Gauls, Gauls, Gauls!

20 November, 2011

An entire army of warband! All the Gallic foot amassed. Note how much less flock I've used on the four new ones (flanking the command); the Gauls were the first army I did with this flock; over time I've come to use less and less flock.

Over a year in the painting, they’re finally done, the last of my CB Gallic foot. They weren’t terribly urgent, which is why I put them away for most of this year after starting them; I got their shields done in August then did no painting for a few months, so it’s with a certain amount of relief that I’ve finally finished them. They’re not the last CB Gauls I could do; I’ve got a 3Cv element that would be useful as Galatian or Gallic mercenaries with various armies. And as I like painting CB figures so much, I’m sure their Numidians will creep up the priority list after the Mithridatics are done (especially as I’m looking at Sallust’s Jugurthine War again).

The four new foot, who will be serving with the Carthaginians and Syracusans.

The Mithridatics are moving on well. Their cavalry’s over half done, as are the 4Ax and 2Ps. I’ll do the 4bd as a separate group, though I’ve made a start on some of them. That way I can field one version of the army faster.

I made an amusingly obvious discovery this morning. I can put the metallic paper on the bases before I put the figures on! It’s easier (blindingly obviously so!), but as I was in the habit of adding the paper to finished elements, that was the habitual order of things and it’d not occurred with me to do it differently!

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.

A couple of battles.

17 November, 2010

In the next while I’m going to have less time to give to the blog, as I try to get some other publishing done. Therefore my battle reports will be much briefer, though I’ll try to keep posts on figures finished coming. Last week I cancelled my flight to the Medieval Open in Christchurch. This was mainly due to JetStar mucking me about, and changing my flight times was the last straw. However, I realized afterwards that getting the refund was really cutting off my nose to spite my face, as I’d like to have got down there. Still more time to work on that other publishing (in theory!).

Last week Steve was over and we got three games. One was of Dux Bellorum, the play-test version of the revised Glutter of Ravens. It was quite fun, but really something that you need to do again to avoid all the tactical errors we made. In particular, skirmishers are quite fragile; they can’t evade, and as they move first, they have to avoid moving into charge range of the enemy, or they will probably be destroyed. I won with one element left! However, as Steve’s commander destroyed mine more decisively than I destroyed his, he could claim the more glorious defeat! I charged his general with mine when it was almost broken and on the last turn I destroyed his, but he rolled about three sixes, absolutely destroying mine! Morale tests saw only one element (mine) survive!

The other two games were 15mm DBA played on a 30″x30″ game cloth. Now I’ve got a cloth of that dimension I figured I should give it a try to be able to pass judgement on it.

The first was my Komnenans against Steve’s Sicilian Normans. This is a historical match-up, but the Normans have quite a job with so many psiloi. Despite this, owing to a bold attack as I approached him, Steve had me at 3-2 and might have won had he a few more PIPs. In the end I got a narrow win taking out two elements that I managed to flank or force to recoil into themselves. The larger board was not a factor.

For the second we chose a foot heavy army, the Polybians, to face a mobile army, which was the Ancient Britons with four LCh and two 2LH. I was the Britons and the defender. I managed to get a wood on a flank. I deployed and then after seeing the Triarii on one flank swapped the two 2LH that faced them with a pair of 3Wb. Despite this, my PIPs were atrocious and I was barely able to move, while the Romans taunted me with more PIPs than they could use!

However, in combat the dice were as one-sided in reverse. I must have rolled sixes for my first two combats at least. The warband destroyed an element of Triarii and its psiloi support and the other one would have gone as well, but we decided that light horse don’t get the QK against spear on the larger table.

Steve had a chance to get some good attacks on overlapped chariots, but proceeded to roll a one and recoil his psiloi support! I was then able to attack an unsupported, overlapped 4Bd with double-ranked warband. Again the dice went my way and the game was over. The combat dice made it a very one-sided affair. It’s the first time in a long time I’ve seen warband win when they’ve been given good odds! Mine seem to need their backs against the wall to do anything! However, again the larger board was not a significant factor, though had my PIPs been better, who knows.

