Saturday, 3 December 2016

Battle of Auha, 291 AD

Game One
The Gepid army formed their line at the base of long difficult hill anchoring their left flank on the river. Due to the constricted nature of the terrain, the Tervingi formed deep columns requiring time to form their own battleline. Despite their laboring through the formation change, the Tervingi held the initiative and attacked.

Gepid sloth quickly dissipated as they easily countered every assault. The Gepid warband held well enough for the cavalry to cut down Tervingi warband. Score 5 – 1 for the Gepid.

Game Two
Taking advantage of the heights, the Tervingi formed their infantry along the hill crest with the cavalry extending the line from the base of the hill. The Gepid forming three columns would form a battleline beyond the wood.

Impatient at the progress made by the Gepid, the Tervingi proceeded down slope to take advantage of the disjointed formations.

First to strike the Gepid line were the Tervingi warband and within a short period the battle evolved into a number of isolated battles. Both allied contingents were engaged and earning their worth by adding to the Gepid casualty list.

Battle was fiercely fought, but the Tervingi persevered to win the battle with a score of 5 – 2.

Game Three
The placement of terrain is much what I had imagined for the actual battle. Gepid army on the left formed in three groups to face the Tervingi swarming over the difficult hill and cavalry positioned on the flat ground between the river and hill.

With contact made, the battle quickly became a brawl with warband columns pushing to and fro and cavalry followed a similar course. Flanks became exposed for brief moments only to become covered as warband moved forward.

A peal of war horns announced the death of the king bringing the battle to a quick end. With two casualties incurred earlier the game ended 4(g) – 0 win for the Tervingi.

Using the allied contingents did increase marginally the number of cavalry which should make mincemeat of the warband as these do not fight with their second rank. The number of casualties caused in this manner was relatively small. Of the 17 elements eliminated only 2 were mounted which equaled the number of Wb felled by knights.

Using allied contingents did lengthen the game, but this was not a critical issue. I wish to test this again but use no allied contingents. 

Friday, 2 December 2016

A DBA 3.0 historical scenario - The Battle on the Auha 291 AD

While compiling research for an upcoming project and reading about the Goths, in particular the Tervingi, I stumbled on this little known engagement taken from Ablabius’ Origo Gothica. It describes a conflict between the Goths (Tervingi) and Gepid near the oppidium of Galtis in what is formerly Roman Dacia. The passage sketches the battle between two rival tribes and their allies battling for possession of the region.

The battle field is not described in detail other than it took place close to an oppidium situated near the Auha River. Players should therefore use Hilly terrain (two difficult hills) plus two woods and a river. Regarding the employment of the allied contingent both players are free to select which elements are to be replaced by the three allied elements. The Gepid player is the attacker, therefore the Tervingi player places terrain and moves first (this is based purely on the degree with which the Gepid are willing to fight having recently beaten the Burgundi).

Historically, the two rival groups fought a number of battles to claim the region formerly known as Dacia. Players may wish to play three battles using the same terrain items but exchange attacker/defender role and possibly deploy their standard army without allied contingents as a further option.

Tervingi (King Ostrogothica)  
1 x general (3Kn), 1 x noble (3Kn), 8 x warriors (4Wb), 2 x archers (Ps).
Taifali continent; 1 x general (3Kn), 1 x noble (3Kn), 1 x archer (Ps).

Gepid player (King Fastida)
1 x general (3Kn), 3 x cavalry (3Kn), 4 x spearmen (4Wb), 4 x archers (Ps).
Vandal contingent; 1 x general (3Kn), 2 x warriors (4Wb).

History of the Goths, Herwig Wolfram, University of California Press, Translation from the German edition.
Early Germanic Literature and Culture, Brian Murdoch, e-book, describes the Auha River serving as a border between the Goths and the Gepid.

From Dacia to Erdöelve: Transylvania in the Period of the Great Migrations by István Böna, places the Tervingi “on the fringes of Transylvania and the south-eastern Carpathians. Further battles were fought in the Szamos valley. 

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Quick Play Campaign - sample maps

These are examples of maps used for the three campaigns posted earlier, two are of Hunnic incursions of the East Roman and Sassanid Empires and the third, the Alan invasion of the Bosporan Kingdom. The latter begins with the invaders crossing the frontier to invade the Bosporan kingdom and the other two the Huns are initially met deep within the territory and are needed to be driven out of the two respective empires.

The maps illustrate with a minimum of detail, these can be produced rather quickly. 

The Kingdom of Bosporus confront the Alani.

Eutropius repels the Huns 398 AD.

