Category Archives: Ancient

Flaminius’ Legions

My first 15mm Ancients army was a Polybian Roman army assembled for DBA 1.0 back in 1990. At the time DBA was relatively popular in my local town but having to relocate and keen for opponents I reluctantly expanded the army to DBM size. With my local opponents at the time more interested in competition games, and my dislike for non-historical games or at least those between armies of too great a time difference, my Romans were dispatched to the back of the cupboard.

Eventually some interest in DBA locally allowed me to pull the Polybian Romans out of storage and to repainted sufficient for standard DBA purposes. While I had plans at some stage to repaint the other figures the remainder languished in storage while other projects took precedence.

For the last three years at Conquest we have had a Big Battle tournament and this year I found myself pondering options. Several armies were considered but the decision was finally made when it became clear that Mark would likely be bringing Carthaginians. The Polybian Romans needed to be reformed. Over the coming weeks evenings were spent cleaning, priming, painting and basing the Romans until finally the legions of Rome could take the field. Most of the miniatures were well over 20 years old, and some almost 30. Fittingly on the morning of Conquest’s BBDBA tournament they deployed facing Mark’s Carthaginians. Now to their first outing in their reformed state…

Having first eluded an ambush along near Lake Trasimene, Gaius Flaminius had now successfully combined his army with another under Gnaeus Servilius Geminus and together they advanced on the Carthaginian invader. Flaminius’ scouts had been active and with Hannibal’s army near the coast the legions advanced to offer battle. On his left was the coast while on his right an area of marsh promised to negate, to some extent the Punic superiority in mounted. In between a small hamlet and a steep hill, with rocky slopes, broke up the field.

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The Romans had two strong wings, that on the right under Flaminius contained the majority of Roman and allied cavalry while that on the left, under Servilius, fewer. However, Servilius wing was supplemented by some Italian extraordinary fighting in more traditional styles. In the centre the legions under Porcius Licinus were devoid of mounted with even the Licinus opting to fight on foot. In all three sectors the hastati & principles, comprising Romans and Italians fighting in Roman style, were supported by triarii & velites.

Above, the Romans on the left and the Carthaginians on the right. An area of marsh is visible in the right foreground and in the distance a steep rocky hill. In the extreme distance another marsh and finally the coast are visible.

The battle opened with a general advance by the Punic host. Gallic mercenaries moved rapidly forward to secure the rocky slopes opposite the Roman left. Yet more dramatic movements occurred against the Roman right where the massed Punic horse wheeled and advanced. Hannibal clearly hoping to expand the Punic line while light troops moved to dominate the marsh on the Punic left. Countering, Flaminius ordered forward his right. The hastati, principles and triarii moved forward, supported by the cavalry who now expanded the Roman right

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Above, Flaminius’ flank with a portion of his cavalry and the infantry of the wing advancing. The triarii are deployed forward in an untraditional deployment. Below, another view this time illustrating the Roman centre, under Licinus, as well as the infantry of the right flank. Opposite Carthaginian foot of the centre are visible.

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Reacting to the advancing Roman right the Punic mounted started to retire reforming on the Punic foot of the centre. The Roman advance continued, soon the respective centres were locked in combat.

Flaminius’s plans was relatively simple. Using the terrain and his mounted he hoped to neutralise the Punic mounted and then with the hastati & principle of all the wings bring his heavy infantry against the Punic foot. His multiple lines would, he hoped, provide adequate reserves to plug gaps and exploit the Punic line as it began to break. Unfortunately, this meant the Roman left under Servilius would need to fight a desperate delaying action.

Soon in the centre the Romans started to gain the advantage. Yet the Carthaginians fought with determination and many Romans fell as well. The resulting gaps in both lines were plugged by reserves. Below, both Punic and Romans lines are suffering casualties.

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Turning to the left Servilius’ flank the delaying action was working, due in part to the lack of determination by the Punic commander. Having successfully secured the steep and rocky slopes his ability to command his wing was compromised. Eventually however the Gallic mercenaries poured down the slopes only to be held by valiant Roman velites.

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The velites fought valiantly allowing Servilius on the Roman left flank to bring forward his Italian reserves and bolster the line, which can be seen below. Servilius, had already committed many of his hastati to the assault on the Punic centre.

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Returning to the centre the fighting had continued unabated. A Roman breakthrough seemed imminent with Carthaginian casualties reaching critical levels. Yet the Punic centre maintained its cohesion, mostly as a result of additional mounted filling the widening gaps.

