I was one of the umpires for this event, in training along with Dave for the IWC competition next year. There were sixteen of us competing, so organizing the draw was quite tight for time between games. Conquest is sponsored by Comics Compulsion, and this year Tim from there was one of the DBA competitors. He also provided us with some very nice game boards for the event.

As I won my CB Ancient Britons at Conquest last year, I felt it was only proper to field them this year. Actually, they’re not one of my favourite armies. This is not because they’re not quite a powerful mix of troop types; they can have half their army mounted or can go for skirmishers to complement the light horse. It’s more that the image of them for me has been shaped by the Victorians, who adopted Boudica as a prototype of Queen Victoria of all people! As the Wikipedia author points out, it’s highly ironic that someone who fought Roman imperialism became associated with British imperialism! Because of this, the Ancient Britons don’t come across to me as the ancestors of the Celts of Britain, but the English. Still, why should that be strange when a similar fate awaited King Arthur?

Anyway, trying hard to put these associations to one side, I took the Britons. I described them as early Cornish (a link to the DBR game of the night before), but I didn’t think of a name for my leaders, particularly the warrior queen on a chariot, so was lumbered with Boudica by well-meaning opponents. There are no historical Cornish rulers from this time. My best source for a name would be someone from that eminent historian, refreshingly untroubled by the need to verify his sources, Geoffrey of Monmouth. He provides us with a Duke of Cornwall, Tenvantius, the son of Lud. He’s less prolific with female names, but I’ll go with Tonuuenna, the mother of Belinus and Brennius, who persuaded her sons to do the right thing and not fight each other, but rather go sack Rome!

Damn, with names like that, I’m sure they would have fought better, which tells you what you could discover if you looked here. I won two games, drew one and lost the other three. Still, I learnt a lot about the army as the day unfolded, which is to say, I made a lot of mistakes that I could learn from!

  • Game 1: Thessalians (II/5d), Colin Foster (Christchurch)

My first game was against a Hoplite Greek army, the Thessalians, who have a mix of troops not so different from my Picts last Conquest. Colin went for four 3Cv, two 2Ps and six 4Sp. I went for all the mounted I could, so Tonnuuena led four LCh, two 2LH and six 3Wb. As would remain a common pattern, I was the defender. I was looking forward to getting my double-ranked warband into Colin’s spear, so I went for a gentle hill and two woods. I put the two woods on one flank, but Colin did the sensible thing and opted to have the woods in my deployment zone, which the dice allowed him.

Setting up, I put the warbands in one wood, and the mounted between the woods. Colin was able to put his spear as far as possible from the warband and I elected not to swap any elements.

Initial Deployments against the Thessalians.

I rapidly found that the depth of chariots is significant when moving across the front of battlefield, and the chariots were not able to get to the right wing before they were engaged by the Thessalian horse. I also had a moment of madness and imagined I could slip my light horse between the hoplite lines. In that initial encounter one chariot was destroyed.

An overlapped chariot is destroyed and the light horse get ready to get themselves into trouble.

Things did not improve. Predictably one of the light horse was destroyed and the warbands had to rush into combat at bad odds against the cavalry. Before long another chariot and a warband were destroyed and the Britons routed.

Terrible match-ups on the right flank.

Going into this battle I thought I had a good chance. I shot myself in the foot with the terrain placement, and I then made it easy for the warbands to be avoided; had they been central they would have had better options. Finally, I discovered that chariots are surprisingly more awkward to manoeuvre than 3Cv. Good lessons!

  • Game 2: Early Neo-Assyrians (I/25b), Barrie Cameron (Timaru)

My next opponent, Barrie, had chariots and I decided to stick to the same army. The Assyrians were insanely aggressive, and I’d have to 6-1 them to be the aggressor! They have an interesting mix of mounted and foot: two HCh, two LCh, two 3Bd, four 3Ax and two 2Ps. I didn’t see any massively favourable match-ups for me, but I hoped I could bring my superior mounted numbers to bear against his foot, to which they were quite vulnerable. I think I did learn a bit from my mistakes in the previous battle, and went for different terrain and deployment.

Initial Deployments against the Neo-Assyrians.

I didn’t take any photos of this battle beyond this first picture, and my recollection is a bit hazy. It was a draw and I know that our chariots met on the right flank. Barrie tried to bring his across his front, and I pinned them much as Colin had done to me. Despite this, I don’t think it was going too well for me there. The only consolation was that it blocked the HCh, which sat out the battle. I managed to get one of the 3Ax on the left flank with my light horse, but when time was called, I’m not sure who had the advantage.