I was one of the umpires for this event, in training along with Dave for the IWC competition next year. There were sixteen of us competing, so organizing the draw was quite tight for time between games. Conquest is sponsored by Comics Compulsion, and this year Tim from there was one of the DBA competitors. He also provided us with some very nice game boards for the event.

As I won my CB Ancient Britons at Conquest last year, I felt it was only proper to field them this year. Actually, they’re not one of my favourite armies. This is not because they’re not quite a powerful mix of troop types; they can have half their army mounted or can go for skirmishers to complement the light horse. It’s more that the image of them for me has been shaped by the Victorians, who adopted Boudica as a prototype of Queen Victoria of all people! As the Wikipedia author points out, it’s highly ironic that someone who fought Roman imperialism became associated with British imperialism! Because of this, the Ancient Britons don’t come across to me as the ancestors of the Celts of Britain, but the English. Still, why should that be strange when a similar fate awaited King Arthur?

Anyway, trying hard to put these associations to one side, I took the Britons. I described them as early Cornish (a link to the DBR game of the night before), but I didn’t think of a name for my leaders, particularly the warrior queen on a chariot, so was lumbered with Boudica by well-meaning opponents. There are no historical Cornish rulers from this time. My best source for a name would be someone from that eminent historian, refreshingly untroubled by the need to verify his sources, Geoffrey of Monmouth. He provides us with a Duke of Cornwall, Tenvantius, the son of Lud. He’s less prolific with female names, but I’ll go with Tonuuenna, the mother of Belinus and Brennius, who persuaded her sons to do the right thing and not fight each other, but rather go sack Rome!

Damn, with names like that, I’m sure they would have fought better, which tells you what you could discover if you looked here. I won two games, drew one and lost the other three. Still, I learnt a lot about the army as the day unfolded, which is to say, I made a lot of mistakes that I could learn from!

  • Game 1: Thessalians (II/5d), Colin Foster (Christchurch)

My first game was against a Hoplite Greek army, the Thessalians, who have a mix of troops not so different from my Picts last Conquest. Colin went for four 3Cv, two 2Ps and six 4Sp. I went for all the mounted I could, so Tonnuuena led four LCh, two 2LH and six 3Wb. As would remain a common pattern, I was the defender. I was looking forward to getting my double-ranked warband into Colin’s spear, so I went for a gentle hill and two woods. I put the two woods on one flank, but Colin did the sensible thing and opted to have the woods in my deployment zone, which the dice allowed him.

Setting up, I put the warbands in one wood, and the mounted between the woods. Colin was able to put his spear as far as possible from the warband and I elected not to swap any elements.

Initial Deployments against the Thessalians.

I rapidly found that the depth of chariots is significant when moving across the front of battlefield, and the chariots were not able to get to the right wing before they were engaged by the Thessalian horse. I also had a moment of madness and imagined I could slip my light horse between the hoplite lines. In that initial encounter one chariot was destroyed.

An overlapped chariot is destroyed and the light horse get ready to get themselves into trouble.

Things did not improve. Predictably one of the light horse was destroyed and the warbands had to rush into combat at bad odds against the cavalry. Before long another chariot and a warband were destroyed and the Britons routed.

Terrible match-ups on the right flank.

Going into this battle I thought I had a good chance. I shot myself in the foot with the terrain placement, and I then made it easy for the warbands to be avoided; had they been central they would have had better options. Finally, I discovered that chariots are surprisingly more awkward to manoeuvre than 3Cv. Good lessons!

  • Game 2: Early Neo-Assyrians (I/25b), Barrie Cameron (Timaru)

My next opponent, Barrie, had chariots and I decided to stick to the same army. The Assyrians were insanely aggressive, and I’d have to 6-1 them to be the aggressor! They have an interesting mix of mounted and foot: two HCh, two LCh, two 3Bd, four 3Ax and two 2Ps. I didn’t see any massively favourable match-ups for me, but I hoped I could bring my superior mounted numbers to bear against his foot, to which they were quite vulnerable. I think I did learn a bit from my mistakes in the previous battle, and went for different terrain and deployment.

Initial Deployments against the Neo-Assyrians.

