Ancient Warfare magazine

Saturday, March 21, 2015

DBA Weekend Campaign - Part Four (Final)

Last battle saw the Romans pull off a great victory over the "marching circus" known as the Seleucid Empire. This next (final) battle was to prove even more decisive in the campaign  - as you shall see.

Again, if you haven't been following along with this four part campaign write-up, this is a play-test campaign of our own rules (very simple). Basically it is a five battle mini-campaign. A side winning three battles in a row will win the campaign; otherwise campaign victory points are totaled and the higher vp total wins. Of course there is some more detail to it all than just that, but that is the rules in a nutshell. I will be adding more detail to the rules later on. For the time being the basics are there and it works great for a ladder style two player campaign.

In case you missed the previous parts:

The Final Battle awaits!

The Final Battle!

Continuing on from the last battle both sides would be equally matched at ten elements apiece. For my own side (the Romans) I would not be using my cavalry or a blade element. The Seleucids would be down their warband ("solid") and Thracians ("fast" aux.). I was not too concerned honestly, although his Thracians were a major pain always threatening my flanks as they were. And of course I won't forget earlier in the campaign how they ambushed some of my hastate in the dark of a wood to slaughter them to a man (with the help of the warband no less). Anyway, this was to prove a very challenging battle for both sides - and a very important one at that. If the Romans could pull off a win here, they would win the campaign outright for winning three in a row. After losing the first battle in an amazing disaster, the Romans have fought long and hard to be this close to final victory.

A look from the Seleucid battle line. That hill was looking like a strong position indeed!

Once again the Seleucid placed the terrain. A small village (hamlet - rough going) was placed along a road on the left. We decided that the village had just been pillaged and set alight (seen by the smoke over the buildings). Astute readers will note that the models making up the village are actually dark age buildings. Until I get around to finishing my current terrain project, they will have to do for now. Other terrain included a small gentle hill (good going), and a small crop field (again good going as a one wasn't rolled for pips in the first bound).

Both the Romans and the Seleucids dispatched light troops along the road to the left. The small burning village can be seen. The Roman camp can be seen at the bottom of the pic.

My plan was very simple: advance as quickly as possible to take control of the high ground (that central hill). The hill would give much advantage to the side controlling it, as will be seen in the battle to come. In addition, I would be sending off my light troops along the road to not only engage the enemy near the village, but also be in a good striking position on their right flank - or their camp if I so wished.

The Seleucid enemy deployed in their standard fashion - pikes in the center flanked by their shock and light troops. Their camp was on the opposite of the road past the burning village. For protection (and to be somewhat of a threat) the Seleucids also deployed their Asiatic archers (psiloi) along the road near the village. Surely I would be able to handle this lot with my velites!

Both armies advance quickly towards the high ground obscuring them. Whoever held the hill would surely have some advantage.

The Seleucids had the first bound as the defender. They wasted no time advancing toward the hill - obviously seeing the value of that position. Both sides therefore wasted no time moving forward. Pips were low for the Seleucids at one point however. Turned out that with but a single pip, he managed to thrust forward with just his pikes to take the hill - the remainder of his army lingering back in what seemed like confusion in the ranks. None the less, the Romans would now need to take the hill the hard way. Jupiter be with us!

With confusion in the ranks, the Seleucids managed to take position of the high ground with their solid pikes. The Romans would have to fight their way up the hill.

At this point the forces were engaged all along the line. The Seleucids had some advantage with their pikes being on high ground. However, their left flank was thrown back from the hill by a strong defense put forth by the Romans on that part of the line. This fracturing of the Seleucid battle line would prove critical later in this battle. Did the Romans learn their lesson in dealing with pike blocks effectively? We shall see.

Meanwhile, both forces engages their lighter troops just out-side the burning village. Roman velites support some aux. troops.

Over near the burning village the forces engaged rather quickly. The Romans had a clear advantage here as they were able to get some flank attacks on the enemy Asiatic archers. Both enemy elements would be defeated after a few bounds of tight combat.

(Rules Note: The Seleucid player really was limited in his pip use. Elephants and scythed chariots love to suck up pips. As a result he couldn't really afford to spend many pips over near the village in this battle.)

(Rules Note: During the combat near the village, we made the error of  counting the Roman velites (psiloi - i.e. "fast" troops) as counting as an "overlap" against the enemy psiloi - Asiatic archer; psiloi of course cannot be overlapped by corner only, which was the case above). It really wouldn't have mattered as the velites could have simply moved to get side edge to side edge contact with the enemy psiloi or - as they did later -  get a flank attack on them with their front edge.)

