Browny-con

8 October, 2018

Browny-con was organised by Grant at his house and was a great success — 8 players and six rounds of DBA. We used a scoring system, but were relaxed about army choices, going for match-ups at each round.

A few missed games at either end missed all the rounds, and we scored 5 pts for a bye. Otherwise it was 8 for a win, 1 for a loss and 0 for a draw and you subtracted losses for your win and added kills for your loss or draw. The scores were:

Benny 35
Mark 32
Simon 30
Grant 28
Dave 26
Philip 24
Joel 23
Nick 18

Camps sacked and generals killed were (Camps sacked – Generals killed):

Benny (0-2)
Mark (0-1)
Simon (0-0)
Grant (1-2)
Dave (0-1)
Philip (1-0)
Joel (0-0)
Nick (0-1)

My games were:

1. Mitanni v. Sea People (Philip)

The Mitanni destroyed the Sea People using their light option (Psiloi and Fast Auxilia). It was their six chariots that proved superior to the auxilia and fast blade they met.

2. Campanians v. Polybian Romans (Joel)

Joel fielded a lovely BUA (Diocletian’s palace). I had him have it on his side and charged into contact with him, hoping to win on my left flank where I had fast auxilia and cavalry against his cavalry and psiloi. My centre crumbled (hoplites not enduring against blade), and things looked hopeless when my general 6-1ed his to turn around the game. I then destroyed the psiloi and cavalry on my left wing. It was a very jammy victory!

3. Mitanni v. Ugarit (Dave)

What I did to Joel, Dave did to me. I had the factors, I thought, in this battle — I had solid auxilia facing fast auxilia and I had a LCh facing a psiloi on the other flank. The dice went against me and I was 6-1ed repeatedly, losing my General and five other elements in an absolute rout.

4. Mitanni v. Midianites (Grant)

Mitanni face Midianites.

After lunch I faced Grant’s Midianites, and was grateful to finally be defending, avoiding sand dunes. I went for my heavy option of solid auxilia and solid bow. The battle was tipping in Grant’s favour when one of my bow was destroyed, but the dice went my way and I rolled up his flank and won quickly.

5. Late Carthaginian v. Pyrrhus (Benny)

Carthage faces Pyrrhus.

This was a game I thought I had; I managed to get my elephant to face Pyrrhus. All I had to do was QK his Kn general. Unfortunately, to do this I’d moved the elephant in front of a pair of Gallic warbands. If I’d moved the warbands first, I might have avoided this. It was a sideways shuffle. Predictably the elephant had to recoil — twice! On my left flank a psiloi was destroyed by an enemy one, allowing it to close the door on my auxilia, ending the game.

I was lucky to avoid losing two LH to a situation on the other flank. Benny’s LH and cavalry had advanced on opposite sides of the hamlet, so they were not lined up. The Numidians were positioned to ZoC both of them. Benny attacked with the Cv and the Numidians conformed (as he couldn’t). He then could close the door with the LH. Fortunately I won the battle. It’s an odd situation. Benny’s cavalry couldn’t advance as a group, as they weren’t one. He didn’t set out to create such a situation, but it was a nasty one.

Numidians before being attacked by cavalry with a LH overlap.

6. Mithridates v. Marian Romans (Nick)

Nick’s bad luck continued. He took an artillery element in the middle of his legionaries. It faced my Sarmatian Kn flanked by pikes. On my left flank the Romans had more BGo troops than I did facing each other across a wood. Nick’s PiPs were terrible, which prevented him from moving into the woods. He attacked with his legionaries, leaving a gap for the artillery to continue shooting at the Sarmatians. I was lucky to avoid losing anyone in these attacks, but got to charge the Sarmatians at the artillery and close the door on the legionaries in the gap with some LH. The gap widened, and after surviving a turn the artillery was destroyed. This gap was one that the Romans couldn’t fill, hampered by bad PiPs and poor combat dice.

It was a great day; most of the battles played very quickly. There’s talk of getting some HoTT armies together next.

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Despite plans to start a regular evening DBA meeting this year, it’s yet to happen, but I have caught up with Nick for a number of enjoyable games. One back in January saw a BBDBA contest in which my Marian Romans with Numidian allies were defeated by Nick’s Romans. We didn’t take any photos. I think my Numidians forgot to be defensive and were defeated before I could win elsewhere.

A fortnight ago we had a couple games using some of my newer armies. My Numidians defeated Nick’s Marian Romans.

The Numidians face Roman interlopers in a very green season in Numidia.

The Romans’ view.

