Category Archives: BBDBA

Sosthenes of Macedonia

What makes a good game? Well for me it’s well painted figures on visually pleasing terrain and against a pleasant opponent. Fortunately I have this in most games these days so last night’s encounter looked set to produce another excellent game. Indeed, Andrew and I deployed our 15mm figures for a Successor encounter using BBDBA and the game looked the part. I haven’t unfortunately many photos of the game but here at least are a few along with a brief description.

Facing Demetrius was Sosthenes of Macedonia (a Later Macedonian Successor variant) who positioned the right flank of his army on gently rising ground while extending his centre and left towards a rocky hill on his left. Demetrius, positioning himself on his left flank, ordered the advance. His initial focus was to be an attack against the enemy right where he hoped to destroy a large body of Galatians with his xystophoroi . Fearing this Sosthenes reorganised his right flank in a series of complex manoeuvres. As a result, the Demetrius’ early attack on the left, where he had massed his best troops stalled.

Below, another view of the battle, from Sosthenes’ centre looking to his right. A feature of this engagement included some desperate fighting between Macedonian heavy cavalry and a portion of the Galatian mercenaries.

Reorganised, his enemy now formed a resolute array on the gentle slope to Demetrius’ front. Unwilling to attack the infantry on this hill Demetrius looked to his right flank. Here his Greek and asiatic horse pressed the enemy left flank, but again the enemy reformed.

Below another view of Demetrius’ right, where his peltasts block the advance of Sosthenes’ mercenary Greeks. Finally the centres of both armies, which are to heavily engaged, are visible.

A desperate engagement in the centre ensued. Demetrius’ veteran phalangites slowly gained the advantage, only to be forced back. They rallied and pressed Sosthenes’ phalangites back again. However, as they did they exposed their own flank. Now, as they continued to press forward the enemy counterattacked. As a series of attacks unfolded Demetrius could only watch helplessly, unable to intervene, as his centre unravelled and with it all hope of victory.


A Letter from Malacca

Last night we deployed some armies for a fascinating game of BBDBA. With my regular opponent keen to use his Post Mongol Samurai (IV/59b) I opted to use my Sumatrans or Malay (IV/37a). My Sumatrans were built for DBR and comprise considerably more troops than BBDBA requires. However, given the period covered by the late medieval period and DBA I thought it more appropriate they were used to represent the Sultanate of Malacca than the Sumatrans.

Despite having the army I’ve not used it in DBA or BBDBA. Primarily due to the warband being based three figures per base, as required for DBR, rather than the DBA requirement of four per base. One of the appealing aspects is the combination of elephants and warband which is, in my view, rather fascinating. So with some differences between this army under the two rule sets it would likely be an experiment at best, a disaster at worse.

I opted for two commands each with 13 stands and one of 10 stands. The centre, which would be allocated the highest PIP die, would contain the majority of elephants and a significant number of warriors (4Wb). One wing would contain the remaining elephants, a number of warriors and light horse, visible below in a staged photo before the game.

The combination of two elephants, six stands of warriors, a couple stands of archers all supported by the light horse, which can also be seen below, was complex. The combination of figures required at very least the second highest PIP die.

Finally the remaining wing, which would have the lowest PIP die, would contain the remaining warriors and the bulk of the archers who could at least fire even when movement was restricted. The allocation of PIP dice before the battle, as well as the role each command will play, is an important dynamic to consider in BBDBA. All part of having a plan, even when it’s not particularly cunning!

Now, to the battle. The Japanese, as defender, had selected and placed terrain. They deployed cavalry on the wings with massed dismounted Samurai in the centre. Ashigaru and Sohei monks extending the centre to left and right. Clearly the Japanese commander intended to hold in the centre while attacking on the wings. 

For this particular game the Malay massed their elephants and warriors in the centre and left with the warriors interspersed by elephants. The concept was the elephants would breakup the enemy lines which the warriors would then exploit. The extreme left was held by archers and light horse. The Malay right wing was somewhat separated from the centre by a couple of steep hills. 

In due course the Japanese were unleashed. The first attack was against the Malay right. 

Here the Japanese foot, including warrior monks (3Bd), was partially bogged down by a combination of steep hills and Malay skirmishers. However, the Japanese mounted pressed the extreme flank. The Japanese mounted (6Cv) suffered heavy casualties as the Malay archers took a heavy toll. 

Meanwhile the Malay left and centre, shown above, advanced to attack Japanese opposite. However, a diversion of troops to support the battle on the right caused a temporary halt. Now, the Japanese, having reorganised their right, surged forward to attack the Malay left. Soon the fighting was general with only a portion of the centres of both armies engaged. Below, a view from the Japanese centre with a small village, a hamlet in DBA terms, separating the centre of both armies.

