Monday, July 20, 2015

Historican't Con: BBDBA Battle of Carrhae 53 BC

Some local guys decided to have a game day since we couldn't make the trip to Historicon this year. Bill Hupp organized our game day at his Liberty Hobby Center in Wheaton, IL on Saturday July 18. Games included a "what if" Plains of Abraham SYW Battle (Black Powder), a 28mm WW2 Bocage Battle (modifed Brother vs Brother with the author), and a 15mm Bug Hunt SF game. The game I ran was Carrhae 53 BC, a BBDBA game in 28mm.

Marcus Licinius Crassus (victor over Spartacus), one of the triumvirate (along with Caesar & Pompeii), invaded Parthia and encountered a Parthian Army under Surena on a hot, desolate, featureless plain, far from any water. Unknowingly, Crassus was being advised by Ariamnes, an Osroene cheiftain in Parthian employ. Crassus formed his army into a hollow square to face the Parthians. The Parthians approached from the East, but enveloped the Romans from all sides. The Romans were defeated decisively, even though they outnumbered the Parthians 50,000 to 10,000. A full account of the battle can be found here:

For our game, we decided to use two 36 element armies (even though the Romans outnumbered the Parthians historically) on a 6'-7' x 4'-5' playing surface without any terrain features. The Romans would set up per DBA 3.0, and their camp would be a mobile one, able to move 2 BW. The Parthians would enter the board from any of the 3 sides opposite and right & left of the Romans, with the Parthians able to move all their troops onto the table on turn 1. The Parthians would start rolling for pips on turn 2.

Above is the Roman Army of Crassus in 3 commands. The  3 Roman commands each have Gallic cavalry and auxilia as support troops.

Above is the Parthian Army. Each command has 3 x 4Kn (based as 3Kn) and 9 x LH. The far left command has an element of cataphract camels as 4Kn (we used them because they are just too cool not to use).

Another view of the Parthian Army. All figures are 28mm Old Glory.

Above is the Roman deployment. Instead of a hollow square as Crassus used, the Romans formed sort of a "flying wedge." The rear table edge was the Roman's friend in this game.

Above shows the Parthian deployment/entry onto the table, a more conservative approach. The Parthian players were all new to DBA.

The Parthians engage the center of the Roman line with their light horse. The cataphracts (to the rear) probably would have been a better option, as they can "quick kill" blades. The "gaps" between each Roman flank and the table edge probably would have been better places for the Parthian Light Horse to assault.

The Parthian light horse in the center is mostly recoiled or flees. Note the Romans "closed the door" on some light horse that have been destroyed (casualties off to the table edge above).

Publius (Crassus' son) and some of the Gallic cavalry have come around the Roman left to attack the Parthians (top of photo). Publius is having a better experience than he had historically. The Parthians light horse are also attacking the Roman right flank.

The Parthian cataphracts (including camels) look ominous, but never got into the fight.

Above is the view when the game was called by time limit. Two of the Parthian commands were near demoralization (we used a 50% or 6 element break point), one command was halfway there. The Romans had only lost one element during the game.

The really cool looking Parthian camp made by Bob Pavlik.

More photos of "Historican't Con" are at this link:


  1. Thanks for putting on the game. Love the way the battles look in DBA, particularly with these great looking figures. 2 new players introduced to DBA. I also feel a bit better since being completely destroyed by horse archers in our last BBDBA game.

    1. Thanks for hosting "Historican't Con." It was fun, wish I could have stayed for more games.