The Battle of the Trebbia River 218 B.C.

The Battle of the Trebbia River 218 B.C.

This was to be will be a fairly short AAR. I think a number of folks have posted about it previously. I will say at the outset that this was very touch and go for a while.
EDIT: in light of the length I am posting a brief pic compilation for the attention challenged look for it in vid section **

The Romans have their usual command struggles and their Cav, while powerful against LC if you can get 2 units on one, really struggle here against the numbers.

See this post re Trebbia setup.
The GBoH and SGBoH differ on setup. SGBoH uses PH’s instead of HI. Which seemingly makes sense since that is what Hannibal left Spain with after the Battle of the Tagus (see AAR)

So this setup may look different. Its interesting that the scenario writers think of the Carthage Infantry as being weaker or inferior at this battle. While it is true that the stacked HA and PR units can take a lickin’ and keep on fighting, and the use of the HA/PR wave attack is very effective, they suffer from low TQ (5) for HA, and relatively small size (3). Once a Legion has fought one or two rounds using HA/PR the odds start to swing in favor of the opposing army.

Lets look at 2 attacks:

6 out of 10 times we are fighting across a river to get started. so we have these factors to consider:
Weapon System (WS) + Troop Quality (TQ) + Cohesion Hits (CH) + Size Differential (max+2) + Move bonus+ Ldr bonus + TERRAIN + any special scenario elements, i.e. rain, snow ( I chose to not use rain as the first turn with it simply drew everything to a grinding halt for every1.)

HA v MI WS +2 TQ -1 CH 0 (lets assume no SK damage or LI damage ) SR 0 MV +1 Ldr 0 River -1 Pila bonus+1 = +2. If the MI has previously taken missile damage (in this battle they cant suffer Hit & Run due to weather, ammo issues) then the best case is +2 or +3 .

It gets worse here:

HA v PH WS -1 TQ -2 (-3 sometimes) CH 0 SR -1 MV +1 Ldr 0 River -1 Pila bonus +1 = -3 eeek. I’m assuming that LG are HI or better and do not suffer the PH -1 in special modifiers. The size ratio might change the DRM by +1 if there were 2 stacks of HA attacking the PH.

Now assume we roll 5 we end up with a 7 and a 2 respectively. We end up with 1H on Atk/2H & retreat on defender and 2H on attacker & retreat/1H on defender.

In the next Roman turn they activate the PR and they roll in adjacent to the HA’s. The HA are Out of Command (OC), they can only shock if they are in a ezoc (7.32). So the PR come in (In Command) IC and attack the MI and PH:

PR&HA v MI WS +2 TQ 0 CH +1 (2-1) SR +2( 2 stacks of 2 PR+HA = size 12 v 5 or 6) MV +1 Ldr 0 River -1 Pila bonus+1 = +6. Much better.

PR&HA v PH WS -1 TQ 0 CH+1 SR -1 MV +1 Ldr 0 River -1 Pila bonus +1 = 0 . Better than -3, so unless 2 stacks of PR attack to bring size up it still ugly.

We roll 5 again : 6+6 =11 Rout check or 0/3H &Retreat i.e. dead. The PH attack is 0+5 is 5 1H atker/2Def.

Net at the end of those turns: MI has 5-6 hits and is likely dead for 5 Rout Points to Rome. The PH has 3 hits out of 7 before he Reduces. The HA and PR units that attacked the MIA are not adjacent (PR advanced) so command may not be interfered next turn, the units attacking the PH are adjacent and will likely have command issues.

So this quickly becomes a battle of attrition and die roll dependent attacks. In subsequent turns the PH likely have a zero DRM, and the move and Pila bonus’s go away for the Legionnaire’s adjacent to the enemy. But the enemy typicaly l has maneuver advantage at this point! huge! One Flank attack and away you go.

Command is key for Rome as the Prefect ranges are short, so the line command equivalent for SGBoH is key. OK..Phew this is really to help me understand too…. On with the AAR.

Opening situation:


Roman has 205 RPs to lose, Carthage has 170.

I decided that Mago reinforcements would come in the the turn I rolled a 0 or a 1 after the third turn.

Looking from LW of Romans

Rome moved first and shifted its RW RC out to cover flanks on extended maps. Hasdrubal ever the fine Cav officer took his entire Lancer force and swept WIDE!


LW RC does the same but here they have a chance to block due to only have 4 extra hexes.


The Velites advance pushing the SK’s back. The third Carthage turn sees the EL moving to cut off and force retreats of RC.

RC’s cross the river and attack, surprising the LC somewhat. They kill a LC and inflict 6 CHs. Go Rome!


Well the EL’s are having none of that and they simply move adjacent and drive the RC off up the map. Hasdrubal seizes successfully and attack some lone VE’s.

C: 7 RPS R: 8.

The Roman LW cav, are hard up against the map edge trying to get back on the LC’s. Hanno sees this threat and attacks inflicting a few hits. and then kills one RC.


The Romans realize time for playing with horseies is over…… The VE move, Longius seizes the HA and PR move up and on the right kill one Lancer.


C:14 R:13

Hanno and his men, use Hit and Run and kill 1 more RC and inflict 4CH on another.

Rome plays is last Cav card and tries to kill LC on the left they rout one and inflict 6 CH, great! But not enough. Hanno activate again and kills more RC and scatter the rest with the elephants.

Drusus our Cav leader for Rome dies in combat. its R38 C 14
Carthage reinforcements enter……….and Hasdrubal seizes. 3 more RC die.


Yes, the first Hastati attacks are executed, and Longus follows up with a seize. It’s a huge two turns for Rome, 18 attacks in the seize turn.


R71 RPs

C 79!

hole in middle

The Principes activate and 15 attacks later Rome has inflicted heavy casualties:


C 101

R 90

Hannibal wheels his Elephant and signals for the LW PH’s to attack, seizing as well.

The Romans fight back with 9 attacks none greater than +4, the attrition is starting to show and command line are slowing down the ability to exploit the gap in the middle of the Carthage line.

The 16th and 17th turn turns go to Hannibal and the Elephants, PH’s and Lancers converge on a thin line of VE’ HA and PR on the right.


Platius and Antonius take an arse whipping from the PH’s.


The ugliness continues

In disarray the Romans attempt to gather a line, but the Lancers sweep behind their own PH’s and move to secure the center while the EL and PH’s grind on damaged, loose HA units.



PR, caught moving to rebuild the line near the vaunted Triarii are cut down. Longus, attempts to hold the army together personally, Hasdrubal has other ideas.

C 139
R 187

The Triarii activate but its too little too late.

Rome concedes.

These two diagrams show overall movements on the battle field. I’m looking for a more flexible tool! I purposely made them B&W so you can look at movement versus pieces



Please provide your thoughts on the Punic War to date and the AAR’s.
Thanks for the notes so far, and the over 21,000 views of my Stop Motion HD vids of SPQR on youtube. I appreciate it. Its a lot of work. Hopefully the next one more consistent lighting.

Thanks, I’m off to set up Cannae. Let see if the Romans can improve on Trebbia!!!

2 thoughts on “The Battle of the Trebbia River 218 B.C.

  1. Pingback: Battle for Sardinia 2nd Punic War 215 B.C. | thebigboard0710

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