  • Game 3: Numidians (II/40), Bryan Fowler (Wellington)

Numidians with an elephant, light horse and auxilia were not an army I especially wanted to face. In the light of this I went for all the chariots again, figuring they’d have the edge over auxilia and light horse. I could have taken a psiloi as an elephant killer, but figured it’d get eaten by the auxilia.

I was the defender again and discovered that owing to a limitation of what figures he could get, Bryan had no auxilia! He had five 2LH, five 2Ps a 4Bd and an El. Even better—a stack of psiloi able to be gobbled up by my chariots. I went for a very open battlefield to give the psiloi nowhere to hide.

Initial Deployments against the Numidians. The lone warband on the right flank is the result of a swap!

I deployed with the warbands hoping to gain the crest of the hill and the mounted on either side. Things moved at a rush. But as the Numidians advanced their left flank expanded, outflanking my right flank significantly. However, I figured that Tonuuenna would QK the psiloi in front of her and lead a breakthrough in the centre. Do you think she could? For at least three turns that psiloi held her off! In that time my chariot held up the Numidian elephant, but it was a combat that could only have one outcome.

Early combat. Tonuuenna proves ineffective, and Nennius and his head faces off against three light horse!

By the time Tonuuenna finally killed that psiloi it was too late. A chariot had been flanked and destroyed, another had fallen to the elephant and Nennius had been surrounded and destroyed. Meanwhile I think my light horse had been destroyed on my left flank by psiloi and light horse. I think I was downslope of all this.

It was all over very quickly!

In hindsight I could have extended my line by not double-ranking the warband. They didn’t get any benefit against five sixths of the opposition. However, I blamed Tonuuenna for a lacklustre performance, and going into the break for lunch she was retired in disgrace!

  • Game 4: Early Imperial Romans (II/56), Simon Phillips (Timaru)

After lunch, owing to the nature of the Swiss Chess system, I was facing less experienced, or less lucky opponents. Simon, from Timaru (and recently from Scotland) had a loaner army; these Romans were also won at Conquest last year, so it was a very fitting match-up, even historical!

Going for one less chariot I took a warband general (Tenvantius) and a psiloi. I was of course the defender and stuck to my terrain choices, though putting the woods slightly more central. I fancied my chances, as these Romans, unlike Marians and Polybians, lacked psiloi for support. The auxilia and blade would be very dangerous to the warbands with psiloi support. Without it they were vulnerable to my warbands and my chariots. And for the Romans the one psiloi they could get came at the cost of a cavalry. Simon went for three cavalry, an artillery, four blades and four auxillia.

Initial Deployments against the Romans.

Simon sent a cavalry to try and get around the wood on my right flank. I stopped it with a psiloi and a light horse. I was able to drive it off the edge of the board, making it 1-0. Simon decided that these two represented a target worth chasing (or as he said later, a threat). He would prove able to get them, but at the cost of leaving his centre hanging. I lost a light horse to his artillery (I didn’t know that was a match-up to avoid!), but was able to use my chariots to effect, taking out his artillery, a blade, who were unable to expand out of column in time, and an auxilia. For all that, it was a narrow victory.

It's all over; while the Roman commander and cavalry are over to their left flank, the chariots do the damage.

  • Game 5: Alexandrian Imperial (II/15), Lewis Osborne (Timaru)

My next opponent was the youngest competitor, Lewis, who had used Ancient Britons himself. Like the Assyrians, the chance of him being the defender were remote. I went for terrain similar to what I had against the Romans (in fact I managed to stay at the same table for the whole day!). This time Tenvantius was on a chariot and I went for two psiloi. Alexander went for a defensive deployment and artillery instead of an elephant.

Initial Deployments against Alexander.

Six PIPs on the first turn got my psiloi into the woods on the left flank. The light horse also headed over to that flank too. While Alexander’s pikes and artillery sat on the hill, I thought I’d have a good chance to bring superior numbers to bear on the mounted on the left flank. This was going fairly well, and I got one of the elements of companion cavalry, but my decision to try to get Alexander himself by having Tenvantius flank him proved my undoing. Alexander recoiled me and the depth of the chariot proved fatal. He was then able to turn and attack Tenvantius and recoil him again. His deep base contacted my light horse by a few mm and it was all over, as I’d lost a psiloi earlier to his companions.

More learning with chariots: avoid going sideways!

  • Game 6: Spartacus (II/45c), Dave Batchelor (Timaru)

My final game of the day was against a fellow umpire, Dave, who brought Spartacus’ army. It was the first time I was the aggressor. Had Spartacus broken out to Britain, only to get attacked by the locals? I went with Tenvantius on foot again, but with two psiloi, as against an army of warband I figured they’d be useful. Dave went for a foot general, so had five 4Bd, five 5Wb and two 2Ps.

Initial Deployments against Spartacus.

