Game Reports 2019

Vexillum, 19/20 October 2019

This competition featured 21 players in 12 teams, all with armies dated later than 1071 AD. Our army was one of three Anglo-Norman ones: Henry II commanded, with the Earls of Hertford and Norfolk and the mercenary captain William of Cambrai as sub-generals. Each of the three main commands included 7 knight elements supported by varying numbers of spearmen and archers, plus some Welsh Auxilia in Henry’s command; William had 4 Regular knight elements plus 12 Brabanter Inferior Pikes.

First we faced Kevin Everard and John Vaughan with Medieval Germans: two main German commands, a small third command and a large Free Canton ally with lots of Exception Auxilia. Rough going on our right flank dictated that our C-in-C’s command would face the Free Cantons there; some of our knights started dismounted with horse-holders in case they wanted to remount. Kevin sent light horse around our left flank, supported by cavalry and a few knights. They broke up our advancing mounted knights, but when Russ decided to let the knights go the lads charged impetuously and slaughtered everything in sight – light horse (which had ridden down our psiloi), cavalry and even some Sp(I) with psiloi support.

Meanwhile the Free Canton troops advanced, mostly into the rough going but with some in the open where they faced knights. Some of our knights dismounted as Superior Blades and fought well, while our Welsh archers did also well, shooting four Ax(X) dead before succumbing in close combat. William’s pikemen advanced against minimal opposition, but the general himself rode down some Ax(X) and pursued to where he could be overlapped with his recoil blocked. He fell, and his command’s next PIP die was 1 so it broke. However, Henry charged and destroyed the last element needed to break the Free Canton command. Then Norfolk on the far left slew more light horse to break a second command and the German army. 9-1 win.

Next up were Derek and Stuart Bruce with Ottomans – old list, so a large Serbian allied command as well as the usual Janissaries, cavalry and light horse. We placed steep hills which all landed on the left, pretty much closing off that flank. With superb early PIPs, the Ottomans shaped to concentrate three commands against Norfolk on our right while sending a few light horse around the flank to threaten our baggage and screening our other commands with more light horse. The Janissaries faced Norfolk’s mounted knights, some of whom hastily dismounted and cut down several Janissary elements. This struggle raged while the Serbian knights charged Norfolk’s infantry, carrying all before them (even when double-overlapped) and breaking Norfolk’s command with assistance from Ottoman cavalry. They then set about picking William’s pikemen apart, finally breaking that command too. But the pikes had managed to kill more Janissaries and a demoralised knight backed a cavalry element into another – this broke an Ottoman command.

At this stage our two smallest commands had broken but the other two were unscathed and the threat to our baggage had disappeared as the outflanking light horse retreated from covering knights. As the time-limit approached it looked as though our army might survive, but the Serbs and Ottoman cavalry managed to ride down large numbers of spearmen and our army collapsed for a 1-9 defeat. Another excellent game with heavy losses on both sides.

Sunday was something of a disaster. Later Muslim Indians led by Dave Madigan and Chris Smith promised to be tough opponents, and throughout the game we had rotten luck. We set up defensively on the right of the board, flanks anchored on two small steep hills, and sent Norfolk on a flank march on the left. The Indians aimed most of their elephants at the centre, demonstrating with cavalry on the right, while Henry led knights around the right-hand steep hill. Then Norfolk arrived, but with only one PIP he could bring on just his knights who faced assorted second-rate infantry. The Indians’ superb PIPs enabled them to bring two elephants across – Norfolk’s lack of infantry left knights exposed to these. But most of the knights charged the infantry in a coherent line, only to die horribly (three ones and a two in four combat dice). A few turns later Norfolk’s infantry arrived and, shooting ineffectively, were slaughtered by the elephants. Norfolk himself, gallantly charging repeatedly into archers, was eventually unhorsed and held for ransom.

Meanwhile the main force of elephants attacked William’s pikemen and Hertford’s blades, initially without much effect. A couple of pike elements and one elephant died. Henry’s archers advanced; they and his knights bagged some cavalry but failed with other opportunities, then several archer elements went down to Cv(S). Then another terrible combat round broke William’s command as pikemen fell before the elephants, and that made half our army gone. 0-10 defeat.