I rushed forward to trap the legionaries next to the woods. I didn’t succeed, and I had the auxilia on my left that I didn’t want to meet with psiloi. From memory I was on the verge of defeat when I was lucky enough to create a hole in the line of the blade (I’d been falling back; I’d lost my only psiloi on the right and my commander was trying to retreat over the hill). This brought me back into the fight, which was looking over for the Numidians. I had been saved by good PIPs that allowed me to retire the general while keep pressure on in the centre. I was lucky to win.

The next battle was between my Campanians and an Italiot Hoplite army. It was fought on a battlefield with no Bad Going, but only a boggy and a scrubby patch, both Rough Going.

Campanians facing Italiot hoplites.

The Italiots.

My Hoplites created a breakthough in the centre, but I was so obsessed with winning on the flanks I didn’t exploit it. Instead, when I rolled 1 PIP I chose to take a risk with my general facing enemy cavalry so that I could develop an advantage on my right flank. This cost me the game, as my General was 6-1ed and destroyed. The Italiots managed a close victory.

Last weekend we caught up again. I got the Marians and Numidians out for a BBDBA game. Nick fielded his Early Imperial Romans. This game was interesting, as my centre destroyed his in record time and my Numidians were able to break their opponent with this support. I’ve not seen blade go down to blade so fast before. My dice were very good. the element that did it was a ring in. To get the 10 elements of legionaries I needed I used an element with different shield patterns. These are an element for my Mithridatic army, one I’ve described as Marian exiles fighting for Mithridates. Clearly they are dedicated defenders of the Republic.

The heroic Marian exiles.

The game was nearly over before the left wing made contact. My elephants were still stuck in rough going (my new hamlet), and I was nervous of the Roman knights.

The righteous defenders of the free Republic face off on hills against the supporters of the tyrant Augustus.

The EIR wing on my left, cavalry, knights and auxilia.

The EIR centre, auxilia, blade and bow.

The EIR wing on my right, blade, auxilia and rogue Numidian LH.

The battle from the side; the centre led by Cato is between two difficult hills; Juba’s Numidian psiloi are on one hill while his imitation legionaries, elephant and cavalry are in rough going; Labianus on the right wing is in a hamlet with elephants, cavalry and solid auxilia; he has psiloi and fast auxilia on the other hill.

Clearly the Numidians were not keen on fighting each other, as there were a number of rounds of combat that saw no casualties on that wing; the Romans were not so delicate in their attitude to each other. This is my first victory with this Marian BBDBA army. I’m still not sure how to get it to work well. I will probably get my Carthaginians out as a BBDBA army again soon. They are similarly winless, but I now have a better idea of how to organise commands.

Gallic Cavalry

23 October, 2016

I’ve finished the last of the figures I needed to get done for my trip to Conquest in two weeks time. These are a command element for my Marian Romans, and four elements of Gallic cavalry.

The Roman command is to replace the one I have of Julius Caesar. I’ve called the commander Quintus Labienus, the only one of Caesar’s legates who did not follow him over the Rubicon. Labienus was not only a brilliant commander, but also probably a man of principle; his decision to fight for the republic rather than his commander in Gaul is likely to have been taken out of a sense of loyalty to the concept of the republic; the idea he was a client of Pompey is reductive.

Caesar and Labienus.

Caesar and Labienus.

I’m not sure I’m entirely happy with this element. They are all Freikorp figures, but the standard bearer is a giant next to the earlier figures. Nevertheless, I look forward to using Labienus rather than Caesar!

Another angle.

Another angle.

Another.

Another.

The four new elements of Gallic cavalry took quite a while to get done. At the last minute I found another figure to allow me to do four elements, rather than have a HotT hero. It involved using a figure from my Ancient British LH that are orphans until I get some more 3Wb; the horse was left over from an element of Carthaginian cavalry, which was fortuitous.

Four Gallic cavalry.

Four Gallic cavalry.

These were hard to fit on the bases. Both the CB and the Xyston figures are a bit animated. Keeping ‘hands inside the bus’ hasn’t entirely worked, especially on the sides of the elements. However, I’m pleased with the way the Xyston figures look amongst the Corvus Belli ones (and with the news that CB will be back in production again.

One side.

One side.

The other.

The other.

These elements will allow me to field Gauls as mercenaries and auxiliaries in other armies, and to use them for BBDBA.

All the Gallic cavalry.

All the Gallic cavalry.

Finally, I’ve added a corpse for Androgeus, one that he got the head he’s standing on for.

Androgeus and the decapitated Roman.

Androgeus and the decapitated Roman.

The head is now not so drained of blood.

The head is now not so drained of blood.

Fresh blood from the Freikorp corpse.

Fresh blood from the Freikorp corpse.

Next up may be a Campanian army, or I may start on some 1:1200 Langton ancient galleys. I’m keen to start doing some naval warfare. Then again, Nennius wants a corpse for his head too!

