Saturday 30 July 2016

The Seleucid – the mounted elements.

Any reader contemplating collecting the Seleucid I would recommend having B. Bar-Kochva – The Seleucid Army – organization and tactics in the great campaigns in your library. The author gives an in depth analysis of the regular army from its changes during the early Successor period to the empire’s collapse.

My Seleucid collection will represent the armies that came into contact with Rome to the final campaign against the Maccabees and will cover both DBA lists II/19c and d. The only difference between the two lists are the introduction of imitation legionnaires (4Bd) and the addition of LH/Cv, the latter presumably to counter the Parthian threat. Other than the minor changes, the regular army still comprises of cataphract, phalanx, elephants and scythed chariot, thureophoroi or thorakites, archers and slingers. 

The cavalry like the infantry are divided into three groups representing the Royal Guard, the Guard and the troops of the line (katoikoi).

All cataphract are fully armoured and therefore the only discernible difference between the three groups might be horse harness and lance colour; there is no mention of pennons or plumes in the references I read. To create some difference between the three commands, I used purple for the Royal Guard command and two shades of red for the other two. I also varied the amount of brass colour between the three commands.

The colour schemes for both the elephant and chariot are a standard pattern as these would more than likely be grouped together for larger battles.

Last step is the texturing of the base and adding some grass. 


Monday 25 July 2016

Project Rome - the Seleucid

The Roman army confronted the Seleucid in Greece and later in Asia Minor at the famous battle of Magnesia 190 BC and collecting them would bring a nice departure from the variety of barbarian armies I already have.

Looking at the army list (II/19c and d) the Seleucid main component were the phalanx and cataphract cavalry. Add elephants, scythed chariots and a host of auxiliary and skirmishing troops and you have on paper what looks like a formidable army. As you can see from the photo the collection is three commands strong and not pictured are 18 elements of Galatian, archers and slingers all ready for battle.

I am using two sources to organize and paint these:
Duncan Head – Armies of the Macedonia and Punic Wars.
B. Bar-Kochva – The Seleucid Army – organization and tactics in the great campaigns.

Reading Bar-Kochva’s book I decided to have each army as represent one of three divisions, the Royal Guard, the Guard and the troops of the line (katoikoi).

I do not intend to detail the organization of each, but will merely state each would have their own colour theme.

The Royal Guard would include the cavalry units Royal ile and Agema and the infantry, the Argyraspides (silver shields). 

The Guard came from the Greek and Macedonian settlements and for these I am using bronze for their theme colour.

The katoikoi or troops of the line were recruited from non Greek and Macedonian settlements and I am giving these bronze shields but with a different colour trim. The thorakites (4Ax) would ideally pass for imitation legionnaires and all six elements will have white shields but with differing trim.

Eighteen elements are done and will be varnished later this evening, but now I can make a start with the mounted figures; cataphract, scythed chariot and elephants. 

Friday 22 July 2016

Project Rome - the Gallic, concluding test games.

Test game two
Stunned at the short duration of the game and a defeat, Rome leafed through old text books on tactics dealing with barbarian rushes. Securing a hill position they would now fight the barbarian in the old way.

To counter the barbarian rush and their superior number of cavalry and chariots the Roman line did not move off the hill and one their turn refused their left flank. The triarii were deployed between the principes while auxilia protected the flanks and anticipating the impetuousness of the principes, reserve troops were close at hand to fill any gaps or take advantage of an open enemy flank.

By turn five, the Gallic storm lost its momentum and the game. Final score 4 – 2 for Rome with the principes honoured for their sacrifice.

Test game three
Rome selected similar terrain and deployed below the crest line of a hill, skirmishers hidden in the wood would catch any enemy approaching the hill position.

This time the Gallic horde held a tighter rein with the cavalry and used them to support the left flank and chariots were placed between the warband; this was done to help strengthen the increased breadth of the warband (single Wb were placed between two deep columns).

The principes managed to hold their position and give side support to the triarii which helped destroy four warband and win the game. Score 4 - 1 for Rome.

Rome meeting the Gallic army on the open field is inviting disaster as was experienced in game one. The Gallic player could easily have not selected gentle hills but with five mounted elements saw advantages to having them than not.

Anticipating the eventual loss of blade from the warband and placing adequate reserves to take their place played an important part in the second and third game.

