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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With all the figures I’ve bought recently and all the rebasing and projects I’ve started, getting the seven elements of successor pike done has not been a terribly exciting proposition. A few weekends ago I finished three of them (while I painted the ogres). The other four have their shields done and much else. Now I have the argyraspides (silver shields) completed and with them a foot commander, a special character, Antigonos Monophthalmos (one-eyed). They are all Freikorp figures. They had a couple of outings a fortnight ago against Joel’s Lysimachus; they failed in each.

Antigonos Monophthalmos leading from the front.

Antigonos Monophthalmos leading from the front.

Another angle.

Another angle.

And another.

And another.

The Argyraspides used as a regular pair of elements.

The Argyraspides used as a regular pair of elements.

Another angle.

Another angle.

And another.

And another.

I can now fight pike blocks against each other (though only four pike a side as yet). When the other four elements are done…

All the elephants arrayed. Not quite enough yet for a whole army, but getting there!

Well, I’ve got some Gauls and some pikemen on my painting desk and the Gauls are all but done now (I think I started them this time last year!), but three elements of elephants jumped the queue. They are quicker to do and allow me to field a number of successor armies straight away. This made them more inviting as I got back into painting after a couple of months’ break. In the process of doing them I got the Gauls nearly done too.

The Seleucid elephant, now with skirmisher support, faces off against the Ptolemaic one.

Along with the three elephants (two early successor and one Ptolemaic), I did four archers as skirmisher support. I added one onto the base of the Seleucid elephant I’d done earlier, as particularly in the later period they deployed the elephants with a lot of surrounding skirmishers.

The Ptolemaic elephant; it is an African one and smaller than the Asian ones. Note the goad that I made for the mahout.

The figures are all Freikorp and I think their elephants are excellent. They are easy to assemble, well animated and their seems to be (to my inexpert eye) a distinction between the African and Asian ones. The Ptolemaic elephant is smaller and has different ears. As these figures don’t come with goads for the mahouts I made them using the ends of lead spears that I’d cut down for javelins. I flatten the end, cut a split in it and bent one side into a hook and gently filed the two end to points. The hooks are perhaps bigger than they should be, but they look the part and were quick and easy to make.

From the other side with its skirmisher support.

The Ptolemaic elephant will also be used as a Pyrrhic one, meaning that with the xystophoroi that I did a while back I can now field the early Ptolemaic and the Pyrrhic armies.

Early Successor elephants ready to go against each other (when I get more pike painted!

The pair of early successor elephants, without towers, allow me to field a number of the armies starting with Alexander, though I need to get some unshielded cavalry to be fully accurate. They allow fights between successor armies (when I get more pikemen painted) and me to field the earliest Seleucid army with two elephants.

The two elephants ready to serve in the early Seleucid army.

From another angle.

And yet another.

Getting these guys to sit on the elephants provided a bit of drama. When my first attempt failed I tried araldite, which is too slow to set, then pinning, which was a travesty. Finally I tried again with super glue and it was quite straight forward, but if you look at the mahout on the blue elephant you’ll see his slightly grey beard and a mark on his chest reveal the scars of this exercise!

Next up, when I get time, will be the Gauls, who allow me to field the Gauls, the Carthaginians and the Syracusans all at the same time. Then I’ll either buckle down to doing seven stands of pike, or I’ll do some smaller projects, such as a 4Bd for the later Seleucids, and some of the cavalry for that ‘d’ list (who can be used for the Mithridatic one too).

Xystophoroi

17 July, 2011

Ptolemaic Xystophoroi.

I’ve completed two elements of Xystophoroi. They are Freikorp figures with spears from Xyston. They are for a Ptolemaic army; however, they can be used for quite a number of other armies. I’m close to being able to field a whole swathe of successor and Hellenistic armies, though not in opposition to each other. The biggest hold-up is two more elements of elephant. One is an Early Successor one with a pikeman sitting on its back. The other is an unarmoured one with a tower. The first of these would allow me to do a whole range of early successor armies, the other would be for the Ptolemaic army and for a Pyrrhic one. Otherwise, there’s a lack of pikes. My next project may be about seven elements of pikes to allow opposing pike blocks (one of these would be a command element for Antigonus Monophthalmus).

From another angle.

I have two elements of 3Cv ready to go too, but they are waiting for decals on their shields (which are in the post). These are for the Syracusans, but can be used by a number of other armies, though I’m not sure when shields started to be used, making them less useful for some of the earlier armies.

I’ve updated my armies page with a list of all the new armies I should soon be able to field!

From the rear.

Otherwise, I darkened my Seleucid elephant a while ago; it was much lighter than the two Carthaginian ones, so I gave it a drybrush with a darker grey, which I think improves it.

A more tanned Seleucid elephant.

Elephant comparisons

21 December, 2010

Now that I’ve got the Freikorp Seleucid elephant done, I thought I should offer a size comparison of it with the CB Carthaginian one and an OG15 one. Before seeing the Freikorp elephant I thought it was the CB elephant that had the problem, now I see that it is the OG15 one that is substantially smaller. In actual fact, the Freikorp one is a little bigger, as it should be, than the CB one. It also has smaller ears, which again is appropriate in distinction to the African one.

Freikorp, CB and OG15 elephants from the side. I really should have got the camera lower before taking this!

Front on.

The OG15 elephant is problematic; it was offered as part of an army pack by Mike Sanderson: the army of the early successor, Demetrius (II/15b). It’s quite inappropriate, as anachronistically it is both armoured and has a turret; still, compared to the rubbish 3Kn command, I should be happy! A Macedonian companion leader, appropriately enough, leads a Bactrian Greek and a Seleucid cataphract! They have value, I suppose, as samples! But it explains why a year on none of those armies are actually finished!

