Sunday, 27 February 2011

Somewhere north of Hadrian's Wall, c.300 CE

Picts (II/68 a) vs. Middle Imperial Romans (II/64 a)

It was late Saturday night, I couldn't get into painting, so instead I tried my first DBA game using the latest Solo DBA variant. I have played many solo games over the years, but not with the benefit of this rules variant.

The Romans rolled the lowest aggression score (becoming the non-player general (NPG)) so I styled this encounter as a Pictish raid on the Roman frontier.

For the purposes of this description I assume the Picts are deploying to the north of the battlefield and the Romans to the south. The random terrain placement rules saw a north-south road running along the eastern edge of the battlefield pass through a fortified Pictish village and woods. A steep hill was the centre of the Roman deployment zone.

NPG deployment resulted in a placement that looked like the Romans were leaving their marching camp in columns with cavalry (2 x 3Cv inc. gen.) and light horse (1 x 2LH) to the west (with the general), auxiliaries (3 x 4Ax) marching over a steep hill in the centre, legionaries (4 x 4Bd) and bows (1 x 4Bw) in a reserve column behind the centre and ballistas (1 x Art) advancing along the roadway to the east. (NB: One blade element should have been a 3Bd and the Bw I used only has two figures on base).

Initial deployment from point of view of NPG

The Roman general took a largely defensive stance forming a line of battle with his mounted troops on his left flank and moving the legionaries and bows that were in reserve up towards his centre. His auxiliaries moved quickly to occupy the woods on his right flank with support from the ballistas. Meanwhile the Picts advanced their line largely as deployed with the garrison of the BUA advancing towards the wood to restrict enemy road movement on the left flank.

With the legionaries still struggling through bad going, it fell to the auxiliaries on the Roman right to slow the Pictish advance. A Pictish warband slammed into the centre of the auxiliaries and a deep formation of spears supported by skirmishers (psiloi) attacked their right flank. Pictish spear moved up into the forest on the left to provide some support for the exposed flank of the warband. The warband was repulsed, but the spears took first blood by destroying the auxiliaries caught outside of the woods.

In the woods the Pictish spear advanced to contact with the auxiliaries that were overlapping the left flank of the warband. With its flank secure, the warband again charged forward to contact the remaining unit of auxiliary. The Pictish spears were destroyed being no match for the auxiliaries in the woods, while the warband pushed their opponents back and impetuously followed up their attack. The main Pictish line advanced with the skirmishers on the left flank contacting the Roman bows at the head of the column of legionaries – recoiling the column.

While the legionaries finally formed a line of battle in the centre, the previously repulsed bows let loose a storm of arrows that destroyed the skirmishers to their front. The auxiliaries on the Roman right flank responded by contacting the warband on its front and left flank. However the warband repulsed this assault and fiercely pursued the auxiliaries out of the woods. (Pictured below - Romans 1: Picts 2)

The Pictish centre and right advanced into close combat with the newly formed Roman line with light horse sweeping around to contact the end of the Roman left flank. On the Pictish left the warband supported by spears slammed once more into the unit of auxiliaries now in open ground, while efforts were made to secure the extreme left flank. However the beginning of the end was seen when Roman ballistas rained bolts down on the left flank of the warband causing it to recoil from contact. The Pictish chieftain and his light horse destroyed the Roman light horse on the end of the Roman's left flank but his centre collapsed with a unit each of spear and skirmishers destroyed and the remaining units repulsed.

End result Romans 2: Picts 4

Overall, I found the terrain placement, NPG deployment and tactical engines for the NPG very satisfactory. The Romans successfully played a largely defensive game with the exception of the auxiliaries rushing to grab the bad going on the Roman right – a manoeuvre acceptable for a defensive command according to the Solo DBA system. The Picts came to grief under my command largely through the poor match-ups (particularly psiloi against mounted and the spear against auxiliaries in bad going) and the rather impetuous charge to contact in the centre and right.