I didn’t take any photos of this battle beyond this first picture, and my recollection is a bit hazy. It was a draw and I know that our chariots met on the right flank. Barrie tried to bring his across his front, and I pinned them much as Colin had done to me. Despite this, I don’t think it was going too well for me there. The only consolation was that it blocked the HCh, which sat out the battle. I managed to get one of the 3Ax on the left flank with my light horse, but when time was called, I’m not sure who had the advantage.

  • Game 3: Numidians (II/40), Bryan Fowler (Wellington)

Numidians with an elephant, light horse and auxilia were not an army I especially wanted to face. In the light of this I went for all the chariots again, figuring they’d have the edge over auxilia and light horse. I could have taken a psiloi as an elephant killer, but figured it’d get eaten by the auxilia.

I was the defender again and discovered that owing to a limitation of what figures he could get, Bryan had no auxilia! He had five 2LH, five 2Ps a 4Bd and an El. Even better—a stack of psiloi able to be gobbled up by my chariots. I went for a very open battlefield to give the psiloi nowhere to hide.

Initial Deployments against the Numidians. The lone warband on the right flank is the result of a swap!

I deployed with the warbands hoping to gain the crest of the hill and the mounted on either side. Things moved at a rush. But as the Numidians advanced their left flank expanded, outflanking my right flank significantly. However, I figured that Tonuuenna would QK the psiloi in front of her and lead a breakthrough in the centre. Do you think she could? For at least three turns that psiloi held her off! In that time my chariot held up the Numidian elephant, but it was a combat that could only have one outcome.

Early combat. Tonuuenna proves ineffective, and Nennius and his head faces off against three light horse!

By the time Tonuuenna finally killed that psiloi it was too late. A chariot had been flanked and destroyed, another had fallen to the elephant and Nennius had been surrounded and destroyed. Meanwhile I think my light horse had been destroyed on my left flank by psiloi and light horse. I think I was downslope of all this.

It was all over very quickly!

In hindsight I could have extended my line by not double-ranking the warband. They didn’t get any benefit against five sixths of the opposition. However, I blamed Tonuuenna for a lacklustre performance, and going into the break for lunch she was retired in disgrace!

  • Game 4: Early Imperial Romans (II/56), Simon Phillips (Timaru)

After lunch, owing to the nature of the Swiss Chess system, I was facing less experienced, or less lucky opponents. Simon, from Timaru (and recently from Scotland) had a loaner army; these Romans were also won at Conquest last year, so it was a very fitting match-up, even historical!

Going for one less chariot I took a warband general (Tenvantius) and a psiloi. I was of course the defender and stuck to my terrain choices, though putting the woods slightly more central. I fancied my chances, as these Romans, unlike Marians and Polybians, lacked psiloi for support. The auxilia and blade would be very dangerous to the warbands with psiloi support. Without it they were vulnerable to my warbands and my chariots. And for the Romans the one psiloi they could get came at the cost of a cavalry. Simon went for three cavalry, an artillery, four blades and four auxillia.

Initial Deployments against the Romans.

Simon sent a cavalry to try and get around the wood on my right flank. I stopped it with a psiloi and a light horse. I was able to drive it off the edge of the board, making it 1-0. Simon decided that these two represented a target worth chasing (or as he said later, a threat). He would prove able to get them, but at the cost of leaving his centre hanging. I lost a light horse to his artillery (I didn’t know that was a match-up to avoid!), but was able to use my chariots to effect, taking out his artillery, a blade, who were unable to expand out of column in time, and an auxilia. For all that, it was a narrow victory.

It's all over; while the Roman commander and cavalry are over to their left flank, the chariots do the damage.

  • Game 5: Alexandrian Imperial (II/15), Lewis Osborne (Timaru)

My next opponent was the youngest competitor, Lewis, who had used Ancient Britons himself. Like the Assyrians, the chance of him being the defender were remote. I went for terrain similar to what I had against the Romans (in fact I managed to stay at the same table for the whole day!). This time Tenvantius was on a chariot and I went for two psiloi. Alexander went for a defensive deployment and artillery instead of an elephant.

Initial Deployments against Alexander.

