Going post AD 450

28 July, 2010

Well, now that the first half of the CWC DBA competition is behind me it’s time to look at what I’ll field in the second half. I’m still going around in circles on what army to use, but I think I’m getting closer to a way forward. I like the idea of the Early Muslim North Africa and Sicily (III/33), and I’ve now learnt a lot more about them since I started looking at them. They remain a little light for a competition army and perhaps the Fanatic Berbers (III/74) would be better. They are similar geographically and temporally to the North Africans, and I can imagine creating an army that could morph into both of them and into the Andalusian army (III/34). However, I remain reluctant to buy more figures until I’ve painted some of the stack I’ve got.

Therefore, I reckon I’ll set to on the early feudal figures I’ve got from Essex. I’ve done a few and a relaxing way into this army might be to rebase these on MDF in the style I’m using now. I painted the Essex Normans that I’ve done in no time, so I may be able to do the same with the stuff remaining. Whether I use these figures as the Early Crusader (IV/7) army as I was thinking earlier or not, or as some other army that it can easily morph into, I can definitely use it as an opponent for whatever army I look to get next.

So that settles, hopefully, my next painting project. I’m coming back to going with the Komnenan Byzantines (IV/1a) as an army for the competition. I’ve got the figures already, from Outpost. However, my efforts to paint them hit a brick wall when my heart was really in painting some of the Corvus Belli figures I’d just got. On top of this I’d made a hash of replacing the spears of some of the cavalry. Anyway, I figure I could finish this army quite quickly and use it for practice and then look to sell it. As it is, it’s in limbo, some elements are done (six of the possible seventeen) and most of the rest are started. This would make it hard to sell as an unpainted army. It’d be better to paint it with a view to selling it than to leave it in this state.

The plan, then, is to finish the Komnenans after the feudals. Once I’ve done those two I can start seeing how the Komnenans fare as an army. I can consider buying one from Khurasan Miniatures and look to sell the Outpost one. The feudals would be useful as opponents for the Komnenans and should have the flexibility to model quite a few potential opponents from Books III and IV. This delays buying anything else until I’ve done some painting, which has to be a good thing, as I can see myself getting overwhelmed by unpainted lead and doing nothing!

Also, another reason for not buying yet is that I’ve yet to paint any of the Khurasan figures that I have, and before I buy more I plan to paint at least one element of their Normans. They’d be used initially for the Komnenans, but I can see myself getting an army of Khurasan feudals at some stage. Patience!

Somewhat delayed, here’s the report of my five battles at the Christchurch Wargaming Club’s DBA Competition. Sunday 18 July was the first half of this competition; it was for armies before AD 450. This was the competition that I’d been preparing for with the Carthaginians. It’s also has the same format as the DBA competition at the IWC next year, so I could see it as practice for that. The standings at the end of the day are available at Across The Table. As you can see I came near the bottom with three draws, a loss and a victory, and that victory with the last dice roll of the competition!

It’s now over a week since these games; I have a few photos of them, but not a complete record, though an improvement on my previous competition, where I took no photos. I didn’t keep a record of elements killed for each of the games, so the reports will be somewhat short on detail.

  • Game 1: Eastern Patrician Romans, II/83b (Dave Batchelor)

Dave and I have been asked to be umpires at the IWC competition next year, so it was fitting we should square off at the start here. We were umpires at this competition; not that anything tricky came up.

I was the defender and deployed the waterway and a marsh and a wood, leaving an open centre for a faster result, especially as Dave had auxilia and warband who liked BGo. However, Dave got the waterway behind me and the marsh in his centre, which was not what I’d hoped for. I’d taken two elephants and two warbands. When I saw where Dave had put his knights, I swapped my warbands for the elephants.

Initial Deployments against Patrician Romans.

Dave played a defensive game, and by the end of it, when we ran out of time, I had a couple of his elements and he had at least one of mine. I had the edge on the left flank, and had been hoping to get his 3Cv general with my elephant: two rounds at 5-2 when he was double overlapped only got me pushbacks. However, facing the marsh Dave had the edge. I like to think that when time was called I had the advantage.

