The Sunday was three BBDBA games. Points were given for breaking commands and for winning.

  • Game 1: Mark B (Palmyrans)

With my high aggression I was unsurprisingly the attacker against Mark’s Palmyrans. Mark went for an open battlefield with terrain only on one wing.

Palmyran deployment.

Palmyran deployment.

With a preponderance of cavalry facing my left wing, I thought I could meet it with Gisgo’s light horse and psiloi. Unfortunately, I forgot that light horse now can be double ranked, in which case they are 3-2 against psiloi.

The Carthaginian deployment.

The Carthaginian deployment.

The plan was that Hanno on the left wing would overpower the foot facing them, while Hiero held the centre and Gisgo the right wing.

Unfortunately, the dunes on the right wing hampered the cavalry outflanking, although they did destroy the three 3Bw on that wing. However, good shooting in the centre saw Heiro’s warband and cavalry shot, while Gisgo’s troops fought like demons to survive.

The Palmyrans on the Carthaginian right wing.

The Palmyrans on the Carthaginian right wing.

Despite their bravery, the centre collapsed, as did Gisgo’s command. In hindsight it would have been better to have had Hanno and Gisgo swap positions. Gisgo could have contested the dunes with his scutati, the LH could have stood up to the cataphracts, and the psiloi might have stood up to the bow, if they moved quickly. Hanno’s elephants would have worried the cataphracts, and the spear and cavalry could have supported them.

Mark also suggested that I might want to rethink my commands around two commands of 13 and one of 10. I’d certainly give it some thought.

  • Game 2: Keith (Asiatic Early Successor)

Against the aggressive Demetrius the Besieger, I was still the aggressor, but as he was littoral too, I had him worried that I might do a littoral landing.

The two armies arrayed.

The two armies arrayed.

Demetrius placed his elephants in the centre with large pike blocks on either side. Light troops and cavalry were on his wings.

Demetrius' left flank, wary of ship-born invaders.

Demetrius’ left flank, wary of ship-born invaders.

Demetrius' right flank with xystophoroi and cavalry.

Demetrius’ right flank with xystophoroi and cavalry.

Hanno thought to use Gisgo’s psiloi to neutralise some of the pike and his light horse to face the knights. He would take the right flank and attempt to break through the pike with warbands supported by elephants.

Hanno's deployment on his right flank.

Hanno’s deployment on his right flank.

Hiero in the centre and Gisgo on the left again.

Hiero in the centre and Gisgo on the left again.

Gisgo soon discovered that his scutati were outflanked by the light foot in reserve. The bad going on the right flank again slowed up the attack by Hanno’s cavalry. However, the psiloi did very well. Destroying half a pike block and stopping them from advancing. The scutati were even more resilient than in the last battle and scorned to be outflanked. Gisgo, despite being outclassed had his opposing command on the back foot. Hanno’s elephants and warband were doing good work on the right, but his spear did not like the elephants they faced, and Hiero was wilting before the pike.

Nevertheless, in the turn on which my commands broke, I was one of breaking two of Demetrius’ commands. The warband just needed to destroy another pike block, and I think that Gisgo was threatening the C-in-C having outflanked him.

Despite Gisgo’s heroics, I think in hindsight I should have gone for the same order of battle as I should have used against the Palmyrans. Gisgo would have been more effective on the right and Hanno on the left.

  • Game 3: Greg K (Eastern Patrician Romans with Later Pre-Islamic Arab Nomad Ally)

Surprisingly against Greg’s Romans I was the defender. This time I deployed with Gisgo on the right facing bad going that had congregated there. Hanno was on the more open left flank.

I took quite a few pictures of this game, so I’ll let them provide the commentary.

Carthaginian deployment.

Carthaginian deployment.

The terrain facing the Carthaginians.

The terrain facing the Carthaginians.

The Roman right flank with pre-Islamic Arab allies.

The Roman right flank with pre-Islamic Arab allies.

The Roman left flank with legions, warbands, archers and psiloi.

