More BBDBA

29 October, 2016

I had my third game of BBDBA and improved some more. I lost, but I could see where my deployment had not helped me, and I got closer to taking out a second command this time.

I took my Carthaginians against Nick’s Early Imperial Romans. I was the aggressor, which was to my advantage. The terrain was all on one side of the board, and I chose to have the terrain on my side. I’m not sure that was the best choice.

Roman deployment in three discrete commands.

Roman deployment in three discrete commands.

The advantage of deploying second was one I’d not had before. The Roman command facing my left had most of their mounted, their light horse and cavalry. The centre had a combination of blade and auxilia. The right had knights and bow. I chose to try and focus on the centre and left, deploying in depth.

Carthaginian deployment across only two thirds of the battlefield.

Carthaginian deployment across only two thirds of the battlefield.

From my left flank.

From my left flank.

From the right flank.

From the right flank.

This deployment didn’t entirely work. My high-PIP command was on my right. It tried to react to the Romans on its right by deploying elephants and cavalry to meet the approaching knights. I was let down by bad dice in combat and was close to breaking on this wing in rapid time. However, on the left flank my luck balanced out and I broke the command by destroying their light horse with my Numidians and then falling on the outflanked legionaries.

At this point my right command collapsed, and I had a small window in which to apply pressure on the Roman middle command, but despite flanking a legion with hoplites, they were 6-1 and my second command collapsed. I could (and did) complain about the dice, but my deployment was risky, and my response to move to the right even more risky. I seemed to forget that my high-PIP command was trying to survive, rather than try to attack two commands simultaneously.

The next day, I decided to set up the terrain again and try a few alternative deployments to see what I could have done differently. I tried out the Marian Romans and the Carthaginians. Looking at the two armies, I decided that the Carthaginians were the ones I wanted to take to Conquest. I also decided that I was still inexperienced about deploying the army as I’d only done it a few times. For practice, I had a couple of solo games. I put together an Early Seleucid army (II/19a) using my old fallback, the Goblins. The Carthaginians were the defenders.

Carthaginian deployment, with a command waiting to deploy on the waterway.

Carthaginian deployment, with a command waiting to deploy on the waterway.

The Seleucids chose to take the side with the most terrain, so that they could deploy into the clear. Their commands were a central one of 12 pike and two psiloi, one facing the Carthaginian left of six elephants (assorted giants, ogres and trolls) three cavalry (actually accidentally 4!) and two psiloi, and on the right three LCh, three Kn, three LH and two Ps.

From the waterway.

From the waterway.

From the other flank.

From the other flank.

The Seleucids deployment.

The Seleucids deployment.

The contact was swift and deadly. The Carthaginians moved psiloi on their left flank to ZOC the cavalry command. It worked, but the two psiloi died to enemy psiloi. Their spear were killing elephants with great effectiveness, but the ogres on the end of the line refused to die, even though they were flanked. This obdurance won them the game, as their SCh destroyed warbands and their left flank was not able to be troubled fast enough by the littoral landing.

I decided to try another game with the same terrain. This time I ignored the littoral landing gambit and went for the command that has auxilia and psiloi to be on the left flank. It was attractive to the knights, but not to the chariots and elephants.

The second attempt at Carthaginian deployment.

The second attempt at Carthaginian deployment.

The command with most of the spear went in the centre, while the high-PIP command with the two elephants went on the right. It left the warbands in reserve, as they were pretty much a liability.

This more conventional deployment got the Seleucids to put the pike in the centre and the SCh and Kn on their right, while the elephants went on the right.

The Seleucid response.

The Seleucid response.

From the flank.

From the flank.

Again contact came swiftly, but this time Carthaginians used high PIPs to move their auxilia across to face the SCh. However, the Seleucids responded by swapping the SCh and Kn in turn. When contact was made by the Seleucids, the SCh contacted mostly auxilia and the Kn spear, but one auxilia encountered knights. The knight commander was soon double-overlapped, but as an element of knight had been destroyed, along with some chariots, the battle on the Carthaginian left flank was in the balance. In the centre a pushing match ensued, where the Carthaginian spear refused to be intimidated by the pike. On the left the Carthaginians met elephants and cavalry with psiloi spear and cavalry. Their spear was as undaunted as in the previous battle and succeeded in destroying opposing elephants.

