Category Archives: Ancient

Holiday Gaming

The Christmas and New Year holiday season is almost over for me as I soon head back to work. From a wargaming perspective it has provided a great opportunity to play a good number of 15mm Ancient and Medieval games against by son using the DBA rules.

My son, visiting from out of town, decided to bring three DBA armies that he has repainted or completed this year. They were Classical Indian, Seleucid and Wars of the Roses English. The first two contain veteran miniatures with the Indians being a gift from me when he was eight years old, his first army. Given they have been in service for some 27 years, and still providing enjoyment, it seems to have been one of the better gifts. His Seleucids were collected a few years later when he was building his own armies. His Wars of the Roses army was a recent purchase.

As to the games we managed 18 DBA games, all of which were between historical or near historical opponents.

His Indians were deployed twice against my own Seleucids, one game being shown above. The Indians secured victory twice. Stepping back in time we would also see Alexander the Great facing the Indians in two battles, but with Alexander and Porus achieving one victory each.

My son’s Seleucids would likewise face two opponents across four games. First the Polybian Romans secured a hard fought victory, only to be driven out of Asia minor in the second. Now Antiochus turned his attention to the Celts defeating the Galatians in a battle that was not as one sided as one would expect. Finally, the Romans reappeared and despite having a cunning plan, as Romans always should, suffered another defeat. But being Roman another army can be formed I’m sure.

Above and below, the Romans face the Seleucids. My son’s Seleucids are a mix of old Tabletop Miniatures once manufactured under license in New Zealand and Essex. The Romans are all from my own collection and a mix of Essex with some variation provided by selected Museum Miniatures.

The major on-going conflict was however Medieval. Over several evenings, and one afternoon, we played no less than ten Wars of the Roses engagements. Experimenting with different troop options and tactics the Lancastrians and Yorkists fought across England in what can be only be described as a determined campaign to replace the rightful king with a Yorkist usurper. Below, one of the many battles.

With the armies having a similar composition, but infrequently the same, it was the terrain and cunning that could provide even a minor advantage. A short summary of the first six games can be found here.

Without doubt a wonderful way to spend the holiday evenings. There is, in my view, much to recommend DBA.

Ancients in Retrospect

Of course with the year coming to an end it’s time for reflections. Ancient and Medieval gaming is something of staple for me with games played mostly in our Tuesday gaming slot. I use the De Bellis Antiquitatis, more commonly known as DBA. Over the year all manner of games have been played utilising a range of armies,. Yes, I’m fortunate to live in New Zealand where COVID-19 is currently eradicated in the community, but for a couple of months earlier in the year games had to be played remotely.

That said these days I don’t generally post long reports of games, time being something of a premium. Instead they tend to be summarised by a few photos on Twitter. However, last Tuesday’s game involved a couple of armies which haven’t been out for a while. In particular a couple couple of games using chariots. As a result I felt it required a little more focus. If you are interested a short summary of last week’s games can be found here.

The rest of this year’s DBA games have utilised a range of armies. A good number have been Punic Wars engagements interspersed with various battles between Rome and the Seleucids. One of my favourites however was a series between Rome and the Gauls, played remotely, which covered the campaigns of Gracchus, Flaccus & Maximus in Cisalpine Gaul.

In addition there have been a good number of Medieval engagements. While most have involved European armies we have also looked to the east. These include regular encounters in the Sengoku Jidai Period and even some campaigning in Sumatra. Finally, in a far flung corner of the world, and certainly far from Europe, we have managed some Maori inter-iwi clashes including as Te Kawau Strikes North.

All up a most enjoyable year of Ancient and Medieval gaming, despite the year being defined by the pandemic. While I’m sure I will manage some additional DBA games before New Year’s Eve – assuming their isn’t another breach of our border quarantine systems. Either way I find myself contemplating further classical texts to be read, future games to be played and of course additional armies to be built. I think that’s a good measure of success.

An Ancient Interlude

It has been an embarrassingly long time since I have posted here. The last few months have been extremely busy and as a result I made a conscious decision to focus my limited gaming time on pushing miniatures around the table and painting miniatures. For those of you that follow me on Twitter then I’m sure you will have seen a selection of the games played in recent months.

One of the regular game systems played has been DBA. These fast play Ancient & Medieval rules provide a balance between playability and simulation. Equally, they provide a great opportunity for an enjoyable game on a weeknight when the complexity of life could otherwise severely restrict my gaming.

Aware that it has been so long since I have posted I have finally made an effort to document a small selection of these DBA games. In particular three games played over the last week. Firstly there is a short summary of two encounters between one of Alexander the Great’s Successor generals (Lysimichus) and the rulers of Kappadokia. You will find the report here. Then, more recently, the Romans have been campaigning against the Celtiberians, a selection of photos and a brief description of the encounter can be found here.

A small selection of the many games played over recent months and something of an interlude from a busy period which hopefully is of some interest to readers.

Empire: 280 BC to 271 BC

Our Ancients campaign continues with another turn complete, this time covering the period 280 BC to 271 BC. I’m pleased with the changes to the mechanics and the support a number of locals are providing. This turn for example we have had five people involved in the games with a bit of a lottery on which armies you end up commanding. Everyone seems to be enjoying the context of the games than any focus on world conquest.

All the playing states are suffering a mix of success and setback which is adding to overall interest. Pyrrhus, who is currently King of Macedonian, is under particular pressure. Despite this after two desperate battles he still controls his Macedonian throne, just. Meanwhile while Rome and Carthage are locked in combat Seleucus was last seen campaigning somewhere in Bactria.

If you are interested you can find a full summary here.

Punic Clashes

Having arrived home after my European sojourn it was good to breakout my miniatures for a couple of evenings of gaming this week. As it worked out it was a bit of a Punic Wars theme.

First up were a couple of DBA games against Jim early in the week, while I was still very much in another time zone. Jim’s Carthaginians are, like my own, from the excellent Corvus Belli range. Opting for a pachyderm heavy army these beasts required some focus by the Romans to neutralise them before they broke up the Roman lines. Due to some interesting Punic tactics in the second game the Roman tactics were not completely successful.

Above, Carthaginian light infantry, originally deployed in front of the elephants, nervously watch the elephants retire from the Roman infantry. The elephants soon surged forward again disrupting but not breaking the Roman lines.

Later in the week Colin made a long overdue appearance from the deep south and provided Andrew and I the opportunity for a couple of DBA games. Colin took command of my own Carthaginians in a two games where the battles formed part of our on-going Empire Campaign.

Colin also opted for the pachyderm heavy Later Carthaginians, but supported them with auxiliary infantry (4Ax) rather than my own preference for some more aggressive Gauls. My own PIP dice, I commanded the Romans in the first game, were horrifically variable tending to the extremes causing consternation, joy and embarrassment in equal measure. By good control Colin slowly but surely defeated the Roman upstarts.

A new Consul was sought (Andrew) and in due course another Roman army was dispatched to lower Italy in an attempt to defeat the Punic invader. The Carthaginians selected a field of battle near a large city though their deployment was somewhat constrained by nearby hills.

Now Punic command and control became hesitant and for some time the Carthaginian army refused to advance allowing the Romans to fully deploy. Good use of Roman light infantry slowly countered, if not destroyed the Punic elephants, while Roman and Italian heavy infantry slowly gained an advantage.

A great series of games over the week and an enjoyable start to normality following my travels. I will of course provide some additional context to the games here that formed part of our Empire Campaign when some other games are resolved, stay tuned…