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Marian Rome Vs Pontus

Page history last edited by Rob Brennan 11 years, 10 months ago

 My arch enemy and myself recently returned to an old favorite of ours,

playing a 500 pt game in 15mm between the Late Roman Republic and

Mithridates' Pontus. We have found in the past that these two

antagonists produce an exciting and well balanced game.

Rome proved to be the invader, and also had to deploy first, summer

invasion, no significant weather, 4am start time.. The Roman line up

was of three commands plus a pip dump baggage command. The largest

command in elements and ME included the C-in-C, 24 legionaries [1st

Leg 12 Bd(S), 2nd Leg 12 Bd(O)] and 6 Ps(O). Auxillaries and Bd(I)

with Cretan archers made up the second command, while Cv(O), LH(O) and

Ax(O) made up command 3.

The Pontic host was based on two regular commands (mercenary Greek

generals) and an Armenian ally. The Greek C-in-C commanded the Pontic

Cv(O), LH(O) and Rhoxolani Kn(F). Four scythed chariots completed his

command. The second command was based on the phalanx. We allowed a

much larger phalanx than the current DBM list recommends, we allowed

16 Brazen shield Pk(O) and 16 Slave Pk(I). These were supported by 12

Ax(S), 4 Bw(I) and 4 Bastarnae Bd(F).  The Armenian command consisted

of the usual Kn(X), LH(F) and Bw(I).

Two scruby hills either side of the Roman centre (Mons Sinister and

Mons Dexter) were the only terrain features that played a part in the

game, they formed a wide valley in the centre of the table.

Deploying first, Rome had to be careful. Most elements were deployed

well back from the deployment limit in columns of march to alow space

and time for manouever, just auxillaries and psiloi forward on the

hills. The legions were in the centre, cavalry to the left,

auxillaries and the reserve Bd(I) legion to the right. Pontus played

the scouts strategem (3 LH elements) and found hidden obstacles

protecting the Roman right rear flank, no losses to the scouts.

Pontus placed the Armenian ally on their right flank, the phalanx in

the centre, cavalry and scythed chariots on the left. The central

commands auxillaries and Bastarnae with Bw support were placed to

assault Mons Sinister, aiming to clear it of enemy to allow the

phalanx an unimpeded run into the valley.

Now they could see their enemy Rome could to start to deploy. The

Roman commander considered the prospect of a night attack, but with no

moon and only 3 bounds of darkness remaining decided to await sunrise.

A small detachment of Roman horse moved forward on the left as far as

possible to inhibit Armenian march moves. In the centre Rome raced a

couple of cohorts of Bd(S) [4 elements] onto Mons Sinister, while the

rest of the 1st legion deployed into line to face the phalanx. Psiloi

raced forward to challenge the scythed chariots. The  2nd  legion

deployed into line behind them. The auxillaries on the right set up to

secure Mons Dexter and attack the scythed chariots from the flank.

The first Pontic pip dice were appalling, a theme they maintained

throughout the game. The three dice rolled 1,2 & 3, with the Armenian

ally getting the 1, making him unreliable. This was to prove to be the

only bound the Pontic C-in-C could have allocated 3 pips to attempt to

activate his ally, he only rolled 1's and 2's for pips for the rest of

the game! Fortunately the phalanx needs very few pips to roll forward,

with a Reg subordinate urging it on they advanced on the Roman centre,

on a frontage of 6 elements, the Pk(I) unusually deploying 8 elements

deep, the rest 4 deep. The Pontic left decided to let the scythed

chariots go and followed them up with the Kn(F). They tried to move

the light horse into position to "mask" Mons Dexter, to try to stop

the troops on the hill from interfering, but had so few pips

throughout the game they were unable to get into position properly.

With the Armenian ally staying aloof from the battle, and the phalanx

advancing into the central valley, this was a fine opportunity for

Rome to envelop the enemy from the two hills.

The first phase was to deal with the scythed chariots. This proved as

messy as always. The first round went in favour of the chariots, the

psiloi being pushed back or destroyed. However the chariots were now

in some disorder, which allowed psiloi and Ax to get onto the flanks.

