2nd Punic War Day at AWC

8 November, 2010

Today MEDBAG had its biggest event to date; that said, it involved as many participants as the event at NSWC, and there were even as many games; however, this time they were themed, which added a good deal of interest to the event.

There were six of us, and Andy provided the armies (with a few Gallic warbands from John, as Andy’s were double-based). I’d decided I’d like to go Syracusan, as they were an army I’d not tried before, and Steve expressed an interest in Spanish, so it occurred to me that we could make the two sides IWC DBA competitors v. the Rest. So we made John our leader with the Romans and faced Andy with the Carthaginians, Joel with Numidians and Mike with Gauls. We decided to go with three opening rounds, then lunch followed by the BBDBA to decide the ruler of the Mediterranean. It was a good format that wasn’t too hurried; we had everything finished around 3.00, and we must have had our first battle under way around 10.45.

  • Round 1: the war begins.

First up I faced the Carthaginians. They’d gone with two elephants, two warbands and two psiloi (1x3Cv (Gen), 1x2LH, 2xEl, 3x4Sp, 2x3Wb, 1x3Ax and 2x2Ps). I’d decided that we should have to settle on one army for all the battles, as half of us had no choice, so why should the other half. Therefore I went for a spear general, a warband, a cavalry and an auxilia (7x4Sp (1=Gen), 1x3Wb, 1x3Ax, 1x2Ps, 1x3Cv and 1x2LH). Joel decided that speed was of the essence and went for six 2LH (including the commander) and six 2Ps! The Gauls were 3x3Cv (1=Gen), 8x3Wb and 1x2Ps) and the Romans and Spanish were as per the book.

I reasoned that I was unlikely to get a cavalry advantage with a cavalry general and a foot general was less likely to get in trouble. He would also give the bulk of my army more oomph and force me to attempt to win with the spear, rather than try to ignore them and their psiloi support and win with the rest. It was an approach that received some comment from other players. At worst, I hoped the sight of a general in the midst of those tasty spear would provoke the warbands and elephants to do something rash and allow my higher factors to prevail over their QKs!

I was the defender in this battle, a situation I maintained (everyone want to have a piece of Sicily!). This was even though we all had aggression 0 for the purpose of the campaign. I placed only one wood and a pair of gentle hills, but Andy kindly got the wood in the centre of my battleline. I decided to deploy on one side of it and the Carthaginians lined up opposite me.

Initial Deployments: Syracusans facing the Carthaginians.

No inspiration came to me for swapping elements, so we started to advance on each other. I expanded my line, and the crafty Carthaginian wheeled to endanger my cavalry, who risked being recoiled off the edge of the world by his general.

However, first blood went to me on the open wing, where I sent in the Gauls, Spanish and Tarantines (dressed as Numidians!). The Gauls put the Libyan skirmishers to flight and the Spanish doubled their fellow countrymen, while the heavily disguised Tarantines recoiled the Numidians.

Go Spanish! Opportunities are created on the open wing.

Nevertheless, the Carthaginians got to make contact, which was less than ideal, but given their greater mobility always likely to happen unless they rolled a 1 when within 200 paces of me. Despite this, I weathered this storm, although a spear fell to the Gauls. I was then able to overlap the Gauls with the valiant Spanish and drive them to perdition!

Looking good at 3-1 to the Syracusans.

Then it went crazy; my misdressed Tarantines routed the bemused Numidians and I had enough to win, but the elephants creamed my spear, taking out the general, another spear and the psiloi support. It was now 4G-4 to the Carthaginians and my turn!

The elephants make a big ugly hole in the Syracusan line!

Fortunately the Spanish continued to excel and with 4 PIPs they were able to charge an elephant with spear support and rout it. A narrow victory, won by mercenary valour!

The Spanish had a hand in four of the five kills—outstanding!

Meanwhile, reports reached us that the Romans had defeated some Gauls, despite the Gallic psiloi destroying an element of Roman cavalry. 4-2 to the Romans.

Initial Deployments: (Blurry) Romans facing the Gauls.

The battle with the Numidians was still underway.

Initial Deployments: Numidians facing the Spanish.