Midgame; I'd advanced across most of the board to get at the Patsies.

  • Game 2: Ariarathid Kappadokian, II/14 (Andrew Taylor)

My next game was against Andrew Taylor, who I’ve now played three times. He had a fantastic looking army, which had matching terrain; the cliffsides of Cappadocia complete with cave dwellings. He’d made them out of egg cartons, and they really looked great.

Against this army I opted to take only one elephant and no warbands. That gave me an extra 3Cv and four 2Ps. I didn’t fancy facing this army on it own ground, but with my aggression of 3, that’s what happened. Andrew loaded the table with hills and woods.

Initial Deployment against Ariarathid Kappadokians.

In response to his deployment I put a spear and psiloi on the left flank to block his cavalry and two psiloi on the right flank with the plan that if I got enough PIPs in the first turn I’d zip them across to the other side and hem him in. I got to do this, but it backfired on me. Not only did those two psiloi run into trouble, but it trapped him in the BGo where my cavalry couldn’t get at him. With hindsight it would have been far better to let him out into the centre of the table where I could have used my mounted troops.

Late in the game; the Carthaginian general goes for broke.

As the game played out I lost those two psiloi on the right and the elephant. I managed to get one of his psiloi. We were running out of time and in what I thought would be the last turn I sent my general in against some of his auxilia. I didn’t have much to lose, though little to gain. Unfortunately, the game went on for a few more turns, while my general was at real risk of dying. I was glad he hung on for a draw; I’d have been annoyed if he been lost to a form of miscommunication. I wonder if the calling of time couldn’t be clearer, as some games seemed to go on for longer than others.

Anyway, this was a game that I was lucky not to lose, mainly because I felt the whole time that we would be short of time (I actually didn’t know when it would end, so this was more an impression). Andrew suffered from command and control problems owing to his general and his right flank having a hill between them. I’d have been better to take my time and make him take some risks. My efforts to hurry things on only brought me close to defeat.

  • Game 3:  Early Imperial Romans, II/56 (Stephen Malone)

The first two rounds had been played with random match-ups with the main intent to avoid having the Timaru players play each other. After lunch the competition used a Swiss chess method, so I started to play games against people at the bottom of the table. My first battle was against Steve Malone, who brought the Romans that he’d won at Conquest last year. They looked very nice. Not that they provided much nice for the Carthaginians to face. I opted not to play the elephants against a combination of auxilia and artillery. I also took all the warbands, hoping they might run into his blade.

Initial Deployment against Early Imperial Romans.

I was the defender and played a waterway with two small pieces of terrain near it and a long marsh parallel to it on the other side of the board. Steve deployed on a narrow frontage and advanced his auxilia through the marsh and his cavalry on the left wing. I saw no advantage to contesting the marsh, but took the bait (as Steve later revealed it was) of the cavalry, and advanced mine to meet it. Once my cavalry was in the middle of the table, his turned tail. I was in range of his artillery, and also being ZOCed, I think, in places by his auxilia. Before long, aided by some execrable dice (and, boy, did I execrate!), I’d lost all the cavalry besides the general, who beat a retreat to the right flank. I actually cycled through six dice that had all rolled 1s, most in combat.

Late game after the Carthaginian cavalry has been demolished.

However, my PIP dice were somewhat better, and the general took shelter near the marsh supported by the Gauls. And the dice must have started to even out, as I got one of the auxilia before time and held on for a lucky draw. I could blame the dice all I liked, and they didn’t help, but I didn’t really have a plan to face these Romans, and who knows, if the cavalry hadn’t been so quick to die I might have dug myself into a deeper hole!

  • Game 4: Marian Romans, II/49 (Barrie Cameron)

My next game was against Marian Romans, an army I ought to know about after facing Joel’s so many times, but on this occasion I was bereft of ideas. I took both elephants and all the Gauls as the best stuff to scare blades. I was the attacker and Barrie put out very little terrain. He deployed in a line, and I can only blame tiredness for copying him. With hindsight I could have gone for one wing, forcing his slower force to redeploy and tried to win with weight of numbers.

Initial Deployment against Marian Romans.