The Roman left flank with legions, warbands, archers and psiloi.

The Roman centre with auxilia, knights and a light horse reserve.

The Roman centre with auxilia, knights and a light horse reserve.

The Carthaginians surge forward.

The Carthaginians surge forward.

Gisgo's psiloi make a double move to contest the woods.

Gisgo’s psiloi make a double move to contest the woods.

Gisgo's scutati enter the woods.

Gisgo’s scutati enter the woods.

The Roman auxilia move to meet the elephants.

The Roman auxilia move to meet the elephants.

Hanno's cavalry advances to face the Arabs.

Hanno’s cavalry advances to face the Arabs.

Roman knight face Hiero's spear.

Roman knight face Hiero’s spear.

The centres about to clash.

The centres about to clash.

Psiloi flee.

Psiloi flee.

The auxilia are swept away by the elephants.

The auxilia are swept away by the elephants.

The Arabs are under pressure, but the Gallic warbands are split, losing mutual support.

The Arabs are under pressure, but the Gallic warbands are split, losing mutual support.

Hanno's spear and warband are ridden down by knights.

Hanno’s spear and warband are ridden down by knights.

The Roman light horse rout the elephants.

The Roman light horse rout the elephants.

Gisgo's command is under pressure.

Gisgo’s command is under pressure.

Hiero resists a flank attack, but the Carthaginian centre is gaping.

Hiero resists a flank attack, but the Carthaginian centre is gaping.

Hiero was eventually destroyed while flanked and his command broke, as did Hanno’s. I was looking to inflict one more casualty on the Roman central command to break it, but the gap created by the two elephants was one I couldn’t fill.

I came last in this competition. I didn’t get any points, as I failed to break any commands, though I got close in both my last two games. Despite failing to win, I enjoyed the games, and I learned a lot about how to play BBDBA.

Last Sunday I caught up with John and I got to give the newly finished Seleucids a run. It started off as last time with me as the defender, and I laid out similar minimalist terrain, and then used my swaps to get my elephant and chariot away from the Roman auxilia.

The Seleucid deployment.

The Patrician Roman deployment.

John’s PIPs were abysmal and I got to occupy the gentle hill in the middle (I’d decided to pull one 2Ps across to the left flank to support the other one against the Roman light horse). When John rolled yet another 1 PIP, I decided to attack on the left flank. My elephant needed to recoil his light horse, but went better and doubled it. My camels, now one up, recoiled the opposing knights, and then on the other flank, at 2-1 my psiloi recoiled his light horse. My scythed chariot was now at 4-2 on his knight, but rolled 2-5 and was destroyed.

After the left flank makes contact.

This left things somewhat in the balance. But with John getting yet another 1 PIP (he retired his overlapped knight) I had time to attack again, this time on the right flank. However, my attempt to get his commander at 5-2 failed, as one pike block recoiled the opposing blades, but the other didn’t. The cataphracts on the right wing, at 1-3, were lucky to survive.

John then got 5 PIPs and wrapped up my Galatians with his warbands and took out a psiloi with a knight. However, the light horse against the other psiloi was recoiled into the steep hill. I didn’t hesitate to follow up with the victorious psiloi, and when the LH rolled a 1, its fate was sealed. In the middle I managed to double a blade with my pike, but the combat between the generals was not decisive.

I was now 3-2 up (as the SCh doesn’t count). However, John got 6 PIPs and attacked my cataphracts from the rear with his warband. They were uphill and I would recoil into his auxilia, so it was a 4-3 to him and a QK either way. He also attacked my camels on the side with his knights; no room for them to recoil either. The cataphracts held firm, the camels went down and the generals fenced indecisively. Game to the Seleucids with a fair bit of luck to make it happen.

The battle's end. The elephant had not moved since the lines met!

  • Review:

I’m beginning to wonder about having everything in the battleline. I think the general and even the SCh might be better as reserves, but I’d need to look at how to support the shorter line on at least one flank.

