Category Archives: II/32a Later Carthaginian

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…

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 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.

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.

The Glory that is Rome

Last weekend we managed a short trip north to visit our son in Auckland. Taking advantage of some wet weather we managed a number of excellent DBA games. In fact we played seven classical games over the course of the weekend, as well as one in the New World which I won’t cover here. Restricted by the limits of carry-on luggage I could only take one army with me so I opted to for my Polybian Romans which, when fighting Joel’s classical armies, the Romans ensured a wealth of historical opponents. I will provide a brief description of the games and a small selection of photos from the weekend.

Our gaming began with a couple of clashes on Saturday between the Romans and Later Carthaginians. The first found the Carthaginians using the two elephants, while in the second the elephants were abandoned.

One of the strengths of the Carthaginians, when not using elephants, is their increased mounted component when combined with troops able to move through bad going. Combining these two however can be difficult. Above, Carthaginians press the Roman right flank in the second game. A lack of PIPs prevented them successfully exploiting the eventual domination of the hill.

Sunday’s games included two encounters between the Romans and Gauls. I find these armies provide very interesting challenges. For the Gauls there are of course decisions on the number of dismounted warriors compared to mounted. For the Romans, prior to the game consideration must be given to taking allied troops, such as Italians or in my case Spanish and how to best use the velites to delay the inevitable charge of the Gauls. These games resulted in a win for the Gauls and one for the Romans showing the balance between the armies.

Above, Gauls engage Roman velites who have been thrown forward to disrupt the Gallic host. Spanish auxilia can be seen on the left. Below, another view of the same battle before the Roman defeat.

However, Rome soon dispatched another army and this time the Roman light troops were on the offensive once again. Below, Spanish auxilia and velites concentrate their attacks on the Gallic left before the Roman hastati and principes surge forward. On the left both the Spanish and velites drove in the Gallic right causing recoil pressure.

Finally, we finished the gaming off with three excellent encounters against a Lysimachid Successor. While not an historical opponent it was not to far from a potential opponent. All three games included some excellent manoeuvres, classic breakthroughs as well as some humorous moments.

Above, the Greeks have advanced over a gentle hill. Lysimachus is deployed in the centre of the Greek phalanx and would punch a hole in the Roman line, shown below.

Now exposed Lysimachus was driven back by Roman triarii, just after his supporting phalangites had smashed Roman principes themselves surrounded. Unable to recoil, being a three element column, Lysimachus was cut down. A fascinating game.

Our final game between Lysimachid Successor found the Romans using a Numidian ally on a battlefield broken by two steep hills, as shown below.

Greek light auxilia eventually secured the hills but were then restricted due to command limitations caused by these hills and raids by Numidians on the Greek camp.

Above, Numidians raid the camp, just visible on the right, while the Greeks prepare to attack the hill on the Roman left. Below, the Roman velites fall back before the main Greek attack in the centre.

In this final clash Lysimachus again broke through. However, a Roman counterattack drove him back on the flank of the phalanx, visible below. As can be seen from the photo the Roman camp is near to being captured. At this point both armies had suffered equal losses. With Lysimachus wounded the Greek command and control was further compromised. The Romans now surged forward breaking the phalanx.

So ends a short summary of an excellent weekend of gaming. It highlighted for us the advantages of DBA. A series of excellent and very dynamic games between historical opponents with victory within grasp of either player.