Instead I sent the Numidians out around the flank to take his camp. It failed on the first combat and then PIPs started to become scarce and I started to look at all the unattractive match-ups that were looming. I tried to get my elephant on the left flank to face his cavalry, but before I could get the line all matched up I rolled a 1 for PIPs just when we were inches apart. I couldn’t even get the elephant into the line. And the next turn Barrie ploughed into me taking out four elements in one turn, my first defeat.

After contact.

Once I made this a frontal slog I was always likely to lose. It was made more final by Barrie getting to make the contact. He took out the auxilia (blades on overlapped auxilia in the open—ouch!), the double-ranked warband, who were double-overlapped and even an unlucky element of spear. My elephant pushed back his blade as did one of my spears, but there were no face-saving kills!

  • Game 5: Alexandrian Imperial, II/15 (Nigel Write)

The final battle, fighting for the wooden spoon, was with Nigel. I went for two elephants and two warbands. I was the defender and decided on a littoral landing (the Spanish and the Numidians: 1x3Ax, 1x2Ps and 1x2LH). After Nigel deployed I swapped an elephant and a spear to get the warband onto the right flank to support this littoral landing.

Initial Deployment against Imperial Alexander.

Nigel quickly showed that my complaints about bad dice were child’s play as his first four PIP dice were 1, 4, 1 and 1 and first three combat rolls were all 1s (I kept a record, as it was getting embarrassing). I only had a 1 for my first PIPs, which got the landing down. Unfortunately, I got so wrapped up in this game I didn’t take any photos after the first.

The littoral landing got off to a great start, as Alexander’s troops floundered. His light horse were doubled by the Numidians in an even odds fight and then his auxilia went down to the Scutarii (as will happen when you roll 1s in combat). I’m not sure if his psiloi went down in the third combat, which was a 1-1 on the dice. I do know that the dice even up from there, but with my control of the right flank I had the advantage. I moved the Gauls into the top of the marsh and in the melee with the Spanish I went three up. At this point I reckoned Nigel was toast, but he stuck at it, and got both my Gauls with his knights (contacted on their flanks they came out of the BGo). Then he took out an elephant with his own. Very quickly it was 3-3 and we were getting close to time. Nigel let me have one more turn. I got 1 for the PIP die. I could move only one element, and the only thing that was at all attractive was the forlorn hope of a spear against a pike element with no overlap support either way. Fortune smiled on me as we rolled 5-1. The 1 returned to scuttle Nigel in the last roll and I got my only victory.

  • Review

Clearly the practice against pike armies of the three days before paid off, as my only victory was against one! My other results I think pretty fairly reflect my relative inexperience in competitions. I might have won the opening game if I’d played a little faster, I might have had a closer game against Andrew if I’d not been in such a hurry, I might have had some answer to Steve’s Romans, and I really have no one to blame but myself for the defeat against Barrie.

There was a first in this competition for me: my first littoral landing that didn’t lose me the game! It actually worked out very well for me, though the dice added it a good deal.

I definitely feel I’m getting the hang of the Carthaginians. They’ve got an interesting mix of troop types. One could wish for a lot of things to make the perfect army, but for the Carthaginians two changes would be very nice:

  1. allow them to have another Auxilia, as the Spanish seem underrepresented in their armies. This would give them a big edge when contesting BGo against all those armies that have one Auxilia and one Psiloi.
  2. allow the Libyan spear the option to be fielded as 4Bd as Hannibal’s veterans.

Arguments for both of these can be made, and they would make the Carthaginians a very nasty opponent. The second option reminds me of the Mithridatic (II/48) army that came third at this competition. It has the potent option to take pikes or blades, which Arne used, I believe, to effect. As a determined enemy of the Romans this is an army I could get interested in, but I won’t go there just now!

Anyway, it was a very enjoyable day. Thanks to Brian for organizing it, and to Keith, my generous host for the occasion. I liked the venue; the Working Men’s Club was warm and had food and drinks, a far cry from the Scout Halls used in Auckland! It was good to see people I’d met at Conquest last year, and in particular Craig, whose blog I’ve been following.

