Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Battle of Bibracte 58 BC Deployment decription and 2 replays

I started off replaying the Battle of Callinicum 533 AD with 11 rule sets on a 2'x2' board, switched to Zama for 3 rules (Zama was not great for a small table) and the most recent was the Battle of Heraclea 278BC with 14 rules (links to replays at this blog page).  I still have some more rules to try out and was looking for historical battle with not too many troop types and had Gauls/Celts/early Germans.

I was looking at Bibracte and did some research and set the figures up for 12 months to play the game.  I decided that Bibracte was not the battle I was looking for (Sentinum 295BC is the choice at the moment). So this post is a combined detailed scenario description and 2 replays (around the 20th) using my Ancient Battlelines Clash rules.

Internet Sources
There are the internet sources I found quite easily to help on replaying the battle.

Scaling the troops
Armed with the potential numbers of the different types of troops present at Bibracte, I could start to convert this into possible units for the replays.  While the Roman numbers are documented, the number of Gauls in Caesars’ account is in the hundreds of thousands.  I have gone with Sabin’s Lost Battles discussion that estimates around 50,000 for the Gauls.  The less the better.  Going by the actual numbers, and trying scale it down to manageable unit sizes, I used a first cut scale of about 700-1000 soldiers equals 1 figure.

6 Legions each 4000 -5,000 soldiers = figures or  6-8 figures each or  2 bases per legion (4 figures per base)
4000 allied Gallic cavalry = 6 figures or 2 bases (3 figures per base)
An unknown number of light infantry so will just assume a few thousand and 1 base.

Using Lost Battles as guide sees:
50,000-ish warband infantry = 50-70ish figures or  about 20 bases (3 figures per base)
4000-ish cavalry = 6 figures or 2 bases (3 figures per base)

Troop Definitions
General troop definitions to assist with converting to the various rules.

8 Legion bases: Heavy Infantry, close order, partial armour, pila, sword, shield
4 Fresh legion bases: Heavy Infantry, close order, partial armour, pila, sword, shield, poor at melee and/or poor morale.
2 Allied Gallic cavalry bases:  Heavy Cavalry, loose order, unarmoured, spear, shield, poorer at melee than the Helvetii cavalry
1 Light Infantry base: Light Infantry, loose order, unarmoured, javelin, shield

20 Warbands: Medium Infantry, loose order, unarmoured, javelin, shield
2 cavalry bases:  Heavy Cavalry, loose order, unarmoured, spear, shield

Warbands could be “light infantry” depending on how the rules classify the Gallic warriors.  I have left it as medium infantry to show they are not quite as heavy as the legionaries, but heavier than the roman light infantry allies.

The number of bases may vary depending on the rules.  The 20 bases would be 10 wide and 2 ranks deep and this would work fine with rules such as Armati, DBM and Impetus.  I may have to change the Helvetii base deployment to suit the rules I am testing.

I nearly gave up when I got to deployment  I realised (I think I was in denial up to this stage) that the battles starts with the Helvetii charging the Romans up hill, retreating to another hill, some allies coming to help and finally breaking.  How was I actually going to recreate all of that?  But then I noticed that all the replays and scenarios only recreate the first bit – the Helvetii attacking.   So I will go with that.  If I was running this as a one off scenario, I would introduce some rules about reforming routed warbands on a far hill etc., but as that would likely rely on the specific rules in use. I am going with only the first part of the battle.

By going with only the first part of the entire battle, I could go with either the the Lost Battles interpretation of the deployment with the Helvetii attacking across a river, or the more traditional (e.g. Dupuy) attacking from one hill to another with the river on the flank. The river does appear specifically in the account and does not feature as having any impact on the battle. I will go without the river between the starting positions of the Helvetii and the Romans.  I will also, as it saves a turn, go with the Helvetii already moving off their hill and ready to attack the Romans uphill.  If not, there is a good case if acting on behalf of the Helvetii player to just sit on their hill and await the Roman attack.

