Tuesday 27 September 2016

Severan Army vs. the Nobades

During the 3rd century the Nobades displaced the Meroitic-Kushite sending those eastwards giving Rome new raiders to contend with  along her southern frontier.  Historically, the Nobades did maul a Roman punitive expedition but this remains an isolated incident.

II/64b Middle Imperial Roman (Eastern)
1 x general (Cv), 1 x cavalry (Cv), 1 x horse archer (LH), 4 x legionnaires (4Bd), 3 x auxiliary (4Ax), 1 x auxiliary archer (4Bw), 1 x Clibinarii (4Kn).

II/55b Nobades
1 x general (Cv), 2 x cavalry (Cv), 1 x archers (3Bw), 2 x spearmen on camels (Cm) 2 x spearmen (Sp), 4 x archers (3 Bw or Ps).

Game one
Constricted by the rough ground in front, Rome deployed her legions in the opening between them and placed auxilia on both flanks, cavalry were held in reserve.

The Nobades sent her bowmen to harass the auxilia as the spearmen marched alongside in support. Seeing the hilltop cleared of Nobades bowmen, the commander ordered the mounted troops forward. 2 – 0 for Rome.

A sense of panic struck the Roman command as gaping holes quickly appeared along the battle line with Nobades spearmen moving through them and camel mounted troops were seen swarming over what remained of the left flank. Score 2 – 4 for Nobades.

Game two
This time Rome was caught in the open by an awaiting Nobades army with difficult hills protecting their flanks.

Roman auxilia cleared the hill on the left of any Nobades troops allowing the legions to move their line forward.

Both lines met and the Nobades line was seen to buckle, but the effort cost Rome some legionnaires.

The battle was hard fought on both sides and skilled archery brought down a unit of cataphract, this with other casualties gave the Nobades the advantage to claim victory. Score 4 – 5 for Nobades.   

Game three
Rome deployment remained unchanged with the only exception being the addition of the cataphract in the first line. Nobades countered by placing all mounted on her right flank leaving the infantry positioned opposite the Roman line.

Rome seized the initiative to attack the Nobades infantry but this developed into uncoordinated assaults. As the attack stalled the Nobades took advantage of this by moving her camel corps against the open flank and sending the cavalry to encircle the Roman force.

After a long struggle, the Roman battle disintegrated leaving isolated units to surrounded and cut down but not without a high cost to the Nobades. Score 4 – 5 for Nobades.

Saturday 24 September 2016

Severan Army vs. the Carpi

We move from the arid regions of Africa and northern Syria to the area now held by the Carpi. The Carpi superseded the Dacian as dominant group and would prove just as tenacious fighters as they would continue their struggle well into the Later Roman period.

II/64b Middle Imperial Roman (Eastern)
1 x general (Cv), 1 x cavalry (Cv), 1 x horse archer (LH), 4 x legionnaires (4Bd), 3 x auxiliary (4Ax), 1 x auxiliary archer (4Bw), 1 x Clibinarii (4Kn).

II/52 Carpi
1 x general (Cv), 1 x horsemen (LH). 6 x warriors (3Wb), 2 x Bastarnae falxmen (3Bd), 2 x javelinmen (Ps).

Game one
Rome found the Carpi army stretched from the foothills on her left ending at the woods on her right, formations were noticeably deeper in the centre and further behind were the mounted units and Draco standard of their commander. Rome deployed, in now a standard formation, legions to the front flanked by auxilia with the cavalry in reserve echeloned back.

The Carpi remained noticeably inert with the exception of troops moving through the woods. Rome countered by wheeling her battleline to the left as auxiliary units and light horse extended the line yet further.

From this position, Rome awaited the Carpi rush. This finally came. Only one barbarian column broke through while others were dispatched or sent recoiling and Roman cavalry were edging forward ready to strike at exposed flanks.  

The battle turned into a drill as Carpi warriors fell in great numbers, score 1 – 5 for Rome despite the valiant resistance of the falxmen.

