Saturday, 3 December 2011

Battle of Phocis

Steve and I got another night of DBA gaming in after a long work related break from wargaming at the club on Wednesday. Steve kindly brought along his 20mm Greeks so we could carry on with our Peloponnesian Wars campaign. Reading the Wikipedia account of the first Peloponnesian War I noticed one 'causus belli' was a war between for city-state of Phocis and Doris, the later being the home of the Dorians, who the Spartans claimed as ancestors. Flicking through the DBA army lists, I'd noticed two Phokian armies. both much lighter troops than the other 'spear' (ie. hoplite) based armies of the other Greek City States. I suggested it to Steve and he was happy to go for it. Steve had taken on the challenge of trying to beat my Athenian hoplites with his light Thracian peltasts in our last Peloponnesian outing, so it only seemed fare that I tried out the light infantry of the Phokian army list against the Dorians, and as Steve was playing the Spartans it seemed the right army for him to take. There are both early and late Phokian army lists, and strictly speaking I should have taken the early ones, but we have fudged this before, and taking on an army with 8 elements of psiloi seemed like a very big challenge! So I went for the later list, which only has two units of 'spear' heavy infantry, but has quite a few peltast 'auxilaries' as well as psiloi, and the option to take TWO elements of artillery, which Steve had two brilliant models in his collection. I forgot to get my camera into action at the start of the battle, but I remembered a couple of moves in. These are the results. I'd rolled up as 'defender' so, I set up terrain with a town (or BUA-in DBAspeak), with a road running through it which also passed through two woods-unfortunately all the trees in the club terrain box had already been raided-, one on either side of the town. I also added a large steep hill. Steve opted for a preference to attack from the side nearest the town. I set up behind the crest of the steep hill, with an element of hoplites garrisoning the town. Steve divided his Dorians into two forces, one to attack the town, the other to advance in a line to the right of the town. It rapidly became clear that Steve was not going to advance his troops up against mine on a steep hill, where I would have an advantage and would instead just reduce the town, so I decided to come off the hills and attack Steve's Dorians.

By time the first photo was taken I had light troops advanced to occupy woods on my right, and had wheeled my battleline to face Steve's line on this right. Steve had thrown out a force of cavalry and hoplites, to stop my light troops rushing out of the woods to ambush any of his besieging troops. He had attacked the town from two sides, and so far I had been successful in driving off all assaults and destroying one of Steve's hoplite elements in the process. My artillery had forced an element of psiloi to flee.

Steve's general element tried another assault on the town, but again the garrison drove them back and destroy a second element of hoplites attacking them from the other side of a town. The besiegers are finding the town a tough nut to crack. Steve's Dorians have already lost two elements.

This shot gives you a better ideal of the full battlefield, including the steep hill where I had first deployed.

Steve covers the gap in the Dorian line, but my artillery keeps forcing recoils.

I'm in no real hurry to match my peltasts, against his hoplites despite overlapping his line and I'm happy to shoot off my artillery.

Steve, though is keen to close with me and advances his line, with some hoplites that had been attacking the town filling the end of his line. He doesn't have the PIPs to take the recoiled peltasts with him. After a round of combat, one of my peltast elements recoils, but my general and his hoplite bodyguard and some slingers recoil their opponents.

With an element of hoplites attacking from their flank, my slingers are destroyed.

A lousy PIP roll does not give me a lot of options... I play it safe and swing my general's hoplite bodyguard to cover the exposed flank of the line...

....Fortunately in the shooting turn my artillery proves it's worth destroying an element of hoplites.

Nervous of an attack co-ordinated with my general's hoplites and my cavalry, Steve moves his exposed hoplites back into line.

I get a great PIP roll, which gives me the chance I need...

I rush my peltasts forward from either side of my artillery on the left of my line and pounce on Steve's peltasts which have been hanging back. A convincing 5-1 dice roll means that I have comfortably destroyed the element even without taking account the flank support!

...And that's it! Four Dorian elements destroyed for the loss of only one of my psiloi! No question of victory there. Two were smashed trying to assault my town walls, which vindicated my decision to put a garrisioned town on the battlefield.

I'd been fairly confident that I'd hold the town having seen a unit of Carthagininan spear manage to smash itself up in attacking a town garrisoned by Roman legionaries in the first game of DBA I referreed. Steve, however, pointed out to my although I got a +3 combat bonus for the garrison, a garrison is destroyed if merely pushed back, so 6-2, 6-1, or 5-1 dice roll would have done it (and a 6-3, 5-2 and 4-1 when attacking with his general). He also pointed out that destroying the garrison and capturing the town (BUA's counting as camps) would have been the equivalent of destroying three elements for victory purposes, so put him well on the course for victory, so maybe I'll be a bit less cocky next time!

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