The Spanish were on the ropes, three down, but at this point, they obviously finished their siesta and demolished four of the Numidians to win; most of these were psiloi killed by their general, who was more than once flanked by the pesky blighters, but ended up swatting three of them. In fact, the last combat was 2-2 for the game, and it went the Spanish general’s way.

The Spanish general shrugs off swarms of psiloi!

The Carthaginian side had been whitewashed, though two were very close affairs.

  • Round 2: the whitewash continues!

Next it was the turn of the Numidians to visit Sicily. I saw no benefit to giving them terrain to play in and lined up my spear to meet them.

Initial Deployments: Syracusans facing the Carthaginians.

After seeing how the Numidians had deployed, I thought better of contesting the woods, and swapped the mounted over to that flank.

Initial Deployments: after the swaps.

I opted to steamroller down the field with my slow-moving foot to leave the Numidians less room to play in. This was a strategy aided by cripplingly low PIPs on their part and redoubtable defence by two elements of hoplites that didn’t deign to flinch before mere skirmishers, even when overlapped. For all that, things didn’t start well, as the Spanish, heroes of the last battle, made an early departure. At this point, the Numidians had control of the woods and the freedom to turn my flank. My mounted were off repelling an attack on the camp. However, despite all the numbers they brought to bear, the two elements of hoplites they turned to face just kept on recoiling or fleeing the skirmishers.

Attempts to dislodge that unsupported element of hoplites only got them angry!

At the same time my cavalry were slowly driving an attempt on my camp off the table.

At this point it all started to look quite easy, as the Numidians didn’t have the PIPs to trouble me. The cavalry took out a lone psiloi (or two) and the foot just kept trundling down the field. It was all Joel could do to slide one light horse a turn out to the side. One, however, didn’t get away in time, and was chased off the table, giving me a surprising victory.

Victory to the Syracusans; in the centre the Numidians must have finally got one of those redoubtable hoplite elements whose steadfastness gave me the game.

Again, the Romans had wrapped it up very fast, and we learned it was a 4-0 victory to them.

Initial Deployments: Carthaginians facing Romans.

As for the Spanish, they again waited until they were 0-3 before getting serious, and then in a twinkling they made it 4-3!

Initial Deployments: (Blurry) Gauls facing the Spanish.

The Carthaginian confederation was handed their butts on a plate again, and there were rumblings of discontent about their leadership.

  • Round 3: the Carthaginians are deposed!

Feeling very confident I faced off against the Gauls. After dealing to light horse and elephants, I was confident I wouldn’t be troubled by some naked barbarian warbands. Again we had to deal with unwelcome foreign holidaymakers on our beautiful shores, and again I put down a minimum of terrain.

Initial Deployments: Syracusans facing the Gauls.

As the battle developed I attacked the Gallic psiloi with my Spanish, but they were not able to regain their mojo from the first battle and only recoiled them. We also attacked their cavalry, getting two recoils, but then the Gauls hurtled into contact, scorning overlaps. We held up pretty well, losing only one element of spear that lacked psiloi support.

After the Gallic charge.

There was a round or two of tense encounters until I had my big chance, I had double overlaps on a warband, 5-2 to me … and he 6-1ed me. I should have known; in my experience warbands love to have their backs against the wall! That destroyed my psiloi support and it was all getting too horrible.

The dreaded 6-1!

Although we held our own in the cavalry encounter, the warband shredded us, and we lost another two spear to them, including the general! 5G-0 to the Gauls.

All over, rampant Gauls.

The dice went Mike’s way in the combat that mattered, but he’d effectively made my longer left flank ineffective, so it was a well executed victory.

Meanwhile, not caught on film were two more victories; the Romans were 3G-2 to the Numidians, catching their general, and the Spanish, showing more alacrity this time, were 4-2 to the Carthaginians.

  • Round 4: Master of the Mediterranean.

Over lunch the Carthaginians yielded control of their faction to the Gauls. In fact, with heavier losses than the Numidians, they dropped to the bottom of their faction. With the only loss, I was clearly the loser of our faction. The Spanish, with their habit of waiting until they were three down before getting serious were second, and the Romans retained their supremacy.

The Romans decided that the Gallic upstarts needed to be put in their place, and led us into Gaul to do this. They had a reinforced command (two extra 3Cv), and I lost two elements of 4Sp, but kept my foot general. The Carthaginians dispensed with their Gallic mercenaries, and the Gauls took more 3Cv. The battlefield had two woods on each flank and some gentle hills in the rear. The table was 6’x4′, so we started 9″ in compensate (that should have been 12″, perhaps).

