaps between the units of the second line. This created a checkerboard of maniples...

  7. #7

    Default Re: Roman Camillian Legion - Historical formation & misc?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lusitanio View Post
    I would say our time period is actually when the Romans are ending the Camillian period and starting to use the equipment and tactics that Polybian describes. The year the game starts is just the traditional starting date from the first Rome Total War and also because Epeiros is still a powerful faction. Had the game started one or two years later, Epeiros wouldn't be a faction.

    From Adrian Goldsworthy, "The Fall of Carthage": The maniples of the hastati deployed perhaps six to eight ranks deep, with an interval equivalent to the frontage of the unit between each maniple. The formation of the principes was the same, but the maniples were stationed behind the gaps in the lines of hastati. In the same way, the smaller maniples of triarii covered the gaps between the units of the second line. This created a checkerboard of maniples...
    This formation is impossible to implement but just a quote from Livius and Polibius.
    The problem so, that army cannot fight in such formation. The huge gaps between the maniples would break a whole formation. The actual mechanism how hastati, principes and triarii shiched each other is unclear. Probably they did not. The only one possible variant is when second line pernitrate through the first lines and then switch each other.
    In the most popular book about the issue Connolys history of army, he says that we cannot understand how such formation could work. Most probably up until the end of the 2-nd Punic war Roman army indeed used kind of loose phalanx.

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    Lusitanio's Avatar Content Staff
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    Default Re: Roman Camillian Legion - Historical formation & misc?

    You're mostly surely right Paerisades. It wouldn't be very functional in battle. Most surely it was a very loose phalanx.

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    Grimmy's Avatar Ordinarius
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    Default Re: Roman Camillian Legion - Historical formation & misc?

    I can see how the Trip Apex thing would work and work well, if the Roman force was more disciplined than it's oppfor.

    The Hastatii hit the enemy line. If the enemy tries to exploit the gaps and put the Hastatii in a situation where they're surrounded on three sides, then they themselves become surrounded on three sides as well by the Hastatii and Principis. Most disciplined force wins that fight.

    That the enemy would be able to attempt to exploit the gaps also requires the enemy to have sufficient forces to extend their own lines within those gaps without breaking overall cohesion of the line. And by adding those gaps between formations, the Romans effectively force an extension of the line while stacking deep themselves.

    The switch between Hastatii and Principis may have simply been the Hastatii stop pushing on offense and holds in place while the principis come through the Hastatii formation gaps and hit the enemy and continue the offensive push while the Hastatii then pull back a few paces. Rinse repeat.

    Those gaps look an awful lot like bait for the unwary commander or undisciplined "warrior" forces to me.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Roman Camillian Legion - Historical formation & misc?

    Perhaps the Romans used the Triplex Acies as a marching formation and coalesced the maniples into a single line pre-battle? Something like https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgyw...l34ry&index=17

  11. #11

    Default Re: Roman Camillian Legion - Historical formation & misc?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grimmy View Post
    I can see how the Trip Apex thing would work and work well, if the Roman force was more disciplined than it's oppfor.

    The Hastatii hit the enemy line. If the enemy tries to exploit the gaps and put the Hastatii in a situation where they're surrounded on three sides, then they themselves become surrounded on three sides as well by the Hastatii and Principis. Most disciplined force wins that fight.

    That the enemy would be able to attempt to exploit the gaps also requires the enemy to have sufficient forces to extend their own lines within those gaps without breaking overall cohesion of the line. And by adding those gaps between formations, the Romans effectively force an extension of the line while stacking deep themselves.

    The switch between Hastatii and Principis may have simply been the Hastatii stop pushing on offense and holds in place while the principis come through the Hastatii formation gaps and hit the enemy and continue the offensive push while the Hastatii then pull back a few paces. Rinse repeat.

    Those gaps look an awful lot like bait for the unwary commander or undisciplined "warrior" forces to me.
    No, unfortunately it's impossible to implement. Despite common believe, roman army was on a same scale in terms of moral and discipline with other Hellenistic armies.
    The "Trip Apex" was needed to get to the battle site and don't brake a front line along the way. It was a big problem, for example for Greek and Macedonian phalanx, especially on the uneven terrains.
    Each maniple consisted of two centuriae, one standing after another therefore between maniples were gaps equal to one centuria. Once army had to form a frontline a second centuria of every moved right and forward i.e. filed existed gaps between maniples and in such way formed a front line usually 4-6 soldiers depth. As far as we know that it were at least two active lines of maniples (hastati and principes) it gives enough depth of 8-12 soldiers.

    If we would accept your idea that maniples engaged into fight not as a front line but with gaps it would mean that flanks of every maniple had to suffer a double pressure and in the end could flee. Inevitably, at certain point principes would have to help to suffering hastati and fell the gaps and we would end up with the front line.))) Because if hastati would retreat through the gaps between the maniples of principes and they in turn would engage into battle in the same manner it would mean that they would have the same problem as hastati and likely loose.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Roman Camillian Legion - Historical formation & misc?