In a crowded battlefield I believe one of my light horse got into trouble and was destroyed. At that point I retired the offending die that had rolled a 1 and my luck saw me home. In a day that had seen my warbands do very little (anything, pretty much), the chance to face other warbands must have inspired them. Perhaps they felt they had something to prove against raggedy-arsed 5Wb, as they consistently beat them (overlaps, a Wb general and double-rank advantages helped, of course).

Two mobs of slaves put to flight, one, I think by psiloi.

As the escaped slaves fought, the gladiators looked on, and before they could get into action another mob of slaves was defeated and Spartacus’ army broke and ran. What punishments worse than crucifixion could the Britons dream up for those they captured?

Another mob of unwashed slaves break and the Spartican adventure in Britain falls to ruin.

It was nice to end on a victory, and interesting that it was one that saw my warbands in action finally. I think I had struggled to make the Britons act as a combined-arms army and ended up winning (or more frequently losing) with the mobile part of the army, which made contact before the warbands could move up. Another lesson there!

It was a very enjoyable day with all the games being played in good spirits. Yet it wasn’t over. I’d played mostly Timaruvians in the competition, and I’d see more of them that evening, when four of them came over to Keith’s for dinner and a game of Big Battle DBA (BBDBA).

Last weekend I got down to Christchurch for Conquest 2010. Last year I’d attended Conquest 2009, which I’d heard about through the community of blogging gamers that I’d come to know when I started this blog, in particular Keith, who was the organiser. It proved a fruitful event in a number of ways. It got me into Ancient wargaming, where previously I’d stuck to Dark Age and Fantasy armies. The CB Ancient Britons I won there have been painted and can morph into Gauls and have been joined by three other armies from that period (naturally there are a number more waiting for paint). It was also the start of contact with other DBA gamers in New Zealand, which has developed in the time since that visit. I’ve started to get some interest in Auckland, but I’m envious of what’s happening in Christchurch and in particular in Timaru, where they seem to be attracting some younger gamers to the hobby through DBA.

The night before Conquest, I stayed at Keith’s place and we had a game of DBR in the condensed scale. I’d read the rules, but had no idea how things would work until the troops went on the table. I decided to go with Cornish, for sentimental reasons, and to see what Pk(S) were like. Keith has a description of the battle here complete with pictures. I figured that the Royalist ought to have plenty of their good cavalry (5 elements including the commander), but this left me heavily outnumbered in foot.

Terrain placement in DBR is different from DBA, and we had a nice clear area in the centre, where all the action was. I hoped that my two blocks of double-ranked Cornish pike supported by shot would break through the foot opposite them before the weight of numbers on their right flank told against them. They also had a slight superiority in horse on the left flank: two elements of Pi(F) against Pi(S)—cavalier horse against Lobsters.

In the event I was just short of enough PIPs in the crucial early turns to get my horse in on the left flank at the same time as the foot (and there was no benefit to the foot dallying in a firefight!). However, as the Parliamentarian foot advanced on the right flank they left their flank open to my commander, who charged into their side, removing pike support from the shot. This succeeded in destroying the shot, but not before one of my shot recoiled into my general, oops! I eventually wrapped up that brigade with the support of the other horse, but the shot lost to recoil told against me in the centre. When night fell, the initiative was slipping from me.

I look forward to playing the condensed version of DBR again. There are a lot of differences in PIP costs with DBA, and they make for interesting tactical decisions. Closing the door, for instance, generally costs 3 PIPs, as it involves breaking a group. Also combat results vary significantly depending on whose bound it is.

Next time the Cornish will teach those uppity Londoners proper respect for the king! But before then there were some earlier Cornishmen on chariots at Conquest!

Sunday week John and I caught up with an old friend, Craig, over from Brisbane. It was a chance to see the Polybian Romans on the table. We met at the Auckland Wargames Club, where Craing saw a number of old faces. We had three games. The first saw the Carthaginians and Romans square off, the next was between the Gauls and Spanish and the last was a Double DBA where the Romans and Spanish faced the Gauls and Romans. It was a fun day, though the last game went on a bit (it would have helped had we read the BBDBA rules more carefully!).

  • Game 1: Romans v. Carthaginians.

The first game was between me and Craig. Craig opted for the Carthaginians and took an elephant, an extra cavalry and two warbands. Predictably the ‘peace-loving’ Romans were the defenders (was there ever an aggression factor more in need of correction!). They decided the Carthaginians would like BGo more than they would and decided to deny them it. They went for two gentle hills and a small wood.

The Carthaginian general, still reeling from a deleterious caffeine experience (worst cup ever!), managed to get the very edge he didn’t want and was required to deploy with the wood in his deployment zone. The Romans went first and put their Triarii on a hill on the left flank, and deployed the two legions with psiloi support in the centre.