Game two
The Carpi deployed with noticeable more cavalry on their right; it was later learned these were the Sarmatian contingent that joined the festivities. Anxious about the defile that opened on the Roman right auxilia were positioned on the hilltop to take care of any threat from that direction. The remainder of the army formed up in standard deployment.

Through a mis-communication between general and allied contingent the two forces moved forward in staggered lines. Carpi warband were seen reaching the hilltop and this would be soon cleared of any Roman resistance.

Reaching the Roman line first, the Carpi helped by a second attack coming from the hill.

The legion not only held buy beat back the barbarians sending some back up the hill. Throughout the action the Sarmatian remained motionless. Seeing a second Carpi attempt at breaking the Roman wall, the Sarmatians moved forward, unfortunately, the Roman left was quick off the mark and caught the Sarmatian in flank.

With the field now littered with dead, the Carpi called a general retreat, score 1 – 4 for Rome.

Game three
Rome deployed as usual with the cavalry reserve forming behind the left flank. The Carpi took advantage of the open plain and formed her cavalry and allies on the right and warband on the left.

The Carpi struck half the Roman battleline while the Sarmatian would eventually strike the other half. Rome, one step ahead, moved the legion to support the centre giving the Sarmatian a full view of a Roman cavalry charge.

The Carpi wave that crashed on the Roman breakers soon ebbed away, even the Sarmatian, now overlapped, were seen struggling. The battle soon turned into another slaughter; score 1 – 4 for Rome.

Wednesday 21 September 2016

Severan Army vs. Parthia

Historically, the meeting of Rome and Parthia was another flame in the greater conflagration that swept throughout the empire. Parthia’s army had not changed much since the day it fought the Seleucid and so speed and manoeuvre would play a key role in today’s matches.

II/64b Middle Imperial Roman (Eastern)
1 x general (Cv), 1 x cavalry (Cv), 1 x horse archer (LH), 4 x legionnaires (4Bd), 3 x auxiliary (4Ax), 1 x auxiliary archer (4Bw), 1 x Clibinarii (4Kn).

II/37 Parthia
1 x general (4Kn), 2 x cataphract (4Kn), 9 x horse archers (LH).

Game one
Parthia defending had placed two woods, a gentle hill and a hamlet of which Rome selected the hill as part of her deployment area.

As expected Parthian horse archers fanned out toward both Roman flanks in an attempt to encircle them and to counter this Rome would form a contiguous line with supports on each flank positioned back.

By now the loose formations of horse archers were beginning to form lines and not unnoticed the cataphract were steadily moving forward.

As the horse archers kept the Roman cavalry busy the cataphract moved toward the apex of the two lines creating a weak spot by destroying a unit of legionnaires.

Pealing troops from the left flank these were sent to contain the threat caused by the cataphract. Roman cavalry held their ground despite losing the Clibinarii to effective Parthian shot and further along the battle line Rome gained the upper hand to win the game, score 2 – 4 for Rome.

Game two
Parthia deployed in a similar formation and across the battlefield Rome anchored her left flank near a small hamlet extending her line toward the hill with the cavalry positioned at its crest.

In centre, the Parthian horse archers opened up to allow the cataphract to move forward creating a continuous line while small formations of horse archers moved forward to keep the Roman flanks occupied.

The Parthian formation crashed into the waiting line of legionaries, this resulted in many units being thrown back, but before the Parthian general and bodyguard destroyed their opposition.

Redoubling their effort a panic seized the Roman infantry as many of their number fell to the slow methodical advance of the Parthian. Score 5 – 1 for Parthia.

Game three
Rome defended this time and Parthia selected the area about the hamlet for their deployment giving the hill position to the Romans. Recalling the last stand of Crassus this was taken as a good omen.

Looking somewhat shaken Roman infantry repositioned their units near the base of the hill.

Emboldened by their temerity Parthian horse archers screening the cataphract cavalry now moved off toward the hill occupied by the legionnaires. Seeing the change in formation was not yet complete the Roman commander ordered a general attack.