The Carthaginians eventually broke the command facing their right flank. Their spear was too resolute. In the centre, their commander was flanked and routed, but it was a solitary success. And the Campanian spear eventually flanked and destroyed the opposing knight commander to rout the second Seleucid command. This was their second kill, I think, as they got a knight on contact too. Androgeus, the Gallic headhunter, destroyed a block of pike, and I think a recoiling elephant destroyed a bit of the Seleucid reserves.

All in all, they were two fun games that helped me get more of a feel of the footprint of the different commands and how they interact. I’ll go to Conquest a little better prepared.

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More on Allan Massie

3 September, 2016

I’ve now finished the Robert Harris trilogy on Cicero. It was very good, but it pales in comparison to Allan Massie’s books. I read his Augustus next, and loved it. Augustus is the narrator, and it is in two halves. The first he narrates to his grandsons Gaius and Lucius. It is optimistic; the second is narrated towards the end of his life and is much more gloomy. Massie paints a picture of somebody who is keen to present his legacy as a service to Rome; he has Augustus’ Res Gestae for this. He presents somebody who is perhaps not so self-aware as he thinks, as comes out when his dynastic plans go awry. Comments from Maecenas and Livia are particularly revealing.

I’d have to read Robert Graves’ I Claudius again (I read it as a teenager), but I think Massie’s portrayal of Livia is probably more believable. She’s a proud Claudian, not shy of reminding Augustus that she deigned to marry down to him!

One of the strengths of Massie’s books is that you very much get the perspective of the narrator, and it is biased. The scene he describes of the forging of the second triumvirate is similar in Augustus to in Mark Antony, which I’m reading now, but the differences are revealing. Augustus justifies himself, while Antony won’t talk of it, and it’s described by his secretary, Critias. I’ve not put the two scenes alongside each other, but the description of discussion of the proscription is modified.

Massie describes Mark Antony very favourably. His biggest failing is his sense of honour (something Ronald Syme suggests too). He would have been best to have crushed Octavian while he had the upper hand, but is described as having given his word, and therefore was not willing to do this. Massie’s description of Antony’s relationship with Marcus Brutus is fascinating; he gives a context for why Antony described Brutus as the noblest Roman at his funeral.

The varied takes on Brutus in the three books I’ve read by Massie so far are a nice illustration of how well he gets into the persona of his narrators. Mark Antony’s sympathy for Brutus contrasts with the antipathy, for different reasons, of Augustus and Decimus Brutus in the two earlier books.

Meanwhile, I have all the figures for the Thapsus BBDBA army. They are all primed and waiting to be painted. The Numidians are close to being done, and the Xyston Gauls and Spanish will mix nicely with the CB ones. It helps that I’m using CB shields. Plans to go to Conquest are also advancing. I had a couple of games of DBA with Nick a couple of weeks ago. We had a Marian Roman civil war, where his Romans with an elephant were undone by my use of Armenian cataphracts (and some good dice). My Seleucids against his Ptolemaics was the reverse, where my PIP dice were cripplingly low; the elephant and the scythed chariot are not forgiving of such dice. It was only that Nick had average combat dice that allowed me to hang around for as long as I did.

Recent Gaming

23 March, 2014

I’ve not kept up with reporting games I’ve played. Part of the reason for this is because I’ve only got a camera that is not all that satisfactory. I’ve taken better photos with my phone than with the small camera I’ve tried to use. The tripod is broken and can’t support the large camera I’d used for my gallery shots.
The other reason I’ve not been active on the blog is that I’ve been too busy painting (more in the next post). Anyway, I’ve played quite a lot recently, and had some very good luck. Here are some photos that aren’t too blurry.

  • Battlecry, 16 Feb 2014

Last month I got along to Battlecry for a day of demo DBA games. We got a bit of interest and should be running a competition next year as a result of this. We played DBA 2.2, as noted earlier on MEDBAG.
My first game was against Joel, a historical matchup of my Early Seleucids against his Classical Indians.

Early Seleucids face Classical Indians.

Early Seleucids face Classical Indians.

The Indians up close (some are hidden behind the trees.

The Indians up close (some are hidden behind the trees.

The Seleucids.

The Seleucids.

I should have been in serious trouble as the Indians came around my left flank in large numbers. However, they were obviously unfamiliar with scythed chariots, as mine proceeded to tear them to pieces. I came away with a lucky victory.