I’ve decided to write up the battles from last week ahead of those at the CWC DBA Competition for two reasons. I didn’t take any pictures and my memory of them may fade fast, and the battles at the competition are a matter of public record so to speak, so nothing is really lost by revealing the outcome of them somewhat out of order. Last Thursday John and Joel came around. I was feeling fairly groggy from a cold. With the CWC competition finally behind me I was keen to get the Gauls out again. However, John wasn’t going to let me get away from the Carthaginians, and offered to go the Gauls, so we had a historical match-up with two proper armies (no Goblins or bodges). This match-up is one that seems to heavily favour the Carthaginians, as they have a lot of their army that find warbands a whole lot of fun. In fact, only the spear are scared of them.

  • First up: Gauls vs. Carthaginians.

For this reason I took both elephants; hardly sporting, but after seeing what Galwegians could do to them I wasn’t complacent. Also my elephants have a terrible record in the games I’ve played; they die frequently and they’ve killed more of their own side than they have of the opposition! I also took four 2Ps, partly because I don’t have enough 3Wb painted for the Gauls to loan them any, and partly as psiloi are better against warbands than warbands are.

I was the attacker and John put down a couple of steep hills and a wood. I deployed with a wood on my right flank near the centre and a steep hill on my side on the left flank. It faced a steep hill or a wood on John’s side. John deployed with his cavalry on the open flank facing the wood and his warbands either on the hill or stretching out of it. I met this by putting the psiloi and the auxilia on the left flank, the elephants in the centre and the spear on the right with one psiloi in support. The general was in reserve and the Numidians were on the right flank.

As the battle developed I had plenty of PIPs, something that John did not always enjoy. In the initial encounters one of my elephants went down to a warband on a 1-6, but that proved to be the Gauls’ only success. His cavalry didn’t want to attack the spear who were supported on the right flank by the woods with a psiloi in it and on the left flank I started to roll up his army with the greater mobility of my psiloi, who were able to flank the outermost element.

The game ended, I think, 6-1 to me, when on the last turn my surviving elephant destroyed a double-ranked warband. It was always an encounter that one would expect the Carthaginians to win, but my elephants did their best initially to put that into doubt. However, with PIPs coming strongly my way the Gauls were unable to really make any headway.

  • Second up: Gauls vs. Marian Romans.

With very good timing, just after the first battle was finished Joel arrived. As I was still feeing fairly grotty from a cold I was happy to let John face Joel, as it was the first time they had met, and what better way than over a friendly game of DBA! John chose to stick with the Gauls, while Joel took his Marian Romans. John was the defender and laid out three pieces of terrain along the centre. This row ended up running vertically between the two battlelines. The two outermost pieces were too close to the edge to allow one to deploy the camp behind them, committing one to placing the camp on one flank or the other.

I didn’t follow the game too closely, attempting to cook up some failed yoghurt (I later discarded the result the next day). Joel had both cavalry on his right flank along with his foot general. His two psiloi were in the central wood and half of his blades were on the other side of the woods with the camp.

I don’t remember John’s deployment—with all those warbands it was less distinctive. I know that in short order his cavalry had destroyed both of Joel’s, the first was apparently fairly lucky. Fairly quickly John was three up, but then Joel clawed the score back to 3-3 and the battle hung on an encounter in which the opposing elements were mutually flanked. Whoever won would win the game. The odds, I think, were even. As it turned out, the Gauls won the battle and therefore the game, continuing their unbroken run of victories against the Marians.

  • Review:

It was good to see the Gauls on the table again. They are an army with a lot of panache, with their headhunters, naked fanatics and their druids in the camp. I look forward to seeing how they fare against the Ancient Spanish when I finish them; like the Carthaginians, they’re a historical opponent, and a tough one, as the warbands have no advantages against their auxilia and psiloi. Their only advantage is the three cavalry against the single Spanish cavalry and single light horse.

It was also good to get Joel and John together. Next we hope to visit one of the wargames clubs, either the South Auckland one, where back in April Bryan on this blog expressed an interest in catching up, or the Auckland City Guard, where Joel says a couple are interested in seeing what DBA is like. If the three of us were to get to one of those clubs, along with whoever we could interest there, we could have quite a few games in a day. It could lead to an informal competition or a campaign at a later stage.

