Conquest 2017

14 November, 2017

A few months back I decided to go to Conquest 2017. I’d not had much chance to play DBA this year and I was keen to get along, as I’d enjoyed the year before a lot. It also seemed a good motivation to get some painting done. Very kindly Keith, the organiser invited me to stay at his place for the event, something I really appreciated.

As I said in my last post, I’d chosen both my armies as a motivation to get more figures that I already had painted. However, I was rather slow getting them finished, and didn’t get much practice before the event. Fortunately, I was able to get a couple of games with Mike the Sunday before. this allowed me to try out the Normans in DBA, where they got a lucky victory against Mike’s Ottoman Turks. And it allowed my to try Pyrrhus’s army against them in BBDBA. This was invaluable, as I’d organised the army in such a way that it wouls have struggled, I’m sure, but with the suggestions of Mike, it did very well.

I’d organised the army as follows:

  • Command Wing (medium PIPs): 3 x3Kn (C-inC), 3 x LH, 4 x 4Pk, 2 x Sp, 1 x Ps
  • Centre (high PIPs): 8 x 4Pk (cmd), 3 x El, 2 x Ps
  • Holding Wing (low PIPs): 3 x Cv (cmd), 4 x Sp, 3 x 3Ax

The theory was that the elephants would help the pikes create a breakthrough in the centre (hence the high PIPs); Pyrrhus would have the next best PIPs with much of the cavalry and the Oscans with the best BGo troops would hold one wing.

Against the Ottomans the Oscans were defeated as they had no BGo to anchor on, the centre did not make much progress, and the elephants were destroyed by LH, nor did Pyrrhus. With Mike’s suggestion I rearranged them as follows:

  • Command Wing (High PIPs): 3 x3Kn (C-inC), 3 x El, 3 x LH, 2 x Sp, 2 x Ps
  • Centre (Low PIPs): 12 x 4Pk (cmd), 1 x Ps
  • Holding Wing (Medium PIPs): 3 x Cv (cmd), 4 x Sp, 3 x 3Ax

The centre was intended to be solid and just trundle forward, while I sought to win on the wings. Pyrrhus, in particular, had a potent mix of elephants, knights and light horse.

  • Friday games

On the evening I arrived I had a couple of games with Keith. I used my Normans and he used his Samurai. In the first game Keith experimented with 6Cv. My archery destroyed them with exceptional dice. As a result of this Keith changed to a CP instead, and in the second game it was his turn to see his single archer do wonders. We finished a game a piece.

  • Saturday Morning (Ancients DBA)

Pyrrhus had a dreadful morning; he died against Jim’s New Kingdom Egyptians and again against Gordon’s Seleucids. However, both of these were close games, and with a bit more care I might have won. The last game, against Keith’s Carthaginians, was more humiliating. Clearly concussed from his two earlier battles, Pyrrhus failed to roll more than 2 PIPs for the entire game. As a result he sat facing the Carthaginians until in desperation, after his camp was sacked and his cavalry wing was disintegrating that he sent his pikes in an attack against the Carthaginian foot. This failed, and the Carthaginians won a victory without any of their army breaking.

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Pyrrhus attempts to break the Carthaginian foot to no avail (though he doesn’t die this time — photo taken by Keith).

  •  Saturday Afternoon (Medievals DBA)

For the afternoon competition my Normans had Viking allies and were:

4 x 3Kn (cmd), 2 x 4Bd, 3 x 3Bw; 2 x 4Bd and 1 x 4Bw (allies).

The afternoon saw the Normans facing Brian’s Rajputs. I made the mistake of having the Rajput fort, and the BGo terrain on my baseline. I abandoned the idea of trying to take the fort, and was cramped as a result. In the end I killed the elephant C-in-C with mine, but that was on the turn that my army broke.

The second battle was against Ben’s Yi Koreans. The Koreans occupied a wood on my left flank and proceeded to chip away at my knights that milled around in range. Meanwhile on my left flank my archers advanced out of a hamlet into firing range of the Korean cavalry. Their response was to charge, which largely failed, and saw them take casualties. They came back, this time with their general, and were again defeated, giving the Normans a lucky victory. If they’d waited a turn and attacked with their general, they may have had more success (then again they’d have been shot at). Credit should go to the Viking archers, who shrugged off an extended rocket barrage by the Korean artillery.