These caught the Parthian by surprise and in the general mayhem horse archers were fleeing in all directions and those that did not retire quickly were cut down. Parthian cataphract held back two attempts at encirclement, but Roman cavalry were equally determined to gain the upper hand. In this they finally succeeded ending the battle to score 1 – 5 for Rome.

Monday 19 September 2016

Improving the campaign system

This test campaign is set in the late 3rd century AD and the Black Sea Kingdom of Bosporus is defending its territory against a “Scythian” (Alani) incursion. The Tanais River is the northern frontier of the kingdom and the site of the first engagement between these two armies. An alternative route to the Bosporan capital of Panticapaeum as rival tribes and Sarmatians would provoke an unplanned conflict for the Alani.

The Armies:
II/25 Bosporus
1 x general (3Kn), 2 x nobles (3Kn), 3 x horse archers (LH), 2 x spearmen (4Ax), 2 x archers (3Bw), 1 x skirmisher (Ps), 1 x artillery (Art).

II/58 Alani
1 x general (3Kn), 2 x nobles (3Kn), 9 x tribal horse archers (LH).

The Alani tribal leaders are planning a spring offensive to defeat the Bosporan and capture the capital of Pantipaceaum. With much coercing and lofty promises an army slowly assembles at the Tanais River in April. Crossing the frontier they met the Bosporan army deployed for battle. The action was brief as the Alani nobles made very little impression on the Bosporan armoured cavalry but the massive destruction meted out by Bosporan archers did not go unnoticed. The Alani warlord called off the engagement and moved back across the frontier. (Score 4 – 2 for the Bosporan).

 Displeased at the defeat, rival chieftains argued while others threatened to leave the campaign, but a new leader was found. By July, the Alani horde re-crossed the frontier to meet the Bosporan.

Using their superior mobility the main battle line would slowly advance giving a flanking column time to encircle the Bosporan open flank. A well time charge caught the Bosporan infantry at a disadvantage; their heavy loss prompted the Bosporan Strategos to call a retreat.  (Score 2 – 5 for the Alani).

Retreating along the shore of the Meotis Sea, the Bosporan army gathered its fugitives and called up reserves from Panagaria. The Alani also took advantage of a brief respite to gather new warriors to the horde as the horde finally approached the Bosporan in August.

 In the early morning, from the Bosporan position, one could see the main strength of the Alani was deployed near the shoreline placing all the Bosporan infantry effectively outside the battlefield. The Alani wasted no time and launched an aggressive attack outnumbering the Bosporan cavalry two to one. The effect of the charge shattered the Bosporan army cutting down most of the armoured cavalry and light horse. (Score 0 – 5 for the Alani).

 News of the defeat set Pantipaceaum into a wave of panic. The Bosporan military council would make a last ditch effort at Panagaria and ferried their last reserves over to support this and even the Sarmatian promised an allied contingent to gather at Panagaria to help repel the invaders.

For unexplained reasons, the Alani horde did not arrive until October presumably they were too busy plundering the countryside of Meotis (lacking points, the Alani could not move).

 Outside Panagaria, the Bosporan army deployed in a compact formation with the Sarmatians positioned near the shoreline, next to them the Bosporan armoured cavalry supported by light horse and lastly the remaining infantry on the right. The Bosporan opened the battle with both sides quickly becoming embroiled in a desperate and fierce contest. As quick as it began, both sides slowly drew back to reassess the situation as both commanders were struck down. Dumbfounded, the Alani withdrew first and with November approaching would cross the frontier to return home. (Score 4(G) – 3(G) for the Bosporan).     

20 September 2016

An Assessment. 
I was very pleased with the results of the campaign and especially the outcome of the final battle. The situation for the Bosporan looked very grim following her second defeat yet Aphrodite smiled to ensure the Alani had no points to care for supply or the replacement of troops; this not an issue for the Bosporan as their war chest was deep enough to replace losses and secure allies for their final contest.

Playing the campaign system did not appreciably add extra time as each campaign month required two quick card games to determine who gained points. What made the games interesting subsequent battles were fought with uneven number of elements. Each side could replace up to three elements lost for the cost of one point which meant the Bosporan was still short two elements in one case. The shortfall was solved for the last battle by hiring the Sarmatian allies for the cost of an extra point.

