29 October, 2016

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

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

Roman deployment in three discrete commands.

Roman deployment in three discrete commands.

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

Carthaginian deployment across only two thirds of the battlefield.

Carthaginian deployment across only two thirds of the battlefield.

From my left flank.

From my left flank.

From the right flank.

From the right flank.

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

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

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

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

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

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

From the waterway.

From the waterway.

From the other flank.

From the other flank.

The Seleucids deployment.

The Seleucids deployment.

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

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

The second attempt at Carthaginian deployment.

The second attempt at Carthaginian deployment.

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

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

The Seleucid response.

The Seleucid response.

From the flank.

From the flank.

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

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

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

BBDBA Choices

23 October, 2016

As I said in my last post, I’ve got the figures I need for Conquest ready. However, after a couple of games of BBDBA I’m not sure what armies to take. I had a game of BBDBA last month. I won in the centre and lost on the flanks. Last Friday I had my second game, this time I took Gauls with a Spanish ally. Nick went Early Imperial Romans to see how I’d cope against knights.

I didn’t take any pictures, which was a pity, as it was fun game. I won decisively on one flank (I was the defender and laid out a few woods and a difficult hill). However, much like in the previous game, I lost elsewhere. This time, however, it was that I’d effectively fielded two commands against one Roman one, but the C-in-C was up against two commands, and had also put three elements of LCh on the far side of a wood; these were badly outnumbered, and could not get away from the place.

Even though I lost, I learned a bit more about BBDBA — my commander died when he rolled a 1, but he should have used his single get-out-of-jail +1. This reprieve might have been allowed me to turn things around, though I doubt it. His command broke, and the other two were too slow or too far away to redeploy against the remaining Romans.

What this taught me is that BBDBA is very different from DBA. Breaking a command is only a good start; you have to find a way to be able to redeploy to repeat the exercise. Choosing what commands are mobile and what commands have the most PIPs is crucial for this.

My choices for Conquest are (1) the Marian Romans with Numidian allies, (2) the Gauls with Spanish allies, or (3) later Carthaginians. After looking at what I hope to achieve, which is largely have an excuse to use the newly painted figures, I think the last of these is the best choice; I can use the new Spanish 4Ax, the new Gallic 4Wb, the new Gallic Cv and the new Numidian LH. I can also take 36 elements of Carthaginians (although some of the Spear do look a lot like they may be Greek or Campanian mercenaries).

One of the advantages of the Carthaginians is they are aggression 4, so they should get to deploy second (and if they don’t they can do a littoral landing to mess with the opponent).

My initial reluctance with this army was my concern about the Carthaginians as a DBA army, but I think it’ll do OK. That just leaves the choice of my medieval army. I was thinking of going Prefeudal Scots; I then thought about the Komnenan Byzantines, which have been my default choice for a while. However, I’m now thinking of a more eccentric choice — North Welsh with a South Welsh ally. It’s very fast and should bring on a result in no time at all! I could even look at constructing narratives for the Carthaginians and Welsh having gone to sea as a background to their battles; somewhat more violent versions of the voyages of Hanno and Madog!


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!

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).

Somewhat delayed, here’s the report of my five battles at the Christchurch Wargaming Club’s DBA Competition. Sunday 18 July was the first half of this competition; it was for armies before AD 450. This was the competition that I’d been preparing for with the Carthaginians. It’s also has the same format as the DBA competition at the IWC next year, so I could see it as practice for that. The standings at the end of the day are available at Across The Table. As you can see I came near the bottom with three draws, a loss and a victory, and that victory with the last dice roll of the competition!

It’s now over a week since these games; I have a few photos of them, but not a complete record, though an improvement on my previous competition, where I took no photos. I didn’t keep a record of elements killed for each of the games, so the reports will be somewhat short on detail.

  • Game 1: Eastern Patrician Romans, II/83b (Dave Batchelor)

Dave and I have been asked to be umpires at the IWC competition next year, so it was fitting we should square off at the start here. We were umpires at this competition; not that anything tricky came up.

I was the defender and deployed the waterway and a marsh and a wood, leaving an open centre for a faster result, especially as Dave had auxilia and warband who liked BGo. However, Dave got the waterway behind me and the marsh in his centre, which was not what I’d hoped for. I’d taken two elephants and two warbands. When I saw where Dave had put his knights, I swapped my warbands for the elephants.