Chaos on the left flank.

Chaos on the left flank.

Next I faced John, who’d just finished his Celtiberians. I used my Gauls.

Gauls v. Celtiberians.

Gauls v. Celtiberians.

View from the Celtiberian camp.

View from the Celtiberian camp.

I managed to meet his warband with my cavalry and used this to my advantage in a battle on a narrow frontage.

Gallic cavalry triumphant.

Gallic cavalry triumphant.

I then faced Mike, who used my Carthaginians. I took my Syracusans. As we are both littoral, this involved a waterway, which ended up to my back. Mike went for a littoral landing.

Syracusan v. Carthaginians.

Syracusan v. Carthaginians.

I hurried to advance to reduce the potential for the littoral landing party to make trouble. I was able to sack his camp (the crucified Syracusan was a provocation!) and used my longer line to outflank his elephants. Another victory.

The Tarantines return from sacking the camp.

The Tarantines return from sacking the camp.

I think we played some more games that I didn’t take pictures of. The last on my camera was my Syracusans against John’s Celtiberians. I don’t remember for sure if I won, but I think my luck was pretty strong, and I used my advantage in cavalry to compensate for the vulnerability of my spear to his warband.

 Syracusans v. Celtiberians.

Syracusans v. Celtiberians.

Unrecorded is our final BBDBA game of Carthaginians and Celtiberians against Romans and Spanish. This was officially a draw, but I’m sure the Romans had the edge when we stopped.

  • Auckland City Guard

Since then, I’ve mostly played DBA 3.0. Joel’s visited after work a few times, and I’ve got to the City Guard again. We’ve had a lot of fun trying out his Aztec hordes of doom, and we tried out a number of permutations of knights against spear.
From memory the time before last we played: Normans v. Anglo-Danish, Early Crusaders v. Comnenan Byzantines, Aztecs v. Prefeudal Scots and Vikings v. Anglo-Danish. I think there was an Aztec v. Early Crusaders too.
Last weekend I took some photos:
Our first game was his Aztecs against my North Welsh.

The Aztecs meet the Welsh.

The Aztecs meet the Welsh.

The Welsh with their South Welsh ally.

The Welsh with their South Welsh ally.

The South Welsh cavalry got in the way of his archers and the spearmen got flanked; however, the Welsh had been making progress against the important Aztec elements.
Next we played Ptolemy against Lysymachus. The Ptolemaic army was quite different from what I expected. I tried a littoral landing of three auxilia in a line with side edge contact with the waterway. It seemed legal and threw Lysimachus’ plans to meet this treat. I got a narrow victory in this battle.
We then tried Carthaginians against Gauls.

Carthaginians drawn up against Gauls.

Carthaginians drawn up against Gauls.

Carthaginians with a random stack of skulls next to their camp.

Carthaginians with a random stack of skulls next to their camp.

The Carthaginians won in a battle stacked in their favour (though elephants don’t quick kill warband any more). Our final battle was the Carthaginians against Aztecs. I didn’t take any pictures of this. The Carthaginians took only one elephant, I think. They were lucky in a battle between their two 2LH and the Aztecs two 2Ps. I killed both of them, but had I not, my back was to a wood, and I’d have been very much at a disadvantage.

Camps, camps, camps

2 February, 2014

More than two years after I started them, I’ve finally finished four camps for DBA: Carthaginian, Roman, Syracusan and Seleucid.

  • Carthaginian

Each of these camps is modular on two 40mm x 40mm squares. The tents are Baueda, the figures are a mixture of manufacturers.

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A salutary example to the Carthaginian general — his unsuccessful predecessor is crucified.

The female and her daughter next to the tent are Donningtons figures, as is the figure on the cross. The other figures are from a Freikorp command pack. I changed the shield on one figure for a Corvus Belli hoplon to make them fit better with the Corvus Belli army. I really like the transfer, which came out after I had painted this army. I’m tempted to expand the army to be able to be Early Carthaginian simply to be able to use this shield pattern! The figure on the cross is rather small, but it’s not as obvious as it was when they weren’t painted.

From the rear, the lion that the Libyan has is more visible.

From the rear, the lion that the Libyan has is more visible.

The tableaux is rather busy, but I wanted to get the two guardsmen and the Numidian drummer and the Libyan with a lion into the camp.

