Last Tuesday I caught up with Joel for a game of DBA. As the Carthaginians were ready to take the field, I chose them. After a little discussion about opponents, Joel went with the Marians. This suited me, as I had already created a somewhat fanciful scenario for these two armies to meet.

After the battle of Vienne, Dumnorix was preparing for the invasion, make that liberation, of Cisalpine Gaul. At this point he was offered some assistance by Camulogenus, the chief druid (he’s one of the figures on element used for the Gallic camp, so I felt he should get to do a little more). Camulogenus claimed that he could raise an army of Carthaginians from the Other World to face the Romans. Dumnorix saw no downside to this plan and provided Camulogenus with the resources he needed to effect this spell.

Camulogenus summoning the Carthaginian army.

The first the Romans learned of this new threat was when reports of a fleet off Naples reached Rome. These reports were followed quickly by news that the enemy were Carthaginian and were heading for Capua, their favourite watering hole in the 2nd Punic War. Caesar took what he could spare of his army, leaving Labienus to defend Cisalpine Gaul, and marched to meet this unlikely enemy. He was reinforced by what forces were stationed near Rome ready for provincial service.

A Carthaginian priestess sacrificing for good omens in the upcoming battle. Mago's in-laws look on.

Caesar’s army was the same as it’s been for the last few battles, and he held the initiative (he was the aggressor, although the Carthaginians have the same aggression). The Carthaginians, however, were without their elephants, as it seems Camulogenus was unable to summon them, being unsure what they looked like (or so the story goes; actually they watched impatiently half-finished from my painting table). Despite there being some advantage to taking some warband against the Romans, I went for all the new, as yet unused figures and fielded: 2x3Cv (1=cmd), 2xLH, 3xSp, 1x3Ax, 4xPs. The commander of this army was Mago Barca (Camulogenus didn’t have enough clout in the Other World to gain the services of Hannibal).

Caesar contacted the Carthaginians on the coast above Naples, in an area of woods and marsh. Mago deployed between two woods; he had his skirmishers on the left flank, hoping to get them into the marsh and harass the Romans from its safety. He had his cavalry on the right flank. Caesar deployed on a narrow front with his cavalry in reserve.

Initial Deployment: The Carthaginians on the left and the Romans on the right.

Mago succeeded in getting the psiloi into the marsh, but on the other flank, when Caesar extended his line, the Numidians decided to double back and try and get to the left flank. Unsurprisingly they were caught halfway by the advancing legions. They could either go back where they’d come from, or turn and attack. Mago decided to attack the legions, figuring they would either flee or be recoiled and then could move to somewhere more useful. Unfortunately one got a stick and the next turn was flanked and destroyed.

First blood to the Romans, a Numidian cavalry element is destroyed.

Mago then brought the rest of his cavalry around to join up with the skirmishers and threaten the Romans’ right flank. Unfortunately he appeared to have lost some proficiency as a leader of Numidians in the Other World, as he had them facing the Roman cavalry, their nemesis. In the ensuing combat they were routed and the Carthaginians were two down.

Caesar forces the Libyan cavalry to recoil with his psiloi-backed legions, leaving the Numidians overlapped to cavalry, who put them to flight.

Mago then throws in his spear to try to pin the Roman centre while he tries to break through on the flank. This gains some results when he breaks one of the legions that is forced to recoil into its cavalry.

Some Carthaginian success on the left flank while the Libyan spear confront the Roman legions.

Mago follows this up by then destroying the Roman cavalry, which is overlapped on both flanks. However, the Libyan spear on the right flank cannot stand the pressure, and flanked by skirmishers is destroyed.

The battle is now 3-2 to the Romans, but Caesar is looking very exposed.

As the Libyan spear start to falter, Caesar advances a legion behind the line of the spear facing him. In the ensuing combat, the spear are recoiled and break on contact with this legion, which in turn is disordered and breaks. However, at this point the Carthaginians have had enough and quit the field. Caesar has saved the Republic from an unlikely threat, though Dumnorix still remains to the north.

Roma victrix! The Carthaginians are put to flight, not without heavy fighting.

  • Review:

Joel apologised profusely for using the ‘buttocks of death’, but it was his best chance of getting my fourth element; otherwise in the next turn his general was in serious trouble. Still, it was a well deserved victory, one that gives the Romans a reprieve from their string of defeats in Britain and Gaul.