Six PIPs on the first turn got my psiloi into the woods on the left flank. The light horse also headed over to that flank too. While Alexander’s pikes and artillery sat on the hill, I thought I’d have a good chance to bring superior numbers to bear on the mounted on the left flank. This was going fairly well, and I got one of the elements of companion cavalry, but my decision to try to get Alexander himself by having Tenvantius flank him proved my undoing. Alexander recoiled me and the depth of the chariot proved fatal. He was then able to turn and attack Tenvantius and recoil him again. His deep base contacted my light horse by a few mm and it was all over, as I’d lost a psiloi earlier to his companions.

More learning with chariots: avoid going sideways!

  • Game 6: Spartacus (II/45c), Dave Batchelor (Timaru)

My final game of the day was against a fellow umpire, Dave, who brought Spartacus’ army. It was the first time I was the aggressor. Had Spartacus broken out to Britain, only to get attacked by the locals? I went with Tenvantius on foot again, but with two psiloi, as against an army of warband I figured they’d be useful. Dave went for a foot general, so had five 4Bd, five 5Wb and two 2Ps.

Initial Deployments against Spartacus.

In a crowded battlefield I believe one of my light horse got into trouble and was destroyed. At that point I retired the offending die that had rolled a 1 and my luck saw me home. In a day that had seen my warbands do very little (anything, pretty much), the chance to face other warbands must have inspired them. Perhaps they felt they had something to prove against raggedy-arsed 5Wb, as they consistently beat them (overlaps, a Wb general and double-rank advantages helped, of course).

Two mobs of slaves put to flight, one, I think by psiloi.

As the escaped slaves fought, the gladiators looked on, and before they could get into action another mob of slaves was defeated and Spartacus’ army broke and ran. What punishments worse than crucifixion could the Britons dream up for those they captured?

Another mob of unwashed slaves break and the Spartican adventure in Britain falls to ruin.

It was nice to end on a victory, and interesting that it was one that saw my warbands in action finally. I think I had struggled to make the Britons act as a combined-arms army and ended up winning (or more frequently losing) with the mobile part of the army, which made contact before the warbands could move up. Another lesson there!

It was a very enjoyable day with all the games being played in good spirits. Yet it wasn’t over. I’d played mostly Timaruvians in the competition, and I’d see more of them that evening, when four of them came over to Keith’s for dinner and a game of Big Battle DBA (BBDBA).

Last night I got to have another game with Joel. Although my Polybians were finished, I decided to wait until they were flocked before putting them on the table. Therefore it was my Carthaginians that faced me when I took the Ancient Britons out for a game. The Britons are going to Conquest, so I figured they could do with another run. Clearly the Carthaginians were unhappy with their tin suppliers in Britain and sent an army to sort them out!

Joel chose an elephant and lots of warband as his options: 2x3Cv (1=Gen), 1xEl, 1x2LH, 3x4Sp, 3x3Wb, 1x3Ax and 1x2Ps. I went for more psiloi to meet the elephant and had: 6x3Wb (1=Gen), 2xLCh, 2x2LH, 2x2Ps. It has a certain symmetry to it!

I was the defender and went for a central wood and two steep hills. After deploying I swapped my psiloi to the other side to meet the elephant.

 

Initial Deployments: Britons on the right.

 

Joel started with 1 PIP and opted to get his elephant off the hill. I started with 6 PIPs and was tempted to charge the elephant with my psiloi, but chose caution. As it was the psiloi advanced into the woods to interdict the elephant.

This was not a terribly good plan, as Joel chased the psiloi out with his warband and auxilia. I was lucky not to lose one. Meanwhile I advanced my chariots to meet his cavalry. PIPs favoured me and I was able to attack them with light horse support and a flank on the general. My first attack saw the chariots rout his cavalry (dice: 5-1). His spear fled my light horse, but the overlap on the general proved too much and despite ferocious resistance (dice: 6-6), the Carthaginian general fell and his army broke and fled. A rapid and surprising victory to the Britons. Cornubian tin suppliers remained as intransigent as ever.

 

All over after only a few combats.

 

  • Review:

After losing my general repeatedly last weekend, it was nice to reverse the roles. Joel might have been wiser to have had his two cavalry in reverse positions to protect his general. As it was, it was a lucky attack by me that could have failed (my first attack was at 3-3, so no advantage to me; as it succeeded it made the attack on the general at better odds). With different luck my mounted arm would have been ripe for a pummelling. Also I was outnumbered on that wing and would have had trouble redeploying if I’d not won quickly.

