Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Giant DBA: Issus, an After Action Report

Before Christmas, we were able to schedule and try a Giant DBA scenario, the Battle of Issus. Issus was Alexander's second great victory over the Persians, and over Darius himself. We used my 15mm collection of Essex figures that I painted in early 1990 or so, veterans of many games of WRG 7th, DBM, & Tactica.

For the scenario, we relied on an article and order of battle produced by Jeff Jonas at this link:

While Jonas' Order of Battle is based on Warhammer Ancient Battles, we adapted it for Giant DBA. The Persian army had 66 elements, while the Macedonians had 51. 

Some experimental rules we used to add flavor to the game were:

  • Grading Factors: Some troops were considered Elite, others Mediocre, and some elements could be Fast (adding 1 BW to their movement). Elite troops added +1 to their combat die roll in certain circumstances (when they rolled low, or 1,2, 3), while Mediocre troops subtracted 1 (when they rolled high on a 4,5,6). On reflection after the game, we will make future "plus" or "minus" to the die results more subtle by applying the modifier when an element rolls a tie in distant or close combat - the plus or minus will break the tie one way or the other. Elite troops were: Companions, Prodromoi, Agrianians, Agema Phalangites (2 elements), Hypaspists, and Thessalians. Mediocre troops were Persian Kn, & Greek Allied Hoplites. Fast troops were Companions, Hypaspists, & Persian Kinsmen Cavalry.
  • Hypaspists are a curious troop type. 4Ax just doesn't seem to do them justice. In the old WRG 7th & DBM Army list books, Phil Barker used to allow them the option of being Spears, Auxilia (S), or Pikes. In the game, we allowed them to be spears in good going, and 4Ax in rough/bad going. However, in future games we will allow them to be 4Ax that are Elite, Fast, and allow them side support with each other in good going.
  • Loose Order Fall back: We allowed all Ps or 3/4Ax that suffered a combat outcome of recoil to fall back anywhere from 1/2 BW to 1 BW. This is an optional rule that DBA playtester Joe Collins came up with that I like.
  • Elite Troops Pursuit: We allow Elite troops the option of whether to pursue defeated opponents or not, regardless of whether their element type is one that pursues or not.
  • Command: Alexander rolled all the pip dice and assigned one to each sub general and himself. This represents Alexander's superior leadership ability. However, the Persian commanders separately each rolled their own command die. Also, the Persian commands tended to be larger (15-19 elements), which necessitated keeping elements in groups as much as possible to conserve pips. Break point for each command is 50%. An option is to have commands that reach 33% losses to be "disheartened", suffering -1 in all subsequent combats.

Above, the armies of both sides are deployed for battle. Macedonians are in the foreground.

Darius in his chariot with his Kinsmen Bodyguard Cavalry behind the Mercenary Greek Hoplites. The Persian levy is further back.

The Persian right flank cavalry command of Nabarzanes. We downgraded Persian Kn elements to Mediocre for this game.

Persian Kardakes and Psiloi defending the Panaurus River ford on the Persian left flank. Satrap Rheomithres is attached to the Persian cavalry, upper right.

Persian Psiloi coming down from the hills to harass the Macedonian right flank.

The Macedonian army begins moving forward. In future games, we will position them closer to the Panaurus River.

Nabarzane's Persian Cavalry has crossed the Panaurus on the Persian right (see above left). Alexander & the Companions & Prodromoi are moving towards the ford. The Agrianians are driving back the Persian flanking Psiloi (lower center).

Parmenion's Thessalian cavalry is meeting Nabarzane's Persian Cavalry on the Macedonian left. Persian Kardakes have crossed the river nearby. Alexander had massed the Hypaspists and Agema Phalangites with the Companions near the ford. The Agrianians have destroyed the persian flanking force and are also moving towards the ford (lower right). The Persians are spending pips and bringing up their Levy (Hordes) from the rear.

A close-up of the action between Parmenion and Nabarzane's cavalry.

Alexander, the Agema Phalangites, Hypaspists, Companions & Prodromoi approaching the ford.

Parmenion is not doing well. Coenus' phalangites have veered to the left instead of hitting straight ahead at the Greek Mercenaries. Alexander's assault of the ford has not gone well either, losing 2 Companion elements. Rheomithres' cavalry has crossed the Panaurus and attempting to flank Alexander (lower right).

Death throes of Parmenion, whose command breaks.

Rheomithres' command breaks. Persian Levy approaching the ford to block it. The Hypaspists & Agema are preparing to assault the Kardakes left of the ford.

Unfortunately, we did not finish this battle. However, it was a learning experience and the next game should be improved. We plan to run this as an 8 player convention game. Experience in the game caused a revised OOB, now for 8 players:

Persian Issus OOB:
Nabarzanes: 1 x Sub-General (3Kn(M)), 2 x Satrap Guard (3Kn(M)), 7 x Colonist Cavalry (Cv), 5 x Arachosians (LH). 15 elements.
Thymondes (Greek Polmarch): 1 x Sub-General (Sp), 7 x Mercenary Hoplites (Sp), 3 x Kardaka Hoplites (4Ax), 5 x Kardaka Light Infantry (3Ax). 16 elements.
Darius, Emperor: 1 x General (LCh), 2 x Kinsmen Cavalry (3Kn (M)(F)), 8 x Persian Levy (Hd), 3 x Kardaka Hoplites (4Ax), 5 x Kardaka Light Infantry (3Ax). 19 elements.
Rheomithres: 1 x Sub-General (Cv), 1 x Persian Cavalry (Cv), 2 x Persian Light Horse (LH), 4 x Skirmishers (Ps), 3 x Mardians (Ps), 4 x Greek Peltasts (4Ax), 1 x Takabara (3Ax). 16 elements.
Macedonians Issus OOB:
Parmenion: 1 x Sub-General (Cv(E)), 3 x Thessalians (Cv(E)), 1 x Greek Allied Cavalry (Cv), 3 x Thracian Mercenary & Cretan Archers (Ps), 4 x Phalangites (Pk). 12 elements.

Coenus: 1 x Sub-General (Pk), 9 x Phalangites (Pk), 4 x Greek Allied Hoplites (Sp(M)). 14 elements.

Alexander: 1 x General (3Kn(E)(F)), 3 x Companions (3Kn(E)(F)), 2 x Prodromoi (LH(E)), 3 x Hypaspists (4Ax*,(E)(F)), 2 x Macedonian Archers (Ps), 1 x Greek Peltasts (4Ax), 1 x Mounted Grooms (LH). 13 elements. *Side Support in GG.

Nicanor: 1 x Sub-General (Pk(E)), 1 x Agema Phalangites (Pk(E)), 4 x Agrianians (Ps), 6 x Greek Allied Hoplites (Sp(M)). 12 elements.

Thanks to Bill Hupp, Dave Rutter, Bob Pavlik, Ross Bentley, & Ron Jaffe for assisting with our playtest.

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