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Even the last valiant attacks led by Porcius Licinus at the front of his legions failed to cripple the Punic lines. Now, as dusk wrapped its arms around the battlefield Gaius Flaminius accepted that the might of Rome had failed to destroy the invader, and worse robbed him of victory. Still he took heart that his reformed legions had fought well.

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Conquest 2018 BBDBA

On the second day of the Conquest 2018 Convention a three round Big Battle DBA tournament was held. This is the third year we have had a 15mm BBDBA event at Conquest. Armies comprised 36 elements with all armies having a list date of prior to 450 AD. The tournament was limited to just three rounds with each round limited to 2 1/4 hours including setup.

While a couple of regulars were unable to make the event we were pleased to see a new player who supplemented his standard DBA army with some additional figures so he could participate. Most armies were drawn from the early portions of the Section II armies ensuring that many were historical or near historical opponents to each other.

Below, Polybian Romans on the left engage Carthaginians in a desperate fight in Southern Italy. The Carthaginians were defending and with a significant advantage in mounted had offered battle on a relatively open plain.

The marsh in the right foreground significantly constrained the movement of the Punic horse and nullified much of their advantage on the wing. Yet despite this the Romans struggled to gain a decisive advantage against the Carthaginian centre who proved frustratingly resilient.

Above, a Greek coalition prepare to face the Graeco-Bactrians on another relatively open battlefield. The Greeks under an Athenian strategos comprised two Athenian commands and were supported by a Thessalian allied command. The Athenians are visible in the foreground while the Thessalians are in the distance. Both the Athenians and the Thessalians have their own camps.

Above and below, additional views illustrating the situation with the Graeco-Bactrians on the left.

Being distracted in the second round I took no photos. However, we do have some from the third round. Below, the Carthaginians are engaging the Seleucids. The Carthaginians interestingly have almost all their mounted massed into one wing.

Below, another engagement now between the Athenian coalition and the Palmyrans. The Athenians on the left are defending and have clearly adopted a defensive deployment in an attempt to counter the significant mounted threat posed by the Palmyrans.

Next we have some photos from the battle between the Polybian Romans and the Greco-Bactrians. Again the Graeco-Bactrian host has deployed on the open steppes while this time the Romans are campaigning in the far reaches of the known world.

Another view below viewed from the Roman lines. In the centre Roman velites are trying to draw out the Greek pachyderms, who like much of the phalangites, were reluctant to face the determined Romans.

With regards to scoring, a slightly modified version of the standard DBA scoring was used. Players were rewarded with 8pts for a win. Others received one point for each three enemy element equivalents lost. Again this was aimed at rewarding decisive play and discouraged draws.

After three rounds the results were:

  • 1st: Jim Morton – II/36a Graeco-Bactrian, 20pts
  • 2nd: Mark Davies – II/32a Later Carthaginian, 13pts
  • 3rd Gordon Pinchin – II/19a Seleucid, 12pts
  • 4th: Keith McNelly – II/33 Polybian Roman, 10pts
  • 5th: Colin Foster – II/5b Later Hoplite Greek (Athenian) with II/5d Thessalian Ally, 9pts
  • 6th: Greg Wells – II/74a Palmyran with II/23a LPIA Nomad Ally, 7pts

With more generals in play unsurprisingly casualties to generals were heavy. Greg’s Palmyrans lost four generals, while Gordon’s Seleucids and Colin’s Greeks lost three each. The Carthaginians and Romans lost one each while the Greco-Bactrians lost none. From my experience battling the Graeco-Bactrian their commanders seemed reluctant to risk their lives in battle, leaving the fighting to the lower classes. The Carthaginians meanwhile seemed focused on targeting enemy generals killing no less than three enemy generals across their three battles while most others killed two enemy generals. No enemy camps were raided during the course of the tournament.

The Big Battle DBA tournament seemed to be a great success with plenty of challenges and an additional visual spectacle provided by the larger armies on the table, despite retaining the simplicity and elegance of DBA.

Mycenaean Expeditions

Last night I was fortunate to play a couple of games as part of a DBA 3.0 rules refresher for a good friend. Dusting off his existing DBA armies Robin fielded two armies over the evening. These were his first game of DBA in many years. However, being a veteran HotT player I was sure he would quickly recall the rules.

