Last week Steve got to try out my Seleucids. With their kitchen-sink array of troop types they are hard to resist. However, he did leave the camels behind, opting for 3Cv. I went Polybians, a historical opponent, but also a topical one, as there was a feeling among some of those who played DBA at the club the weekend before that blade armies are too strong.

The Polybians were the attacker and succeeded in getting the terrain where it did no real good. I advanced off a gentle hill and Steve advanced out between two woods. Steve was very cautious in his advance, and I was reluctant to rush into combat, as few of the match-ups were outstanding. I ended up risking splitting my line to extend to the right to get an overlap on his cavlry and psiloi on that end. I had a 3Cv and three blades with a psiloi support facing two blocks of pike, a knight and these cavalry and psiloi.

I managed to recoil the psiloi, giving 4-2 odds on the knight, but only recoiled it too. I then had 4-5 odds on the pike, and was possibly recoiled. My cavalry at 3-2 was recoiled or stuck. There was another indecisive round and I got to repeat the exercise, this time fleeing the psiloi, but unfortunately my blade bottled and rolled a 1, being swept away by the knights.

After this, I was lucky to hang in, and it’s a testament to the resilience of blade (and Steve’s poor PIP rolls). I got to destroy the Seleucid cavalry, after a round of his cavalry facing my psiloi (my useless cavalry recoiled through them as they tried to change sides).

I then managed to get the knight with my general (I forget what support he had) and that exposed some pike. His scythed chariot broke some blade and some more fell somehow, but it was 3-3 when Steve finally got his elephant into combat. My Triarii were locked in combat with his pike and holding their own (indeed, doing better than that when his rear support went!). His knight general destroyed another blade, but my blade got his warband and then his pike fell to my Triarii, giving me a 5-4 victory.

It was very late when we finished, a long game, and Steve could claim victory when his chariot fled a psiloi a millimetre over the edge, but he said it wasn’t a good way to finish and we kept going. On the last turn if he’d kept the warband out of combat (just used it to block ZOC) and done likewise with the pike he would have won.

Poor PIPs allowed me to fight the battle on one wing; I suspect Steve might have been able to sweep me away in the centre or the other wing with more PIPs, so I was fairly lucky, but my aggression on the right wing did tie up what PIPs he got, making this difficult.

Blade are tough, even against all the Seleucid elements that can QK them. However, it was the success of the Triarii against the pike that got me thinking. Spear against pike may not be so hopeless after all; they just need to get into the back rank! After that the odds are 4-3. Now, if I can just find an answer for spear against blade …

Steve and I got a game of SBH last week. It was Steve’s first pretty much (there was one over two years ago) and my first for a year. I have the feeling that playing with warbands that have high factors makes for a less interesting game and also limits the potential for development: before the system breaks down one can’t go below Quality 2+ (the lowest possible) or Combat 5. If you start with Q3/C4 there’s not much room to improve. I noticed that SDS (Song of Drums and Shakos) goes for much more humdrum line figures Q4/C2. I’m working to set a lower baseline to see how things play. Therefore I scaled back the factors of my dwarven warband, making only Beli and his lieutenant C4 and the rest C3. They were up against a warband of Scots led by Duncan, none of whom had factors above C3 or below Q3. I took the dwarves and we faced off in an encounter.

Beli's band approach the humans.

The humans up close. Duncan on the left and his warriors on the right. At the back is a wizard, the standard-bearer and an archer.

The dwarves; on the left are the two crossbow shooters and their dog, on the right is a cluster of fighters.

The dwarves gained an impressive victory when Steve rolled a run of 1s at the start. Although he killed a couple, he was so out-numbered after the bad start he never had a chance. In hindsight I think he might have found the dwarves easier. The magic user was never able to do much, and he got a little spread out at the start. The slower move of the dwarves makes for more cautious movement and their crossbows are simpler to use.

One memorable incident was when the dwarven dog, Gifr, went after a fallen Scot and killed him. He fell to worrying the corpse (he’s Greedy), but was untroubled by a longbow shaft that by rights had every likelihood of killing him.

I’m keen to get a few more games soon, and to try even lower stats, particularly higher (i.e worse) Quality factors.

A variety of games

29 June, 2011

In the last few weeks with my brother visiting from London and Steve over from Melbourne, I’ve been able to do quite a bit of gaming. With Chris, I’ve played Twilight Struggle, a two-player game of the Cold War. We made a lot of mistakes as we played, which comes from Chris’s having played with a more experienced player in the past and my not having read the rules. However, we figured out where we went wrong and will know better next time! It plays very well, with a clean card-driven system.

We’ve also had a game of Hammer of the Scots, but made even more mistakes and hope to get a game of it tomorrow with a better grasp of the rules. It’s a campaign for control of Scotland during the reign of Edward I of England. It’s likely to be a good deal bloodier next time around!

