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The DBM South-West Doubles League

Game Reports 2022

Holigost 2022

For the first time Solent Wargames Club held a DBM competition (25mm singles) alongside their FoG one. The title, Holigost, commemorates a Tudor warship wrecked nearby. 11 players attended, two teaming up to even the numbers. As usual with 25mm games there was a high proportion of decisive results, even two of the 5-5 games being thrilling “mutual break” ones. I took my Classical Indians, for their second competitive outing since I painted them in 2019. With aggression zero I defended in all four games, and tried to place areas of jungle to secure my flanks – not always successfully.

The first game was against Later Sargonid Assyrians, led by Derek Bruce (of the Solent club) and John Calvert. On a largely open table I concentrated the elephants of two commands on my right flank and prepared to attack there while delaying elsewhere. A large force of cavalry faced my elephants and hastily redeployed away – eventually some of them had to stand and fight, and the baggage behind them was left undefended. On the left my smallest command was overwhelmed but only after destroying several elements from two commands. Then the elephants trampled through the camp and that broke the Assyrian army (which was even smaller than mine). A rare instance of an army being defeated while not losing any commands.

Elephants trampling the Assyrian baggage

David Sheppard had borrowed my Anglo-Danish army and was my next opponent. Wall-to wall spears and blades, plus a Welsh ally flank-marching on my left. I concentrated on that flank and two commands attacked King Harold’s command. The Welsh were unreliable; they turned up on my flank and calmly watched as I broke the opposing command, then joined in on my side. However, on the right two Anglo-Danish commands defeated my single command there and some casualties elsewhere broke my army. A quick and exciting 3-7 defeat.

On Sunday morning I faced Gavin Pearson’s beautifully painted Sassanids, bowstrings and all plus the Shah carried on his golden throne. With no terrain on the flanks, Gavin used excellent first-turn PIPs to move cavalry round both my flanks. I also had good PIPs and reacted as best I could, but my troops were much clumsier. On the left the Persian cavalry attacked and inflicted loss, but I was eventually able to get some elephants and bows to counter them – they failed in several attempts to trap my C-in-C and lost some elements in the process. This was a small Persian command, and destroying four elements broke it. On the right, however, the cavalry were able to attack Inferior Blades and Hordes, despite some losses from archery, and soon broke my command there. Then they destroyed enough from my centre command to break that too. 1-9 loss, right on time.

The Indians won on this flank…

ShahanShah Khusru’s magnificent palanquin

Finally I met Duncan Thompson’s good-looking Early Imperial Romans. Duncan had only two Roman commands plus a large German ally with just warband – these deployed on the baseline behind the Roman command which faced my two strongest commands on the left. There was lots of jungle on the right which made that flank pretty secure. The Roman artillery, a single bolt-shooter, tried to target elephants but my Cv(S) chariots intervened and survived all the shooting. My elephants, chariots and a few Bd(X) clubmen attacked the main Roman line and inflicted losses, breaking that command in a few turns. Meanwhile Duncan had been moving the warband to his left, away from the elephants, then lost control of them; they rushed towards my line, shouldering demoralised Romans out of the way, and enough were trampled to break the Roman army. The Romans attacked on the right; their Ax(S) general attacked an elephant but he too was trampled (6-1 on the dice). A quick 10-0 win.

The warband are out of control

It was an excellent weekend and I hope Holigost becomes a regular fixture.

ICENI 2022

12 teams in the doubles competition on the Norfolk Broads. Russ and I reverted to the Carthaginians we’d last used in 2005 – Hannibal in Spain, 219 BC, with seven elephants in three commands along with the usual spears, auxilia, psiloi, cavalry and light horse, plus a Spanish ally with more cavalry and light infantry. No warband. With aggression 4 we invaded in every game.