Initial Deployment: Romans facing Carthaginians.

The Romans decided to advance fast and the Triarii were required to move up to prevent the legions being flanked. This put them at severe odds facing the elephant and the other Carthaginian mounted. The Carthaginians saw no benefit in advancing their centre and left flank, but wanted to sweep around on their right. All that stood in their way was the Triarii and a general who wasn’t sure he wanted to be there!

The lines meet. The Carthaginian cavalry flees, and the Triarii face long odds.

Things did not go well for the Romans. The Triarii fell before the Carthaginian elephants and an element of blade went down to Gauls. It seemed the bungled deployment of the Triarii was reaping its well deserved consequences. At this point the general, who had hovered to the rear as the Triarii came to grief decided it was time for a last fling of the dice. The Carthaginian general was unsupported, so he attacked him at even odds. A small chance of destroying the general (and an equally small chance of dying himself). He liked to think of it as a form of devotio, rushing into the midst of the enemy to die in order to win divine favour.

Well, the gods didn’t destroy him, the fight only saw the Carthaginians recoil, but the act seemed to have the effect of galvanizing the beleaguered Romans, who finally broke an element of Carthaginian spear.

In the next turn it was all over. The Carthaginians had only a few PIPs and could only plug the line with some Libyan skirmishers, and attack the Roman general with Numidian support. The general recoiled and then the legions swept all before them. The Libyan skirmishers fled, the overlapped spear were destroyed as were two elements of Gauls. In no time it went from 0-3 to 4-3!

The final position showing the hole the legions had created in the Carthaginian line.

The game illustrated how resilient blade armies can be. It was a lucky victory, and what will the Roman general say to the senate: ‘You did WHAT with our veteran troops!’ In future I suspect a more defensive, and historical, posture for the Triarii might be in order!

  • Game 2: Gauls v. Spanish.

The next game was Craig as the Gauls against John as the Spanish. In a battle where both have no aggression, the Gauls got off to a good start and were the defenders. They deployed minimal terrain to prevent the Spanish lurking in it and to give their cavalry an edge.

Initial Deployment: before two element swap.

The Spanish prepared to send two psiloi into the wood, so the Gauls brought a cavalry and their psiloi over to meet this threat.

Initial Deployment: Gauls rearrange their flanks.

As the battle began, the Gauls had a small chance to get an edge when their left flank met by choosing to attack. If they could recoil the central element they would have overlaps at 4-2 for the other two. It didn’t work and the Spanish were able to pile on the pressure on the flank.

The Gallic attack on the left flank made no impression, being recoiled, and now it begins to be outflanked.

Remarkably the outclassed cavalry held on here, but the block of warband showed less resolve and fell apart before the Spanish attack, managing to destroy only one of the Spanish Scutarii. The battle here and a general lack of PIPs prevented the Gallic right from ever seeing combat, yet it was that cavalry and their general that might have given them the edge.

It's all over! The right flank is destroyed. The only Spanish casualty was a 3Ax that is shown lurking behind their 2LH.

Warbands against Auxilia is a tough match-up. It might have been better for the Gauls to have held back the left flank to allow the right flank to engage. Also they could have looked to put more pressure on that flank, as once the six double-ranked warbands were engaged little was left over. Another tactic would be not to double-rank, and try to get the overlaps.

A footnote to this battle was that the Spanish commander continued his cowardly form from the previous game, rolling at least another one in his first combat, and it is his lack of resolve that kept the Gallic cavalry on that flank alive.

  • Game 3: Romans and Spanish v. Carthaginians and Gauls.

We finished the day with a game of double DBA. I took the Carthaginians with Gallic allies and John took the Spanish again in alliance with Craig using the Polybian Romans. The Romans were defending, and laid down a fair amount of BGo. The Spanish deployed to dominate this rough terrain, but left only a thin centre: the two elements of cavalry! The Roman deployment was more conventional. In response the Gauls deployed their cavalry where they would make the Spanish nervous of leaving the woods, and their warband where they would encounter the Romans head-on. The Carthaginians opted for their mounted in the centre, where they could go after the Spanish cavalry.

Initial Deployments: from the Carthaginian side.

Initial Deployments: from the Gallic side.

The Carthaginians soon came to regret the placement of their camps, as the Spanish threatened them with a quick march down the central road. Fortunately the Spanish proved short of PIPs owing to low PIP dice, and their commander being out of range.

Indeed, their commander was not feeling happy. He was outnumbered 2-1 by the fast-approaching Carthaginian mounted, who included an elephant. However, by dint of hard fighting they held off the first attack.

The Spanish general finally rolls a 6!

On the other flank the Spanish succeeded in destroying an element of Gallic cavalry, which helped relieve the pressure on the Romans, who had lost an element of legionaries to cavalry on that flank.