This was my first use of the Carthaginians and I don’t think my choice of terrain placement was too smart. I allowed the Romans to form up on a narrow frontage and prevented my cavalry from getting around his flanks easily. The marsh might have been better more centrally. I was somewhat unlucky to get a stick with my LH, but on reflection it would have been wiser to let them be attacked and then I could have retired in my turn if I got a stick (come to think of it, forcing the Romans to retire would have been just as bad). The psiloi on the flank were largely neutralized by the cavalry. They needed some support to be able to challenge them; warband would have been better, but even the auxilia would have made a difference. Throwing in the spear was a desperate attempt to gain time. They held quite well, but not quite long enough.

Elephants completed

29 April, 2010

The Carthaginian element of the army: command element, Libyan cavalry, Libyan spear, Libyan skirmishers and the elephants.

The Carthaginian army is now completed with all its options. I’ve just finished their elephants. These took quite a while, as putting them together was quite fiddly. It took the impetus of having the rest of the army completed to get them done. It also helped that I wanted them ready to go to Christchurch this weekend, when I get to mix business and pleasure by catching up with Keith of TWR for some DBA on the Saturday before a meeting on the Sunday.

The Carthaginian elephants. I've given them a skirmishing escort (as I couldn't see any other use for all those neat looking Libyans).

From another angle. I liked the shield colours of the Carthaginian cavalry so I repeated them for the spear and on these howdahs.

Front and back views.

The lighting’s not brilliant, as it’s was already getting dark when I took them outside. I’ve also updated the Army Page.

I’ve finished off the figures I started back in February today, when I flocked the two Spanish cavalry elements, the four camp follower elements (mules) and the Spanish camp scene. I’ve also made a start on the two Carthaginian elephants; they’re all assembled and undercoated. I just need to paint them and the crew; I was up until 2 last night doing the elephants, so I reckon the crew will be no trouble.

The Spanish army to date.

I really like the Spanish camp scene. I can see it being popular with the Carthaginians as well; Hannibal had a Spanish wife, after all: perhaps that’s her and his brother-in-law. The figures are from the CB Spanish Infantry command pack and a Chariot druidess. The altar is an Atlantic one that’s been cut down.

The Spanish cavalry and their new camp.

Then there’s the Spanish cavalry; I’m less excited about how these turned out, but at least they’re done. I’m not sure when the rest of the Spanish will get done, as I’m quite keen to do some Hellenistics and even some HOTT figures.

The Spanish camp scene from another angle.

Finally, there are the camp followers. I think these will be useful in turning the two tents into two generic modular ancient camps, each of one tent and two camp follower elements. The camp followers offer the flexibility of being able to be substituted out by any garrison element that might be used.

Modular ancient camps.

Modular camps, one with a garrison.

Last night I got over to John’s for some more HOTT action. John had created two HOTT armies from his Lancastrians:

3xKn (1=cmd), 2xRd, 3xBd, 4xSh.

4xKn (1=cmd), 1xRd, 3xBd, 4xSh.

Lancastrians arrayed to attack Goblins.

Keith was going to lead one of these, but he didn’t make it, so John commanded both of them in a Big Battle HOTT encounter against my Goblins.  Goblins against Lancastrians! Lucky that Shakespeare chap never heard of it; think what he’d do with that! His defamation of the fair name of Richard III would be nothing compared to claiming he had Goblin allies! The good guys were:

3xRd (wolf riders, 1=cmd),  2xBs (wolves),  1xDr, 1xFl (bats),  8xHd.

2xWb (1=cmd), 2xBh, 1xMg, 3xSh, 2xLu (spiders).

The Goblin armies preparing to defend themselves against unjustified Lancastrian aggression (although that camp looks suspiciously like the'd actually captured it some time earlier, but let's not got there!). Wolves and bats are to the left of the wolf riders.

We deployed on a 4×3 table that John had already prepared. I realized after the game that I’d not really done myself any favours by deploying the mobile command on the roughest wing, and lumbering it with the hordes. I would have been better to swap them for the behemoths. Anyway, things got off to a good start as Old Greenie continued to show the same ferocity as last week, arriving on the second turn. As the table was a little deeper than normal, the foot took a while to get in range, particularly as we both had some shabby PIP dice.

On the left flank I lost a rider, but soon had the Lancastrian counterparts in trouble with a combination of wolves and bats. Old Greenie flew to the rear and waited cautiously for something to appear that was not too close to BGo or nasty shooters. On the right flank, my spiders had some lucky success against a shooter in the wood. In the centre, the commander flanked by the behemoths went for the hill and waited for some support to reach him—not his brighest command decision. In short order the Ogres were shot up and he was in retreat.