One chariot was turned by a TZ and began to pursue its Ps tormenter

onto the lower slopes of Mons Dexter, where it crashed to destruction.

Two others were destroyed by Ps/Ax. One got through to the 2nd Leg.

where it ran out of steam and was destroyed.

Rome could not relax over this initial victory as the Rhoxolani

knights emerged from the dust close behind the chariots. The Roman Ps

and Ax were badly out of position to receive this charge, the

scattered elements were cut down as the knights went sponno.

Meanwhile the Pontic assault on Mons Sinister had faltered. The 2

cohorts of the 1st Leg. supported by the Roman cavalry moving in from

the left, easily holding the hill. The phalanx pushed on regardless,

leaving its right flank exposed to attack from troops on M. Sinister.

The rest of the 1st Leg began to close with the phalanx sensing

victory. The 2nd Leg began moving forward in support to its right, but

still had some work to do against the Rhoxolani. Rome now had 4

elements of Bd(S) in frontal close combat with the phalanx, with a

flank contact from the hill against the Pontic phalanx flank. The

first round (Roman assault bound) was a failure for Rome, The flanked

phalanx elements survived the 4-4 factor attack and recoiled their

opponents. This was reflected all down the line, the Romans pushed

back in each case.

Now running on adrenaline the Rhoxolani went wild. A furious and

scattered battle developed between them and the Ax/Ps, with the 2nd

Leg closing fast. The knights took heavy losses, but not before

inflicting significant damage to the auxillaries.

The phalanx now launched its assault, pushing the Romans further back

and destroying 2 Bd(S). In this bound the remaining Rhoxalani

destroyed an Ax and Ps element. There being no Pontic casualties this

bound Pontus had scored 4-0 in elements destroyed, enough to encourage

the Armenian ally to commit.

The 1st Leg rallied itself and attacked again, this time taking out 3

phalanx elements, (2 in one hit being flanked). Some Rhoxolani were

now behind the 1st Leg and were causing trouble, the Roman C-in-C

himself having to deal with one, but another Bs(S) was destroyed by a

Kn. Finally by various combinations of Bd/ Ax/ Ps attacks the

Rhoxolani were all destroyed, but with some loss to the 2nd Leg,

breaking the Pontic mounted command. If the Armenian ally had still

been unreliable this would have been game over and a Roman victory.

The 2nd Leg were now free to support the 1st in dealing with the

phalanx. But the losses had been steadily mounting to the legionary

command, the Bd(S) losses being particularly significant, the command

was very close to being disheartened.

The phalanx now made its final push, still ignoring the outflanking

elements on M. Sinister. The Brazen shields now rolled over their

legionary opposition, destroying 3 Bd(S) in one bound. This took the

Roman command to the very edge of the break point limit. The final

Roman bound saw them roll a 1 to a Pontic 6 as the remaining 1st Leg

elements looked to break the Pontic command. Game over, an 18-7 Pontic


As we had anticipated, this was another very exciting game, the result

was in the balance right to the end.

Many suppose that Bd(S) are super troops with their quick kill and

plus 1 bonus. But in this game the (S) status was of little value

against an enemy they QK anyway. With a combat factor of only 4 and

lacking any backup factors against foot, the Roman Bd frequently (when

overlapped) found themselves facing 5-2 or even 5-1 combats against

the phalanx, and the (S) status is of no value to foot losing a

combat. The legion offered almost no opposition to the phalanx, little

more than a speed hump.

We had one situation we struggled to resolve within the rules. A

scythed chariot was contacted on its flank by a psiloi element, with

no contact to its front. Under "Turning To Face", p35, expendables do

not turn. The psiloi lost the combat, it was doubled. We assumed that

because it was not fighting the front edge it would not be destroyed,

although "Combat Outcome", p38, does not cover the case of an element

fighting a flank of an element that is NOT in frontal contact with

enemy. We decided it would recoil. Expendables do not appear to turn

after combat either, and so we decided that the chariot should

continue on its way.

Overall this was a very entertaining game. But I do find that as

experience of DBMM increases players are targeting the Bd as being the

weak point in the Roman line up. Being an incurable Roman-tic I'm

finding it very depressing to be always trying to protect the legions

from all the nasty enemies to be found on the battlefield!

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