Julius Caesar is famous for quite a few things, including founding a dictatorship and being stabbed repeatedly by a large group of his friends. He also won a battle or two in his time, including his Gallic Wars, waged before his (in)famous crossing of the Rubicon. But who did he fight? Who were the people who gave their name to the conflict? Most importantly – how can you field an army of them in games of Hail Caesar? Read on to find out how you can assemble a Gallic force of your very own!
The Gauls were part of the wider Celtic culture, which spanned the vast majority of western Europe and Britain for thousands of years, and were frequent military foes of the Romans throughout their history. To fully detail the culture and history of the Gauls would take many, many volumes, but a brief overview is necessary to establish exactly who it was that stood against Caesar’s legions. The vast majority of information regarding them comes from their Roman foes, particularly Caesar’s own Commentarii de Bello Gallico (Commentaries on the Gallic War), and must therefore be taken with a hefty pinch of salt. Nevertheless, we can say with certainty that Gallic society was made up of many tribes, independent political and social entities which built fortified settlements, minted their own coinage, and both mined and traded for gold and other materials. While there was no concept of unified or centralised government, they were capable of uniting militarily for campaigns or self-defence, and can therefore be regarded (at least for the purposes of Hail Caesar) as a homogenous ‘nation’ on the battlefield.
Similarly to records of their society, most records of their military organisation, tactics, and prowess come from their enemies, and indeed Commentarii de Bello Gallico is the primary source for Caesar’s campaigns in Gaul – perhaps not the most objective of looks at the conflict! It is, however, known that Gallic armies made use of their Germanic neighbours as allies, and fought almost entirely in tribally based warbands. Lacking the legendary discipline of the Roman Legions, they were nevertheless ferocious and highly capable in hand-to-hand combat, and certainly no slouches when it came to tactics and strategy themselves. Similarly, while the Gauls were excellent metalworkers, they had no standardised system of procurement or production for armour and weapons – it would not be a surprise to find captured Roman equipment gratefully pressed into service by the lucky warrior who could get their hands on it! Cavalry elements were present, made up primarily of the nobles of a given tribe, but the Gallic army would predominantly be made up of masses of infantry.
On the Hail Caesar tabletop, there’s perhaps no more terrifying sight than a properly big horde of angry Gallic warriors (especially not if you like wine, olives, and the Circus!), and with no standardised uniforms or equipment, you’ve got the perfect excuse to really flex your painting muscles. The new Gallic Celt Starter Army is the perfect way to muster your tribe, or expand an existing force, giving you a full hundred plastic Warriors to serve as the backbone of your force – these can be your standard medium infantry warbands, or even your General’s Guard. In addition, you get a dozen Warlord Resin cavalry with which to run down your foes, as well as a Chieftain to lead the bunch – at a hefty discount against buying them separately, to boot! This is a fantastic way to get an initial division on the table and ready for battle, and gives you everything you need to overwhelm the Romans right away.
Hail Caesar, however, is a game of really big battles, so no doubt before long you’ll want to expand (and batter even more Romans!). You can of course simply ‘stack’ starter armies on top of each other (especially since each starter army can be made into a self-contained division), but it’s always nice to have some variety and a few different ways to defeat your opponents! A few units of bow, sling, or javelin-armed skirmishers will never go amiss, and can often prove surprisingly effective in combat, while for a fearsome shock unit of Gaesatae, look no further than the rather spectacular Naked Fanatics!
As your divisions start to mount, you will of course need some suitably skilled commanders to lead them – there’s a whole variety to choose from, but you can never go wrong with the legendary Vercingetorix to head up the horde. Tactically, look to swarm the Romans with superior numbers, isolate and overwhelm individual units, and make clever use of the local terrain to outmanoeuvre and outflank them. Do it right, and the poshos back in Rome will be saying “Gaius Julius who?” in no time at all!
Caesar’s Gallic Wars
New to Hail Caesar? The new Caesar’s Gallic Wars starter set gives you two starter forces: the barbaric Gauls and the legions of the late Roman Republic with which to begin your campaigns of ancient warfare on the tabletop! Within, you’ll find everything you need to get playing, including an introductory booklet that guides you through the steps of collecting, building and painting a Hail Ceasar army as well as containing an overview of the Gallic Wars, and a slimmed-down A5 Gamer’s Edition of the Hail Caesar rulebook – exclusive to this boxed set.