Part way through: Old Greenie waits in the rear; to the left the wolves have chased some riders into the water (they really never got away from there—what with feasting on the remains and all the other things that dogs do). On the right wing shooters rashly line up to face alternating blades and shooters, with only a wizard for support.

Not long later, I demoralized the Lancastrian right wing on the same turn that he did the same to mine. My wizard was a stand-out. On his first attempt at magic he rolled a 1; confident that lightning never strikes the same place twice, he tried again, and on his second attempt got another 1. The warband general had his rear support removed by a rider and discovered that facing knights is not too bright. Apart from the spiders, this command had been totally ineffectual. On the other wing, Old Greenie had been nibbling at stray Lancastrians, with the bats preventing recoils. The Lancastrians had managed to charge the hordes with their knights, only to see one of them get routed by the goblins, much to my surprise.

The situation when each of our right wings are demoralized: note the piece of felt marking where the wizard had been, and the frogs on top of it. Old Greenie with the bats in support has just chomped something.

At this point I discovered some differences between BBDBA and BBHOTT. Demoralized elements are at -1, not -2 and they can actually advance if you have the PIPs. For a while the Lancastrian right flank stuck around, while the pair of shooters on the Goblins’ right flank went for the woods, where they should have been all along! My last spider got to reappear on one turn when some shooters recoiled into the woods, but they were quickly destroyed.

The victorious Lancastrian left flank started to advance on my camp, while the Goblin left flank mopped up the remaining knights of the defeated flank. Old Greenie was rudely interrupted in his snack on some of the Lancastrian horse, when a fleeing element of shooters got brave and turned and shot him in the rear. He promptly decided how much he disliked missile weapons and feeling he’d done his share took off home.

At this point things were pretty even. The Lancastrian knights had the combat edge over everything in the Goblin army; however, the Goblins had the superior mobility. I wasn’t hurt at this point by continued PIP rolls of 5 for each of the commands. The game finally came to an end when my demoralized shooters gave some payback for scaring Old Greenie; they moved themselves to the edge of the woods and shot at the Lancastrian commander, who alarmed by this, presuming the right flank put to flight, recoiled into a swarm of bats.

The final scene: the Lancastrian general, shadowed by a swarm of bats, is about to be shot at by the (not sufficiently!) demoralized Goblins.

It was a great game and a whole lot of fun. It was also very close, with air power, I think, giving me the edge (and helping me recover from some bad deployment). There were a number of fun incidents, two that I was victim to were the wizard’s ineptitude (I finally got to use my frogs) and the parting shot on the dragon.

I’m really starting to enjoy HOTT; the Goblins are starting to have some success, and it’s so much more satisfying when they’re fighting an army that’s not just a hodge-podge collection of miscellaneous elements, which has tended to be the case with their opponents to date. I’m also starting to appreciate how different some of the HOTT mechanics are to DBA.

All this has made me keen to get another HOTT army finished, probably the dwarves with their halfling and boar allies. I hope it can be my next project after finishing the Carthaginian elephants. John’s also working on some Aztecs for HOTT, which very properly have a good number of hordes.

I’ve finally got another ancient army to a stage that it can take the field (if you treat the Gauls and Britons as essentially one army). Now that I’ve completed the Libyan spearmen, I’ve got all the compulsory elements for the Later Carthaginians finished and can now put them in the field. All their optional elements are done, except for their elephants, which I’ll start work on next.

Three elements of Libyan spear formed up with Libyan javelinmen support.

The spear were very quick to do, and I’m reasonably happy with how the linen armour came out. I give it a coat of plain Klear before I apply the wash. This should encourage me to make a Hellenistic army my next project. I’m also reasonably happy with the shields. There are some wrinkles in the transfers, but not easily visible. I decided to go for shield colours and uniform colours that tied in a little with the Libyan and Phoenician cavalry. I’m not so sure that the varied poses worked so well, and I might have been better to have had the two basic sorts divided out between elements, but once the shields were glued on it was too late.

All the 'African elements of the Carthaginian army (aside from the more independent Numidians, and, of course, the elephants).

I’ve updated the My Army pages for the Classical armies, as I’ve redone the bases for all of them now. In particular, the Celtic camp now has a menhir as part of its group of druids.