This battle shows that the Seleucids might look very strong, but they can be pretty brittle. Nevertheless, great finally to see them in action.

Last Sunday I got over to John’s for the first time in a while and got in a couple of games of DBA. I decided to field a Seleucid army, using a pair of Polybian Roman cavalry for the 3Kn (they have quite long spears). As I’d not sorted out my boxes carefully enough after IWC, I found some of the elements weren’t where I thought. Therefore I fielded 2x3Kn (1=cmd), 1xEl, 1xSCh, 4x4Pk, 1x4Ax, 3x2Ps. The psiloi were able to hold their own against the Roman LH, and generally stayed out of the way of the 3Kn.

This was a vaguely historical match-up, allowing for a little temporal discontinuity! The Patsies were Eastern Romans who were on the offence both times, and had strayed back a few centuries, meeting Seleucids instead of Persians.

I laid out similar terrain in both games, a central small low hill and two small patches of BGo in opposing corners.

In the first game I doubled a LH with a Ps in a one on one combat first up, but didn’t have the PIPs to gain any advantage on that flank. On the other flank my SCh disappeared to a Kn, but a Ps held out at bad odds for a couple of turns against a LH, before the knight saw it off. Things were looking grim on that flank, but luck smiled on me and I attacked in the centre. Needing to push back his psiloi-supported blade with my elephant to set up an attack by 3Kn on his psiloi-supported Ax, I did better and 6-1 him, making it 3-1 to me. The 3Kn took out the Ax, who were now double overlapped giving me a 5-1 victory (not including the SCh). However, a turn more and his knights would have been into the rear of a block of pike.

The second game saw John advance his LH on one flank. In my first move I was able to attack the flank of them with my SCh. It got one recoiled into the other. It then pursued into the other and got it in the next turn. As my ambition for the day was to see the SCh in action I was very happy! John then advanced his 3Kn towards this flank, supported by auxilia. I had a 4Ax and a 2Ps over there and rather than go for the rest of his army on the low hill, I decided to send my elephant and a knight to help. The elephant failed to contact the knights, but met auxilia instead and was killed. The SCh rolled evens against a 3Kn and was gone too. The knight got a Ps, however, and it was 3-1 to me. I spent a while trying to get a lone 4Ax, who was flanked, but resisted for two turns. John was menacing my light foot with his knights, but rolled a 1 PIP when he could really have made trouble. I got 6 PIPs the next turn and was able to take out his Wb with my knight commander, and a blade with the other knight (I think). Anyway, it was another victory to me, owing largely to the splendid scythed chariot.

I enjoyed using the Seleucids and am keen to get the proper 3Kn and 4Kn elements for them done. I’ve finally got them undercoated. The 3Cm would be next.

IWC Pregames

5 March, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carthos get a run

10 February, 2011

Last night was the first time I got to do any DBA this year! I got over to John’s and had a battle against his very attractive Khurasan Patrician Romans. I could have gone with either the Carthaginians or the Komnenans, as both need the practice, but I opted for the Carthaginians, as I figured I still had little idea how to use them; they still seem to be three or four groups of elements that have trouble working together.

I was the attacker, no surprises there, and John put down two woods and a steep hill. I didn’t get the edge I wanted and had to attack from between two woods. I opted to leave one empty and trust that my mounted could defend against anything that tried to come through it. The other wood had my warbands and auxilia and psiloi in it. John used his two swaps to move two auxilia to face my elephant and warband, and two blade to face my cavalry.

The batttlelines advanced rapidly, but with few PIPs our light horse ended up hanging back. John attacked first and lost a Knight, doubled by spear, but I lost my elephant to his auxilia. Elsewhere, I was lucky not to have my general doubled (one short—something that happened regularly!).

I was lucky to be able to get back into things with 5 PIPs (I’d been recoiled all along the line). I thought I had a good chance to sort out his auxilia with my spear facing one at 4-2, which if I got the recoil would make a warband face the other auxilia at 3-2; the spear were recoiled (something of a pattern for the game were opening attacks would falter like this). I lost that warband, who found himself 4-1, but my general rolled 4-1 onto some overlapped blade and made things even.

