A great general once said that experience is the teacher of all things.1Caesar said that (according to BrainyQuotes), but is far too modest in his writing to admit it. This cohort of Romans has much to be taught, for it has not experienced success in over a decade.
Titles from Macedonia and Britain, triumphs in Gaul and Germania, victories whilst serving with other territories; they count for nothing until those players restore Rome to its former glory. It must be unequivocal, absolute dominion over the provinces in Italy and further afield, not just a few territorial victories in Coppa Italia skirmishes.
This glory can be achieved with the right training schedules and tactics.
Discipline is at the core of every approach to battle, whether the men are two goals and one man to the good against lowly SPAL, or attempting to mount a counter-charge at the fearsome, well-funded warriors of the Bianconeri. Individual displays of skill and flair will be permitted, provided the soldier does not break ranks and continues to work hard for his compatriots.
Any legionaries who do not put in a shift will find themselves training separately alongside the light infantry.2They would not spend time in the reserves, as in the Roman army, the reserves – or triarii – were actually the most experienced and renowned soldiers.
Caesar has a near-infinite number of strategies from which to choose, each more brilliant than the last, but Rome’s generals can only teach the men three tactics at any given time.
The dictator will deploy different stratagems on the fly depending on the terrain, the opposition and the scenario, but the men will be fully cognisant of three main formations before every battle.
The First Formation3
Rome’s default formation will be the ‘oblong square’.4More about Roman military tactics here if you don’t believe us / can be bothered. Two banks of four will line up in front of the goalkeeper, and the flanks will be the main source of Rome’s initial attack. Wing-backs will provide support going forward and cover when necessary, while the central line should be well placed to finish off the opposition once weakened by the widemen.
It’s a traditional, time-honoured strategy that Caesar is keen to bring back – though the flanks will have to be vigorously retrained or replaced entirely.
The Second Formation5
It is common knowledge that most teams are weakest on their left flank.6Soldiers had to support the weight of their shields on the left hand side, making them more vulnerable on that flank. Strong, versatile left-backs are often in short supply, while some nations, such as the Britons, seem wholly incapable of producing attackers of that same persuasion.
If the opposition does not possess men with cultured left feet, or wands where their feet should be, Roman legions can exploit that flank, pitting its greatest strength against the enemy’s most glaring weakness. The remaining players will press high up the field.
The Fourth Formation7
Otherwise known as the culina labellum.8May or may not mean kitchen sink in Latin. The idea is to take the fight to the enemy, attacking directly and aggressively down both flanks at the same time, with the rest of the men pressing rapidly behind.
Should the initial charges falter, there is always the very real chance of decisive counter-attacking manoeuvres. However, should the final tally favour Rome, then the clean sheet is a worthwhile casualty of war.
Auxiliary: The Wedge Formation9
A popular tactic within and beyond the borders of Rome, using a single point to break through the resistance, then sweeping in thereafter.
Legendary general Fabio Capellus10This is why we used Fabio as the featured image, although in truth, we were just looking for an excuse to Photoshop his head onto a marble bust. utilised the tactic to great effect at the turn of the second millennium AD, using the triumvirate of Francesco Tottius, Vincenzo Montellus and unshorn gladiator Gabriel Batistuta to smash through Serie A.
The lingering doubts over personnel dissuade Caesar from utilising this formation in camp, though it may be called upon in particular circumstances.
The right officers must also be chosen to chisel the men into shape. Tomeius, praetor of the previous incumbent, was never going to last long, and was terminated as soon as his transitional purpose was served. Fabio Micarellius, previously with the Atalanta legion, is appointed as Caesar’s Master of the Horse11Second-in-command; much more important than the title suggests.. Fabio is an astute teacher in a technical sense, though his man-management skills and hard-bitten attitude towards the younger recruits leaves a little to be desired.
Two of the three fitness coaches are also given their marching orders, though Caesar shows mercy to Maurizio Franchini, allowing him to retain his position. Massimo Nerius, a world-renowned veteran and former Roman, returns to the Olimpico after eight years campaigning on three different continents, while Marcos Alvarez replaces Manrico Ferrari. Caesar bristles at the prospect of replacing a Roman citizen with a lowly man of Hispania, but the hour is late and recruitment from the provinces is a necessary evil.
Dennis Bergkamp, the skilful warrior who found fame in Britain after a troubling stint in Milan, returns to train the men in the art of technique. His famous defeat of the great Greek general Nikos Dabizas in the Battle of St James’ Park commands immediate, quiet respect amongst his new cohorts.12Greek legend has it that Bergkamp may not have meant to defeat Dabizas with such worldly panache, with sympathisers describing the Ingvaeonic attacker’s victory as a ‘fluke’. At the other end, Giuseppe Scurtus – an expert with the shield at Palermo, and a positive influence on the Rosanero’s young charges – comes in to shore up the defensive lines.
The remaining centurions are to keep their posts. One man cannot govern Rome alone, and a more partisan approach to recruitment contributed to his last dismissal.13When Caesar won the civil war, he augmented the severely depleted Senate with his own personal appointments. He strengthened his stranglehold on power over the next three years, but was stabbed to death just one month after signing a new infinity-year contract as dictator of Rome.
If Rome wishes to become competitive in a matter of weeks, the men must endure a gruelling training regime. They must meet the basic requirements on a physical level before developing their mental aptitude.
Micarellius suggests allowing the legions to recuperate between sessions, but there is plenty of time for rest, family and punditry work when the fighting is over. For now, those men will dedicate themselves to a life of combat, campaigning and community outreach, working every single day to become the most disciplined units this
empire republic has ever seen.
The hard work starts here. Tomorrow, Rome marches on Germania Inferior. Again.14Caesar invaded the province in 57 BC and battered the Eburones and Menapii.