The day after the two game with John I was off to Christchurch for the CWC DBA Competition. Keith generously put me up for the night and suggested I might want a game that night before the competition. He asked if there was any opponent I wanted to face, and I decided I could still do with more practice against pikes, so he used the army he used at the competition, that of Demetrius the Besieger. Keith selected 1x3Kn (cmd), 1x3Cv, 1x2LH, 1xEl, 6x4Pk, 1x4Ax and 1xArt.

I went with just the one elephant, giving me an extra 3Cv and two each of the warbands and psiloi: 2x3Cv (1=cmd), 1x2LH, 1xEl, 3x4Sp, 2x3Wb, 1x3Ax, 2x2Ps. Hasdrubal was the defender and lay out a waterway with a wood near it, a long marsh on the other side of the board and a small wood in one corner. The waterway was on his right flank and he decided to reserve the Spanish for a littoral landing into the wood (one auxila and one psiloi). Otherwise he deployed with the spear in the centre anchored by the Gauls in the marsh and the elephant and a cavalry on their right flank. Hasdrubal himself and the Numidians were in reserve.

Demetrius countered by deploying with his cavalry in reserve behind his phalanx that had the artillery in its centre, the elephant on its right flank and the auxilia on the left.

Initial Deployments: Carthaginians in the foreground facing Demetrius.

Things went wrong for the Carthaginians very rapidly. Their littoral landing ran into trouble when Demetrius’ auxilia were able to defeat the Spanish with the aid of some cavalry. After this setback the Carthaginians had no hope of gaining control of that flank, and were really unable to see a way of winning, as they didn’t see themselves as having any advantage in a frontal battle or necessarily able to do much on the other wing. The Caetrati retired to the other wing and the Libyphoenician cavalry was tied up in a stand-off with its counterpart.

The Scutarii go down in to Demetrius' auxilia, leaving the littoral landing in tatters.

The next stage of the battle saw a slow advance of the Greek centre while their light horse went around the marsh. Hasdrubal went after them himself along with the Numidians and the Caetrati. This came to little, as they couldn’t pin the light horse. Keith commented at the end he thought I overreacted, but at the time I was hoping to destroy the light horse to allow me to exploit that flank, as I could see little good happening in the centre.

However, before I could hunt down the elusive light horse, Demetrius’ pikes made contact in the centre. The odds were in his favour (5-2), but as with the first combat the dice turned what might have been a recoil into a kill. Hasdrubal began to complain loudly and bitterly about the dice!

Two dead after two combats: the pike crush some Carthaginians spear.

Hasdrubal rushed his cavalry to try to fill the gap, and in the next turn the weight of Demetrius’ centre struck. One change that Hasdrubal had made was to cycle a warband out into the battleline on the marsh edge to replace a spear there. It proved an unattractive target for the Greeks. Demetrius went against the spear himself, supported by pikes against the elephants. If he defeated this spear he’d win the battle. The lead-up combats went his way, as the cavalry and the elephant were recoiled, but in a nail-biting encounter with the spear it was a stick; the Carthaginians rolled a woeful 1, but Demetrius was little better, getting a 2.

Demetrius is locked in combat with Carthaginian spear.

Demetrius had been unsure what to do on his right flank in the face of those Gauls. He had thought of advancing his pike closer, but thought better of it. It was a fateful decision, as the Carthaginian spear that had moved out of the line to make way for the warband was able to advance to block the ZOC of the pike, while the warband closed the door on Demetrius. The melee continued for another gritty round, ending in another stick.

Demetrius is now under pressure, but hangs in against the combined attack of psiloi-supported spear and Gauls.

In his turn Demetrius finds no way to relieve the combat he is locked in, and this time the dice go Hasdrubal’s way, by the merest whisker: 2-2. It’s now 1G-2 to Hasdrubal, and suddenly the Greeks are looking exposed.

Luck starts to desert the Greeks. Demetrius' companions are routed, and on the left his pikes are held stationary against overlapped cavalry.