For a while things see-sawed, and I think I was lucky to hang in, but eventually a big attack on my spear came to nothing (they proved very resilient, and that opening attack again was recoiled). I was able to get both the Romans’ auxilia and the other blade to take the game 5-3. In fairness, I think I was lucky to win, but I wouldn’t call it a jammy win. Lots of fun (good to catch up after quite a while) and a sense it could go either way from the start.

In other news, the Gauls continue to be lucky in Punic Peril, and I’ve now signed up as the Welsh in a similar campaign, England on her Knees. It should be a lot of fun.

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.

Last Friday my Goblins had another outing at John’s. I was going to trial the Samanids (III/43c). John had decided to surprise me by fielding some Eastern Patrician Romans rather than his Swiss. These are a very attractive mix of Khurasan and Splintered Light figures. However, they weren’t painted, but only blutaked to the bases. Cries of horror all around! As the ‘Samanids’ had a fairly unconventional appearance themselves they made no complaint. Both are low-aggression armies and on this occasion the Shamanid Goblins were the aggressors. The terrain was something of a wall of woods with a gentle hill to one side and a road on the edge of the field. I managed to get the woods running along the table rather than between us and watched as the Romans deployed: 1x3Cv (cmd), 2x3Kn, 2x2LH, 2x4Bd, 2x4Wb, 2x4Ax and 1x2Ps. They met this with 3x3Cv (1=cmd), 1x2LH (Spider), 1xEl (Trolls), 3x4Sp, 1x3Ax, 2x3Bw and 1x2Ps.

The armies deploy: Goblins on the left. Oops, no flash!

I wanted to stop the Auxilia from getting into the woods on my side and advanced my spider (2LH) to do this. This created a standoff in the open between his two Auxilia with psiloi support and my auxilia and spider. I intervened with my wolfriders against his psiloi which evened the odds, but got the wolfriders close to his knights. This was a move that was on the edge of legal; there was about a millimetre in it to allow legal contact with the psiloi. The difference that such measurements can make is one of the downsides of DBA and is probably more extreme in the 15mm scale. The battle went the goblins way, though narrowly.

The first time in a while I've won the opening combat—a refreshing change!

The Romans countered by attacking on that flank with their knights and the Auxilia. The goblins were ferocious and drove the knights back, avoiding a ‘buttocks of death’ situation.

Look at those 6s—can it last?

In reply the Goblins had only 1 PIP and tried to win against the Auxilia, but the attack was thrown back (as it had been the first time).

The spider is repulsed again.

The Romans advance at speed on their right flank, while trying to incommode the Goblin auxilia, but events on that flank reverse the outcome of the previous combat.

This time the Auxilia fall back. Note the Roman commander on the hill moving into command range for his right flank.

Again the spider attacks, and again it is repulsed. The Goblin commander moves up to support his wolfriders, and the other wolfriders attack the Roman light horse, but only recoil them.

Indecisive combats on each flank.

Then the Romans try to snare the wolfriders on their right flank, going at them with warbands in the rear and the flank, but the Goblins hang on for a ‘stick’, much to the displeasure of the Roman commander.

Goblins unfazed by hordes of smelly unpainted Germans.

At this point I decided that warbands were too attractive a target for Trolls to ignore (sporting be damned!). Despite the support from the Trolls, the wolfriders couldn’t keep up their resistance and were destroyed, but so was one of the warbands. Attempts to change things on the other flank had reached an impasse; clearly the Auxilia and the spider weren’t really interested! I attempted to beat the knights by sliding my commander in front of them and moving the wolfriders around to provide overlap; I was at 4-3, but think I was recoiled, though it’s out of the camera shot.

Urgh, squished Germans!

The Romans now attempted to destroy an element of spear, and they planned it well: uphill against a cavalry general with a light horse in support, but if they were hoping for dawn at Helm’s Deep, they were disappointed, these Goblins didn’t break, but threw back the cavalry in disarray! The Roman knights have the wolfriders at 4-2, but only recoil them (again, largely out of camera).