As casualties mounted the first to break was the Japanese left. A result of both casualties to the mounted and isolated warrior monks. Meanwhile, on the Malay left, the Japanese we’re gaining the advantage despite several attacks being thrown back with heavy casualties. Eventually the Malay left would became demoralised. Desperate to break the Japanese the Malay centre pressed forward in one final effort. Warriors and elephants smashed into the disrupted ranks with elephants leading the attacks and hardened warriors charging in support. While several parts of the Japanese line held others disintegrated in the onslaught. A hard fought but decisive victory had been secured for the Malay.

From an effectiveness perspective the elephants had proven difficult to manoeuvre using, as expected, many PIPs. The warriors (4Wb), while frustratingly slow, had proven generally resilient against Japanese ashigaru (3Pk) and in many cases deadly against Samurai (4Bd) and Sohei monks (3Bd). In many ways their effectiveness on the day was a result of the elephant and warband combination. The archers had proven invaluable on the Malay right, despite my less than optimal deployment. That said, a few different die rolls and the Malay right could have easily unraveled.

Interestingly the army played rather differently than it does in DBR, where enemy firearms often are seen. In this situation the elephants are held in reserve rather than risk being unnerved by the sound of these weapons. I now think it’s time I take the plunge and paint some additional warriors so I can field the army with the legal requirement of solid warband, rather than reminding myself throughout the game that the warriors were actually “solid”. It will be good to have a different army on the DBA and BBDBA battlefield.

Conquest BBDBA

Having had a busy week following Conquest I’ve delayed posting the last selection of photos I have. Now as we head into a long weekend it seemed an ideal time. The following photos are the BBDBA games all played on Conquest’s second day.

Above and below, Pyrrhus engages the Classical Indians. You can read an informative summary of Mark’s games at Conquest on his Hesperiana Blog. The photo below shows an interesting reserve deployed in the event of an Indian breakthrough. It also illustrates the massed Indian elephants in play. Some nine elephants is an impressive site! Pyrrhus in contrast fields only three.

The Indians weren’t the only army with a considerable number of pachyderms in play. Gordon’s Seleucids fielded six with four in one wing command and two in the other. They were further supported by three scythed chariots. The Seleucid centre comprised all the phalangites and a mounted general. The Seleucids can be seen below engaged against Jim’s New Kingdom Egyptians. I suspect the scythed chariots have fled from Egyptian archery.

While the other two games were going on my own Successors were engaged against Andrew’s Akkadians. The week prior Andrew and I had a practice game with him using Sumerians. However, for Conquest the Akkadians and their 3Pk were too tempting. Unfortunately, Andrew didn’t complete the basing for the weekend. Despite this it was a fascinating army to face being particularly mobile.

Two steep hills broke up an otherwise featureless plain that stretched inland from the coast. The cunning Akkadian plan to position a large edifice was thwarted by the combination of the waterway and steep hills.

However, one of the hills was to play a further critical part in the battle where Greek light troops countered an attack by Akkadians in the centre. Caught in the hills the pike were disrupted by the Greek light troops eventually resulting in the collapse of the Akkadian centre. Below, as the situation develops in the centre.

The Greek left however was itself under significant pressure. Eventually Demetrius was driven back by aggressively advancing spear armed Akkadians supported by battle carts. Indeed, the Greek left eventually broke. As time was called a narrow winning draw was achieved by the Greeks.

From an organisational perspective the allocation of 2 1/4 hours per game seemed to be adequate with most games being completed. Completion of games was further encouraged by the scoring system which rewarded points for casualties inflicted rather than draws. However, irrespective of scoring and the final results nine excellent BBDBA games were played involving a variety of armies. An enjoyable outing for the larger armies. I’m looking forward to future encounters…

Conquest 2017 Results

Over the weekend the annual Conquest Wargames Convention was held here in Christchurch. As with previous years it included a 15mm DBA competition. This year the DBA competition comprised three sections which ran in sequence.

The first two sections used standard DBA with one section of three rounds using Ancient armies while the second section used Dark Age or Medieval armies. With six rounds across both sections and only six players, each player fought four opponents once and one player twice.

Ancients Section:

This section allowed the use of armies up to 450 AD. However, five armies fielded were from the Classical period and one, a new army locally was, from the Biblical period.

Above, Later Carthaginians tangle with Classical Indians. The defending Indians deployed a fort in several games, in this game it secured the Indian right flank but constrained the Indian deployment area. Below, the Gauls engaged against my Carthaginians. The Gauls had a particularly good morning winning two of the three Ancient games.

