I caught up with Joel for another game of DBA yesterday, the second outing of the Britons against the Marian Romans. This time I was the attacker (the first time in our encounters; clearly Cassivellaunus was very annoyed, as the aggression ratings are 0-3 against him).

After last week’s skirmish Cassivellaunus decided to lead his forces in person and on foot; so he led 6x3Wb, 3xLCh, 2x2LH and 1x2Ps. Caesar’s order of battle differed from last week only in having an extra 2Ps instead of a 3Ax.

Caesar found a site with a large wood and a steep hill. Cassivellaunus got the edge he wanted and Caesar deployed next to the wood in line with the cavalry in reserve. Cassivellaunus set his warband behind the hill supported by some adolescent skirmishers. They made a splendid sight; Cassivellaunus and his command in the centre, his brother Nennius on the right holding a Roman’s head, freshly decapitated from earlier skirmishing, and his nephew Androgeus standing on another Roman’s head from the same skirmish. His chariots and cavalry were on the right wing.

Caesar reacted to this deployment by moving his cavalry out of reserve and onto his left flank.

Initial Deployments: Cassivellaunus on the left and Caesar on the right.

Cassivellaunus (6 PIPs) started by rushing his chariots forward, hoping to hem the Roman cavalry in next to the woods. Meanwhile, his warbands advanced onto the hill and he attempted to move his light horse across to the left flank. Caesar with 4 PIPs sent everybody forward.

Turn 1: Cassivellaunus ambitiously hopes to get his light horse to the left flank.

Cassivellaunus only has 2 PIPs and uses them to continue the advance of the chariots, while one of the light horse starts to move over to provide flank support. Caesar with 3 PIPs continues the general advance, forming his horse into line.

Turn 2: After only two turns contact is imminent.

With battle about to be joined, Cassivellaunus gets 1 PIP! He decides to retire his left chariot, which would be overlapped against blade with psiloi support. This means he is not able to get his light horse in place for overlap support on the other flank. Despite the promising match-ups, Caesar is not able to make Cassivellaunus pay; he advances his legions on the retired chariot, but only gets two recoils and has his own horse recoiled in the last encounter (the dice were 6-5, 6-5 and 3-6!).

Turn 3: The British mounted have a lucky escape.

Cassivellaunus recovers his nerve (6 PIPs) and retires his mounted, partly because his line’s in a mess, but also to draw the Romans forward and have room to make his mounted count on the open flank. By contrast, Caesar is struck by indecision (1 PIP), and can only send one of his horse out wider.

Turn 4: Cassivellaunus pulls his mounted back.

Buoyed on by Caesar’s indecision, Cassivellaunus (5 PIPs) attacks the horse out on the right flank while advancing his leftmost warband (Androgeus). This does no more than force the horse back into the woods.

Turn 5 (Cassivellaunus): The Britons begin to recover the initiative on their right flank

Caesar with 4 PIPs peels an element of blade off to attack the chariots. Hoping for a casualty, he gets only two recoils.

Turn 5 (Julius Caesar): Caesar supports his mounted with legionaries.

Cassivellaunus has only 3 PIPs; enough, however, to flank the horse and attack the blade that has no psiloi support. He manages to destroy the flanked cavalry and drive back the other two elements. After a shaky start he’s starting to get the advantage on this flank.

Turn 6 (Cassivellaunus): First blood to the Britons.

Caesar works hard to stabilize things, not easy with only 2 PIPs. He retires the cavalry to the wood, where they are actually fairly safe, as any mounted attacking them is also at -2! and he pulls another blade across to provide flank support to the one left in the open.

Turn 6 (Julius Caesar): More legionaries move over into the fight on their left flank.

Cassivellaunus (5 PIPs) retires one chariot and wheels the others, while advancing the rest of the warbands. Caesar, still short of PIPs (2), moves his two blade into line on the left flank.

Turn 7: Both sides manoeuvre.

Cassivellaunus continues to have good PIPs (5), and attacks the two blade with overlaps, but only manages to recoil them.

Turn 8 (Cassivellaunus): One light horse circles behind the line to the centre.

Caesar now gets 5 PIPs, and creates a battle line of disparate elements; it’s anchored by the cavalry in the woods and Caesar himself on the other end. Nennius, seeing ‘ yellow death’ (see the last post for details!), gets excited. Will it be enough to tempt him off the hill?

Turn 8 (Julius Caesar): The Romans face off the British mounted with anything they can get into the line.

As the two armies face off, Cassivellaunus finally gets low PIPs (2), and decides to retire his two light horse a little. Caesar also gets the same PIPs, and decides to attack the Britons, with psiloi support. Here he botches the order of his combats and has the supported blade go first. It’s recoiled, leaving the other unsupported, which is unlucky and destroyed, but his cavalry recoil their opposite number.

