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Telamon 225 BC DBA_BR_Mod

This is the fourth game in the series in which I am adapting a Command and Colors Ancients  (CCA)scenario to play with my modifications to DBA 1.0.

The game was played on a 36″ by 36″ table. Converting the CCA game pieces to match elements in my DBA system was not exact but fairly close.

Here is the historical summary from the CCA scenario author (Joe Bisio):

Historical Background:

“When the Celts reached the vicinity of Telamon in Etruria, their foragers encountered Atilius’ advanced guard and were captured…This news astonished Atilius but also raised his hopes, because he believed he had trapped the Gauls between the two Roman armies while they were on the march…By a fortunate chance he had noticed some high ground which dominated the road the Celts had to pass, and so taking the cavalry with him galloped forward, as he was anxious to occupy the crest of the hill before the Celts came up….”

“…The Celts at first knew nothing of Atilius’ arrival (from Sardinia), and supposed that Paullus’ cavalry must have outflanked them during the night and were occupying positions ahead of their line of march. They therefore immediately sent out their cavalry and light armed troops to oppose the move to occupy the hill. But they soon learned of Atilius’ presence from a prisoner who was brought in. At this they hastily deployed their infantry so that the army faced in both directions, to the front and the rear….”

“…Meanwhile Paullus had received news that Atilius’ legions had landed at Pisae, but had never supposed they were so near him. However when he saw fighting in progress round the hill it was clear that the other Roman army was close at hand. He at once sent forward his cavalry to support Atilius’ attempt to capture the heights; then he drew up his infantry in their usual order and advanced against the enemy who barred his way. The Celts had posted the Alpine tribe of the Gaesatae to face their rear, the direction from which they expected Paullus to attack,…on their front, to meet the attack of Atilius’ legions, they had stationed the Taurisci and the Boii who came from the northern bank of the Po. Their waggons and chariots had been placed at the end of either wing, and the spoils they had captured had been collected and placed under guard on one of the neighbouring hills, This Celtic order of battle which faced both ways was not only awe-inspiring to see but was also well suited to the needs of the situation….”

“….At first the conflict was confined to the fighting round the hill, and because of the great numbers of cavalry which were locked in battle the rest of the three armies stood by and watched the contest. In this encounter Gauis Atilius lost his life, fighting with desperate courage in the thick of the action, and his head was brought to the Celtic King. But the Roman cavalry fought on stubbornly, and at length overcame their opponents and took possession of the heights. By this time the infantry were almost in contact, and the battlefield provided a strange and marvelous spectacle…”

“…In the first place, as the battle was fought between three armies, it is clear that the appearance and the movements of the forces must have been strange and unusual in the extreme. Secondly a spectator must have asked himself-as we do to this day-whether the Celts were in the more dangerous position with the enemy advancing upon them from both sides, or in the more favourable one, because they could fight both armies and had their rear protected from each, and above all because they were completely cut off from retreat or from any possibility of escape if they were defeated; for this is the peculiarity of adopting an order of battle which faces both ways.”

“For their part the Romans felt encouraged at having trapped the enemy between their two armies, but at the same time dismayed by the splendid array of the Celtic host and the ear-splitting din which was created. There were countless horns and trumpets being blown simultaneously in their ranks, and as the whole army was shouting their war cries, there arose such a babel of sound that it seemed to come not only from the trumpets and the soldiers but from the whole surrounding countryside at once. Besides this aspect and the movements of the naked warriors in the front ranks made a terrifying spectacle. They were all men of splendid physique and in the prime of life, and those in the leading companies were richly adorned with gold necklaces and bracelets. The mere sight of them was enough to arouse fear among the Romans, but at the same time the prospect of gaining so much plunder made them twice as eager to fight.”

“However, when the Roman javelin-throwers, following the regular tactics of Roman warfare, advanced in front of the legions and began to hurl their weapons thick and fast, the cloaks and trousers of the Celts in the rear ranks gave some effective protection, but for the naked warriors in front the situation was very different. They had not foreseen this tactic and found themselves in a difficult and helpless situation. The shield used by the Gauls does not cover the whole body, so the tall stature of these naked troops made the missiles all the more likely to find their mark. After a while, when they found themselves unable to drive off the javelin throwers who were out of reach and continued to pour in their volleys, their nerve broke under the unbearable ordeal. Some of the men rushed forward in blind fury and threw their lives away as they tried to close with the enemy, while others gave ground and fell back step by step into the ranks of their comrades, where they created confusion since they were evidently backing away from the enemy.

In this way the martial ardour of the Gaesatae was broken by an attack of the javelin. However, when the javelin throwers stepped back into the ranks of the infantry and the whole Roman line advanced upon the enemy, the Insubres, the Boii, and the Taurisci met the charge head-on and held their ground in fierce hand to hand fighting. Although the tribesmen were almost cut to pieces, yet they stood firm and proved that they were equal to their enemies in courage, and inferior only in their weapons, in which the Romans had the advantage, both individually and collectively. The Roman shields, I should explain , were far better designed for defence, and so were their swords for attack, since the Gallic sword can only be used for cutting and not for thrusting. The end came when the Celts were attacked by the Roman cavalry who delivered a furious charge from the high ground on the flank; the Celtic cavalry turned and fled, and their infantry were cut down where they stood.”

“Some 40,000 Celts were killed and at least 10,000 taken prisoner, among them their King, Concolitanus. The other King, Aneroestes, fled from the battle with a few followers, and found a refuge where he and his whole retinue took their own lives. The spoils and trophies of the Celts were collected by the surviving consul, Lucius Aemilius Pallus, who sent them to Rome…”

(From Book II of Polybius’ Rise of the Roman Empire written in the 2nd century BC)
Below is the CCA map and deployment.