A very enjoyable game and one that certainly gives me great enthusiasm to explore this solo DBA system further.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Empingham , 12 March 1470

On the 12th march 1470 Edward IV met and defeated a Lancastrian force under Robert Welles at Empingham, Country Rutland, in the East Midlands. During the engagement Welles was killed and the loss struck a serious blow to the Lancastrians with the rebellious Warwick fleeing to France to seek an alliance with Margaret of Anjou. The site of the battle is popularly known as Losecote field – traditionally thought to refer to the shedding of their identifying coats by the fleeing Lancastrian troops. However, the name may predate the battle and is though to mean pigsty field.

Not the battle of Losecote Field (Tewkesbury, actually)

So, tonight's DBA match saw York (IV 83 a) pitted against Lancaster (IV 83 a) again.

The Lancastrians defended the field with woods dividing their line of deployment in half, and their left flank anchored on the village of Empingham (BUA). The battle on their left flank was commanded by Welles and consisted of equal number of bows (3 x 4Lb) and heavy infantry (3 x 4Bd - inc. gen.). The right flank was held by a battle consisting of bows (3 x 4Lb), heavy infantry (2 x 4Bd), and artillery (1 x Art).

The Yorkists (under my command) deployed in two battles straddling a steep hill in the centre of their deployment area. The battle on the left flank consisted of bows (3 x 3Lb), heavy infantry (2 x 4Bd), and knights (1 x 3Kn). The right flank was held by bows (3 x 3Lb), heavy infantry (1 x 4Bd), and artillery (1 x Art). Edward sat with his knights (1 x 3Kn gen) on the crest of the steep hill between the two battles.

Both lines advanced beyond their deployment zones with the Lancastrians slowed by command difficulties (poor PIP rolls). As both side cleared the rough terrain in their centres unsuccessful efforts were made to join the two battles into a cohesive line. The Lancastrian cannons disordered the Yorkist left flank but the heavy infantry managed to effectively shield the bows as the line advanced to contact.

Yorkist command and control faltered in the second half of the battle (I kept rolling 1's for PIPs) while the Lancastrians seized the initiative. Despite the best efforts of the Yorkist artillery on their right flank, the Lancastrians used this later advantage in mobility to push home an assault on the Yorkist right, which was disordered with heavy losses (at this stage it was Yorkist losses 3 / Lancastrian 0).

In a final effort to regain the initiative Edward pushed home an assault with the relatively fresh battle on his left flank, while holding ground on his decimated right. Close combats with his heavy infantry and effective shooting by the Yorkist bowmen along the line saw Edward turn the tide of the battle for about 30 minutes (2 turns), destroying Lancastrian heavy infantry and bows (Yorkist losses 3 / Lancastrian 3). Alas, a final push by the Lancastrians on Edward's right flank saw the battle lost and his force retreated in disorder (Final losses Lancastrian 3 / Yorkist 4).

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

2011: DBA matches so far ...

Here are the other DBA campaigns/battles so far:

1. Thutmosis III’s campaign for the Levant: a DBA piston campaign

6 battles were fought between Thutmosis III’s New Kingdom Egyptians (I/22 a) and the rebellious Syro-Canaanite (I/20 b) tribes centring on the arable lands around Gaza and Jeppa (maps 5 and 6). The Pharaoh's efforts to subdue the Levant and expand his empire resulted in a series of fierce encounters with significant losses on both sides (particularly amongst chariots and Egyptian heavy infantry). Two of the rebellious Syro-Canaanite generals we killed during these encounters (3 generals killed = victory) but the final rebel general fought the Egyptians to a stand-still. Both sides decided to withdraw and lick their wounds after 3 victories each.

2. Somewhere on the Eurasian Steppe c. 300 CE

The steppes thundered with the hooves of two mighty barbarian cavalry armies – the Sarmatians (II/26) and the Alans (II/58). As the Alan General I took 8 units of knights (8 x 3Kn) and 4 light horse (4 x 2LH). The two armies formed up in two opposing battle lines and pushed into contact. The first clash of the saw the Sarmatian line disordered with the Alan light horse taking a toll on the impetuous knights. The Sarmatians never recovered the cohesion they required to better my Alans and were defeated with 4:1 losses.

