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.


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!

Sunday DBA

27 January, 2014

Yesterday I go the Auckland City Guard again. I had a couple of games of DBA 2.2 with John. This time I even pulled out my phone and took a few pictures.

  • Pyrrhus of Epirus against the Romans

The first game I used the later Epirot army of Pyrrhus. I’ve had the figures for a while, but not used them much. John used my Polybian Romans. I was the attacker and thought I was onto something pretty good when a third of the Romans seemed to be deployed too far to their right to do anything. Furthermore, for quite a while their PIPs were low and we advanced the bulk of our army as fast as we could while some light troops used the wood to protect the flank.


Pyrrhus advances on the Romans

All went well initially. Our general removed a Bd and its supporting legion. However, on our left flank our cavalry were destroyed and the elephant fell back. The  LH were lucky to survive a round of combat downhill from cavalry. On the right flank we lost our psiloi, but our Auxilia destroyed a Bd. It was 3-2 and we killed another Bd by flanking it with the general. Victory seemed assured until our double-ranked spear were destroyed by some Triarii (I’m now unsure if we’d calculated the odds correctly; I think we were each overlapped). Anyway, with losses at 4-4 the Romans chased off my LH to make an unexpected comeback.


The Triarii triumph!

  • Pyrrhus against the Syracusans

Next John took the Pyrrhic army and I got out my Syracusans. In this game I was the attacker (no mean feat against Agg. 4). I was lucky to survive the first round of combat, and in fact my Wb destroyed a double-ranked Sp (an error we realized later!). Despite this, a Ps that had shot into our rear almost won the battle by causing our Art to turn to face; a Sp recoiled into it and the Ps destroyed it.


Gallic mercenaries are responsible for most of the killing!

However, this time our cavalry won on the left flank and the Gauls destroyed the rear rank of some pike giving Syracuse a narrow victory.

Both games were very close and see-sawed. Unlike the DBA 3.0 games I’ve played recently, there was more time to adjust set-up. I’m looking forward to making DBA games at this club a regular event.

  • Camp progress

The four camps that I started nearly two years ago are almost finished; I just need to flock them. The Carthaginians, Romans, Syracusans and Seleucids will each have their own camp. After that I plan t paint seven elements of 4Pk for Successor armies. I’ll be able to use Antigonus Monophthalmus as a Pk general, which could be interesting.

More DBA

26 January, 2014

Last Thursday I caught up with Joel for some more DBA 3.0. I wanted to see Sp v. Bd, so we went for my Polybian Romans against Joel’s Carthaginians. In the first game Joel’s combat dice were so dreadful that I won effortlessly. We had another game, but Joel was hindered by terrain and I won easily again. In particular his spear were mostly hopeless. However, I did see a little Sp-Bd interaction. It was interesting.


I’m still painting the camps; my progress has been limited by reading The Rich are Different by Susan Howatch. It’s the story of a New York banker in the 20s that mirrors the life of Julius Caesar. I’m now starting on the sequel on his nephew, an Augustus. Very cleverly done.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

IWC Pregames

5 March, 2011

The week before the IWC competition I got around to John’s again for a game of DBA. I got the Komnenans out this time. It was a close game that John has described here . I could have defended on my right flank better had I kept two light horse on a hill rather than bringing them onto the line. On the hill the warband and auxilia on that flank would have been reluctant to tangle with them. As it was, despite a few turns of valiant resistance, they were overwhelmed before I could win elsewhere.

At the IWC on Friday I had a number of friendly games. The first was with my Komnenans against Iain’s Later Crusader, a historical match-up. I took three bow and a knight. I was the attacker and Iain put down a waterway and had a littoral landing of two spear. It took me ages to defeat these spear with a cavalry and a knight. The game ended with a narrow victory to me. My centre was scattered, and I lost my general, yet it was 4-4G at the end of that turn and on my turn I rolled 6 for PIPs and out of three shooting chances I got lucky against one of Iain’s Bw to win, but at 5-4G, in the tournament I would score 6 to Iain’s 5, so there wasn’t much in it.