A backlog of battles

3 October, 2010

  • Ancient Spanish v. Carthaginians.

I’m a good way behind in writing battle reports and the last few don’t have any photos either. The week before last Joel got around for a game in the week after work, the first time in a while. The Spanish had just been finished, so he chose the Carthaginians to face them. He ended up being the defender and had opted for no elephants (strange that!) and three warband.

The Spanish have no choice and over a very empty battlefield they chose to attack at speed. This was because they had a wood on their right and the Carthaginians had a steep hill on their right. After deploying, the Carthaginians opted to swap their two 3Cv elements to the right of this hill in place of the two 2LH. This ended up causing severe command and control issues, as they got repeatedly low PIPs.

The Spanish deployed in two blocks of three psiloi supported auxilia with two psiloi in the woods and the cavalry in reserve. The psiloi were able to face the Numidian LH at even odds and came out to face them with the Spanish cavalry. The left flank block of auxilia was more cautious, trying to block the Carthaginian cavalry, while the central one charged up the middle.

What really gave the Spanish the game were three 6-1s in their favour. The first took out a pair of double-ranked 3Wb that were overlapped. The second removed (from memory) a 2LH. The Carthaginians managed to get a 3Ax with their spear, but it was too little too late, and the central block of auxilia got another 3Wb. Against such dice, the Carthaginians had no answer. The general behind the hill just made it harder. Clearly the Spanish liked having their camp to themselves!

The Spanish camp obviously brought them good luck in their first outing against its erstwhile possessor!

  • Review:

Rolling sixes is always a great way to win! The Spanish did use their speed to deny the Carthaginians time to overcome their bad initial PIP rolls. Psiloi-supported Auxilia are good against Warband, but if the game had degenerated into a shoving match, as might have been more expected, the Carthaginians would have had the edge.

  • Ancient British v. Patrician Romans.

Sunday last week I got around to John’s for a game. He used his Patrician Romans, who now have two completed elements of 4Bd (which look fantastic). The rest are still bare metal. I decided to try out the Ancient Britons, who I’m thinking of taking to Conquest. It seems only proper as I won them at that competition last year. John took 1x3Cv (gen), 2x3Kn, 2x2LH, 2x4Bd, 2x 4Wb, 2x4Ax and 1x2Ps. I took 6x3Wb (1=gen), 3xLCh, 2x2LH and 1x2Ps.

As the defender John laid down a wood on one edge of the board and a couple of gentle hills. I chose to put this wood on one flank. I deployed my warband on a hill with one chariot on the right flank where the wood was (realizing too late that John’s Auxilia would own this!), and the rest of the mounted along with the psiloi on the other flank facing John’s mounted. John had his Auxilia and Psiloi in column on his left to rush into the woods, and his blades and warband in line facing my warband with his mounted on his right flank.

This game lasted quite a while. I advanced off the hill hoping to take the Roman blade and warband while screening the auxilia with my chariot. Unfortunately at the critical moment my PIPs evaporated for what seemed ages. The chariot was caught by the auxilia who then ZOCed my warband. Furthermore, the blades faced my warband with a kink at the point where their general was. No matchup was very attractive, and I was sitting at over 200 paces, so to contact needed PIPs for a double move.

The whole thing could have gone far worse, but on the left flank I sent in my chariots, light horse and psiloi against John’s light horse and knights. I succeeded in killing both his light horse; in the first round with a lucky result (doubling one LH) and in the second round by sending in my psiloi against the other with a LH flanking it. In these fights my chariots were lucky not to die to the knights, as at least one of them was overlapped. I managed to get one knight flanked and attacked to the rear. It stuck one turn but died the next. However, with the game 3-2 to me I had to survive two attacks on my warband to get another crack at winning on the left flank. It was not to be; the knight took out a rear rank warband and the psiloi-supported auxilia with an overlap got the rear-rank warband on the other flank.

  • Review:

My big mistake was not to put the wood in John’s set-up zone. Where it was gave a flank to John and something for his auxilia to do. For all that the Britons nearly did it despite PIP starvation in the mid game. They’re a fun army I think I will take to Conquest.

  • Gauls v. Later Swiss. 02.10.10.