There were plenty of warband in the Ancient British army we faced on Saturday morning, led by Ken Warren and DBM’s rising star Dean Astillberry. Plenty of terrain,including a large wood in the centre filled with warband and steep hills on both flanks. There was evidently a flank march coming on our right, so we shaped to refuse that flank and attack with the other three commands. Unfortunately the flank march was declared in the first turn, so our command on that side was set on by two British commands and part of another, eventually succumbing after a hard fight. On the other flank our light infantry stormed a hill, slaying many British slingers, and helped our cavalry and auxilia to chew up a mass of warband. The elephants couldn’t get at suitable targets and neither could the enemy warband… the game timed out at 5-5 with a command broken on each side. The flank-marching enemy had started sacking our baggage but could well have been in trouble had the game continued.

Then the formidable Jeremy Morgan and John Calvert with Alexandrian Imperial: pikes, hoplites, elephants to counter ours, and a Mountain Indian ally. Another hard-fought game which went the distance in which we were unlucky to lose our C-in-C’s command, mainly against pikes and elephants; the Pk(S) Hypaspists repeatedly survived by virtue of their Superior status while our elephants suffered from their Inferior rating against the Macedonian El(O). However, we were then fortunate to be saved by the time limit from losing outright – in the last turn the Macedonians needed to kill three elements to break our army and managed to get only two, so we hung on for a 3-7 defeat.

Paul Apreda faced us on Sunday morning for a Carthaginian civil war – his version was earlier than ours, with Ordinary Knight chariots instead of elephants and a large Numidian allied command. The terrain was fairly open and the main action was in the centre, where the Numidians screened our line of elephants. We attacked there and were faced with numerous Numidian Ps(I) which killed one elephant but lost nine elements themselves. We also bagged a LH(O), leaving the Numidians close to breaking – the rest of that command fell back out of danger. Our elephants and spearmen then set about beating the Sp(I) reserves and killed some, but ran out of time for a narrow 6-4 win.

Finally we played Pete Connew and Richard Newland who had Later Hungarians. They relied mainly on lots of knights, some of them double-based, and had only three commands with no PIP-swapping generals. They had to set up first, and we placed elephants opposite the knights. The Hungarians didn’t get enough PIPs to get out of the way, and the elephants trampled all over the knights and a war-wagon. One double knight element rode down two Sp(O), but pursued into a double overlap and was destroyed. A very quick 10-0 win.

Our 24 points got us fourth place in a very tight competition – only 17 points between first and last place.

CLIMB BRITISH CAMP 2022

The 25mm competition at Colwall, Herefordshire was attended by eight players with some spectacular-looking armies. Mine was Estonian – newly-painted with mainly Gripping Beast “Baltic Warriors” in active poses, with Irregular Miniatures archers and skirmishers. Most of the army consisted of warband, mainly Fast but with some Superior in the C-in-C’s command. Intimidatingly numerous but very sensitive to matchups such as knights or especially elephants. Of course, many of the armies included elephants!

Estonian warriors eager for the fray

The first round saw us defending Estonia against an invasion by Gavin Pearson’s contemporary Burmese – I hope they enjoyed the weather. With nine Superior Elephants against them the Estonians had very little chance, especially when the terrain failed to be helpful. Two of my commands had nowhere to hide from the ubiquitous elephants and were trampled in short order. I destroyed only two elements in a quick 0-10 defeat.

The Burmese elephants are unkillable and unstoppable!

Next we defended Estonia against a more conventional (and nearly historical) opponent in Russ King’s Early Crusaders. Most of the Crusading knights were on foot as Superior Blades, some of them with supporting psiloi archers which made them very tough against warband. A strong wind blew, initially in my favour but quickly veering to be in my face, handicapping my archers. What should have been the main clash came in the centre where my Wb(S) eagerly clashed with Bd(S), only to fail miserably – my C-in-C’s command broke. However, on both flanks the Wb(F) swept all before them, breaking two commands for a 7-3 win. An extremely close game, with my army on the verge of breaking too.

