Category Archives: II/33 Polybian Roman

Vetus Dominus Returns

It has been a while since I posted a game report so a recent game with a DBA veteran, though who hadn’t played DBA 3.0, seemed the perfect opportunity to post a short summary along with a couple of game photos.

Having peacefully tended their crops in Cisalpine Gaul for several months rumours of Roman expeditions once again galvanised the various tribes to defend themselves from Roman aggression. As two consular legions and their allies advanced under Vetus Dominus many peaceful Gallic settlements were abandoned. Yet Gapatix, who had not fought for some time himself, gathered several thousand warriors and deployed to block the Roman advance.

Gapatix deployed his Gallic army astride a road that the Romans were advancing along. The field to his front was generally open. However to his right the fertile plains gave way to a small rocky hill. Nearer the Romans a large wood disrupted the deployment of the Roman left.

With a mounted superiority, the Gauls deployed cavalry on both wings. That on his left comprised the bulk of Gapatix’s cavalry and chariots. On the right a smaller number of cavalry and light infantry extended his centre. Vetus Dominus deployed opposite, his Roman and Allied cavalry massed on his right, while his velites were concentrated on his left in the woods. With the sun at it’s height Gapatix warriors advanced. Vetus Dominus countered, moving his legions forward. The stage was set for a dramatic battle.

Above and below, the two armies approach.

With the Roman heavy infantry attempting to extend their line to the left, Gapatix signalled his right forward, determined to overwhelm the Roman left. The Gallic cavalry, supported by light troops, were rewarded with success riding down the Roman light troops.

Below, the clash on the Roman left.

In his enthusiasm to defeat the Gauls, Vetus Dominus had encouraged many of his principes to press forward. Now, with his left flank collapsing, the bulk of his reserve were redeployed to prevent the victorious Gallic cavalry from pressing further attacks against his centre.

With the left flank stabilised the Roman centre again advanced, with the Romans initially forcing the Gauls opposite back. Slowly the Romans were gaining the advantage. Yet in the swirling melee of the very centre, four thousand Gauls now broke through. Below, the Gauls of the centre breakthrough.

Panic now overtook the Roman centre. Vetus Dominus, himself engaged against the Gallic cavalry of the left, was unable to significantly reinforce his centre. The only reserve was the last Roman triarii, who valiantly tried to halt the surging Gallic warriors. Alas, they failed.

The Roman situation was now hopeless. As the Romans and their allies were cut down in the centre Vetus Dominus had no choice but to except defeat. Escorted by his cavalry he retired, no doubt to recruit more legions for future campaigns. It was, after all, only a minor setback for Rome.

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.

The Road to Magnesia

The defeat of the Seleucid fleet at the Battle of Myonessus in September 190 BC opened the way for the invasion of Asia Minor by the Romans under Lucius Cornelius Scipio. Soon after the landing Antiochus dispatched his trusted general Zeuxis to engage the Roman invaders while he assembled the main army.

Aware that only a portion of the Seleucid army was advancing on him Lucius Cornelius dispatched Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus to deal with it. The two armies converged in late October. Zeuxis deployed on what was a relatively open plain resting his left on a steep and rocky slope with his army extending to the right. The infantry of the phalanx, some 8,000 in number, were massed in two blocks interspersed by around 2,000 Galatians. To the right of the phalanx elephants, scythed chariots and cavalry extended the Seleucid line. Opposite the Romans deployed in their usual manner.

As the two armies moved forward Lucius Cornelius began to expand his line transferring his reserves to each flank. His strategy clearly focused on a double envelopment of the now shorter Seleucid line. Despite this Zeuxis pressed forward against the enemy centre. Soon the deep formations of phalangites and Galatians were locked in combat with the Roman hastati and principes. The Roman centre soon began to buckle under Seleucid pressure.

On the Seleucid right cataphracts and scythed chariots advanced, pressing the Roman line further. While much importance was placed on the success of the scythed chariots their attacks proved a failure.

Above the Scythed Chariots advance, while below they crash into the Roman lines.

Yet, as the fighting on the flanks slackened that in the centre intensified. As the phalangites and elephants pushed their opponents back the Galatians surged forward breaking portions of the Roman line. Now with no Roman reserve, it having reinforced the Roman flanks, the Galatians overwhelmed the flanks of those Romans engaged frontally by the phalangites. Seleucid success was complete.

Shocked by the defeat Lucius Cornelius reinforced Gnaeus Domitius and ordered him to engage the Seleucids once again. Advancing down the coast it was not long before the forces clashed.

Zeuxis, buoyed by his recent success, again prepared for battle. The coastline was separated from the mountains on the Seleucid right buy a large plain, though broken by a rocky hill near the coast. Unable to deploy his phalangites here Zeuxis deployed his thureophoroi and Galatians on the slopes while deploying his phalangites, pachyderms and mounted to the right.

He reasoned that his lighter troops deployed on the slopes were well able to pin much of the Roman infantry while his phalangites and superior mounted would shatter the Roman left.

The Romans again deployed their infantry traditionally while massing their cavalry on the more open left.

As was to be expected the Romans opened the battle with velites intent on frustrating the Seleucid elephants. Yet, as some velites pressed rashly forward they were ridden down by a body of Seleucid cataphracts. Zeuxis sensed victory.

Yet his hopes were soon tested. His plan called for his cataphracts to be reformed after their initial charge. He had calculated incorrectly as Roman triarii, and unforeseen cavalry swept forward catching the disordered cataphracts. Shaken they fled in panic at this determined counterattack.

Undeterred Zeuxis reinforced his line and pressed forward with his right. Elephants and phalangites were soon engaged, the pachyderms advancing ever further forward. Seleucid scythed chariots were now unleashed. Yet again instead of breaking the enemy to their front the machines failed to achieve a breakthrough.

Now with his elephants surrounded and his only reserve that of his own companions Zeuxis charged forward, determined to secure a final victory.

Above and below the moment of decision on the Seleucid right flank.

Alas, his massed heavy cavalry were neutralised by the numerically superior Roman cavalry and soon Zeuxis, previously so confident of victory, now watched as his army collapsed.

With Roman victory achieved and his army concentrated, Lucius Cornelius Scipio prepared to advance on the road to Magnesia. That critical battle still lays ahead.

These two battles formed the second pair of battles from our themed Seleucid weekend which, like the other battles, proved both entertaining and challenging. The Seleucids are mostly from Tin Soldier’s 15mm range supplemented by Xyston. My opponent’s Romans are mostly from Essex Miniatures supplemented by a scattering of Museum Miniatures to provide figure variety.

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…