Friday, September 25, 2020

Celt Invasion of Greece 279 BC

We finally were able to get around the Covid plague and play an actual face-to-face game.  As documented elsewhere on this blog we use a set of rules called DBABR-that is, my version of DBA, which may or may not bear much resemblance to DBA depending on your point view.

Unless we are doing a pick up type game I like to adapt a Command and Colors Ancients scenario to the the game system.

A couple of features worth mentioning in my DBABR are the use of double stands to represent an element. This is done for the purpose of looks ad doesn't affect game play. We simply get to use 100 or more figures per side in a game.

Another feature that comes about because of the CCA scenarios is having more than 12 elements in your army. As you can see from the OB's below both sides exceeded the DBA norm.

The other feature is a morale system related to the number of recoils an element suffers. 

So, for those of you interested I've included the basics of the CCA scenario along with the OB I converted from the map. It's not that hard to equate the CCA counters with DBA elements after a little practice. The result is not exactly a historical reconstruction but it's more interesting than a pick up game

 Historical Background

In 279 BC a large Celtic (aka Gauls) army descended on Greece. Part of this force under the leadership of Bolgios attacked towards Macedonia. The Celts offered the King of Macedonia, the recently crowned Ptolemy Ceraunos (See Battle of Corupedium), peace terms in return for money. Ptolemy, confident in the once all conquering Macedonian troops, refused and offered battle. His army was soundly defeated and his head removed forcibly from his body by the victorious Celts.
The Macedonians would look to the Son of Demetrius, Antigonus Gonatus, to become their saviour (See Battle of Lysimacheia).

Taken from Ancients - Commands and Colors System website.


OB Macedonian (Dice, die roll plus one) 


3 Ps (O)

1 Lh (O)

1 Kn (S) Companions

3 Pk (1 S Agema, 2 O)

3 Sp (O)

2 Ax (O)

1 El (S) Ptolemy Ceraunos

14 elements


Core: Pk, Sp, Kn =7


Must lose 8 elements including 3 core, Ptolemy counts as two elements


OB Celts


8 Wb (3 Wb are S noble soldurii, others O,) Brennus with Druids and one element of soldurii

2 Ax (O)

3 Cv (S) One is noble soldurii Akichorios

3 Ch (S) soldurii

2 Ps (O)

18 elements


Command Break Down


Brennus (die roll)


2 WB Soldurii

3 WB

2 CV

2 Ch

1 Ax

1 Ps

11 elements


Akichirios (die roll)

1 WB Soldurii

2 WB

1 CV Soldurii

1 Ch Soldurii

1 Ax

1 Ps

7 elements


Core: WB, Cv, Ch=14 elements


This picture has nothing to do with the game. I just wanted to line up my Celtic collection with my Polybian Roman collections.

Closer look, not a game 

Same here, just a closer look.

My Celts are my largest army for DBA. There are almost enough for other rule sets that use larger armies.

I'm in the process of expanding my Polybian Romans. Most of these are Hat but the Triarii are Newline. The expansion will include more Newline and shield transfers for all!

The other half of my Polybians thus far.

Finally a game picture...This is the far right flank of the Celts. One of the chariot elements has already been destroyed as it charged into the phalanx next to the elephant. I have an uncontrolled advance rule for war band types. Some times it works out nicely; other times not so much. The remaining chariot managed to hold it's own agains the Elephant. The Macedonians were heavily outnumbered so this flank remained relatively static until the end of the game. The Celts had the high ground here and didn't get another uncontrolled advance until very late. At that point Ptolemy Ceraunos died and the Macedonians were pretty much surrounded.

The Celtic horse would prevail against the peltast types they faced and outflank the phalanxes. 

Some of the Celt WB's were soldurii meaning nobles and their immediate retainers who were more heavily armored than normal. They had a better chance of holding their own against SP; but weaker versus pikes. Here two soldurii WB's and one normal WB have the opportunity to flank a SP phalanx, which they would do eventually.

This is right before the final peltast type unit gets swept away by the Celtic horse. One hoplite phalanx has disappeared leaving the second in peril. I avoided the pikes whenever possible but it was possible to get to the spear type units.

My friend Mike's command figure. In this game Ptolemy was part of the Elephant element so this fine figure just added great color to the game.

Celts should have a lot of Druids, both male and female. Their chants made bold warriors bolder just as they struck fear into the Macedonians. 

This is clearly the strongest part of the Macedonian line. There are pike phalanxes interspersed with spear phalanxes. I was fortunate to gain the high ground and not get an uncontrolled advance that would have taken me headlong into the bristling hedgehogs. As it was a couple of units did get caught and were crushed. Stay away from pikes!

Nice view of the Macedonian power. I held out just long enough to get around the Macedonian battle line and takeout enough core units to get the victory.

When Celt units did get a recoil the Macedonians were rarely in a position to capitalize on it.

Too many blood thirsty Celts and not enough Macedonians. Historically, that was the case. Ptolemy was far to confident that he could handle the invasion. Now his head decorates a Celtic spear.

The thick of it; but the game was decided on the flanks.

The CCA games are rarely balanced; nor do we think they should be. My opponent said he made the mistake of not pushing against the Celt center where he had the advantage. The idea would be risk the flanks to a more numerous enemy and hope you can crush the enemy center. It could have worked and probably was the only chance he had.

For my part the initial uncontrolled advances hurt me but for most of the game the Celts behaved-that is until the very end and it that case it helped me. Having absolute control of a WB type army is not much fun imo. I like a good dose of fog-of-war.

The game was a good time and opportunity to get out of the Covid rut.