Turn 9: Bad command decisions by the Romans leave a hole in their line.

With 5 PIPs, Nennius is off that hill and after ‘yellow death’, while its wielder is unsupported. Despite two overlaps, Caesar doesn’t buckle. However, his psiloi are recoiled into the reserve, and he’s now 3 down.

Turn 10 (Cassivellaunus): Nennius and Caesar face off; round one to Caesar.

Caesar with 3 PIPs plugs the gap with one of the reserve elements of blade.

Turn 10 (Julius Caesar): One flank of Caesar's command is now supported.

Cassivellaunus has 4 PIPs. He advances Nennius’ rear element across to support him and attacks the cavalry with a flanking chariot. Searching around for what to do with his spare PIP he advances his adolescent skirmishers to the end of the hill. Oops, that PIP should have been used to retire the other chariot, allowing room for recoil, as he quickly finds out, and the score goes to 3-1.

Turn 11 (Cassivellaunus): A chariot is destroyed by recoil.

Caesar has 6 PIPs and piles into the flank. However, the British horse hang tough and only recoil. And the chariot sticks.

Turn 11 (Julius Caesar): Romans get little traction on the British mounted.

Cassivellaunus has only 2 PIPs and uses it to get Nennius’ support in place. The ‘stuck’ chariot forces the Romans to recoil.

Turn 12 (Cassivellaunus): Nennius gets ready for another go.

Caesar sends his slingers across to try and mess with the British skirmishers and charges into the British line. He now gets his second victory, as one light horse are fled and the chariot is routed (dice = 6-1). However, the other light horse get a stick and in his fight against Nennius no holds are barred (dice = 6-6), and the warband gives ground reluctantly.

Turn 12 (Julius Caesar): More success to the Romans and the dice from the last combat.

Cassivellaunus has few PIPs (2), and uses them to get the warbands on the hill to ZOC the Romans facing the light horse. These light horse are in no mood to run and actually drive the Romans back (dice = 6-2). That foolish psiloi move has further consequences, as if it’s recoiled, it’ll be destroyed!

Turn 13 (Cassivellaunus): The battle's in the balance, as Nennius is in the open against Caesar.

Caesar has made a great comeback, and if he can defeat Nennius will win the battle. However, if he loses, it’s all over for him. On the right flank his slingers are driven back by the skirmishers with uphill advantage and those light horse continue to be obdurate, driving the blade back again. Caesar faces Nennius with the odds in his favour (5-3), but Nennius’ battle-fury is in full rage, and he rolls another ‘6’; Caesar can’t match this, getting a ‘2’ and sees his bodyguard dissolve around him. In the melee, as Geoffrey of Monmouth reports, Nennius snatches ‘yellow death’ from Caesar.

Turn 13 (Julius Caesar): Nennius, against steep odds gets that sword! Victory for naked guys waving around severed heads!

  • Aftermath:

Caesar’s troops are in full flight and head back to Gaul to lick their wounds. This must be the Roman invasion that Geoffrey records, but Caesar overlooks (Geoffrey records three)! Geoffrey saw Caesar as a great chivalrous leader, not an opinion of the man that I share. If I get my Gallic cavalry finished this week, the next battle will be Gauls against Marians.

  • Review:

Joel quickly regretted putting his cavalry on the left flank. Despite that, he showed how tough blade are as an element, and it was by no means an easy victory. If they’d been a spear army, my chariots would have only fled from them (and my warbands would be itching to attack them). This was a battle where psiloi did not fight as support much. That was because of the way the battle unfolded, but it was definitely an advantage for the Britons. If I’d not lost that first chariot, Joel may not have been able to get back into the battle. I was also thinking that the psiloi might have been more use on the right flank. It could have got into the woods and made quite a lot of mischief.

The warbands on the hill were somewhat ineffectual. For a lot of the game they were not keeping an equal number of Romans occupied. They also required a lot of PIPs to move, which limited their effectiveness.

Fighting with warbands is not for the faint-hearted. It seems they actually like defying the odds, though I’m reluctant to prove this by deliberately throwing them into desperate situations. However, every time I’ve set up as good odds as I can they’ve not quite managed to do it. Also the double-ranking both shortens the line and makes for heavy casualties if you lose.

