And then some real pikes (Demetrius the Besieger, II/16b)

26 July, 2010

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.


4 Responses to “And then some real pikes (Demetrius the Besieger, II/16b)”

  1. TWR Says:

    Another excellent summary of a very enjoyable game. I was sure Demetrius had that one in the bag, but it would seem not 🙂

  2. Musashi Says:

    It was a very nice read! I’d like to put down dice and markers but never remember to and have to use photoshop to add that stuff in. A lot of fun to read, thanks for sharing!

    • Mark Davies Says:

      Thanks, it’s a trick to get the markers into view, though, something I often fail to do! I like showing the dice rolls, which is a recent innovation. It keeps my memory honest!

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