Ancient Warfare magazine

Sunday, March 15, 2015

DBA Weekend Campaign - Part Three!

After the last battle I realized fate may well be on my side after all. A good recovery after the disaster of the first battle. More sacrifices were due to the Gawds indeed.

In case you missed the previous parts:
Part One
Part Two

Battle Three: Blood in the Fields!

I would be down only two elements for this battle, after making a mistake in the previous battle by playing my side with an extra element. The Seleucids would thus gain the same benefit in this battle: they would be fighting with 9 elements instead of just 8 as dictated by the results of the previous battle. However, the Seleucids would not be including two of their pike elements and their scythed chariot in this battle! Rome had the advantage, if just slightly. I would go without my aux. and one element of velites.

Once again the Seleucids would be laying out the terrain as they were the defender in the campaign. This time around he chose two fields (would be good going for the battle), a river (to be diced for once crossed), and a steep hill (Bad going). After seeing the lay of the land I opted to avoid that river cutting us apart - which would give the seleucids an advantage as I was definitely planning to attack aggressively in this battle. My only concern was the two fields in the center of the battlefield. If the first pip roll for the battle was a "1" they would be rough going! As it turned out they remained open ground. The gawds favored my side with no rainfall! Onwards...

(Rules Note: Astute players will notice that the two fields are too close together. There should have been a 1BW space between them. However, such a mistake in this battle would play no significance.)

The armies deploy! The Seleucids on the top of the pic deploying a couple elements of
Asiatic archers (psiloi) on the opposite side of the river.

The Seleucids (deploying first) kept their shock troops (elephants and cataphracts) grouped together and flanked by the Galatians ("solid" warband) and Thracians (Aux). Their general brought up the rear just in front of their camp which was placed centrally and to the rear. Myself, playing as the Romans, deployed in a nice solid double battle line with my general in the second rank. My cavalry and velites (psiloi) were on my right flank. My camp was to the right of the steep hill directly behind my positions.

My plan for this battle was pretty straight forward. I wanted to engage the enemy head-on as quickly as possible. The fact his forces were lacking in half of their pikes gave me some hope of breaking his lines - or just flanking him. Looking at his deployment it was fairly obvious he would be attempting to distract me with those Asiatic archers deployed on the reverse side of the river. I wouldn't fall for that trick however.

The Romans advance through the fields (good going) after finding such would not slow the assault.

The Seleucids had the first bound but elected to hold their position. The pip roll wasn't a "1" so the fields were good going. With that I took the next bound and quickly advanced my entire army forward, cavalry and velites striking ahead of the rest to deal with the enemy flank troops - Thracians in this case - and otherwise prove a distraction for the enemy.

The Seleucids advance, engaging the Roman velites on their left flank.

As the forces advanced toward one another, the Roman velites on the right clashed with the Thracians. A back and forth fight it was, although in the end the Seleucids drew first blood by destroying the velites! In the confusion, the Roman cavalry charged head-long into the gap between the enemy pikes and the Thracians! This resulted in their ultimate demise as the pikes were able to swing around and hit the rear of the cavalry who were already engaged with the Thracians to their front! The Roman right flank had disappeared!

The Romans engage their first line against the enemy. The Roman cavalry, panicking from the destruction of the velites
rush head-long into the lines of the enemy, only to get flanked and destroyed!

The Seleucids Asiatic archers continue to be a concern, marching further on the Roman left flank. Some
principes would be deployed to cover the river.

To add more concern, the Seleucid Asiatic arches (on the reverse of the river) were running even further along the river to threaten my (the Roman) left flank and possibly my camp as well! At this point I committed some principes to keep those light troops in check - and on the other side of the river it was hoped.

The Romans send a detachment of principes to follow the threatening Asiatic archers on the reverse of the river.

The Seleucids battle line was falling back having lost their Galatian warband, bouncing off the Roman advance in the fields. Their pikes somewhat distracted by the - now destroyed - Roman cavalry on their left flank.