In one turn it turns around dramatically and Hasdrubal blows away the Greek centre. Ambiorix leads his warband into the back rank of the pike block while Libyan skirmisher slide sideways from behind the spear to pin the phalanx at the front; the elephant then advances on the unsupported pike to the right. If he recoils he’ll take out an enemy pike and his own cavalry. However, the Greeks have lost heart and roll 1-2-1 to the Carthaginian 4-6-6. So much for the dice being against me! In one turn three elements are destroyed to give the Carthaginians their second win; their first in an away game!

What a turn around! Suddenly it's the Greek centre that's disappeared!

Demetrius’ invasion of Sicily, ostensibly to liberate it from the Carthaginians, was driven back in confusion. The Carthaginians celebrated madly, and Hasdrubal began to hope there might not be a cross waiting for him back home after all!

  • Review:

Keith’s initial success was very disconcerting, yet in each of the key combats the side with the advantage won. Despite low die rolls, the spear were one up on Demetrius and that made the difference, while Keith had been up on both my auxilia and my spear. Had Keith advanced his pike to protect Demetrius, I can only imagine the battle would have been very different, as I don’t think I could have attacked the pike on my left flank with my spear and warband effectively, especially with the elephant close behind. Demetrius would have been recoiled, but I’m not sure I could get the elephant at him, and he had more numbers coming in than me. All in all, it was a lucky victory! Right down to getting a stick against the spear.

This was another unsuccessful littoral landing. With hindsight it is risky to do such landings as the defender, as the attacker has the advantage of a turn’s move over you. It was also a largely unnecessary landing, as I could have advanced the Spanish into the woods alongside the rest of the army.

The next day John and I varied the pike army a little, going with a Ptolemaic one: 2x3Kn (1=cmd), 1x2LH, 1xEl, 6x4Pk, 1x4Ax, 1x2Ps. This list is also a possible variant of the Imperial Alexandrian army. The same figures were used as the day before, and one can only imagine that poor old Hasdrubal was stranded on the same island in time for a rematch.

Hasdrubal went with two elephants, as they seemed the best counter to the Ptolemaic knights and elephant. He also went with two psiloi and two warbands. He was again the attacker and the littoral Egyptians laid two steep hills and a wood. Of these the wood was the only terrain that played a part, as the hills were on the respective baselines.

Initial Deployment: Carthaginians on the left, 'Ptolemaics' on the right.

I deployed with my bad-going troops on the right flank, where they could make use of the woods, the spear in the centre and the elephants on the left flank. This forced John to redeploy some of his knights away from the elephants, but more particularly, to redeploy the auxilia and psiloi away from the woods towards the elephants.

John sent his light horse wide and I responded by chasing it with my light horse, my general, and even my elephants; somewhat extreme, perhaps! The initial combat between the two light horse saw one of us recoil. John then very kindly showed me how I could flank the light horse by sliding my general into the space between the two of them, thus taking the Numidians out of ZOC where they could then flank the light horse. This gave the first kill to me.

The Ptolemaic LH is destroyed. Note the Balearic slingers at the edge of the woods, ZOCing the Ptolemaic flank; they got their in the first turn. Note also the Ptolemaic light foot facing the elephants.

With the light horse gone, John decided that the light foot were best to contact the elephants on their own terms, rather than wait. It was a tactic that bore fruit, when one elephant was destroyed.

Bonnachts against elephants and the Irish come up laughing.

At this point my PIPs really died away; I think I consistently had only one or two PIPs for the remainder of the game. I was really beginning to despair of the Carthaginians, as they had had such a long run of bad luck. However, John was a very helpful opponent and encouraged me to weigh up my options carefully to get the full value out of every PIP. The threat of the Irish to the elephants was neutralized by the Numidians attacking the kerns and an element of spear ZOCing the bonnachts.

To the rescue of the elephant!

The spear that peeled off to ZOC the Irish proved a real thorn, holding up a pair of ‘pike’. In fact, it stuck out repeated combats at uneven odds, refusing to budge.