Huns invade an eastern satrap of the Sassanid Empire 459 AD

The Quick Play Campaign rules:

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Project Rome – Seleucid vs. Greco-Bactrian

When Antiochus III took the throne in 223 BC he undertook a series of campaigns to bring disobedient vassals under control. The final campaign was fought against Greco-Bactria. The Greco-Bactrian list has an option for an all mounted command for which this will be fielded for one game.
II/19b Seleucid
1 x general (3Kn), 1 x xystophoroi (3Kn), 4 x phalanx (4Pk), 1 x elephant (El), 1 x scythed chariot (SCh), 1 x thureophoroi (4Ax), 1 x Galatian (4Wb), 2 x archers and slingers (Ps).

II/36a Greco-Bactrian
1 x general (3Kn), 1 x Arachosian (LH), 1 x Saka horse archer (LH), 2 x Iranian lancers (3Kn), 1 x elephant (El), 4 x phalangites (4Pk), 1 x military settlers (4Ax), 1 x Cretan archer (Ps).

1 x general (3Kn), 1 x Arachosian (LH), 1 x Saka horse archer (LH), 4 x Iranian lancers (3Kn), 4 x Bactrians (Cv), 1 x Arachosian.

Game one
Antiochus III found the Bactrian deployed at the base of one hill with pike and elephant in centre and cavalry placed on both flanks. Massing his cavalry on the right, Antiochus deployed his army in a similar manner but with auxilia and psiloi supporting the phalanx on both flanks.

The right wing of each army pressed forward ahead of their respective phalanxes.

After the dust cleared from the initial clash, Antiochus was carried off the field. The Seleucid veterans accustomed to such departures carried on sending the enemy back on their heels. The Bactrian took advantage of the situation to pick off units showing signs of indecision. This cost the Seleucid dearly as their right flank crumbled as well as the right wing support of the phalanx. Score 5(g + SCh) – 0 for Bactria.

Game two
For this battle, the Seleucid deployed first on a field with difficult ground and hills positioned on one flank. Bactria, anticipating the early seizure of the hill, deployed accordingly.

As the lines steadily closed, the Bactrian skirmishers provoked the Seleucid elephant to charge ahead of its line striking the Bactrian elephants and well supported on either flank. The one sided engagement prompted the Seleucid elephants to flee leaving the phalanx exposed.

The Bactrian seizing the advantage began systematically rolling up the phalanx ahead of any cavalry assault on either wing.

At the opening of the battle, the Saka and Arachosian light horse had made a long circuitous route to finally arrive in the rear of the Seleucid army. By this time, the Bactrian phalanx and elephant corps had cleared the Seleucid centre of all opposition. Score 5(+SCh) – 0 for Bactria.

Game three
To give the Seleucid a warm send off, the cavalry arm of Bactria was brought up to fight the final battle. The Seleucid army with their left flank deployed back used a patch of rocky ground to anchor her right flank.

As battle lines closed the distance the Bactrian altered their line by breaking up into smaller groups to approach in echelon. Far on the left flank, the Bactrian cavalry kept the Seleucid psiloi occupied while the Arachosian light horse did likewise with the scythed chariot.

The Bactrian right struck first overwhelming the isolated unit of xystophoroi leaving the Bactrian commander and support to deal with Antiochus, both demonstrating greater perseverance by sending the Bactrian back on their heels. In the centre, the Iranian lancers slowed their pace but held the attention of the phalanx and elephant. Sidestepping the scythed chariot, the Arachosian slipped through the Seleucid defense to stand poised in the rear of the Seleucid army.

The Iranian lancers were attacked and send recoiling from the phalanx and elephant. The xystophoroi crumbled under the greater number while Antiochus and bodyguard desperately fought back a second assault sending the Arachosian back and following up a recoiling unit of lancers.

The weight of numbers and exhaustion caught up with Antiochus finally succumbing to a fatal blow. Score 4 (g) – 2 for Bactria.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

From Migration to Kingdom – Sources and recommended reading.

History of the Later RomanEmpire by J.B. Bury. (e-book).
the LaterRoman Empire by A.H.M. Jones
History of the Goths by Herwig Wolfram.


Taxation in the Late RomanEmpire, J.A. (Sander) Boek.

General Reading
Currently Reading
Rome's Gothic Wars by Michael Kulikowski
Patricians and Emperors by Ian Hughes

The campaign rules which have been recently featured here demonstrating three brief campaigns, can be downloaded from the DBA Wiki. - Quick Play Campaigns - Ancient

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

From Migration to Kingdom (The Barbarians)

The envisioned campaign will focus principally on the journey of two major groups; that of the coalition of Vandals, Alans, Burgundians and Suevi of 406 AD and second, the Gothic departure from Italy to southern Gaul following the death of Alaric. Determining the size of each group has proved a challenge and I am following the nominal guideline set by some historians to determine general numbers by factoring the number of warriors by five to arrive at a total number representing each nation. This is not infallible as the number of troops involved in recorded engagements has proven difficult as they are scarce.