Today I went to the Auckland Wargames Club for a DBA day. As it turned out this was not well attended, to put it mildly. Still John and I had two good games.  The first was my Gauls against his Swiss. He took the option of a 6Kn instead of a 6Bd. This game was soon over when my general was 6-1ed by his 2LH when I attacked them with an overlap against me. This was only the second combat of the game. We decided to keep playing and treat this as a recoil.

I was the defender and went for a large central wood and two steep hills in opposite corners. One of these was on my right flank and that was where the action was. John kept his two psiloi on his hill to stop a cavalry of mine from scooting down a road to his rear. For my part I shielded this flank with my psiloi and that cavalry. Meanwhile the commander and the other cavalry went over to the right flank in an attempt to get around it. This is where they met John’s 2LH. I had sent the bulk of my warband (5 of them) into the woods where they had a stand-off with John’s pike and knight. The other three warband were on the hill.

As the battle progressed (in the alternate reality where my general didn’t die), John advanced four pike to support his LH against my cavalry and three warband. Even worse than in the game the weekend before I had atrocious PIPs. My general chased the 2LH to the edge of the board before doubling it. My warband then started to get stuck into his pike. One came out of the wood and peeled off the rear rank, only to get double (was that another 6-1? I think so!). Then my general got adventurous and tried the same trick on the side. He was recoiled and quickly surrounded by the pike he’d attacked and one of the pike that had stayed back.

He got a stick the first round, and this is when things got interesting. In my turn I got enough PIPs to attack his pike in detail (single-ranked pike against warband, yummy!). I managed to make it 3-2 that turn, unfortunately my casualty was my general. For around four turns I could not get that next pike, even though it was single-ranked and overlapped! Things were getting grim at 3-3 with the 6Kn approaching when I finally got him at even odds. The honours were evenly spread: 1G-0 to John and 4-3G to me; though my general might have wondered at my putting him into harm’s way so many times!

* Review:

I could do with not risking the general so much. The first time it seemed reasonable, as the risk was small and I stood to open up that flank; the second was not sensible. The problem was frustration at poor PIPs.

  • Ancient Spanish v. Gauls. 02.10.10.

After a quick lunch we had another game. I used the Spanish and John took the Gauls. It was a chance for a historical match-up. I was the defender and went for two woods and a steep hill. One of these ended up on John’s right flank and the others on my left flank (the hill) and right flank (the wood). I opted for two blocks of three psiloi-supported auxilia again. One was in column on the hill and had a pair of psiloi and the light horse next to it on the left flank. The other was between the wood and the hill with the general behind it.

I needed to advance my central block fast to avoid having the left flank out of command range. I did this, despite not really wanting to face most of the Gallic cavalry (his general went close to the wood to support the action that developed there.

As it turned out the battle on my left flank sucked up all our attention so that the Gallic left never got into action. Things started well with a rear-supported warband going down in a confused action with the psiloi and light horse. The auxilia had to deploy out of column and struggled to get psiloi support. Some bad luck led to an auxilia and its psiloi support going down. I then made it 3-3 when an auxilia and a psiloi flanked another warband. At this point I committed my general to the battle, to avoid the auxilia being overlapped. It was a risk, but he had good odds. Unfortunately he was a total coward, rolling three successive 1s in combat, eventually falling when flanked. My risk undid me and I lost a general for the third time that day!

  • Review:

This was a fun battle. It developed fast and could easily have gone the way of the Spanish. The committing of the general was a risk as he could be overlapped; it was to avoid the auxilia facing a warband at 2-2, odds where it could easily be doubled. Still, it was probably a risk best avoided.

I caught up with Joel for another game of DBA yesterday, the second outing of the Britons against the Marian Romans. This time I was the attacker (the first time in our encounters; clearly Cassivellaunus was very annoyed, as the aggression ratings are 0-3 against him).

After last week’s skirmish Cassivellaunus decided to lead his forces in person and on foot; so he led 6x3Wb, 3xLCh, 2x2LH and 1x2Ps. Caesar’s order of battle differed from last week only in having an extra 2Ps instead of a 3Ax.