Lastly, the newly raised Gallic legions and Caesar's light troops may or may not have been involved in the actual battle.  I will put them as guarding the camp but "uncontrolled" to borrow an Armati term. Uncontrolled units cannot be ordered but can react if units get close (e.g. they are charged).  I will try wherever possible to utilise the rules within the rulesets I use to achieve this effect.

It boils down to a quite simple game of warbands Vs the legions, with a bit of cavalry on either flank.

Standard deployment - Gauls at the top, Romans at the bottom.

Replays with Ancient Battlelines Clash
I played two games with my rules.  In the first game, the warbands got cleaned up, but I released after the game that I had devalued the Gallic warbands too much after my last rules clean up in September 2014.  They went down a combat factor in September 2014 due to being classed a slow fortitude.  That was not the intent, but that's what occurred.  So I played another one fixing the Gallic warbands.  I also noted that a +1 factor for being uphill will make the uphill units invincible from similar troops downhill. I changed the rules so that uphill applied only if you are not high fortitude.

The ABC game troops
For ABC, the units translate as follows:

The Heavy Cavalry are all auxiliary cavalry
The Warbands: battle infantry, warbands, low fortitude (Game 2 I removed the low fortitude)
Veteran legions: battle infantry, some missile protection, high fortitude, line relief
New legions: battle infantry, some missile protection, low fortitude, line relief
Light infantry: auxiliary infantry.

New legions and light infantry are uncontrolled and will only react to enemy actions.

Note:  I have come round to the fact that Gauls/Celts would not really be loose order and so in the September 2014 revision I treat them as heavy infantry. I made Gauls low fortitude battle infantry, while Germans would be average fortitude but this had the unintended consequence of lower the combat value of the Gauls by 1.  So I played a second game with them no longer as brittle.  

Game 1



ABC Deployment
As per the previous diagram:

Gauls on the left, Romans on the right.
It may be an interesting game - the Romans will be uphill (+1 advantage) and they are also high fortitude Vs the Gauls low fortitude).  But there are two lines of Gauls....

The Game
Gauls move first and simply charge at the Romans.

The Gallic horde about to contact the thin red line.
The lines clash.  Warbands will be at -2 (low fortitude Vs high, Romans are up hill but Warbands get the +2 for the first contact). Three Gallic units rout, one retreats, the rest are disordered.  But most Romans are disordered as well.  Those that routed have there place filled by the rear unit.  But still not good for the Gauls.

End of the first clash, thinning out the Gauls/  Grey Javelins are disordered markers.
Disordered Romans Vs disordered Warbands are at +3 combat advantage.  In the Roman turn a few more Gallic units rout.

Gaps are appearing in the Gaul battleline.  Romans stand firm.
In the Gaul's turn lots more warband units disappear.  The combat factor difference is too great so the Romans will never rout.  Also the Romans are not pursuing any routed units down the hill (would only happen on a 5 or 6) and so become isolated and able to be attacked on the flat, and also as a single unit.  The one overlapping spare Gallic unit on a flank failed its order rolls and so cannot help on the flank.

Even more gaps.  The Gaul lose.

The Gauls have reached their breakpoint and run away.

A historical result but never in doubt due to the combat difference.  Attacking Romans up a hill was never going to end well.  For ABC, I would make the Romans average fortitude in future, just to even it up. It would make it a much closer contest.  It was also about now I realised that by making the Gauls low fortitude in September 2014 I had unintentionally reduced their combat value by 1 from previous versions of the rules.  Chagrined, I played the scenario again.

Game 2
I have also changed modifiers so that you get +1 for high fortitude OR being uphill (not +1 for both). So for this game the Romans are high fortitude and uphill and only get a +1 bonus for this, not +2.  The Warbands are average fortitude, and combat value 3, Romans are combat value 5; but the warbands will get a +2CV on first contact and a 6 will then deplete a Roman and force a retreat, with no effect to the Warband.  Still not great, but much better odds.  There are 9 Warband initial combats so they should manage at least one 6.

ABC Deployment
As per the previous diagram:

Same deployment
The Game
Gauls charge in again.

The clash.
In the last game, on contact, the Gauls rolled a lot of 1s and 2's.  This time, the first four rolls for combat had three 6s!  There were a few 1's further down the line to balance this out.