Another view of the lion.

Another view of the lion.

Carthaginians, like Romans and others in the ancient world, made use of crucifixion as a punishment. What the Romans found shocking is that they used it on citizens, and wealthy ones at that, who were criminal or simply unsuccessful.

  • Romans
Romans checking the omens with the sacred geese.

Romans checking the omens with the sacred geese.

This scene is made mainly with Essex camp followers or figures from a Hellenistic command pack. It shows a priest feeding the sacred geese. They should be chickens, but I only had geese figures, and they were sacred to Juno, so I figured they’d do. The priest is a Donningtons figure, the rest are Essex.

Another angle.

Another angle.

From the rear.

From the rear.

Yet another angle.

Yet another angle.

  • Syracusans
Checking the omens with a goat.

Checking the omens with a goat.

This camp was inspired by one in Lead Paean. I’ve compressed my camp into smaller dimensions and don’t seem to have found the same figure for a priest. Most of the figures are Essex (the one leading the goat is an artillery figure). The woman and the priest are Donningtons. The altar is made of Green stuff and is supposed to represent a temporary altar made from cut turfs.

Another angle.

Another angle.

From the rear. The size of the woman in proportion to the Essex figures is noticeable from this angle.

From the rear. The size of the woman in proportion to the Essex figures is noticeable from this angle.

Yet another angle.

Yet another angle.

  • Seleucids
Bring out the loot!

Bring out the loot!

Breaking with the theme of a religious rite that is found in many of my camps, this one shows some of the wealth of the Seleucids. It is a combination of Essex camp followers and Freikorp command figures.

Another angle.

Another angle.

From the rear. The shields I intend to use for the Argyraspides are visible.

From the rear. The shields I intend to use for the Argyraspides are visible.

Yet another angle.

Yet another angle.

These figures were useful in letting me trial how the Argyraspides will look when I paint them. I intend to do them next as part of seven stands of pike. Three of them will be the Argyraspides, who will have an optional command stand with Antigonus One-eyed as their general. They will have the same colour purple clothes as these figures. They have been ready to go for almost as long as the camps, but I may end up doing some rebasing first, so I’m not sure when I will get to them.

  • Carthage crushes a mercenary revolt

I am very pleased to have finally finished these camps. I got to use one of them on Thursday when Joel came around. We played DBA 3.0. I was pretty tired, so I didn’t take any pictures. We had a Carthaginian civil war; I claimed to be Hamilcar Barca crushing the Mercenaries during the Truceless War; this claim was disputed, but we had one of the rascally rebels up on a cross to bolster our claim.

I ended up deploying between a large wood and a steep hill. The battle unfolded quickly with my spear being caught in column by the Gallic mercenaries. This was not good, as the whole column was ZOCed. I lost two stands of spear until I was able to get my Spanish auxilia across to support them; they won against an elephant 6-2, getting a narrow quick kill. From there my fortunes were transformed. The Spanish flanked the Gauls and the last element of spear held their ground to destroy both elements of Gauls. On the right flank my elephants, supported by psiloi destroyed some rebel spear to give me a skilfully wrought victory! I was sufficiently tired that at one stage Joel looked on in bemusement while I tried to flank my own Spanish auxilia!

This was a great victory under the inspired guidance of my new camp. It heralds a new beginning for an army that has struggled for form in the past!

More Imitation Legionaries

31 December, 2012

Late Hellenistic imitation legionaries. Two have red shields and could be Ptolemaic; the one with green shields would be Seleucid.

Late Hellenistic imitation legionaries. Two have red shields and could be Ptolemaic; the one with green shields would be Seleucid.

  • Imitation legionaries

With a brief flurry of painting I go my Mithridatics ready for CANCON 2013. All my paints are in storage, so it took a bit of effort to get them out to do three 4Bd elements. I’d already prepped them, so they didn’t take long once I started. These elements allow me to field the late Ptolemaic and Seleucid armies. which have two and one element respectively. I’ll also use them to fill out my Mithridatic army.

From behind.

From behind.

The figures are Freikorp Thureophoroi and Thorakitai; I’ve given them pila from old-style Freikorp Romans. They may not have used them, but it helps make them clearly imitation legionaries.

From the other side.

From the other side.