The Spanish destroy one cavalry, but the Gallic commander had recoiled the central element of the block of Roman blades, removing the psiloi support and setting up the destruction of another blade.

Luck couldn’t save the beleaguered Spanish commander forever, though his light cavalry gave the elephant a hard fight; only with the commander gone and the Spanish becoming demoralized did the light horse finally break.

The Spanish light horse narrowly miss out on destroying the elephant, but their commander, flanked, is less bold.

With the Spanish giving up the fight, some of the pressure came off the Gauls, but they’d lost two warbands, and along with the cavalry were at the point of breaking. Given that one cavalry was badly trapped it seemedonly a matter of time before they copied the Spanish by fleeing. Their commander, seeing this, decided to go out with a bang, and order his surviving warbands into a desperate attack on the other Roman flank. If they won in the centre at 4-6, they would be at 4-4 and 2-4 for the other two combats (best not to do the odds if this didn’t happen!). The warriors had obviously decided this was too unlikely and broke on contact, rolling 1, 3 and 1 against 6, 6 and 4. From being three down the Gauls went to eight down! That said, if those rolls were reversed, it would have been the Romans who broke.

The Gallic warbands disintegrate before the Romans like chaff in the wind.

At this point it would have been a good idea if we’d read the victory conditions for such a game, as we assumed it was now a matter of breaking the Romans or the Carthaginians, yet actually totally destroying the Spanish would have been enough.

The Gauls, those left, held easily as they still had a commander, though the surrounded element of cavalry didn’t survive. The leaderless and more scattered Spanish started to stream towards the rear. This proved a real nuisance for the Carthaginians, who couldn’t get past this carefully timed succession of troops fleeing down the central road.

The Spanish proved a real distraction, as did a lack of PIPs (the Gauls wallowed in an obscene amount, for which they had no use!). This led to the Carthaginians forgetting about the Numidians that had advanced on the Roman camp then dithered. They were eventually destroyed by the Roman general, not without a fight.

The Numidians recoil the Roman commander, while the Spanish block the road.

Time seemed to move slowly as the Romans moved glacially back to their camp, while an element of blades with a psiloi in support inched towards the Carthaginian camp. The Carthaginians managed to sack the Roman camp with some Libyan skirmishers, but couldn’t get the right match-ups to get the last element they needed.

The camp is taken, but elsewhere the Carthaginians can't get a result.

At this point I wondered if I could leave the camp, or whether the Libyans were too busy looting it. I was too tired to penetrate the opaque organization of the rules to settle this (I was confused by the silly rules around BUAs, which are in the same section as camps). I decided to err on the side of caution and make the Libyans stay in the camp, though their ability to flank the Roman general might have proved decisive. The fight in front of the Roman camp continued for a couple of rounds more (I got a turn’s reprieve when Craig got only one PIP and couldn’t advance on my camp), but eventually the Romans did reach the camp and it was all over.

The Romans take a dim view on donkey beating!

This was a fun game, though it dragged at the end, and it would have been very different if we’d read the rules carefully: John would have been trying to survive rather than provide speed-bumps to the Carthaginian advance. I would have had two warbands to root out three auxilia and a psiloi from the right-hand wood and an auxilia, two psiloi and the spear to get them out of the other wood. Sacking their camp would have counted towards the losses, I presume, and the lack of a general would have seen elements breaking and leaving the woods, where they would be vulnerable to the Carthaginian mounted. In such a scenario, I’d not have needed to go after the Romans, as they had already lost an element, meaning once all the Spanish were gone they’d have been over half destroyed.

This was only my third game of BBDBA, and my first when I wasn’t playing against someone who knew the rules better than me. It was very useful for getting me actually to read the rules (all one page of them) carefully, even if only after the game!

I enjoyed the day, and the chance to get my four completed armies from the period of the 2nd Punic War onto the table.

The Romans are coming!

9 October, 2010

Actually, they’ve arrived! The Polybian Romans are now complete. I did the flocking for the last seven elements of legionaries last night. They now have a long list of opponents waiting to face them: Carthaginians, Gauls and Spanish (and those are just the ones that are painted).


The army arrayed in its two legions.


More pictures can be seen at the Army Page . The transfers on the shields were a real pain, particularly for the Triarii, who don’t have symmetrical shields. I was really pleased with how the wash worked. It’s a mix of two inks (Magic Color Quasar Black and Earth Brown) in a Klear base. I ended up mixing a lot to get the right hint of brown, but I now have it just right. The ink is more consistent than the washes made with paint, which settled and varied in strength depending on how well I stirred them. Also the inks have a wash-like quality which the Klear accentuates.