Last night I got to try my Celts out. They were an Ancient British army facing Marian Romans, so the obvious setting was one of Caesar’s visits to their island. My army consisted of 4xLCh (1=cmd), 2x2LH and 6x3Wb. As one of the chariots had a queen on board, she was clearly the leader. To find a name I dipped into one of the most reliable, and certainly most entertaining reports of Caesar’s invasion, one recorded by Geoffrey of Monmouth, but reliant, we are assured, on a very ancient book written in Welsh, a book sadly not known to us now. Anyway, taking some licence with Geoffrey’s report (in keeping, surely with Geoffrey’s approach!), I decided that Cassivellaunus’ daughter, Tangustel (the name, actually, of one of king Ebraucus’ 30 daughters; he also had 20 sons to his 20 wives!), led a small scouting force against the Romans and was met by Caesar’s most capable lieutenant, Labienus (who according to Geoffrey was killed by Cassivellaunus’ brother Nennius with Julius Caesar’s sword, but that must have happened later! By the way, we are reliably informed that this sword was called Yellow Death). Anyway, Labienus commanded 8x4Bd (1=cmd), 2x3Cv, 1x3Ax and 1x2Ps. He was scouting too, and was the aggressor in this encounter.

The spot that the two sides met had a small wood, a road and two gentle hills. Tangustel drew up her warbands on one of these hills and positioned herself next to it. On her left flank she had two of her chariots and on her right flank her light horse and another chariot. Labienus drew up between the other hill and the edge. He kept his cavalry in reserve and had his auxilia on the hill (it emerged soon that he’d not heard it was a gentle hill! Some poor scouting there!). Tangustel swapped her light horse with her chariots on seeing this.

Initial Deployment: Tangustel on the left, Labienus on the right.

Both sides started with plenty of energy (5 and 6 PIPs respectively). Labienus advances his cohorts to anchor his flank on the woods. Tangustel advances her light horse at the lone auxilia and tries to get her chariots across to the open flank; it would have been much better not to have done that swap, as the light horse could have got to the left flank in one turn).

Turn 1: Everyone in motion.

Unaware of the true nature of the hill, the auxilia turns to face the light horse. The German cavalry also begin to move to face the light horse, while the legionaries reach the woods. Tangustel’s light horse flank and kill the auxilia (Joel was very good about the confusion over the status of this hill). This uses all the PIPs that the Britons have.

Turn 2: Auxilia outnumbered, flanked and downhill to light horse don't stand a chance.

Undaunted Labienus continues to advance his cohorts, peeling off two to support the cavalry against the British light horse. The British chariots now start to move in front of the legionaries (making rude gestures at them as they do so). One stays behind to guard the right flank.

Turn 3: PIPs galore for the Britons, who use them to align the light horse against the Roman blades.

Labienus now attacks the light horse, supported by cavalry (out of the photo). This results in one recoil and one flee result.

Turn 4 (Labienus): The British light horse scarper.

Tangustel, deciding that her chariots won’t get past the legionaries before they ZOC them decides to advance off the hill and hope to catch the Romans while their line is disordered by the light horse.

Turn 4 (Tangustel): The British warband advance.

Labienus starts to straighten up his line, moving his cavalry around to keep the light horse at a distance. He also moves his psiloi to behind his general. Tangustel uses her 3 PIPs to do a double warband move and a single move by her chariots. She hopes that the overlap on the legion will result in a break in the line. After all, the match up faces off her coolest warband, naked fanatics with one carrying a severed head; surely the head will have a talismanic quality that will cause the enemy to quail before it! Sadly not, and her hopes are disappointed, with one of the worst outcomes she could hope for: in her combat against the Labienus gets a ‘stick’!

Turn 5: Eek, Tangustel's left in contact with her support on both flanks recoiled.

Labienus continues to straighten up his line as fast as he can. In the only combat the roll is 1-6 against him; Tangustel gets a lucky reprieve and the psiloi support is removed from the Roman line.

Turn 6 (Labienus): Tangustel has a lucky escape, recoiling Labienus.

Now Tangustel is full of hope that her warbands can sweep all before them. Her über-cool warband has an overlap against a blade with no psiloi support; if it wins there will be a ‘ripple of death’ carrying along to the other two warbands, and the Romans will be routed! Sadly, on this crucial encounter the Romans hold fast and the warbands, naked and severed head and all, are forced back. The ‘ripple of death’ doesn’t eventuate and Tangustel is left horribly exposed again! What’s more there’s another damn ‘stick’!

Turn 6 (Tangustel): Run damn you! That's a severed head you're looking at!.

Labienus gets only one PIP, but it’s enough. He attacks Tangustel again and this time she’s not so lucky and is routed. Likewise the warbands that had the stick come unstuck and with their leader gone the Britons stream from the field (presumably abandoning their grisly souvenirs!).

Turn 7 (Labienus): No luck for the warbands and it's all over.