With some pursuits, and the fact the Gallic General rolled a 6 and inflicted a rout, two Romans units are routed.

Gaps in the Gallic and Roman line.  The Gauls rolled well.
But it is now the Roman's turn, and the Gauls do not get their charge bonus. Just about everyone is disordered so Romans are attacking with a CV of 4 and the Gauls are defending with a CV of 2.  Combat sees 5 Gallic units are routed, but one Roman unit routs.

Roman left is holding, and inflicting good casualties, but the Roman right has collapsed.
Gauls turn.  Not good for them.  Lots of 1's and three Gallic units routed.

The Roman left is doing really well. The Gauls in the centre failed their order roll.
Roman turn and another three Gallic units are routed. The Gallic breakpoint is reached and they lose.

End game.  
A much more fun game, and still feels historical (at least to me).  Glad I replayed it and the rules are better for it.  It was closer, but the better Romans won out as they could take the punishment more so than the Gauls. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Battle of Hydaspes 326BC using Ancient Battlelines Clash

This is game 22 in play testing my ancient rules by replaying historical battles.  The latest version of ‘Ancient Battlelines Clash’ is on its own blog page. I am play testing the rules by replaying all the Peter Sides scenarios from his Historical Battles books.  ABC is designed to finish in under an hour on a 2'x2' table.  

I have played this battle a few times before so this report is briefer than normal.
Battle of Hydaspes
The Battle of Hydaspes was fought when Alexander the Great reached the Indian subcontinent and brought to battle King Porus.  It was a long and close fight.
Here are some links of interest that I used to create the scenario:

Four replays by me using different fast play rules
Wikipedia article
DBA scenario
Vis Bellica scenario  

Scenario changes
Reduced by about two thirds the troops due to my smaller sized table.  However, I roughly halved the Spear or pike units as the scenario units are for DBx that assumes in this case that the units will be rear supported, not the case with my rules.
I have replayed this scenario before, with an early version of Ancient Battlelines Clash and 3 other fast play rules.  The only change I have done between the scenario troops I used and this one is I have reduced the Indians from 10 archers to 9, and 4 elephants to 3.  After the previous replays, I think that there were too many elephants and archers. 


Alexander’s Macedonian
5 Phalangites, battle infantry, phalanx
1 Hypaspists, battle infantry, phalanx, high fortitude, drilled
2 Hoplites, battle infantry, phalanx, some missile protection, low fortitude
2 Thracians, auxiliary infantry
6 Psiloi, skirmish infantry, short missile
1 Companions, auxiliary cavalry, high fortitude, disciplined
1 Heavy Cavalry, auxiliary cavalry
2 Light Cavalry, skirmish cavalry, long missile
1 General with Companions
Skilled command ability

Breakpoint: 15

3 Elephants,
9 Archers, battle infantry, long missile
2 Heavy chariots, battle chariots, impetuous
2 Medium cavalry, auxiliary cavalry, low fortitude
1 General on an elephant

Breakpoint: 16


Indians at the top, Macedonians at the bottom.
The Game
Alexander moves first.

Both lines advance; The Indian right cavalry about faces.

This is what happens on the Indian left flank, purely by one advance and then only reactions:
On the Indian first turn their left Chariot and Cavalry advances to the Macedonian skirmish cavalry that retreats.  The Indian Chariot and Cavalry pursue and the Macedonian Skirmish Cavalry retreats from the threat, and is routed (Disordering some Macedonian Heavy Cavalry in the process).  The Indian Cavalry continue to pursue into Macedonian Heavy Cavalry and Companions; Indian Cavalry routed.  The Companions pursue into the proximity zone of the Chariots that then charges the Companions; to no avail, the Companions rout the Chariots and pursue.

End of turn 1.  All the previous paragraph was due to reaction to units actions - no decisions by me.  Love this game (luckily as I wrote them as what I would like to play)!

The battlelines are closer - Alexander etc. on their right have already cleaned up the opposing Indian flank. 

