Justinian's Wars (c. 530 AD)
By Mike Demana
Justinian's Wars is a campaign intended for use with De Bellis Antiquitatis (DBA) ancient miniatures rules. The mechanics are purposely kept simple so that laborious tracking of army strengths or logistics is unnecessary.
It is the 6th Century, A.D. The last emperor in Rome was dethroned two generations ago. The barbarians who tore down the empire in the West have carved out their own kingdoms -- the Ostrogoths in Italy, the Vandals in Africa, the Franks in Gaul, and so on. The Eastern Roman Empire still stands, though, and the Emperor Justinian has just reconquering the Western Mediterranean. His vision will cause some men to rise to fame as generals, nations to be embroiled in war and kingdoms to fall.
Players will take on the role of Justinian's generals (Belisarius or Narses), or one of the many barbarian kingdoms or peoples. Their goal will be to preserve or enlarge their kingdoms. They are free to form alliances, invade neighbors or wage war as they see fit. The following is a list of kingdoms that players may choose from (along with their approximate modern location in parentheses):
There are numerous, slightly smaller kingdoms that will also be used if the campaign attracts a larger number of players. These include:
In addition, there will be even smaller non-player kingdoms that could invade the lands of players or be attacked themselves, such as the Basques, Alans, Frisians, Bretons, etc.
Kingdoms are composed of varying numbers of provinces. Although each province is assumed to have a natural collection of different types of terrain features, one will be considered dominant. A province that is predominantly Forest is considered to have its share of plains, rivers, small hills, etc., too. However, for game purposes, it will be marked on the campaign map with a symbol denoting it as Forest. Provinces are not all the same size, but they all treated identically for income and movement purposes. Each province provides one Silver Talent of income to the kingdom at the end of the Autumn turn. The dominate terrain type does not affect this. However, some provinces are shown containing a square designating a particular city. Each city under a player's control contributes one extra Silver Talent.
The campaign is divided into turns, each of which represents one season of the year (Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter). Each turn begins with all players recording the actions and expenditures their kingdom will make this seas on. These will be turned in to the GM and read off. Present players whose kingdoms were invaded are then given the option of canceling their movement orders. Once this is done, final movement is determined and announced by the GM. Resulting tabletop battles are assigned to be fought and the results are applied. The GM will then produce a summary of the turn's events and up date the campaign map, which will be posted in The Soldiery.
Movement and Invasions
The movement of all armies in the campaign is one province per turn. The normal method of movement will be to launch an invasion from a controlled province to a bordering one not under the player's control. Also, players may shift the positions of their commanders one province within their kingdom. Movement across water is considered sea movement (see below), unless the two provinces are shown on the map as connected by arrows. If they are connected by arrows (such as between Thrace and Asia Minor), it is considered land movement in all respects.
When invading, the player dictates which of his own provinces he is launching it from, the name of the general located in that province, and the target bordering province. A battle will then be fought for control of that province. Players are also allowed to shift generals between adjacent controlled provinces. He may shift as many or all of his generals if he wishes. How ever, there must be one general in each province. The only way a province c an be left without one is if he is invading a new province, leaving him short. A new Skill Level 1 General (see Generals and Skill Levels below) appears in the emptied province.
Once all players have turned in their generals' movements to the game master, the results of these are announced to all players. Players whose kingdoms were invaded may cancel any of his own invasions or shifting of commander s. All invaded players present at The Soldiery secretly write down whether they will do this or not, and turn this in. The GM then reveals these simultaneously, too.
Any resulting tabletop battles are then determined, and players are chosen to fight out the conflict using DBA rules with modifications listed below. Players will be given every opportunity to resolve their own battles unless scheduling proves too difficult.
Meanwhile, each player is informed of the enemy army's size. At this point, player kingdoms who are defending their own province from an invasion may spend Silver Talents to increase the army size of his defending force. The cost is one talent per size increase (see Generals and Size Levels below).
Sea movement is identical to land movement, for the most part. The map delineates seven sea zones (North Sea, Mare Atlantico, Western Mediterranean, Central Mediterranean, Eastern Mediterranean, Euxine Sea and Caspian Sea). The borders are marked on the map with rows of tiny waves and should clearly define which land provinces each sea zone borders.