A similar story on Sunday morning against Neil Hepworth with Alexandrian Imperial – more elephants, three of them. Once again my C-in-C’s command broke in the centre but the Wb(F) succeeded on the flanks, some of them actually sacking enemy baggage. Kn(F) Companions rode down some warband who burst impetuously out of a wood but the Companions were then set on and destroyed by lots more warband (my commands were very big, with break points of 11, 10.5 and 8.5). Again the game could have gone either way but it was eventually decided by a lucky shot which killed a Bw(S) Persian Guard element. 7-3 win.

The final game was against Middle Imperial Romans commanded by Duncan Thompson. Duncan placed lots of difficult going, woods and a marsh, all of which landed on his side of the table, and defended well back. The legionaries and Praetorians were all at the back, with a line of Auxilia forward on one flank and cavalry and light horse on the other. I attacked rapidly, the two Wb(F) commands soon going out of control as they encountered woods and marsh respectively, and the Wb(S) ground down the Auxilia, especially the Ax(O) all of which were killed. The Roman command on their left broke. On the right two Roman commands were hemmed in by terrain, with the result that light horse had to flee into a wood where they were set on by warband, and cavalry couldn’t avoid being shot down by my archers. Soon the right-flank Roman command reached its break point of 6, breaking the Roman army for a 10-0 win.

The Estonian warriors close with the Roman auxilia

24 points got me third place, which was a relief after the poor start! Gavin’s Burmese unsurprisingly trampled their way to a convincing competition win, and the games included a high number of decisive results – nine 10-0 wins and three other decisive wins in the 16 games.

Attack! 2022

Only 17 players making 10 teams at the Devizes competition, after 5 others had to drop out (two of them due to a breakdown en route from Norfolk). But it was a fine competition nonetheless.

Russ King and I took one of his armies, Later Achaemenid Persians. A vanilla army with no strike troops but four Regular commands – two large ones with cavalry, light horse and light infantry, one of Greek hoplites (Ordinary Spears) and a mini-command with just a general and four scythed chariots. We would normally want lots of rough and/or difficult terrain.

We started with a historical encounter against Alexandrian Macedonians commanded by John Mee and Steve Etheridge: the usual pike phalanx plus some hoplites, various light infantry and mounted including a lot of Fast Knight Companions. We defended and got some rough going where we wanted it, and our scythed chariots, deployed in front of our hoplites, were able to attack Inferior Spear hoplites. Russ threw excellent dice – two sixes and two fives – destroying six hoplite elements. The large gap in the enemy line had to be filled by thinning out the pikes so our hoplites were able to engage the phalanx successfully. Soon two Macedonian commands were demoralised for a 10-0 win.

The result of the successful scythed chariot charge

Then we faced an unusual army in the form of Pete Connew’s and Richard Newland’s Fijians. Enormous numbers of Fast Warband and some psiloi. We defended again and placed difficult going so that the warband attacking our auxilia would not have rear support, and put the scythed chariots centrally in front of the hoplites. The Fijian ally-general there was unreliable, so the chariots swerved to the left and destroyed some warband on that flank while our cavalry and auxilia attacked frontally. On the far right the smallest Fijian command attacked and was quickly broken, enabling us to attack the other large command next to it. The ally came on line, but the command fighting our left broke and a couple more elements made half the Fijian army. 10-0 to us.

Dave Sheppard’s Umayyad Arabs looked a difficult opponent, with more and better cavalry than ours though many fewer light horse and auxilia. He also had a Sogdian ally with archers and a few Fast Knight lancers. We placed rough hills which mostly landed on Dave’s side of the table, and he added some gentle hills. Dave deployed his Inferior Spears behind fortifications in a gap between two hills with his allied command on a gentle hill facing our left centre. Once again we started with a scythed chariot charge which was rather less successful; three of the chariots were destroyed by archery but the other destroyed two Bow elements and actually survived the battle.

Our hoplite command moved to attack the fortifications and some archers on a gentle hill; they had some success but found it hard going. The Sogdian allied lancers charged down the hill to attack hoplites and destroyed one elements, but were soon in trouble and succumbed. The allied command broke. Cavalry battles on both flanks were indecisive and the game timed out at 6-4.

