10 November, 2016
The Sunday was three BBDBA games. Points were given for breaking commands and for winning.
- Game 1: Mark B (Palmyrans)
With my high aggression I was unsurprisingly the attacker against Mark’s Palmyrans. Mark went for an open battlefield with terrain only on one wing.
With a preponderance of cavalry facing my left wing, I thought I could meet it with Gisgo’s light horse and psiloi. Unfortunately, I forgot that light horse now can be double ranked, in which case they are 3-2 against psiloi.
The plan was that Hanno on the left wing would overpower the foot facing them, while Hiero held the centre and Gisgo the right wing.
Unfortunately, the dunes on the right wing hampered the cavalry outflanking, although they did destroy the three 3Bw on that wing. However, good shooting in the centre saw Heiro’s warband and cavalry shot, while Gisgo’s troops fought like demons to survive.
Despite their bravery, the centre collapsed, as did Gisgo’s command. In hindsight it would have been better to have had Hanno and Gisgo swap positions. Gisgo could have contested the dunes with his scutati, the LH could have stood up to the cataphracts, and the psiloi might have stood up to the bow, if they moved quickly. Hanno’s elephants would have worried the cataphracts, and the spear and cavalry could have supported them.
Mark also suggested that I might want to rethink my commands around two commands of 13 and one of 10. I’d certainly give it some thought.
- Game 2: Keith (Asiatic Early Successor)
Against the aggressive Demetrius the Besieger, I was still the aggressor, but as he was littoral too, I had him worried that I might do a littoral landing.
Demetrius placed his elephants in the centre with large pike blocks on either side. Light troops and cavalry were on his wings.
Hanno thought to use Gisgo’s psiloi to neutralise some of the pike and his light horse to face the knights. He would take the right flank and attempt to break through the pike with warbands supported by elephants.
Gisgo soon discovered that his scutati were outflanked by the light foot in reserve. The bad going on the right flank again slowed up the attack by Hanno’s cavalry. However, the psiloi did very well. Destroying half a pike block and stopping them from advancing. The scutati were even more resilient than in the last battle and scorned to be outflanked. Gisgo, despite being outclassed had his opposing command on the back foot. Hanno’s elephants and warband were doing good work on the right, but his spear did not like the elephants they faced, and Hiero was wilting before the pike.
Nevertheless, in the turn on which my commands broke, I was one of breaking two of Demetrius’ commands. The warband just needed to destroy another pike block, and I think that Gisgo was threatening the C-in-C having outflanked him.
Despite Gisgo’s heroics, I think in hindsight I should have gone for the same order of battle as I should have used against the Palmyrans. Gisgo would have been more effective on the right and Hanno on the left.
- Game 3: Greg K (Eastern Patrician Romans with Later Pre-Islamic Arab Nomad Ally)
Surprisingly against Greg’s Romans I was the defender. This time I deployed with Gisgo on the right facing bad going that had congregated there. Hanno was on the more open left flank.
I took quite a few pictures of this game, so I’ll let them provide the commentary.
Hiero was eventually destroyed while flanked and his command broke, as did Hanno’s. I was looking to inflict one more casualty on the Roman central command to break it, but the gap created by the two elephants was one I couldn’t fill.
I came last in this competition. I didn’t get any points, as I failed to break any commands, though I got close in both my last two games. Despite failing to win, I enjoyed the games, and I learned a lot about how to play BBDBA.
8 November, 2016
I took a morning flight to Christchurch, which all went smoothly. I even saw Comics Compulsion, the shop that hosts Conquest, while catching a bus from the airport. The first day was six games using ancient armies for the first three and medieval for the last three.
- Morning games (Ancient armies)
My Carthaginians were my army for the morning. With an aggression of 4, I was pretty sure I’d be the attacker most games, and I was. I fielded 2 Cv (cmd), 1 El, 1 LH, 3 Sp, 2 4Wb, 1 4Ax and 2 Ps.