Herwig Wolfram, in his History of the Goths does devote a section of his book to the “harjis” or tribal army as comprising of 3,000 warriors with generals commanding 1,000 warriors. It would not seem too unreasonable to imagine the other nations might also use a similar organization. Therefore, using the guideline we reach a tribal strength of 15,000; this is considered low by some historians while others place the number as high as 100,000. The latter figure just might reflect the sum total for all the nations involved in the crossing of 406 AD as reviewing the crossing, the Vandals were formed from the Siling and Asding groups, the Alans were lead by two kings and together with the Burgundians and Suevi could reach the higher figure.

One must imagine the difficulty of crossing the Rhine in the dead of winter, eventually forming a large number of columns spread over a wide front seeking forage and plunder. As the majority moved on foot, the Alans mounted found themselves well in advance of the columns and no doubt triggered the alarm of a new incursion. The magnitude of the incursion may not have been fully comprehended as the mobile army and many limitanei were on campaign in Italy or along the Danube (405 and 406) as local Gallic militias were incapable of dealing with the threat.  

News of the invasion reached Britain and as the political situation was in a state of flux Constantine (Roman general) seized upon the opportunity to declare himself emperor. Securing his position in Britain, Constantine III took the Britannic mobile army across the channel to counter the invasion and further extend his control over the west.

Designing the campaign
Using the migration as theme for a campaign offered a number of aspects not usually touched upon by pure military operations. The primary goal here is the preservation of the tribe as it journeys through unknown regions in search of a “home”. This is easily handled by the current rule system taking into account the slow pace set by the masses of migrants.

Secondly, despite the fact that all the nations named crossed the Rhine during the same period does not necessarily mean they cooperated with each other while in Roman Gaul. The Asding and Siling Vandals were susceptible to inter-tribal feuds and did not co-operate with the Alans or Suevi, the Suevi were a collection of Germanic tribes, possibly Quadi, Marcomanni and some Alamanni, and would take a direction in Gaul seeking territory away from the masses, as did the Burgundi and finally the Alans dispersed themselves into smaller groups to settle in differing areas of Gaul and Spain. This part will require some additional rules to cover inter-tribal conflicts, the willingness to co-operate with the other tribes and Roman resistance.

The campaign will cover nearly a three year period to start during the winter of 406 AD and end during the early fall season of 409 AD. The scenario will allow players to set their own course and tempo but all should realise actual historical events will take place, such as the arrival of Constantine III, the participation of the foederati and the Saxon raids.

Play testing the additional rules will be carried out over the next few weeks with reports and photos appearing here. 

Sunday, 13 November 2016

From Migration to Kingdom – part four

The Political landscape
To appreciate how the migrations of the early 5th century were able to move through and settle within the empire it would do well to look at events that shaped the political scene in the west following the reign of Constantine I. The list highlights the major incursions and civil confrontations after 310 AD to the Rhine crossing of 406 AD. Most of the information is gleaned from the website Fectio.

An overview.
Between the engagements against contenders for the throne Constantine did fight the Franks (310), Sarmatians (322), the Goths (323), his successor, Constantine II defeats the Alamanni (328), the Goths (332), and the Sarmatians (334). In some cases the defeated were relocated such as the 30,000 Sarmatians sent to Italy and Gaul.

Constans continues this policy and settles the Salian Franks in former Batavia (342). Civil war ensues (350) as Magnentius is proclaimed emperor at Autun. The Alamanni, led by Chnodomar, take advantage of the situation to defeat Decentius (352). Constantius defeats Magnentius and can now confront the Alamanni and defeats them at Campi Canini (355). Julian continues the campaign against the Alamanni and defeats them at Strasbourg (357). Constantius campaigns along the Danube against the Sarmatian and Quadi (358) while Julian fights the Franks and Alamanni re-settling the Salian Franks as foederati in Toxandria (358).

The Alamanni cross the frozen Rhine (366) but are defeated at Scarponna. The invasion of Britain by the Picts, Scotti and Atacotti (367) is neutralised while the Franks and Saxons attack the Gallic coast. Britain is sent Jovinus to resolve the state of anarchy, lacking enough troops he returns to Gaul. The Alamanni cross the Rhine and plunder Mainz.

