Saturday, 11 February 2017

Two games of Triumph! ancient rules

Andy and I have played two games of Triumph! late last year (his Parthians Vs my Selucids).   These two games were definitely learning games as we were coming to grips with the rules. We organised for some more games in mid-January to gain some more experience and we got two more games in.   Neither of us had read the rules since last time we played so there was still a small bit of rulebook flipping but some were for new situations that had not occurred in our last two games.

I am not going to describe the rules in details but they share similar mechanisms with DBA but 'similar'  is the word - Triumph! does play out differently.  I am not a big fan of DBA but I do like Triumph!  More troop types, 50% wider table and the rules (to me at least) seem to be smoother to play and less fiddly than DBA (at least V2 - I have not played V3).

Basing and board size
Triumph! requires a 96cmx64cm board to play on with 15mm figures with 40mm bases.  We had only a 90cmx60cm so for the first game the centre deployment zone was kept to the correct size (as this is important for deployment) with the flank zones being slightly shorter.  The second game had a coast that we virtually deployed and so shrunk the actual area we had to the right size.

The Indians are based for DBM. Triumph! has different basing depth for many of the Indian troops compared to DBM.  Depth is important as a common combat outcome is pushback one base depth. We simply went with the using the depth of the based troops.

Game 1 - Parthians Vs Classical Indians
Both sides have similar Invasion and maneuver ratings (used to determine terrain choices and attacker/defender) and the Parthians became the attacker.  Two areas of rough were put down at either table edge that did not have any bearing on the game.  I am the Indians so the commentary and pictures are more from their side.

Parthians: 4xCataphracts, 8xHorse Bow
Classical Indians: 2xElephant, 2xChariot, 2xBad Horse, 4xBow Levy, 1xHeavy Foot, 3xHorde, 1xSkirmisher (note this force is 6 points short of the 48 points as I misread my spreadsheet total of 42 as 48).

There are not many pictures for this first game and I used my phone (Nexus 6) as the camera I normally use (CanonEOS 450D) decided not to work that night (it was just a loose SIm cover I did not notice).

All the Parthian Cataphracts and half the Horse Archers have to deploy in the centre zone that restricts their setup somewhat.  Most of the Indian infantry is deployed in their centre zone.

Elephants are good against Cataphracts so I thought I would deploy them on the left and move them into the centre to attack the Parthian Cataphracts.  Not my finest tactic.

Board after Indian turn 1 from Indian side.
Horse Archers move so fast and the plan with the elephants went awry from turn 1!  Andy's right flank Horse Archers screamed down that flank and the next turn into the flank of one of the elephants.  It turns to face. My general element is behind the turned elephant so all it takes is for the Horse archer to score higher, the elephant is pushed back but cannot and it destroyed, and the general elephant is destroyed as well.   So one roll of the dice could destroy two elephants.

Horse archer attacks the flank of an elephant that has turned to face them.  General elephant is behind it.
Horse Archers score higher and both elephants are destroyed. Note that a lost general makes it harder to command (+1PIP per command) but is not an automatic loss of the game.

During the mid-game, the flanks engaged - the Parthian Horse Archers Vs  the Indian chariots and Bad Horse. The centre lines get very close, the some Horse Archers attacking the edge of the Indian infantry battleline.  Surprisingly there are no further casualties during this stage - lots of pushbacks though.

Mid game with  flanks  and the edges of the main battleline engaged. 
On the flanks, Two Horse Archers are lost. The Cataphracts charge in but lose one.  The Indians lose some infantry and cavalry and finally reach their point limit for the Parthians to win.  Different elements have different point values (from 2-4).  Games are 48 points of elements and once you lose 16 points worth you lose.

End game.  Note the Indian flanks are positioned to be crushed!
One more Parthian elements lost and they would have lost.  However, the Parthians were in a much better positions to continue to wipe out Indian units, so not sure how the Indians would have managed it!

Game 2 - Parthians Vs Classical Indians
Parthians again on the attack and a coast place on one edge.  This made the table the correct width as we assumed a 3MU (6cm) coast off the table edge, leaving 90cm playing width that was the actual table we were playing on.

I had only bought the minimum of my classical Indian force I thought I needed to play so what worried about how to address the point shortfall highlighted in the previous game.  Except I accidentally bought along 4 elephants when I only needed 2.  This was lucky as I could remove a Bow Levy and add in 2 extra Elephants to make a 48 point army.