I do have a second Gallic army with same composition with the exception all warband are 4Wb. These were not used as I wanted to test the Gallic advantage of speed. This worked well in game one with the warband wheeling and avoiding the hill position.

Next series against Carthage will prove very interesting.

Thursday 21 July 2016

Project Rome – historical match up – the Gallic

The series of test matches moves from Africa and Spain to battlefields closer to Rome, Gaul. Both sides have arable as home terrain so we should see fields, enclosures, low hills, wood and perhaps a river.

Looking at the Gallic list, the five mounted elements will pose a different problem as blade fight mounted at a lower factor than against foot.

II/33 Polybian
2 x Cv (including general), 2 x hastati (4Bd), 2 x principes (4Bd), 2 x triarii (Sp), 2 x velites (Ps), 2 x Latin auxiliaries (4Ax).

II/11 Gallic
1 x general (LCh), 2 x chariot (LCh), 2 x cavalry (Cv), 6 x warriors (3Wb), 1 x skirmisher (Ps).  

Test game one
Terrain selected from the arable list were two plough, one wood, two gentle hills and Rome chose to attack from the side with gentle hills. The Gallic horde moving at maximum speed (3BW) would crash into the Roman line on the second turn; Gallic cavalry were sent to flank the Roman right.

The Gallic warband wheeled to the left to avoid the hill position and Rome responded by adjusting her formation; reserves were held back to deal with the Gallic cavalry.

The maneuver left Rome with four elements facing a single chariot unit. During subsequent turns the Gallic attempt to flank the Roman side failed at the cost of two Cv, however, the Gallic warband ground the Roman centre to dust. Final score 3 – 4 for Gaul.  

Tomorrow, the concluding two matches.

Tuesday 19 July 2016

Project Rome – final match – the Celtiberian

Test game three
Rome’s first defeat served as a wake-up call and perhaps the next game would be played with a little more cautiousness.

Die casts place all terrain features in quadrant one and two with the river meandering through three and four. This suited the Romans as they would use the river to protect the left flank and the flanking hills would be covered by auxiliaries and velites. The open field between the two lines would serve as a fine killing ground.

As the lines closed Rome struck first and to their amazement the whole line buckled and recoiled from the Celtiberian response; only the caetrati remained in position to admire their handy work.

Following up their success, the Celtiberian managed to slay two units of triarii and in alarm the proconsul moved with his guard and reserve cavalry to stave the onslaught. The remaining Roman blade were not enough to hold back the Celtiberian counter-attack. Score 0 – 4 for Celtiberia.

The two victories by Celtiberia demonstrated the effectiveness of “fast” blade even meeting the Roman toe-to-toe and the caetrati were equally as ferocious in combat with one Ps accounting for three dead.

In all three matches there was no need to move through or over difficult terrain as the open spaces were large enough for five elements abreast. Unfortunately for the Roman side, this served the Celtiberian as well.

Next, the Gauls 

Monday 18 July 2016

Project Rome – historical match up – the Celtiberian

This series of test games conclude the Spanish list and of the three I  would think the Celtiberian are the toughest to fight. Home terrain for the Celtiberian is hilly, so we might see similar terrain as was fought over by Lusitania but with more green. Combat factor for the Scutarii are even with Roman blade and easily negotiate the rough terrain of Celtiberia, but if anything can be noted as a disadvantage Celtiberian scutarii would recoil on an even combat score.

Historically, Rome fought two major wars against them and fortunately for DBA Roman players, the Celtiberian can also be also allies.  

II/33 Polybian
2 x Cv (including general), 2 x hastati (4Bd), 2 x principes (4Bd), 2 x triarii (Sp), 2 x velites (Ps), 2 x Latin auxiliaries (4Ax).
II/39c Celtiberian
1 x general (Cv), 1 x light horse (LH), 6 x scutarii (3Bd), 4 x caetrati (Ps).  

Test game one
As Celtiberia defend, they select three difficult hills, a wood and river as terrain pieces. The placement created a valley with a river meandering between hills. Rome selected a side that would have the river on its right flank as it approach the Celtiberian battle line. The photo show the positions after turn one.

The following turn Rome took the initiative combat and for its effort recoiled all along the front. On the left a Roman velites fell to a downhill attack from Caetrati.

In two turns the battle lost all semblance of order, isolated elements were fallen on by two or more enemy and some carried on with their own private battle pursuing a recoiling enemy further behind the lines. Celtiberia seized the initiative to send Caetrati to flank the Roman right and discovered the river posed no obstacle.