Then a civil war against Duncan Thompson’s Anglo-Normans. Duncan defended, forming up with all his knights dismounted and sending one command on a flank march (on our right, we eventually learned). We attacked vigorously and got Bd(S) and Pk(I) against Sp(I) – to no avail. Our own Sp(I) proved much more fragile than Duncan’s, and so did the Pk(I), who destroyed a couple of spear elements but then went down to defeat. We managed to cut down quite a few enemy, leaving Duncan’s left-flank command one element from breaking, but couldn’t finish them off. The flank march never arrived, and wouldn’t have had much effect as there was nothing for it to attack. The game timed out at 4-6.

A poor overall score for the weekend, but I think our army’s strengths were undermined by rotten dice. Russ blamed my dice, and I couldn’t really disagree.


Iceni, 7/8 September 2019

For the Norfolk doubles competition Russ and I had to play separately to even the numbers; 21 players made 12 teams. I fielded Lucullus’s Marian Roman army, relying on 27 Superior Blades legionaries with a pair of bolt-shooters, supported by numerous auxilia and psiloi plus some cavalry and light horse. Only three commands, and a fairly small army.

First opponents were John Vaughan and Dean Astillberry with Syracusans; lots of hoplites of varying quality, and a Kyrenian ally with more hoplites. There was a waterway on the right, and no other significant terrain. On the right my legionaries advanced rapidly and attacked Sp(O) hoplites, soon making a gap which was filled by a Sp(O) sub-general with no supporting rank. On the left the Syracusan and Kyrenian cavalry launched a strong attack, destroying some of my cavalry and light horse – I looked to be in trouble there. Then the Syracusan C-in-C and the Kyrenian general attacked a line of legionaries, who fought back magnificently. A cavalry element next to the C-in-C was destroyed and the general was flanked and killed. At the same time the hoplite general on the other flank, double overlapped and unsupported, also went down. The Syracusans’ next PIP dice were 4 for the spear command (6 needed to survive) and 1 for the C-in-C’s command (2 needed to survive). Both commands broke to give the Romans a 10-0 win. In this game legionaries did all the killing and none of them died.

Then Lucullus invaded Burma against Dave Madigan and Chris Smith. The Burmese had nine Superior Elephants supported by some Fast Blades, archers and light infantry, and a Chinese allied contingent which faced my right flank. The main force of elephants attacked my centre, destroying several legionary elements but losing a couple of elephants and some infantry – a very tough fight there. The Chinese on the right used Superior Cavalry which fought indecisively against my cavalry and legionaries; my C-in-C was killed but his command survived. On the left I had a line of psiloi facing more elephants; Dave brought up a force of Bw(O) archers to shoot at the psiloi and I distracted them by threatening with cavalry. The archers moved to shoot at the cavalry, which survived the arrows, charged and in three combat rounds destroyed all the archers. This broke a Burmese command. Then my left-flank command  also collapsed against the elephants. Bitter fighting continued across the table but the game timed out at 5-5.

On Sunday morning Lucullus defended against an invasion from Achaemenid Persia, led by Cyrus the Great in the persons of Kevin Everard and Robin Honey-Frazer. The terrain mostly landed on the Persians’ side of the table – rough hills and flat rough going in the centre, giving them an excellent defensive position. A large Median allied command, numerous Sp(I) and Cv(O), held their right centre with Sparabara foot and light horse facing my refused right. The hills were thinly manned and the Persians aimed to envelop my left flank with a mass of cavalry; I countered this by rushing my own cavalry to that flank, and caught some Persian cavalry which had advanced too rashly. At the same time legionaries beat off the Mede cavalry, destroying several elements. The surviving enemy cavalry fell back and the legions advanced to engage the Mede spearmen. In the centre I sent a few legionary elements to storm a large rough hill; they despatched some Hordes and several auxilia elements before being overwhelmed by Persian reinforcements sent in great numbers and with prodigious PIP expenditure. The Mede Sp(I) proved no match for the Bd(S) legionaries and that command’s break point of 10.5 was soon reached. The Persians were now in full retreat and the game ended in a 6-4 win for the Romans.