The Libyan skirmishers recoil from the giant, while the blueshield spear drive back the bonnachts, despite their overlap from the 'pike'.

John continued to get more of the PIPs, but his left flank was severely compromised by the lack of any troops that could go into the woods. He had to peel off pike elements to prevent his main body from being flanked. In the centre, the giant put the Libyan skirmishers to flight, but those pugnacious blueshields drove back double-ranked pikes!

The blueshields frustrate pseudo-Ptolemy.

With only two PIPs the Carthaginians are unable to repair any of the tenuous position in the centre, and go for even odds on a kill on their right flank: Gauls provide a friction kill, but not flanking support for the Scutarii against an element of pikes. Both roll 6, and looking back I think this should have been a stick. Perhaps the pike were put down one for the Gauls in error—oops (unless we put the dice back in the picture in error, which seems doubtful)!

In a fierce encounter pike are destroyed by auxilia with some warband support.

Ptolemy then drives forward in the centre. One element of spear folds before the giant, the other recoils from the pike.

The giant makes it 2-2.

Again with only two PIPs the Carthaginians focus on the right flank. The warband go in on the side. One would provide a friction kill if the pike advanced against the spear and the other peels off the rear element of pike. The warband are at even odds, but QK the pike and in this combat triumph, making it 3-2.

Another 6 for the Carthaginians, and the Ptolemaic left flank is looking very fragile.

Good PIPs allow the Ptolemaic knights to advance on the Spanish Scutarii in the open, and to attack the spear with the giant and with the pike. However, the dice desert them in combat as they roll two 1s.

No luck for Ptolemy as the Carthaginian spear hold fast.

Now was the time to roll a 6 for PIPs and attack on all fronts, but the PIP dice was yet another 1. The auxilia had to remain in the open, the elephant remained unmoved from where it was very early in the game, as indeed did that entire wing. Instead Ambiorix (that’s the headhunter with clothes), attacked the pike from the rear. When they turned to face, the other warband (led by Lucterius of the Battle of Vienne fame) now flanked them. The combat dice continued to smile and it was game over! The Carthaginians had their first win!

In a emphatic 6-1 contest the Gauls chew up another element of pike to give the battle to the Carthaginians. Over in the centre the blueshields remain locked in combat with the opposing pike

  • Review

I could, and shamelessly did, whine about PIP dice, but the combat rolls went my way. Being able to ZOC the bonnachts with my general was crucial to preventing them from supporting the pike against the blueshields. In turn, the blueshields stalwart resistance was crucial in stopping their centre from folding.

The control of the BGo on the right flank proved the undoing of the pike on that flank; unsupported pike against warband is not pretty.

The elephants did little except die, but their importance was in pulling the opponents’ BGo troops away from the woods, and in putting their knights where they failed to get into combat, so perhaps they weren’t totally without use.

It was a nailbiting game because of the lack of PIPs, and my defeatist attitude after so many losses. However, the lack of PIPs did have the effect of making me focus, rather than try to  win everywhere.

This was a crucial victory before going down to the CWC competition. If I hadn’t won, I’m not sure what I’d have done with the Carthaginians. I’m sure I’d start to think they were cursed! I have John to thank for coaching me through my options when I was feeling like giving up in disgust over the chronic PIP-starvation. His advice to try to win somewhere faster than you lose elsewhere was very good, though in this game it was a matter of hoping not to lose too fast in the places I had no PIPs to spare! And my spear showed some real grit in making that happen.

The week before the Christchurch Wargames Club DBA competition I got back from my travels without my family (who stayed in Korea for 10 more days). As John is now working not far from me we took the opportunity to have a couple of games at my house after he finished work. These were a workout for the Carthaginians, who were still seeking their first win after seven games. To this end we chose to recreate some pike armies for the Carthaginians to face; this involved pressing some Saxon fyrd into service as pikemen and rounding up the usual suspects of knights, Irish and a giant to fill out the rest of the army. In the first battle, we recreated the army of Antipater,  the man left in charge of Europe when Alexander went east. This has a 3Kn commander, a 3Cv, six 4Pk, a 4Ax, an El and two 2Ps. As mentioned these were played by Saxons, Irish, Normans and a giant.