 My order of battle.
Elements under King Aneroestes
2 Cv (avg)
2 HCh (avg)
4 Bd including King Aneroestes (sup)
3 Wb (avg)
1 Ax (avg)
1 Ps
 12 elements
Elements under King Concolitanus
1 Cv (avg)
3Cv (vet) Including King Concolitanus)
1 Hch (avg)
3 Bd (sup)
3 Wb (avg)
1 Ps
11 elements
Atilius (facing Aneroestes)
3 Cv (including Atilius) (sup)
4 Bds (vet)
2 Sp (vet)
2 Ps
9 elements
Paullus (facing Concolitanus)
1 Cv (avg)
3 Bd (including Paullus) (avg)
2 Sp (sup)
1 Ax (Extraordinarii) (sup)
2 Ps
7 elements
Legatus (facing Concolitanus)
2 Cv (avg)
3 Bd (including Legatus) (avg)
1 Ax (Extraordinarii) (sup)
2 Ps
6 elements
Gauls win if they can destroy 10 Roman elements, 5 of which have to come from Atilius’s command. The Gauls lose when they lose 9 elements
Some of the modifications to the basic DBA system was giving the Gauls a number of Bd’s. I believe that in general the Celts would have had a core of well armed warriors and in this situation (being trapped) they would have had plenty of incentive to fight fanatically. Bds reflect the better armed as well as a degree of fanaticism. 
My morale system reflects staying power in a basic way. Superior elements are allowed 4 recoils and then are destroyed. Average elements are allowed 3 recoils and poor elements only 2. The recoils need not be consecutive and some of the small dice you will see below represent how many recoils have been accumulated.
Another innovation is the use of Ps. An element of Ps can be attached as a sub-unit of another infantry element but not another Ps (at least not in this game). The supported element receives a plus one to their CF. If the element is destroyed then so are the Ps but the Ps do not count toward core units destroyed.
In this game two elements of Wb could be stacked to give the Wb a plus one to it’s CF if the Wb initiates combat.
The bottom line in all that is to try and make the game a bit more interesting in a historical simulation rather than in a competitive style game that DBA was designed for.
We played the game in about two hours. Given the fact the Gauls were hemmed in by three Roman armies they didn’t have much of a chance. In tinkering with the play balance we managed to get a 9-4 game result with the Romans destroying 9 elements while losing 4. 
My friend JZ played the Gauls and he said they had a shot and that a 40% chance of a win was possible. We were both satisfied with play balance.
Aerial view. The Gauls have the high ground in the middle of the board and are hemmed in on three sides by the Romans. The white markers are the commander’s names. Each commander was allocated 1\2 die roll plus one for the number of pips allowed in a bound. This meant the maximum number of pips per command was 4 but never less then 2.
Another aerial view but this time from the other side. The Roman army on the bottom of the picture was the weak link for the Romans. The Roman cavalry on the right side of the table was the Roman advantage since it negated the Gaul up hill advantage. The Romans on the top part of the picture would have to slug it out going up hill. The Gaul chariots on the left side of the picture were another Gaul disadvantage and one that would prove disastrous. 
Romans preparing to assault the ridge line. Many of the Gaul elements here are Bds and a frontal assault would take some time.
The Gauls on this side of the ridge would leave the ridge and attempt a break out here. The Romans would achieve the victory condition before the Gaul assault could bear fruit but another turn or two this Roman command would have died to a man.
This Roman army suffered the most as the Gauls easily outflanked the Roman line and began to roll it up.
The Romans had an advantage here with their cavalry and after an initial rebuff their numbers began to make a difference. 
The Romans are about to get out flanked. The Gauls had to destroy at least 5 elements from this Roman army to win. It’s the only place where they had a significant advantage. 
The Gaul cavalry on the Roman left fought bravely but were outflanked and began to give way.
The Gauls here begin to roll up the Roman line.
A rare example of Roman horse besting their opponents.
The Gaul chariots (not pictured) charged and were destroyed thus leaving the Gaul flank open. The Romans were on their way to a double envelopment.
Looks bad for this Roman army. The two elements with the small dice by them have already acquired a recoil and are about to get outflanked to boot! 
The collapse of the Gaul right.
The collapse of the weaker Roman army. The game was called when the Gauls lost 9 elements. They had to destroy 10 Roman elements before losing 9. Tough victory conditions but a good time since sometimes the best games have an air of desperation to them.
Nothing to do with the game-just some of my Newline Celts and Celtic hut.
Two of these were in the game. Chariots by Hat.

Who was Gunther Grunau?

Grunau 1939

The above picture on the left shows Gunther Gronau at age 14 holding an American flag. The picture on the right shows Mr. Gronau in 1939. This side-by-side picture and most of the ones below appeared in the July 24th issue of Life Magazine.

The pictures were not part of a feature article that Life did but part of a letter and pictures to Life Magazine that Gunther Gronau sent in.

Note the text of the letter below.

Gronaus letter 2

After the assassination  of the Archduke Ferdinand in 1914 all of Europe erupted in war-the result of entangling alliances and rivalries. When the war ended in 1918 millions would have been killed and empires lost.

Although little known in the west the Germans and Russians clashed in German East Prussia. The Germans and French were at war on the western front and since Russia was an ally of France they invaded East Prussia forcing Germany to fight a two-front war. (Russian invasion of East Prussia)

The invasion was launched  by two massive Russian armies. To oppose them the Germans had but one understrength army plus hastily called up reserve regiments and landwehr (a kind of militia).

According to Gronau’s account he was part of the column of German marching soldiers in the picture below. That picture appeared in Life Magazine for some reason and Gronau recognized himself. He sent in the rest of the pictures below and wrote the letter to Life.