The final game was against Jeremy Morgan and John Calvert with Pre-Feudal Scots – Macbeth’s army, featuring broomstick-mounted witches in the camp. The army featured large numbers of Ax(X) spearmen, the formidable Wb(S) Thegns, cavalry and a few Norman knights, plus a Dublin Viking ally. I placed a road and steep hills, which cluttered the right-hand side of the table while leaving the left open, and Jeremy added some patches of rough going. I refused the left, with my C-in-C’s command in the centre angled back to the base line, and concentrated most of the legionaries on the right with cavalry guarding their flank. This left the Scots warband, on the far left, and the Vikings with a long way to go to get at any enemy. Unfortunately the Scots got excellent PIPs where they needed them and were able to move their mounted reserves, including the Normans, very rapidly to the right. The same command was able to send massed Ax(X) against my weakest point, an area of rough going in the centre manned by Ax(S) and Ps(S). There the Scots took losses, mainly psiloi, but overwhelmed the defenders by weight of numbers. On the right the Scots cavalry and Normans defeated my cavalry while the legionaries managed to get to grips with more Ax(X) spearmen and started cutting them down. There was a nasty moment for Macbeth when a cavalry element directly in front of him was attacked by legionaries, but he managed to escape. His command was in trouble but saved by the Normans, who broke the right-flank Roman command. Then the warband and Vikings finally attacked Lucullus’s legionaries, taking losses but getting a breakthrough. Eventually a couple of Roman psiloi were trapped and eliminated and that just made half their army. 0-10 defeat. Jeremy remarked afterwards “We were completely out-deployed but lucked out”.

Three players/teams ended on 21 points, well behind the first and second places, and the tie-break (sum of opponents’ scores) awarded the third-place trophy to me.


Climb British Camp, 24/25 August 2019

Gavin Pearson’s version

We had an odd number of players, so I teamed up with Neil and we decided to use my Picts (they had been my planned choice – but I let Neil decide).  As always, the army had 3 Pictish commands: the Reds led by the CinC had a few LH, Attacoti as Ax(S), spearmen Ax(X), archers Ps(O) and a break point 8.5; the Whites had a few LH, a mob of spearmen, some archers and a break point of 9.5; the Blacks were a small command of LH and archers (plus 2 Ax(X)) with a break point of 3.5; and a Saxon ally (20 warband, some S and rest O) providing punch.  As Neil & I played as a team – my recollection of what happened is hazier than normal (aka I was paying less attention to Neil’s part of the battle)

First game: invading v. Burmese

David was unlucky as all the terrain he placed landed on our side of the table and we added nothing – so in effect we played on a nice flat plain.  We deployed with the CinC on the right, Saxons in the middle (in their traditional 4 deep formation), the White command on the left, with the Black command in reserve behind the Saxons and the CinC (aiming to go right).

The Burmese left and right flanks had many elephants, with the guard (Reg Bd(F)) on the Burmese right – while the centre was primarily Auxilia.

Our best chance was a strong attack on the enemy left and centre (as Ax(X) v. a longer line of Bd(F) is not ideal) – and our initial PiPs were perfect for that – as the CinC and Black command each had 11 PiPs from bound 1 & 2.  A tough fight soon ensued on our right which resulted in the (effectively) mutual defeat of the two CinC’s.  The Saxons had some success against the Burmese Auxilia; but the victory was eventually secured on the left wing primarily by the LH but supported by Pictish spears (Ax(X)).  Result 8:2 win.

Second game: invading v. Classical Indian

A wood/jungle on the extreme left of the Indian centre made it likely the battlefield would be narrow (and offset to towards our left)…so we planned accordingly.  The CinC went down opposite the jungle – as his Attacoti (Ax(S)) could attack it.  The Saxons were in the centre and the White command held the left.  The Blacks flank marched on our left.

The Indians deployed as expected with a lot of Cv(S) chariots by the jungle (which was garrisoned by a few Psiloi and Hordes), then too many for comfort Elephants supported by Bow and Blades.

The CinC started with excellent PiPs so we closed rapidly reducing the space the Indians had to come forward.  The rapid advance meant – one the positive side that the Attacoti were able to get into the jungle on our 2nd turn – but on the negative side the Saxons were soon fighting far too many Superior Elephants and we lost 6 elements in rapid succession (leaving the Saxons 1 element from breaking).

Meanwhile the White Ax(X) advanced into bow fire without loss – and they luckily dispatched the Indian CinC which resulted in his command breaking.  Soon after our Saxons broke.

The Attacoti were making progress in clearing the wood but not quickly enough – and the Indian right wing elephants were inflicting worrying losses on our left wing – when the flank march finally arrived – this resulted in the Indian right wing elephants scattering and allowed a bunch of Pictish archers (Ps(O)) to mob the Indian sub-general.  His loss broke the Indian army.  Result 9:1 win.