The final battle was against Jim again. His Free Company were not too different from the Egyptians, having fast blades and archers, but knights instead of chariots. The fast blades proved deadly, getting stuck into the Vikings, who had occupied a hamlet. They destroyed them, with the support of some knights, before my archers could break up his main line of battle. After that, they were able to roll up my right flank.

Overall, I won only one game that day, and finished very near the bottom of the table. However, the points system favoured results over a draw, which is a system I think is good: 8 points for a win, 1 for a loss and 0 for a draw. Losses and draws got points for enemy destroyed too.

  • Sunday (Ancients BBDBA)

After such a bad showing on the Saturday, I didn’t approach the BBDBA with much confidence, especially as I was yet to win a game of BBDBA. My first game was against Keith’s Early Asiatic Successor army (Demetrius). I’d faced it last year with my Carthaginians. This time, however, I was the attacker, which meant I got to react to the entire deployment of Demetrius. This proved very useful, as the Oscans had the chance to avoid Demetrius’ xystophoroi and to contest a hill on the right flank.

In the centre my pike general deployed to the right of the opposing general, and on the left Pyrrhus deployed in reserve to meet the bulk of Demetrius’ elephants and knights. The advantage of deployment was complemented by favourable dice, and in the centre the pike to the right of Demetrius’ central commander was destroyed; he was soon flanked, but never flinched, and the centre remained otherwise static.

On the right, the Oscans hoplites withstood elephants and elephants successfully, and the auxilia were able to overcome opposing peltasts in order to start to threaten the cavalry general of that wing.

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The Oscans approaching Demetrius’ left flank. Their hoplites face pike and elephants thoroughly undaunted.

However, it was on the left wing that the battle was decided. Demetrius had tried to change elements to avoid his knights facing elephants, but this left a hole in his line, and Demetrius himself had had to leave the reserve to join the battleline.

In the initial clash elephants faced off; one each fled, which gave the opportunity for one of Pyrrhus’ to attack Demetrius himself. This was the decisive combat, and the elephants finished off the commander giving Pyrrhus the advantage. He continued to exploit this by eventually overcoming pikemen facing his hoplites, as well as other casualties that I don’t remember now.

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The crucial point on the left flank; elephants have fled in both directions, but one of Pyrrhus’ is able to turn on Demetrius himself.

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The same point from a different angle. The pikes facing hoplites can be seen.

Meanwhile, some of Pyrrhus’ pikemen, dressed as Persian levy pike, had been defamed by Demetrius before the battle. Proving him wrong they eventually defeated the opposing pike (with cavalry support), breaking Demetrius’ second command and giving me my first BBDBA victory.

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The beleaguered Demetrian pike general remains steadfast, but to his right his command collapses as Tarantine cavalry move up to overlap another pike block.

In the second battle I faced Brian’s Classical Indians. In this battle his fort was less dominant. However, when I looked at the terrain I considered trying to fight for the woods on my left with the Oscans. However, they would then face HCh, while the elephants of Pyrrhus’ command would be closer to his psiloi. I had the wings the other way around, which left me with only two psiloi to try to control the woods.

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Pyrrhus faces Classical Indians.

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Pyrrhus’ deployment from another angle.

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And another angle.

As the battle unfolded, the Indians attempted to redeploy radically to face my deployment, and I tried to get across the board rapidly to trap his chariots behind his elephants and his line in disarray.

The plan met a hitch when the two psiloi were quickly destroyed by opposing archers. The elephants now risked being shot at and Pyrrhus and his knights were a cautious distance to their rear. In this unfavourable situation, the elephants decided to advance. They were met by opposing elephants, including the C-in-C. The odds were not good, but the dice gods favoured them, and I 6-1ed the C-in-C, doubling him. If Brian used his +1 the damage was worse, as he still died, fleeing into a HCh. He chose to die on the spot. All but one of my elephants was quickly destroyed, but the last one hatched a devilish scheme; attacking an elephant that had fled to the baseline. The hope was to lose, as he’d flee into a sub-general! He succeeded in this low devise, and in true Pyrrhic fashion succeeded in demoralising the command!

