Last weekend I attended the first round of the Christchurch DBA Open. The competition is split into two, one day rounds – the first being armies of the Ancient/Classical period. The concluding round will be later this year. Anyhow after a long time away from any sort of wargaming (small children, work, & life in general) I was a bit rusty but looking forward to 5 games of the rapid fire DBA 3.0 ruleset.
Having only a single army appropriate to the period I took along my always entertaining Gauls. My Gauls are modeled as the early, aggressive flavour circa Telemon (225 BC) when they were busy invading pretty much everybody. So that meant I opted for a lot of foot, with a 4Wb General on foot, 6x 4Wb (Warriors), 2x 3Wb (Gaesatae), 1x 3Cv, 1x LCh, & 1x Ps. This did mean my army was horribly one-dimensional, with 9x Wb elements anything that caused them problems – which is actually quite a lot of things – would cause my army trouble. But that didn’t dampen my spirits as I had complete confidence that Toutatis and the legendary fighting skills of my war chief would see me prevail!!
Game 1 vs Early Imperial Roman (Nathan)
My first game of the morning was a perfect way to get started with one of the biggest grudge match of all times. It also suited my army perfectly – if there is one thing that Gauls truly excel at it is mowing down hapless legionnaires!
I ended up invading and with a fairly open plain we were both content to line up and get stuck in. My Cavalry on my right scored the first kill, riding down the Roman Psiloi.
Nathan responded by committing his reserve of Auxiliaries prior to the main battle-lines clashing. When the lines did meet the Gallic war chief broke through immediately, killing his opponent – this inspired the nearby Gauls to fight with such ferocity that the cut down the Roman general who had been fighting in the front ranks of the legionnaires. The Romans in turn pushed back along the line and were even able to kill the Gallic Javelinmen but with their center broken it was a decisive Gallic victory.
Game 2 vs Later Carthaginian (Jim)
My second game saw the Gauls defending against invading Carthaginians (clearly on their way to sack Italy). This was a pretty interesting match-up due to the mixed bag of the Carthaginians including a dreaded Elephant! I knew that my best shot at a win would be getting my Warband stuck into his African Spearmen so that is what I set out to do…
I actually deployed an extra piece of terrain in this game as I was under the mistaken impression I could place a BUA & Plough as my compulsory choice – although it is actually a BUA OR 2x Plough. Which did actually have a pretty big impact as on my first turn I rolled a 1 which turned the plough into Rough going. Anyhow I advanced rapidly on my left to claim the Difficult Hill with my Gaesati supported by Cavalry. Jim responded by pushing his own Gauls & Spaniards up to contest.
Meanwhile I advanced my battle line while Jim executed a mounted attack on my right. Things started well enough with Jim’s Psiloi killing mine in a straight fight. However despite his advantage in mounted two disastrous turns of ‘1’ pip results enabled me to turn the flank to my advantage. The combat bogged down allowing my Warband to enter the fray, flanking and killing one of the Cavalry elements & the Carthaginian Psiloi.
All that remained was a strong push up the center by the warband which crashed into the Libyan spearmen, overwhelming them both in a furious charge. Another Gallic victory! Although largely due to critical command and control failures on the part of the enemy rather than stellar generalship it must be said…
Game 3 vs Lydians with Asiatic Greek Allies (Brian)
Oh dear – Knights! This was the type of match-up that really exposed the weakness of my incredibly one-dimensional army selection. Warband are pretty terrible against mounted in general, and even worse against Knights which quick-kill them in good going. To make matters worse my Gauls decided that now was a good time to migrate to Galatia and had decided to invade the kingdom of Lydia – who wisely pitched their battle lines in a largely featureless plain.
With no real option other than a straight fight I set about trying to somehow work some favourable match-ups to secure 4 kills before I inevitably succumbed to the Knights which I had absolutely no answer to.
The target was as usual the enemy formed foot of which Brian did have quite a lot in the form of Hoplites. To try and tip things further in my favour I targeted the joint in Brian’s battleline where his allied contingent of 2x Cv & 1x 4Sp joined with his main body. I was hoping a poor pip result might limit his ability to respond to my attack. Unfortunately, despite setting up a favourable set of matchups, Brian was through deft maneuvering able to withdraw his vulnerable spear and bring his deadly knights to bear.
Compounding this my own general was too busy chopping his way through the Allied Hoplites to worry about ordering his troops around. All hope was finally extinguished when my Chariot was killed in a straight fight with the Lydian Cavalry, completely unhinging my right flank. The Knights punched through the Gallic lines, while the Light Horse sacked the camp, giving the Lydians a decisive victory.
Game 4 vs Later Carthaginians (Keith)
Look who’s back in Gaul – The Carthaginians are invading again! This time however they had left their Elephants at home – which was heartening. Although I knew I couldn’t rely on a second catastrophic command & control collapse so I had to come up with an actual plan. Which surprisingly I did… the idea was to anchor my battle-line to the difficult woods which the Gaesatae would occupy. While the other flank would be covered by Psiloi hiding in the Rough Hamlet. This freed up my mounted troops to be deployed as a reserve.