Grrr, sissy horseboys!

And then it was all over! The Trolls went after another set of Germans (yum, yum!), and Goblin archers, after spending the whole battle trapped behind the spear, get to turn around and double some clearly disaffected light horse.

Victory to the Goblins!

Gracious in victory, the Goblins made a tasteful cairn of the skulls of the dead Germans on the hill, and tucked in to a nutritious meal of horsemeat (not stinting on human flesh either, it has to be said!). The Roman commander, as his forces retired in defeat, cursed Fortuna (much to the disapproval of accompanying clerics).

  • Review:

After the analysis I did of the dice rolled in the last game, I did the same with this one, and the results were interesting (I missed a combat that were outside of the zoomed-in camera, but it was inconclusive). My total combat rolls were impressively better (52 to 38 in 15 combats). Accordingly they favoured me in 9 of the combats and John in only 4 (two were tied). The distribution of each dice result should be 5 of each number, but there were slightly more 1s, 2s and 4s (7 of each), slightly fewer 3s and 6s (4 of each) and only one 5. Isn’t Excel fun! It’s interesting that the 1s were overrepresented and the 6s slightly underrepresented, as those numbers get noticed. Who ever notices that 5s aren’t being rolled?

Anyway, the results do confirm John’s complaint that the dice were against him. They kept my surrounded wolfriders alive for one turn and they saved a beleaguered 4Sp (but 4Sp have a refreshing habit of doing that for me); all of which gave me time to win. Having said that, it would have been a different game if the legions had faced the Trolls and not the warbands!

The moral of the story is don’t expect the dice to favour unpainted figures! The better they’re painted the better they fight, though John warned his figures ominously last week they’d have to earn the privilege of paint!

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.

Last night I caught up with John for some DBA. We’re both going to the IWC DBA competition next year and are keen to get in some practice. I’m still getting to grips with my Carthaginians and John’s not played much DBA with figures for a while (he’s mostly been playing DBAOL). He’s thinking of using Late or Patrician Romans at the IWC Comp and as his armies are still in the process of being painted, or planned, I put together some Pseudo-Patricians, much as I did last year when I was practicing with my Picts. Clearly the Carthaginians have encountered that temporal anomaly that Bridei’s Picts ran into last year!

Hasdrubal was feeling somewhat better about things after defeating the Giant and his minions. He decided to sail back to Carthage, but when his fleet set to sea, it was caught in a peculiar storm and when they emerged from it they came across an unfamiliar island. On this island they found some very annoyed inhabitants. These were Lord Duncan, his retinue (3Cv) and light horse and skirmishers (2x2LH, 1x2Ps). He had managed to convince a motley crew of Norman adventurers (2x3Kn), Islemen (2xBd), Galwegians (2x3Wb) and Irish (2x3Ax) to join him on a piratical expedition, but they had run into a storm and been stranded on a miserable island until their tempers were very short.

To account for the anomaly in the size of the armies, one must assume that Hasdrubal’s forces had been scattered, yet he could muster a force that was proportional to his original force—remarkable! He fielded 1x3Cv, 1x2LH, 2xEl, 3x4Sp, 2x3Wb, 1x3Ax and 2x2Ps.

Despite the foul mood of Duncan and his men, Hasdrubal took the initiative and was the attacker. Duncan was forced to deploy with a wood in his battleline. He chose to put most of his BGo troops in it, with his cavalry on the right flank and his Islemen on the left. Hasdrubal positioned his Elephants to meet the Scots mounted, with the Caetrati to provide support in the BGo. He had his spear in the centre, flanked by the Numidians and the Gauls and Scutarii next to the woods on the right flank. Duncan swapped his light horse with his Islemen.

Initial Deployment: Duncan on the left and Hasdrubal on the right.