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Just before contact. The elephants are almost in contact, while the Oscans are still a turn or two off. The game mat is one that I got on eBay from Poland. I’m pretty happy with it. The picture is another of Keith’s

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Another picture by Keith of the same point. The psiloi can still be seen in the marsh on the left flank. The central command has a couple of elements of pike in reserve to replenish the back rank of the pike block; they are struggling to keep up.

My two remaining commands were now facing two headless chicken commands and the low PIP one. We ran out of time, but it was still closely balanced, although the Oscans were starting to look dangerous. All in all a great battle with its chaotic elephant battles!

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The end of the battle with the Oscan auxilia looking dangerous. Even the camp was on the move!

For my last battle I faced Andrew’s Akkadians. I was the defender, for the first time in the competition. I deployed anchored on two patches of boggy ground. It was an interesting matchup against fast pike, and the Akkadians swept in very fast. However, the Epiriots proved too good, beating them at every point. In particular, the Akkadian horde on the hill facing the Oscans proved absolutely cowardly, and in the centre the Akkadian general, facing hoplites, was flanked and when the dice came up equal, the solid foot had the advantage and won.

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Pyrrhus facing off against the Akkadians.

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The Akkadian deployment.

However, it was Pyrrhus, in the only battle of the day he saw combat, that destroyed multiple elements. He came up into the battle line as it extended while his elephants tried to avoid facing psiloi. His inspirational leadership routed the enemy before him, and he took his second victory of the day.

This was my first victory against Andrew in a series of encounters that would have gone back to 2009, so I was pretty pleased. I suspect the unfinished bases of his troops may have demoralised them.

  • Summary

The competition was a lot of fun. All the games were played in good spirits. I learned a lot about how hamlets work and came away considering a number of projects. Perhaps one day my Norse Irish will have a Brian Boru CP, or I’ll make a CWg for some Communal Italians. Also I will have to make a hamlet.

I’d like to thank Keith for organising the competition and for having me stay. The venue, the Woolston Club, was also really pleasant. I miss anything similar, to my knowledge, up in Auckland. Finally Comics Compulsion deserve thanks for running the overall competition.

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Update after nearly a year

10 October, 2012

I’ve not had much time for gaming this year. For a while I was looking at getting into a bit of ancient naval wargaming, but moved to Adelaide before I could go further with that. I got a few games of DBA with Joel before I left and the Mithridatics had their first victory. Otherwise, I was going to try to play SBH: it’s more portable, and the community isn’t riven by disputes over rule changes, which has rather soured DBA for me. However, when I saw that Cancon would be using DBA 2.2, I thought it’d be fun to get along next year. I’m still deciding on armies; I’m tending towards Mithridatics (the last chance to use SCh while they’re fun possibly), but if I took Seleucids I could field 3Cm, who are also slated for emasculation. I have fewer options for a later army, but if I decide to take a different one from last time, it’d likely be the Pre-feudal Scots; they’re hardly dynamic, but they’re not pathetic. It’s a choice between them and the Komnenans, as I have nothing else ready.

In Adelaide I’ve played a few boardgames, particularly the new edition of A Game of Thrones, which is quite satisfying in its permutations. If I bring a few armies with me for Cancon, I may look to get in contact with DBA gamers there. I’m going to be there for another year.

While on holiday in Melbourne I’ve had a couple of games of DBA with Steve. We played Imperial Germans against Communal Italians. The Germans won decisively, but I can’t really remember how. We then played Papal Italians against Communal Italians. This time it was a victory for the commune, as their Knight general managed to destroy a Horde and a Psiloi. The Carroccio stayed firm on one flank, despite heavy pressure from the opposing spear.

Last night we tried Libyan Egyptians against Neo-Assyrians. The Neo-Assyrians were hard pressed by the Libyan archers, who recoiled them a long way back before being caught by the Assyrian cavalry. After that it was only a matter of time. The highlight for me was the Assyrian general’s charge into the Meshwesh (4Wb), who were reputed to be invincible. They died, but the general forgot about his pursuit and on the next turn the other Meshwesh turned and recoiled the general into a 3Wb; their boast of invincibility was not so empty, though by then it was too late and the rest of the army was in flight.