DBA Day at the AWC

10 October, 2016

Sunday a week ago there was a very successful DBA day at the Auckland Wargames Club. As it led to other projects being planned, I’ve not got around to writing up any report until now. The format was friendly games; no set armies or points. I had five very enjoyable games.

  • 1 – Marian Romans v. Alexandrian Imperial

My first game was against John, whose army is still being painted, so he borrowed figures from me. I’m pleased to say that they knew who their paymaster was, and fought accordingly!

A bird's-eye view of the Marian Romans.

A bird’s-eye view of the Marian Romans.

I was the defender and laid down some Marsh and ploughed fields (I’d just made some new terrain; I realised later that Marsh is not valid for Arable armies). Appropriate to the weather that day the fields were boggy.

The Romans, complete with an elephant.

The Romans, complete with an elephant.

[a666: The Alexandrian deployment.]

The Alexandrian deployment.

Alexander, or his subordinate, took an elephant as well. He swung his knights out on his left flank. Things looked good when one squared off against some auxilia, who promptly 6-1ed him! It went from bad to worse from there with the general encountering elephants and this time the encounter went to script. The Kappadocian hillmen notched up their second kill, supporting some legionaries against hapless thureophoroi, and it was all over.

The situation at the end. Not a single companion cavalryman left!

The situation at the end. Not a single companion cavalryman left!

The surprising resilience of the Kappadocians secured a quick victory.

  • 2 – Prefeudal Scots v. Vikings

The second combat was against Kieran’s Vikings. Again I was the defender and went for a marsh and a wood, which ended up being in the same corner.

The Viking invaders of Scotland.

The Viking invaders of Scotland.

The defenders of Scotland (helped by some friendly Vikings on their right flank.

The defenders of Scotland (helped by some friendly Vikings on their right flank.

The battle was a close one, where the Scots won first blood, when the Galwegians broke an element of Vikings. However, the centre was somewhat of a stalemate, with a lot of toing and froing. On the Scots’ right their Viking allies did good execution and contributed to a close-fought 4-2 victory. Terrain and the greater mobility of the Scots were significant factors.

The finals situation; the wood has saved the fragile Scots left flank. Their Viking allies have hared up the field on the right flank, while a schiltron has collapsed in the centre.

The finals situation; the wood has saved the fragile Scots left flank. Their Viking allies have hared up the field on the right flank, while a schiltron has collapsed in the centre.

  • 4 – Later Macedonians v. Polybian Romans

After lunch I faced Joel’s freshly painted Polybian Romans. I decided I really should get my Later Macedonians out to meet them. Naturally in the face of unprovoked Roman aggression I was the defender again. I took two large terrain pieces to anchor my flanks and restrict the battlefield to the advantage of the phalanx.

The valiant Macedonians line up to hold Roman depredation at bay.

The valiant Macedonians line up to hold Roman depredation at bay.

Scurrilous Romans set on spreading tyranny.

Scurrilous Romans set on spreading tyranny.

The battle was close fought, with the battle going in the Romans’ favour on their left flank, while the Macedonians secured the advantage on their own left flank, destroying both elements of Roman velites. However, it was the steadfastness of the Macedonian blueshields that secured victory; despite being flanked by Roman cavalry they repeatedly refused to break. In the centre the Galatians made noble execution of Roman legionaries and the whiteshields (leukaspides) broke their opposing legionaries.

The situation at the end; the Macedonian right flank is lucky not to have broken after their light horse fled, but the centre has triumphed.

The situation at the end; the Macedonian right flank is lucky not to have broken after their light horse fled, but the centre has triumphed.

  • 3 – Later Macedonians v. Polybian Romans

Actually, there is a report that prior to this battle the Macedonian general was troubled by a nasty dream in which his thureophoroi proved his undoing. Romans report that this was an actual battle, but the more reliable Greek chronicler disagree (the battle just described was actually our second, as the first was over so fast!). The Macedonians defended again. Their terrain was too small to constrain the battlefield.

The Macedonian deployment.

The Macedonian deployment.

The Roman deployment.

The Roman deployment.

The Macedonian thureophoroi attempted to defeat the Roman velites and were disgracefully defeated (they are prone to this; witness their routing by Spartan artillery). Philip V tried to stabilise things, but was defeated himself; the battle was over without the main lines having contacted.

The final position. The thureophoroi were quickly routed and Philip was flanked and defeated. There was a scary big hole in the Macedonian line.

The final position. The thureophoroi were quickly routed and Philip was flanked and defeated. There was a scary big hole in the Macedonian line.

  • 5 – Prefeudal Scots v. Carolingian Franks

The last battle was against Mike’s Carolingian Franks. The Scots had got on their boats and visited France. It didn’t go well for them.

