Yesterday I had a game of DBA with Ieuan, the first in a while. He went Seleucids, and I went Polybian Romans. It was over very quickly when I rolled two 1’s in combat first up and got shredded by his pikes and cataphracts. No pictures of this battle!

Today I caught up with an old friend, Craig,  over from Brisbane, part of the Kiwi diaspora. We decided to have a game of DBA. He went Seleucids, and I decided to try the Cathaginians against them. At this point Ieuan decided he wanted to join in and we went for a game of Double DBA. Ieuan took Galatians as allies to the Seleucids and the Carthaginians took some Spanish allies. The Carthaginians were the defenders, but I was pretty sure this was a Carthaginian invasion of Asia Minor after a successful war over the Romans. They had the support of Spanish allies, while the Galatians and Seleucids attempted to repel them. We could have gone for a later Seleucid army, but decided to choose the army that gave the Galatians a SCh. This meant the Seleucids had the ‘b’ list and no SCh (until I buy and paint another one!), but two 4Ax and a 4Wb as their options. The Carthaginians went for two elephants and three psiloi (as all their Gauls were in use!)

The Seleucids and Galatians rush towards the Carthaginians and Spanish a few turns into the game.

The Carthaginians got modest PIPs through most of the game, and they saw their opponents bear down on them very fast.

The whole battlefield from the Carthaginian perspective.

The Seleucids secure their wing with Thorakitai and Thureophoroi in the marsh.

While the Carthaginian elephants go looking for warbands to terrorize a gremlin gets into the photo.

While the Galatians rush forward, the Spanish struggle to get out of line while exiting the wood.

Carthaginian elephants support the Spanish against the Galatians.

The right wing was soon engaged against the Galatians and, despite the Seleucids sending the Cretan archers to support against the elephant, it soon defeated a double-ranked warband. However, on the open flank the Galatians got the better of things, and after chasing off the Spanish light horse, they proceeded to destroy two Scutarii and two Caetrati, though not before losing another warband to that elephant.

The battle hung in the balance for the Carthaginians. They needed to defeat the Galatians quickly, before the Spanish were destroyed or all fled. Fortunately for them, the Seleucid Thureophoroi lacked bite, and the Spanish on that wing repelled them twice. Meanwhile, as the Seleucids manoeuvred to attack the Carthaginian spear, the Carthaginians seized the initiative and attacked themselves. They really had no choice, as a pike block faced their psiloi support and if they waited they could expect this to be recoiled, leaving the two wings very vulnerable to the Seleucid cavalry. On the right flank they recoiled the Agema, but on the left flank, where they faced the commander and had no overlap, they did even better, routing the Seleucid commander with a 6-1! Only then did the central spear element grudgingly give ground to the pikemen.

The Seleucid commander quails before the indomitable Carthaginian spear and flees (the spear in the centre shown recoiled did this after this crucial encounter on their left).

Now each of us had a broken command; however, the Galatians faced a difficult task of facing the Carthaginian elephants. And in the end it proved too much when the elephant attacked their cavalry and got the Numidians as support. They break and with them goes the last spark of resistance in the Galatian army. Hannibal has a beachhead in Asia Minor!

As the Seleucids and Spanish flee, the Galatian horse find elephants supported by Numidians too much and this elephant, which was responsible for the rest of the Galatian loses wins the battle.

  • Review:

This was an interesting battle, and a close one, that was decided all too soon by a 6-1. The 3Kn Seleucid general has so far proven a bit wet, and had we gone for a later list, the ‘c’ one, not only would this have fitted better with a possible alternative timeline of a successful Hannibal going east, not as an exile, but as a conqueror, but the Seleucids would have had the cataphracts and camels. Furthermore, the Galatians would have had a psiloi instead of the SCh, and this would have been invaluable against elephants! We may try to refight this battle with those lists.

Seleucids in Egypt

8 April, 2011

No, they didn’t meet Ptolemy or any of his mob, but rather they ran into some New Kingdom types. I got over to the Auckland Wargames Club, which now has Thursday night meetings (evenings suit me much more than weekends during the day) and played a couple of games with Philip, who’s taking part in the DBA tournament at Natcon later this month. He hadn’t played DBA since the MEDBAG day at the North Shore Wargames Club last year.

I went with the ‘c’ list for both games, taking the 3Cm and the 4Wb for the optional elements. Philip went for the ‘b’ list of the Egyptians, which gave him a 3Wb. In the first game I was the defender and put down two modest pieces of BGo on the edges (but back enough not to interfere with deployment) and a gentle hill.

The Seleucids deployed in front of a small wood.

The Egyptians deployed on the gentle hill.

This battle got off to a fast start, with the Pharoah advancing on the left flank with archers, drawn to the two 2Ps there like a bee to honey. They shot one of them with their first shot; 1-0 to the Egyptians. I then was attacked in the centre, and lost the Agema (4Kn). 2-0 to the Egyptians. My right flank was waiting to be rolled up, but then we unveiled our secret weapon! The scythed chariot powered into the gap left by the Agema, slaughtered the psiloi-supported blade there (now 2-2). The Egyptians tried to defeat it by attacking it with an unsupported blade; no luck (now 3-2). Antigonus had only one PIP, which he used to send the chariot into the rear of some archers. This was evens, but the chariot was unstoppable, and the game ended 4-2 to the Seleucids all thanks to an inspired bit of scythed chariotry!

