Queen of the Celts
Scenario Preview

October 2015

Queen of the Celts covers all the major battles of the Roman invasion, from its start in the southern coastal swamps in 43 A.D. right up to the Celts’ last stand before the Scottish highlands in the year 84.

One of the main attractions of Queen is the wide variety of tactical situations it offers. Over the course of nine battles, players get to deal with a river-crossing under fire, sneak attacks on hill forts and Oppidia under construction, a last-ditch suicide attack on the Imperial Procession itself, and much more.

Here’s a full list of all the scenarios in Queen of the Celts:

Scenario I: The Medway
Summer 43 A.D.

Plautius landed unopposed in Kent, in three beachheads based around the Wantsum Channel. The Romans quickly and efficiently organized themselves for the coming campaign with no interference from Caratacus, who had to go back and rally the scattered tribes again. This proved more difficult than before, since with the Romans actually ashore many Britons believed the chance to resist was over. And others, having prospered via the economic ties with Rome, were only lukewarm about fighting. In the end, Caratacus could only assemble enough warriors to establish a defensive position inland from the Roman beachheads and await their first moves.

Plautius moved out of his secure bridgehead with the invasion already planned in successive stages. The first stage was to cement the conquest of southeastern Britain, and to do this he would expand and improve on Caesar's second campaign. He met Caratacus at the River Medway. The War Chief slightly outnumbered the Romans and had destroyed the river bridges, so he felt that his position was reasonably secure. But the resourceful Romans, using agents among the disaffected, knew something about the lay of the land. On their left flank they sent the II Legion (Augusta) to ford the river out of sight of Caratacus. On the right the Batavian auxiliaries and supporting troops did the same.

This scenario offers the Celts a great chance to stop the Roman invasion in its infancy and keep Plautius bottled-up in his bridgehead. The Batavian auxiliaries assaulting the Celtic left flank are far weaker than the II Legion on the right. If Segovax’ chariots can smash the auxiliaries fast, then Caratacus’ nine heavy barbarian infantry units can overwhelm II Legion while the Briton light infantry and chariots rain arrows on XIV Legion as it tries to ford the river. But if the auxiliaries hold, then Caratacus will have no choice but to throw his army on both legions at once and hope it does enough damage to turn the Romans back before it breaks.

Scenario II: The Thames
Summer 43 A.D.

Plautius paused long enough to gather his forces north of the river and prepare the next stage of his advance. As Roman reinforcements arrived from the beachhead, Caratacus withdrew north of the river Thames to reconstitute his own army and put out the call for more forces. But after the retreat from the Medway this became even more difficult, as many tribal elders saw the futility of opposing the Romans and wanted to salvage as much independence as possible by cooperating with the invaders. Doing what he could with what he had left, Caratacus sought once again to use the river as a shield against the Romans.

In this scenario Caratacus’ army is a pale shadow of what he had at the Medway, so he’s got no choice but to pick a defensible spot and draw the Romans into battle. With nothing but coastal flatland to work with, Caratacus takes up position on boggy ground with his back to a dense swamp. The soft ground keeps the Roman cavalry from charging, and once the Romans join battle the Celts can fall back into the swamp and use the dense vegetation as cover. But with only a bare numerical advantage on the Romans and far poorer discipline, any significant damage to the advancing Romans will be all the victory they can hope for before melting into the swamp.

Scenario III: The Fall of Camulodunum
Fall 43 A.D.

Politics now entered Roman military operations. Pausing north of the Thames, Plautius sent word to Rome that the campaign was no longer in doubt. Claudius hit the road with a vengeance, and reinforcements were already gathering on the Gallic coast. Once Claudius arrived, the Romans struck out towards Camulodunum (modern Colchester), one of the most prosperous and frequented seaports in northwestern Europe. Its fall would demonstrate Roman might and the futility of resistance.

In Scenario III, imperial pride has offered the Britons one last chance to strike a death-blow at the invader. The local tribes throw the last of their forces at the Imperial Procession itself, hoping to kill Claudius and stifle the invasion by fomenting a succession crisis back in Rome. But the Praetorian Guard has an elephant, so the Celtic cavalry won’t be much use, but if the Britons can break up the procession and do enough damage to prevent or delay the siege, then that’s enough of a victory to keep resistance to Rome alive.

Scenario IV: Maiden Castle
Spring 45 A.D.

Maiden Castle, a massive, concentric earthwork.

Vespasian, the future emperor (and one of Rome's finest), took his II Legion and supporting troops into southwestern Britain with multiple purposes in mind. The subjugation of local tribes was of course a good thing, but he also needed to establish a secure overland supply route to aid Roman expansion in the north. Sea travel around Land's End between the English and Bristol Channels was treacherous due to tides and winds. Vespasian encountered only scattered resistance as he took one Celtic hill fort after another, defeating the tribes piecemeal. With Caratacus far to the north, no one was able to unite them.

This scenario introduces hill forts to the Rome at War series. Maiden Castle was (and still is) a massive set of concentric earthworks, well stocked with sling stones for the garrison. Briton units defending a hill fort area get a 25% bonus to their combat strength and their area morale, and all Briton missile-armed troops have a range of two areas when firing from a hill fort. Roman artillery fires at half strength when attacking a hill fort, so the Maiden Hill garrison has a decent shot at holding the Romans off.