Initial Deployments against Patrician Romans.

Dave played a defensive game, and by the end of it, when we ran out of time, I had a couple of his elements and he had at least one of mine. I had the edge on the left flank, and had been hoping to get his 3Cv general with my elephant: two rounds at 5-2 when he was double overlapped only got me pushbacks. However, facing the marsh Dave had the edge. I like to think that when time was called I had the advantage.

Midgame; I'd advanced across most of the board to get at the Patsies.

  • Game 2: Ariarathid Kappadokian, II/14 (Andrew Taylor)

My next game was against Andrew Taylor, who I’ve now played three times. He had a fantastic looking army, which had matching terrain; the cliffsides of Cappadocia complete with cave dwellings. He’d made them out of egg cartons, and they really looked great.

Against this army I opted to take only one elephant and no warbands. That gave me an extra 3Cv and four 2Ps. I didn’t fancy facing this army on it own ground, but with my aggression of 3, that’s what happened. Andrew loaded the table with hills and woods.

Initial Deployment against Ariarathid Kappadokians.

In response to his deployment I put a spear and psiloi on the left flank to block his cavalry and two psiloi on the right flank with the plan that if I got enough PIPs in the first turn I’d zip them across to the other side and hem him in. I got to do this, but it backfired on me. Not only did those two psiloi run into trouble, but it trapped him in the BGo where my cavalry couldn’t get at him. With hindsight it would have been far better to let him out into the centre of the table where I could have used my mounted troops.

Late in the game; the Carthaginian general goes for broke.

As the game played out I lost those two psiloi on the right and the elephant. I managed to get one of his psiloi. We were running out of time and in what I thought would be the last turn I sent my general in against some of his auxilia. I didn’t have much to lose, though little to gain. Unfortunately, the game went on for a few more turns, while my general was at real risk of dying. I was glad he hung on for a draw; I’d have been annoyed if he been lost to a form of miscommunication. I wonder if the calling of time couldn’t be clearer, as some games seemed to go on for longer than others.

Anyway, this was a game that I was lucky not to lose, mainly because I felt the whole time that we would be short of time (I actually didn’t know when it would end, so this was more an impression). Andrew suffered from command and control problems owing to his general and his right flank having a hill between them. I’d have been better to take my time and make him take some risks. My efforts to hurry things on only brought me close to defeat.

  • Game 3:  Early Imperial Romans, II/56 (Stephen Malone)

The first two rounds had been played with random match-ups with the main intent to avoid having the Timaru players play each other. After lunch the competition used a Swiss chess method, so I started to play games against people at the bottom of the table. My first battle was against Steve Malone, who brought the Romans that he’d won at Conquest last year. They looked very nice. Not that they provided much nice for the Carthaginians to face. I opted not to play the elephants against a combination of auxilia and artillery. I also took all the warbands, hoping they might run into his blade.

Initial Deployment against Early Imperial Romans.

I was the defender and played a waterway with two small pieces of terrain near it and a long marsh parallel to it on the other side of the board. Steve deployed on a narrow frontage and advanced his auxilia through the marsh and his cavalry on the left wing. I saw no advantage to contesting the marsh, but took the bait (as Steve later revealed it was) of the cavalry, and advanced mine to meet it. Once my cavalry was in the middle of the table, his turned tail. I was in range of his artillery, and also being ZOCed, I think, in places by his auxilia. Before long, aided by some execrable dice (and, boy, did I execrate!), I’d lost all the cavalry besides the general, who beat a retreat to the right flank. I actually cycled through six dice that had all rolled 1s, most in combat.

Late game after the Carthaginian cavalry has been demolished.

However, my PIP dice were somewhat better, and the general took shelter near the marsh supported by the Gauls. And the dice must have started to even out, as I got one of the auxilia before time and held on for a lucky draw. I could blame the dice all I liked, and they didn’t help, but I didn’t really have a plan to face these Romans, and who knows, if the cavalry hadn’t been so quick to die I might have dug myself into a deeper hole!

  • Game 4: Marian Romans, II/49 (Barrie Cameron)

My next game was against Marian Romans, an army I ought to know about after facing Joel’s so many times, but on this occasion I was bereft of ideas. I took both elephants and all the Gauls as the best stuff to scare blades. I was the attacker and Barrie put out very little terrain. He deployed in a line, and I can only blame tiredness for copying him. With hindsight I could have gone for one wing, forcing his slower force to redeploy and tried to win with weight of numbers.