The end of the game as the Indian army breaks into rout.  Picture courtesy of Gavin Pearson.

Third game:  Invaded by French Ordonnance.

The French invaded along a road through hilly country which left our left rather cluttered and constricted by steep hills.  A smattering of rough ground in the centre played little part.

The terrain suggested the main French attack would be on our right wing – and that the CinC’s Attacoti might be useful on the left (where the steep hills were).  So we deployed the CinC on left, White on right, Saxons in the middle and Black in reserve.    As expected the French main attack with a mass of Pikes (Inferior) and a few Gendarmes and Archers (Cv(O)) was on their left – supported by a tiny bunch of Swiss – whilst they sought to hold their right with a mixed bag of poorer troops.

We failed to make much headway with the CinC against the French right – as they garrisoned the hills and sensibly hung back.  The main action was on our right and centre.  The Saxons inflicted some losses but took significant losses (particularly from the Gendarmes) and they eventually broke.

The White commands spearmen (4 deep Ax(X)) fought many many combats against the French Pike and the result was that we slowly gave ground: we were very lucky.  An attack by the French Archers, Cv(O), on the Pictish LH(O) came to nothing.  And we came away with a 4:6 loss.

Fourth game:  Invading v. Aztecs

There was a line of steep hills on the Aztec half of the table – which was heaviest on our left and lightest on our right.  So we decided to attack on the right, led by the CinC as the Attacoti might be needed if the Aztecs stayed on their hills.  The Saxons were on our right centre – which left the White command with a large frontage to cover.

The battle roughly divided into two Aztec commands attacking against the White & Black command, whilst our CinC and Saxons attacked their left command.  The first big clash was Pictish spear (Ax(X)) versus Aztec clan warriors (Ax(I)) which the Pictish spear won quickly breaking the Aztec centre.

The Saxons and CinC struggled against the Aztec right wing before finally breaking it.  However, just before the Aztec right finally broke a fight between a line of 4 Aztec Bd(F) and 8 Attacoti Ax(S) resulted in loss of 6 Attacoti as we rolled 1:6, 1:5 and 1:6 – which took the CinC’s command from 100% healthy to almost broken in 3 combats!   Result 10:0 win

Conclusion:  Four excellent games – all of which felt closer than the result indicates – and which resulted in us winning the competition.    Overall, I feel DBM gives a really good game in 25mm and I am looking forward to the next 25mm competition (unfortunately likely to be 2020).


John Graham-Leigh’s version

Nine players (two of them playing as a team) were at the annual 25mm competition at Colwall in the Malvern Hills. I took a newly-painted Classical Indian army: two commands each with Superior Elephants, Ordinary Bows, Inferior Blades and Hordes, and a third with Superior Cavalry chariots, Inferior Cavalry, a couple more elephants, Psiloi and Hordes. A reasonable size at 54 elements, relying almost entirely on the power of the elephants, and not manoeuvrable. I defended in all four games and tried to place an area of jungle to protect one flank.

Duncan Thompson bravely fielded a Numidian army reliant on masses of Light Horse and skirmishing infantry, with a couple of Inferior Elephants and a large force of Inferior Blades (“imitation legionaries”). My central command went down first, then Duncan’s facing my right flank. Rightly wary of the Indian elephants, his front line consisted of psiloi with his two elephants, all the light horse forming a second line. I was able to match his elephants with my own with chariots on either side – a clumsy formation, but that command got decent PIPs and was able to attack swiftly. The chariots rode down the psiloi and my elephants defeated the Numidian ones. A couple of light horse went down too and the Numidian command broke.

The second Numidian elephant is about to be enveloped

In the centre my C-in-C’s command faced skirmishing light troops and failed to close. On the left my elephants and infantry made short work of the imitation legionaries and that Numidian command broke to give the Indians a 10-0 win with negligible losses.

The Numidian imitation legionaries are suffering against elephants and archery


The second game was against Gavin Pearson and Neil Hepworth with a Pictish army featuring a large Saxon allied command. The jungle, manned by my few psiloi, guarded my left flank and the Indians formed up entirely to the right of this. The Picts clearly planned a flank march on my right but I ignored this possibility and attacked all out – combat was joined on the second turn. The heaviest fighting was in the centre, where my elephants defeated the Saxons and broke that command. However, my C-in-C attacked a column of Pictish spearmen (Exception Auxilia) and unluckily died. His command broke, leaving a large gap in my centre. On the right I was making progress but then the flank march arrived, causing three elephants including the general to flee. The elephants, although split up, were in a good position to cause mayhem but the general was attacked by psiloi with overlaps. The Picts needed to win the dice by three and duly did so, slaying the general whose command also failed its break test. My army collapsed for a 1-9 defeat.