With Steve we played a couple of three-player games; Seven Wonders is a really nifty civilization-building game that plays very quickly, but is a good deal of fun. Elasund involves developing one’s power in a city set in the world of Catan. It has a Viking feel to the artwork and provides good scope for sabotaging one’s opponents.

With Steve, besides the DBA day at the AWC, I got in a game of SBH (Song of Blades and Heroes) and another game of DBA. I’ll post battle reports soon.

Finally, with the kids and Chris I’ve had a game of Ticket to Ride, railway building in Europe, and Bohnanza, a beanfarming trading game. These are fun games with more strategy than a lot the family board games I grew up with.

A possible Syracusan army

I’ve finally got the last batch of figures finished. It represents quite a haul for me. It’s so long since the last lot that I found the camera’s battery was flat!

Asiatic skirmishers, Later Thracians and Kappadokians.

First of all some more Seleucid figures are done. These are some Kappadokian 3Ax (Corvus Belli) and some Asiatic 2Ps (Freikorp). I also darkened the hide of the elephant, but forgot to photo it. In addition, I’ve done one element of Thracians (Frekorp) that the Later Macedonians could use instead of Illyrians.

Cretan archers and Rhodian slingers for the Marian Romans.

Then I rebased some of the Romans I won in auction last month. I changed their flesh tone to make them match my figures more closely. They are the two 2Ps elements the Marian Romans can field. I’ve tried to copy the shield patterns of the legionaries, but I’ve not quite got them the way I want; more practice needed!

Finally, I now have a Syracusan army that can take the field. If I went for no 3Cv I’ve got it all done. Or I can use some Carthaginians for the 3Cv. The 3Cv, and some 3Kn Xystophoroi, are my next project. They are prepped. The Army Page has been updated.

The Syracusan Hoplites.

The figures that I’ve completed are the 4Sp. These are Essex figures with Freikorp shields and Xyston spears. I like the way they look and I’ve got two more packs of these figures. I noticed that these newer ones have more definition on the faces, so would be good to paint.

The Syracusan artillery.

The other element is an Art. This is an Essex model. I didn’t realize I’d get two in a pack, so I’ve got quite a few now! I’m glad they had a photo of a painted model, as I was trying to put it together wrong! I’m hoping it will scare of enemy elephants!

Another angle.

The rest of the army, the auxilia, psiloi and warband, are all done; they are either generic Hellenistic elements or Gallic or Spanish mercenaries. After the 3Cv are done I’ll work on the Syracusan’s own camp (I’m awaiting figures from Donnington for it).

Yesterday I got along to a 28mm DBA day at the Auckland Wargames Club. It had been proposed by Jerome, who on the day asked me to organize things. As we had no map and no theme—the armies were what people chose to bring—I went for what I could remember of the system described by Chris Brantley on Fanaticus:

We went for random rounds that led to the loser becoming the winner’s vassal. After three rounds there were two equal factions and we decided the winner with a game of BBDBA.

The participants were:

Andrew: Sea-Peoples (I/28)
Alistair: Spartans (II/5a)
Mark: Gauls (II/11)
Steve: Marians (II/49)
John: Marians (II/49)
Jerome: Early Franks (II/72d)
Mike: Vikings (III/40b)
Richard: Ghaznavids (III/63b)

This made for a preponderance of blade armies, making my Gauls a better choice than I’d thought. I’ll only describe my games, except to say all the games came to a result apart from one in the first round between John and Andrew; they started late and their blade were only bouncing each other back when we called time.

In the first round I faced Jerome, who’d not played DBA before. Our armies were fairly similar, except my Gauls had more cavalry. Jerome stayed in a big wood initially, and when he started to move, he didn’t have enough PIPs to get fully out of it. I hoped to contact his general with my cavalry and overwhelm him, but I ended up making contact with my warband on his, and owing to the effects of pursuit it soon developed that I had the edge, as I could get rear-rank support when he was still in BGo. I lost my psiloi on one flank, but got a 6-1 on a double-rank Wb and from there the advantage stayed with me.

The final situation against the Franks.

My second game was against Ghaznavids; it was a match-up I didn’t expect to do too well at, as my Warband would not like his two elephants. However, Richard, had not played DBA since version 1 and didn’t know about the second move of warbands. I was blessed with a plenitude of PIPs at the right time and was able to get warbands into his spear. On the first round my cavalry bounced off his, but on the second I got a pair of warbands against the spear next to his elephant general and a psiloi onto the general. The dice smiled on me; both his spear fell to my warbands and then my psiloi rolled 5-2 on his general for a surprise victory. Richard would not have allowed me to get so close if he’d known about warbands’ charge move.

Warbands triumph over elephants.