    Quote Originally Posted by Paerisades View Post
    No, unfortunately it's impossible to implement. Despite common believe, roman army was on a same scale in terms of moral and discipline with other Hellenistic armies.
    The "Trip Apex" was needed to get to the battle site and don't brake a front line along the way. It was a big problem, for example for Greek and Macedonian phalanx, especially on the uneven terrains.
    Each maniple consisted of two centuriae, one standing after another therefore between maniples were gaps equal to one centuria. Once army had to form a frontline a second centuria of every moved right and forward i.e. filed existed gaps between maniples and in such way formed a front line usually 4-6 soldiers depth. As far as we know that it were at least two active lines of maniples (hastati and principes) it gives enough depth of 8-12 soldiers.

    If we would accept your idea that maniples engaged into fight not as a front line but with gaps it would mean that flanks of every maniple had to suffer a double pressure and in the end could flee. Inevitably, at certain point principes would have to help to suffering hastati and fell the gaps and we would end up with the front line.))) Because if hastati would retreat through the gaps between the maniples of principes and they in turn would engage into battle in the same manner it would mean that they would have the same problem as hastati and likely loose.
    Yes, I definitely don't think they actually engaged with gaps in the front line - my impression was, as you say, that the Hastati would form a single front line. I wonder if the Principes would remain in the checker board pattern so that the Hastati could retreat through the gaps (as a result of fatigue or being broken), with the Principes then forming a single front line?

    However, in that scenario I'm not sure how it would possible for the Principes to form up in time before the opposing force reached them after routing the Hastati; unless they began moving forward and merging into a single front line just as the Hastati started retreating, meaning the bulk of the Hastati could retreat through the gaps which would quickly be closing, and the Principes would replace the same front line with little ground lost...
    Get to the trireme!

  13. #13
    Grimmy's Avatar Ordinarius
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    Default Re: Roman Camillian Legion - Historical formation & misc?

    ******* Edited to add ************

    I hereby retract my comments and apologize for any offense given and dismissive wording used.

    I can't find the info I was basing my comments on, therefore I have no proof to give to back my claim.


    I fully disagree with the "double pressure on the flanks of each..."

    Fighting phalanx.

    There are no sub units in a phalanx other than administrative.

    The great weakness of a phalanx was its near absolute tactical inflexibility. Spreading out the Roman forces to a contiguous line only means more Romans are exposed, necessarily, to the spears of the phalanx.

    The Roman "march formation" of the Triplex Acies (sorry I miss spelled that earlier) which is what you're saying it only is, would allow for focused penetration of the phalanx, render a goodly portion of the phalanx line useless as its not being engaged but still has no tactical flex to redeploy, and quicken the collapse of the phalanx line.

    Men in the phalanx line that see the enemy penetrating to to their left and right aren't gonna hang around to fight, especially when they have no ability to make themselves useful without totally dissolving their portion of the line anyway.

    What the debate boils down to is "that's not how I would do it, therefore it can not be how they did it."
    Last edited by Grimmy; November 13, 2020 at 10:32 PM. Reason: Retraction and apology

  14. #14

    Default Re: Roman Camillian Legion - Historical formation & misc?

    My hunch is that is that the Hastati would pull double duty as pseudo-skirmishers, if the enemy advances despite being bombarded with pila they fall back to join the Principes and form a solid battle line. Which would be the point where the slugfest/standoff begins. The Triarii act as a reserve/strong back to keep nervous soldiers in line. Naturally take this with a pinch of garum, but I think the idea isn't too out there considering that Romans were famous for their flexibility and Alexander Zhmodikov(2000)'s articles on Roman combat.

    How I do things in EBII however, is somewhat different. I keep the space between the line of Hastati and the line of Principes small so that the Principes are in melee range after volleying their Pila. I also shift the Triarii to the sides of the formation so they can better react to flanking forces.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Roman Camillian Legion - Historical formation & misc?

    I see some good theories here about the triplex acies.

    There is a real debate between historians if the Romans used this formation in battle or not. It is, however, widely believed that they used the triplex acies specially for manouvering the army more efficiently.
    Think of a big line of infantery. If the whole line would turn slightly towards any direction (let's say to the right), the guys on the very left would need no march increasingly faster while the guys on the very right increasingly slower or even stop. It is hard to do, specially with the comuncation methods at the time. It is more difficult to manouver a big line, while it is easier to manouver small groups.

    Most probably the army would line up in the triplex acies formation but once the battle was about to start, the hastati formed a steady line of infantery and engaged the enemy. The princeps, in this situation, could stay with gaps between each other, specially if the enemy forced were not equally distributed, or also form a line if needed. But that's only my view, there is no clear evidence I believe.

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