  • Aftermath

Tangustel gets away, with her pride somewhat dented. The Britons’ losses are relatively light, as their superiority in mounted troops protects their retreat. Cassivellaunus is properly annoyed by all this and promises to sort these Romans out. He sends Nennius with a larger army to rectify this loss of honour. Nennius, of course, is keen to meet Caesar and wrest his fabled sword form him!

  • Review

Well, I may have been a little unlucky, but with my superiority in mounted I had no need to rely on luck. Significant mistakes were shifting the LH to the other wing, advancing the warband before the Romans had left the woods and putting my general in a high-risk position. I can take a little satisfaction that my impetuosity was at least in character for a warband army! Next time I may go for a Wb general who’ll be safely flanked by two other warbands. I’m also thinking about taking some psiloi instead of chariots: 6x3Wb (1=cmd), 2x2LH, 2xLCh and 2x2Ps. However, psiloi aren’t as obviously useful with warbands as they are with some other foot.

This is my fourth consecutive loss to Joel; I can’t blame his figures for disloyalty this time. I’ll have to try to be more patient next time and allow the Britons’ superior mobility break up the Roman line before launching the warbands.

Ancient Britons finished

14 February, 2010

Last night I finished the flocking of the last unites needed to field all the options of an Ancient British (II/53) army (OK, so I need one more 3Wb if I want to go with 2x2LH and 10x3Wb, but otherwise!). Therefore, I’ve created a page for them on My Armies here:


The new figures included two more chariots. I glued these together before I painted them. I don’t think I’ll do that again. It wasn’t impossible, but it’s easier painting them in bits and then scraping off a little paint to get a metal-on-metal join for the glue.

Two more chariots; the thunderbolts were from VVV's Imperial Roman range.

I also did the two elements of slingers so I can field an army heavy on psiloi if I choose.

British slingers; note the 'Rupert the Bear' pants on the far right—not intentional!

Then there were a lot of warband. These were divided into those who kept their clothes on and those who didn’t. Of the clothed ones, there is a command element, with splendid carnyx and a chap standing on a severed head (I added a shield strapped to his back).

The (mostly) clothed warbands; the figure on the far left reminds me of one of the Roman legionaries in civvies in 'Asterix in Britain', who kept his helmet on (and dammit I got the colours pretty much the same without intentionally trying!

The Roman I remembered from 'Asterix in Britain'.

Of those with no clothes on, my favourite is one holding a severed head. He provides a good tableau for two of the naked fanatics who are curiously standing around. I added a rock to prop his shield against. In the other elements I mixed in some with pants on, partly to make them go further, but also to provide more poses, and figures with swords.

Naked (and semi-naked) fanatics. I'll need to work on the eyes of the severed head; they're too large at the moment, even if they might roll up when the head is severed (I believe that when Maori roll their eyes in the haka, it reflects a threat of what the enemy's eyes will do once decapitated!).

Headhunters from behind, showing how I added their shields.

Some of these figures were painted with the shields glued on and some with the shield separately. On balance, I think I prefer to do them separately. I’ve already started on the Gallic cavalry (and Numidians for the Carthaginians), so I hope to be able to field an army of Gauls soon.

Well, it’s been a while since there’s been any progress on the King Magnus campaign, and it may continue to be patchy, but last Wednesday Joel came over for a game, and not bringing any of his figures we decided to fight the next battle of the campaign. This battle was between Gilledomman of the Isles and Angus of the Scots. Gilledomman hoped to add Strathclyde to his possessions, invading in spring with an army of Islemen (6x4Bd including the commander), supplemented by some Irish mercenaries (2xsAx) and some Highlanders (2x3Bw, 1x5Wb and 1x2Ps).

Angus met this force with a muster of his spearmen (5x3Sp(L)), his thegns (1x4Wb), archers (2x2Ps), his retinue (1x3Cv), light horse (1x2LH) and Galwegian allies (2x3Wb). Joel commanded the Islemen and I the Scots. As the defender I got to set the terrain, and it was here I made my biggest mistake. I set terrain appropriate to the last two battles (nothing like preparing for the last war!). There were two steep hills in diagonally opposite corners, a wood and a road (I would have been better to put terrain in the centre of the field, as became apparent as I deployed).

Gilledomman didn’t get the edge he hoped for. Angus opted to position his spear on a hill in front of the camp and the rest of his army next to the wood. Gilledomman deployed in a long line to meet them, with his warband opposite the spear and his bow and bonnachts opposite the woods. Angus didn’t alter his deployment in response to this.


Initial Deployment: Angus' Scots on the right and Gilledomman's Islemen on the left.


As the Islemen advanced, Angus sought to pull his right wing across to confront the Islemen blade.


Turn 1: The thegns begin to wheel towards their left flank.


Gilledomman brought his troops off the hill as Angus moved his cavalry to the left.