Scenario V: Hit and Run
Summer 47 A.D.

The Romans spread north and west gradually, in ordered stages. Advancing with sword in one hand and olive branch in the other, the Romans made one tribe after another submit (voluntarily or otherwise). Most saw the economic advantages of cooperating with the Romans, so the remainder of the Roman conquest of Britain was largely without trouble. Plautius left the island in 46 A.D., being replaced by Marcus Scapula. But Caratacus was not inactive during this time. He led a guerrilla war against the Roman occupiers and Briton traitors, gaining a great reputation across unoccupied Europe and the Roman Empire itself.

Here’s where the Celts get a chance for a bit of revenge. The slow-moving Roman supply column is a juicy target for Caratacus’ raiders, whose mission is to burn all the Roman wagons and slaughter as many Romans as possible before Roman reinforcements show up. But with only a six-turn window of opportunity, the Celts have to be as aggressive as possible, and that will give the agile Roman light troops a chance to outflank the Briton heavy infantry and do enough damage to make the raid a net loss for Caratacus.

Scenario VI: Last Stand at Caersws
Summer 51 A.D.

The Romans slowly spread like a disease throughout the island. The followers of Caratacus dwindled, though the Great War Chief did not give up the fight. His strategic maneuvering caused Scapula to split off the XX Legion among the Silures while Scapula continued his Welsh campaign with the XIV Legion. With the Roman general’s forces thus depleted, Caratacus offered battle at the hill fort of Caersws.

Scenario VI could be Caratacus’ finest hour, with the last of his heavy infantry ready to break Scapula’s XIV Legion when it hits the hill fort walls. But Scapula can sit back and wait while the Roman cavalry and light infantry pick at Caratacus’ flanks and Roman artillery lobs fire and misery into the fort. Caratacus has to find a way to lure one of the Legion cohorts into an exposed position, then send his wild-eyed Druids out to whip the Celtic infantry into a frenzy and smash the Romans before fading back into the Welsh hills.

Scenario VII: Hell Hath no Fury . . .
Summer 60 A.D.

By the summer of 60 the entirety of what is considered England proper was under Roman rule, but Scotland was still not subjugated and Wales was restive. In the latter province the current governor, Gaius Paulinus, was campaigning in an effort to destroy the Celtic Druids in their stronghold.

The Iceni were one of the many tribes who had submitted to the Romans and had prospered somewhat by that association. When the Iceni king died, the Roman administration saw an opportunity to put an end to their charade of self-rule and took over the tribal lands. When the wife of the late king strongly protested, she was beaten and her daughters raped.

Boudicca escaped to foment rebellion that had been smoldering underneath the surface of Roman rule. Warriors flocked to her banner and Roman cities were sacked and their inhabitants put to the sword. One by one the cities fell, and Paulinus hastily rushed back to meet the last great threat to Roman hegemony.

Boudicca unleashes Hell’s fury at this scenario’s start with a massive chariot charge at the Roman line. If the chariots can break one of the Roman flanks they can easily get into the Roman rear and cause severe damage, forcing Paulinus to pull in his flanks and wrap his army into a tight schiltron.

Boudicca needs to isolate one of the legions fast and destroy it before the Romans can secure their flanks. Wiping out a legion will give Boudicca the victory she needs to show the Romans can be stopped, and the consequent political capital to raise even more tribes to throw off the Roman yoke.

Scenario VIII: Search and Destroy
Winter 73 A.D.

By this time resistance had all but collapsed everywhere but in the north. Venutius would lead a brilliant but ultimately futile irregular war against the Romans. Attacking isolated garrisons and ambushing foraging parties were the limits of his reach as the Romans slowly pushed north. Ultimately, his battlefield successes were too small-scale to disturb the pacification of the island.

Once again the Britons are reduced to hit-and-run raids, this time against auxiliary troops constructing a small fort. The rampart surrounding the fort protects the flanks of the Roman long units, meaning the Britons can’t get bonuses for flank and rear attacks until they actually breach the rampart walls. But Roman reinforcements are close again, so the Celts have to hit hard and fast and do enough damage to make the raid worthwhile before riding away.

Scenario IX: Celtic Twilight
Summer 84 A.D.

Rome pushed farther and farther north, and organized resistance became more and more futile. The newest governor, the most able Julius Agricola, marched into Scotland with two legions well supported by auxiliaries. Opposing him was the last Celtic force under arms that could be called an army. Under the chieftain Calgacus, nearly 30,000 warriors made a last stand before the highlands.

The world comes to Scotland in the final act of this tragedy. Two Roman legions plus Batavian, German and Thracian auxiliaries and cavalry (and even some British traitors) face down the last Celtic leader willing to make a stand. A battlefield victory is beyond hope, so all Calgacus can do is fight the highland way, looking for an opening and doing all the damage he can before running for the hills to fight another day. Resistance is at its last gasp, so even small successes on the battlefield will be enough for Calgacus if he can keep his army together.

Pick up Queen of the Celts to get in on the action.