The Mithridatic army has five elements of imitation legionaries. I’ve decided to use one element of Romans, as Mithridates had some Marian exiles fighting for him; then there are two elements of Marian figures mixed with Thorakitai, but with Marian shields. And finally two of the new legionaries. It is a nicely hodge-podge collection of legionaries, in keeping with the rest of the army.

Mithridates' legionaries: the two blue-shielded elements have a mixture of Marian Roman figures and modified Thorakitai. The middle one are straight Romans, exiled supporters of the Marian faction. The last two have more obviously Hellenistic equipment.

Mithridates’ legionaries: the two blue-shielded elements have a mixture of Marian Roman figures and modified Thorakitai. The middle one are straight Romans, exiled supporters of the Marian faction. The last two have more obviously Hellenistic equipment.

  • CANCON

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m attending CANCON next year. I’m looking forward to it. I didn’t play that much DBA last year, though I started to get a few games in November. I’ll be taking a few armies to Oz when I return; I reckon I can get all my Classical armies (though I’m leaving behind the Ancient British chariots, LH and extra Ps to make room. As it is, I’ll have a stack of armies for the period of around 300 BC to the start of the principate. One army that doesn’t fit is the Komnenan Byzantines, who I need for the second day of CANCON. I’ve used it before and like it, not that I’m terribly successful with it. My other armies from Books 3 and 4 are either not finished, needing to have their bases upgraded, and/or not very competitive. I was tempted to try the Pre-feudal Scots; they’re not terrible, but are a bit of a challenge. If I wanted to keep with a similar army for the first day, I could have gone with the Syracusans. However, I’m keen to use the SCh before it is emasculated, so Mithridatics it is; I can make a fairly spurious link with the Komnenans by pointing out they’re from the same region!

Another shot of the Mithridatic legionaries.

Another shot of the Mithridatic legionaries.

  • Mithridatics completed

The Mithridatics are a somewhat cheesy army for competitions in Australasia, as down here you are generally allowed to choose what elements you’ll use before each battle. The option to substitute five 4Bd for a SCh and four 4Pk allows you to transform the army’s capabilities. Against most foot the blade are very powerful, but against armies with a lot of knights the combination of pikes and a scythed chariot should be pretty potent. That said, I’m unsure what to field against armies with pikes and knights, though I suspect the blades are a better bet.

The Mithridatics arrayed with the legionary option.

The Mithridatics arrayed with the legionary option.

The army has a strong selection of BGo troops; it’s able to vary the combination of Auxilia and Psiloi to give more rear support for the blade, or to create a block of three Auxilia with one Psiloi for support. The army also has a choice between a 3Kn, a 3Cv and a 2LH. The 3Kn is probably the most useful, but I really like the figures for the 3Cv and I don’t get to use them enough.

The same army from another angle.

The same army from another angle.

I’ve updated the Mithridatics army page too.

Pontic Imitation Legionaries and the first of the Marians.

The Mithridatics are a bit closer now with the first of their imitation legionaries done. The blue shields are imitation legionaries, the red shields are Marians. These are Freikorp figures; For the imitation legionaries two on each element are Marians, one of an older vintage, and one each of the newer ones. The other two are Hellenistic thorakitai with scuta instead of thurioi and pila from the old vintage Marians. As mentioned in earlier posts, I’ve used VVV transfers, which I think look pretty effective.

The Marians have a centurion, two of the new vintage figures, and one of the old ones. I plan to have a centurion on each element, for colour, but also as they were so significant to the functioning of the legions. I’ll probably do pairs of shield designs for them, so that there will be some four ‘legions’ in the DBA army.

I think the figures look pretty neat, though I missed some major flash on some of the new figures; it’s very prominent on one of their faces!

From the side.

Now I’ve got these figures done, I just need to do the three elements of Ptolemaic and Seleucid imitation legionaries, who have thurioi. Then I can field later versions of these armies, as well as the Mithridatic option of five 4Bd.

The other side.

The Marians should be pretty quick to do now that I’ve established that these transfers work, though whether they’re next on the to do is another question.

From the rear.

After the Ptolemaic and Seleucid imitation legionaries, I could do some more pike; they’re all prepped; it’s just I’ve scuttled off onto other projects. And I could still be tempted to do Bruttians, again prepped, or Numidians instead of these pike. There are also some camps to be done when the mood takes me!

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).