Tribe History: The Battle of Zama

When we think of famous generals throughout history, one of the few names that everybody seems to be able to list, is Hannibal. Everyone has a vague idea of what he did, that he waged war with the Roman Republic and used war elephants with which he traveled over the Pyrenees and the Alps into Italy.

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Food, glorious food: What did the Gauls eat?

What and how a society eats is at the very core of its culture. The farther removed that society is from us – be it through space or time, the less we know about it. As players of Travian we are of course highly interested in all aspects of the life of the real history counterparts of our tribes. So today, we ask: What did the Gauls eat?

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Tribe History: Why the Romans did not Conquer Germany

The Roman Republic and later the Roman Empire was one of the biggest, most powerful and most respected – or feared – Empires our world has ever seen. Still, the Romans never did conquer the whole of Germania, although they were quite actively trying, at least for some time. Read More

Caesar’s Civil War – Five years that changed Rome

This conflict, also known as the Great Roman Civil War, was the last internal conflict of the Roman Republic which transformed Rome into the Roman Empire. Read More

Tribe History: 3 of Rome’s Most Famous Military Tactics

The tactics of ancient Rome were so formidable for their time that, even after 2,000 years, military schools and colleges around the world still teach them. Although the organization of troops used by the Romans was predated by the Greeks of Macedonia, the Romans took this organization to whole a new level. Many would argue that the success was the standardization of equipment and training, including various commands which every unit immediately understood.

As the Roman Empire grew, so did the military’s tactical toolbox. While supremely adaptable, there were three tactics that endured the duration of this great empire.

The Wedge Formation

While old, the wedge was an extremely effective offensive military formation. It was designed to cut through enemy lines and confuse their cavalry. Legionaries would form the shape of a triangle pointing towards and charging directly through the enemy. Each soldier was close enough to his next comrade in the formation so they could defend and protect each other. The main weapon they carried was a gladius (sword).

When the general yelled “cuneum formate”, the legionaries would form a wedge and charge at the opposition. The point of the triangle pointing right at the enemy was made up of the most experienced and best troops. This concentration of power allowed the formation to drive a wedge into the enemy forces that were then widened by the rest of their formation. The wedge was used often, most notably at the Battle of Pydna in 168 AD, which helped end the empire Alexander the Great had previously founded.

The Roman Tortoise

This is probably the most famous and recognizable formation. It’s easy to see how this formation got its name. The testudo (Latin) or tortoise formation was a type of shield wall formation commonly used by legions during battles and sieges in particular. The soldiers would form a tight block formation, with the front rank kneeling behind their interlocked shields, which measured over a meter in height.

The second rank would place their shields over their heads to protect the formation from attacks from above, balancing the shields on their helmets and overlapping them. While it was possible to march in the testudo formation, the speed of which the unit would travel would be tortoise-like. It was usually used in response to distant missile fire. This is how I imagine my Roman troops besieging a nearby village!


Triplex acies or the triple line

This formation was formed by three ranks, with the Hastati(the least experienced troops) in the first rank (closest to the enemy), the Principes (men in their prime, with good equipment) in the second rank and in the final rank the feared Triarii, the most heavily armored elite soldiers of the legion. When defeat was near, the first and second lines usually fell back on the Triarii to allow either for a counter-attack or a withdrawal. The three lines would often line up, with alternating gaps, creating a wider but still fighting front that looked apparently unbroken. “Falling on the Triarii” or “ad triarios rediisse” in Latin became a common Roman phrase indicating a person to be in a desperate situation.

Thank you for reading this edition of Tribe History! We hope you enjoyed the historical information. Next time you’re under attack by Romans, or are attacking another village as a Roman, imagine the troops using these tactics!

Roman, it’s cold outside – What did the Romans wear?

As we take a look outside this festive season, we know to reach for our coats, hats and scarves to keep us warm. When we think about the Roman soldiers of old we have trouble picturing them in anything different than their typical sandal like boots, tunics and armor. In this edition of Tribe History, we take a look at what the Romans used to wear in the cold weather all those years ago! Read More

Tribe History – A Battle for the Ages: The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest

What happened in the Teutoburg Forest on the ninth of September in the year 9 CE, would one day be known as one of the most significant battles in the history of at least the Roman Empire and the Germanic tribes. It’s a story of cunning intrigue, tactical and political prowess as well as military strategy. The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest lead to the death or enslavement of about 35,000 Roman soldiers, with only about a thousand able to escape certain doom. Although the Germans were outnumbered two to one, they only had minimal losses. Read More