- Game 1: John (Polybian Romans)
As expected I was the attacker against John, who was borrowing Keith’s Polybian Romans. I should have made him deploy on the side with the wood. It proved to be a handicap to me.
The Romans advanced rapidly, and I lost my Numidians by foolishly trying to get them in front of the woods when before the Roman cavalry arrived. My troops fought doggedly on the right flank, and I started to win on the left, but that needless loss of the Numidians cost me the game, which was a 3-5 loss after the warband was broken, and the auxilia and a spear.
- Game 2: Mark B (Palmyrans)
I was the attacker again against Mark’s Palmyrans. I was nervous of his cataphracts, but he was even more nervous of the elephant. He deployed near the camp and spent time manoeuvring. I rushed forward, reasoning that I had more hope of catching him before he’d finished his manoeuvres. As it turned out, I won a decisive victory in record time, as his general went against Androgeus while overlapped. 3-2 odds with knights against warband is good odds, but with is back against the wall, Androgeus 6-1ed the unfortunate general and added another head to his collection.
- Game 3: Jim (Greco-Bactrians)
My last game of the morning was against Jim’s Greco-Bactrians. In this game I was able to extend my left flank enough to destroy three elements, but in the last turn I couldn’t find any more there, and my centre was buckling to the pikes they faced. I lost again, 3-4.
- Afternoon games (Medieval armies)
In the afternoon I deployed my Komnenan Byzantines. These are similar to the Carthaginians in their use of mercenaries. They differed in having aggression 1. I fielded 4 Cv (cmd), 4 LH, 1 3Kn, 1 4Bd, 2 4Bw.
- Game 4: Gus (Mongols)
First up I was the defender against Gus’ beautifully painted Mongols. I achieved a very rapid victory; 4(G)-1, I think. I can’t remember the details, except that my dice were very strong.
As the game was over so fast, we had a rematch. Again I was the defender. Again it was a quick battle, but this time it might have gone Gus’ way, but my monks clearly were praying harder, as my dice again stayed strong. At one point our generals were each overlapped, but it was mine that triumped in a 4(G-2 victory!
- Game 5: Brian (Medieval Scandinavian Union with Medieval German ally)
My next game was against Brian’s Medieval Scandinavian Union with Medieval German ally. I was the attacker this time, and Brian had to use a waterway. I knew Brian was a tough opponent, and when I saw he had a party set aside for a littoral landing, I stymied it with my light horse, that deployed up against the waterway in two columns.
The landing party had to deploy behind the main body of the Scandinavians. Low PIPs made the initial contact slow, but when it came the Byzantines continued to roll high in combat and broke an element of 6Kn, and then another. It was 3-0 to me. However, getting the final element was not easy, and when Brian got his spearmen into combat I lost both the bow. In the final turn I finally got my fourth element, only to lose my knights (I think) to a 6-1 going against me. The battle ended as a 4-4 draw.
- Game 6: Keith (Wars of the Roses English)
I was the attacker in my final battle, against Keith’s Yorkists. Tired after the last battle, and bereft of inspiration in the face of unattractive terrain, I nevertheless attacked (the artillery made it hard to sit back). I foolishly got my light horse destroyed and lost 0-4.
I enjoyed the day greatly. I was very pleased with the way I played against Brian, who I’d played before some years ago. He finished first. I was surprised to finish third, as I had only two wins, but these were big ones, and all but my last battle were hard-fought.
7 November, 2016
Last Friday, the night before I went to Conquest, I got in one final practice game of BBDBA with Nick. I’d looked over the Runners and Riders and suggested he try out a Palmyran army with its mixture of bow and cataphracts. He was able to get his Early Imperial Romans to do this.
I’d settled on my commands before I left. I’d chosen them to correspond to the different PIP dice. the C-in-C was Hanno, commanding the largest contingent and having the high PIP dice. With 16 elements, it required 6 casualties to break.
This command had two elements of elephants and four of Gallic warbands. The hope was that the elephants would create overlaps for the warbands and increase their chance of breaking through. The command also had three elements of spear, and four of cavalry (including the commander), along with a light horse and a pair of psiloi.
