Category Archives: BBDBA

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.

Conquest 2018 BBDBA

On the second day of the Conquest 2018 Convention a three round Big Battle DBA tournament was held. This is the third year we have had a 15mm BBDBA event at Conquest. Armies comprised 36 elements with all armies having a list date of prior to 450 AD. The tournament was limited to just three rounds with each round limited to 2 1/4 hours including setup.

While a couple of regulars were unable to make the event we were pleased to see a new player who supplemented his standard DBA army with some additional figures so he could participate. Most armies were drawn from the early portions of the Section II armies ensuring that many were historical or near historical opponents to each other.

Below, Polybian Romans on the left engage Carthaginians in a desperate fight in Southern Italy. The Carthaginians were defending and with a significant advantage in mounted had offered battle on a relatively open plain.

The marsh in the right foreground significantly constrained the movement of the Punic horse and nullified much of their advantage on the wing. Yet despite this the Romans struggled to gain a decisive advantage against the Carthaginian centre who proved frustratingly resilient.

Above, a Greek coalition prepare to face the Graeco-Bactrians on another relatively open battlefield. The Greeks under an Athenian strategos comprised two Athenian commands and were supported by a Thessalian allied command. The Athenians are visible in the foreground while the Thessalians are in the distance. Both the Athenians and the Thessalians have their own camps.

Above and below, additional views illustrating the situation with the Graeco-Bactrians on the left.

Being distracted in the second round I took no photos. However, we do have some from the third round. Below, the Carthaginians are engaging the Seleucids. The Carthaginians interestingly have almost all their mounted massed into one wing.

Below, another engagement now between the Athenian coalition and the Palmyrans. The Athenians on the left are defending and have clearly adopted a defensive deployment in an attempt to counter the significant mounted threat posed by the Palmyrans.

Next we have some photos from the battle between the Polybian Romans and the Greco-Bactrians. Again the Graeco-Bactrian host has deployed on the open steppes while this time the Romans are campaigning in the far reaches of the known world.

Another view below viewed from the Roman lines. In the centre Roman velites are trying to draw out the Greek pachyderms, who like much of the phalangites, were reluctant to face the determined Romans.

With regards to scoring, a slightly modified version of the standard DBA scoring was used. Players were rewarded with 8pts for a win. Others received one point for each three enemy element equivalents lost. Again this was aimed at rewarding decisive play and discouraged draws.

After three rounds the results were:

  • 1st: Jim Morton – II/36a Graeco-Bactrian, 20pts
  • 2nd: Mark Davies – II/32a Later Carthaginian, 13pts
  • 3rd Gordon Pinchin – II/19a Seleucid, 12pts
  • 4th: Keith McNelly – II/33 Polybian Roman, 10pts
  • 5th: Colin Foster – II/5b Later Hoplite Greek (Athenian) with II/5d Thessalian Ally, 9pts
  • 6th: Greg Wells – II/74a Palmyran with II/23a LPIA Nomad Ally, 7pts

With more generals in play unsurprisingly casualties to generals were heavy. Greg’s Palmyrans lost four generals, while Gordon’s Seleucids and Colin’s Greeks lost three each. The Carthaginians and Romans lost one each while the Greco-Bactrians lost none. From my experience battling the Graeco-Bactrian their commanders seemed reluctant to risk their lives in battle, leaving the fighting to the lower classes. The Carthaginians meanwhile seemed focused on targeting enemy generals killing no less than three enemy generals across their three battles while most others killed two enemy generals. No enemy camps were raided during the course of the tournament.

The Big Battle DBA tournament seemed to be a great success with plenty of challenges and an additional visual spectacle provided by the larger armies on the table, despite retaining the simplicity and elegance of DBA.

DBA at Conquest 2018

Our local gaming store, Comics Compulsion have just confirmed that Conquest 2018 will run over the weekend of the 10th & 11th of November. As with previous years Conquest will include a 15mm DBA Competition. The format selected has been chosen to provide plenty of variety and challenges, yet provide something of a theme for individual games.

Saturday will include a six round competition. The first three games, played in the morning, will have an Ancients theme. In the afternoon players will change armies for the Dark Age and Medieval theme.

On the Sunday a three round Big Battle competition will take place using an Ancient theme.

Players can register for a single day or both days. Full details on the Conquest DBA Competitions can be found here.

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.