3. Khan Kubrat and the Bulgars c. 584 CE - empire postponed!

Khan Kubrat, Early Bulgars (III/14 b - technically not a historical match-up) engaged a force of Later Sarmatians (II/26) knights in hilly country on the edge of the steppe. However, when the forces clashed the Sarmatian knights presented a cohesive battle line and defeated the Bulgars who became seriously disordered on their right flank ultimately with the loss of their Khan. Losses: Sarmatians 2 / Early Bulgars 3 (inc. gen). The Bulgars would have to look to another mighty Khan to unify their kingdom.

4. Battle of Edgecote Moor, 26 July 1469

My Yorkists, led by king Edward IV, were narrowly defeated by Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick. Both sides struggled to deploy their forces in a battlefield confined by steep hills and woods. The Yorkist left flank (largely archers and skirmishers) sought to advance to woods on the right flank of the Lancastrian line. However, the Flemish mercenaries (pike and auxiliaries) and Neville's heavy infantry pushed back my right flank (knights and heavy infantry) inflicting heavy losses. Losses: Lancastrian 2, Yorkist 4

Middle Imperial Romans (West) vs. Later Sarmatians

A recent encounter saw me field the Middle Imperial Romans (II/64) – the first ever DBA army I put together (and they look like it!) – against the Sarmatian knights. We deployed with a road running down the centre of the board at right angles to our lines. The road bisected some woods in the centre of the battlefield. I had a steep hill on my right flank and the Sarmatians had a similar hill on their left flank.

As I advanced the Roman line (cavalry and auxiliaries on the right flank and legionaries, ballista, and light horse on the left) towards the centre of the board the Sarmatians split their force (their total force was 9 bases of knights, 1 of light horse, and 2 of skirmishers) and charged around both sides of the woods. On my right flank my auxileries took to the relative safety of the woods and my cavalry threatened the Sarmatian's weaker left flank, causing it to withdraw out of contact range.

However, two lines of knights thundered around the wood on my left causing me to hastily form a battle line with my heavy infantry (pictured). This manoeuvring took all the movement pips I had for a few turns, starving my right flank of the ability to pursue its advantage. On my left, the Sarmatians contacted the light horse on my extreme left flank driving it off and subsequently disordered my legionaries. Sarmatian skirmishers harried my ballista rendering them ineffective. From there is was a turkey shoot - with the knights decimating my disordered heavy infantry. Rome succumbed to the barbarian invaders!

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

The Teutonic Order (DBA IV/30)

At last after months of sitting half painted, the Teutonic Order can take the field.

This army reflects the Order during the Baltic Crusades during the 13th and 14th centuries CE.

Figures are a mix of Museum, Irregular and Khurasan Miniatures (the best of the lot).

While painting this army I played them several times against the Mongols (DBA IV/35) whom the Order encountered in Eastern Europe in the first half of the 13th century CE. My next project is to build up some armies of historical opponents in the Baltic – Prussians, Estonians, Lithuanians, and Russians (for a bit of Alexander Nevsky (1220–1263 CE) action!). The Teutonic Order were defeated by Nevsky at the Battle of Lake Peipus – a battle notable for having been largely fought on the frozen lake.

Much is made of the Order falling though the ice as they charged to engage the Novgorodian force ... some recent research on this battle can be found here.

The Hochmeister (the Grand Master of the Order) and his Brother Knights prepare to Christianise the pagan Baltic tribes.

Knights from the West would volunteer to serve with the Order for a year. Here Sir William de Keynes from Dodford in the English Midlands (red and yellow arms) advances with some fellow Crusaders. These temporary volunteers would fight under the Cross of St George when riding with the Teutonic Order.

The Brother Knights (3Kn) form a line behind crusaders from the West (3Cv), Lithuanian and Turcopole light horse (2LH), and skirmishers (2Ps).

Crossbowmen (4Cb) and the local peasant levy (7Hd) hold a crofter's cottage on the right wing.