Gisgo had the mobile command, designed for bad going and for outflanking. It got the middle PIP dice. It had 10 elements and broke after 4 casualties.
This command had a high proportion of Spanish mercenaries; three elements of scutati, two of caetrati, one of Balaeric slingers, Gisgo command of Spanish cavalry, another of Spanish light horse, and finally a pair of Numidian light horse.
The final command was led by Hiero, a Greek mercenary commander. Like Gisgo’s command it was 10 elements. It was intended to hold the line and got the low PIP dice.
Hiero had six elements of spear, three of Sicilian Greeks, and three of Campanians. He had two warbands, including the redoubtable Androgeus and a reserve of a psiloi and some cavalry.
- Against the Palmyrans
The game against the Palmyrans saw the Carthaginians attacking. There was an oasis, two difficult hills and some rough going. The Palmyrans deployed across the entire line, with the bulk of their cataphracts in the centre.
I’d made the mistake of putting my camp behind the oasis and therefore could not simply ignore the right flank. I decided to have Hiero’s command hold the right flank and Gisgo on the left flank.
I was relieved to learn that bow could not shoot into the difficult hills, and this gave some solidity to the left flank, but the warband strung out in the centre facing cavalry was not a good situation. Hiero might have been better there, and the warband could have been in the oasis.
I don’t remember the details now, and as my luck was not equal to rectifying errors in deployment, my photography ceased!
I had a problem with how to attack in the centre when my right flank was not advancing. I made the mistake (in retrospect) of attacking the Palmyran bow with my cavalry. It didn’t work, and delayed the attack of the elephants; however, whatever the cavalry did, the elephants faced trouble with support.
I think Hanno was defeated when flanked, and his command broke. This was a battle that I never really had an advantage. I think my main mistakes were:
1. Choosing the bad going to deploy from. It might have been better to have inflicted its disruption on the Palmyrans.
2. Putting my camp behind the oasis.
3. Sticking with the deployment despite the way the warband had to be stretched across the centre facing mounted.
4. Deciding to go for the bow of the right command rather than support an attack by the elephants.
It wasn’t a good note on which to set off to Conquest.
29 October, 2016
The Carthaginians that are going to Conquest are represented by the proper nationalities, except for the spear, for which I’ve had to use some Greek hoplites. To create a bit of balance with the Carthaginian spear, I got some more of my Campanian army painted. The Carthaginians are now taking three elements of Carthaginians, three of Greek mercenaries and three of Campanian mercenaries. These Campanians have already shown some grit, which is gratifying.
These figures have been on the painting queue for a while. Since I started them the auxilia in these armies has mostly been reclassified as 3Ax, which is probably more useful. I got the cavalry prepped a few weeks back, and I hope to paint them and four elements of the 3Ax to be able to field the Campanian army (II/8b).
The Campanian army is not terribly exciting, but it’s not as one-dimensional as the other two that I can make from these figures, the Bruttians and Apulians. I won’t even talk about the Samnites, which under DBA are really just speedbumps for any opponent.
I got a few shields and flags for this army from the Freikorp range. Two of the ‘flags’ are actually trophies. These troops used to take the tunics and belts of fallen enemies and display them on their spears. I’ve used them as such on a couple of the Old Glory figures. Not quite headhunters, but showing promise!
The cavalry needed a bit of preparation. Green stuff filled big gaps between the saddles and horses. Shields were on some, others have been salvaged from Freikorp thureophoroi that became imitation legionaries, and others are CB caetrae from their Spanish range.
When I’ve done this army, I may look to paint an Armenian army to complement my Mithridatic one.
29 October, 2016
I had my third game of BBDBA and improved some more. I lost, but I could see where my deployment had not helped me, and I got closer to taking out a second command this time.
I took my Carthaginians against Nick’s Early Imperial Romans. I was the aggressor, which was to my advantage. The terrain was all on one side of the board, and I chose to have the terrain on my side. I’m not sure that was the best choice.