The final scene. The swathe cut by the chariot is in the top of the picture, as is the Pharoah, interrupted in his plan to loot the camp. We had forgotten to roll for the camels, but they only recoiled the opposing chariots.

Game One was mine owing to some good luck, as I didn’t have anything to stop the Pharoah. However, Philip may have forgotten about command and control issues a little on his right flank too. All the same, the Egyptians got a lesson in what you do with ‘real’ chariots!

The two sides face off along the banks of the Nile.

For the second game we decided to alternate rolls and make Philip defender. He put down a waterway, a marsh and a wood. I got the edge I wanted, Philip didn’t go for a littoral landing, and I deployed on the far side of the wood in my deployment zone.

The Seleucids.

The Egyptians.

I got very low PIPs for quite a bit of the start of this game, and was slow to advance the Elephant; instead I took the Galatians and some psiloi into the marsh. Unlike the quick first game, this one was much more protracted. Things stalled for a while on the left flank, as the elephant didn’t have the PIPs to move. Eventually we came to blows there. This time the scythed chariot had no puff and the elephant went down to psiloi-supported blades. In the centre, my pike and general were having a hard time against archers (one pike element lost to shooting). I was up on factors, but not getting the doubles. Infuriatingly (from my perspective), a bow element shrugged off an attack by pikes with a warband overlap three times! By contrast in the centre the Agema couldn’t see off psiloi at 2-2 odds and went down straight away when flanked! Meanwhile, the Pharoah had been locked in combat with a pike for four combats, all sticks, and then I doubled him—hooray—only to be reminded he just fled!

It was balanced at 3-3 on the last turn; at great effort I’d destroyed two bow and the warband, but had lost the elephant, the Agema and a pike (and the scythed chariot). On the last turn Philip destroyed a psiloi (that I should have withdrawn) and a pike to take the game 5-3. It was a fun game and a deserved win by Philip, who broke up the battle lines to his advantage (there was only one ‘group’ on either side at the end of the game). Also I didn’t get the most advantageous match-ups: his blade avoided my cataphracts, and his chariots my camels. Good fun, and I’m keen to get to the AWC again soon for a similar evening.

At game's end. Note the sole 'group' in the marsh.

  • Review:

I’ve had a few games with the Seleucids now, but I’m still getting used to them. In particular, I may want to find ways to deploy the mounted that gives them more options. In the first game the scythed chariot in reserve worked well, but in the second my deployment of the cataphracts kept them from being terribly effective, or mobile. Also, where they were deployed, the pikes might just as well have been in single rank, as they didn’t get the back rank bonus against 2/3rds of the Egyptian army. Still learning how to use pike (and elephants, and …).

Seleucus v. Lysimachus

6 April, 2011

Joel got around for the first time this year, and he brought his Lysimachids. I opted for the Seleucids, and decided to take the ‘b’ list as it’s only 2 years out from being a historical opponent to Lysimachus. Indeed, this could be a battle from the final campaign of Seleucus against his old comrade and some-time ally Lysimachus. Seleucus was the aggressor, which was not a good thing (we rolled 3 times before we didn’t get a tie). Lysimachus wisely went for BGo for his Thracians. Seleucus got the edge he wanted, more or less, but it was a crowded field.

Initial deployment; Seleucus faces Lysimachus between two steep hills.

Seleucus' force with the Galatians and psiloi hidden behind a tree.

In the initial moves the Thracians swarmed over the hill on Seleucus’ left flank, while the rest of the army waited. Seleucus eventual decided to attack in the centre, even though he couldn’t really support his left flank. He did this partly to pull off one of the Thracian 3Ax, which would be brought off the BGo into the open. The SCh did this and recoiled the 3Ax into the BGo. In the centre he pushed back the central pike block, giving 5-5 odds to the one on the left, which also pushed back Lysimachus’ other block, but the elephant 3-3 against spear got a stick.

The wily Thessalian then turned the flank of the Seleucid pikes with his companion cavalry. All went to plan. The front rank of pike were recoiled into the rear element which in turn fell to Lysimachus. On the other flank the elephant at 2-4 rolled a 1 and was doubled. Seleucus was now 3 down. However, the SCh won and recoiled the Thracians into their companions.

Seleucus lost his bottle with only one PIP, which he used to send the SCh into Lysimachus. This was evens (we took it as a stick, but of course it was goodbye chariot!).

On the final turn Lysimachus flanked the Seleucid Thorakitai and it was all over (actually, had we realized the SCh was gone, it would have been worse—that combat was another stick!—but Lysimachus would have been free to attack another rear-rank pike element.)

  • Review

I had a challenge once Joel got to set terrain, but it was a mistake to attack the way I did. I was wanting to create room for the SCh, but I could have waited and attacked on the right flank, trying to get the Thracians on the hill with the Galatians and a psiloi. However, patience is something I’m yet to learn!

