Clash of the Successors

Over recent months I’ve been playing a good number of DBA games including a semi-regular weekly gaming evening where we typically manage a couple of games on a week night. We recently decided on larger game, specifically a “Big Battle” game with a Successor theme. The table measured 1.2m x 0.6m and each army comprised 36 elements. Jim decided to use Seleucids (2/19c) while I opted to use Lysimachid (2/17b).

Normally Lysimachos is dependent on his Thracian troops, but the DBA 3.0 list comes in two sub-lists, specifically an “a” and “b” version. This second sub-list has a number of additional options which includes limited elephants and additional pike. This represents the later period of Lysimachos’ rule, specifically 302BC to 281BC. For our game the Lysimachid army would deploy 18,000 foot and 1,800 cavalry and 25 elephants. Of the foot 12,000 were phalangites with the remaining foot being a mixture of mercenary hoplites, Thracians and light infantry. The cavalry were equally divided between xystophori and light cavalry.

In contrast the Seleucids deployed fewer foot but an increased number of other troops. As a result, using the same nominal troop representation the Seleucid army comprised 14,500 foot, 1800 cavalry, 75 elephants and 150 scythed chariots. The Seleucid phalanx was considerably smaller comprising only 7200 phalangites, but was reinforced by additional Galatian heavy infantry, thureophoroi and light infantry. The cavalry, in contrast to the Lysimachids mixed cavalry, were all heavy cataphracts riding partly armoured horses.

Clearly the Seleucid commander expected the invading Lysimachid army to field a significant number of Thracian troops who would be well able to fight in rough terrain. As such he selected to face Lysimachos on a reasonably open field which would allow his 150 scythed chariots ample opportunity to smash the Greek invader without the impact of terrain constraining his attacks. The general situation can be shown below with Lysimachids deployed on the left and the Seleucids deployed on the right. 150114_DBA1 The Seleucid left flank was somewhat constrained by an area of rocky ground which is on the right foreground.

Lysimachos determined to weight his attack on his right, where his xystophori and most of his light cavalry were located and centre which comprised the majority of his phalangites. His left comprised further phalangites. Extending his left, but echeloned back, a portion of his Thracians, a small number of elephants and finally a small formation  of light cavalry completed his deployment. While Lysimachos commanded the right at the head of the xystophori , the commanders of the centre and left deployed on foot in an effort to bolster the phalanx. Below, another view of the Lysimachid phalanx, with Thracians extending the right and psiloi deployed in front of a portion of the phalanx. 150114_DBA5 Lysimachos’ attack began with a general advance and as the lines closed a series of attacks by light troops both threatened the Seleucid elephants and disrupted the Galatian foot. These light troops were to some degree countered and were forced back. On the Lysimachid extreme right the advance was more successful. Here, Lysimachid light cavalry outflanked the Seleucid line resulting in both the retirement of  Seleucid light troops, to prevent further flanking movements,  and threatened the Seleucid catarphacts who were now deployed opposite Lysimahos’ xystophori. 150114_DBA2 Soon the Seleucid elephants and scythed chariots were ordered forward against the hinge between the Lysimachos mounted and his phalanx – an area held by 1200 Thracians, 1200 mercenary hoplites and 600 psiloi. Unfortunately for the Seleucid commander these attacks, by 50 elephants and 100 scythed chariots and supporting Seleucid light troops were broken up with heavy Seleucid casualties.

Meanwhile, in the centre phalangites of both armies were now heavily engaged. The more numerous Lysimachid phalanx gained the advantage in several areas, though it was pushed back by the Seleucids in some sectors. Further, the Galatians looked likely to gain the advantage until a portion of their line was flanked by Thracians who now, exploiting their earlier success against the Seleucid elephants and scythed chariots, fell upon the Galatian flank. 150114_DBA4 On the Lysimachid left flank the Seleucid commander pressed his attack. While much of the Lysimachid left flank was made up of phalangites, and was engaged in the general engagement against the Seleucid foot, the extreme left comprised 1200 Thracian foot, 25 elephants and light cavalry. This section of the line was outnumbered and risked being overwhelmed by 600 Seleucid cataphracts, 25 elephants, 1200 thureophoroi and 50 scythed chariots. If the Seleucid attacks here were successful the Lysimachid phalanx would be exposed to a flank attack.

In an attempt to delay this attack the Lysimachid light cavalry extended the line further. In the following engagements a series of Seleucid attacks were thrown back and counter attacks launched. These various attacks and counterattacks eventually resulted in the Seleucid right flank suffering heavy casualties and breaking.

Now with casualties mounting, and the infantry fully engaged in the centre, the Seleucid commander ordered a renewed effort by his left flank against the Lysimachid right. Outnumbered and threatened by the growing gap between his phalanx and his outnumbered cataphracts, into which Lysimachud troops now poured, the Seleucid cataphracts went forward against the Lysimachid xystophori. While gaining initial advantage the Lysimachid xystophori counterattacked. Now flanking the Seleucid cataphracts the Seleucid commander watched his left flank collapse, unable to change the outcome.

The game was particularly interesting and illustrated a number of advantages of DBA 3.0 over earlier versions. Firstly, the increased movement distances produced a more dramatic game. I found BBDBA using 2.2 slow moving especially for the command with the lowest PIP die. Secondly the additional granularity of fast and solid troops provided a little more depth, without excessive complexity. An excellent game and we look forward to more in the near future.

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4 thoughts on “Clash of the Successors

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the report.

      In many ways BBDBA has much of the feel of other rule sets, but without the additional complexity. As way of comparison I have played a lot of DBM over the years and use DBR for my Renaissance gaming. BBDBA compares favourably to these in my view.

    1. It’s a matter of time really. I play a number of DBA games but only write reports for a few. There is considerable time investment for such articles. I’m sure there will be more in coming months however.

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