Romans in India (Marian Romans v. Classical Indians)

4 February, 2010

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!


8 Responses to “Romans in India (Marian Romans v. Classical Indians)”

  1. TWR Says:

    Sounds like an intersting game! It seems odd to read the Indians, a gift some 16 years ago, are still doing battle. I look forward to more reports in the future.

    • Mark Davies Says:

      Yes, I think they’re too loyal to Joel too! That’s the second time when I’ve been using one of his armies that my general has fallen on his sword for him! I ought to hurry up and get my Ancient Britons finished!

      • TWR Says:

        Yes, clearly you need to complete the Britons with some urgency.

        When in Timaru there was a queue of people wanting to use his Indians, they seemed to do well against me when anyone uses them. So perhaps he was just lucky.

        BTW DBA is now confirmed for Conquest, which will be Labour weekend.

    • Mark Davies Says:

      The Britons are back on track after being dropped and needing to reglue the chariot crews, but I’ve now got the ‘Victory and Defeat’ pack, so I’m working on fitting that into the warband. With the thesis getting top priority they may be a week or two off being ready.

      Looking forward to Conquest again. Plenty of time to plan for it this time.

  2. TWR Says:

    The Corvus Belli Victory and Defeat pack is excellent. Just tell yourself they are standing on Roman heads and not Gallic ones – from failed attacks on the Romans earlier.

    • Mark Davies Says:

      Well, one of the heads is a Gallic type that the Romans adopted, so it could be either, but I’m pretty sure all the head are clean-shaven, so definitely Romans!

      I’m not so sure those were ‘failed attacks’! It’s just that the Romans keep coming back!

  3. Craig C Says:

    I’ve fond memories of defeating those elephants while Joel was down here in Timaru for work a couple of years back

    Another interesting game. Only 2x DBAers in Auckland? Maybe you guys need to play at any of the clubs to try to generate more support.

    Looking forward to more Dark Ages reports soon!


    • Mark Davies Says:

      Yes, those elephants have been around! We’re planning a club visit soon; Joel’s knows someone at one of the clubs who’s interested. I’m sure things will grow from there.

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