For the third round I had the victors meet. I faced Sea People and didn’t get the table edge I’d hoped for. The Sea People deployed between two hills. I ended up losing as I got dragged into fighting in the centre rather than waiting to win on my right flank. This happened as I tried to provide overlap support on the right flank, which drew my cavalry forward to provide it. My one attack on the right flank (which took 4 PIPs to coordinate) was repulsed without success. In the centre my general was double overlapped and rolled a 1, silly chap!

The Gallic general cops out, and it's all over against the Sea People.

At the end of this round Andrew commanded me and Alistair, who had defeated Richard: one elephant recoiled into the other, oh dear! Richard had a point that this was a consequence of the depth of 28mm elephants. What happened was one elephant was recoiled then attacked in it flank. It turned to face, and coward that it was, recoiled again into the other elephant. In 15mm it would have recoiled behind the other elephant. The Spartan camp was a rhino being led away in chains; now they could use an elephant, or at least bits of one!

John faced Steve, and the resolution of this Roman Civil War was that Steve was his vassal as was Jerome, who had defeated Mike. Mike and Alistair decided to sit out the final battle, leaving Andrew and John to attempt to bring their inconclusive opening battle to a result. This time with allies. Andrew was the aggressor, so we got to match up our armies to our advantage. Andrew faced John on the flank with BGo, I faced Steve on the more open flank and Richard’s cavalry and elephants faced Jerome’s warbands with a bit of wood in the way.

The battlelines are drawn. The Sea Peoples on hte right with the Gauls in the forefront.

From the other end of the field.

On my end of the field I was hampered by low PIPs (1s) for about 3 turns. I decided to try to get my cavalry across my front and around the Roman flank. I was very lucky to do so without getting caught. Meanwhile, the Ghaznavids had lost a light horse to warband who closed the door with their second move. He then advanced against the Romans, hoping to get the elephants at the warband. However, his cavalry were swept aside by the Romans and it was all over in the centre.

I then had great PIPs. I was able to get my general behind the Roman line to attack their psiloi, something I can’t remember ever managing before. The warband had the PIPs to double-move into overlap and combat. It was looking good. The general despatched the psiloi. The cavalry on the flank had overlap from a warband; 3-2 odds and the Romans had nowhere to recoil. They got a stick, sigh! From there it all went wrong. The next combat was no longer 4-4 odds, but 4-5 and was recoiled. The last two were doubled and the Gauls were broken. But for that second combat I might have broken the Romans and kept the game alive. It was a victory for blades; curse their tenacity! Steve’s Marians soaked up the pressure from most of two armies and came out with barely a scratch!

The final result. The Ghaznavids are in retreat and four Gallic warbands have been broken. Meanwhile at the other end of the field little has happened.

This was an enjoyable day; it had a good turn out and all the games were played in good spirit. Some of the players decided DBA wasn’t what they liked; the fast-play rules have their own quirks that need to be learnt, and there is nothing in the rules to allow for better quality troops. Thank you Jerome for proposing the day and Andrew for providing me and Steve with armies.

This is the second such event at the AWC; I hope there will be more. I may try to encourage something similar to be organized at the North Shore Club, perhaps in 15mm and with a theme. It makes for a fun day.

Hopla hoopla

19 June, 2011

Hopla all done. The rest is easy!

I’ve got the shields painted for my hoplites. The transfers were very easy to do. It was easier putting them onto shields that were already attached to the figures than to get the orientation correct afterwards.

As with the two elements that I’ve already done, I’ve gone for a certain amount of regularity: only a few shield colours and only two shield patterns per element. The shields represent the most creative part of the painting process; the rest is pretty mechanical, so it feels like I’m over halfway with them now.

When they’re done, I’ll only need to do two 3Cv, one of which will be a general, to be able to field a Syracusan army. I’ll need to paint an Art to have all the options. I already have the 3Wb (Gauls), 3Ax (Spanish) or 4Ax (Thureophoroi), 2LH (Tarantines), and 2Ps (archers, slingers or javelinmen). The two 3Cv would also allow me to field a number of Later Hoplite armies.

Marian Romans

17 June, 2011

I’ve finally received some figures I won in an auction last month. They give me a painted Marian Roman army that will need some tidying up (the pila were removed for postage!) and some more figures painted to provide all the options. It’s nicely painted, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to match the style, especially for the shields, which are hand painted.

Part of the attraction with the purchase was that it came with extra figures. They are Freikorp figures, which I quite like. There are two elephants, which are very handy, and a whole lot of Romans, mostly Early Imperial. I was hoping for some more Cretan archers (there were two painted), but no luck there.

I’ll take some pictures later. The pictures on the auction were these:
I’ve placed some orders with Essex, Donnington and Magister Militum. They are mainly for civilians to make camps, which will be one of my next projects. I’m looking forward to the Donnington figures, as I like what Luca has done with them here:… battaglia.html

Of course, like many others in the hobby, I’ve always found it easier to buy figures than to actually paint them, but we’ll see!