Turn 2: Gilledomman's troops watch in surprise as the Scots attempt to move to their right.


Gilledomman’s fastest troops, his bonnachts, advanced on the left, as the Scots continued their risky manoeuvre.


Turn 3: The Islemen get closer as the Scots continue to move to the left.


As the line of Islemen bore down on them Angus and his archers formed the right flank for the warbands that were still on the march to the left.


Turn 4: The Islemen get closer.


The Islemen now had the warbands pinned, but more surprising was the effectiveness of their archery, which destroyed one of the Scots skirmishers.


Turn 5: Ouch, the Scots' right flank gets shorter.


On the next turn the Islemen got ready to attack, but before their right flank could charge they were beaten to it by the warbands, who used all 6 PIPs to charge into contact. The first fight was crucial, if the Galwegians could drive back the Highland rabble, they would provide overlaps on the two Islemen blade; unfortunately they got a ‘stick’ result. The other two combats were very desultory (we both rolled 1s twice!).


Turn 6: A promising opportunity for the Scots comes to nothing.


With the Galwegians overlapped on both sides their future was not promising, and sure enough they didn’t stick around. The Scots were now 2 down and looking very ill. However, on the right wing their other archers were made of sterner stuff, getting a ‘stick’ against the Irish that attacked them.


Turn 7 (Gilledomman): Galwegians go home! The Scots are two down.


Angus retires his two surviving Wb and his retinue. His archers are forced back by the Irish.


Turn 7 (Angus): The Scots fall back on the hill.


Gilledomman continued his run of great PIP rolls (three 6s in a row). He boldly takes on the Galwegians single-handedly, while his Islemen flank the archers. the Galwegians fall back, and the gritty archers get another ‘stick’!


Turn 8 (Gilledomman): The Islemen close in on the Scots position.


Angus orders his Galwegians to attack Gilledomman’s household troops supported by spear, but they show a lack of passion and fade away (they rolled 1 to 3). It’s now 3-0 to the Islemen and Angus’ is wondering what army will be left to him for summer if the Islemen keep coming after him. Surprisingly his army doesn’t fold this turn, as those doughty archers shrug off their flankers and the Irish!


Turn 8 (Angus): Galwegians lack spark—yet again!


Now Gilledomman’s PIP luck changes (2 PIPs). He sends in the Highland rabble against the Scots spear, only to see them driven back. Even more surprisingly, the archers prove too much for the Irish, who decide to make a run for it (1-6).


Turn 9 (Gilledomman): Angus' troops hand on grimly, heartened by the brave example of their archers.


Angus’ lines his spear up with the thegns and with their overlap support attacks Gilledomman himself, hoping to meet him in personal combat. The Islemen fall back before his charge.


Turn 9 (Angus): Gilledomman falls back before the Scots cavalry.


Now Gilledomman’s PIP luck changes definitively (the first of three 1s), helping to keep the Scots’ hopes alive. He opts for caution as he aligns his household troops with the Highland warband.

Angus, heartened by his army’s first success, has 5 PIPs and uses them to line himself and his archers with the main battle line. He also sends his light cavalry around behind the line to try to take the Highlanders in the rear.


Turn 10: Angus stabilizes his line and sends his light horse behind the enemy's line.


With only one PIP Gilledomman decides to line up his blade with the Highlanders. Angus has another 5 PIPs, which he uses to attack the warband with his horse and continue to lengthen his line to the left. The result against the Highlanders is a ‘stick’.


Turn 11: The Scots light horse fall on the Highlanders, but a stalemate eventuates.


With his one PIP Gilledomman sends some Islemen to chase off the archers, but do you think they’ll go! The Islemen retire in confusion. The Highlanders, however, force the light horse to recoil.


Turn 12 (Gilledomman): Go Scots archers! They won't give up.


Angus has two PIPs, renewing the attack on the Highlanders and lining up his spear on the hill. The warband had enough and forced back onto the Scots spear disperse. It’s now 3-2 to the Islemen, and their right wing is looking very unwell.


Turn 12 (Angus): At last, the bane of the spear is put to flight.


Gilledomman gets 2 PIPs and tries to push those archers out of the way. They get yet another ‘stick’! Angus has 3 PIPs and launches an attack on the lone Isleman facing the thegns. These get a ‘stick’; the archers at last are forced to flee.


Turn 13: The archers at last are forced to flee.


Gilledomman’s PIPs improve (3). He flanks Angus and his retinue, but is driven back. He also forces back the thegns.


Turn 14 (Gilledomman): Flanked, Angus drives back his attackers.


Angus pulls out the stops on the Islemen facing the thegns, sending in the light horse. This finally gets them, and the score is now 3-3. He brings up the archers to ZOC the Islemen that flanked him and he attacks Gilledomman himself, flanking him with spear, but the roles are repeated from his turn, and he’s driven back.