Caesar found a site with a large wood and a steep hill. Cassivellaunus got the edge he wanted and Caesar deployed next to the wood in line with the cavalry in reserve. Cassivellaunus set his warband behind the hill supported by some adolescent skirmishers. They made a splendid sight; Cassivellaunus and his command in the centre, his brother Nennius on the right holding a Roman’s head, freshly decapitated from earlier skirmishing, and his nephew Androgeus standing on another Roman’s head from the same skirmish. His chariots and cavalry were on the right wing.

Caesar reacted to this deployment by moving his cavalry out of reserve and onto his left flank.

Initial Deployments: Cassivellaunus on the left and Caesar on the right.

Cassivellaunus (6 PIPs) started by rushing his chariots forward, hoping to hem the Roman cavalry in next to the woods. Meanwhile, his warbands advanced onto the hill and he attempted to move his light horse across to the left flank. Caesar with 4 PIPs sent everybody forward.

Turn 1: Cassivellaunus ambitiously hopes to get his light horse to the left flank.

Cassivellaunus only has 2 PIPs and uses them to continue the advance of the chariots, while one of the light horse starts to move over to provide flank support. Caesar with 3 PIPs continues the general advance, forming his horse into line.

Turn 2: After only two turns contact is imminent.

With battle about to be joined, Cassivellaunus gets 1 PIP! He decides to retire his left chariot, which would be overlapped against blade with psiloi support. This means he is not able to get his light horse in place for overlap support on the other flank. Despite the promising match-ups, Caesar is not able to make Cassivellaunus pay; he advances his legions on the retired chariot, but only gets two recoils and has his own horse recoiled in the last encounter (the dice were 6-5, 6-5 and 3-6!).

Turn 3: The British mounted have a lucky escape.

Cassivellaunus recovers his nerve (6 PIPs) and retires his mounted, partly because his line’s in a mess, but also to draw the Romans forward and have room to make his mounted count on the open flank. By contrast, Caesar is struck by indecision (1 PIP), and can only send one of his horse out wider.

Turn 4: Cassivellaunus pulls his mounted back.

Buoyed on by Caesar’s indecision, Cassivellaunus (5 PIPs) attacks the horse out on the right flank while advancing his leftmost warband (Androgeus). This does no more than force the horse back into the woods.

Turn 5 (Cassivellaunus): The Britons begin to recover the initiative on their right flank

Caesar with 4 PIPs peels an element of blade off to attack the chariots. Hoping for a casualty, he gets only two recoils.

Turn 5 (Julius Caesar): Caesar supports his mounted with legionaries.

Cassivellaunus has only 3 PIPs; enough, however, to flank the horse and attack the blade that has no psiloi support. He manages to destroy the flanked cavalry and drive back the other two elements. After a shaky start he’s starting to get the advantage on this flank.

Turn 6 (Cassivellaunus): First blood to the Britons.

Caesar works hard to stabilize things, not easy with only 2 PIPs. He retires the cavalry to the wood, where they are actually fairly safe, as any mounted attacking them is also at -2! and he pulls another blade across to provide flank support to the one left in the open.

Turn 6 (Julius Caesar): More legionaries move over into the fight on their left flank.

Cassivellaunus (5 PIPs) retires one chariot and wheels the others, while advancing the rest of the warbands. Caesar, still short of PIPs (2), moves his two blade into line on the left flank.

Turn 7: Both sides manoeuvre.

Cassivellaunus continues to have good PIPs (5), and attacks the two blade with overlaps, but only manages to recoil them.

Turn 8 (Cassivellaunus): One light horse circles behind the line to the centre.

Caesar now gets 5 PIPs, and creates a battle line of disparate elements; it’s anchored by the cavalry in the woods and Caesar himself on the other end. Nennius, seeing ‘ yellow death’ (see the last post for details!), gets excited. Will it be enough to tempt him off the hill?

Turn 8 (Julius Caesar): The Romans face off the British mounted with anything they can get into the line.

As the two armies face off, Cassivellaunus finally gets low PIPs (2), and decides to retire his two light horse a little. Caesar also gets the same PIPs, and decides to attack the Britons, with psiloi support. Here he botches the order of his combats and has the supported blade go first. It’s recoiled, leaving the other unsupported, which is unlucky and destroyed, but his cavalry recoil their opposite number.