Derek Bruce’s Wars of the Roses English army posed a difficult challenge which was mitigated by a strong wind blowing over my right shoulder for almost the entire game. My bowmen won the opening archery exchanges, destroying three Bw(S) elements and obliging the supporting billmen to come through and face my archers – who promptly shot a billmen element too.

Cheeky light horse rode around my open left flank, chased by my Inferior Cavalry. One light horse successfully blocked my general’s recoil while longbowmen shot an elephant in the teeth of the wind; the general died but his command held. On the right elephants crashed into a line of billmen with bowmen behind them and very luckily destroyed four elements in the first clash. The elephants ploughed on against archers and broke the English command.

A psiloi has rushed out of ambush to trap light horse.  Spot the tiger.

English losses were now close to half their army, and the final blow was struck by my elephant-mounted C-in-C who destroyed another Bw(S) element. The English army broke for a 10-0 win.

The Indian C-in-C is about to despatch Bw(S) to break the English army

For the third successive year I faced Jeremy Morgan in the last round. He had a four-command French Ordonnance army with a small Swiss allied command – the latter was unreliable for most of the game. His main strength was a large force of Inferior Pikes. This was a very dramatic game, described by Jeremy as “buttock-clenching”. A strong wind blew, initially in my face but turned by Jeremy’s excellent PIP dice to right behind me, and monsoon rain fell for much of the time.

There were numerous patches of jungle and I had only a single force of psiloi, which held the jungle on my left-centre, with my mounted command on the left. On the right and centre the French pike phalanxes rushed forward while cavalry came round the right flank, only to retire hastily after one element was shot dead. The pikemen and elephants clashed, with losses on both sides, and soon several commands (all had low break points) were teetering. With the elephants occupied by pikemen, the French gendarmes came through the centre and started riding down Indian infantry. The French had a field gun and several elements of Art(X) handgunners, all of which tried to shoot elephants but failed in the torrential rain. However, eventually most of the elephants died in various ways, while psiloi fought a sanguinary struggle in the central jungle. First my C-in-C’s command broke, then so did the French C-in-C’s, leaving both armies close to breaking on total losses. My demoralised C-in-C, supported by another elephant from a different command, attacked a French Kn(S) general and killed him after several failures; four elements gone from that command but the next PIP dice was a five, so the command survived. Then the French Bw(S) C-in-C managed to shoot a Bw(O) and that broke a second Indian command. 2-8 defeat in a truly classic game.

Gavin and Neil’s Picts won the competition, beating Russ King’s Aztecs in the last round, Jeremy was second and I finished third. A great competition.


Attack! 2019

Nineteen players took part in the DBM doubles competition at Devizes, several others having had to drop out. To even the numbers Russ and I played separately. My army was Classical Indian, Irregular version. There were three commands (including a small allied one) with Superior elephants, archers (Ordinary Bows), swordsmen (mostly Inferior Blades) and Hordes, and a fourth command with Superior cavalry chariots, more infantry and some psiloi. In all four games I defended and there was no significant weather.

First I played Ken Cooper and Graham Bull, old friends from SELWG, with Later Achaemenid Persians. The Persians attacked with Inferior Knights in the centre and were largely shot down by my archers; elsewhere the elephants trundled forward and successfully attacked cavalry and Auxilia. The game was quickly over in a 10-0 win.

Then what promised to be a stiffer test against John Vaughan and Kevin Everard with a Lysimachid army. This was the Ipsos line-up, with 8 Seleucid elephants – so there were 19 elephants on the table. The only significant terrain was a gentle hill opposite my right flank, held by assorted infantry including Hordes; I attacked the hill with archers and elephants with great success; a Lysimachid command soon broke.

The inadequately garrisoned hill will soon fall.  Pictures courtesy of John Vaughan.

On the other flank, though, my mounted command was in trouble against nimbler foes; low PIPs prevented reaction to the threats and my heroes were overwhelmed.

On the left the Indians were outmanoeuvred

At the same time my small allied command was attacked by the Lysimachid pike phalanx and, after some success, also broke. Short of half the army, though. To the right of the allies my archers were approached by four Seleucid elephants and, in several rounds of shooting, killed the lot.

