Somewhat delayed, here’s the report of my five battles at the Christchurch Wargaming Club’s DBA Competition. Sunday 18 July was the first half of this competition; it was for armies before AD 450. This was the competition that I’d been preparing for with the Carthaginians. It’s also has the same format as the DBA competition at the IWC next year, so I could see it as practice for that. The standings at the end of the day are available at Across The Table. As you can see I came near the bottom with three draws, a loss and a victory, and that victory with the last dice roll of the competition!

It’s now over a week since these games; I have a few photos of them, but not a complete record, though an improvement on my previous competition, where I took no photos. I didn’t keep a record of elements killed for each of the games, so the reports will be somewhat short on detail.

  • Game 1: Eastern Patrician Romans, II/83b (Dave Batchelor)

Dave and I have been asked to be umpires at the IWC competition next year, so it was fitting we should square off at the start here. We were umpires at this competition; not that anything tricky came up.

I was the defender and deployed the waterway and a marsh and a wood, leaving an open centre for a faster result, especially as Dave had auxilia and warband who liked BGo. However, Dave got the waterway behind me and the marsh in his centre, which was not what I’d hoped for. I’d taken two elephants and two warbands. When I saw where Dave had put his knights, I swapped my warbands for the elephants.

Initial Deployments against Patrician Romans.

Dave played a defensive game, and by the end of it, when we ran out of time, I had a couple of his elements and he had at least one of mine. I had the edge on the left flank, and had been hoping to get his 3Cv general with my elephant: two rounds at 5-2 when he was double overlapped only got me pushbacks. However, facing the marsh Dave had the edge. I like to think that when time was called I had the advantage.

Midgame; I'd advanced across most of the board to get at the Patsies.

  • Game 2: Ariarathid Kappadokian, II/14 (Andrew Taylor)

My next game was against Andrew Taylor, who I’ve now played three times. He had a fantastic looking army, which had matching terrain; the cliffsides of Cappadocia complete with cave dwellings. He’d made them out of egg cartons, and they really looked great.

Against this army I opted to take only one elephant and no warbands. That gave me an extra 3Cv and four 2Ps. I didn’t fancy facing this army on it own ground, but with my aggression of 3, that’s what happened. Andrew loaded the table with hills and woods.

Initial Deployment against Ariarathid Kappadokians.

In response to his deployment I put a spear and psiloi on the left flank to block his cavalry and two psiloi on the right flank with the plan that if I got enough PIPs in the first turn I’d zip them across to the other side and hem him in. I got to do this, but it backfired on me. Not only did those two psiloi run into trouble, but it trapped him in the BGo where my cavalry couldn’t get at him. With hindsight it would have been far better to let him out into the centre of the table where I could have used my mounted troops.

Late in the game; the Carthaginian general goes for broke.

As the game played out I lost those two psiloi on the right and the elephant. I managed to get one of his psiloi. We were running out of time and in what I thought would be the last turn I sent my general in against some of his auxilia. I didn’t have much to lose, though little to gain. Unfortunately, the game went on for a few more turns, while my general was at real risk of dying. I was glad he hung on for a draw; I’d have been annoyed if he been lost to a form of miscommunication. I wonder if the calling of time couldn’t be clearer, as some games seemed to go on for longer than others.

Anyway, this was a game that I was lucky not to lose, mainly because I felt the whole time that we would be short of time (I actually didn’t know when it would end, so this was more an impression). Andrew suffered from command and control problems owing to his general and his right flank having a hill between them. I’d have been better to take my time and make him take some risks. My efforts to hurry things on only brought me close to defeat.

  • Game 3:  Early Imperial Romans, II/56 (Stephen Malone)

The first two rounds had been played with random match-ups with the main intent to avoid having the Timaru players play each other. After lunch the competition used a Swiss chess method, so I started to play games against people at the bottom of the table. My first battle was against Steve Malone, who brought the Romans that he’d won at Conquest last year. They looked very nice. Not that they provided much nice for the Carthaginians to face. I opted not to play the elephants against a combination of auxilia and artillery. I also took all the warbands, hoping they might run into his blade.

Initial Deployment against Early Imperial Romans.

I was the defender and played a waterway with two small pieces of terrain near it and a long marsh parallel to it on the other side of the board. Steve deployed on a narrow frontage and advanced his auxilia through the marsh and his cavalry on the left wing. I saw no advantage to contesting the marsh, but took the bait (as Steve later revealed it was) of the cavalry, and advanced mine to meet it. Once my cavalry was in the middle of the table, his turned tail. I was in range of his artillery, and also being ZOCed, I think, in places by his auxilia. Before long, aided by some execrable dice (and, boy, did I execrate!), I’d lost all the cavalry besides the general, who beat a retreat to the right flank. I actually cycled through six dice that had all rolled 1s, most in combat.

Late game after the Carthaginian cavalry has been demolished.