Two Successor armies took the field in the Ancients section. Here, a section of Mark’s phalanx with Pyrrhus visible between two pike blocks. Extending his frontage by the use of hoplites this army had considerable punch but unfortunately suffered a series of defeats, often including Pyrrhus himself.

The results of the Ancients section using standard DBA, after three rounds, were:

  • 1st Jim Morton – New Kingdom Egyptian I/22a, 19pts
  • 2nd Ben Broad – Gallic II/11, 18pts
  • 3rd= Gordon Pinchin – Seleucid II/19a, 17pts
  • 3rd= Keith McNelly – Later Carthaginian II/32b, 17pts
  • 5th Mark Davies – Pyrrhus II/27b, 7pts
  • 6th Brian Sowman – Classical Indian II/3b, 5pts

In these games Mark lost two generals, Pyrrhus was clearly having a bad day! Brian lost one general who was mounted on an elephant at least until he was killed.

Medieval Section:

After lunch the players replaced their Ancient armies with those with a list date later than 451 AD. Unfortunately I forgot to take any photos of the Medieval section games. Often playing and umpiring meant that time was limited. Further, as I was being hammered in each game, my focus drifted to survival rather than documenting the disasters! After three Medieval rounds the results were:

  • 1st= Jim Morton – Free Company IV/74, 24pts
  • 1st= Brian Sowman – Rajput Indian III/10b, 24pts
  • 3rd= Mark Davies – West Frankish & Norman III/52 with Norse Viking Ally III/40, 14pts
  • 4th Gordon Pinchin – West Frankish & Norman III/52, 13pts
  • 5th= Ben Broad – Yi Dynasty Korean IV/78, 8pts
  • 5th= Keith McNelly – Post-Mongol Samurai IV/59b, 8pts

In the Medieval section two players achieved a perfect score resulting in a tie for 1st place in the Medieval section. As to generals lost Ben managed to dispatch two Korean generals, while Jim and Brian lost a general each. Mark was the only player to suffer the loss of a camp, lost fighting the Indians.

Combining the scores of both standard DBA sections the following results were:

  • 1st Jim Morton – 43pts
  • 2nd Gordon Pinchin – 30pts
  • 3rd Brian Sowman – 29pts
  • 4th Ben Broad – 26pts
  • 5th Keith McNelly – 25pts
  • 6th Mark Davies – 21pts

A great result for Jim who had secured an impressive score by winning five of his six games.

Ancients BBDBA:

The third section of the DBA competition involved BBDBA. This was fought on the second day and comprised three rounds each of 2 1/4 hours. Armies comprised 36 elements with all armies having a list date of prior to 450 AD. All but two armies had elephants. The Indians fielded nine and the Seleucids six. Demetrius and Pyrrhus fielded a only three each. The first round was by book or historical opponents followed by modified Swiss chess.

Above, a view from the Pyrrhic right which faced Demetrius’ left flank. The Italian foot can be seen in extending the Epirot pike phalanx. Below, the battle on Demetrius’ right which was particularly confusing. Elephants of both armies fled while others form and charge Xystophoroi.

Below, another photo of the battle this time illuminating Demetrius’ centre as it begins to suffer breakthroughs. Despite the gaps created Pyrrhus’ phalangites were unable to successfully exploit the situation for some time.

After three games the results were:

  • 1st Jim Morton – New Kingdom Egyptian I/22a, 19pts
  • 2nd Mark Davies – Pyrrhus II/27b, 18pts
  • 3rd Keith McNelly – Asiatic Early Successor Demetrius II/16b, 13pts
  • 4th Gordon Pinchin – Seleucid II/19a, 11pts
  • 5th Brian Sowman – Classical Indian II/3b, 10pts
  • 6th Andrew Taylor – Akkadian I/11a, 8pts

As with the previous sections were rewarded with 8pts for a win while players who drew or lost one point for each three elements equivalents destroyed. With more generals in play unsurprisingly casualties were heavy. Brian’s Indians and Gordon’s Seleucids lost three generals each in combat. Keith and Andrew lost two each, while Mark reversed his previous trend for killing his own generals and lost only one.

Final Results:

Combining the scores of all three sections Jim was declared the overall winner of Conquest’s DBA event with a score of 62pts. Gordon was second on 41pts while Mark and Brian were just behind on third equal with 39pts. As to generals lost, well this was secured by Brian who secured the “Executioner Award” having lost five of his own generals over the two days.

Most importantly everyone seemed to have enjoyed their gaming. Many armies had broken, generals had been slaughtered, significant elephants had routed and chariots and battle carts were strewn across the battlefields. Yet the players all seemed upbeat! Thanks to all for playing in an outstanding friendly spirit. Finally, I want to thank Comics Compulsion for an excellent convention and of course for being so supportive of DBA. I encourage locals to support our local gaming store.