Tuesday 6 July 2021

Rome recrosses the frontier 359 AD

The recent victory over the Sassanid had tarnished the military reputation of Shapur II, however, Armenia who bore the brunt of the losses coupled with news of a failed revolt in Persian led Roman command to question the wisdom of continuing the campaign. Thoughts, pro and con, were heard during the military council and the decision was made to cease continuing the campaign and make preparations to recross the frontier. 

Aware of Rome’s decision, Shapur II was confident that Rome would relax their march as they approached the frontier. Taking a circuitous route, Shapur II crossed the frontier to position the army to block Rome from continuing its march back home. The gauntlet was cast. 

The Forces.

Each force fielded a single command but with double the number of elements. Follow the link to read how DBA24 is played.

To simulate the hilly countryside of eastern Anatolia, two difficult hills and two woods were placed on a board size half times larger (120cm x 80cm) by the defender, Rome.  


Even from a far distance, the glitter of spear points and dust clouds, Rome knew this was no raiding party that confronted them and little time was needed to deploy into battle formation. The legions and auxilia formed two wings with light horse extending their line and behind them, the heavy cavalry formed a second line. 

The Sassanid positioned all their infantry and the elephant corps on the left, skirting the woods and hills leaving the open plain to be filled by their cavalry to form its centre and right flank.

The advance of the Sassanid infantry and elephant corps opened the battle against the Roman right wing while the asavaran cavalry skirmished with the legion and auxiliaries on the opposite flank, intent on breaking their formation.

An hour and a half (6 turns) inconclusive fighting had past, then disaster struck as Roman infantry made quick work of destroying the Persian infantry and scattering the elephant corps. With the collapse of the entire Sassanid left, both sides moved their armoured cavalry with Rome looking to make a breakthrough and the Sassanid to stave off disaster.

To the surprise of Rome, the Sassanid broke off their attack to place distance between them and the Roman left wing. Ceasing their advance, Rome made use of the respite to redress its own ranks, but no further hostile activity by the Sassanid was made three quarters of an hour (3 turns).

FootnoteSassan was 2 short of break point while Rome sat comfortably at the half way mark. 

Sensing not much would be needed to send the Sassanid on their way, both Roman wings moved forward.

Springing into action, the asavaran moved forward at a trot and showered the Roman line with arrows as the first ranks, with lances thrust forward charged into the Roman line.

The combat was brief as gaps began to appear along the line. Startled at the sudden loss of its line, Rome called for its survivors to withdraw while the reserve cavalry would cover the retreat. Content at having regained its reputation, the Sassanid let Rome retire unmolested. Victory for Sassan, 8 – 6.

Thursday 1 July 2021

Revolt in Perse-Armenia

In 358, news of the impending campaign by Shapur II against Rome emboldened a number of leaders of the royal houses in Sassanid occupied Armenia, to seize the opportunity to rebel against their overseers. During the winter months, plans took shape and an informed Eastern Rome would assist with their own invasion against the Persians.

In the Spring of 359, the Sassanid army marched toward the frontier to intercept the Roman incursion. However, news filtered back of an uprising in the northern region of Perse-Armenia and as the uprising gained momentum, the Persian governor quickly assembled an army, stripping garrisons of their troops and marshalling loyal Armenian nobles and their retinues to march north.

The Forces

Both armies, II/69b Sassanid and II/28c Armenia, are doubled giving each side 24 elements. On the whole, the Armenian army were lighter equipped and comprising of an equal number of mounted and infantry would have a difficult time meeting the Sassanid on the open plain, but would hope to lure the enemy toward the rough terrain of the north. The Sassanid held superior numbers of cavalry and infantry were supplied by loyal Armenian nobles.

Terrain for the battle featured, two difficult hills, two woods and one fortified village to be placed on a game board of 120cm x 80cm.



From their position near the fortified village of Cozala, the rebel alliance could view the deployment of the Sassanid host. Taking a central position were the asavaran cavalry forming two lines with vast number of infantry forming on either flank. And lastly, in the gap, between infantry and cavalry, the dreaded elephants moved into position to complete the Sassanid deployment.

In comparison, the rebel line looked extremely vulnerable as their cavalry were not as well armoured and their infantry were outnumbered.

Despite the odds, the Armenian infantry on the left set off to perform the impossible and seized the hill overlooking the Sassanid right while the Sassanid infantry were engaged to their front. On the Armenian right, a similar action took place, holding the Sassanid advance at bay. 

Both flanks thoroughly engaged, the Sassanid seized the moment to launch the asavaran cavalry against the Armenian center.

After destroying half the Sassanid infantry on the left, the Armenians found themselves cut off and surrounded by Sassanid cavalry. The situation looked grim as no help would be forthcoming,

Rebel resistance collapsed after two hours of fighting (8 turns), leaving the infantry to seek refuge among the hills and the cavalry to flee north. An 8 – 3 victory for Sassan.

“Play it again, Sam”

Too good to pass up, the battle was re-played using the same terrain, but armies exchanging deployment areas. Armenia kept their battle formation while Sassan made minor changes to accommodate the restricted terrain and the Armenian defended village. The game developed into a nail-biter as both sides reached break point (8 – 8) on turn nine. A fortuitous pip score for Armenia tipped the scale to end the battle with a 10 – 8 victory for the rebels.