Elephant-fest in the centre

This opened up the pikemen’s flank and I turned it with elephants, only to lose two of them. Finally my elephant-mounted general bagged two more pike elements with a fortunate 6-1 and that broke the Lysimachid army. 8-2 win in a terrific game. Twelve elephants died altogether, six on each side.

On Sunday morning I faced the joint leaders, Dave Madigan and Chris Smith, who had a Medieval German army with a large Swiss allied contingent. I placed some areas of jungle in the hope of protecting my flanks against raiding light horse, but they landed on the wrong side of the table. I refused my left, anchored on a gentle hill manned with archers, swordsmen and Hordes, and attacked on the right despite the jungle getting in the way! There two opposing lines of psiloi faced off without actually fighting. The Swiss were unreliable, and remained so for several turns, allowing two of my commands to set about the Germans on the right.

On the left light horse and cavalry rode round my refused flank and attacked my infantry on and behind the hill. They were initially driven off, but then broke through a line of Hordes and got into my baggage. However, looting baggage has no effect unless a command goes, and on the right my elephants and chariots were victorious, slaying numerous cavalry and breaking the outnumbered German command. Then the Swiss joined in, but were attacked by elephants who trampled their psiloi and also several pikemen. In one instance the Swiss general was in danger but survived and managed to destroy an elephant. None of my commands was in serious danger and the Swiss were close to going, but I couldn’t finish them off so the game ended in a 6-4 win. Great game; Dave remarked afterwards “We got out of jail there”.

That set up a match with the new leaders, Jeremy Morgan and Richard Perry, with Sha’to Turks (basically a Chinese army with added cavalry and light horse). Again I placed jungle but it didn’t land kindly; Jeremy added some patches of rough going. The Sino-Turks attacked with massed infantry on the right and cavalry on the left, while refusing the centre where my chariots and elephants vainly pursued light horse. My ally on the far right was unreliable and remained watching throughout, while a desperate struggle raged just to his left. There my archers shot effectively against Chinese Fast Blades, killing a couple and engaging the rest in rough going; the archers should have had the edge but died in heaps, bringing my command to the verge of breaking. On the left a series of low PIP throws stopped me reacting to various threats and my chariots and cavalry were whittled down. A final combat round all along the line resulted, as Jeremy said, in everything of mine that could die dying, while nothing of the enemy’s did – even Bw(I) attacked by an elephant-mounted general. Two commands broke simultaneously, ending the game in a 0-10 defeat.

Jeremy and Richard won the competition; I finished third.


Westbury Wars, 18/19 May 2019

We had the optimum ten players for the 25mm competition in my house, and all went well with plenty of decisive games. I was attracted to the Low Countries army by changes in the latest (2016) army lists, which made the generals Pk(S) instead of Kn(I), and spent some time repairing and replacing the pikes on my veteran figures. Two commands each had pikes and a few psiloi – the C-in-C adding a pair of mounted bowmen and the other a single element of English Bw(S), and the third had a few pikes, four organ guns, four Bd(O) halberdiers and some Bw(O) crossbowmen. The general plan would be to charge at the enemy centre with massed pikes while the light troops and missiles tried to shore up the flanks.

Duncan Thompson’s Carthaginians face Gavin Pearson’s Myceneans – two beautifully painted armies

The first game was against Derek Bruce with a Yorkist army – lots of Superior Blades and Superior Bows, with a few Inferior Spears. The terrain was helpful, with a small wood on each flank and nothing in the centre. Derek aimed to envelop my flanks and inflicted some losses, but his archers failed to kill many pikemen and my phalanx (originally 5-deep in places) crashed into his line. Bd(S) are tough even against four-deep pikes, but a few died and the archers were much less resilient. Derek’s centre collapsed and the pikemen raced through to loot his camp for a 10-0 win.

Then John Calvert with a large Viking army; four Bw(O) and 72 Blades of varying quality. Once again my pikemen crashed through the centre and the light troops held up long enough for the pikes to break his army. 10-0 win.

Against Jeremy Morgan’s Armagnacs the plan didn’t work. My PiPs were poor, especially early on, so the central attack took time to get to grips while Jeremy’s flanking moves made rapid progress. My artillery and bow command was soon in trouble, and the main pike blocks made little headway against dismounted knights. The key combat slew one of my Pk(S) generals (a 1-in-12 chance) and it was all downhill from there… my army crumbled for a 0-10 defeat.