The final game was against Dave Madigan and Chris Smith with French Ordonnance, including a large Landsknecht pike phalanx and English allies with Superior Bows and Blades. We invaded and placed steep hills, one of which anchored our right flank (garrisoned with Superior Auxilia); the French placed a large wood which landed in the middle of our deployment area. We deployed the hoplites three-deep between two steep hills, stuffed the wood with auxilia and psiloi and prepared to defend against troops who were tougher than anything we had. The scythed chariots were on our far left and achieved nothing other than making the enemy spend PIPs (of which they had plenty); the chariots vainly chased cavalry and three of them were shot down by archers – though the other did manage to contact and chase off a cavalry element. The main action was in the centre, where the landsknechts, although outflanked on both sides, crashed into our hoplites and made short work of them at the cost of only two pike elements. The Greek command broke and was almost exterminated. But time ran out before the French could fully exploit this success, and the game ended at 4-6.

This left us level on points with the Fijians, and we gained first place on the tie-break (sum of opponents’ scores). A satisfying win for a weak-looking army.

 

Westbury Wars 2022

For the 25mm singles competition held in my house we had a record turnout – 12 players, the most I could fit in. I fielded another army I’d never used before, Anglo-Danish. Each command consisted of huscarls (Blades), many fyrd spearmen (Ordinary Spears) and a few psiloi; some of the huscarls in King Harold’s command were Superior. Very solid, with big break points, but liable to be outflanked and picked apart so I tried to get woods on the flanks as protection.

The first game was against the opponent nearest in army date, Russ King’s Early Crusaders (Regular version). This was much smaller than my army but had very tough troops – more Bd(S) than I had. I defended and got woods where I wanted them; clearing my psiloi out would be a long job. Russ also had a wood to defend on his left flank and filled it with Bw(O) crossbowmen; I attacked there with huscarls and a few spearmen, killing several bow elements and eventually breaking a command. The game was on the point of timing out at 6-4 when Russ, who had been putting pressure on my left flank, destroyed a pair of spearmen to break my command. Finished 5-5.

King Harold advances against the Crusaders

Then I faced John Calvert as Charles the Bad of Navarre. Various knights, some of whom were allowed to dismount, backed by bows. One large command was a Free Company force including English longbowmen. John decided that an all-out charge by the knights gave the best chance of a decisive result one way or the other, and so it proved. The knights destroyed only a few spearmen and mostly died, including Charles himself. His command plus a few other casualties made half the Navarrese army. 10-0 win in a very quick game.

Charles the Bad is about to meet his doom

The scene in the cellar on Sunday morning.  John Calvert, David Sheppard, Paul Holmes, Pete Howland and Duncan Thompson

My next opponent was Dave Sheppard with Polybian Romans – again, tough but heavily outnumbered by my army. I held a wood on my left flank with 5 Ps(O) and a couple of huscarls; Dave attacked with 8 Ax(S). The combat dice went my way; for the loss of one psiloi I destroyed 3 Ax(S). In the centre more lucky dice destroyed two legionary elements and a Roman general plugged a gap. His flank supports were pushed back and then the double-overlapped general died. Dave conceded the game for a 10-0 win to me.

Jeremy Morgan versus Gavin Pearson

Finally I faced my usual last-round nemesis, Jeremy Morgan, who had Middle Imperial Romans. Four small commands including an Arab ally with light horse and camels. I set up with infantry aiming to block outflanking moves, and this worked. Again a wood on my left flank was crucial; Roman psiloi attacked into it and were repulsed with loss, then this flank remained quiet until the very end of the game. On the right there was an area of rough going which was attacked by Roman Ax(S), who killed some of my psiloi but then stalled as I had huscarls blocking their exits. Stalemate there. In the centre I attacked hard but with little success, while some of my deep Spear formations were flanked and took losses. Then a 6-1 in a 4-4 combat destroyed a huscarl on the left flank and exposed my general there to a flank attack; he died and his command broke. The game timed out at 6-4 to Jeremy.

My 29 points won the competition, one point ahead of Jeremy. As usual, a cracking weekend which was evidently enjoyed by all.