My second game was against Andrew who had dropped in to have a look around. He used Iain’s Greco-Bactrians against my Carthaginians, and describes the battle here. It was a fun game and good to see a fellow blogger in the flesh.

My Carthaginians then faced Connor’s Polybians, and beat them by keeping the spear back and advancing the elephant and commander up one flank, around a wood, where they took the camp. It was a risky tactic that worked as Connor tried to advance on the spear but didn’t make contact before I’d taken the camp. He might have been better to wait for me with his foot.

I then played Connor’s Early Burgundians with my Komnenans; I don’t remember what happened here. I also had another game with the Komnenans against someone else that left no lasting impression.

After dinner Steve and I had a game in our hotel room, his Hungarians against my Komnenans. This was one I won narrowly, though I no longer remember quite how. All-in-all, a great way to get into the swing of the competition.

A few more battles

21 December, 2010

  • Game 1: Romans v.  Later Carthaginians

I’ve not written up the last few battles, and I certainly haven’t taken pictures of them. The first was last month, when Joel came around for a game. He took the Polybian Romans while went with the Carthaginians. I decided to go with two elephants and two warbands. I got a towelling. I was the defender, I think. I got an edge amongst terrain and got low PIPs while the Romans advanced towards me. However I deployed with those big elephants it was going to be crowded. I didn’t get good match-ups and got worse dice. It was a 4-0 defeat. I had hoped my Gauls might get to take out a cavalry that they flanked at only 2-2 odds), but I failed. The elephants faced blade, and didn’t initiate combat; not getting to choose the match-ups they had no special advantage. The game showed I still have a lot to learn about Carthaginians; I felt I was better off without the elephants.

  • Game 2: Romans v.  Later Carthaginians

The next game was quite a while later when I visited John for a game. It was the same armies again, except this time the Romans had the cavalry general that the list requires. I ended up in a similar fix; this time as the attacker. I was squashed by terrain, but at least had no elephants. Again I had low PIPs at the start, while the Romans had more than they could use. As the battle lines drew closer I got some high PIPs and tried to race my Numidians around one flank in front of the battle lines to the other. They got half way, and with a bit of measuring, I’d have seen they’d be ZOCed! I chose to let the Romans attack them, which they did with blades; this resulted in the Numidians being recoiled and unable to flee. Over a number of turns where I got 1 PIP they were slowly forced back, pushing back my spear at the same time.

Things were going badly, particularly when my psiloi-backed auxilia on one flank were doubled (another 1 by me!) in BGo by the daring Roman general (he had even odds). However, at this point I was saved by luck. My general and the other cavalry advanced through this wood to attack the Roman general; the plan was to get 2-1 odds on their general with ours in BGo. This depended on my cavalry recoiling theirs at even odds. They did better, doubling them! My general only recoiled the Roman one, but now the advantage on that flank tilted in my favour.

The Romans had now forced back my spear so far that they could flank a warband on a steep hill while they assaulted it with psiloi-supported blade. The first combat was 4-3 to them, but guess who won! And after that the other blade was toast. Luck turned things around for me in two bounds!

John was unlucky not to win against the warband, but the odds were not greatly in his favour there. I wonder if he might not have been better to have attacked the Numidians with his velites: 2-0 with overlaps. For a 1/36 chance of being 6-1ed he’d have had a 15/36 chance of doubling the light horse and winning the game (even if he’d not got the auxilia, he’d then have been able to get at the spear behind with blade).

My mishandling of the light horse created something of a Cannae situation, except it wasn’t my wings that folded in on the Roman centre, but my wings destroyed those opposite through the situation this manoeuvre created. Not a tactic I’ll try to repeat, though!

  • Game 3: Romans v. Later Macedonians

The last game was played last week. I got my Later Macedonians finished just in time for Joel to visit for the last time this year. I was keen to try them out against Polybian Romans. As they seem a tricky army to use I had a couple of experimental solo games before Joel arrived.