One can imagine that Hasdrubal was still at sea, and had come across a very odd collection of men, one for which I’ll forbear to attempt a rational! He was the attacker (from memory), but Pseudo-Antipater chose to play a waterway, a road, two hills, one steep and the other gentle, and a large wood.

Hasdrubal got to face the enemy with the waterway to their back, but he was too cautious to try a littoral landing. The Saxon ‘phalanx’ was split between either side of the giant, and had only one rear element between two front ones, an experiment to increase their frontage.  On the steep hill were the Irish, while the cavalry was kept in reserve.

Initial Deployments: Antipater on the left and Hasdrubal on the right. One Saxon element appears back from the road, owing to its unfortunate habit of upending the narrow base!

Hasdrubal went for only one elephant, and took some Gallic mercenary cavalry along with two psloi and two warbands as his other options. He deployed with his warbands and Spanish facing the Irish and his spear and Numidians on the right flank. In the centre was his cavalry and elephant.

Initial contact was made on the left flank, where the Irish attacked with the advantage of higher ground. In this encounter the bonnachts were recoiled by the Gallic warband.

Recoil and follow up by the Gauls.

The Spanish then moved in to give flanking support, but even with this the Gauls were forced back by some kerns. The other Gauls got a stick, but were now in a fairly unenviable position, far forward wtihout suppport.

Gauls fail to dislodge doughty kerns.

At this point the Gauls on the hill ran out of steam and were rolled over by the bonnachts. This flank was now effectively a stalemate, with neither side having enough to make progress, but it was a situation that definitely suited Anipater more than Hasdrubal.

The rash advance of the Gauls finally comes to grief. Note how the Carthaginian elephant has skilfully advanced in front of his spear!

There then ensued a bit of skirmishing; the Numidians made a run for the opposition camp, but were rebuffed; in fact they were put to flight, which got them back to where they could harass the opponent’s rear. The elephant, facing pike recoiled over some of his spear—oops.


The elephant has backed over his spear, and the Numidians have fled from the camp, close to the enemy's rear.

Hasdrubal then set to trying personally to destroy an element of pike. Yet despite Numidians to the rear he failed. At this point, annoyed at the failure of the dice to let a single combat that mattered go in my favour, I stopped taking photos! At this point, over a week later and with no photos to remind me, I’m not sure how the end came for the Carthaginians, but after two promising starts on each flank had failed the Carthaginians were becoming despondent (and jetlag was also working against them!. They’d had the advantage in each of the combats, but failed: 3-2 against the kerns and 4-3 against the pike, each with support on the flank or in the rear.

So this battle trailed off to become the Carthaginians eighth consecutive defeat (not counting the solo game). By now I was really beginning to despair of the Carthaginians, as although I had made plenty of mistakes, I was having no luck with the dice; perhaps I should have gone with the Gauls, who seem to win despite my generalship! However, to blame the dice for my defeat is detract from John’s generalship; he did not allow me the luxury of recovering from my mistakes or unlucky combats.

First Anniversary

25 July, 2010

It’s been a while since I’ve had the opportunity to post anything here. Near the end of last month was the anniversary of this blog. I started a post in France at my sister’s, but was put off by the AZERTY keyboard. Since then I’ve been travelling, getting sorted after travels or recovering from a cold.

Anyway, the blog has been much more successful than I’d ever have imagined when I started it. I’ve made contact with other DBA/HOTT players in New Zealand and now have regular games of DBA, more regular than I have time to report on! I’ve also been to a couple of competitions in Christchurch, which have been a whole lot of fun and a chance to meet more gamers interested in DBA. I’ve also got a lot out of displaying my armies on the blog. It’s encouraged me to improve my painting technique and make use of ideas I’ve picked up from other blogs and from the Fanaticus forum and The Miniatures Page.

In the next few days I hope to catch up on the backlog of games I have to report on since I got back: two games with John before going down to the Christchurch Wargames Club’s DBA competition, a game with Keith before the competition and five games at the competition. I even had a game last week and watch one between John and Joel the same evening.e.