Initial Deployments: Gallic Empire on the left, Roman on the right.

After seeing where the Gauls placed their camps we decided to meet them repeating the match-ups of the last rounds. John was somewhat dubious of the wisdom of my facing the Gauls again, but I suggested that his cavalry was better able to stop the Numidians than anything I had, and if he formed up close to me, I could rely on his blades for support. I joked that this was the Cannae stratagem; I had the weak centre that would suck the Gauls forward while our wing closed in on them.

The Romans had to deal with greater numbers of Numidian light horse (5) with three cavalry, and it got bloody. Eventually, however, his superior factors prevailed and the Numidians broke. Meanwhile, the Carthaginians were attacking the Spanish auxilia; they had better odds generally, but they were not able to find an attractive target for those elephants.

In the centre I’d formed up with a narrow frontage to face the Gauls. Just before contact I thought my light horse would be better to face them than single-ranked warbands; however, the light horse, unnerved at such brazen nakedness, fled. Not a good start; fortunately the spear held firm and flung back the warbands. In fact, they took two of them out on the left end of the line, as the Carthaginian elephant wasn’t able to get close enough to prevent an overlap.

Despite those Tarantines, the Gauls are repelled with heavy losses!

In my turn I think I only had a few PIPs, but was able to get the Romans to attack the Gallic cavalry opposite mine. Mine were then free to attack some Gallic foot; at 3-0 on these rash overlapped fools, they ought to have done some damage, but instead only got a recoil (or was I actually recoiled?).

While a cavalry battle is fought near the trees on the right flank, the Syracusans stand firm in the centre.

Fortunately the Gauls were now engaged with their cavalry against the Roman legions, and didn’t have the PIPs to contact my spear. On the downside, I had only one PIP and could only attack with my cavalry again, this time with success. The Gauls were now 3 down, though I lost a spear to one of their warbands (but had a reserve behind it!).

Action photo! One Gaul falls to the Syracusan cavalry.

Victory came to my general, who redeemed himself for the last battle, when he broke the two warbands opposite him, demoralizing the enemy C-in-C’s command.

After having his bodyguard routed in two of the previous battle, the Syracusan general, not afraid to return from a battle without his shield, finally secures victory for his Roman masters.

When the Gallic warbands fled, the rest of their alliance turned tail. Soon, they were sending ambassadors to sue for peace with the Romans. The Syracusans, despite playing an important part in the Roman victory, could look forward to being sacked by paranoid Romans at a future date if they should appear too powerful, but such is life!

The battlefield at the end. The Numidians had been in flight for one turn when the Gauls broke.

This battle brought to a close a very enjoyable day. The Syracusans remained frustrated in their dreams of empire, but being Greek, of sorts, could count on better historians (as Sallust famously admitted) than the Romans, and secure a victory in words, at least, over their masters! The success of the IWC-bound DBA players I took as a good omen for us at that competition! It was interesting that, like at NatCon, one side was markedly more successful than the other; this time, by contrast, the armies were more different to each other. Anyway, I’m already planning future events on this model. Thanks to all who took part, and Andrew, in particular, for providing the figures.

See also the reports at Steve and John’s blogs for reports and more pictures:

http://smallsagas.wordpress.com//

http://nikephorous.com/blog//

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3 Responses to “2nd Punic War Day at AWC”

  1. Mark Davies Says:

    Oops! Just realized that both the Carthaginians and the Syracusans should have been littoral for terrain. We were all arable. Think of all the chances to shoot myself in the foot I missed out on!

    Also, had I swapped two spear from the left wing with the mounted against the Gauls, I might have had a much better chance!

  2. John Says:

    A good day indeed. Hats off to Joel for taking a tough army – and one he was particularly unfamiliar with. He played it extremely well – and like Andrew with his Carthaginians – was abandoned by the dice gods on the day.

    • Mark Davies Says:

      Yes, I think on the balance the other side had the harder armies to use. I know from experience that the Carthaginians are hard work, and the Gauls (and the Numidians pretty much) are very one-dimensional.


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