Parthians: 4xCataphracts, 8xHorse Bow
Classical Indians: 4xElephant, 2xChariot, 2xBad Horse, 3xBow Levy, 1xHeavy Foot, 3xHorde, 1xSkirmisher.

Parthians perform a different deployment to previous games - the 8 Horse Archers in a line in front of the Cataphracts.  The aim is to quickly split the Horse Archers off to the flanks, and best protect the Cataphracts from the Elephants, and advance the Cataphracts if required.
The Indians put the Chariots and Cavalry on the flanks and intersperse the Elephants with the Foot archers.  This turned out to not be a great deployment as the archers move at half the speed of the Elephants., so the whole battleline was too slow.  I also put the infantry hordes as a reserve to the right of the centre but they move really slow too so my plan to move them out and help on the right flank was doomed to failure!

Deployment form the Indian side

All the Parthians.  Horse archers in the front, Cataphracts at the rear

Indian centre.  Out of shot are the chariots and cavalry on the flanks.
In the early part of the game, the Indian centre slowly advances.  The opposing Parthian Cataphracts play the waiting game - thery don't need to move and can wait and see how it goes on the flanks. The horse archers race to the flanks.  The Indian right flank is still closing.  On the Indian left flank, contact has already been made - this flank was to prove to be very interesting over the game with constant surprises.    One of the Elephants from the centre line veers off to bolster the left flank.

Early in the game - the flanks are in, or nearly in contact, the Indian centre plods forward.

Indian Left Flank

I cannot remember exactly how it happened, other than by good rolling but a horse archer was destroyed on the left flank. I think the Elephant managed to contact a Horse archer on the flank and it got pushed back into the Indian Chariot and hence destroyed.   It is now down the 3 horse archers Vs a Bad horse, chariot and elephant.  Fast movers Vs not so fast movers.

The Indian left flank - # Vs 3.

The Indian Bad cavalry is destroyed but the remaining Indian keep hanging on.  The Parthian horse Archers keep pushing them back where they can but never getting the kill.  An Indian infantry peels off from the centre to keep the left flank from going under.    I don't have a good picture of it, but two more Horse Archers are destroyed on this flank later on.  The only losses (the 3 Horse Archers) on the Parthian side were from this flank.  We had to refer to the rules a few times as we used all the different attack/move to flank/rear combinations you could think of  - we now know these a lot better than when we started!

The swirling chaos of the Indian left flank.
Indian Right Flank

On the Indian right flank, the Horse Archers line up ready to clash into the chariot and Bad Horse.  Will it descend into the same melee as per the Indian left flank where the Horse Archers were overcome by good dice rolls, or will it go as it is supposed to with 4 excellent bases Vs 2 OK ones?

The two sides on the Indian right flank line up for melee.
Things are going as they are supposed to - the Indian Bad Horse is quickly dispatched and the Indian Chariot is then surrounded and routed shortly after.

Bad horse gone, chariot surrounded and shortly to be gone as well.


Meanwhile the centre Indians crawl up the middle at 2 Movement Units (4cm) a move.

Indians centre gradually advancing on the Parthian Cataphracts
The Bow levy is not great against much and the Indians rolled a good command die so moved the Elephants by themselves into the Cataphracts.  Cataphracts are destroyed if outscored by elephants so it was worth a go.  But not much - a tie for one and pushed back with another Cataphract.

Elephants charge ahead of the line into the Cataphracts.  My general (on the right) is set up for defending fro horse archers on the right flank

Alas, it was not to be - a 1-6 roll next turn sees off an Indian elephant and it is game over with another win to the Parthians.  Another close game - if the Indians had managed to destroy one more Parthian element, they would have won instead.

An elephant is missing in the centre that was there in the last picture.  Gave over for a Parthian win.
The phone pictures did not turn out as badly as I thought but I do prefer the Canon camera!

On the rules, I underestimated the Horse archers in both games.  They are +2/+3 compared to DBA Light horse +2/+2 and so I kept thinking of them as "not so great" when I should have been thinking of them as "better than my cavalry!"  And the Indian bow are classed as Bow Levy that move at a snails pace and have no shooting range (only on contact).  For the Indians, they should not plan to go anywhere much.

We like the rules and the interactions. Both games we close games which is a good sign. There were a a few rules questions we had to look up as we had last played a few months prior.  We are hoping to get in another few games soon.


  1. 'Triumph' isn't on your list. Which of your six seections should I put it under?

    1. This is to be Game number 6 (which was my unknown game).