I had a few games of DBA in the last few months. The Syracusans had a couple of outings. At the AWC against Philip’s Muslim Indians they almost won and at the Auckland City Guard against Joel’s Lysimachids they seemed set to win when they fell apart. I then tried my Seleucids against Joel’s Marians. I tried the ‘d’ list of the Seleucids and was doing pretty well from memory before losing yet again. My last game before Conquest was against Craig, visiting from Brisbane; he took the Seleucids who cut the Carthaginians to pieces decisively in two rounds of combat. I attacked. my opening attack was intended to gain an overlap; it went one better and destroyed its opposing element. I then took a risk and attacked with my psiloi-supported spear against the SCh. My luck deserted me and lost the two elements. I was lucky to survive that round, but in Craig’s round I lost 6-1, I think!

I got to Conquest for the third time now. Next year is the tenth anniversary of the competition (not the DBA part of it), so I’d be keen to get along again. Keith very kindly put me up and we had a game of DBA the night before the competition. My Seleucids were victorious against his Graeco-Bactrians; the Scythed Chariot was unstoppable and took out three of his elements from memory.

  • Arne (II/23a Later Pre-Islamic Arabs)

At Conquest, first up the Seleucids faced Arne’s Later Pre-Islamic Arabs. This was his first time using this freshly painted army. I took the 3Ax option, but I think the 3Cm or the 3Cv would have been better. As it was these 3Ax refused to die for quite a while and I came close to winning this battle, but I think I lost 4-3.

Lining up against massed camels.

  • Andrew Taylor (I/20a Ugaritic)

My next opponent went for a lot of terrain; not quite the hills of Cappadocia of the previous year, but still pretty bad. My deployment was frankly inept and I hung on for a draw. The psiloi advance on the hill was forced to retreat after one died and advances on the right flank were forced to retreat by light troops in the woods. Eventually the SCh died after chasing some Ax up the hill and the elephant, after running into the midst of the enemy to create some room for the rest of the army, also died. I was lucky to finish with a draw.

Wallowing around in confusion in the woods and hills of Phoenicia.

  • Stephen (II/64b Middle Imperial Roman, East)

I then had a bye, my most successful outing to date, and refreshed by a longer lunch break, I faced Stephen. His Romans had beaten my Carthaginians a number of times in the past, but these were later ones, and seemed to be under some curse. After eyeing up the terrain I decided to risk the equivalent of a littoral landing by sending half my army up the road. I hoped he’d struggle to redeploy and I might get his camp. Given that I put my elephant in the front, I was lucky he didn’t causing some squashing!

The Seleucid armoured column prepares to trundle up the road.

Luck was on my side (or very much not on Stephen’s!) and I got one of his cavalry. He then started shooting at me with his archer and artillery, but I shrugged it off and recoiled his general into the camp to record my first win.

The first Roman cavalry is despatched.

The Roman general stumbles on the camp and breaks.

  • Keith (II/36a Graeco-Bactrian)

Against the Graeco-Bactrians high PIPs on the first turn lead to a charge by psiloi on the hill on the enemy’s flank. I sent all three as I wanted to outnumber his Ax. However, I then had terrible PIPs (2 a turn for ages) and could only manoeuvre these slowly as the Graeco-Bactrians advanced at speed on my main force. By the time they made contact I had only just started to catch up. So much for the psiloi peeling off his rear support! Instead I was overlapped on that flank and soon lost the pike whose own rear support was turned. Despite this I managed to kill his general and in a final combat that was at even odds I lost and was defeated 3G-4.

Psiloi on the left flank eye up the opposition hill.

Pike fail on the left flank, but the right flank sees Scythians broken by Cataphracts, though the other Scythians fend off Camels and a flanking Scythed Chariot.

Knight on knight with no room to recoil. The Scythians had been defeated, but the Seleucid agema break when attacked by the Graeco-Bactrian mounted.

  • Brian (II/3 Classical Indian)

My final battle saw Classical Indians on the defensive and wary after facing pike in a previous battle. Given bad terrain and no desire to rush across it the battle was a stalemate.