Initial Deployment against Marian Romans.

Instead I sent the Numidians out around the flank to take his camp. It failed on the first combat and then PIPs started to become scarce and I started to look at all the unattractive match-ups that were looming. I tried to get my elephant on the left flank to face his cavalry, but before I could get the line all matched up I rolled a 1 for PIPs just when we were inches apart. I couldn’t even get the elephant into the line. And the next turn Barrie ploughed into me taking out four elements in one turn, my first defeat.

After contact.

Once I made this a frontal slog I was always likely to lose. It was made more final by Barrie getting to make the contact. He took out the auxilia (blades on overlapped auxilia in the open—ouch!), the double-ranked warband, who were double-overlapped and even an unlucky element of spear. My elephant pushed back his blade as did one of my spears, but there were no face-saving kills!

  • Game 5: Alexandrian Imperial, II/15 (Nigel Write)

The final battle, fighting for the wooden spoon, was with Nigel. I went for two elephants and two warbands. I was the defender and decided on a littoral landing (the Spanish and the Numidians: 1x3Ax, 1x2Ps and 1x2LH). After Nigel deployed I swapped an elephant and a spear to get the warband onto the right flank to support this littoral landing.

Initial Deployment against Imperial Alexander.

Nigel quickly showed that my complaints about bad dice were child’s play as his first four PIP dice were 1, 4, 1 and 1 and first three combat rolls were all 1s (I kept a record, as it was getting embarrassing). I only had a 1 for my first PIPs, which got the landing down. Unfortunately, I got so wrapped up in this game I didn’t take any photos after the first.

The littoral landing got off to a great start, as Alexander’s troops floundered. His light horse were doubled by the Numidians in an even odds fight and then his auxilia went down to the Scutarii (as will happen when you roll 1s in combat). I’m not sure if his psiloi went down in the third combat, which was a 1-1 on the dice. I do know that the dice even up from there, but with my control of the right flank I had the advantage. I moved the Gauls into the top of the marsh and in the melee with the Spanish I went three up. At this point I reckoned Nigel was toast, but he stuck at it, and got both my Gauls with his knights (contacted on their flanks they came out of the BGo). Then he took out an elephant with his own. Very quickly it was 3-3 and we were getting close to time. Nigel let me have one more turn. I got 1 for the PIP die. I could move only one element, and the only thing that was at all attractive was the forlorn hope of a spear against a pike element with no overlap support either way. Fortune smiled on me as we rolled 5-1. The 1 returned to scuttle Nigel in the last roll and I got my only victory.

  • Review

Clearly the practice against pike armies of the three days before paid off, as my only victory was against one! My other results I think pretty fairly reflect my relative inexperience in competitions. I might have won the opening game if I’d played a little faster, I might have had a closer game against Andrew if I’d not been in such a hurry, I might have had some answer to Steve’s Romans, and I really have no one to blame but myself for the defeat against Barrie.

There was a first in this competition for me: my first littoral landing that didn’t lose me the game! It actually worked out very well for me, though the dice added it a good deal.

I definitely feel I’m getting the hang of the Carthaginians. They’ve got an interesting mix of troop types. One could wish for a lot of things to make the perfect army, but for the Carthaginians two changes would be very nice:

  1. allow them to have another Auxilia, as the Spanish seem underrepresented in their armies. This would give them a big edge when contesting BGo against all those armies that have one Auxilia and one Psiloi.
  2. allow the Libyan spear the option to be fielded as 4Bd as Hannibal’s veterans.

Arguments for both of these can be made, and they would make the Carthaginians a very nasty opponent. The second option reminds me of the Mithridatic (II/48) army that came third at this competition. It has the potent option to take pikes or blades, which Arne used, I believe, to effect. As a determined enemy of the Romans this is an army I could get interested in, but I won’t go there just now!

Anyway, it was a very enjoyable day. Thanks to Brian for organizing it, and to Keith, my generous host for the occasion. I liked the venue; the Working Men’s Club was warm and had food and drinks, a far cry from the Scout Halls used in Auckland! It was good to see people I’d met at Conquest last year, and in particular Craig, whose blog I’ve been following.