I had a busy week of gaming last week as I was back in Auckland on holiday.
On Sunday I was able to participate in a MEDBAG event at the Auckland Wargaming Club – a day of games with a Second Punic War theme. I chose the Spanish (Iberians) (DBA II/39a), so I was allied with Mark, using the Syracusans (II/9), and John McLennan using the Polybian Romans (II/33). Our opponents were Joel with the Numidians (II/40), Benny’s Carthaginians (II/32), and Mike Hodgson’s Gauls (II/11). The day consisted of three individual games, and then a game of Big Battle DBA after lunch. Benny brought along his very nice 25mm armies for us all to use. Sadly my camera battery was flat so I have no pictures, but Mark has lots here, and John has lots here.
Because we were playing on 36 inch mats and there were no chariots, all of the proportions were the same as DBA with 15mm figures, which I’m more used to, so it wasn’t as disorientating as my previous experience with 28mm figures.
My first game was against Joel’s Numidians. He chose to go down a death or glory route for the day by fielding a light horse general rather than a cavalry one, and all psiloi as foot when he had the choice of auxillia or psiloi. I was the attacker. Joel set his auxillia up in a wood, and his light horse up in two groups in the open. I decided to try a wall of supported auxillia with a flank group of mounted troops and psiloi to catch his psiloi if they tried to come out of the woods.
This they duely did but my flank group found itself overwhelmed by the swarming skirmishers. I was three elements down but by a process of natural selection my cavalry general was the last element left fighting on the flank. He went on a rampage and destroyed two psiloi. Joel then managed to ‘close the door’ on both the general’s flanks and attacked from the front. The whole game hinged on one combat die roll with both sides at a combat factor of 2 – and luckily I won (My memory is a bit hazy on the exact turn of events, but I think my auxillia killed a light horse at some stage – if not my general killed another psiloi, making him a real hero). Joel’s general looked set to destroy one of my auxillia in the last round, which would have made it four all, but at the last minute he decided to withdraw from that combat. It would have been interesting if he’d stayed as the game would have continued. I think I got sucked down the table a bit. If I’d held back, my army was mobile enough to move to face any threats and life would have been easier. Joel was a bit fatalistic about the Numidians – with a different choice of elements they could have been much tougher, but I don’t think you can read too much into that as setup and tactics would also have changed.
My second game was against Mike’s Gauls.
Things got off to a very bad start for me when in the first turn of combat Mike doubled an auxillia with it’s psiloi support (with a 6-1), as well as another auxillia which found itself unsupported and overlapped due to the earlier loss. My setup was wider than Mike’s because he had had to double rank his warband, so I was able to get around the flanks and recoil an element of Gallic cavalry into its friends, and close the door on a psiloi. I then managed to destroy a warband with its rear rank support, bringing the game to another close win for me. Mike had great combat dice to start off with but his luck deserted him, but our different deployments meant I was always going to get around his flank.
My final one-on-one game was against Benny’s Carthaginians.
My recollection of that game is particularly hazy but from memory there wasn’t a lot of fancy manoeuvering. Benny sent a couple of light horse to try to get around my left flank but I was able to tie them up with psiloi. I lost two auxillia which to ‘double’ combat results but I destroyed a pair of double ranked warband in turn. In the last combat round I destroyed Benny’s general with my general with my light horse closing the door. At least I wasn’t 3-0 down in that game.
In the afternoon we had the big battle DBA game. I was on the left flank, facing Benny’s Carthaginians again. I hadn’t learned my lesson about facing spear with auxillia as once again I lost two auxillia doubled, and I also lost a psiloi to Benny’s Spanish auxillia. Luckily for me the game ended at that point. Mark’s Syracusans were on my right, facing Mike’s Gauls. Since Benny’s elephants were right next to the Gauls it might have been an idea for Mark and I to have swapped places so that I was facing warband and elephants while Mark faced the rest of the Carthaginians. But it would have been somewhat unconventional having the medium infantry army in the centre and I should really have just lurked in the woods a bit more to work on Benny’s flanks.
The day was a real success I think, and the format was great fun. DBA is a fantastic game in the way you can get a whole themed campaign over and done with between morning tea and afternoon tea! It was a pleasure meeting all of the Auckland players. Some of them must have felt really cheated that I managed to come back from the brink of defeat so many times! I hadn’t played BBDBA before so that was a really interesting experience trying to coordinate with Mark. Also I really enjoyed the using the Spanish army, one I’ve not used before. I’ve got a couple of auxillia armies in the painting queue and this day showed me that they definitely have their good points – so long as I remember their weaknessess!