Celtic druids in the camp with their menhir in the corner.

After I’ve finished of the elephants, the Spanish cavalry and the camp elements (mules and the Spanish tableau), I’ll start on some of the large stock of Hellenistic figures that I have. The Spanish, Italians and Polybians will have to wait. I’m tempted to do some more HOTT figures, but the Hellenistics are more attractive, as until I’ve done a few I can’t really justify buying more to fill them out. I’m putting off more purchases until I’ve painted a few (it helps that the ash cloud would delay any order, so I may as well wait.

Last night I caught up with Joel again. As I’ve still not got any other army ready we had a rematch of the Gauls and Romans. It naturally followed on from the battle last month. In that battle, the battle of Agedincum, Caesar lost legions and cavalry as Dumnorix triumphed. It took all of his skill as a general for Caesar to extract his battered and demoralized troops from their predicament. With difficulty he withdrew his forces to the Province (Southern Gaul) to regroup, resupply and gather reinforcements.

He was aided in his efforts in that the Gauls were somewhat dilatory in pursuing their victory. Firstly, they had to have a number of big feast (picture innumerable scenes from Asterix!), and then Dumnorix had to persuade his allies and his own people that they should not assume that they had seen the last of Caesar, but rather should pursue him into the Province. They could, he argued, liberate their compatriots there from the burdensome yoke of Roman rule. At length, when the Gauls were sufficiently well fed and had finished preserving their new-won severed heads, Dumnorix was able to get them into the field and marching on the Province. He advanced down the Rhone, and Caesar, hearing of his approach, and fearing the defection of the Allobroges, marched out to meet him. The two armies clashed near Vienne. The battlefield had a pair of woods and a gentle hill. The Gauls deployed first with their cavalry on the left flank, hoping to swing around the wood. Behind the central wood were two warbands and some skirmishers. Dumnorix stayed with the rest of the army that rested its right flank on the second smaller wood. Caesar formed up on the hill with his cavalry in reserve.

Initial Deployment: Dumnorix on left and Caesar on the right. Unfortunately I forgot to use the flash and the lighting’s very weird.

On the first turn Dumnorix sends his cavalry off around the wood.

Turn 1: A slow start as both sides have few PIPs.

On the second turn Caesar continues to advance, while Dumnorix begins to move into the central wood.

Turn 2: The left wing advances.

Caesar begins to divide his army to meet the flanking move.

Turn 3: The attempted flanking move is met firmly.

Caesar’s advance slows, as he has only 1 PIP; meanwhile the Gauls get into position in the woods.

Turn 4: The skirmishers align themselves with the cavalry.

Caesar prepares to advance on the warbands in the woods. Dumnorix, fearing that this position  could be swamped advances his centre and right flank.

Turn 5: Dumnorix starts to move.

Again PIPs dry up on both sides (2 and 1 respectively), and the two sides continue to position themselves.

Turn 6: Dumnorix’s advance continues.

PIPs continue the same as last turn. Caesar’s left wing is finally in position, while Dumnorix chooses to do nothing.

Turn 7: Caesar extends his left flank.

Eight turns into the game the first combat occurs, as Caesar commits his right flank. It is rebuffed at every point, but nowhere critically.

Turn 8 (Caesar): First combat sees no success for the Romans.

With the legion in the woods on the  right flank exposed by the recoil of the cavalry, Dumnorix is able to attack it with his skirmishers with overlap support (unfortunately the warband to the right can’t help, as it’s ZOCed by the legion in front). This results only in a recoil and the legion being aligned with its cavalry again. Dumnorix also starts to move his rear support to the right on the right flank, hoping to overlap with rear support the outside legion.

Turn 8 (Dumnorix): Indecisive combat on the left flank.

Caesar has only one PIP and uses it to support his Bd in the woods. Dumnorix now attacks on that flank, but is driven back on all points, apart from a ‘stick’. Hopes of destroying his unsupported Bd in BGo are not achieved. The manoeuvre of the rear rank on the right continues.

Turn 9: No success for the Gauls in their attack.

Caesar has only 2 PIPs and uses them to move his psiloi across to support his left flank. He recoils the ‘stuck’ cavalry.

Turn 10 (Caesar): More Roman manoeuvring.

Dumnorix repeats his charge, but this time his warband is doubled, the skirmishers flee in alarm and the cavalry are forced back.

Turn 10 (Dumnorix): Despite good odds the Roman legion on the right proves too strong.