From the front the view is pretty much shields and feathers, so here's a shot of some from behind.


I’m not entirely sure what to do next. I have stacks of Hellenistics, but I may do the Old Glory Southern Italians (as Campanians initially, and then expanding to Bruttians, Apulians and Samnites). A smaller project is to do four more elements of Gallic warband, so that I can field them against Carthaginians and Syracusans when they have them as mercenaries. Alternatively I might even get back to rebasing my Dark Age figures and perhaps doing some fantasy armies.

I got a game of DBA tonight with my son, Ieuan, who’s not been interested for quite a while now. I’m not sure what provoked the change of heart, perhaps looking at the figures from the game with Joel last night when he should have been sleeping.

He wanted to go Carthaginians, so I went Gauls. I went the defender and placed two woods in opposite corners and a gentle hill in another. I got a favourable edge (the hill and a wood). I deployed with warband on the hill, cavalry in the centre and a pair of warband and the psiloi in the woods.

Ieuan deployed his elephants in the centre, psiloi-supported spear on the right facing my wood with the general behind them in reserve and the LH a recoil depth behind the elephants also in reserve. His left flank had three psiloi and the auxilia.

I got good PIPs and was able to attack his psiloi and auxilia that had come out of the woods too soon with my cavalry and double-moving warband. The turn before Ieuan had only two PIPs to try to react to this emerging threat, and had opted to extend the line of the psiloi and support it with the light horse. Not brilliant, but only made to pay because the warband got the PIPs for a double move.

The first combat was a stick: his psiloi held firm against my cavalry. The next saw my warband recoil another psiloi and the light horse. This left my general facing the auxilia. It was nasty; I doubled them, taking their rear support with them.

On his next move Ieuan rolled a 1. He protested that the dice box was cramping his style and rolled a 5 on the table. I let it stand. HIs elephants went after my cavalry. My general recoiled one of them, the other with overlap provided by the general doubled a lone cavalry.

I must have got the psiloi facing my cavalry (not sure why they didn’t run). I then tried to end the game by flanking a psiloi with my cavalry when it faced warband. It threw them back and the cavalry bumped into an elephant (very sloppy). I was now 2-3 and searching for the last element.

Ieuan used his general to attack my psiloi that had gone after an elephant making it 3-3. His spear had attacked my warband that were still in column; they were at 5-3, but only recoiled the warband. On my turn the warband came through, destroying a spear by taking the rear warband into overlap. However, it was a close game, as we played on to see what Ieuan could have done in another turn. He killed my general and a warband (the rear support psiloi slid across against the victorious warband and a spear flanked it (as it was a 6-1, this proved unnecessary).

The Carthaginians were defeated again, perhaps fresh from their abortive foray into Britain! The Gauls showed that with the right PIPs and a bit of luck they could defeat the Carthaginians.

Ieuan enjoyed the game, which was the main objective, and is now talking about armies he’d like. He reckons the Egyptians have the best gods for morphing into HOTT (and some interesting beast-headed figures by Chariot), but I’ll try to get him looking at Greeks (my lead pile’s big enough as it is!).

Last night I got to have another game with Joel. Although my Polybians were finished, I decided to wait until they were flocked before putting them on the table. Therefore it was my Carthaginians that faced me when I took the Ancient Britons out for a game. The Britons are going to Conquest, so I figured they could do with another run. Clearly the Carthaginians were unhappy with their tin suppliers in Britain and sent an army to sort them out!

Joel chose an elephant and lots of warband as his options: 2x3Cv (1=Gen), 1xEl, 1x2LH, 3x4Sp, 3x3Wb, 1x3Ax and 1x2Ps. I went for more psiloi to meet the elephant and had: 6x3Wb (1=Gen), 2xLCh, 2x2LH, 2x2Ps. It has a certain symmetry to it!

I was the defender and went for a central wood and two steep hills. After deploying I swapped my psiloi to the other side to meet the elephant.


Initial Deployments: Britons on the right.


Joel started with 1 PIP and opted to get his elephant off the hill. I started with 6 PIPs and was tempted to charge the elephant with my psiloi, but chose caution. As it was the psiloi advanced into the woods to interdict the elephant.

This was not a terribly good plan, as Joel chased the psiloi out with his warband and auxilia. I was lucky not to lose one. Meanwhile I advanced my chariots to meet his cavalry. PIPs favoured me and I was able to attack them with light horse support and a flank on the general. My first attack saw the chariots rout his cavalry (dice: 5-1). His spear fled my light horse, but the overlap on the general proved too much and despite ferocious resistance (dice: 6-6), the Carthaginian general fell and his army broke and fled. A rapid and surprising victory to the Britons. Cornubian tin suppliers remained as intransigent as ever.