Some of the Mycenean Heroic Charioteers

Finally a splendid game against Gavin Pearson’s spectacular Later Myceneans, who’d beaten my Spartans the previous year. A large force of Sp(I) held a gentle hill on the left, and on the far left my light infantry held an area of rough going against greater numbers of psiloi. In the centre my massed pikemen faced mainly Cv(O) chariots, and on the right the artillery and crossbowmen faced Achilles’ Wb(S) Myrmidons and Nestor’s force of Kn(F) chariots and Pk(X) spearmen. A fourth command was ready to send Cv(O) chariots around my right flank.

Gavin’s attack on the right had mixed fortunes: the artillery and crossbows destroyed several Kn(F) and Wb(S), but the chariots swept around the flank and killed several halberdier and crossbow elements. Meanwhile the pikemen in the centre drove back Achilles’ chariots and fled several of them off the table, breaking that small command. Soon afterwards my right-flank command also broke. On the left centre Agamemnon’s spearmen had a long struggle against massed pikemen; they held up well but were pushed over the hill and eventually enough of them died to break the command. My C-in-C’s pikemen had just reached the Mycenean baggage, and a Cv(O) chariot was about to attack my baggage when the game ended for a 9-1 win.


On the right flank my command has been almost obliterated...

but in the centre my pikemen will soon attack Gavin's camp

With 29 points I finished second, behind Jeremy.


Venta Silurum 2019

A good turnout of 12 teams (some singletons) at Paul Apreda’s doubles competition in South Wales. All armies had to be dated BC, and there was a preponderance of Alexandrian armies. Russ and I took Galatians; three blocks of Wb(S), some cavalry and a Pisidian ally with numerous Ps(S) and a few light horse.

Our first game was against Nick Coles who had a Mithridatic army. Expecting scythed chariots, we deployed the Pisidians in front of the warband; the chariots duly appeared and were duly despatched by the psiloi. The Mithridatic pikes were deployed well back on a gentle hill on the left, and we left them alone. Nick attacked on the right with his mounted troops, mainly Kn(F) and Kn(I) with supporting light horse, which were beaten off by our cavalry and warband. An Armenian allied command with cataphracts and light horse went for warband in the centre. After a stiff fight the Armenian command broke. The pikes advanced, but time ran out before there could be a conclusion. 6-4 to us.

Then David and Dan Sheppard with Alexandrian Imperial, including an Indian ally with Superior Elephants. We got Pisidian psiloi against the elephants but they failed dismally, while the Macedonian Companions went for our mounted troops. Our Pisidian light horse were unlucky and died against LH(F), but our cavalry eventually beat the Companions and broke a Macedonian command, and the warband held up well against the elephants. As in the first game, the pikes were unwilling to fight our warband.

The third game was against Alexandrian Macedonians led by Ian Pudney and Paul Brady. They shaped to envelop our right flank with Companions and light horse, but held back after we reinforced that wing with cavalry. Our warband advanced to get at the pikes and hoplites, but couldn’t make contact before time ran out. 5-5

This left us in second place on 17 points, behind Dave Madigan and Chris Smith with more Alexandrian Imperials. A 10-0 or 9-1 victory would win us the competition, so we attacked all-out with warband all along the line. Unfortunately our combat dice were terrible; a pair of unsupported elephants broke one command on their own, and a second command failed dismally against the pikes for a rapid 10-0 defeat. The enemy’s only losses were some psiloi and a light horse or two.

That defeat plummeted us from 2nd to 9th place, but it was a good weekend nevertheless.


Cross and Crescent III, 9/10 February 2019

The seventeenth in my series of themed competitions reverted to the original “Cross and Crescent” theme; 20 armies, half Muslim and half Christian, dating from the 12th century AD.  21 players (two others making cameo appearances) made it a great weekend.  Muslim armies were generally more successful, occupying seven of the top ten positions – the exceptions were Nick Coles’s Feudal Spanish, John Brooker’s Barbarossa Germans and Pete Connew’s Later Crusaders.

John Calvert manoeuvres his Fatimids against Pete Connew’s Crusaders

The Nubian camel warriors had mixed fortunes, with Jeremy Morgan’s Beja winning the competition while Pete Howland’s Christian Nubians finished 19th.