Now Caesar gets the PIPs he needs and charges on the left flank. this sees one of the heroes of Agedincum (the clothed headhunter, let’s call him Ambiorix) facing 7-3 odds and being routed by Caesar, although Dumnorix boldly forces back the legion opposite him and Nennius gives ground reluctantly. The warband next to him, however, is extremely truculent and nearly destroys the legion in front of them (the dice were 2-6), creating a ‘stick’. On their right the warband is forced back. On the left there is another ‘stick’ in the cavalry fight and the Gallic cavalry force their opponents back.

Turn 11 (Caesar): Caesar starts to create cracks in the Gallic line.

Dumnorix cannot do much to remedy this situation, but chooses to extend his line on the right, to retire himself and the rear rank of the stuck element (thanks, guys!) and to attack on the left flank. Here he manages to rout an element of Roman cavalry. On the right, his bold warband, despite odds of 1-6 is only forced to recoil.

Turn 11 (Dumnorix): Some success to Dumnorix on the left flank.

Fortunately Caesar has only 1 PIP. He attacks the cavalry from the flank. If they lose they won’t be able to recoil. However, they stand firm. Dumnorix in his turn, equally bereft of PIPs, can only attack the legion with his skirmishers. They, however, are put to flight (dice = 1-6!).

Turn 12: Neither side makes any progress in this turn.

The brief respite is soon  over, when Caesar has 6 PIPs. He attacks at all points. The cavalry continue to shrug off the attacks of the legion. But Nennius cannot resist the legion opposite him, and his warband is routed. It all looks hopeless. The two headhunters are gone and the remaining warband is facing 6-3 odd. If they lose the Gauls will break. However, these men had already shown their mettle, and overcome the odds with yet another 6. The legion opposite them quails at their ferocity and rolling a 2 is put to flight, sweeping the psiloi support away with them too. Now the tables are turned and the leftmost legion is now overlapped on both sides and, facing 3-3 odds, does not stick around. Against all expectations, the Gauls triumph! Winning the game in the eleventh hour 4-3.

Turn 13: An incredible reversal sees the Gauls sweep to victory on their right flank (in the excitement, Nennius’ death counter was not laid out).

  • Aftermath:

After the glorious victory of Vienne all of the Province rose against the oppressors. Caesar, in a panic, retreated to Cisalpine Gaul with whatever forces he could salvage. One can well picture the consternation in Rome. Would the Gauls yet get to sack it, something not done in over 300 year? Doubtless the name of Brennus is on the lips of everyone in the Gallic camp as they prepare to continue their advance. Someone else on their lips is the bold leader who turned the tide, the Cadurcan Lucterius. It may have helped that Caesar had had to commit his freshly raised legions to the left flank, but one wonders if even more seasoned troops could have withstood the Cadurcan bull! He was ferocious in three rounds of combat.

  • Review

Doubtless the Romans deserved to lose; they’re Romans after all! But I’d have to admit that Joel deserved to win last night. He had the sounder plan, and it was only luck that carried me to victory (thought that’s warbands for you!). I might have been better to anchor my line on the wood and bring my cavalry around the right flank, though Joel would have met them with his cavalry. As it was, his placement in the centre of the field prevented Dumnorix from intervening. I might have had more success in the woods, but I had no decisive advantage there. I might also have wheeled on the small woods, bringing me closer to the centre, without abandoning advantage of BGo.

After a long delay I’ve finally finished the 3Cv elements of the Carthaginians. Besides NatCon and school holidays, I’ve been experimenting with basing. I also started too many figures and ended up a little scattered as to which ones I was trying to finish. However, I think the biggest delay was that initially the shields didn’t look right, which led to me being less interested in painting. I was planning to do white shields with a red wreath. These needed something to finish them, so I added two small green stars on either side of the wreath. Unfortunately, the green was too light to be visible. Eventually I decided to repaint the shields although I stuck with the basic pattern. I’m pretty pleased with how they turned out.

Hannibal and his cavalry in front of their camp in the Arno marshes.

I also got some of my camp followers finished. I’ve done the two tent elements. When I finish the four mules I’ll base them each on a 40×20 base with a camp follower. Two of these double-ranked with a tent will be a generic ancient camp, but I can substitute one for a garrison if I want.

I’m still finishing the Spanish cavalry. They’re mostly done, as are the figures for the Spanish camp tableau, but I reckon they may not get priority until the Carthaginian spear are done, as that will allow me to field the Carthaginian army, which I’m planning to take to Conquest, although I’ll still have to do the two elephants.