All over after only a few combats.


  • Review:

After losing my general repeatedly last weekend, it was nice to reverse the roles. Joel might have been wiser to have had his two cavalry in reverse positions to protect his general. As it was, it was a lucky attack by me that could have failed (my first attack was at 3-3, so no advantage to me; as it succeeded it made the attack on the general at better odds). With different luck my mounted arm would have been ripe for a pummelling. Also I was outnumbered on that wing and would have had trouble redeploying if I’d not won quickly.

The next of my Classical armies is well under way now. I had done some test figures at the beginning of the year and was eager to get the rest done as opponents for the Carthaginians. They are nice figures, though the crud on some of them is a real disappointment. I had them all based to paint, but ended up concentrating on the nine mounted figures, a foot command and the skirmishers. I got these finished today and have made good progress with the remaining 28 heavy foot. I expect to have them finished soon.


The army completed to date: Cavalry, Legionaries and skirmishers.


More pictures of the elements completed to date can be seen at the Army Page. The army will consist of two legions, one with red shields and white tunics and one with green shields and red tunics. This can be seen in the skirmishers and cavalry, but I’ve yet to complete an element of the legionaries with the green shields.

These figures are fairly easy to paint as the detail is good. The fact the legionaries are crouching behind their shields makes painting behind the shields awkward, but as the shields are so close nothing behind them can really be seen.

Another problem is attaching the cavalry to their horses. I’d noticed this problem with Chariot wolf riders, but didn’t think it was more general in their range. Superglue does not form a good enough bond as too little surface makes contact. I ended up opting for green stuff underneath each rider to fill the gap. Hopefully it will form a strong bond. If it doesn’t, at least it’ll give me something to glue to!

A backlog of battles

3 October, 2010

  • Ancient Spanish v. Carthaginians.

I’m a good way behind in writing battle reports and the last few don’t have any photos either. The week before last Joel got around for a game in the week after work, the first time in a while. The Spanish had just been finished, so he chose the Carthaginians to face them. He ended up being the defender and had opted for no elephants (strange that!) and three warband.

The Spanish have no choice and over a very empty battlefield they chose to attack at speed. This was because they had a wood on their right and the Carthaginians had a steep hill on their right. After deploying, the Carthaginians opted to swap their two 3Cv elements to the right of this hill in place of the two 2LH. This ended up causing severe command and control issues, as they got repeatedly low PIPs.

The Spanish deployed in two blocks of three psiloi supported auxilia with two psiloi in the woods and the cavalry in reserve. The psiloi were able to face the Numidian LH at even odds and came out to face them with the Spanish cavalry. The left flank block of auxilia was more cautious, trying to block the Carthaginian cavalry, while the central one charged up the middle.

What really gave the Spanish the game were three 6-1s in their favour. The first took out a pair of double-ranked 3Wb that were overlapped. The second removed (from memory) a 2LH. The Carthaginians managed to get a 3Ax with their spear, but it was too little too late, and the central block of auxilia got another 3Wb. Against such dice, the Carthaginians had no answer. The general behind the hill just made it harder. Clearly the Spanish liked having their camp to themselves!

The Spanish camp obviously brought them good luck in their first outing against its erstwhile possessor!

  • Review:

Rolling sixes is always a great way to win! The Spanish did use their speed to deny the Carthaginians time to overcome their bad initial PIP rolls. Psiloi-supported Auxilia are good against Warband, but if the game had degenerated into a shoving match, as might have been more expected, the Carthaginians would have had the edge.

  • Ancient British v. Patrician Romans.

Sunday last week I got around to John’s for a game. He used his Patrician Romans, who now have two completed elements of 4Bd (which look fantastic). The rest are still bare metal. I decided to try out the Ancient Britons, who I’m thinking of taking to Conquest. It seems only proper as I won them at that competition last year. John took 1x3Cv (gen), 2x3Kn, 2x2LH, 2x4Bd, 2x 4Wb, 2x4Ax and 1x2Ps. I took 6x3Wb (1=gen), 3xLCh, 2x2LH and 1x2Ps.

As the defender John laid down a wood on one edge of the board and a couple of gentle hills. I chose to put this wood on one flank. I deployed my warband on a hill with one chariot on the right flank where the wood was (realizing too late that John’s Auxilia would own this!), and the rest of the mounted along with the psiloi on the other flank facing John’s mounted. John had his Auxilia and Psiloi in column on his left to rush into the woods, and his blades and warband in line facing my warband with his mounted on his right flank.

This game lasted quite a while. I advanced off the hill hoping to take the Roman blade and warband while screening the auxilia with my chariot. Unfortunately at the critical moment my PIPs evaporated for what seemed ages. The chariot was caught by the auxilia who then ZOCed my warband. Furthermore, the blades faced my warband with a kink at the point where their general was. No matchup was very attractive, and I was sitting at over 200 paces, so to contact needed PIPs for a double move.