According to Life and Grunau the circled individual in the front rank is Grunau.

Germans matching E Prussia 1914

I have an interest in World War One, particularly the Eastern Front and The Battle of Tannenberg. When I spotted the picture in Life I was certain I had seen it before but I cannot locate it in an INET search.

The picture quality is not good but it seems clear enough to note the head gear on Gronau. Gronau and his comrades are not wearing the standard pickle-haube as shown below.


The German solider above was killed in Belgium in November of 1914. He is wearing the early war uniform of the German Army and his head gear is the distinctive pickle-haube. Gronau is clearly not and instead is wearing the short shako type head gear that was distinctive of Jager Regiments.

Jager’s were specialized “light infantry” and something of an elite in 1914. They were usually attached at the Infantry Corps level or to a division of cavalry. They were not numerous.

Below is a picture of a two Jagers (Jager  means hunter) with their distinctive shako head gear. The photo is from the excellent website that discusses the Jager and their history. (The Soldier’s Burden)


According to Gronau his unit was nearly annihilated and he was one of the few survivors. It’s impossible to know for sure but the 1st and 2nd Reserve Jäger Battalions were present at the German victory of Tannenberg. (German Order of Battle-Tannerberg)

Prior to the tremendous victory at Tannenberg the Germans fought at least two major engagements against the Russians where they suffered high casualties. It’s entirely possible that Gronau’s Jager unit was involved in one of the prior battles where most of his comrades were lost.

Gronau obviously survived the war and the rest of the pictures give a glimpse as to what he did during the war and after.

Germans stream recce 1914

The arrow points to Grunau

Germans in Russians home 1914

In 1914 the country of Poland did not exist. Germany, Austria-Hungary and Russia all had a part of it. After the Germans won at Tannenberg they pushed the Russians out of “Russian Poland.”

bombed our E Prussian town

As noted in the letter the Russians invaded East Prussia on August 2nd, 1914 and in the process occupied a number of towns and villages. Apparently, Gronau lived in East Prussia and his town suffered a lot of damage and his wife and young son were captured but later released. The soldiers in the picture certainly appear to be Russian.

According to the letter Gronau and his family came to America in 1926 and became a successful business man. He had four sons and they apparently liked America.

Here’s a little speculation on my part. The date of the Life Magazine is July 24th, 1939. In two months Europe (Sept., 1939) would again be at war as Hitler invaded the new nation of Poland and conquered it in less than a month.

Two plus years would pass before the United States entered the war and I can’t help wondering if any of Gronau’s sons would be called on to fight against their father’s fatherland.

Ann Sheridan Life 1939

The beautiful Hollywood starlet graced the cover of the July 24th, 1939 issue of Life Magazine.




Who was Private Charles E. Teed?

I’m back with another “history stuff” blog entry that I got from Life Magazine. The issues I possess are a treasure trove of Americana (late 1930’s) through the war years when Life was fully dedicated to the war effort.

The US military drafted 3,033,361 men in 1942. In 1943 slightly more were drafted but 1942-43 were the peak years for the draft. From 1940 when the US was gearing up for the war until the end of the war in 1945 over 10,000,000 men would be drafted. Private Charles E. Teed was drafted in early 1942 and the March 16th, 1942 issue of Life Magazine did a substantial feature on Teed calling him a typical US soldier.


I have the issue and I read the article. My first thought after reading the article was whether or not Private Charles E. Teed survived the war.

Turns out he did. This is what I found out via the INET.

The Effingham County Courthouse Museum published this piece on FaceBook in 2015.

Charles E. Teed . . . . Army . . . . WWII

Charles E. Teed was born May 24, 1919 the only child of Ralph and Violet (Cramer) Teed. He attended the local schools. Charles later opened a small cafe in Effingham.

He was drafted into the Army in 1942. Shortly before he shipped overseas he won $200 shooting craps and was able to send for his fiancee Violet Kincaid and marry her before he headed to the European Theater.

Charles Teed was selected by Life magazine to be featured as the Private representing the best the Army had to offer. His journey led him from Effingham to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Casablanca, Sicily, Utah Beach, St. Lo, and finally back to Effingham after 5 years.

He was wounded twice. The first time was shrapnel in his leg, but the second time he was wounded happened outside of St. Lo when a bullet shattered his arm and lung. Sgt. Teed drug himself over to an orchard. As he looked up at the sky and clouds he thought that would be the last thing he saw. Luckily he was finally found by his platoon guide and shipped to a hospital.

Sgt. Charles E. Teed received 2 Purple Hearts, and 5 Battle Stars and rose to the rank of Sergeant. Life magazine featured him in 3 different issues including one 25 years later where Life magazine took Charles and Vi on a journey retracing his movements through his five years in the Army during WWII.

After he was discharged from the Army, Charles came back to Effingham where he and Vi raised their family. He eventually opened a TV repair shop at his home on Kentucky Street. He later worked at Crossroads Press.