Last night I was up until 2am working on redoing the bases of the ancient figures (some 20 bases). They’re now just waiting for flock, and I’m happy that I’ve now got enough experience with the new process to feel that it is actually a lot less fiddly than the old method.

Last Friday I caught up with a friend for a spot of HOTT. There’s a group of guys playing HOTT with GW figures on 80mm wide bases. I took my figures anyway for a bit of show-and-tell. As it turned out there were only three of us and my figures were the most finished (the other two had 28mm armies still being painted, so we got out my Goblins and had a 36 point HOTT game with them. I was the Goblin chief with: 2xWb (1=cmd), 8xHd, 2xBh (Trolls and Ogres), 1xDr (the new Green one), 1xFl (Bats), 2xRd (wolf riders), 2xLu (Spiders), 1xSh, 1xBs (Wolves). Facing them were a coalition of all that is good and decent led by Keith and John. They had: 1xAHr (=cmd) (Hippogriff rider), 2xBh (Walking Tree and Giant), 2xHd (Human peasants), 1xSp (Wood Elves), 2xSh (Rangers and Wood Elves), 2xRd (Centaurs), 1xSh (Dwarves), 2xBd (Dwarves), 2xBs (Bears).

I was the attacker and faced the enemy across an open plain flanked by craggy hills and towering trees (28mm scale!); unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures. On their left flank they had the peasants next to the Elven spear and the walking tree with the rangers and Elven archers in the woods guarding the flank. The General was in reserve. On the other flank they had the bears guarding the flank on the hill and the dwarves and giant in a line in the open. To face this I arrayed the general facing the Elves, flanked by his hordes and with the archers and wolves on the far flank. On the other flank I had the Troll and Ogres flanked by wolf riders. The bats were in reserve.

I got off to a great start, rolling a 6 and having the dragon arrive straight away (actually I think the spiders must have arrived on the first turn against the bears, but were chased off). Old Greeny pinned the bears while my mounted went against the Dwarves and destroyed the Giant ally. I had very much the better of the PIPs, but the battle was in the balance when the Aerial Hero started to turn the flank of my mounted. At this point my hordes had already started to get into action, without being impressive (no surprises there!). I had the option of pouring my PIPs into the combat with the hordes, with little chance of anything decisive, or gambling on the dragon attacking the aerial hero with the bats flanking it to prevent recoil. This brought the game down to, in effect, a coin toss, as the odds were 6-6. However, if I won the enemy broke; if I lost the dragon fled and I could carry on, though very exposed to their general. As it turned out, that dragon was a mean old bugger, and he minced the aerial hero and gave me the game. He’s showing real promise (unlike the red dragon that notoriously refused to show up in his early games). He’s given the Goblins their first victory ever!

HOTT Fridays may become a regular event for me, though I’m reluctant to commit to a 28mm army. Keith was very interested in the 15mm fantasy I had, though I doubt I’ll convince them all to go 15mm.

I’m somewhat behind in my blog, so this will be a short report. The last two days of NatCon involved refighting Rome’s great disasters: Bagradas Plains (Regulus v. Xanthippus), Carrhae, Teutoburger Wald and Tribola. Most of these will be familiar, but Tribola, for those, like me, who don’t know, was in 147BC in Spain during Viriathus’ uprising and saw Viriathus ambush and destroy nearly half of a Roman force of 10,000. I started as Xanthippus and rolled up the Romans, though at the end of it there was still an element of Triarii, which denied me 2 points. It helped that the Carhaginians had 4 elephants that cost nothing to move if they went straight ahead!

In the second I was Marcus Vetilius facing Viriathus. I got off to a slow start and was hemmed in by the fast-moving Spanish. However, Vetilius gallantly charged some Celtiberians and destroyed them. He continued to hold back another double-ranked group of them for a number of turns, and then when he had the PIPs to fall back to gain support on both flanks his luck deserted him and he was overrun by the Celtiberians. Perhaps, his men felt this retreat suggested he didn’t trust them and they lost heart! I was all but destroyed, but when time was called my camp had remarkably held out, denying the Lusitanians a clean sweep.