Alexander looking very happy to have broken the Indian left flank.
The skirmish line meets the elephants.

Elephants engage.
As a result of the clash, one elephant is in melee with skirmishers, one elephant is routed and forces the archer unit behind to retreat.  The victorious phalanx advances but it is disordered due to firing.  The elephant with Porus remain in combat with the Hoplites.

Centre Elephant routs (red 'X') 
The Indian heavy chariot (Indian right flank) routs the peltasts for no damage to themselves (a string of 5's and 6's).

An Indian Archer engages a Hoplite in melee (archer is CV3, disordered hoplite is CV2l) but the hoplite survives.  In the middle, a pike phalanx unit fares not so well and is routed by the archers. The  Indian left flank elephant is routed.

Xs: Macedonian peltasts gone on the left; Pike Phalanx in the centre.  Indian elephant routed on the right.
Companions defeat an Indian archer on the flank but when pursuing run into a traffic jam with a friendly skirmisher (the skirmisher is then routed from its combat with an Indian archer).  Another pike phalanx is routed.

Indian cavalry moving round one flank, Macedonian heavy cavalry on the other.  X is a routed pike phalanx.
Another two turns sees the Companions still stuck in melee, another pike phalanx routed for the loss of one Indian archer.  The Heavy Chariots has about faced and charges the rear of a hoplite but a lucky roll sees the hoplite hanging on.  The flanking Macedonian Heavy Cavalry charges into combat with the Poor Indian Cavalry (coming from the other flank) and routs the Indians.  This puts the Indians over their breakpoint and they are lose.

Chariots on the left charge into the rear of a hoplite but luck is on its side and it survives.  The Xs are routed pike phalanxes.  The Heavy Cavalry at the top has just routed the Indian Heavy cavalry to win the game..

The victorious Macedonian heavy cavalry that caused the Indians to reach their breakpoint.
Still one of my favourite battles to replay. A close game; the Macedonians were on 10 break points and could have easily lost 3 more heavy units to take them over their limit and lose the game.

This is the last in the Alexander sequence - there are a few successor battles so I am not away from phalanxes yet!  Following that there are a lot of Roman battles (30-50 I think).

Monday, December 29, 2014

Battle of Gaugamela 331 BC using Ancient Battlelines Clash

This is game 21 in play testing my ancient rules by replaying historical battles.  The latest version of ‘Ancient Battlelines Clash’ is on its own blog page. I am play testing the rules by replaying all the Peter Sides scenarios from his Historical Battles books.  ABC is designed to finish in under an hour on a 2'x2' table.
Battle of Gaugamela
Darius prepares a level plain battlefield.  Alexander rises to the challenge.
Here are some links of interest that I used to create the scenario:
Wikipedia article
Ancient History Encyclopedia article
Giant DBA scenario
DBM scenario
Society of Ancients 2004 Battle Pack - Gaugamela

Scenario changes
Reduced by about half the troops due to my smaller sized table.  However, I roughly halved the Spear or pike units as the scenario units are for DBx that assumes in this case that the units will be rear supported, not the case with my rules.

Alexander’s Macedonian
Macedonian deployment
4 Phalangites, battle infantry, phalanx
1 Hypaspists, battle infantry, phalanx, some protection, high fortitude, drilled
2 Hoplites, battle infantry, phalanx, some protection, low fortitude
2 Thracians, aux infantry, high fortitude
3 Psiloi, skirmish infantry, short missile
1 Companions, aux cavalry, high fortitude, disciplined
1 Heavy Cavalry, aux cavalry
2 Light Cavalry, skirmish cavalry, short missile
1 Camp
1 General with Companions
Exceptional command ability

Breakpoint: 13

Late Achaemenid Persian
Persians.  Cavalry is mostly poor and on their right.