The whole thing could have gone far worse, but on the left flank I sent in my chariots, light horse and psiloi against John’s light horse and knights. I succeeded in killing both his light horse; in the first round with a lucky result (doubling one LH) and in the second round by sending in my psiloi against the other with a LH flanking it. In these fights my chariots were lucky not to die to the knights, as at least one of them was overlapped. I managed to get one knight flanked and attacked to the rear. It stuck one turn but died the next. However, with the game 3-2 to me I had to survive two attacks on my warband to get another crack at winning on the left flank. It was not to be; the knight took out a rear rank warband and the psiloi-supported auxilia with an overlap got the rear-rank warband on the other flank.

  • Review:

My big mistake was not to put the wood in John’s set-up zone. Where it was gave a flank to John and something for his auxilia to do. For all that the Britons nearly did it despite PIP starvation in the mid game. They’re a fun army I think I will take to Conquest.

  • Gauls v. Later Swiss. 02.10.10.

Today I went to the Auckland Wargames Club for a DBA day. As it turned out this was not well attended, to put it mildly. Still John and I had two good games.  The first was my Gauls against his Swiss. He took the option of a 6Kn instead of a 6Bd. This game was soon over when my general was 6-1ed by his 2LH when I attacked them with an overlap against me. This was only the second combat of the game. We decided to keep playing and treat this as a recoil.

I was the defender and went for a large central wood and two steep hills in opposite corners. One of these was on my right flank and that was where the action was. John kept his two psiloi on his hill to stop a cavalry of mine from scooting down a road to his rear. For my part I shielded this flank with my psiloi and that cavalry. Meanwhile the commander and the other cavalry went over to the right flank in an attempt to get around it. This is where they met John’s 2LH. I had sent the bulk of my warband (5 of them) into the woods where they had a stand-off with John’s pike and knight. The other three warband were on the hill.

As the battle progressed (in the alternate reality where my general didn’t die), John advanced four pike to support his LH against my cavalry and three warband. Even worse than in the game the weekend before I had atrocious PIPs. My general chased the 2LH to the edge of the board before doubling it. My warband then started to get stuck into his pike. One came out of the wood and peeled off the rear rank, only to get double (was that another 6-1? I think so!). Then my general got adventurous and tried the same trick on the side. He was recoiled and quickly surrounded by the pike he’d attacked and one of the pike that had stayed back.

He got a stick the first round, and this is when things got interesting. In my turn I got enough PIPs to attack his pike in detail (single-ranked pike against warband, yummy!). I managed to make it 3-2 that turn, unfortunately my casualty was my general. For around four turns I could not get that next pike, even though it was single-ranked and overlapped! Things were getting grim at 3-3 with the 6Kn approaching when I finally got him at even odds. The honours were evenly spread: 1G-0 to John and 4-3G to me; though my general might have wondered at my putting him into harm’s way so many times!

* Review:

I could do with not risking the general so much. The first time it seemed reasonable, as the risk was small and I stood to open up that flank; the second was not sensible. The problem was frustration at poor PIPs.

  • Ancient Spanish v. Gauls. 02.10.10.

After a quick lunch we had another game. I used the Spanish and John took the Gauls. It was a chance for a historical match-up. I was the defender and went for two woods and a steep hill. One of these ended up on John’s right flank and the others on my left flank (the hill) and right flank (the wood). I opted for two blocks of three psiloi-supported auxilia again. One was in column on the hill and had a pair of psiloi and the light horse next to it on the left flank. The other was between the wood and the hill with the general behind it.

I needed to advance my central block fast to avoid having the left flank out of command range. I did this, despite not really wanting to face most of the Gallic cavalry (his general went close to the wood to support the action that developed there.

As it turned out the battle on my left flank sucked up all our attention so that the Gallic left never got into action. Things started well with a rear-supported warband going down in a confused action with the psiloi and light horse. The auxilia had to deploy out of column and struggled to get psiloi support. Some bad luck led to an auxilia and its psiloi support going down. I then made it 3-3 when an auxilia and a psiloi flanked another warband. At this point I committed my general to the battle, to avoid the auxilia being overlapped. It was a risk, but he had good odds. Unfortunately he was a total coward, rolling three successive 1s in combat, eventually falling when flanked. My risk undid me and I lost a general for the third time that day!

  • Review:

This was a fun battle. It developed fast and could easily have gone the way of the Spanish. The committing of the general was a risk as he could be overlapped; it was to avoid the auxilia facing a warband at 2-2, odds where it could easily be doubled. Still, it was probably a risk best avoided.