The revision also satisfied the requirement of multiple phases (original set) for each campaign month with only one step thereby decreasing the amount of time needed for the campaign move. Having sufficient points meant a player could readily replace losses, hire allies and make strategic moves and lacking them your army became immobile as did occur on several occasions to the Alani.

Revising the rules set shaved down the number of pages from five to two, this no doubt may change with further play tests. This will continue as I search for some interesting and lesser known historical themes.

By the end of October a final copy should be uploaded to the Fanaticus DBA Wiki for others to use. 

Saturday 17 September 2016

Severan Army vs. Kingdom of Armenia

We have encountered the Kingdom of Armenia in an earlier test series against the Seleucid and that same composition of troops will meet the Severan Army for these three games. Due to the time period, the Armenian can now call up the assistance of a number of allied contingents. As per our format, the first game played is with an unaltered list.

II/64b Middle Imperial Roman (Eastern)
1 x general (Cv), 1 x cavalry (Cv), 1 x horse archer (LH), 4 x legionnaires (4Bd), 3 x auxiliary (4Ax), 1 x auxiliary archer (4Bw), 1 x Clibinarii (4Kn).

II/28C Armenia
1 x general (4Kn), 1 x cataphract (4Kn), 4 x horse archers (LH), 4 x javelinmen (3Ax), 2 x archers (3Bw).

Game one
Armenia is defending and places difficult hills and woods as per die cast. Rome attacking have seized the hilly area to face the Armenian army and place their heavy infantry at the mouth of the valley with auxilia positioned at the hill top, cavalry are held in reserve.

 The Armenian general has decided to take the initiative and capture the heights overlooking the Roman left after which time the cataphract supported by javelinmen and horse archers would attack the Roman centre, sending cavalry via a route opening at the Roman rear would occupy their cavalry reserves.

Armenian patience grows thin as the hilltops are not cleared as quickly as planned, but the tell-tale cloud of dust does indicate Roman reserves are being sent to stave off the threat to the rear. Noticing that the Armenian attack is losing its momentum the Roman centre launches an unexpected attack.

Caught totally off balance, the Armenian loses a good number of cavalry and their commander signalling a general route. Score 2 – 5 for Rome

Game two
Rome catch up to the Armenians deployed for battle at the end of a valley and among the ranks can be seen new banners and standards of cavalry units (it became later known that Armenia called on Parthian allies to supply a contingent).  Battle lines were askew of one another so both armies would need to wheel to meet head on.

Maneuvering to cross the valley floor proved difficult for Armenia and Parthia as their respective groups took longer to align them and the Roman formations could be seen to close the distance between them.

Rome struck first, but the dense formation of cataphracts sent most cohorts back, the Sagitarii were fortunate to cut down a unit of horse. That was small consolation as Rome had twice as many casualties.

The Romans quickly moved into a routine and were cutting down their opposition including the Armenian general. The jubilation and cheers at the end of the valley were picked up by the auxilia atop the hills, the cavalry were not to be a part of the plundering today, score 2 – 5 for Rome.

Game three
This time, the hills would not interfere with Armenian cavalry operations and the small woods would serve the javelinmen and archers as cover.

The Armenian-Parthian coalition moved slowly forward to give her infantry time to position them in the wood, the signal to advance was not seen by all unfortunately. Rome moved quickly to take the wood and using this position wheeled her battle line to the left. This would force the enemy cavalry to adjust their approach thereby blocking any potential fire by the archers positioned on the right flank.

Altering the initial plan, the Armenian general deployed all his troops into extended line and would overwhelm the Roman first line.   

Rome countered by moving her centre slowly forward and throwing both wings forward to attack the enemy infantry. This resulted in exposing the Parthian left and likewise the Armenian right was seriously threatened.

The Parthian was able to recover and destroy two units of legionnaires bringing the coalition close to victory. Close to victory, the Roman second legion sent both supporting cataphract back leaving the Armenian general to face the wrath of Mars. Score 3 – 4 for Rome.