The lines engage!  The Romans slow the advance of the scythed chariots with their velites while desperate fighting rages all along the line.

The fighting continued all along the battle line. Both sides recoiling and pursuing in to the enemy. It seemed that the Seleucids had the upper had at the mid point of the battle. The Romans were quickly taken down three elements as their left flank collapsed from the assault of the Seleucid elephants and cataphracts - not to mention their pikes with high ground! Things were looking grim indeed.

With the high ground on their side, the Seleucids manage to break through as the Roman left collapses! This as the fighting near the village continues.

As the Seleucid elephants lead the break-through, Roman triari march forward to prevent an all out Roman rout.

Thankfully the Romans (my side) had a reserve in place. These were quickly sent forward to shore up that left flank before all was lost - if anything I would at least prevent an all out rout! The Roman general and some triari were sent forward!

(Rules Note: It was at this point during the campaign that we realized we had been missing something in the rules! It turns out that 4Kn (Knights - which the cataphracts are classed in this case) DO NOT pursue after an enemy recoil! Normal 3Kn do pursue after a recoil. Easy to miss this if you're not paying attention - especially when re-learning the rules!.)

It was at this point in the battle that the Seleucid left began to fall back, even as the right advanced. This would fracture the Seleucid battle line enough for the Romans to isolate those pesky pikes!

The Roman velites and aux. gain the upper hand on the enemy and are in a good position to defeat what foes remain near the village.

With the right holding, the Roman general moves up with the triari to plug the gap on the left! Facing the brunt of the Seleucid assault.

With the Roman reserve committed and holding a failing left flank, the Roman right advanced and managed to eventually destroy the enemy left pike (their whole left flank in fact). The Romans committing their reserve and holding the line paid off! With the enemy pinned, they could do nothing but watch their pike blocks fall apart.

Things are getting critical for both sides as a back and forth struggle begins around the hill! The Romans manage to isolate an enemy pike block, hitting it in the flank with their velites!

The Seleucid general moves to keeps his troops in order. The tide has turned as one of the Seleucid pike blocks is destroyed on the hill after being flanked. In the distance can be seen the victorious Roman light troops near the burning village.

The Seleucids saw this strange twist of fate and sent their general in to action - too late however. The Seleucid battle line was broken! It was but a matter of time before the remainder of their forces were pinned and flanked. That is exactly what was happening. The fate of the campaign itself rested in this battle, and the Seleucids were all but lost at this point. A Roamn victory awaited!

The battle is over, as the last of the Seleucid pikes are destroyed to the man!

With the loss of the last two elements of pikes, the battle had ended. A very close fought engagement indeed! The Seleucids were oh so close to victory! The final score was four to six: a Roman victory!

Final Campaign Score
Seleucid: 3 vp
Roman: 6 vp
The Roman losses!

The Seleucid losses.

Notes and Observations: This was a really tight fought battle. Both sides played very hard from start to finish. An awesome way to end the campaign!

I have to admit, I really was concerned watching my left flank fall apart so quick. The Seleucids had the advantage of that high ground and that paid off. They also managed a couple "quick kills" on my blades! All I can say is having that reserve (and all players should have one) saved the day for the Romans. It was a risk sending my general off like that, but again, it was worth it. My spear units also did a good job holding the enemy (although one did get destroyed early on).

As far as the campaign itself is concerned it was a complete success. After some initial bumps in the road, everything smoothed out quite well. The basics to the rules are just right at this point. Now I want to try adding some additional depth to it to add to the fun - will be saving that for the next campaign however :)

Overall I really enjoy the new version of the DBA rules. It has quickly become one of my favorite games of all time - especially now after a successful run through our little campaign. Each battle was set up and played in under an hour - awesome!

I hope you enjoyed this little tale of war here. I plan on doing quite a few more. The next one in fact should be a match up between my Romans (once again) and my newest army - Gaul! I will also have some very nice terrain to add to the layout as well. Looking forward to that. Stay tuned!

Again, in case you missed the previous parts:
Part One
Part Two
Part Three


  1. A bad day for the Seleucid army, but a great looking game! Beautiful armies, and camps (love the burning camp pictures!)...excellent report!

    1. Thanks Phil. We had a blast with DBA 3.0 Really a great little game with so much subtle depth. Glad you enjoyed. Now I am off to finish my Gaul army for another go :)

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks Dave. Glad you enjoyed. Stay tuned for more :)

  3. Thanks Peter. Glad you enjoyed.