Wow I was proud of that plan – and up until my first turn I even executed it perfectly…
So after seeing Keith’s deployment which left his Psiloi on my right largely exposed I immediately made a giant mistake of changing the plan and trying to chase after them by snaking my mounted column up past my main battle-line. Unfortunately by this point my war-chief had such a headache from all these terribly clever maneuvers that he decided to take a bit of time off from actually issuing orders. This let Keith advance quickly to shut down the approach of my mounted and even pin both Gaesatae with his Psiloi before they had the chance to shake out of column.
Fortunately I was able to make good and reform my battle-line just in time. So – having completely failed to out maneuver his adversary my war chief did what had been working for him so well and simply went for an all out charge. Up until this point anything my war chief had touched had instantly died and he was feeling justifiably confident. However Toutatis deserted him and he catastrophically died on the very first round of combat!! Needless to say with his untimely demise and the prospect of a whole series of overlaps the Gallic horde quickly fell apart. With the general gone and Carthaginian Light Horse on my camp it was fairly easy for Keith to collect the last element needed for the victory. A dark day for the Gauls indeed!
Game 5 vs Seleucid (Gordon)
The final game of the day was up against a truly frightening army in the form of the Seleucids! Now if the Lydians had given me pause for concern, these guys were pretty much anathema to my poor defenseless Warband. The only formed foot I could quick kill were the Pike blocks that fight at +6!! While Gordon was packing not only 2x Elephants (who devour Warband +5 vs +2), but also a Scythed Chariot (quick kills Warband in GG at +3 vs my +2), and a Knight!! So it was pretty much clench buttocks and pray for a miracle…
Gordon sensibly shortened the battlefield with his terrain picks to limit my options to exploit his short battle-line. I occupied the ridge of a gentle hill in a desperate attempt to give my Warband a fighting chance against the Seleucid mounted. But as Gordon pointed out Elephants when confronted with a hill simply engage 4WD and indeed proceeded to push me back up and over the other side! I had a brief glimmer of hope when my war chief – in a stunning return to form – chopped straight through the front of one of the Seleucid pike blocks! His companions however were less fortunate as the other pike block pushed into the Gauls. The Scythed Chariot was ‘received’ by the Gallic Cavalry who promptly turned and fled. It then thundered into a hapless Gaesatae only to embarrassingly die at the hands of the naked Gauls.
However all along the line the Gauls were losing fights, with resulting overlaps seeing them fighting at miserable combat factors. The Seleucid general killed one, the Pike another, and the Knights cleaned up to secure a comfortable Seleucid victory.
Post Battle Thoughts
Well after a promising start things went pretty downhill for the Gauls! My games against the Romans & Carthaginians I always felt I had a good shot. But up against the Knights of the Lydians and well ALL of the Seleucids I was really struggling to come up with a solid plan – when the best plan is ‘attack the pike block head on’ you know things are grim hahah! That being said with one notable exception I have to give credit to my war chief for being a stone cold killer. I think his personal tally for the 5 games was 1x 4Bd, 2x 4Sp, 2x 4Pk. Every game bar one he murderated whatever he was pointed at, which was awesome.
Also I can in hindsight see where I made a lot of mistakes and a lot of room for improvement. My failure to pin Brian’s Knights led to his ability to redeploy them – I should have sacrificed something to allow my right flank attack to execute. Against Keith I played my right terribly with the Gaesatae and my mounted. Although if my general hadn’t karked it I actually had a pretty good shot at blowing right through Keith’s spear as I had 3 files of my guys in there fighting with rear support. While against Gordon I should have probably stretched my line wider and tried to work his flanks while holding position on the hill. I also need to exploit impetuous elements like elephants to draw them out of the battleline and really put pressure on his pip resources – that is the weakness of the Seleucids with their Scythed Chariot and 2x Elephants being terribly pip intensive.
Finally I have ordered the rules and need to actually learn them and understand all the tools at my disposal. I’m still convinced that Gauls are a very solid army – the threat they offer against formed foot is unparalleled – the challenge is that you are inevitably fighting a losing battle against the enemy mounted and I need to get better at slowing that down. I also need to exploit their capability in rough terrain – which is difficult with the army I took at Aggression 3.
For my next outing with the Gauls I think I might explore a more cavalry heavy force to represent the later Gallic wars – coupled with Ag 0 and the Arable terrain type I’m looking seriously at the option to put a Oppidum (Gallic fortified town) down as my compulsory pick. I think this could really compress the battlefield and serve as a way to both protect my camp (had it sacked twice) and enable my Warband to fight double ranked (which is critical IMO). Then deploy a significant mounted force of 4-5 Cv to seriously exploit the enemy on the other flank.
Anyhow I had a great time and a big thank you to all my opponents, I look forward to the Medieval round later in the year!