Turn 14 (Angus): The second time a flanked commander fights off his attacker.


With 6 PIPs Gilledomman ZOCs the spear that had flanked him and attacks the light horse, forcing them to flee through the thegns.


Turn 15 (Gilledomman): The light horse are chased off.


Angus has only 1 PIP; he advances the thegns to align with the spear.


Turn 15 (Angus): On a knife's edge. Can the Scots last long enough to get that one more casualty?


Gilledomman has 4 PIPs. He decides to work on those pesky archers. He moves his archers across to support his right flank. Then it’s all over. His archers, the same ones that shot the Scots archers, shot the Scots spear (6-1). The Scots archers, however, don’t give up, only recoiling.


Turn 16 (Gilledomman): The second distance shooting of the battle causes more casualties.


  • Aftermath

What looked like being a massacre was a hard-fought victory for the Islemen. Whether they feel strong enough to follow up their attack in summer is now uncertain. The thegns, remembering how poorly the Galwegians fought at Ebchester, placed the blame for the defeat squarely at their feet. As it was, with the Galwegians all put to flight and their territory now cut off from the Scots by the Islemen in Strathclyde, their defection was hardly surprising.

The Islemen will now get Galwegians instead of the Highland rabble and one of the Irish. The Scots will get some Orkney Vikings to replace them (2x4Bd).

  • Review

I was lucky to force the Islemen so hard after that peculiar deployment. Having said that two of his victories, both by shooting, were freak shots. Worse still from my point of view, I reminded Joel both times to do the shooting! On the balance, this was evened out by the Scots archer’s stubbornness. However, the fact that the Scots have 3Sp(L) was what allowed that second shot to succeed. I’m yet to use them well. At deployment I should have swapped one of the 2Ps for a 3Sp(L) so that it could have neutralized that warband.

Turn 3: The Islemen get closer as the Scots continue to move to the left.

Staying on target

10 February, 2010

A Chariot Roman flanked by two CB Celts.

The other day I almost started painting a pair of camps for my Mediterranean armies. I think it was because the Celts were looking too like too big a job. However, I managed to stay on target and get the hardest part of them done, their shields and their clothes. For the clothes I think it helped that I worked out how many cloaks, tunics and pants I needed to paint and then divided them up amongst the number of colours I was going to use. This made a huge difference, as otherwise I tend to do too few of the first colour and then am left trying to work out some sort of balance moure or less by guesswork.

The next lot of VVV transfers arrived today, and I did a couple to see how they’d look. I decided the Roman looked OK with flanking wolves (while the boars like that didn’t work); strangely this matches the picture in Warry’s book that I mentioned in the last post exactly! I got VVV’s R1 (Legionary Thunderbolt) transfer and have cut it up to use on the Celtic shields. The figure on the right shows how they look. These figures are the first that I’ve tried quartering the shield when I paint it. I’m pleased with how that’s worked.

A swarm of skirmishers

8 February, 2010

I completed the next batch of figures for my ancients armies this weekend. I still don’t have a complete Ancient British army, but I’m getting closer. There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly I had a few small mishaps that slowed me down. I had the figures necessary for the minimum number of warbands ready to go and I’d finished a number of the naked fanatics (not hard!) when I put some matt varnish on them that I should have thrown away. It turned them white! More annoying was losing the shield transfers. Then I took the finished Britons out to show somebody and the box they were in got inverted in the car knocking the crew off the chariots.

These setbacks may have contributed to my painting other figures, but there were sound reasons for doing them. Firstly, I wanted to place an order for more VVV transfers, so I needed to check that they worked on the various figures I’ve got waiting to paint. This led me to do an element of OG15s Bruttian auxilia, some Chariot Polybian Romans and some CB Spanish. I also did some CB Numidian and Libyan skirmishers to see what their shields would look like and to experiment with using washes on white.

The Ancient Britons are a little closer. I’ve repaired damaged chariots and I’ve rebased all the figures I’d finished on MDF; I was really impressed with how Joel’s Marians lined up on my wheeling stick, while my figures were always a few mm out! Getting the MDF also provided an excuse to get the CB ‘Victory and Defeat’ pack. I also decided to give the adolescent skirmishers some small shields. And I’ve finished the second of the light horse elements.

Celtic adolescent skirmishers: the shields were Outpost round shields cut smaller in a hole punch and with their bosses removed. The patterns are VVV ones for peltas.

Ancient British light horse: the rebasing on MDF provided a good opportunity to improve the placing of the figures.

