Category Archives: Game Reports

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.

Campaigning with Seleucus Nicator

The shifting alliances of Alexander’s Successors are best described as complex. However, with the recent defeat of the Antigonids it was now that Lysimachus and Seleucus fought the brief yet critical campaign in 300 BC. It comprised two great battles.

The first battle was in the Spring of 300 BC when the cunning Lysimachus moved rapidly against the Seleucids. Seleucus offered battle on an open plain where he deployed traditionally. His mounted were mostly concentrated on his right while extending his phalanx with contingents of pachyderms which he reasoned would otherwise be countered too easily by his enemies Thracians. Yet soon after deploying Seleucus was faced with the reality that the cunning Lysimachus had weighted his deployment against the Seleucid right. Further, he now advanced generally in echelon with his left leading and his right withdrawn.

Above the Seleucid right is overlapped by the advancing Lysimachid left. Seleucid light cavalry, not shown, provided a degree of protection.

Simultaneously Lysimachid light infantry are thrown forward to slow the Seleucid centre. Yet, these were unsupported and countered. Now the Seleucid centre advanced. Below, the Lysimachid centre comes under pressure as the Seleucid elephants press forward.

The battle now hung in the balance as Seleucus sought advantage in the centre while fighting a delaying action on his right. However, with his line under pressure Seleucus ordered forward his companions who, with great valour, drove back the treacherous Greek. Yet these manoeuvres had created a hole in the Seleucid line which Lysimachus was able to exploit. Soon the Seleucid right collapsed with Seleucus himself narrowly escaping death. Lysimachus had secured a decisive victory.

Yet, Seleucus was not deterred. By the Summer of 300 BC Seleucus, having reformed his army, struck at Lysimachus. This time Lysimachus was caught relatively unprepared and as the Seleucid host advanced Lysimachus deployed his army with his right resting on the walled town Colophon.

Effectively ignoring Colophon and it’s high walls Seleucus massed his elephants and phalanx in the centre and his mounted on his right before ordering an advance.

Above, the Seleucids advance with a number of pachyderms supported by phalangites. Below, a view from behind the Lysimachid lines.

Lysimachus now dithered first moving his companions near the walls of the city in one of his overly complex plans. Finally he realised the threat posed by unfolding disaster that would soon envelope his left. Yet, repositioning his xystophori was almost impossible and while he desperately tried first his left and then his centre would collapse.

Above, a view of the centre, while below the Lysimachid left is about to collapse.

With this stunning victory Seleucus had bought the campaign of 300 BC to an end. Yet victory can be fleeting and even as this campaign season is complete we can be sure Lysimachus will be plotting his revenge and another campaign will not be far away.

As to the miniatures the Seleucids are mostly 15mm miniatures from Tin Soldier’s ranges. The Lysimachid forces in contrast are from Essex Miniatures. The battles form part of a four game series fought between myself and my son during a weekend visit.

Te Kawau Strikes North

The following summary outlines a recent engagement between two Māori iwi (tribes) using DBA and my 15mm miniatures. Both armies are of course defined under list IV/12e.

Tension had been building for many years between the rival iwi the Ngāti Whātua and their northern neighbour the Ngā Puhi. In the summer finally tensions reached breaking point following a raid on a one of the hapū (sub tribe) of Ngāti Whātua. Te Kawau seeking utu (revenge) assembled a large taua (war party) of some 1200 toa (warriors) with which he would seek revenge on the Ngā Puhi. The advance north was initially uneventful. The majority of the taua moved north on foot but one hapū moved by sea in a number of waka taua and the double hulled waka hunua.

As the sun reached its highest point in the day Te Kawau ordered his warriors to deploy. Opposite him the rangatira (chief) Murupaenga had deployed the Ngā Puhi warriors. Constrained by a large wood on his left and a swamp on his right Murupaenga dispositions were both complex and deep. Te Kawau’s dispositions were less complex. His extreme left was marked by the 200 warriors at sea who were now poised to land. The majority however formed from near the sea, marked by an abandoned Ngā Puhi unfortified village, and stretched out towards the right. Te Kawau held back selected groups to act as reserves.

Now Te Kawau, tall and cutting a striking figure in his parrot feathered clock, stepped forward and in a loud voice chanted his battle song. The opposing armies listened in profound silence to this bold and commanding oratory.

His warriors suitably motivated Te Kawau decided to act quickly. At the arranged signal the waka beached on his left, allowing the warriors to disembark and from where they threatened the Ngā Puhi right. Elsewhere Te Kawau’s warriors advanced. Equipped with a range of weapons including the taiaha (long-handled fighting staff) and short weapons such as a patu (club) tucked into a belt, the advancing warriors cut a chilling site.

The first clash occurred on the Ngāti Whātua left where the recently landed warriors attacked with great boldness, despite being outnumbered. Te Kawau planned to pin the enemy in or near to the swamps where his enemy would be at a disadvantaged. Soon more Ngāti Whātua toa extended the line attempting to drive the enemy back at 45 degrees causing confusion in the Ngā Puhi ranks.

Above, the Ngāti Whātua warriors who have landed from their waka press their enemy, while below more Ngāti Whātua to advance to press the Ngā Puhi centre.

Increasingly the battle become general as further Ngāti Whātua warriors were committed. Below, the Ngāti Whātua centre and right. The stands with four figures per base represent a major chief and his bodyguard. They are still treated as 3Bd.

The fighting swirled back and forth with individual toa welding their longer taiaha or their patu to gain every advantage possible. Increasingly groups of warriors became isolated and were pushed back. In so doing the victors pressed forward exposing their own flanks.

Above, a view from the sea illustrating the confusing battle near the sea. On the left is a large swamp while on the right the abandoned village.

Despite initial success Ngāti Whātua casualties were mounting. Te Kawau undeterred pressed forward with his right. Again the fighting surged back and forth as one group gained an advantage. The enemy line began to crack and sensing victory a final push was launched in the centre.

Above, Te Kawau (centre and in the distance) has pressed forward and created a hole in the Ngā Puhi line which threatens to expose the Ngā Puhi rangatira Murupaenga (left).

Yet, it was Te Kawau who would be robbed of victory. His left, which you will recall has been fighting outnumbered for some time (above), was beginning to be overcome. Finally, it was overwhelmed. The courageous warriors of Ngāti Whātua were forced back, until they broke. As they broke all hope of utu was lost.

It has been a while since I’ve deployed my Māori on the table, and then usually using the later DBR rules. Many readers would expect a relatively linear battle given that each army comprises 12 stands of 3Bd. This is in fact not the case. Our battle swung back and forth continually in what can only be described as a very confusing engagement. The final result was a narrow 4-3 win to the Ngā Puhi iwi.

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…