Ken Cooper appeals to the heavens before rolling the dice

Highlights included a titanic struggle between the Beja and Derek Bruce’s Dynastic Bedouin, the latter eventually having no answer to the camels, a 10-10 “mutual destruction” draw (15-0 scoring) between Later Crusaders and Richard Lockwood’s Syrians, and Nik Gaukroger’s Syrians finishing second despite Nik not having played DBM since 2012.  The results are on my web site at

Andy Brooker in contemplative mood

Richard Jeffrey-Cook’s Ayyubids confront Paul Apreda’s Crusaders, as John Vaughan and Martin Golay shake hands on the result of their game


The trophies – original artwork by Terri Julians

Next year’s theme will be “Gift of the Nile”, involving New Kingdom Egypt and its enemies.


Godendag, 19/20 January 2019

18 players made ten teams for DBM at Godendag in Cardiff. Russ and I used Komnenan Byzantines, based on Alexius I’s army at the battle of Dyrrhachium in 1081. The army’s advantages included four Regular PIP dice, some Superior Light Horse, Regular Fast Knights and a Varangian command comprising eight mounted Superior Blades; otherwise it was composed of distinctly second-rate troops such as Ordinary Cavalry, Ordinary Auxilia, Inferior Bows and Spears. Discipline and manoeuvrability would have to make up for lack of fighting power.

First we had a historical encounter against Cilician Armenians, commanded by Ken Cooper and Andy Down. This was basically an Irregular Fast Knight army with plenty of supporting infantry and a Seljuk Turk ally. The terrain was inconsequential and the main action came on our left where we faced two commands of lancers with our own outnumbered knights (Frankish mercenaries) and the Varangians. Initially this didn’t go well and we looked likely to be overwhelmed by numbers, while the Seljuks turned up by a flank march on our right and started slaughtering our light infantry. However, the luck turned; our light horse eliminated the few Armenian light horse and then killed some knights; the Armenian command on our far left broke. The Varangians fought heroically, pushing back one Kn(F) against a line of spearmen then killing it together with four Sp(I), then killed the Armenian general. A second Armenian command broke, taking their army for a 10-0 win.

Then another traditional Byzantine enemy – Derek Bruce’s Avars. This was a very different enemy based on numerous Regular Superior Cavalry with light horse and a lot of Slav Auxilia. The terrain gave us a rough hill on which to anchor our left and another on the right; we occupied these with auxilia and psiloi. The Avars sent a large force of auxilia to attack the left-hand hill and shaped to assault our main line with cavalry, carefully avoiding our handful of bowmen. Their smallest command, mainly of light horse, screened the right where we had some Frankish knights. The combat on the left was fierce, with auxilia dying on both sides, but the Avars’ progress was slow and they had to send in their main cavalry attack while the hill was still disputed. The cavalry rode down our archers and then defeated the Byzantine cavalry; our left command broke while the Varangians were fighting bitterly in the centre. On the right our Franks defeated the Avar light horse and broke that command. All was in the balance, with serious losses on both sides but our baggage under threat, when the game timed out at 5-5.

Sunday morning brought one of those games where everything went wrong. Vandals under Jeremy Morgan and Richard Perry (three big blocks of warband, a few Fast Knights and a Moorish ally with light horse and psiloi) looked a difficult opponent and we needed some rough hills where our auxilia could fight warband with advantage. Our rough hills all landed on the Vandals’ side of the table, leaving us with very little chance, and mist removed any manoeuvre advantage. Our PIPs were generally poor and the Vandals’ were excellent – especially for the Moors who were able to envelop our left with some impressive forced marching. We put up a fight and inflicted some losses, but had no answer to the warband who defeated our cavalry and Varangians, rapidly breaking our army for a 0-10 loss.

Finally we faced a massive Welsh army (South Welsh with a North Welsh ally and Ostmen mercenaries) led by Paul Apreda and Nick Coles. Lots of Ordinary Bows with Ostmen swordsmen in support, and a large command mainly of Fast Warband. This was a very bloody game; in the centre the warband boldly advanced and were ridden down by our handful of Fast Knights and light horse, while on the left our archers were outshot by the Welsh bowmen. Our left-hand command was broken after a long struggle, and the Varangians lost two elements against Ostmen. The game was in the balance when it timed out at 5-5.

The Byzantines proved to be a rather lightweight army, flexible but without much hitting power or solidity. We’ll look for something a bit tougher next time.

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