However, my PIP dice were somewhat better, and the general took shelter near the marsh supported by the Gauls. And the dice must have started to even out, as I got one of the auxilia before time and held on for a lucky draw. I could blame the dice all I liked, and they didn’t help, but I didn’t really have a plan to face these Romans, and who knows, if the cavalry hadn’t been so quick to die I might have dug myself into a deeper hole!

  • Game 4: Marian Romans, II/49 (Barrie Cameron)

My next game was against Marian Romans, an army I ought to know about after facing Joel’s so many times, but on this occasion I was bereft of ideas. I took both elephants and all the Gauls as the best stuff to scare blades. I was the attacker and Barrie put out very little terrain. He deployed in a line, and I can only blame tiredness for copying him. With hindsight I could have gone for one wing, forcing his slower force to redeploy and tried to win with weight of numbers.

Initial Deployment against Marian Romans.

Instead I sent the Numidians out around the flank to take his camp. It failed on the first combat and then PIPs started to become scarce and I started to look at all the unattractive match-ups that were looming. I tried to get my elephant on the left flank to face his cavalry, but before I could get the line all matched up I rolled a 1 for PIPs just when we were inches apart. I couldn’t even get the elephant into the line. And the next turn Barrie ploughed into me taking out four elements in one turn, my first defeat.

After contact.

Once I made this a frontal slog I was always likely to lose. It was made more final by Barrie getting to make the contact. He took out the auxilia (blades on overlapped auxilia in the open—ouch!), the double-ranked warband, who were double-overlapped and even an unlucky element of spear. My elephant pushed back his blade as did one of my spears, but there were no face-saving kills!

  • Game 5: Alexandrian Imperial, II/15 (Nigel Write)

The final battle, fighting for the wooden spoon, was with Nigel. I went for two elephants and two warbands. I was the defender and decided on a littoral landing (the Spanish and the Numidians: 1x3Ax, 1x2Ps and 1x2LH). After Nigel deployed I swapped an elephant and a spear to get the warband onto the right flank to support this littoral landing.

Initial Deployment against Imperial Alexander.

Nigel quickly showed that my complaints about bad dice were child’s play as his first four PIP dice were 1, 4, 1 and 1 and first three combat rolls were all 1s (I kept a record, as it was getting embarrassing). I only had a 1 for my first PIPs, which got the landing down. Unfortunately, I got so wrapped up in this game I didn’t take any photos after the first.

The littoral landing got off to a great start, as Alexander’s troops floundered. His light horse were doubled by the Numidians in an even odds fight and then his auxilia went down to the Scutarii (as will happen when you roll 1s in combat). I’m not sure if his psiloi went down in the third combat, which was a 1-1 on the dice. I do know that the dice even up from there, but with my control of the right flank I had the advantage. I moved the Gauls into the top of the marsh and in the melee with the Spanish I went three up. At this point I reckoned Nigel was toast, but he stuck at it, and got both my Gauls with his knights (contacted on their flanks they came out of the BGo). Then he took out an elephant with his own. Very quickly it was 3-3 and we were getting close to time. Nigel let me have one more turn. I got 1 for the PIP die. I could move only one element, and the only thing that was at all attractive was the forlorn hope of a spear against a pike element with no overlap support either way. Fortune smiled on me as we rolled 5-1. The 1 returned to scuttle Nigel in the last roll and I got my only victory.

  • Review

Clearly the practice against pike armies of the three days before paid off, as my only victory was against one! My other results I think pretty fairly reflect my relative inexperience in competitions. I might have won the opening game if I’d played a little faster, I might have had a closer game against Andrew if I’d not been in such a hurry, I might have had some answer to Steve’s Romans, and I really have no one to blame but myself for the defeat against Barrie.

There was a first in this competition for me: my first littoral landing that didn’t lose me the game! It actually worked out very well for me, though the dice added it a good deal.

I definitely feel I’m getting the hang of the Carthaginians. They’ve got an interesting mix of troop types. One could wish for a lot of things to make the perfect army, but for the Carthaginians two changes would be very nice:

  1. allow them to have another Auxilia, as the Spanish seem underrepresented in their armies. This would give them a big edge when contesting BGo against all those armies that have one Auxilia and one Psiloi.
  2. allow the Libyan spear the option to be fielded as 4Bd as Hannibal’s veterans.

Arguments for both of these can be made, and they would make the Carthaginians a very nasty opponent. The second option reminds me of the Mithridatic (II/48) army that came third at this competition. It has the potent option to take pikes or blades, which Arne used, I believe, to effect. As a determined enemy of the Romans this is an army I could get interested in, but I won’t go there just now!

Anyway, it was a very enjoyable day. Thanks to Brian for organizing it, and to Keith, my generous host for the occasion. I liked the venue; the Working Men’s Club was warm and had food and drinks, a far cry from the Scout Halls used in Auckland! It was good to see people I’d met at Conquest last year, and in particular Craig, whose blog I’ve been following.