The problem with the Later Macedonians is that of all pike armies, protecting their flanks. They have plenty of BGo troops to protect one flank, if they can anchor it in BGo (and they have low aggression to make this likely), but they don’t have anything really strong to guard the other flank; the cavalry general and the light horse are really just a reserve, outclassed as they are by even the Roman cavalry contingent. I hit on the idea of positioning three big pieces of BGo so that there was a three base width gap between them, at least at the centre of the board. The Macedonians could then try to use the BGo to protect their flanks and then keep the cavalry in reserve. The problem with this is that neither flank is very strong, assuming they can get to both in time (as one may possibly be closer to the enemy’s baseline.

Anyway, in both the practice games the Romans advanced in column, using the road for speed; they could expand fairly confidently, as the Macedonians could not protect their flanks effectively beyond the BGo. The first time the Macedonians lost their mounted on one flank; the second they were winning in centre, where the three phalanx elements had taken one blade a piece. They were losing on one flank, though, where they were outnumbered. This was when Joel arrived. As the Macedonian LH run on the camp had been met by some Triarii that were QKed, and I’m sure it was 3-1 when I stopped, this can’t be quite right, but the protected pike were looking pretty good.

I made Joel take the mounted general and have aggression 4, as this would be post 204BC. Predictably he was the aggressor, and I laid my terrain in the way I’d been experimenting with. Joel however, got a base edge that put one piece of BGo close to him, too far for me to hope to use it as an anchor. The battle on that flank would be in the open, and he brought his cavalry around the hill to assist.

I didn’t help myself by advancing the pike too far; however, I had time to bring one of the 4Ax around from the left flank to assist the other and the 2Ps in the open; against the cavalry, they’d struggle for parity! The 4Wb was left to hold the other flank. Eventually they got bored and went looking for some unsupported spear, but with low PIPs and being out of command range, they never got to see action.

Joel’s blade came over the hill and linked up with his general. I got to attack first, and the odds were not brilliant; from right to left my general was on the outside flank facing the Roman 3Cv; my two 4Ax with a 2Ps in support faced his general and a 4Bd; then my light horse faced blades, and I’d brought two of the pike blocks across as well. My general managed to recoil his 3Cv; this left his general overlapped at 3-3, and the gods smiled, as we rolled 5-1 and his general was doubled. My 3Ax avoided being doubled against his blade and the game was mine!

Had I not got the chance to attack first and that lucky roll, I doubt I had much hope; the auxilia were very fragile against the blade in the open, and not so well matched against cavalry! Yet it was them who won the game.

  • IWC Ancient army?

My struggle to win with the Carthaginians had me thinking I needed more practice with them, and to make it more interesting I decided to make it a contest between them and the Ancient Britons. If the Britons could win they’d get to go to IWC instead! First up the Britons were the defenders, and the Carthaginians went for a small littoral landing of two psiloi and the auxilia, but the Britons put their chariots on that flank, so that plan lost all zest! The Carthaginians were forced to deploy this landing behind their battle line (with their predictable opening roll of 1 PIP). Their battle line consisted of the spear, backed by psiloi and flanked on each side by an elephant. With the auxilia and psiloi deployed awkwardly the advantage was with the Britons. As the spear tried to force the chariots back onto a marsh, one of them was exposed to a flank attack by some adventurous warband. These were made to pay in the next turn by an elephant, but that flank was in real peril: a lone psiloi and a light horse faced two each of their opposite number. These managed to get the Carthaginian light horse and then the elephant, but meanwhile they had lost a chariot to the auxilia and spear working together on the other flank. At this point the Carthaginian general was able to destroy one of the British psiloi that was in the open, making it 3-3. However, the Britons got the Carthaginian psiloi, which had been guarding the flank of their general, with their light horse. A victory that owed a good measure to Carthaginian ineptitude and too many elephants.

I had another game, this time the Britons were the defenders and the Carthaginians went for only one elephant. They were able to get their auxilia and two psiloi onto a steep hill before the British warband could get there. The battle at this point see-sawed for quite a while, but the uphill advantage proved decisive for the Carthaginians. I can’t quite remember how they won, but the Carthaginians won this battle. Their elephant got to destroy at least one chariot.

The Carthaginians, with their elephant and particularly their auxilia and psiloi have the edge over the Ancient Britons, so I would expect them to win. However, I still need a bit of practice using them. I’ll try them out solo against a few other armies when I get time.