On the painting sticks are enough warband figures to field a Gallic army (including the headhunters, of course), and two more chariots. This time I decided to glue the shields on the unpainted figures. I’ll see how that goes, but certainly the gluing is a fiddly job that I only want to do once. Whether it’s better at the start or not I’m yet to see. I went all out and gluded the crew into the chariots unpainted. I may yet regret this! These figures are at various stages of completion; about half have finished shields; about two elements are finished, but can’t be based as they’ll be mixed with figures that are not finished. the rest are just needing their clothes painted, which takes me the longest, as I decide on colours and try to get enough variety (I’m really looking forward to doing some armies that have uniforms!).

The Polybian Romans have been given shield transfers, even though evidence for shield patterns is slim. The VVV patterns seem to follow Warry’s Warfare in the Classical World, p. 110. They’re intended to flank the spine, but one of the patterns in Warry is along the top as I’ve done, and I think it looks better like that. I’m doing the Hastati and Principes mixed on bases, and doing two uniforms (one for each legion). This one has white tunics and red shields with a boar on them. The others will have red tunics and green shields with wolves on them. The Triarii will match the colours, but have a different shield pattern.

Polybian Romans (right) and Oscan Infantry (left): the Romans are hiding behind their shields; their crests serve to mask the difference is size with the Oscans. You can see the same Roman patterns on the Oscan shields (left over when I decided not to put them parallel to the spines).

I also painted a few OG15s Oscan infantry. I got them from Mike Sanderson for a Bruttian army. They come from the pack IC08 (Samnite Infantry), but over a third of them are in the same pose (the two round shield ones on here), so I’m planning to get some more OG15s figures to allow me to allow these to morph into a Campanian or an Apulian army and to break up the monotony of poses). With these figures, and the next ones, I was experimenting with using washes on white. I find the wash makes the colour turn light brown. Advice from Fanaticus that I tried was to coat the white with Klear before using the wash and this got the results I wanted. I’m going for a fair bit of variation in whites, mixing in ‘Bleached Bone’ or ‘Kommando Khaki’ to give an undyed linen or wool effect.

The backs of the Romans and the Spanish Scutarii (the only way to see what the Romans are doing behind those shields!). The Spaniard on the right and the Roman on the left had stright white tunics, the others had various off-white ones. a prior wash of Klear kept the wash only in the folds.

I did an element each of Numidian and Libyan skirmishers. This was to try out a slightly darker flesh colour. I added some ‘Dark Flesh’ to my ‘Mediterranean Flesh’, which is a mixture of ‘Dwarf Flesh’ and ‘Vomit Brown’. This was also an experiment with their shields. I’m reasonably pleased with how they came out. However, just after I realized that the had should be near the rim not the centre! With these two and the Celts and Spanish that I’ve done, I’ve now got five of the 12 elements of a Later Carthaginian army, and now that I’m happy with the way I’ve done my Numidians, the two elements of 2LH won’t take long at all!

Carthaginian skirmishers: Numidian (left) and Libyan (right) psiloi.

Lastly, I did some CB Spanish. I’d painted their shields a little before to see if VVV transfers would work on them, and then I did a stand each of Scutarii and Caetrati along with one of Balearic slingers to see how the tunics would look. I used Peter Connolly’s illustration in Hannibal and the Enemies of Rome, p. 43,  as a model, though the figures on the CB website are useful guides too.

Spanish warriors: (from the left) Caetrati, Scutarii and Balearic slingers

I was up until 3.30 Saturday night working on some of these (not entirely intentionally)! I wanted to get them finished before the week started. Although I’ve not finished the Celts (and I really want to wait for the next lot of VVV transfer before I do that), I’ve now done figures for four other armies and satisfied myself with how they might turn out. In fact, I’m really keen to get onto those Romans and Carthaginians. I’ll try to do the Gallic cavalry before that, though—provided Xyston send some nice cavalry shields with spines before long!

Yesterday Joel and I caught up for our second game of DBA together. Joel again provided the armies. He was keen to use his Marians again and suggested as opponents Classical Indians (his only other army that he doesn’t feel is in need of a repaint). It wasn’t exactly a historical match-up, though I postulated that if Mark Antony had had more success against the Parthians he just might have kept going … OK, it’s a long shot!

The Romans took two elements of psiloi this time, but were otherwise the same as last week. The Indians had 3xEl (including cmd), 2xHCh, 2x3Cv and 5x3Bw. I chose the Indians, as I figured Joel, who’d used them a lot, would have a better idea of how to counter them with the Marians than I would.

I’d used some pseudo-Classical Indians before, and the main lesson I’d taken from it was not to let the archers get left behind from the rest of the army, which is mounted. I was the defender, and went for the minimum wood and two patches of rough. Joel got the opposite edge from the one he wanted, and I deployed with the archers on the wings (where they might find some BGo to meet the Roman blades on slightly better odds). I had the cavalry on the left flank. Joel chose to deploy on one flank, using the wood as an anchor.