The day after the two game with John I was off to Christchurch for the CWC DBA Competition. Keith generously put me up for the night and suggested I might want a game that night before the competition. He asked if there was any opponent I wanted to face, and I decided I could still do with more practice against pikes, so he used the army he used at the competition, that of Demetrius the Besieger. Keith selected 1x3Kn (cmd), 1x3Cv, 1x2LH, 1xEl, 6x4Pk, 1x4Ax and 1xArt.

I went with just the one elephant, giving me an extra 3Cv and two each of the warbands and psiloi: 2x3Cv (1=cmd), 1x2LH, 1xEl, 3x4Sp, 2x3Wb, 1x3Ax, 2x2Ps. Hasdrubal was the defender and lay out a waterway with a wood near it, a long marsh on the other side of the board and a small wood in one corner. The waterway was on his right flank and he decided to reserve the Spanish for a littoral landing into the wood (one auxila and one psiloi). Otherwise he deployed with the spear in the centre anchored by the Gauls in the marsh and the elephant and a cavalry on their right flank. Hasdrubal himself and the Numidians were in reserve.

Demetrius countered by deploying with his cavalry in reserve behind his phalanx that had the artillery in its centre, the elephant on its right flank and the auxilia on the left.

Initial Deployments: Carthaginians in the foreground facing Demetrius.

Things went wrong for the Carthaginians very rapidly. Their littoral landing ran into trouble when Demetrius’ auxilia were able to defeat the Spanish with the aid of some cavalry. After this setback the Carthaginians had no hope of gaining control of that flank, and were really unable to see a way of winning, as they didn’t see themselves as having any advantage in a frontal battle or necessarily able to do much on the other wing. The Caetrati retired to the other wing and the Libyphoenician cavalry was tied up in a stand-off with its counterpart.

The Scutarii go down in to Demetrius' auxilia, leaving the littoral landing in tatters.

The next stage of the battle saw a slow advance of the Greek centre while their light horse went around the marsh. Hasdrubal went after them himself along with the Numidians and the Caetrati. This came to little, as they couldn’t pin the light horse. Keith commented at the end he thought I overreacted, but at the time I was hoping to destroy the light horse to allow me to exploit that flank, as I could see little good happening in the centre.

However, before I could hunt down the elusive light horse, Demetrius’ pikes made contact in the centre. The odds were in his favour (5-2), but as with the first combat the dice turned what might have been a recoil into a kill. Hasdrubal began to complain loudly and bitterly about the dice!

Two dead after two combats: the pike crush some Carthaginians spear.

Hasdrubal rushed his cavalry to try to fill the gap, and in the next turn the weight of Demetrius’ centre struck. One change that Hasdrubal had made was to cycle a warband out into the battleline on the marsh edge to replace a spear there. It proved an unattractive target for the Greeks. Demetrius went against the spear himself, supported by pikes against the elephants. If he defeated this spear he’d win the battle. The lead-up combats went his way, as the cavalry and the elephant were recoiled, but in a nail-biting encounter with the spear it was a stick; the Carthaginians rolled a woeful 1, but Demetrius was little better, getting a 2.

Demetrius is locked in combat with Carthaginian spear.

Demetrius had been unsure what to do on his right flank in the face of those Gauls. He had thought of advancing his pike closer, but thought better of it. It was a fateful decision, as the Carthaginian spear that had moved out of the line to make way for the warband was able to advance to block the ZOC of the pike, while the warband closed the door on Demetrius. The melee continued for another gritty round, ending in another stick.

Demetrius is now under pressure, but hangs in against the combined attack of psiloi-supported spear and Gauls.

In his turn Demetrius finds no way to relieve the combat he is locked in, and this time the dice go Hasdrubal’s way, by the merest whisker: 2-2. It’s now 1G-2 to Hasdrubal, and suddenly the Greeks are looking exposed.

Luck starts to desert the Greeks. Demetrius' companions are routed, and on the left his pikes are held stationary against overlapped cavalry.

In one turn it turns around dramatically and Hasdrubal blows away the Greek centre. Ambiorix leads his warband into the back rank of the pike block while Libyan skirmisher slide sideways from behind the spear to pin the phalanx at the front; the elephant then advances on the unsupported pike to the right. If he recoils he’ll take out an enemy pike and his own cavalry. However, the Greeks have lost heart and roll 1-2-1 to the Carthaginian 4-6-6. So much for the dice being against me! In one turn three elements are destroyed to give the Carthaginians their second win; their first in an away game!

What a turn around! Suddenly it's the Greek centre that's disappeared!

Demetrius’ invasion of Sicily, ostensibly to liberate it from the Carthaginians, was driven back in confusion. The Carthaginians celebrated madly, and Hasdrubal began to hope there might not be a cross waiting for him back home after all!

  • Review:

Keith’s initial success was very disconcerting, yet in each of the key combats the side with the advantage won. Despite low die rolls, the spear were one up on Demetrius and that made the difference, while Keith had been up on both my auxilia and my spear. Had Keith advanced his pike to protect Demetrius, I can only imagine the battle would have been very different, as I don’t think I could have attacked the pike on my left flank with my spear and warband effectively, especially with the elephant close behind. Demetrius would have been recoiled, but I’m not sure I could get the elephant at him, and he had more numbers coming in than me. All in all, it was a lucky victory! Right down to getting a stick against the spear.

This was another unsuccessful littoral landing. With hindsight it is risky to do such landings as the defender, as the attacker has the advantage of a turn’s move over you. It was also a largely unnecessary landing, as I could have advanced the Spanish into the woods alongside the rest of the army.