The advantage of deploying second was one I’d not had before. The Roman command facing my left had most of their mounted, their light horse and cavalry. The centre had a combination of blade and auxilia. The right had knights and bow. I chose to try and focus on the centre and left, deploying in depth.
This deployment didn’t entirely work. My high-PIP command was on my right. It tried to react to the Romans on its right by deploying elephants and cavalry to meet the approaching knights. I was let down by bad dice in combat and was close to breaking on this wing in rapid time. However, on the left flank my luck balanced out and I broke the command by destroying their light horse with my Numidians and then falling on the outflanked legionaries.
At this point my right command collapsed, and I had a small window in which to apply pressure on the Roman middle command, but despite flanking a legion with hoplites, they were 6-1 and my second command collapsed. I could (and did) complain about the dice, but my deployment was risky, and my response to move to the right even more risky. I seemed to forget that my high-PIP command was trying to survive, rather than try to attack two commands simultaneously.
The next day, I decided to set up the terrain again and try a few alternative deployments to see what I could have done differently. I tried out the Marian Romans and the Carthaginians. Looking at the two armies, I decided that the Carthaginians were the ones I wanted to take to Conquest. I also decided that I was still inexperienced about deploying the army as I’d only done it a few times. For practice, I had a couple of solo games. I put together an Early Seleucid army (II/19a) using my old fallback, the Goblins. The Carthaginians were the defenders.
The Seleucids chose to take the side with the most terrain, so that they could deploy into the clear. Their commands were a central one of 12 pike and two psiloi, one facing the Carthaginian left of six elephants (assorted giants, ogres and trolls) three cavalry (actually accidentally 4!) and two psiloi, and on the right three LCh, three Kn, three LH and two Ps.
The contact was swift and deadly. The Carthaginians moved psiloi on their left flank to ZOC the cavalry command. It worked, but the two psiloi died to enemy psiloi. Their spear were killing elephants with great effectiveness, but the ogres on the end of the line refused to die, even though they were flanked. This obdurance won them the game, as their SCh destroyed warbands and their left flank was not able to be troubled fast enough by the littoral landing.
I decided to try another game with the same terrain. This time I ignored the littoral landing gambit and went for the command that has auxilia and psiloi to be on the left flank. It was attractive to the knights, but not to the chariots and elephants.
The command with most of the spear went in the centre, while the high-PIP command with the two elephants went on the right. It left the warbands in reserve, as they were pretty much a liability.
This more conventional deployment got the Seleucids to put the pike in the centre and the SCh and Kn on their right, while the elephants went on the right.
Again contact came swiftly, but this time Carthaginians used high PIPs to move their auxilia across to face the SCh. However, the Seleucids responded by swapping the SCh and Kn in turn. When contact was made by the Seleucids, the SCh contacted mostly auxilia and the Kn spear, but one auxilia encountered knights. The knight commander was soon double-overlapped, but as an element of knight had been destroyed, along with some chariots, the battle on the Carthaginian left flank was in the balance. In the centre a pushing match ensued, where the Carthaginian spear refused to be intimidated by the pike. On the left the Carthaginians met elephants and cavalry with psiloi spear and cavalry. Their spear was as undaunted as in the previous battle and succeeded in destroying opposing elephants.
The Carthaginians eventually broke the command facing their right flank. Their spear was too resolute. In the centre, their commander was flanked and routed, but it was a solitary success. And the Campanian spear eventually flanked and destroyed the opposing knight commander to rout the second Seleucid command. This was their second kill, I think, as they got a knight on contact too. Androgeus, the Gallic headhunter, destroyed a block of pike, and I think a recoiling elephant destroyed a bit of the Seleucid reserves.
All in all, they were two fun games that helped me get more of a feel of the footprint of the different commands and how they interact. I’ll go to Conquest a little better prepared.
