Battle of Tunis 255BCE

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September 1, 2015 by catomighty

Last weekend was the annual local Games Day hosted by the FLGS — The Hobby Bunker, and our miniatures club — Boston Trained Bands.  As part of the festivities, I hosted a giant Big Battle DBA game in the morning session.  This was a fun game and visually epic with 61 stands of figures on each side, we’ll play this again sometime on one of our regular monthly DBA days.  Here’s the promo blurb from the events listing:

1st Punic War, Battle of Tunis, 255BCE

Roman Consul Marcus Atilius Regulus faced an apparently easy road to fame and glory: bring down the city of Carthage which was on the brink of starvation. But Carthage had brought in a new general: Xanthippos of Sparta and a large contingent of trained Greek mercenaries. The bolstered and now professionally led citizen army of Carthage stood on the road to glory.

Played with DBA 2.2+, and following special scenario rules to accommodate potentially up to 5 players per side.  These rules were to insure that no player would have a low-pip low-troop army as per the standard BBDBA rules.  And the Commanders’ extra pip modifiers would keep the game flowing.

  • The commander-in-chief’s army for each side has 13 stands and a breakpoint of 5.  The Carthaginian army receives an extra 1x4Spear General as the CinC (Xanthippos).  The Roman army receives an extra 1x3Auxilia.  Stands may be swapped within non-allied commands, but no army can be reduced below 12.
  • Each command rolls its own pip die.
  • Each CiC rolls 2 pip dice and chooses the higher.
  • Each turn the CiC may add +1 pip to its own roll, or to the roll of a subordinate command providing the subordinate General is within normal command radius of the CiC General.  No roll may be modified above 6.

The Roman army consisted of 5x II/33 Polybian Romans.  Each Roman sub-command kept their General as Cavalry.  The other cav were concentrated in the wings, especially their left.  Some extra triarii Spears were concentrated in the front center in the CiC’s command to take on the Cartho Elephants.

The Carthaginian army consisted of 3x II/32 Later Carthaginians, 1x II/40 Numidian, and 1 x II/5h Siciliot Greeks.  The Carthaginians concentrated their light troops and citizen cavalry in their left wing, elephants in the front command, and the bulk of their Spears with Xanthippos in the center reserve.

Initial deployment, the Roman army (right) advancing down the road towards Carthage, the Bagradas River in the foreground, hills of the river valley at the far side of the table.  The Romans deployed 3 commands in the front with Regulus in the center, 2 in reserve.  The Carthagians deployed 4 in front, Numidians in the foreground, then the Carthagian Elephants, then Greek mercenaries, and Carthagian light troops in the hills, Xanthippos in center reserve.

Opening moves, one Carthaginian commander looks on.  (The other will not be appearing in the pictures as she was operating the camera!  With many events in the morning, we wound up with 2 players per side including myself as photographer and playing on the Cartho side after the other players chose their preferred commands first.


Turn 2, the armies close in.  View from the Carthaginian center with Greeks on their left, looking across at the ranks of Romans.


Cartho light troops sweep to take the hills.


And Numidians spread out onto the alluvial plain.


Top of the 3rd turn, the Roman players looked pleased with their deployment.


Bottom of the 3rd, the Cartho lines close towards combat.  The situation is looking favourable for Carthage on both wings where they are poised to roll the flanks of Rome’s shorter battle line.  The Numidian Light Horse close a dire net around the Roman Cavalry.  In the center, the Elephants will face a tough fight against the Triarii.  Xanthippos holds his own command back to allow the Elephants room to recoil if need be, but does send one Light Horse of his own command forward to bolster the Citizen Cavalry and shift his other two Light Horse to his right.




Top of the 4th turn, the Romans advance steadily on their right and center.  Their battleline hopes to come to grips in the center before their endangered flanks might be rolled back.  And on their left, bolstered with a bonus pip from Regulus, the flank commander can engage with their infantry moving through the rough ground first against the Numidians before their own flank is hard-crunched by overwhelming numbers of Light Horse.  Alas for the Romans, when the dice have rolled this combat will yield no Carthaginian casualties.



Bottom of the 4th, Carthage crashes in.  Elephants crash in the center.


Hoplites crash against Hastati.


Light Troops crash by the hills, and draw an encircling net.


And Numidian Horse draw their net closed, putting a couple of Roman Cavalry stands in a position without room to recoil.


When all the dice have rolled, Carthage draws first blood.  Romans lost 2 stands to the Numidians and 2 stands to the battleline around the Elephants.

Top of the 5th, the Romans shore up their flanks, and in the battle kill a Numidian Auxilia stand in the rough and an Elephant in the center.  Not a strong riposte.


Bottom of the 5th, Xanthippos begins shifting his spear line to the right to cover where the Citizen Cavalry are faltering before the Hastati.  Light Troops draw their net hard around Roman Cavalry but remain locked in combat without killing.  Numidian Horse fight indecisively.  Carthaginian momentum is slowing.




6th turn, Carthaginians kill the Roman Cavalry on the far hill.  But all down the rest of the line, the shoving scrum of the battle is breaking up the Carthaginians.  And the Numidian command has taken 4 casualties, becoming broken and demoralised.


7th turn, the Numidians still manage to hold their ground to help save the Carthaginian Center, but the front line of becomes broken and demoralised as well, and Citizen Cavalry head to the rear, streaming past Xanthippos as he advances into the gap.


8th Turn, the Numidians still hold ground well enough on their flank.  But the command of the Syracusan mercenaries breaks as well.  And Xanthippos enters the fray directly against Regulus’ command.  Regulus’ troops have already suffered casualties in the first clash against the Elephants.  Carthage has not lost overwhelming casualties yet.  If Xanthippos’ fresh line can break Regulus’ tiring troops, Carthage can yet win the day.


9th Turn, Numidian Horse all withdraw, and one brave stand of Auxilia still hold the rough ground guarding the flank of Xanthippos.  Syracuse holds its ground to protect the other flank.  Light troops in the hills withdraw.  But the Romans in the center, tired and reduced in number though they are, just will not die.




With both wings of the army in full retreat, and Hoplites exhausted where they stand, Carthage must concede the day, and the First Punic War, to Rome.


Valiant, but dwindling, Citizen Spear cannot stop the ordered lines of Regulus.


Though Hastati still recoil from the tip of Xanthippos of Sparta’s own spear.


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