It was a close battle, but Roman determination won over Celtiberian impetuousness; final score 4 – 3 for Rome.

Test game two
Celtiberia kept the same selection of terrain and the die cast resulted in another arrangement; no constricting valley which offered both sides an opportunity to deploy in extended line.

Recalling their successful river crossing experience against the Lusitanian, Rome would move across as one line to attack and not piecemeal; this took an extra two turns to accomplish.

The assault.

The river was not an obstacle as was anticipated so the Celtiberian received no advantage for defending its bank. The fighting in the center rolled back and forth, but Rome began rolling up the Celtiberian right. Score at the moment was even 2 – 2.

Celtiberia moved an element of caetrati to occupy four Roman elements and gathering all available troops stormed the enemy center. The gamble paid off bringing down two Roman blade units, final score 2 – 4 for Celtiberia.  

Last test game tomorrow.

Saturday 16 July 2016

Project Rome - Lusitania, final test games.

 Test game two 
Rome confronted Lusitania on a similar field studded with difficult hills, wood and a river, but this time Rome would be able to deploy in an extended line. Lusitania deployed first had to weigh the advantage of terrain and the disadvantage of command control in terrain that would block visibility. With the exception of the LH other troops positioned themselves relatively close to the general.

As Rome advanced it conformed to the river line so all troops could cross at the same time if its depth proved paltry.

Half the Lusitanian force were now lining the opposite bank. A die cast of a six was welcomed for movement, but a second six for the river classification less so. It was not an impossible task, but after two turns the Roman centre and right flank were now pushing the Lusitanian back, score 2 – 0 for Rome.   

The Romans were blessed with a number good pip throws and rolled the Lusitanian effortlessly for a 4 – 0 win.

Test game three
Battlefield three had similar obstacles as the first two games; three difficult hills, a wood and river. Rome felt an allied contingent unnecessary and therefore looked upon game three as another river crossing exercise. Despite Lusitania defending Rome had a number of opportunities to influence the placement of terrain which they kindly set in the board corner.

As in the last game, the Lusitanian was able to line the opposite bank but the sheer weight of heavy infantry pushed a number of defenders on their back heel.

The action became desperate that the Lusitanian commander and light horse added their weight to the battle on the right flank. The centre crumbled to the triarii and the game ended with a 4 – 1 victory for Rome.

The Lusitanian are the most fragile of the Spanish lists, too many Ps which placed the auxilia shouldering most of the combat. Skirmishers fighting blade or spear flee on a combat result of twice as many, but this offers little advantage when the enemy do not pursue.

In all three games the river proved slow crossing and did offer a tactical bonus for the defender. Despite its difficulty to cross Placement of the terrain plays still a crucial role in the game even the placement of the river and its form can be critical.

Next, the Celtiberian   

Friday 15 July 2016

Project Rome – historical match up – the Lusitanian

The next series of standard size test games Rome meet the Lusitanian. Of the three Spanish lists, the Lusitanian are all “fast” types with skirmishers predominating. With the majority of troops having a combat factor of two how do you take on the legionnaire with a combat factor of five?

Home terrain for the Lusitanian is hilly, so we will see some seldom seen terrain combinations such as difficult hills and river. During the Hispanic campaign game posted earlier, Rome has never fought the Lusitanian with an even number of elements, so this will be an opportunity to demonstrate their true worth.

II/33 Polybian
2 x Cv (including general), 2 x hastati (4Bd), 2 x principes (4Bd), 2 x triarii (Sp), 2 x velites (Ps), 2 x Latin auxiliaries (4Ax).
II/39b Lusitanian
1 x general (Cv), 1 x light horse (LH), 3 x scutarii (3Ax), 1 x Celtiberian (3Bd), 6 x caetrati (Ps).  

Test game one
Lusitania deployed her melee infantry in centre with the bulk of her skirmishers in the wood on the left and the remainder on the high ground on the right. Further to the left were the light horse that would encircle the Roman position and strike their rear when the opportunity arose.

Rome placed a third of her force on the right bank of the river while the main army would make their crossing facing the Lusitanian main line.

Lusitania moving first quick timed to seize the heights ahead of the Romans and move the bulk of her forces toward the river bank. Rome, discovering the passage would be difficult (die roll of six) muddled her way forward; auxilia would now contest possession of the heights on the right flank.