The first army deployed was his Minoan & Early Mycenaean (I/18). This list is of course based on the Aegean Palace Kingdoms. It has been an army I have often planned to build but haven’t been organised enough to start. The army comprises a core of chariots, a phalanx of heavy infantry armed with spear (4Pk) as well as an option of light troops in the form of Pylians (4Ax). Finally it has several psiloi. Robin opted for heavy chariots and a smaller phalanx.

Lacking a suitable historical opponent for the Mycenaeans I opted to field Later Carthaginians (II/32a) who are at best a challenging army with an eclectic mix of troops.

The Mycenaeans were to suffer an invasion of the Carthaginians and with their deployment restricted by terrain a determined Carthaginian attack against the Minion right seemed sensible. However, the Mycenaeans expanded their right with great dexterity forcing the Carthaginians to commit their small reserve more quickly than originally intended.

Above, a view of the Mycenaean right heavily engaged against the Carthaginian left. The Punic elephants, as expected, had gained an initial advantage.

While the Mycenaean right was heavily engaged against the Carthaginians opposite, the Mycenaean centre pressed forward with equal elan.

Below, the view from the Carthaginian left rear. The Punic centre comprising the heavy Punic foot and Gallic mercenaries and here can be seen giving ground as the Mycenaean spearmen press forward.

The Mycenaean attack on the Carthaginian centre was relentless and soon the Gallic mercenaries of the Carthaginian centre, as well as the Punic heavy infantry supporting them, were collapsing.

With his centre decimated and his army demoralised, the Carthaginian commander had to reluctantly accept defeat and abandon the field. A great win to the the Mycenaean commander, who seemed a little surprised by the outcome.

Galatian Migrations

A distinct lack of time lately has meant my posts of battles has been less than it should, despite the fact I’m playing DBA games most weeks. I therefore thought it time I made a passing effort to resolve this lack of visual record of games after a local deployed an expanded army recently.

Ben, has had a Gallic army for some time back expanded it to model Galatians and most recently added a scythed chariot. Like the rest of his armies which are well painted and presented this addition is a striking, complete with Galatian crew with the front of the chariot adorned with Celtic shields. The two combine well to provide a Galatian feel to this captured hardware.

we actually played two games, but below is a brief summary our first game where I fielded a reasonably historic opponent in the form of a Successor army under Demetrius. Now I should have used an army under Ptolemy Keraunos, but I wanted to use some elephants.

The Greeks were found to be defending, as you do when the barbarians invade from the north. Demetrius deployed his army some distance from the city of Phileselis, which was lightly held by Greek mercenaries, with his right protected by the Aegean coast. His centre comprised his phalangites and his left his cavalry, a mix of xystophoroi extended by Greek subjects and comprising both heavy and light cavalry. Between his mounted wing and the phalangites he placed his elephants.

The Galatians deployed opposite with a significant portion of the Galatians deployed opposite Phileselis, clearly poised to attack the city by direct assault. The Galatian centre comprised the remaining foot and the scythed chariots, while the barbarian right comprised the remaining mounted.

Above and below, the Galatian host with the city of Phileselis visible on the Galatian left. In the photo below the Greek mercenaries have retired from the city.

While Demetrius advanced his main army his mercenaries retired from Phileselis, hoping that the citizens would delay the Galatians while the Greek main army destroyed the remaining Galatian army. Indeed, Demetrius hoped that should the Galatians attack the assault force would include their armoured veterans (4Bd) weakening their main line. The initial Galatian attack on Phileselis was thrown back. However, a more sustained attack soon after now supported by additional warriors, was successful. The Galatians warriors rushed in and began to sack the city.

Meanwhile while the Greek phalanx and cavalry pressed forward in the centre and left the Galatians unleashed their scythed chariots. A number of these vicious machines, originally facing the Greek left moved forward against the left pike phalanx which they hit with no result.

Above, the scythed chariots attempt to break the Greek line while below, Galatians are shown sacking the city of Phileselis.

Advancing over the broken chariots the phalangites continued their advance while Demetrius charged the Galatian mounted opposite. Alas, it was in the centre that the Greek plan unravelled when the phalanx began to waver under the massed frontal charge of the Galatians warriors.

Soon the left and then the centre taxis broke and with it Demetrius’ hopes of defeating the barbarian host. Above, the Greek phalanx collapses, a disaster for Greek arms. Now we just need to gather an army under Antigonus Gonatus or a few Aitolians to ensure the Galatians are sent packing next time…