I reacted to this by moving the HCh to flank my general (not terribly inventive!).

Initial Deployment: Classical Indians on the left and Marian Romans on the right.

The Roman deployment made for a slow start to the game as he manoeuvred to protect both flanks, and I tried to get my unwieldy elephants to line up with him.

Turn 1: The Romans expand their line and the Indians advance out of the rough.

I hoped to advance my left flank archers through the woods and my cavalry around the flank.

Turn 2: The Indian cavalry start to head around the left flank.

Turn 3: The Romans advance towards the road.

I hit upon the idea of forming a column to move sideways, as the chariots and elephants would turn in place if contacted. This had ramifications that I had not anticipated!

Turn 4: The Indian battle line forms a column.

As the Indian column moves to the right (bearing an unfortunate resemblance to a circus parade!), the Romans have one PIP and move one of their psiloi to their left.

Turn 5: The Indian archers head for the woods.

The Romans decide that the Indians are too tempting a target and begin to close on them. Meanwhile, the Indian archers get closer to the woods.

Turn 6: The Indian column tempts the Romans to advance.

As the Roman line gets closer, the archers on the Indian right turn to face them. It’s now I discover that I advanced my column too far, and one of these archers cannot expand out from the other.

Turn 7: As the Romans approach, the Indian cavalry is recalled.

On the right flank the Romans are able to attack the Indian archers without suffering from overlap from the elephant, who’s not facing the right way—an unexpected consequence of the column. The archers are fortunate only to be recoiled. The Indian cavalry start to return to support the left flank.

Turn 8 (Romans): The Indian archers are recoiled by the Roman blades.

The Indian cavalry continue to rush to support the main battle line.

Turn 8 (Indians): The Indian cavalry gets closer to the Roman line.

One of the archers in the woods was destroyed when attacked by two blades, one of which flanked it.

Turn 9 (Romans): The Romans in the woods destroy an element of bows.

In response the Indian cavalry attack the flanking blade, but only force it to recoil. The elephant on the right turns to support the archers.

Turn 9 (Indians): The Indian cavalry force the Romans that flanked the the archers to recoil.

The Romans now attack this elephant, which again gets no overlap support from the chariot still in column. However, it manages to force the Romans back. They also begin to bring up their cavalry as a reserve. In response the Indians turn most of their battle line to face the Romans (all of 4 PIPs).

Turn 10: The Romans attack the end elephant and are recoiled. Their cavalry advance to be in reserve.

The Romans are only metres from the Indian battle line. In response, the Indians attack with their cavalry again—disaster! They roll ‘1’ and the Romans ‘6’, the only result that would cause their cavalry to be destroyed!

Turn 11: Disaster for the Indians as their cavalry attack is routed.

The next turn the Romans attack. On the Indian left flank the Indian elephant and chariot are forced to recoil. On the right the elephant forces back the blade opposite, taking the psiloi support from it. Unfortunately, the chariot facing the now unsupported blade can only get a ‘stick’ result. When the Romans face the Indian general it’s the last turn all over again (the last game all over again, in fact!): the Romans roll ‘6’ and the Indians ‘1’—game over!

Turn 12: The Indian general puts up no resistance and the battle is over.

One is left to wonder how Romans historians would report this victory. It would be a feather in the cap of any general that was able to get as far east as Alexander, and to win. Perhaps, with the glory won from such a victory Mark Antony could look to shift the capital to Egypt, as Octavian’s propaganda accused him of planning to do.

  • Review

I wasn’t sure how to confront the narrow Roman line. The archers could only hope to stop blade in BGo; they could take on the Roman cavalry, if they could get to them! My plan was them to advance through the wood and support their cavalry against the Roman cavalry. It was a plan that required more time. A suggestion of Joel’s after the game was to have supported the cavalry with a chariot. The Roman cavalry would then be at a significant disadvantage.

I needed to advance enough to prevent the Romans simply turning to face my cavalry, but I got too close. Rather than using a column, I could have tried to wheel to anchor my line with archers in the woods and in the rough.

The result was a comprehensive defeat, but it was over so fast owing to two extreme result rolls. If those had gone my way it might have been gone the other way. However, Joel had the advantage, as he got to launch the attack (another consequence of that column move: I figured I could always turn to face if atacked, but trying to turn to a line in my turn would require some 9 PIPs!

I’m enjoying these games, and feel I’m benefitting from the opportunity to face a more experienced player. We should get another game soon, and Joel says he found someone else interested in DBA, so the Auckland DBA scene is starting to come to life!