Reaching the bank first, Lusitania were able to contest the crossing, not once but for several bounds. This prompted the proconsul to send his cavalry reserve to turn the Lusitanian flank on the opposite bank.

Grim determination was demonstrated on both sides as isolated Roman blade were quickly encircled and on two occasions sent all four enemy elements back. Yet, other elements fell on both sides to have the score remain even 2 – 2, 3 – 3 and lastly 4 – 4 on the same bound.

The demise of the Celtiberian mercenaries surrounded by triarii broke the Lusitanian resistance as all that remained on the battlefield were skirmishers filtering their way back to the wood and over the hills. 
This was  a 5 - 4 victory for Rome. 

Test games two and three tomorrow. 

Wednesday 13 July 2016

Project Rome – historical match up – the Iberian

The next series of 12 element test games have Rome meeting each of the Spanish armies of the II/39 list; the Iberian, the Lusitanian and the Celtiberian. Among the Spanish, the Iberian is the only army to have arable terrain while the others enjoy the Spanish hills. This may mean the use of seldom seen terrain features such as fields, rivers, and enclosures in place of the usual difficult hill and wood.

During the Hispanic campaign game posted earlier here, Rome has never fought the Spanish with an even number of elements, so this will be an opportunity to demonstrate their true worth. The first games in each series Rome use the basic DBA list and subsequent games may see the use of an allied contingent.

II/33 Polybian
2 x Cv (including general), 2 x hastati (4Bd), 2 x principes (4Bd), 2 x triarii (Sp), 2 x velites (Ps), 2 x Latin auxiliaries (4Ax).
II/39a Iberian
1 x general (Cv), 1 x light horse (LH), 6 x scutarii (3Ax), 4 x caetrati (Ps).  

Test game one
With arable ground as home terrain for both sides, the Iberians positioned a BUA, a gentle hill and two scrub areas. Iberia deployed first and anchored on the BUA extended her forces in a long line holding little back in reserve. Rome deployed her heavy infantry along the crest of the gentle hill with auxilia and velites forming on the flanks; only the cavalry were held in reserve.

Determined to make short work of the battle, Roman infantry moved straight toward the Iberian line. Both flanks were covered by skirmishers and auxilia and if needed, the cavalry would support their efforts.

Despite the loss of cavalry and velites, Rome methodically ground the Iberian into submission, 4 – 3 for Rome.

Test game two
With the terrain slightly altered, the Iberian had the advantage of the hill and gave possession of the farmstead over to the Roman side. Rome made to alteration to her deployment as it served well during the previous game.

As the lines slowly closed on one another, the Iberians were hesitant to leave their hill position, Rome gambled and moved the Equites to the left side intent on helping the velites and auxilia roll up the Iberian right flank.

Roman auxilia and velites were able to take out several skirmish units and added to the slaughter the legion was creating brought the game to a quick end, 4 – 1 for Rome.

Test game three
This time scrub and gentle hill were space further apart such that Rome could take advantage of only one terrain feature; Rome deployed with her right resting on the hill leaving the scrub area as a position from which to attack from.

The main Iberian line moved slowly forward so as to give the LH and skirmishers time to position themselves on the Roman left flank. The maneuver did have the desired effect and both sides were trading deadly blows. By turn five, the game was even 3 – 3 and both sides were feeling exhausted.

Rome had deftly neutralized the Iberian flank attack but this meant the reserve troops were could not be used elsewhere. Luckily, the heavy infantry were able to beat back the Iberian assaults and managed to maintain a steady line. The score still held at even, Rome’s next pip score was 1. The general with the reserve cavalry right wheeled and charged a lone Iberian skirmisher; Iberian skirmishers have been known to send enemy cavalry recoiling back, but this was not one of those times, 4 – 3 for Rome.

In two of the three matches, Iberia performed well enough to have Rome gasping for air. Cavalry (general) attacking Roman blade can help turn the tide, so he must not be positioned too far back behind the battle line. The Iberians were 4Ax which they held their ground on even combat results unlike their lighter 3Ax cousins.
Having won all three games, Rome did not feel compelled to use an allied contingent.

Next; the Lusitanian

Thursday 7 July 2016

Project Rome - the Numidian, the final test game.