The pike might have been better more central here. Instead things became a stalemate across the swamps.

That night the Seleucids got another chance to meet the Graeco-Bactrians. On a billiard table against an all mounted army, their ‘c’ option was defeated by light horse. In the encounters between LH and Ax, Ps or Wb I didn’t roll high enough to recoil them into each other and went down without breaking any of the enemy.

All in all, it was a very enjoyable day. I didn’t play that well. I guess I’m still getting the hang of this army, which looks extremely strong, but doesn’t like bad terrain, especially as the SCh and El struggle to manoeuvre around 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:

http://www.fanaticus.org/discussion/

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.

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 …).

For the first day of the IWC I used my Later Carthaginians, generally with both elephants and all the warbands.

  • Luke’s Ptolemaic

The opening game saw me with a waterway to my rear and Luke attempting a littoral landing with a Kn and a Ax. I destroyed this with an elephant and some Wb, but I eventually lost 4-3 as I advanced my spear too far in the centre while this was happening. Before my victorious flank could do anything, the centre was defeated in detail by pike.

The tendency to be in too much of a hurry was a feature in this game and in most of my games; not surprisingly, they usually came to a result well within time!

  • Greg’s Polybians

Next up I faced my own Polybians, loaned to Greg, as his armies were trapped in a Christchurch hotel. I deployed my spear in a column on a road. These were able to road march up to his Triarii on his left flank. However, in the centre my elephant was not able to make things happen and I lost my general for a 3G-1 defeat.

  • Keiran’s Polybians

Then there were more Polybians. Keiran was new to the game and up from Christchurch for a break. I gave him a fair bit of advice. I had some early success when I destroyed his Triarii in the centre with double-ranked spear (who doubled the one opposite, setting up 4-3 odds with double-ranked Wb next to them. However, I was unable to exploit this success. My elephants on the right flank did little, and I moved my LH too far in a flanking move (I didn’t calculate where he’d be after his advance!). Meanwhile on my other flank his cavalry savaged my psiloi-supported auxilia, who could really only hope to buy time. This was a 4-2 defeat.

The Triarii in the centre may have been a distraction; they stretched my line further than I want it to. As I see it, against Polybians Carthaginians have to try to win on one flank and attempt to delay or avoid contact on the other.

  • Stephen’s Early Imperial Romans

After lunch I faced Stephen Malone’s Early Imperial Romans. Last year these armies had met and I had to confess at the time I had no plan. This time I was more confident. However, Stephen proved as wily as before, and I showed I’d not learned too much. He advanced his cavalry, encouraging me to go after them with my elephants, only to retire the cavalry to allow his artillery to have a shot at the exposed pachyderms. One was soon a casualty. Against the other he had a lot of fun attacking it with his cavalry general and seeking to get it to back over some warband that had advanced in its support. He soon had the two warband destroyed, one bouncing into the elephant, the other being trod on. However, my general,supported by the Numidians, advanced across the field and attacked some psiloi-supported auxilia, which they destroyed. The elephant attacked a cavalry and it was now 3-3. Unfortunately that brought it into range of the artillery, if I remember correctly, and it was all over with a well-deserved victory to Stephen.

I picked up the tip that retreating was often a valid tactic, and promised not to be suckered by it again!

  • Stephen’s Lydians

Next up was a battle with Stephen’s Lydians, described here. Just as Stephen was frustrated by my warband’s refusal to die when it pursued into double overlap, and my Numidians scorn of his light horse, I was delighted by their display. It allowed my spear to shine. I thought they’d got his general, only to remember they’d only fled him; despite this, the combination of cavalry and spear proved too much for his auxilia and I got my first win.

  • Connor’s Polybians

My last game of the day was Polybians again; this time I got their measure. I got Connor’s general and three others for a 4G-0 victory. I think Connor, the youngest competitor, was getting a little tired, and he missed a few opportunities to get back at me, but after losing to Polybians twice already that day, I wasn’t feeling inclined to point these out to him.

All in all, despite the poor results, I had an enjoyable day, and felt I was in with a chance in each battle, particularly if I hadn’t been in such a hurry!

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).