The woods proved no hindrance to Duncan as he surged ahead with a succession of high PIPs, while Hasdrubal struggled after an opening 5 PIPs, which allowed the Caetrati to advance quickly along the steep hill and try to ZOC the advancing cavalry.

As the Scots advanced, Hasdrubal became uneasy at the sight of the wild Galwegians, and ordered his psiloi forward to stop them, while trying to block one with an elephant.

Strangely apprehensive of the hairy Galwegians, Hasdrubal orders his elephants to intercept them.

The Galwegians showed a heroism that has not been present for a long time in battle records. In their early days they had a ferocious reputation, but recently they have fallen out with the Scots; perhaps it was absence of the Thegns that helped, but they went against the elephants with a little help from some Normans, and slaughtered them (dice = 6-1!). Only later did they hear that Duncan had only want them to go boo, which could have resulted in three casualties for the Carthaginians!

The Galwegians dance over a greasy patch left by the elephant; the Carthaginians behind are torn between feelings of horror and relief!

Still struggling with PIPs, Hasdrubal decided to see if he could break the centre of the Scots line, but first the Numidians, then the Libyan skirmishers got sticks, while the Gauls got a pushback, but if those Numidians had shown the fervour of the Galwegians …

Hasdrubal throws his light troops against the Scots centre, leaving his spear unsupported. In the foreground the Caetrati are shown recoiled from the last move, forgotten in the excitement of the slaughtered elephant.

Gallic fervour did not stand them in good stead when their pursuit led to being double-overlapped and destroyed. Both the Numidians and the Libyans fell back too, while the Caetrati fled.

Dismal performances by the Carthaginians, falling back on all fronts!

Fortunately things slowed down at this point, as the Scots struggled with PIPs. Hasdrubal continued his good form from the previous two battles when he destroyed those pesky Galwegians.

Some order is restored as the Carthaginian line reforms. The Libyan skirmishers return to the rear of the spear.

When the Scots barrel in on the next turn, the spear hold firm, but considering they were 5-1 against the knights the recoil was a disappointment.

The Scots' attack sees the Numidians fall back and the spear stand firm.

In the next round, the spear fall to the Galwegians, who continue their heroic performance. The spear were confident of routing them as they were overlapped, but at odds of 5-2 they made the elephant killers look soft!

Unnerved by the Galwegians, the Libyan spear breaks.

The Galwegians then got to close the door on the Numidians who had stuck, but the Numidians, with the game in the balance, flung back their attackers.

The Numidians remain staunch.

At this point the Numidians were ZOCed by two enemies, and went for the Galwegians (after some discussion). However, these Galwegians were unfazed, and threw back their attackers. I only had 2 PIPs, and retired the Caetrati, who were struggling against the Islemen.

Numidians fail to capitalize on their advantage.

The tables were turned on the Numidians, who in turn had nowhere to recoil, and with the support of the Irish the Galwegians clocked up their third kill, a truly heroic effort!

Clearly Duncan is a son of Galloway, as his Galwegians performed magnificently for him!

  • Review:

I admit no fault of my own in this loss! Instead, I’ll attribute it to a welcome return to form of the Galwegians, some of my favourite warband figures (no slight intended, John)! At the Battle of the Standards, the Galwegains demanded their ancient right to lead the Scots into battle. That was certainly what they did here. I should warn John that his Patricians will struggle to find warbands of such fine pedigree as these Galwegians. I’m sure my elephants would have trampled scurvy Goths or whatever detritus the Patricians wheedled into their service, and the spear would have sent them packing!

In a less forthright tone, I’d have to admit the elephant advancing was rash, and could have been much worse, though they had over 50% odds of crushing the Galwegians and leaving the Normans hanging. That said, the risk, the 1/4 chance of destroying three elements, and the 1/36 chance of being destroyed, were worse. I guess I didn’t think John would dare—perhaps he knew the Galwegians’ mettle better than I did! It was a gamble that came off well, and could have been even more catastrophic for me. Otherwise, John very effectively neutralized my surviving elephant so that I made no progress on that wing. A good bit of learning to be had from this battle!