Test 3. 
The final test Rome exchanged the Celtiberian for Iberian allies (Cv, 2 x 4Ax) as it is believed these would perform better against the Numidian Ps. The Numidian army retained the same composition as per game 2 as the blade and elephant combination worked well together.

Numidia deployed first and spread her battleline astride an opening between two wood; the blade and elephant formed the centre and each flank was supported by an equal number of LH and Ps. Rome used the hill to anchor her right flank with her battleline extending out toward the open plain. The Iberians were placed on the left to deal with any enemy flanking moves.

As the battle lines approached closer the Numidian line wheeled slightly to right while moving LH to threaten the Roman rear. On their turn the Roman countered by adjusting their line and face the cavalry to meet Numidian Light Horse.

With the centre now engaged, the Numidian moved his Light Horse from the left flank to the opposite side to add its weight on the cavalry action taking place. The situation was quickly becoming serious as both sides were steadily inflicting casualties bringing the score to an even 3 -3 at the end of turn six.

This game was just as exciting as the previous two and Rome managed to destroy a slippery Ps to earn a 4 – 3 win. The Iberians earned praise as they accounted themselves well killing two Ps. On the debit side, Rome lost their cavalry to a swarm of LH  and a unit of blade fell to the elephant, the latter remained on the battlefield trumpeting its defiance.

Next series, the Iberians. 

Wednesday 6 July 2016

Project Rome – historical match up – the Numidian

Since the start of this project I have collected a variety of enemies to field against the consular army and as the size of the collection was based on historical numbers I have not had an opportunity to field these armies in their standard 12 element a side format. Therefore I have a series of test matches with each of Rome’s enemies using options available to both sides. This series may prove useful for those starting ancients and for the experienced player perhaps shed some insight to the finer aspect of the rules and the use of allies which was not available in the older version.

Consular army meet Numidians.
II/33 Polybian Roman have two cavalry including the general’s element, two each velites (Ps), hastati (Bd), principes (Bd) and triarii (Sp) totaling ten elements. The remaining two elements represent the allied troops which may be either 3 or 4Ax.

II/40 Numidian have four each light cavalry (LH) and skirmishers (Ps) lead by a general which can be either (Cv) or (LH) and for this experiment I selected the remaining three elements from the Roman trained infantry and elephant option.
In all three tests Numidia defended and selected only difficult hills and wood to be placed as a river and road would benefit the Roman player as attacker he would select the base edge.

Test 1
The Numidian would open the battle with the Roman trained infantry (4Ax) and elephant deployed in centre and each flank covered by two Ps. The plan was to engage the Roman infantry while the Numidian LH would encircle the Romans and attack their reserves or threaten the camp.

The elephant earned its keep by destroying an element of blade and by the third and fourth turn the battle lines were becoming disjointed; skirmishers fled from spear or blade in most cases giving no other option to the Numidian player than to use the general and LH reserve to plug holes. The general showed his worth by destroying an element of blade to bring the Numidians to their first victory (4 – 2).

Some observations.
The elephant accounted for two kills, the second being a recoil into a Roman allied element before eventually succumbing to encirclement by Roman infantry. The Numidian psiloi fleeing from spear and blade I found an advantage as this would bring them well out of a Roman TZ to be redeployed elsewhere and by the sixth or seventh turn there were plenty of exposed flanks to attack.

The LH encirclement did keep the Roman reserve occupied but this could easily have been accomplished with half the number of elements. On hind sight additional LH may have been useful supporting the infantry.

Test 2.
Some minor adjustments were made to the composition of the two armies, Numidia would replace the two Roman trained Ax for Bd and Rome would make use of Celtiberian allies (1 x Cv, 2 x 3Bd) to replace one Sp and two 4Bd.

As you will note from the photo, Rome deployed with her flank resting on the only terrain features placed; the Numidians formed up in a similar manner as the previous game. Moving first, Numidia would attempt to turn the Roman right flank with their LH and the centre would add their weight (El, 2 x 4Bd) forcing the Roman line onto the wood. Rome advancing in echelon formation with the right flank leading effectively nullified the Numidian plan.

Moving forward in a cohesive formation gave Rome an advantage with an overlap or two in successive combats. With steady loss of troops by Rome and Celtiberia, Numidia suffered a defeat (2 – 4). In retrospect, both games ended after a high number of turns and this was not due to poor pip scores, but through the necessity of redressing lines to attack as a group. 

Next: final test match.