Turn 9: Bad command decisions by the Romans leave a hole in their line.

With 5 PIPs, Nennius is off that hill and after ‘yellow death’, while its wielder is unsupported. Despite two overlaps, Caesar doesn’t buckle. However, his psiloi are recoiled into the reserve, and he’s now 3 down.

Turn 10 (Cassivellaunus): Nennius and Caesar face off; round one to Caesar.

Caesar with 3 PIPs plugs the gap with one of the reserve elements of blade.

Turn 10 (Julius Caesar): One flank of Caesar's command is now supported.

Cassivellaunus has 4 PIPs. He advances Nennius’ rear element across to support him and attacks the cavalry with a flanking chariot. Searching around for what to do with his spare PIP he advances his adolescent skirmishers to the end of the hill. Oops, that PIP should have been used to retire the other chariot, allowing room for recoil, as he quickly finds out, and the score goes to 3-1.

Turn 11 (Cassivellaunus): A chariot is destroyed by recoil.

Caesar has 6 PIPs and piles into the flank. However, the British horse hang tough and only recoil. And the chariot sticks.

Turn 11 (Julius Caesar): Romans get little traction on the British mounted.

Cassivellaunus has only 2 PIPs and uses it to get Nennius’ support in place. The ‘stuck’ chariot forces the Romans to recoil.

Turn 12 (Cassivellaunus): Nennius gets ready for another go.

Caesar sends his slingers across to try and mess with the British skirmishers and charges into the British line. He now gets his second victory, as one light horse are fled and the chariot is routed (dice = 6-1). However, the other light horse get a stick and in his fight against Nennius no holds are barred (dice = 6-6), and the warband gives ground reluctantly.

Turn 12 (Julius Caesar): More success to the Romans and the dice from the last combat.

Cassivellaunus has few PIPs (2), and uses them to get the warbands on the hill to ZOC the Romans facing the light horse. These light horse are in no mood to run and actually drive the Romans back (dice = 6-2). That foolish psiloi move has further consequences, as if it’s recoiled, it’ll be destroyed!

Turn 13 (Cassivellaunus): The battle's in the balance, as Nennius is in the open against Caesar.

Caesar has made a great comeback, and if he can defeat Nennius will win the battle. However, if he loses, it’s all over for him. On the right flank his slingers are driven back by the skirmishers with uphill advantage and those light horse continue to be obdurate, driving the blade back again. Caesar faces Nennius with the odds in his favour (5-3), but Nennius’ battle-fury is in full rage, and he rolls another ‘6’; Caesar can’t match this, getting a ‘2’ and sees his bodyguard dissolve around him. In the melee, as Geoffrey of Monmouth reports, Nennius snatches ‘yellow death’ from Caesar.

Turn 13 (Julius Caesar): Nennius, against steep odds gets that sword! Victory for naked guys waving around severed heads!

  • Aftermath:

Caesar’s troops are in full flight and head back to Gaul to lick their wounds. This must be the Roman invasion that Geoffrey records, but Caesar overlooks (Geoffrey records three)! Geoffrey saw Caesar as a great chivalrous leader, not an opinion of the man that I share. If I get my Gallic cavalry finished this week, the next battle will be Gauls against Marians.

  • Review:

Joel quickly regretted putting his cavalry on the left flank. Despite that, he showed how tough blade are as an element, and it was by no means an easy victory. If they’d been a spear army, my chariots would have only fled from them (and my warbands would be itching to attack them). This was a battle where psiloi did not fight as support much. That was because of the way the battle unfolded, but it was definitely an advantage for the Britons. If I’d not lost that first chariot, Joel may not have been able to get back into the battle. I was also thinking that the psiloi might have been more use on the right flank. It could have got into the woods and made quite a lot of mischief.

The warbands on the hill were somewhat ineffectual. For a lot of the game they were not keeping an equal number of Romans occupied. They also required a lot of PIPs to move, which limited their effectiveness.

Fighting with warbands is not for the faint-hearted. It seems they actually like defying the odds, though I’m reluctant to prove this by deliberately throwing them into desperate situations. However, every time I’ve set up as good odds as I can they’ve not quite managed to do it. Also the double-ranking both shortens the line and makes for heavy casualties if you lose.