Category Archives: Ancient

Conquest Results

Over the weekend the local Conquest wargames convention was held. Yet again we were able to run a DBA competition, this year comprising two seperate events. The first day involved a standard DBA competition of six rounds, each of an hour. While the second day would comprise a Big Battle three round competition.

Looking at the first day the six rounds were further divided into two sections. The first three games involved the Ancient section and drew armies from the period up to 450 AD. The armies, except one, were all drawn from the Section II lists and all contained an interesting mix. At the conclusion of the Ancient Section Brian was 1st place with 33 points while Greg Kelleher and Keith McNelly were on second equal with 23 points each.

Above and below armies clash in the Ancient Section. Above Asiatic Successors clash with Eastern Patrician Army while below the same Successors clash with Palmyrans.

Below, a view of the Palmyran camp. A fine example of many well painted and presented armies.

The Dark Age and Medieval Section, played in the afternoon, also comprised three rounds and used armies from 451 AD. Of these armies a solid core were Late Medieval armies, including three Wars of the Roses armies and a hard hitting Free Companies. However, the Hussite army had several players scratching their heads on how to deal with the massed war wagons expertly commanded by Mark. After the three rounds of the Medieval section Mark Baker was on 24 points, Jim Morton on 23 and Greg Wells on 21 points.

Above, the Hussite host engage their enemy. Below, the Mongols prepare to advance against a Wars of the Roses English army.

Below, Wars of the Roses English engaged against Free Companies, who unsurprisingly were invading English territories. The English maintained a good account of themselves through a combination of archery and cannon fire.

Combining the scores of both Sections provided the final placings as follows:

  • Brian Sowman – I/50 Lydian with I/52g Asiatic Greek ally; IV/54b Medieval Scandinavian Union with IV/13c Medieval German ally (41pts)
  • Jim Morton – II/36a Graeco-Bactrian; IV/74 Free Company (34 pts)
  • Mark Davies – II/32a Later Carthaginian; IV/1a Komnenan Byzantine (33pts)
  • Greg Kelleher – II/82b Eastern Patrician Army; III/10b Rajput Army (31pts)
  • Keith McNelly – II/16b Asiatic Early Successor; II/83a Wars of the Roses English, Yorkist (31pts)
  • Paul Deacon – II/10 Camillan Roman; III/28 Carolingian Frankish (28pts)
  • Greg Wells – II/74a Palmyran; II/83a Wars of the Roses English (26pts)
  • Mark Baker – II/74a Palmyran; IV/80 Hussite (24pts)
  • John Kerr – II/33 Polybian Roman; II/83a Wars of the Roses English (22pts)
  • Angus Yeates – II/32a Later Carthaginian; IV/35 Mongol Conquest (16pts)

The second day of Conquest was allocated to an Ancient Big Battle event of three rounds. Most of the armies were similar to the previous days Ancient Section, with a few exceptions. Unfortunately, player numbers were a little lower with eight players participating. Of these players, a number had not played BBDBA with 3.0. Each round lasted 2 1/4 hours with a number of games going to the wire. Interestingly, unlike the previous day when there were no camps taken, a couple of camps were attacked and taken. Clearly the benefit of attacking camps in BBDBA were high on some players radar.

Above, Carthaginians deployed in one of the Big Battle games. In this game the Carthaginians fought with great determination, especially their Spanish mercenary foot. Below, the Carthaginians face the Eastern Patricians with their LPIA Nomad Ally in the foreground.

Below, Later Carthaginians engage Eastern Patricians. The Patricians were one of the armies that were supported by an ally. An ally can be a useful component for variety and to bolster a couple of standard DBA armies to the required size for BBDBA.

A revised scoring system was used for the BBDBA competition, after three rounds the placings were as follows:

  • 1st Brian Sowman – I/50 Lydian with I/52g Asiatic Greek ally
  • 2nd Keith McNelly – II/16b Asiatic Early Successor
  • 3rd Jim Morton – II/36a Graeco-Bactrian
  • 4th= Mark Baker – II/74a Palmyran
  • 4th= Greg Wells – II/74a Palmyran with II/23a LPIA Nomad Ally
  • 6th= Greg Kelleher – II/82b Eastern Patrician Army with II/23a LPIA Nomad Ally
  • 6th= Paul Deacon – II/49 Marian Roman
  • 8th= Mark Davies – II/32a Later Carthaginian

I should add a few notes of thanks. Firstly to our competitors who all played as true gentlemen. I of course must mention our four out of town visitors, two from Australia and another each from Auckland and Blenheim, thank you for your support. Then we have those players who provided loan armies to help with the themes.

Finally, I would like to thank Comics Compulsion who organise Conquest and are so supportive of DBA. I encourage you to support them.

Empire: 310 BC – 301 BC

We have just completed the second turn in our Empire Campaign campaign, which covers the period from 310 BC to 301 BC. The following should provide a brief overview of the events as they unfolded. One of the interesting features of the campaign is the sequential nature of the turn sequence which in the closing poption of the decade resulted in a very dramatic turn of events. The outcomes of course determined by the order of player offensives, modified by battle outcomes.


The cities of Sicilia were most unsettled following the failed Carthaginian campaigns of the previous decade. As a result a number of cities determined to take advantage of Syracue’s weakness and revolted against Syracusian hegemony. In 310 BC Xenodicus was elected general in Akragas and immediately embarked on a limited campaign to liberate the nearby Sicilian cities from Syracusian domination. Argathocles, tyrant of Syracuse, was determined to bringing Xenodicus to battle and in the Autumn of 309 BC they arimes clashed. Both armies comprised a large number of hoplites and were supported by cavalry. However, Argathocles had a slight advantage in the mousted arm and was further supported by light cavalry and bolt shooters. Xenodicus was more concerned in keeping his revolt alive and as such deployed behind a river with his right flank resting near the coast.

Argathocles determined to attack the enemy right with his mounted and some hoplites while other hoplites, as well as bolt shooters, pinned the Siciliot centre. The battle lines swirled back and forth for most of the day as first Syracusian and then Siciliot troops attacked across the river. Finally, unable to achieve an outcome Argathocles ordered his troops to disengage. Argathocles had clearly failed to defeat Xenodicus, the rebellion would continue to gain momentum. While Syracuse had clearly lost its domination over Sicilia it was far from defeated.

In the east Eumenes determined to launch an offensive into India in an effort to secure his supply of elephants. By the summer of 308 BC Eumenes finally deployed against the Indian hordes in a area interspersed by areas of forest and marsh. In the ensuing battle his light troops suffered in the initial skirmishes but soon the main battlelines clashed. It was now the Greeks, and Persian subjects, gained an advantage destroying many Indians cavalry and chariots. Sensing an opportunity to finish off the Indian host Eumenes committed his cavalry against the lightly armed Indian archers. Now the archers drew their fearsome swords and wreaked havoc amongst the invaders. Encouraged by their inferiors, the elephants and chariots redoubled their efforts and slaughtered the phalangites in front of them. Eumenes was now forced to fight and rearguard action and begin the long journey west. His invasion of India had failed. Yet, this defeat had even greater consequences. Eumenes, far from his capital learnt that in his absence Seleucus, previously satrap of Mesopotamia had returned from exile and seized control of the capital and treasury. Eumenes, never the most trusted of commanders, was handed over to Seleucus by his veterans in return for their long overdue pay.

In Macedonia Polypechon launched an offensive into Graecia in 307 BC to bring to heal Cassander. While a number of Greek cities opened their gates to Polypechon others gathered to support Cassander. The two armies manoeuvred until finally they faced each other in Attica near Dekelea in 306BC. Cassander positioned his mounted on his left while extending his line to the right with his phalangites in the centre and the majority of his mercenary peltasts on the right. Polypechon, having a numeric superiority in phalangites, massed these along with his xystophoroi in the centre while his Greek cavalry and elephants extended his right and his light troops were positioned on a rocky hill on his left. Both armies advanced with their right, with their centre and left in support.

Cassander hoped to gain the advantage against the outnumbered Macedonian left but failed as Polypechon light troops fell back. Meanwhile on the opposite flank and centre of both armies were soon engaged. Here Cassander routed Polypechon’s Greek cavalry while the phalangites of both armies pushed back and forth inconclusively.

With his right flank shattered and desperate for a result the Macedonian centre attacked. While Polypechon, at the head of his xystophoroi charged Cassander’s Greek hoplites, his phalangites attacked Cassander’s outnumbered phalangites frontally and from the flank. However, Cassander’s troops were well motivated and repulsed first the phalangites and then routed the xystophoroi after Polypechon fell mortally wounded. Demoralised and leaderless Polypechon’s army broke with many troops now deserting to Cassander. Aware of his own tenuous hold in Greece, an amalgam of diverse political interests at best, Cassander advanced in the following weeks into Macedonia and secured Pella, leaving the fractious Greek cities behind.

While the dynamic situation in Graecia was unfolding equally dramatic news arrived from Italia. The relatively unknown city state of Rome had successfully consolidated their position over Italia. Heavily populated and now commanding a united Italia rumours of Roman expansion filled many trading ports.

Watching these developments with renewed interest Carthage pressed on with her own territorial expansions. Following the defeat of her previous invasion of Sicilia Carthage prepared for another invasion of the islands now disrupted by revolts by cities seeking independence from Syracusian hegemony. Carthaginian forces landed on the west of the island from where her forces quickly expanded and consolidated their control. However, Carthage was soon in direct conflict with the much expanded Akragas League which now controlled much of Sicilia in a loose alliance of city states. This finally came to a head in 305 BC when the Akragas League dispatched Xenodicus to arrest Carthaginian arrest expansion.

The two armies met on a relatively open plain north of Heraclea, a site chosen by Hamilcar, son of Gisco. Hamilcar selecting the field to ensure his heavy chariots would benefit from an obstacle free battlefield. Hamilcar deployed with his Punic and Libyan infantry in the centre his auxilia and cavalry on his right and his heavy chariots on the left.

Taking advantage of what looked to be an unusual deployment by the Greeks Hamilcar pressed forward with his centre and left while refusing his more vulnerable right. He further moved his cavalry from his right flank to his left to gain further advantage. The Siciliot Greeks countered and repositioning some of their centre to attack the Punic right flank.

However, such deployments take time and the Carthaginian heavy chariots and cavalry, supported by Punic infantry, eventually gained the advantage on the Punic left and centre destroying the Greek flank. The surviving Greeks fled and as word of the victory spread cities opened their gates to Carthage. Sicilia had been finally secured for Carthage.

However, it was in the Syria and Aegyptus that the most dramatic events of the decade unfolded. In 303 BC Antigonus dispatched his son Demetrius against Ptolemy in a war that had now been fought for many years. Moving south a number cities offered little or no resistance to the Antigonid invasion. Now the very survival of Ptolemaic rule seemed in question.  Ptolemy finally offered battle in the Nile Delta, again using a major distributary to strengthen his position.

Demetrius launched his attack across one of these rivers while landing Greek hoplites on the coast. Ptolemy counted the landing with his mounted while his the smaller phalanx and elephants advanced to defend the river bank opposite the mighty phalanx of Demetrius. A long but determined clash over the river and marshes no took place the details of which are not known. The result however was that headway gained by the Antigonid phalanx was lost when it was finally forced back across the river and the Greek hoplites along the coast were finally over-run. Once again the Antigonid invasion of Aegyptus is repulsed.

Seeking revenge and taking advantage of the Antigonid defeat Ptolemy now launched his own invasion of Syria. Several cities opened their gates to Ptolemy as he marched relentlessly north. As these cities fell the economic cost to the Antigonids increased. Antigonus, unable to accept continued economic destruction being inflicted on Syria assembled a large army to defeat the invader.

Antigonus, having executed a night march, was able to catch the Ptolemaic host breaking camp in the summer of 301 BC. Ptolemy had deployed with his right flank anchored on a fortified position and his left an area of marsh. Having recovered from the surprise attack Ptolemy moves against the Antigonid flanks. This includes a raid against the Antigonid camp, though this attack fails. In due course the phalangites of both armies are engaged, with the aging Antigonus, now 80, fighting in the front ranks of the Antigonid phalanx. As the battle develops victory seems within Antigonus’ grasp until a series of disasters combine. Firstly, Antigonid xystophoroi fail to achieve a breakthrough and then a portion of the Antigonid phalanx, attacked frontally and from the flank, is destroyed with the loss of Antigonus. While Ptolemaic casualties are heavy the Antigonid defeat is complete. Syria has fallen to Ptolemy and two decades of determined engagements have, at least for the time being, provided a rich reward.

At the end of the decade the various states control the following provinces, the first being the home province:

  • Carthage: Africa, Numidia, Iberia, Sicilia
  • Rome: Italia
  • Macedonia: Macedonia, Thracia
  • Antigonids: Asia, Pontus
  • Seleucids: Mesopotamia, Persia, Parthia, Armenia, Bactria
  • Ptolemaic: Aegyptus, Syria

Independent states currently comprise: Gallia; Cisalpina; Magna Graecia; Illyria; Graecia; Cyrenaica; Scythia & India.

DBA Open 2016 – Ancient Results

The DBA Open is run each year here in Christchurch, New Zealand and comprises two tournaments. The first in July covers Ancient armies and another, usually in early December, covers Dark Age and Medieval armies. The scores of both tournaments are combined to determine the overall winner of the DBA Open.

Sunday found ten players participating in the Ancient Tournament. The theme allowed any army with a list date up to 450 AD to be fielded. Despite this the majority of armies were from a much more limited period. The tournament comprises five rounds each of one hour. Of the 25 games played only one ended as a draw, though several went down to the wire.

Above, Carthaginians deployed against Polybian Romans in the first round.

The armies selected provided an interesting mix. I believe five of the ten armies have not previously been used in DBA competitions by their owners, suggesting players are experimenting. Of the armies in use several had a solid corps of hoplites. A far cry from the days of DBA 2.2 when hoplites were infrequently seen. The Thebans with their two stands of 8Sp were unnerving to a number of opponents. One player reported facing a combination of combat factors and die roll that amounted to a 13. Not dissimilar to pikes, but without a sacrifice in frontage.

Two Roman armies were in play, the Polybian army above, and the later Marian Romans. Below, the Marian Roman right flank is soon to be under sustained attack by his opponent who has refused his own right.

The Successors were perhaps under represented with only the Seleucids in play. Interestingly the Seleucids were only one of two armies with elephants. Usually their a Classical Indian army in play but it’s normal commander seems to have ventured west and adopted a more classical army. The only other army having elephants one the day was one of the two Carthaginian armies. However, that with the dreaded pachyderms came in at a lower position than that without them.

Several armies were defined as being littoral and I understand a number of littoral landings took place, with sometimes mixed results. Greater than half the armies in play had a high aggression, that is an aggression of 3 or 4.

There were a few tactical discussions during and after the games. The Gallic player was able to boast of some success with his warbands. He opted for a foot heavy army, fielding only two mounted elements, which can be seen above. He also decided his commander would fight on foot in the front ranks. Apparently the Gallic host broke through several enemy formations of heavy foot, including a pike phalanx.

Above, Gallic Gaesati, mercenary Gauls and rated as 3Wb, advance from the woods in one game. They were pinned and engaged for some time against Carthaginian light troops in this game.


Above and below Polybian Romans face Thebans. Two stands of 8Sp can be seen in the centre of the Theban line, while Roman triarii can be seen forming a reserve behind Roman hastati and principes.


After five rounds the results were as follows:

  1. Gordon, II/19a Seleucid 320-280 BC, 46 pts (Countback)
  2. Keith, II/32a Later Carthaginian 275-202 BC, 46 pts
  3. Brian, I/50 Lydian 687-540 BC with I/52g Asiatic Greek Hoplite Allies, 43 pts
  4. Nathan, II/49 Marian Roman 105-25 BC, 29 pts
  5. Ben, II/11Gallic 400-225 BC (Telamon), 25 pts
  6. Mike, II/5k Spartan Overseas Expedition Agesilaus 396-394 BC, 25 pts
  7. Gus, II/5c Theban 448-278 BC, 24 pts
  8. Andrew, I/42 Neo Elamite 800-639 BC with I/44a Neo Babylonian Ally, 22 pts
  9. John, II/33 Polybian Roman 275-105 BC, 16 pts
  10. Jim, II/32a Later Carthaginian 275-202 BC, 15 pts

The winner of the DBA Open Ancient Tournament, Gordon, also received “The Phil Barker Cup” for his achievements. Well done on all counts.

The Society of Ancients supported the event by providing a DBA 3.0 measuring template. This was awarded to Nathan for achieving the highest score of the four players who have not previously played at the DBA Open. A particularly good result as Nathan had only recently completed his Marian Roman army.

Hopefully we will see you at Conquest, the next DBA event in Christchurch.

Lysimachus’ Indian Sojourn

I thought it time I place a few another DBA game on-line, this time a “Big Battle” game. I won’t attempt a blow by blow recount but I hope this short summary proves to be of interest. I opted to use my Lysimachid Successors which I have been using a little lately against other Successors as well as Polybian Roman. However, today it was deployed against Tamil Indian. Not an historical opponent, but given the Successor’s sphere of influence it seemed reasonablyplausible.

For this game Lysimachus was deemed to be invading. The Indians opted for minimal terrain resulting in a relatively open battlefield. While deploying second the Greeks had some difficult choice due to the equal spread of elephants. In the end I placed my main strike command, the one that would be allocated the highest PIP die, on the left in the hope it would engage what I expected to be the Indian strike command. Hopefully the xystophoroi would manoeuvre into the enemy cavalry and avoid the elephants. My centre, containing the majority of phalangites and my own elephants, would gain the next highest PIP die, while my smallest command, deployed on the right, would receive the lowest die.

No sooner had I deployed the Indians moved forward with great enthusiasm along the line. Above, taken after the Indian move the Indians have reduced the gap between the two armies. On the Indian right, top right of the photo, a number of elephants have wheeled further to the right.

Lysimachus’ response was command paralysis – low PIPs. With the few PIPs available the Greek infantry pressed forward, however any hope of manoeuvre on the left was gone.

Above, a view of the Greek left, which is extended slightly further by an additional xystophoroi and light cavalry. The phalangites illustrated are also from the Greek left.

Below, a view of the centre from the Indian perspective.

In the centre the Greek psiloi were thrown forward early to first pin and then draw the Indian elephants forward.

Below, a close up showing two stands of psiloi engaged. A lack of PIPs in the first couple of Greek turns prevented much of the planned manoeuvres from occurring. On the Greek right flank, despite low PIPs the phalangites and Thracians moved forward as well. The Successor elephants were repeatedly recoiled by Indian archery.

On the Greek left however things were taking a turn for the worse. Indian elephants pressed forward, as shown below, and crashed into the Greek xystophoroi with the expected outcome! Two stands were eliminated on first contact including Lysimachus!

Yet in an interesting turn of events the loss of Lysimachus inspired the army! The following Greek PIP roll was outstanding and the army advanced. On the left Greek auxilia countered the elephants while the remaining xystophoroi charged forward cutting down much of column of archers in ensuing turns.

In the centre Indian foot came under pressure from the Greek phalanx while Successor elephants clashed with the Indian pachyderms, with the result of some Tamil elephants fleeing. As the Greek phalanx pressed forward this amplified the impact of another elephant breakthrough, now in the centre. These elephants, pushing back the Greek psiloi, found themselves confronted by an organised line of phalangites who inflicted a horrific toll.

Above, the situation just prior to the Greeks pushing back Indian swordsman and before the elephants hit the phalangites. Note the Greek Silver Shields, the banners denote Greek generals.

However, not all was going well for the Greeks as their left was by now demoralised. Seeking every advantage the Indians lapped around the phalanx of the left and the entire wing collapsed. However, the Indian left was also under pressure. As the Greek left collapsed the Indian left became demoralised, mostly a result of elephant losses.

Casualties at this point were generally similar, while the Greek casualties were mostly on the Greek left, Indian casualties were distributed more evenly.

The Indian commander tried to prepare an attack using his victorious right wing while the Greeks, free of Lysimachus, aimed to crush the centre or Indian left, both of which were under serious pressure. Below, the Indian right (left) is reorganised while a portion of the Greek centre prepares to form a line. Note the thin Indian centre.

However, it was against the Indian left that success was finally achieved. Phalangites, Thracians and light cavalry all pressed the demoralised Indians who finally collapsed.

It seemed victory for the Greeks had been achieved, but only just…

Another outstanding game. Plenty of interesting challenges that kept both players on the edge of their seat from start to finish.