Seeing my right flank evaporate, I decided to lead my second line forces to cover my right! The Seleucid pikes would be re-grouping and making a move on my open flank in short order if I did nothing. The pip roll would be with me it was hoped. While all this was happening, all along my front battleline was fighting. The Romans managed to destroy the Galatians in short order and this reduced the Seleucid effectiveness on their assault. This resulted in some back and forth fighting, however, the Romans having the edge and slowly gaining ground.

The Romans (including their general) commit troops to deal with the enemy pikes - who are now reorganizing and moving forward once again - on their right flank.

On the right the Romans managed to engage and pre-occupy the organizing enemy pikes. At the same time the Roman general lead an attack on the Thracians deployed in front of him. This resulted in the Thracians being destroyed rather quickly. With the Seleucid pikes falling back at this point, the situation was stabilizing for the Romans. Victory had to be close at hand.

Back to the fight between the main battle lines the Seleucid General had seen the desperation in his situation and committed his general to the attack. Fearing the loss of his beloved elephants he rushed into the battle with his bodyguards (knights!), crashing into my hastati (blades).

Things are getting desperate for the Seleucid commander. Seeing the Roman battle line advancing, he commits himself with his bodyguards (knights) to reinforce his cataphracts and elephants!

With all his effort in the end, it was all for nothing. The Seleucid general was slain in combat - more likely captured since I had a bounty on his head if captured ALIVE! Regardless, the Seleucids had lost all hope at this point, falling back further to their camp. The Roman war-machine had won the day!

With the Seleucids falling back to their camp, and their general killed, the battle is lost! Even with some success with the cataphracts breaking through and destroying their opponents, the loss of the general proved too much

The final gasp from the Seleucids came when their cataphracts managed to break through my first line! Too little too late however. With the end of the bound, so ended the battle.

With battle lost, the seleucids must fall back from the battlefield. The Romans checked all the Seleucid moves!

With the battle concluded all that was left was determine what elements from those lost in the battle would return. Once again this would be half (rounded down). Returning elements would be randomly determined as usual. In the case of the Seleucids, who lost three elements (one was the general), the single element that did return had to be the general - this is mandatory. For the Romans, they also would get back a single element and this turned out to be the velites.

The losses. Roman victory: 4 - 3.

All that was left to do is determine what elements return from the reserve. Both sides made their die rolls and no one managed to roll any ones! So both sides got all their reserve elements back in time for the next battle.

With all that done, the next battle would result in both armies having 10 elements.

It should be pointed out at this point that any side winning three battles in a row will win the campaign outright! With three battle fought so far, and the Romans winning the last two, the Seleucids were under pressure to secure a victory in the next battle to avoid losing the campaign. This next battle will be an interesting indeed!

Campaign Score
Seleucids: 3
Romans: 4

Notes and Observations: I had made up my mind from the get-go to play very aggressive in this battle. I made use of a second line of blades which helped out a lot. Considering the river shortened the battle-front, not a bad idea for my side. It allowed me to shift forces quickly to protect my left (against those pesky Asiatic archers in this case), as well as occupy the enemy pikes and light troops over on my right flank.

I was pretty impressed at my heavy infantry advancing so well across the fields. The enemy shock troops just seemed to "bounce" off the Roman shields! I have to admit however, I was a bit worried when the Seleucids committed their general to the final assault - even more so when the cataphracts made some head-way and destroyed one of my blades! It was all for nothing in the end, as my blades facing his general scored a quick kill (general killed counts as two elements lost)!. Gawds be praised! Final score was Seleucids losing four to the Romans losing three.

Another interesting note was how effective my spears (triari) were when supported by blades. That +1 Flank Support bonus was effective against the Seleucid elephant to be sure - recoiling it bound after bound! Very nice indeed.

Can't wait for the next battle. See below for Part Four.

Here is Part Four!


  1. Congratulations, Kurtus. A fine battle report, sir. Good luck in that next battle.

    -- Jeff

  2. Thanks my friend. It was a good one. Went a lil easier this time :)

  3. Good tactics. I thought it a little overkill to use priceps against light infantry though.