I then took the part of Viriathus and managed to crush the Romans (getting great PIPs early didn’t hurt!). It got a bit messy when we came to dice for capturing the camp, which had a Bd in it. I thought I’d taken it, and then my opponent recalculated the results showing that it was a draw. I then threw everything against the camp (we just rolled for combat outcomes, ignoring PIPs, etc.). I took huge casualties, ignored for the purposes of the scenario, but if I’d not been caught on the hop by thinking it was all over, I’d have used my LH against the camp, who were indestructable and had the same factors as Ps-supported Ax or double-ranked Wb. Anyway, I did take it with the last element of Ax, but there was some impressive carnage.

After lunch I was Regulus, I garrisoned the camp with some Triarii and sent the other element out to the right flank. I advanced on his elephants with Ps-supported Bd and had some very good results (aided by phenomenal combat dice; in particular a lone Ax on the left flank refused to die and actually destroyed some LH, despite being flanked). Eventually my centre crumbled, but I still had some cavalry and one Triarii on the left flank at time. Lots of fun.

My last game was Carrhae. I seemed to be doing quite well for a while (the objective was to get Bd off the table when they started in the centre with Parthians on all four board edges). However, distracted by some early successes I never really decided which edge to head for and was eventually destroyed.

These were great scenarios. The Romans really had little hope, so it was a matter of trying to achieve that great Roman objective of dying with dignity. However, there was one upset; in the last refight of Bagradas, the Carthaginians, whose elephants were not adequately supported, were actually defeated.

On the morning of the last day we had a BBDBA of Teutoburger Wald. The Romans were in column along a road that stretched along 4 game boards. The German commands arrived randomly at six points on the board. The Romans managed to demoralize some four or five German commands (they kept coming back like hordes in HOTT!), until we called it time. It was a victory for the Romans, although they’d not made it to the camp at the end of the board and a couple of their command were close to being demoralized.

All in all, then, the weekend was a lot of fun. In fact, some of the competitors in the ‘serious’ rule-sets commented that we seemed to be having a lot more fun than them. The organizers are both going to Conquest, so I hope to see them there later this year. Thanks again, Brett and Bryan, for organizing this.

Recent Reading

12 April, 2010

In the last few weeks I’ve not managed to do any painting, but I have had quite a lot of opportunity for reading. The books I’ve read or am reading are:

  • Caesar’s Gallic Wars.

This was background for my recently completed Gallic and Ancient British armies. It’s left me with an increased respect for how tough the Roman army was in that period. I’m also interested in trying to get at how the Gallic nobility viewed Caesar. Clearly many wanted him out, yet they were required to serve him as cavalry. Rebels would come to a bad end, yet for all that many tried. And some of these had initially served Caesar, such as the Atrebatan king Commius, who went to Britain ahead of Caesar, but later was a leader in the Vercingetorix revolt. After avoiding attempts to bump him off Commius made peace with the Romans on condition he never have to come into the presence of one again! He didn’t trust them. His peers were making their adjustment to Roman rule, and many served in the Roman army as cavalry during the Civil Wars and were well rewarded for it. I’m interested to see if anyone’s attempted to study their reaction in any detail. Ambiorix’s speech in Book 5 during the attack on Cotta and Sabinus is fascinating. He claims to be grateful to Caesar, yet forced to lead the rebellion by his subjects. Caesar gives the impression that he’s thoroughly insincere and this is all a trick, yet it rings true (Sabinus seemed to believe it!). I wonder how many other leaders found themselves in his situation. The incident also leaves one to wonder at the sentiments of the less powerful Gauls that formed the bulk of their armies.

I followed up reading Caesar’s Gallic Wars with Goldsworthy’s book on the Roman army. Caesar was good preparation as he was one of the main sources Goldsworthy used (along with Josephus). The book was a very interesting read, particularly in the stress Goldsworthy put on the importance of morale in deciding encounters. It was interesting too that he noted the frequency of desertion, not just in Civil Wars. He suggested that one possible reason for making the camp each night was as much to keep the soldiers in!

I read this book as background for the Carthaginian army that is still being painted. It was written by my old Latin lecturer from Sydney university who has now retired, a really charming chap. It’s a short introductory work that was very readable. Hoyos is keen to try to get a Carthaginian perspective on the wars between the Romans and Carthaginian, and made the point that in terms of resources and manpower the two empires were fairly evenly matched at the start of the Hannibalic War.

This is a longer treatment of the development of Carthaginian power under the Barcid dynasty. I’m still reading it, and am also rereading Polybius and Livy as some of the most important sources. In particular I want to get a better handle on the chronology of the First Punic War.