Charles E. Teed died on April 3, 1985 and is buried at Oakridge Cemetery in Effingham, Illinois. Source Effingham County Courthouse Museum

When the Life Magazine issue appeared in 1942 the US had been barely at war for 4 months. Everyone knew someone who had been drafted or probably would be drafted soon. (My father turned 18 in May, 1945 and was immediately drafted.)
Friends, relatives and just about anyone else concerned about the war would probably wonder what it looked like to be drafted into the Army (the Navy and Marines drafted in WW2 as well.)  The article that accompanied the pictures was written by St. Claire McKelway. McKelway did not work for Life Magazine. Prior to the war he worked for the New Yorker Magazine and during the war served in public relations for the Army. Clearly his assignment was to give the American people a glimpse into Army life and boost morale.
Teed was 22 when the call came.  He was the only child of Ralph and Violet Teed. He was born in Effingham, IL which was a small farming town and still is. Charles’ father worked on the railroad but was killed by a train in 1939. Teed’s dad had been a hard worker and the Teed’s had the benefit of a nice house when the elder Teed was killed in the accident.
The railroad settled for a $5, 500 payout to Violet and that plus $3,000 in life insurance enabled Violet to purchase a restaurant in town. Charles became the kitchen manager and through his position he met his future wife, another gal named Violet (Cramer).
When Teed was drafted he simply went. His country needed him and that was all there was to it. Teed was typical of the millions of young men who literally dropped everything and went to their induction and training centers.
The bulk of the article deals with Teed’s basic training as an infantry soldier. No matter what else you might become in the US Army you were first an infantry rifleman.
Another thing typical about Teed is the marrying his sweetheart before he shipped out overseas. Marriages increased dramatically during the war years and I suppose some of that was driven by the possibility the soldier might not make it home. Whatever the reason it certainly gave the soldier a good reason to come home as well as that strong emotional connection to home while he was away. (Soldiers treasured letters from home and read them over and over.)
According to the article Teed wondered if he would get into an actual battle. It was something to think about because for every frontline soldier there was another eight keeping him supplied. Teed also thought he’d only be in for a year. This surprised me when I read it because I had thought men were drafted for the duration of the war but perhaps Teed thought the war would be over in another year once the US got over there-where ever over there was!
As it turns out Teed did see action, first in North Africa, then Sicily and then Normandy and beyond. He was wounded twice and made Sergeant by the time he got out of the army.
Here’s some of the pictures Life used to tell Teed’s story.

Teed is the second soldier in the foreground with his helmet at the “jaunty” angle. The caption says that Teed is the backbone of our fighting forces. Teed was trained as infantry. Infantry units took the highest proportion of casualties and by late 1944 most US battalions had shortages of trained riflemen. The infantry were the backbone. The helmets are of the WW1 pattern. They resemble the British model but are not quite the same. American and British helmets of the design look like upside down soup bowls. The American version would be replaced entirely by 1943 with a new model that lasted until the late 1980’s. (Some of the soldiers in the column are wearing “overseas” caps. I wonder if there was a helmet shortage.


It was interesting to me that Teed is cleaning a M1 Garand-a superb weapon that featured a eight round clip, a major improvement over the bolt action Springfields that many American soldiers were still using in March, 1942.


The caption reads Teed on KP (kitchen police) duty (left). Perhaps Teed is eating some of the food he had a hand in preparing (right). The American Army in WW2 was the best equipped and best supplied of all the belligerents.


Teed’s soon to be wife Violet Kincaid looks down the barrel of an obsolete 75mm artillery piece that dates back to WW1. The gun is of French design. I’m not sure the American Army used these old pieces in WW2 but many other nations did. (The army did have a 75mm artillery piece but it was an improvement over the WW1 model and did look like the piece in the picture.)


The caption identifies the soldiers as belonging to the 9th Infantry Division. As noted above the 9th ID was already a veteran division having served in North Africa and Sicily. The 9th has an excellent website that can accessed. (9th Infantry Division) 


Teed’s mom with her son’s picture to her right at the restaurant they started with the money they received after Teed’s father was killed in an accident. Notice the slight smile on Mrs. Teed’s face. Like most moms of the period she would be proud of her son but also worried. I suspect she may have been uncomfortable posing. A mother who lost her son in battle was called a Gold Star Mother. A little flag with a gold star was put up in a front window of an apartment or house to give notice that a mom was grieving and  that her son had been killed. Over 400,00 gold stars were awarded in WW2 to American moms. Teed made it home as noted above.

I confess that I had second thoughts researching the story on Pvt. Teed. I felt like I was intruding on a family’s personal story. Others may have felt the same way as I saw some people offering this same Life issue to a researcher who was researching the story.  I’m glad the family had access to the issue and I’d gladly donate my copy to the family if they requested it.
Having said all that I intend this blog entry as a tribute. I think Teed was typical in many ways. The generation he came from was called the greatest and it’s easy to understand why. It was the last time the US fully mobilized for war and it was on the heels of the Great Depression. Most responded to the crisis out of a sense of duty and love of country. Many families gave the “last full measure”  with the lives of their sons. I hope this blog serves in some small way to pay them all tribute.


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Faesule 225 BC

I’ve continued to adapt scenarios from the Command and Colors Ancients website to my version of DBA that I call DBA 1.0_BR (in 1\72nd scale). The original scenario was authored by a chap named Joe Bisio so I want to give credit where credit is do. I hope Mr. Bisio will forgive the liberties I took with his fine work.

For of those you unfamiliar with the Command and Colors Ancients maps\scenarios here is Mr. Bisio’s rendering of the map and troop types as per CCA.

More pics below

What I do is take the author’s map and order of battle and convert to a DBA type board (in this case 36″ by 36″) and convert the CCA troop labels to DBA terms.

CCA Historical Background by Mr. Bisio:

“The Celts, then, descended on Etruria and overran the whole region, plundering the country as they chose, and as they met no opposition, they advanced on Rome itself.

When they had arrived at Clusium, a city only three days march from Rome, news reached them that the army which the Romans had posted in Etruria was coming up in their rear and was close upon them, whereupon they turned back to meet it, full of ardour to engage the enemy. At sunset the two armies were almost in contact, and they encamped for the night with only a short distance separating them. When it was dark the Celts lit their camp-fires. They left their cavalry with orders that they should wait for daybreak, and then as soon as they became visible to the enemy they were to follow the route which the infantry had already taken. In the meanwhile the Celts with drew their main body under cover of darkness towards a town named Faesulae and took up positions. Their plan was to wait for the cavalry, and at the same time disconcert any attack by the enemy by confronting them with an unforeseen situation. When the Romans sighted the cavalry at daybreak and saw them unsupported, they concluded that the Celts had fled, and so pursued the cavalry along the line of the enemy’s supposed retreat. Then, as they approached, the main body of the Celts sprang forward from their positions and charged them. A fierce battle followed, which was stubbornly contested on both sides, but in the end the courage and superior numbers of the Celts prevailed. The Romans lost 6,000 men, and the rest took to flight, most of these retreating to a hill which offered them a naturally strong position. The Celts at first tried to take the hill by assault, but were exhausted from their march of the previous night and by the suffering and hardship caused by the fighting, and so they made haste to rest and refresh themselves. But they left a detachment of cavalry to guard the hill, and determined to attack the fugitives next day unless they offered to surrender.”

Meanwhile the…consul Lucius Ameilius Paullus, who was in command of the second Roman army near the Adriatic, had been informed that the Celts had invaded Etruria…He hurried southward to help, and fortunately reached the battlefield at the critical moment..

He encamped near the enemy, and the Romans on the hill, as soon as they saw his camp-fires, understood what had happened….The commanders of the Gauls, who had also seen the camp-fires, concluded that the enemy had arrived and held a council of war. At this King Aneroestes argued that since they had by now captured so much booty…that they should not battle again and thus put all their gains to risk, but should return home in safety….The council decided in the circumstances to follow Aneroestes’ advice. They agreed on this during the night, broke camp before daybreak and marched through Etruria along the coast. Paullus then rescued the surviving remnant of the Roman army from the hill and united it with his own force. He decided that this was not the moment to risk a , pitched battle, but chose to follow the enemy’s rear and watch for a favorable place or moment to harass him, or recover some of the plunder….

(From Book II of Polybius’ Rise of the Roman Empire written in the 2nd century BC)
(Paullus, of course, shortly thereafter, with the help of his consular colleague returning from Sardinia, managed to corner this Gallic Army up the coast of Etruria at Telamon and destroy it. See the Telamon 225BC scenario, for an extensive excerpt from Polybius that covers these events)

Here is my Order of Battle

Gaul Right Flank (8 elements, full pip die roll for movement)
1 Cv
3 Bd inc a command element
3 Wb
1 Ax 
2 Ps
Gaul Center (9 elements, full pip die roll for movement)
5 Cv inc a command element (King Aneroestes)
2 Bd
2 Wb
Gaul Left Flank (5 elements, 1\2 pip die roll for movement)
3 Wb
1 Ax
2 Ps
1 HChar
Roman Right Flank (4 elements, 1\2 pip die roll for movement)
1 Cv
1 Bd
2 Ax
2 Ps
Roman Center (11 elements, full die roll pip +1 for movement) 
7 Bd inc 1 command element Proconsul Aemilius Paullus
2 Sp
Roman Left Flank (3) Pip = 1\2 pip die roll
1 Cv 
1 Bd
2 Ax
2 Ps

Rules and Stuff.

Anyone familiar with DBA will recognize that my lists do not correspond with DBA. For example there were 22 elements of Gauls and 17 elements of Romans in this game-almost twice as many as in a DBA basic match type game. You will also notice that Ps elements are not included in the totals above. This is because I ordinarily make Ps a sub-unit of another element. Their usefulness is reflected in that they give a +1 to both CF to the unit they are attached to.

You will also notice that the Gaul elements consist of Bd, Wb and Ax. In my view Celtic armies could easily have elements rated as all three types with the Bd’s (and Cv) representing the wealthier heavily armored nobles and retainers, the Wb as the rank and file while the Ax would be the less well armed and armored. 

This is the second game we’ve went with my list for Gauls and it’s worked well both times. As my friend said, “the Celts were not wimps” and I agree.

As for the Romans I rated their Ax as superior in morale (Extraordinarii). If memory serves me I stole that from Field of Glory.

Command elements function as the elements they are classified as.


In this game I sought to experiment with a basic morale system so that an endless series of recoils would not occur. We still use the basic rules based on the ratios and the morale only comes into play when the ratios do not apply..I got the original idea from a DBA fan site that is no longer in operation. For those of you interested in such things here it is.

Element Morale 
                        1stRecoil         2ndRecoil        3rdRecoil
Superior         NE                   NE                   Eliminate
Average          NE                   -1 to CF          Eliminate
Poor                -1 to CF           -2 to CF          Eliminate
1.    NE=no effect
2.    CF-both combat factors
3.    Recoils need not be consecutive.
4.    Morale ratings assigned as per scenario and relative to all element types.
How the game played–the captions tell the story.

The Roman left flank. The hill was key in the historical account preventing an even larger Roman disaster.
The Romans thought they were pursuing a Gaul rear guard of cavalry and were stacked up in the middle. Hint: Gaul Cv rated as superior area match for Roman Bd.
The Roman right flank was a mirror of the left minus the protective hill.
The Gaul center prior to the festivities. The Druids are doing their best to stir up the Gauls to might deeds of valor!
The Gaul right flank. The facilitate the surprise attack I masked the Gaul flanks with terrain features. The Gauls received one free move to start and had a 50% chance of moving first in the next bound. They did!
Nice shot of the Gaul center. The King’s Cv element is backing 4 elements of Cv that would crash into the unsuspecting Roman line. The Cv is backed by a powerful group of Bd’s and Wb’s. The Druids have withdrawn to continue their annoying chanting.
The Gaul left flank just before their free move over up and over the terrain. 
The Roman left. Ax supported by Ps. One element of Bd on the right. The Romans would back up the hill asap and the Gauls elected to not test them and instead concentrated on a do or die effort in the center. To win the Gauls has to destroy 8 elements, 6 of which had to be Bds or Sp without losing 10 elements of their own.
The Gaul cavalry charge in the center. 2\3 of the Roman first line would fall victim to it!
The Roman right stares across the filed at the cautious Gaul left. Some elements of the Roman right would factor into the eventual Roman victory.
I just like this picture better. The Ps in front of the Ax are sub-units. They evade for free so sometimes they are on front for looks and sometimes in back.
The Roman front line is collapsing. The Roman third line of Triarii is reinforcing the Roman second line to prevent a disaster should the Gaul Cv break through.
The Roman left is not going anywhere and neither is the Gaul right.
The Roman right splits to assist the Roman center.
The Roman first line has dissolved but the second has recoiled the Gaul Cv. Whew! (One element of Gaul Cv has been eliminated in a 2-1. it’s placed has been filled by the King’s Cv. Although necessary it would prove fatal to the Gauls.)
Safest place to be-Roman left and Gaul right in a staring contest.
The Gaul King’s CV and another have been eliminated in 2-1 ratios. The “Sudden Death” rule was applied. On a roll of 1-2 the Gauls would withdraw to mourn their brave king. On a roll of 3-4 they would not be affected and the other lesser king would assume command. On a roll of 5-6 they would become enraged at the loss of their king and fight with +1 for the rest of the game. The Gaul player rolled a “2” and the Gauls withdraw after giving the Romans a good scare! The small dice represent a tracking system for the recoils.
The Roman right provided valuable assistance to the Roman center.

One of my goals is to be able to replay the scenarios. I try to have a few variables such as a rule that provides for a level of degree as to how effective the surprise was. Dicing for the effect of the death of the Gaul king was another.

Another goal is try and have enough time to play the scenario twice and switch sides. Doing that has a number of advantages when it comes to determining how re-playable the scenario is. If you get the same old outcome every time you play it can become a bit predictable and boring. Fog of War stuff can change that as can a commander who has a different plan.

And so it was in our second game (two games in 3 hours!).

The Gauls lost in sudden death in the first game (Fog of War rule) but in the second game won by a ration of 8-1. The Roman commander attributed the loss to Fog of War (bad dicing). He has been transferred to MooseButt, Germania for the loss 😉

Whatever the case I’m trying to do a scenario that has more to do with a simulation than a competitive match. At present I’m trying to figure out how to do Telemon and that will complete a three game series.

My Roman infantry were all from Zvezda
Classic Airfix:  A good part of the Gaul army consisted of these fine figures most painted 20 years ago or so.
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Okinawa Kamikaze story

Personal story of a Kamikaze…very interesting.

Pacific Paratrooper

This is an odd story that involves a flight instructor, his family, and a single-minded request. The whole thing was so strange, in fact, that the Japanese government censored it at the time.

Hajime Fujii was born on August 30, 1915, in Ibaraki Prefecture as the oldest of seven children. He joined the army and proved to be such a skilled machine gunner that they sent him to China.

The Chinese weren’t too happy about that, which is why Fujii got hit by a mortar shell that wounded his left hand. Sent to the hospital, he was tended to by Fukuko – a beautiful field nurse from Takasaki City, Gunma Prefecture.

It was love at first sight. Back then, arranged marriages were the norm, but the two were having none of it. So they returned to Japan, got married, and had two adorable daughters – Kazuko and Chieko.

Instead of…

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Vespasian Crosses the Medway

I’m continuing to experiment with a house rules version of DBA. My goal is to not radically change DBA 1.0 but to tweak it in small ways so I can do historical simulations to my satisfaction.

I’ve been taking scenarios from Command and Colors Ancients and converting them into a DBA type game with my tweaks.

We had a communication problem with this scenario and I had to use Gauls instead of Britons for Vespasian’s crossing of the Medway. The only differences in the basic lists was the absence of chariots and subbing Gaul Cv for Briton Lh.

Since the game was another experiment I didn’t mind the subbing and besides it was a good exercise in how to do a river crossing.

The first thing I did was tweak the Order of Battle subbing the Gauls for the Britons. The basic lists have been modified. There were about 18 elements per side. Explanation after the OB.

Britons (divided into three commands or groupings)
Right Flank
3 Bd (1 of which was a leader element)
2 Wb
2 Cv
1 Bd (leader element)
2 Wb
2 Cv
2 Ax
1 Ps
Left Flank
2 Bd (one of which was a leader element)
1 Wb
2 Ax
2 Ps
Romans (divided into 2 commands or groupings)

Left Flank to Center

9 Bd (including the Vespasian command element)
1 Cv
1 Ps
Right Flank to Center
4 Ax
2 Ps
2 Cv including one Cv command element
Rule modifications:
1. Ps are subunits of other elements. They give a plus 1 in combat and suffer the same fate as the element they are attached to but do not count as a separate element. They evade to the rear of the element they are attached too and simply serve a skirmishers that give that plus one. In this way I believe you get a better look to the game as well as a better representation of how Ps usually functioned. In some historical simulations I would use them as independent elements. It just depends.
2. Wb units get a +1 on their first impact.
3. Command elements are what they are (Bd. Wb, Cv, Ax, whatever) and function as an element without the +1 for a general. In these historical simulations more leaders are available and this seemed a good way to represent them (and name them if possible).
4. The Gaul\Briton list is obviously a departure from DBA. In my opinion it’s perfectly fine to have leader elements of noble infantry or fanatics be classified as Bd and other Wb’s classified as lesser warriors by making them Ax. It certainly makes for a more interesting game with a little more variety the elements..
5. The game was played on a game mat with some 3d terrain but the only terrain that mattered was the river itself. The playing area was about 33″ by 33″ since I have very limited space.
6. As CCA players are aware in CCA the order of battle is divided into right, center and left. Counters are activated by means of cards played. Counters in groups are sometimes connected at the start of the game but sometimes not; at least not in how it’s done in basic DBA.
What I did to convert CCA to DBA is give each command it’s own opportunity for dicing for pips depending on how many elements were in each command. In some cases it was a full die roll and in others 1\2 die roll.

(Eventually, I’d like to convert my changes to DBA into a solo mod.)

Victory Conditions
To win you had to destroy 8 elements of the enemy without losing 5 of your own.
To win the Gauls had to destroy at least 4 Roman Bd elements.
To win the Romans had to destroy at least 5 Gaul Bd, Wb or Cv.
The loss of a command elements counted as two elements lost.
The loss of two command elements would result in a sudden death loss.
The loss of the Roman pontoon bridge would also result in a subbed death loss for the Romans.
According to the CCA scenario Batavian Cv had already crossed the river by swimming their horses across thus outflanking the defending Britons. In my game I had the Batavians represented with the Ax on the Roman right.

Batavian Cavalry by Strelets. I have some on my “to do” pile.
In the scenario description the author stated that once the Britons were aware they were outflanked they attempted to concentrate on the more dangerous legions that were crossing. Hence, the loss of the pontoon bridge as a reasonable sudden death loss for the Romans.
My opponent kept within the spirit of things and did his best to take the pontoon bridge and indeed seriously threatened it causing the Romans some concern. The Gaul left and Roman right were hardly engaged as things played out on the other flank and center.

Box art of Celts from the Italeri set. My Gauls\Britons consist of Italeri, Hat, the old ESCI Barbarian set and a few old Airfix Britons.
The game was not fair in a DBA sense. That was and is fine with us. I am more interested in a historical simulation than a competitive game although I still want the scenario to be playable. I usually have a sense of odds in mind when designing the scenario. What I mean by that is what percentage of a chance does the weaker side have of actually winning the simulation.

My Romans are from Hat,  the old ESCI set plus a good representation of the old Airfix Romans. 
In this case I rated the Gauls as having a 30-35% chance of winning the simulations. 
So, having said all that here are some pictures of the game.
The Roman left and part of the center. Vespasian can be seen leading a column of Bd’s across the pontoon bridge.
The Roman right flank. Notice the bow armed Ps screening two elements of Ax. Batavians on the far left.
The extreme left of the Roman one. This group got into quite a jam and was nearly fatally outflanked losing the Cv element and one Bd. The group survivors ended the game with their backs to the river.
Part of the Roman center as well as the relief column being led by Vespasian himself.
Roman Auxiliary cavalry by Hat and Newline. I used them to represent the Batavian although Strelets makes a unique set of Batavians in Roman service.
The Roman right. Hat Roman Auxlia and one element of the old Airfix Roman archers.
The Roman command stand-ESCI and Revell figures.
Aerial view of the Roman forces from the Gaul pov.
The Gaul right flank that gave the Romans such a hard time.
The Gaul center. They held their own for quite a while but in the end gave way.
The unengaged Gaul left.
Aerial view of the Gauls from a Roman pov.
The stand off. Neither side sough to pick a fight.
The Gaul left bearing down on the Roman right.
The Romans wait hoping Vespasian will cross in time!
About to be heavily engaged as the Gaul player tries his best to turn the Roman right.
The Roman Cv is outflanked by the Gaul Cv and destroyed! Oh, oh!
Reinforcements are on the way! Vespasian himself enters the fray!
The stand off on the Roman right continues.
The Roman left is bent back.
Romans in the enter advance on the Gaul center which has moved to support the Gaul left. It took quite a while for the Romans to break through and achieve the victory conditions.
Gaul Cv and fanatic Bds applying pressure!
Part of the Gaul center versus the Roman center. The Romans would eventually prevail here.
Looks bad for the Gauls and it was.
The Gaul Cv on the far left threatened to cross the river and caused one element from the legions to back track and protect the bridge,
Gaul high tide. The flanked Roman Bd would die!
Vespasian and the two adjacent Bd’s vanquish all before them and give the Romans the victory! 

Killing the Custer Myth

On June 25th, 1876 George Armstrong Custer and 210 men of the 7th Cavalry were killed at The Battle of the Little Bighorn.

Custer and the battle took on mythic proportions due to the eastern press and the prejudices and racism of the times. Prejudices continue to this day although books have been written starting with Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown (1970) that set the record straight.


Killing Custer by James Welch (1994) is another book; written from the Indian point of view that seeks to set the record straight.


My interest in the Indian Wars (1865-95) started when I was a child. I grew up with the John Wayne Western and in particular the John Ford Cavalry Trilogy consisting of Fort Apache, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon and Rio Grande.


For a ten-year-old boy movies about the cavalry on the western plains was great stuff. Weather-beaten horse soldiers pursuing hostile Indians, rescuing white captives or holding the fort became play time themes with friends or with plastic Cowboys and Indians on the basement floor.

From there I graduated to the historian Robert Utley’s books on the Indian Wars and US Cavalry on the plains.  Over the years I’ve read Custer and Crazy Horse by Stephen Ambrose and numerous other books on the Indian Wars and The Battle of the Little Big Horn in particular.

It’s a historical sub-set that still interests me and finding Killing Custer in a used book store stoked my interest since it was obvious it was written from the Indian point of view.

It’s a different take in the sense of how Welch put it together.

Welch begins by telling the story of the Marias River Massacre. On January 23rd, 1870 Col. E.M. Baker (who was drunk) led four companies of cavalry and 55 mounted infantry on a surprise attack on a Pikuni ( Pigean Blackfeet) Indian camp by the Marias River in Montana.

The soldiers were looking for 25 Pikuni warriors who killed a white man named Malcom because the white man had accused their leader Owl Child of being a cowardly horse thief in front the tribe thus causing the man great shame. Malcom also allegedly raped Owl Child’s wife. The link above gives more detail but basically the Pikuni sought revenge for the continued insults and rape of Owl Child’s wife.

The soldiers were supposed to keep the peace and murder should be punished regardless of what Malcom did. The problem was the soldiers led by the drunken Baker came upon the wrong Pikuni camp which was identified as such by their half Pikuni scout.

https://youtu.be/jYVjnOA4LKk (Link to the Montana Historical Society presentation on the massacre.)

No matter declared Baker since Indians are all the same. Baker even threatened the scout lest the scout warn the innocent of the crime sleeping Indians. The soldiers surrounded the village and opened fire. Thousands of rounds of ammunition were fired into the tents of the sleeping Indians and when it was over 173 men, women and children had been massacred. (Some sources say over 200 were killed.)

Baker’s attitude was unfortunately common on the frontier and was often expressed as, “nits make lice.” The phrase simply reflects the notion that it was quite okay to kill children since they would not grow up to be warriors. The attitude was genocidal even while all the actions taken against the Indians were not executed to that extreme.

Ironically, Owl Child, the leader of the 25 warriors who killed the white man lay dying from small pox in another camp. Small pox killed more Indians than the soldiers ever did since they did not have any immunity from the horrible disease.

My first thought was what does this incident that I had never heard of in all my reading have to do with killing Custer and the Little Big Horn?

Welch makes two points about starting his narrative in such a way.

  1. Most everyone knows about the Little Big Horn and almost no one knows about the Marias River Massacre even though the numbers of dead are similar.
  2. Baker sunk into obscurity even though his superiors approved of the action. Custer, who led a similar winter surprise attack on the Southern Cheyenne at the massacre at the Washita River killed 103 Indians including many women and children became [again because of his Civil War record]  a national hero and famous Indian fighter.

Welch himself was half Blackfoot (d.2003) so the story was personal just as it provided a contrast to the Custer mythology and the reality of what really went on in the Indian Wars.

From there Welch lays out the story of the Sioux and Cheyenne who would eventually destroy Custer and most of the 7th Cavalry at The Battle of the Little Big Horn that also took place in Montana. He interjects his personal journey through out the book and that’s what makes the book different. In Killing Custer you get the facts told well from someone who simply wants the record set straight. I think he succeeds.

Since the publication of the book in 1994 the public attitude has certainly shifted because of books like Killing Custer and the fairer treatment of the Indians in movies (Little Big Man in the 70s and Dances with Wolves in the 90s and recently Hostiles while inaccurate in many ways do show Indians in a more favorable light.)

At one time the 7th Cavalry monument at the Custer Battlefield in Montana was dedicated only to the 210 soldiers who died there, “for their country.” Now the monument commemorates the Sioux and Cheyenne warriors who died there as well “for their country.” I think it’s quite fitting.

I can’t leave the subject of Custer without adding my two cents. My father who grew up with the myth far more than I was a huge fan of the boy general. He had a copy of the famous Budweiser painting hanging in our basement for many years. I inherited it after he died and had to throw it out since it was in terrible, worthless condition.


Budweiser’s famous painting of Custer’s Last Stand. It hung in many a bar. My dad a reproduction in terrible condition.

Dad admired Custer primarily on Custer’s service in the Civil War where he led a Michigan Cavalry Brigade and later a division of cavalry under the aggressive Phil Sheridan in Sheridan’s devastating Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1864.

There is no question of Custer’s bravery or his flamboyance. He was a fighter and it’s hard not to conclude that he enjoyed the glory that went along with his successes. In that he was not too different from other Union or Confederate officers.

What has always struck me is that Custer’s achievements in the Civil War were largely against a collapsing Confederacy who by late 1864 could not match the Union Cavalry any longer (having earlier in the war been much superior to the Union horsemen).

Other Union Cavalry commanders like Wesley Merrit achieved similar results if not more and did not get the recognition Custer received largely because of Custer’s press and flamboyance. In that, I think Custer was at least over rated in the Civil War and a disaster in the Indian Wars.

For example, at the Massacre at the Washita in 1868 Custer sent 19 men under Major Elliot to do an end around the sleepy Indian camp. The problem was Custer pressed on without any reconnaissance not knowing that the camp he attacked was only the first one in a string along the river.

Eliot, who had no clue was supposed to pursue the survivors from the first camp but instead ran into hundreds of other enraged Indians from the other camps. Eliot and all his men were killed and horribly mutilated. Custer to his shame never looked for them and they were found some time later. Custer claimed that he had to get back to the fort with his captives and besides there were too many other hostiles out there to deal with.

So, no reconnaissance and a callous disregard for the men in his command would ordinarily be unforgivable for an army officer.

On June 25th, 1876 Custer divided the 7th Cavalry into three detachments in an attempt to surround and attack from three directions the massive Indian camp on the Little Big Horn. The problem was he didn’t order a reconnaissance even though his Shoshone and Crow scouts told him that he faced a huge number of Sioux and Cheyenne warriors (about 2,000).

Custer valued surprise over accurate intelligence and charged ahead.  One of the other detachments got pinned down immediately and the third detachment joined the pinned down one rather than charge ahead and die with Custer.

All that to say Killing Custer is a good read and could be titled Killing the Custer Myth.


Indian art depicting the aftermath of the Little Big Horn. Custer’s folly would be a good title.