23 October, 2016
As I said in my last post, I’ve got the figures I need for Conquest ready. However, after a couple of games of BBDBA I’m not sure what armies to take. I had a game of BBDBA last month. I won in the centre and lost on the flanks. Last Friday I had my second game, this time I took Gauls with a Spanish ally. Nick went Early Imperial Romans to see how I’d cope against knights.
I didn’t take any pictures, which was a pity, as it was fun game. I won decisively on one flank (I was the defender and laid out a few woods and a difficult hill). However, much like in the previous game, I lost elsewhere. This time, however, it was that I’d effectively fielded two commands against one Roman one, but the C-in-C was up against two commands, and had also put three elements of LCh on the far side of a wood; these were badly outnumbered, and could not get away from the place.
Even though I lost, I learned a bit more about BBDBA — my commander died when he rolled a 1, but he should have used his single get-out-of-jail +1. This reprieve might have been allowed me to turn things around, though I doubt it. His command broke, and the other two were too slow or too far away to redeploy against the remaining Romans.
What this taught me is that BBDBA is very different from DBA. Breaking a command is only a good start; you have to find a way to be able to redeploy to repeat the exercise. Choosing what commands are mobile and what commands have the most PIPs is crucial for this.
My choices for Conquest are (1) the Marian Romans with Numidian allies, (2) the Gauls with Spanish allies, or (3) later Carthaginians. After looking at what I hope to achieve, which is largely have an excuse to use the newly painted figures, I think the last of these is the best choice; I can use the new Spanish 4Ax, the new Gallic 4Wb, the new Gallic Cv and the new Numidian LH. I can also take 36 elements of Carthaginians (although some of the Spear do look a lot like they may be Greek or Campanian mercenaries).
One of the advantages of the Carthaginians is they are aggression 4, so they should get to deploy second (and if they don’t they can do a littoral landing to mess with the opponent).
My initial reluctance with this army was my concern about the Carthaginians as a DBA army, but I think it’ll do OK. That just leaves the choice of my medieval army. I was thinking of going Prefeudal Scots; I then thought about the Komnenan Byzantines, which have been my default choice for a while. However, I’m now thinking of a more eccentric choice — North Welsh with a South Welsh ally. It’s very fast and should bring on a result in no time at all! I could even look at constructing narratives for the Carthaginians and Welsh having gone to sea as a background to their battles; somewhat more violent versions of the voyages of Hanno and Madog!
23 October, 2016
I’ve finished the last of the figures I needed to get done for my trip to Conquest in two weeks time. These are a command element for my Marian Romans, and four elements of Gallic cavalry.
The Roman command is to replace the one I have of Julius Caesar. I’ve called the commander Quintus Labienus, the only one of Caesar’s legates who did not follow him over the Rubicon. Labienus was not only a brilliant commander, but also probably a man of principle; his decision to fight for the republic rather than his commander in Gaul is likely to have been taken out of a sense of loyalty to the concept of the republic; the idea he was a client of Pompey is reductive.
I’m not sure I’m entirely happy with this element. They are all Freikorp figures, but the standard bearer is a giant next to the earlier figures. Nevertheless, I look forward to using Labienus rather than Caesar!
The four new elements of Gallic cavalry took quite a while to get done. At the last minute I found another figure to allow me to do four elements, rather than have a HotT hero. It involved using a figure from my Ancient British LH that are orphans until I get some more 3Wb; the horse was left over from an element of Carthaginian cavalry, which was fortuitous.
These were hard to fit on the bases. Both the CB and the Xyston figures are a bit animated. Keeping ‘hands inside the bus’ hasn’t entirely worked, especially on the sides of the elements. However, I’m pleased with the way the Xyston figures look amongst the Corvus Belli ones (and with the news that CB will be back in production again.
These elements will allow me to field Gauls as mercenaries and auxiliaries in other armies, and to use them for BBDBA.
Finally, I’ve added a corpse for Androgeus, one that he got the head he’s standing on for.
Next up may be a Campanian army, or I may start on some 1:1200 Langton ancient galleys. I’m keen to start doing some naval warfare. Then again, Nennius wants a corpse for his head too!