The Battle of Utus River 447 AD   1 comment

The Vit River, Bulgaria

In 444 AD the Byzantines stopped their gold payments to the Huns. About a year later, Attila completed his ascendancy to total power by murdering his brother, Bleda. In the next two years, a series of riots and calamities rocked Constantinople, culminated by an earthquake that partially destroyed her walls. All of this gave Attila opportunity to launch another lightning raid across the Danube into Thrace, threatening Constantinople, and seeking the usual booty and an increase in his gold tribute.

There is some indication that he just might make a dash for Constantinople.  The citizens were mobilized in their circus factions to rebuild the walls and many fled for safer territories.

The only East Roman mobile army readily available was that of the Gothic general, Arnegisclus, Magister Militum for Thrace.   He marched his Army out of its base at Marcianople and engaged the Huns at the Utus River in Dacia Ripensis (Vit in modern day Bulgaria).

The Scenario

A battle to be fought using the Hail Caesar rules. 


How it played

Andy (Attila) and Mike (Ostrogothic King) as the Hunnic Empire played against Darryl (Magister Militum of Thrace) and Phil (Dux) as the Romans.

To the Roman left a villa and the Utus River formed the left flank.  The Romans placed the Vandal cavalry here, to face Attila’s Huns.  The Roman right was commanded by the Magister Militum with a stong cavalry wing, including Cataphracts and elite cavalry.  Opposing them were the Ostrogoths.

The Roman infantry advance was held up by the dense wooded terrain.  To their left the Vandal cavalry attempted to drive off the skirmishing Hun horse archers only to be badly mauled by the Hunnic nobles.  However in the fight Attila himself was wounded.  The Roman light infantry occupied the villa, but were soon destroyed by nasty hun archery, who were  obviously using fire arrows to set fire to the villa.

To the right flank the Romans again fared badly as the Dalmatian Light cavalry were soundly thrashed by the opposing Ostrogothic light cavalry.  The cataphracts advanced slowly but steadily towards the Ostrogoths who seemed to be in disarray and paralysed with fear at the sight.

On the left flank Attila, now wounded was unable to press home his advantage and a stalemate ensued with the Vandal cavalry suffering a steady attrition under deadly horse archery, but unwilling to charge again into the face of the Kontos bearing nobles supporting them.

In the centre the Romans were able to advance and contact the Ostrogothic infantry, driving them back up the hill.  However the Burgundian archers drove away the Roman infantry to the left and the advance stalled.  The Ostrogothic infantry, close to breaking held their line as the Romans fell under a hail of missile fire.

To the right disaster struck the Magister Militum, unhorsed in the fray his Cataphract Archers and heavy cavalry broke and fled, the Magister being slain.  His second in command proved unable to reverse the situation and soon even the Scholae Heavy Cavalry panicked and routed in the face of the Ostrogothic cavalry.

With their strong cavalry wing broken, their second wing crumbling and their infantry advance stalled the Romans realised the day was lost.  Victory to the Huns, well done Mike and Andy.


Hail Caesar worked fine in 15mm but I made a mistake with the distances.  Converting movement distance from the inches used in 28mm (for example 6 for infantry) to centimetres did not work.  This really hampered the infantry advance as it was hardly possible for units to clear a way through each other to advance towards the enemy.  I had thought multiple moves would be standard but in fact the Romans only seemed to move because of the drilled free move and quite often retreated due to a blunder or a break test from archery.  Also the Hun infantry wisely decided to hold back, forcing the Romans to cover the ground whilst the cavalry decided the battle.

Once the Romans did get in they proved doubty fighters but the wooded terrain and confusion caused by the Ostrogothic skirmishers really held them back and caused them to close with their lines disrupted.  They were therefore unable to press their advantage.

So for the next game I will use longer move distances, maybe even sticking with the standard 6 inches, or at least 4.  I may well use single lines for cavalry as they proved very deep in two ranks considering the small distances moved.  To be fair Andy did point this out at the start.  I will also take care to write a scenario specific rule for troops that move off the table, especially on the flanks so that cavalry can ride down or chase off horse archers without them claiming immunity and then planning to return unopposed in a more advantageous position.

Replaced or wounded generals should not retain the C in C re-roll.

Posted May 4, 2011 by wargamesdiary

One response to “The Battle of Utus River 447 AD

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Pingback: Saturday 7th and 14th May 2011 « wargamesdiary

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Dagger and Brush

Miniature painting, wargaming terrain tutorials, reviews, interviews and painting guides


Wayfaring through Middle-earth

Winter Gate Games

Weekly tabletop miniatures blog.


Wargaming with the ability of a dull nine year old

Start Your Meeples

A blog about board games, board game strategy, miniature games, and tabletop RPGs. Love the Game.

Colonel Mustard

WW2 Modelling in 1/72 Scale

Olde England Grown New

The Adventures of Sir Thomas Hawksby's Regiment

Scent of a Gamer

From the computer to the tabletop, this is all about games. Updated each week-end.

Flashing Steel

Talk, support and information on Ganesha Games' Flashing Steel

Brooklyn Wargaming

President of Metropolitan Wargamers in Park Slope, Brooklyn, NYC


Thoughts about wargaming, especially 28mm.


Adventures of an historical wargamer in the wilds of Arkansas

%d bloggers like this: