Category Archives: II/11 Gallic

Antigonids, Seleucus & Rome

The Christmas and New Year period provided an opportunity for my son and I to play a series of long overdue Ancient games. During the 2020 Christmas break we refought a series of historic Punic Wars battles using DBA this year however we opted for a different theme. In particular the Wars of the Antigonids and Roman campaigns in Cisalpine Gaul.

Starting with the Antigonids we fought a series of games involving Antigonus, Demetrius and finally Antigonus Gonatas against the Seleucids. The first engagement was fought between Antigonus & Seleucus I Nicator. In the centre the phalangites of both commanders clashed, while on the flanks elephants, light troops & mounted were locked in combat.

Above, Seleucus engages Antigonus. In this engagement Antigonus fought with the phalanx causing some confusion for Seleucus, who expected him to be with the xystophori. Finally, Antigonus gained success.

Now the baton was passed to Demetrius who again faced Selecus. Unlike Antigonus Demetrius determined not to use pachyderms and as a result his command and control improved.

Above, the armies just prior to clashing with the Seleucids on the right. Like his father, Demetrius secured victory over Seleucus.

In our third game Demetrius was replaced by Antigonus Gonatas who now faced Antiochus I. Soter, with an even more disparate army Soter put up a determined fight. However again the Seleucids failed to secure a victory. Below, the armies engaged with the Antigonids advancing from the left.

The miniatures above are all 15mm figures and mostly from Tin Soldier supplemented by a few Xyston for variation and, in the case of two stands of Celts, Corvus Belli.

Next we moved to the conflict between Rome & Gaul, specifically that set between the Punic Wars. Some four engagements were fought over two evenings.

Above and below photos of two of the games. While the Romans fielded a similar army in each engagement the Gauls tried various combinations.

Of the four battles three resulted in victories for the Polybian Romans while just one ended in a Gallic victory. The Gauls are Corvus Belli while the Romans are mostly from Essex.

With the holidays ending our final game, the eighth in the series, was set in the Second Punic War. In particular, Polybian Romans engaged against Carthaginians.

Above, on one flank a stalemate persisted while in the centre and other flank, illustrated below, both armies were heavily engaged.

Like the previous engagements the final result went to the wire, with a narrow victory achieved by the Romans.

In all a fine series of games which for us illustrated the strengths of DBA. In particular games involving historical opponents, with very plausible results, all resolved in a limited time frame.

Gracchus, Flaccus & Maximus

Like much of the world here in New Zealand we are under a lockdown in an effort to control the spread of Covid-19. For many weeks now all wargaming, at least face to face, has been on hold. However, my son and I decided to attempt some virtual DBA games using Skype. In the ensuing weeks we have played around five games. In the end the majority of engagements comprised battles involving Rome, so these are presented here in something of a campaign, though at the time we had no such plan.

Frustrated by the ever growing restlessness of the Gallic peoples north of Rome the Senate determined to move against the Cisalpine tribes despite the ongoing threat Hannibal posed to Rome. The Consul Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus was dispatched and pressed north engaging a large Gallic army in the Spring of 215 BC.

Above and below the view of the engagement with the Gallic cavalry and chariots massed on the Gallic left.

Gracchus was particularly aggressive and exploited ruthlessly the gaps in the Gallic lines.

However, the Punic threat could not be ignored and in 212 BC Rome moved against the Carthaginians in the south. Having assembled a large army the Consul Quintus Fulvius Flaccus marched south.

The Carthaginians, commanded by Hanno the Younger, deployed along the coast their flank resting on an occupied Italian city. Reinforced with a number of pachyderms Hanno hoped to break up the Roman lines with these beasts. Soon a dramatic battle developed with the elephants repeatedly pressing the Roman centre.

Above and below the Carthaginians are engaged against the Romans.

However, Roman determination was unwavering and slowly the Roman infantry gained the advantage until finally the Punic veterans were overwhelmed. 

Yet before the Punic threat could be overcome events in the north required attention. Therefore in the Spring of 211 BC a new Consul, Gnaeus Fulvius Centumalus Maximus, marched north to confront the Gauls.

Maximus hoped the campaign would be short and therefore planned to suppress the tribal alliance before moving south again. However, the old Gallic commander undertook a series of complex manoeuvres and fell on the overextended Roman right.

Above, the move against the Roman right, while below the Gallic main effort seen from the Gallic right.

The Gallic attack against the Roman right had clearly surprised Maximus whose attack temporarily stalled. This now allowed the Gallic centre to decimated the Romans opposite and secure a clear Gallic victory. 

Yet undeterred Maximus reinforced his army and by autumn was prepared to again move on to the offensive. In due course the Gauls offered battle and again the Gallic commander attempted a series of complex manoeuvres.

However, this time his cunning only created a series of gaps in his own line which he was unable to plug.

Maximus struck with deadly determination, shattering the Gauls and handing them their worst defeat since Telmon.

In the course of three years the Consuls Gracchus, Flaccus & Maximus had inflicted three defeats on the enemies of Rome. Now Rome, emboldened with confidence, could focus on the final defeat of Hannibal…

Rise of the Celts

It was several years ago I purchased some Corvus Belli Gauls but unfortunately they have sat in the lead mountain for far too long. However, over recent weeks I have finally progressed their painting and last Friday evening they their first outing. Deployed against them were my opponent’s equally new Kappadokians.

The Gallic host comprised both horse and chariots in limited numbers. Instead the bulk of the army comprised warriors on foot (4Wb) who were supported by a number of Gaesati (3Wb). After trekking long distances the Gauls found their enemy in the wilds of Asia Minor in a land famous for its horses, its fruit orchards and its worship of the mother goddess Ma, or so the histories would tell us. The armies deployed, the Gauls on an open plain the Kappadokians restricted somewhat by steep and rocky hills.

An initial advance along a road by over zealous Kappadokian cavalry against the Gallic right inspired a dramatic counter by the Gauls. The Gaesati moved swiftly towards the enemy horse while Celtic chariots and horse swarmed forward on the flanks of the Celtic mercenaries. The Kappadokian horse seemed likely to be overwhelmed.

Above and below the battle on the Gallic right.

Yet the gods of war turned and soon the Gauls were fighting for their own survival many cut down. Yet here the fickle gods intervened again, the remaining Celtic horse on the right now throwing back attackers repeatedly despite being outnumbered three to one.

Below, the Gallic horse on the right hotly engaged by overwhelming numbers. The battle is about to involve more troops as the centres are progressively engaged.

As the main battle lines clashed the Kappadokian general at the head of 1000 lancers pressed the Celtic chariots opposite opening eventually a hole in the Gallic line.

Yet the determined Celtic charioteers, under the Gallic commander, harried their advance at every turn darting forward and back their warriors fighting with great expertise from their chariots. Each side of the now fully engaged commanders, the armies were progressively to be engaged in deadly combat. Slowly in a series of progressive combats the Gallic foot, beating their shields with swords and spears, moved forward.

The pendulum of battle swung back & forth for some time with casualties mounting in both armies. The melee was both general and confusing. But slowly the Gallic heavy infantry were gaining the advantage.

Desperately seeking a breakthrough a further body of by Kappadokian lancers, riding partly armoured horses, crashed into another body of naked Gaesati. Determined to stand these mercenaries from Transalpine Gaul braced for the charge. When it came the Gaesati repulsed their attackers. Reforming the Kappadokian lancers charged again. Now broken up their formation disordered the Galatians cut them down without quarter.

Above, the general situation in the final moments of the battle. Below, the Gaesati repulse the enemy lancers.

The loss of the lancers was too great and demoralised from heavy losses the Kappadokians broke, their warriors fleeing for the hills. As they broke the Gallic warriors themselves exhausted focus on looting the dead and dying. The Gaesati, heroes of the battle, could be seen gathering Kappadokian heads to impale on stakes in celebration of their victory.

Some Kappadokian sources may well report that the Gauls only achieved a narrow victory. However, undisputed by all, was it had been an extremely enjoyable encounter and a fine game using two well presented armies. For the Gauls it was a great introduction to the DBA battlefield.

Celtic Clashes

One of the fascinating engagements for me has always been those between Romans and Celts, be that in an historical sense or on the wargames table. A couple games last night were an apt reminder of why I enjoy these historical matchups so much. From a DBA perspective, and especially as a Roman commander, the clash can be particularly nerve racking. A well coordinated Celtic attack, along with some luck, can quickly result in the sudden collapse of the Roman line.

To achieve this breakthrough the Celts, be they Gauls or Galatians, need depth. To ensure they gain the needed rear rank support. This depth of course comes as a loss of frontage. Yet the Roman commander needs his own reserves to counter the inevitable gaps that can occur in his own line. Here the conundrums for both players begin.

In some clashes the use of a dismounted Gallic general has proven to be a useful tool to achieve such a breakthrough. A Gallic commander, with rear support, engaged at equal factors to the Roman line. When combined with the advantage of a quick kill this can potentially smash a hole in the Roman line. Of course there are ways to delay or breakup such tactics. In time a Roman player will develop these in an effort to halt the Celtic onslaught.

Of course aside from theses infantry clashes the mounted Celts can provide plenty of interest on the flanks. Chariots or cavalry harassing, outflanking or overwhelming the often numerically inferior Roman mounted.

Terrain plays a critical part. Should the Celtic commander use woods and steep hills for his warriors to move through or is a more open battlefield of benefit to his mounted troops? Despite relatively few troop types the range of permutations are numerous.

Then of course there are times that the Romans collapse and the last hope is to be found at the camp where only a few camp followers are all that protects the Roman coin from the Celtic onslaught…