Valentinian and Gratian defeat the Alamanni (368) at Solicinium (Schwetzingen). Comes Flavius Theodosius Sr. begins campaigning in Britain and pacifies the south. Theodosius rallies the scattered units in Britain and puts down the rebellion of Valerius (369). Theodosius is promoted to magister equitum. Frithigern becomes king of the Visigoths.   

In retribution for their attacks on the comes Nannienus, the Saxons in northern Gaul are defeated by Severus (magister peditum) near Deuso (370). Theodosius Sr. campaigns against the Alamanni marching from Raetia into Germania. Theodosius continues campaigning this time against the Sarmatians (372) and Valentinian sends Alamannic foederati to Britain as reinforcements.

Theodosius is sent to Africa to put down the usurper Firmus (373) and the Huns enter Europe after defeating the Alans at Tanais. Theodosius Sr. is, under questionable circumstances, executed in Carthago. Gratian mobilizes an army to assist Valens with the situation against the Goths (377). The Alamanni cross a frozen Rhine (378) to invade the west. Gratian campaigns against them in the Black Forest. The defeat at Adrianople opens the Danube line for other invasions. Flavius Theodosius Jr. pushes the Sarmatians back across the Danube (378).

Elevated to Augustus in the East, both he and Gratian concentrate the efforts and deal with the Goths (380,382). Comes Britanniarum M. Maximus defeats the Picts and Scots.

Maximus claims the purple in the spring (383) and crosses to Gaul, Gratian campaigns in Raetia before moving against Maximus. Gratian’s army defects to Maximus and kill Gratian. Maximus agrees to become Augustus of the West (384) while Valentinian II rules the Middle Empire (Italy, Illyria, Africa).  Maximus makes his son Victor Augustus reneging on the agreement. Theodosius occupied with the Goths and Persians makes no move against Maximus.

Maximus invades Italy (387) and Valentinian retreats to Thessalonica. Colonia (Cologne) is threatened by the Frankish Kings Gennobaudes, Markomer and Sunno (388). The field army commanded by Nannienus and Quintinus counterattack and are victorious at Silva Carbonnaria (Kohlenwald). Quintinus is later defeated at Novaesium (Neuss).  Theodosius and Valentinian II defeat Magnus Maximus at Emona, Siscia (Sisak) and Poetovio (Pettau). Maximus surrenders and is executed.

Theodosius reorganises the army and appoints Arbogast as magister militum of the west. Valentinian is made emperor of the west (389). The Franks again invade Gaul which leads to a feodus (treaty) between them and Valentinian.

Arbogast campaigns across the Rhine (391) against the Bructeri and the Chamavi. A law is placed by Theodosius allowing provincials to defend themselves against rogue soldiers.

Arbogast no longer acknowledges Valentinian and is later found dead, an alleged suicide (392). Arbogast sets Flavius Eugenius (magister scrini) to the throne. Arbogast campaigns against the Franks near Colonia. Theodosius places his second son Flavius Augustus Honorius as Augustus of the West (393).

Theodosius campaigns against Eugenius and Arbogast and defeats both at the Frigidus (394). Beheading Eugenius followed by the suicide of Arbogast, Theodosius is now sole emperor with his sons Arcadius and Honorius as co-regents in the East and West.

Theodosius dies (395) splitting the empire, Arcadius rules in the East and Honorius in the West.
Stilicho (magister peditum) contains Alaric in Thessalia and marches back to Rome. The Gallic prefecture is transferred from Trier to Arelate (Arles).

Stilicho renews treaties with several Germanic kings located along the Rhine (396). Stilicho musters forces to confront Alaric, but is later recalled (397). Alaric is made magister militum per Illyrium by Eutropius (Arcadius ’magister officiorum). The comes Africae Gildo separates from the Western Empire with the support of Arcadius and Eutropius. Mascezel campaigns against Gildo and defeats him at Ammaedara (Haidra) and Theveste (Tebessa). Gildo is executed (398).

Stilicho marches against the invading Vandals and Alans in Raetia (401) and Alaric invades Italy in November. Alaric marches on Milan (402) and Stilicho gathers forces from the border regions to defend Italy. Stilicho defeats Alaric at Pollentia (Pollenza) and at Verona, but allows Alaric to escape. Honorius moves the court from Milan to Ravenna. Alaric leaves Italy (403).

Germanic tribes lead by Radagais invades Italy (405). Stilicho besieges Radagais near Faesulae (Fiesole) capturing him (406). An invading confederation of Siling and Asding Vandals (King Godigisel), Alans (Kings Goar and Respendial), Burgundians and Suevi cross a frozen Rhine into Gaul.