It was great to finally get to see Joel again and see his new Lysimachids, which are not a bad army against other successors, particularly if they can set the terrain, but even otherwise, all those auxilia largely neutralize the elephant and scythed chariot.

I tried a reserve, partly because the terrain made the front so narrow, but the deep base of the SCh was something I’d not quite bargained on!

Last Sunday I caught up with John and I got to give the newly finished Seleucids a run. It started off as last time with me as the defender, and I laid out similar minimalist terrain, and then used my swaps to get my elephant and chariot away from the Roman auxilia.

The Seleucid deployment.

The Patrician Roman deployment.

John’s PIPs were abysmal and I got to occupy the gentle hill in the middle (I’d decided to pull one 2Ps across to the left flank to support the other one against the Roman light horse). When John rolled yet another 1 PIP, I decided to attack on the left flank. My elephant needed to recoil his light horse, but went better and doubled it. My camels, now one up, recoiled the opposing knights, and then on the other flank, at 2-1 my psiloi recoiled his light horse. My scythed chariot was now at 4-2 on his knight, but rolled 2-5 and was destroyed.

After the left flank makes contact.

This left things somewhat in the balance. But with John getting yet another 1 PIP (he retired his overlapped knight) I had time to attack again, this time on the right flank. However, my attempt to get his commander at 5-2 failed, as one pike block recoiled the opposing blades, but the other didn’t. The cataphracts on the right wing, at 1-3, were lucky to survive.

John then got 5 PIPs and wrapped up my Galatians with his warbands and took out a psiloi with a knight. However, the light horse against the other psiloi was recoiled into the steep hill. I didn’t hesitate to follow up with the victorious psiloi, and when the LH rolled a 1, its fate was sealed. In the middle I managed to double a blade with my pike, but the combat between the generals was not decisive.

I was now 3-2 up (as the SCh doesn’t count). However, John got 6 PIPs and attacked my cataphracts from the rear with his warband. They were uphill and I would recoil into his auxilia, so it was a 4-3 to him and a QK either way. He also attacked my camels on the side with his knights; no room for them to recoil either. The cataphracts held firm, the camels went down and the generals fenced indecisively. Game to the Seleucids with a fair bit of luck to make it happen.

The battle's end. The elephant had not moved since the lines met!

  • Review:

I’m beginning to wonder about having everything in the battleline. I think the general and even the SCh might be better as reserves, but I’d need to look at how to support the shorter line on at least one flank.

This battle shows that the Seleucids might look very strong, but they can be pretty brittle. Nevertheless, great finally to see them in action.

Seleucid Bedouin Camelry.

The Bedouin camelry for the Seleucid ‘c’ list is now complete. As I said in the last post, these are Gladiator figures, actually for an Early Achaemenid army. I did not find a manufacturer for the illustration #59 in Duncan Head’s AMPW.

From the other side.

This element allows me to field all the options for that list (though some of the figures are still borrowed from the Later Macedonians).

From behind.

The camelry were not a regular part of the Seleucid army; they were a once-off novelty that failed at Magnesia (more I suspect due to the suspect loyalties of the troops than any problem with the troop type); They were only used about once by the Achaemenid Persians also. However, in DBA they provide an element that makes them a first choice over their alternatives (a 3Cv or a 3Ax). They offer speed and strength against mounted troops, and the speed is particularly valuable, as the army is fairly slow.

The three options for II/19c: Kappadokian or Thracian auxilia (here Illyrians), Bedouin camelry or cavalry (Galatian mercenaries).

The rest of the army has virtually no options: 2x4Kn (1=cmd), 1xEl, 1xSch, 4x4Pk and 2x2Ps. Of these the commander could also be a 3Kn. The only option is for a 4Wb or another 2Ps. The Wb seems slightly more useful.

The compulsory elements for II/19c.

The other options for II/19c.

The army has the greatest set of options of any of the Seleucid armies, particularly of ‘novelty’ troop types. It’s a bit weak on BGo troops, but should scare most opponents in GGo. I’m sure I’m going to enjoy using them, as much for the visual appeal: pikes, the armour on the elephant, cataphracts and scythed chariot, and now some camels!

The Seleucids from II/19c arrayed.

Camel progress

2 April, 2011

Three Wise Men, or something similar! In the background I've made a start on two elements of 3Ax (Freikorp Thracians and CB Kappadokians) and one of 2Ps (Freikorp Asiatic Javelimen).

I’ve got the 3Cm element for the Seleucids nearly finished. It’s painted and just waiting to be based and given a wash. These are Gladiator figures. They’re really for an Early Achaemenid Persian army, but I couldn’t find any 15mm camel troops for the Seleucids and decided these would be close enough. I’ve glued the figures onto the camels with Araldite 2-part epoxy. I’ve not used this much before, but I think I may use it more for gluing figures to their mounts, as it has more strength than superglue and more bulk, so it fills gaps made where there’s not a good contact between the figure and his mount.