Russ King’s version

I took Early Crusader, an army I have used a couple of times in 28mm but this time with 2 Irr Ships in the hope of closing down a flank as I suspected I would have fewer mounted troops than most players and with irregular foot (other than the Reg Bd(S) who were to be up front and centre) didn’t fancy my chances of being able to block any wide flanking moves by Cv or LH.

Game 1 v. JGL’s Anglo-Danes. John has given a pretty full description of the game although he missed out the time when Bohemond had to charge into a gap, killing a huscarl but then found himself facing Harold and double-overlapped. God loves a Norman and he survived to be recoiled back and then rapidly reversed out of line. This was, I think, the only time a knight charged to contact as I was bearing in mind people’s comments about my habit of “Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war” only to crash to another 0-10. I did use them to threaten John’s left sub-general to keep out whilst I tried to chew up his Sp and thanks to John’s annoying habit (when we are partners) of throwing a 1 on the last combat I obtained a 5-5, something anyone in our group counts as a win.

Game 2 – Paul Apreda’s Venetian Condotta. Thanks to Paul spending some time discussing flowers and slug pellets with the sainted Angela when we should have been setting up I managed to have a quick look at his list. Fortunate as I wouldn’t have reckoned they could also have Swiss. The terrain provided me with a wooded hill to cover my right flank and some RGo on my left. Stupidly, I had put two commands in the wrong place so had to spend whatever Pips I got putting a Bd command where it was supposed to be facing the Swiss. Paul manoeuvred against the hill to get on the flank of the Bd opposing the Swiss but by the time he had done this it was almost time. What action had taken place brought me close to 25% but not enough so 5-5.

Game 3 v Derek Bruce (Polybians). As so often Derek starts by trying to charm me by saying he has no chance but I haven’t forgiven him yet for talking me out of a possible 6-4 in our last 28mm game. As well as legionaries and Ax(S) Derek had 8 Wb(O). These were controlled by the legate so I tried to provoke them by shooting but only recoiled one column. Derek’s plan seemed to be to send his right flank Cv command around my left and get into the baggage and my rear before I could do any damage in the centre. Having failed again to get a WW (as I did all weekend) I had deployed the 6 Bw(O) and 6 Sp(O) in columns to spread out to the table edge and was lucky to get the Pips to do this before the Cv could reach. This flank effectively shut down for the rest of the game as did the other where Bd faced Bd with a Kn sub in support. The two centres closed and Derek’s fears were proved correct as my Bd(S), supported by Ps(O) threw 5s and 6s and his Wb threw 1s. All over in 3 rounds of combat to give me the command. The rest of the game timed out as I attempted, and failed, to find something else to kill to get the army. 8-2 win.

Game 4 v Duncan’s Later Carthaginians. Having failed again for the WW and knowing I would be heavily out-mounted I again deployed Bw/Sp flank guards. RGo on both my flanks helped a bit but as it was clear a flank march was on its way I had to push forward in the centre where 2 El and 16 Wb awaited me. The Wb were held back by the C-in-C until I provoked them with shooting. Fortunately, for them and me, the Bw recoiled a column of Wb due to hit them so I have an overlap advantage. After 4 rounds of combat, including sending in Bohemond to plug a hole, I have killed 8 Wb to break the command despite the El having moved into contact to support them. Duncan’s die rolls are pretty poor in combat so the El die along with their Ps. The rest of his army is either Ax(S) in RGo or too far away for me to get to. The flank march arrives on table in the last turn – fortunately for me as I hadn’t managed to redeploy the Bw into a line to stop them getting through to the baggage. 7-3

All four games were fun and a 5th place is well above my normal 28mm solo positions. Now I have to ponder as to which of my usual bunch of 28mm losers I take to Gavin at the end of summer.

 

Venta Silurum 2022

The doubles competition organised by Paul Apreda was held at a new venue in April 2022, Vale Cricket Club in the Vale of Glamorgan; the facilities were good and cricket could be watched in the afternoons! In this competition all armies had to be dated no later than 400 BC.