The Carolingian Franks. The red beads denote those that can dismount.

The Carolingian Franks. The red beads denote those that can dismount.

The Prefeudal Scots.

The Prefeudal Scots.

How the Galwegians got to be in the centre facing knights I don’t remember (I think I deployed and then moved the line along a bit to fit it in the legal area and didn’t check who was facing who. Unlike the bold Kappadocians at the start of the day, the Galwegians didn’t produce an upset against the Carolingian commander. The schiltons were under pressure and collapsed, but not before a few knights had fled in the face of the Scots cavalry.

The final situation after the Scottish centre had collapsed.

The final situation after the Scottish centre had collapsed.

All in all, it was a great day; there is another account of it here, and there are plans for more DBA action there soon.

Spanish Mercenaries

10 October, 2016

The restored Spanish scutati (existing elements in the back).

The restored Spanish scutati (existing elements in the back).

I got a few more elements completed this weekend. I completed four elements of 4Ax, which will be used for Spanish Scutati serving in Carthaginian, Syracusan and Roman armies. This project also saw three elements of 3Ax being rebased for the Spanish army and around six caetrae being substituted for scuta to make them proper scutati.

Viking 4Bw (Feudal Castings figures).

Viking 4Bw (Feudal Castings figures).

I also have rebased some of my Viking 3Bw and Ps to 4Bw to comply with DBA 3.0; the 4Bw get a combat bonus when in side combat with their 4Bd, so this seemed worth the effort. Once the Gauls are done, only the Norse Irish of my armies will need any rebasing for DBA 3.0.

Four Spanish 4Ax for service in foreign armies.

Four Spanish 4Ax for service in foreign armies.

The mercenary 4Ax are a combination of figures from Corvus Belli, which are no longer manufactured, and Xyston. I am really pleased with how they mix and I’m looking forward to getting the Gallic Xyston figures done to see how they look similarly mixed.

From the side.

From the side.

These figures have rocks added, along with small bushes. I’ve done the same for the Numidians I finished earlier, so they are now properly finished. I needed to refresh my supply of kitty litter, as the remaining ‘stones’ were all too small.

From the other side.

From the other side.

I’ve been using a wet palette when I paint, and I find it very effective, though it does expose those paints that I should really bin and get new ones; in particular, my black has turned and should be replaced. Next up should be nine elements of Gallic 4Wb; and then three elements of Gallic Cv. But I’m pretty good at getting sidetracked!

BBDBA Civil Wars

19 September, 2016

Last Friday Nick and I tried a game of BBDBA. I’d got my Numidians finished and could field a Marian army, albeit with a few of the elements not as I’d want them. Nick put together another Marian army, not with any prior preparation. I was the defender and set up all my commands, followed by Nick. I then rolled 7 total for my PIPs, so made the ploughed rough; not what I’d expected!

The perfidious Caesarians arrayed with their lickspittle lackies in support; the left command has Spanish auxiliaries, elephants cavalry; the centre command consists of a block of legionaries and a line of them; the right has legionaries and cavalry.

The perfidious Caesarians arrayed with their lickspittle lackeys in support; the left command has Spanish auxiliaries, elephants cavalry; the centre command consists of a block of legionaries and a line of them; the right has legionaries and cavalry.

My plan was to win in the centre and hold on the flanks. I gave my high dice to the centre. The Numidian flank was hampered by the ploughed fields.

The glorious defenders of the republic. On the left is the loyal Juba with his elephants, imitation legionaries and Numidians; the centre is Scipio with elephants, legionaries and Spanish auxiliaries; the right has a few legionaries, Spanish auxiliaries and Gallic cavalry, commanded by Labienus.

The glorious defenders of the republic. On the left is the loyal Juba with his elephants, imitation legionaries and Numidians; the centre is Scipio with elephants, legionaries and Spanish auxiliaries; the right has a few legionaries, Spanish auxiliaries and Gallic cavalry, commanded by Labienus.

My initial PIPs were very low, and I was anxious about trying to get my light troops across on my left to intercept the elephants. Nick had his high PIP dice there. I seemed to forget about holding on the flanks, and although I got one of the elephants, that command broke. There was a stalemate across the ploughed field on the right and I actually did win in the centre, where Nick was using some of his legionaries to break my left flank. However, I’d lost patience, and forgotten the plan, and attacked on the right flank. It didn’t go well.

The game took some time and was very close, in that I was close to breaking, but could have won if I’d hadn’t been so rash with the Numidians. In the end Nick broke the Numidians and won the battle. It was a fun game and I learnt a good deal about BBDBA.

We’ll have another game soon; I may have to rethink my commands; the centre could have used a more mobile reserve, but then the left flank would be less effective, possibly. Food for thought!

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.