1 Heavy infantry, battle infantry,some protection
1 Archers, auxiliary infantry, long missile
2 Mardi, skirmish infantry, long missile
2 Elite Cavalry, aux cavalry, high fortitude
2 Heavy Cavalry, aux cavalry
5 Persian/others heavy cavalry, aux cavalry, low fortitude
3 Light Cavalry, skirmish cavalry, long missile
3 Scythed Chariots 
1 Elephant
1 General with high fortitude cavalry

Breakpoint: 13

Note that the Peter Sides scenario starts after the Macedonians have advanced. I have chosen to go back to initial deployment.  I enjoyed researching this battle but when it came to deployment, I found it really hard going.  How to convert the units into a 2'x2' board and what deployment to use did my head it.  I spent way too many hours thinking about it.

Persians on the left; Macedonians on the right.
The Game
The Macedonian plan is to advance on the right flank and use the Companions to punch a hole through the Persian line.  The Persian plan is to advance with both flanks and try an envelop the Macedonians. 

Alexander move first and right flank advances.  Persian right flank fails their order roll and so does not move (they are far from Darius and rolled a 1).  The centre elephant and scythed chariot advance, the scythed chariot comes into range and cause pikes to advance (the pikes units should not have advanced - I read the result table wrong - or rather, I did not read them at all! and I wrote the rules.  I was tired and sick),  The scythed chariot loses combat (not unexpected), the pikes pursue into elephant proximity zone but the elephant does not charge.  The right flank scythed chariot does little better - charges into a skirmisher, scythed chariot destroyed, skirmisher disordered, retreats and destroyed.

Scythed chariot charges the pikes, for no effect other than being destroyed.
The Persian left flank advances and contacts the Macedonian Light Cavalry.

Persian left flank (top) begin to advance on the Macedonians; initial contact is the Macedonian light cavalry on the right.
The Macedonian Light Cavalry retreats and the Persian cavalry pursues and charges the Peltasts.  The Peltasts halt the charge.  Alexander retaliates by charging two skirmishers screening some Persian Heavy Cavalry. One  Persian Heavy Cavalry is routed.

Alexander (centre) clears some screening skirmishers and charges into some Persian heavy cavarly.  One is subsequently routed.
To the left of Alexander, the Hypaspists and a Pike unit get close to two Persian Heavy Cavalry, one   charges in and is eliminated.  The Pike unit pursues into the other Persian Heavy Cavalry unit that routs in the next turn.

Hypaspists (centre) and a pike unit (left) beating some Persian heavy cavalry.  Alexander is to the right.
At about this time, the last Persian scythed chariot charges for no effect.

The Hypaspists wheel and move (they have the drilled attribute; normally heavy infantry can only wheel OR move)) towards the Macedonian right flank that really needs bolstering.  Alexander is locked in melee for another turn but routs opposition next turn.  The Persian cavalry on their far left also locked in melee for another two turns until both the Peltast and Light Cavalry routs. The Persian cavalry is free on the Persian left - the Macedonian right is wide open.:

The Macedonian right - a skirmisher. The remaining Persian cavalry owns this flank.
The Macedonian right flank is overloaded with Persians - it is almost like a rag-tag of Macedonian units are there for defense.

The Macedonian left - more Persians than Macedonians.
A Pike unit in the centre routs the elephant. The rest of the Persian right manages to get into contact.  Nothing much happens - a few disorders.

Persian left in contact but the melees carryover.  However, the Macedonians do lose units soon after.
Meanwhile the centre pike unit contacts the Persian infantry - routs the archers and then pursue into melee with the poor Persian infantry.

In melee with the first Persian infantry unit (it routs)
That are also routed.

Pikes pursue into the other Persian infantry.   Both disordered (represented by the javelin markers) but the Persian infantry routs next turn.

The Persian right manages to rout a lot of the opposition - Parmenion, a skirmish infantry and a Peltast.  Not much left on the Macedonian left.  However, a phalanx unit manages to rout a Persian Heavy Cavalry after a few turns and the Persian's have reached their breakpoint.

The Macedonian centre and left at end game.  There is still a lot of Persian cavalry around but the pikes are closing in. 

Like Issus, there was a lot of options for deployment.  This kept me from playing the game, although it was interesting to read the discussions on the whys and wherefores on the different deployments.  Other than that, the game still surprises me on how fast it goes!  Once there is some shooting or melee, events take care of themselves with just a few die rolls.