Russ and I took Neo-Babylonians, after a trial game in which they thrashed a Hittite Empire army. Each of the three Babylonian commands had some Kn(O) chariots, Bw(X/O) double-based bowmen and Bw(I); some had a few cavalry, spearmen and/or psiloi. The fourth command consisted of an Arab ally with 12 Cm(O) camel-riders.

We started against Andy and John Brooker with Later Sargonid Assyrians, a nice historical opponent who also had an Arab ally with camels. The Assyrians generally had better troops than ours, and played skilfully (with excellent PIPs) to optimise the matchups. Their Sp(S) and Sp(O) beat our not-so-good spearmen, and the decisive blow came when our Kn(O) C-in-C fell in a frontal attack on the Foot Guards. His command broke, and after that it was a question of time… our Arabs were overmatched and broke too. All the Assyrian commands were damaged, but none was close to breaking. 0-10 defeat.

After that experience we faced Duncan Thompson’s Classical Indians. The Arabs were likely to be a liability so we sent them on a flank march; they never arrived. If they had, they would have been well positioned to mangle a large body of Hordes and take the enemy camp. As it was, we found the going hard on our refused right flank, slowly retreating before a force of Superior Elephants, and attacked on the left where the Indians looked weaker. Our archers outshot some of the Indian Bw(O) and even destroyed a Wwg(I) – this broke an Indian command. When time ran out we were still attacking but had to settle for 6-4.

The third game was against David Sheppard with more Later Sargonid Assyrians – with a Skythian ally this time. A strong wind blew up the table from our right, but we were able to wheel our main line to offset this. Again our front-line infantry were outclassed by the Assyrians, and our C-in-C had to charge in to plug a gap. He fought a LH(F) at 4-2 and died… his command broke. Meanwhile our Arabs, initially unreliable, had arrived from a flank march and destroyed many Hd(O) elements; the enemy Skythians hovered but didn’t dare attack the Arabs, who got as far as the enemy baggage and started looting it. However, though all the Assyrian commands were damaged while three of ours had lost only one element among them, at the call of time we were still a command down and lost 3-7.

Finally we faced Trojans (from the Later Mycenean list) commanded by David Glew, a welcome returner to DBM after many years’ absence. His army contained masses of Irr Sp(I) and lots of Cv(O) chariots. Each side refused its right flank; we deployed with the Arabs at the back. The Trojan spearmen advanced four deep to attack our much thinner line, but were broken up and delayed by our bowmen’s shooting. Meanwhile the chariots from two Trojan commands moved to their right flank, which was held mainly by a group of Bw(I). Our Arab allies also moved to this flank, using a great many PIPs, to reinforce the few Kn(O) chariots we had there. In the centre the Trojan spear masses contacted our line, with mixed success; they destroyed several of our chariots but failed to break through. In the mounted melee on our left the camels and heavy chariots made short work of the Trojan light chariots; when they killed two Trojan generals the Trojan army broke to give us a 10-0 win.

We’ve decided that the Babylonian army is too weak against many types of opponent; the Kn(O) chariots in particular are poor value and the foot are inadequate against heavy infantry. We won’t be using it again.

Alexander’s Successors, 12/13 February 2022

The twentieth in my series of themed competitions featured armies of the Wars of the Diadochi, 322-270 BC  with 19 players (two playing as a team).  Kevin Everard from the Cowards club narrowly won with Kappadokians from club-mate John Vaughan who led Antipatros’s Macedonians.  All the armies were different, including three varieties of Asiatic Early Successors representing the armies of Antigonos, Demetrios and Eumenes.

The fleet of Demetrios Poliorcetes

Heavy concentration in the hall at The Bennett Centre in Frome

Push of pike as Ptolemy Keraunos  takes on Lysimachos

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Russell King as Antigonos faces Ken Cooper as Ptolemy I

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John Vaughan and Kevin Everard with their trophies – original artwork by Terri Julians

As always, the event went well  and we’re looking forward to the Rise of Islam next year.

 

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