A general may launch a sea invasion from a coastal province to any other province that borders the same sea zone. Some provinces border more than one sea zone. This will make them more strategically valuable, since this give s access to a greater number of enemy provinces. Of course, they are more vulnerable, too, as more enemies can reach them. Sea invasions cost one extra Silver Talent.
On the map, some provinces that are separated by only a narrow stretch of water, are marked with arrows. Movement between these provinces is considered land movement in all respects, i.e., no extra cost for invasions and retreat is possible across these.
If two generals mutually launch invasions of each other's province, they d o NOT meet at the border. The battle will occur in one province or the other. Roll 1d6 for each general, adding his skill level. The higher scorer' s invasion takes precedence, and the battle is fought in the home province o f the low scorer.
If more than one nation invades the same province, the following method determines the order in which the battles occur. First, if the invaded kingdom had launched an invasion or shifted a commander from that province, it may cancel it as normal. Then, roll 1d6 for each invading general, adding his skill level. Reroll ties. The highest scorer is assumed to have struck first. After this battle is fought, the next high scorer is given the option o f continuing his invasion (against the winner of the first battle) or canceling it. This proceeds until all invaders have fought a battle or canceled t heir invasion. Thus, control of such a province could be fought over several times in one season.
Generals and Size Levels
Rather than keep track of lost units or other such bookkeeping methods, the campaign uses a much simpler system. The size of the army is dictated by the level of the general. There are four levels (Level 4 is the most skilled, Level 1 the least). A Level 1 General, for example, controls 18 elements (elements are the stands or u nits in DBA). He will always have 18 elements with him, unless this is adjusted upward via Silver Talent expenditure as detailed above, or downward du e to a recent defeat (see Post Battle).
Every province has a general (and his army) present. This information is updated each turn after all players' moves and battles are resolved. The location of a kingdom's commanders is common knowledge--there is no hidden movement. Thus, the main task of players will be to direct the movement of their generals and keep track of those of other kingdoms.
Enemy provinces are invaded by naming the general (and the province he is in) and declaring which bordering province he is moving into. When more than one general is present in a province that is invaded (due to retreats), the highest level one dictates the army size. A player may not invade the same province with more than one general, though. New Level 1 generals appear in vacant provinces only if necessary. A player who has a surplus of commanders must shift them to cover vacated provinces, if possible.
Conduct of Battles
Once an engagement has been decided upon, the players must first draw up t heir Order of Battle (army list). All players are provided with army lists for each kingdom corresponding to the appropriate levels of commanders at the start of the campaign. The proper size list is consulted and the player then records what elements he is choosing to field, if his army list allows choices.
The board size for 15mm battles is 4' wide by 2' deep. Determine, by looking at the campaign map, the predominate terrain type in the province. Locate the special restrictions for that type in the campaign rules. The defender then arranges the terrain on the board, as he wishes, according to its provisions. The invader then chooses which of the two long sides of the board will be his base edge.
The defender will be located opposite. Then, each player rolls 1d6 and adds his Commander Level, rerolling ties. The higher scorer chooses whether to:
Deployment begins by the player delegated to deploy first placing his camp anywhere in good going on his base edge. The other player then places his camp. Next, the first player deploys his entire army, followed by the second player. The first player then takes the first move and the game proceeds as per DBA rules.
The following modifications are made to DBA for this campaign:
The game ends when one side has lost 1/3 or more of its elements AND more than the enemy. Loss of the general's element does not end the game, though normal movement disadvantages apply. If the defeated army lost twice as many elements as its opponent, it is considered a Major Defeat. If the defeated army lost less than twice as many, then it is a Minor Defeat.
The forces of the defeated general will suffer a temporary reduction in size. A general suffering a Minor Defeat will function as one skill level smaller on the following turn. This will be denoted in the turn summary report by placing an asterisk next to his name and skill level. On the first turn after a Major Defeat, a general functions as two levels smaller (denoted by two asterisks). On the second turn after the Major Defeat, he is reduced t o one level less, marked with a single asterisk. Defeats on successive turn s are not cumulative. Always use the most recent battle to determine size level reduction Furthermore, due to the poor morale, disorder and fragmentation a battlefield inflicts upon an army, no general currently marked with an asterisk may invade an enemy province. They may be shifted from one friendly province to another, as normal. They just cannot take offensive action by invading, though.
On the other hand, battlefield victory will generate positive effects. For inflicting a Major Defeat upon an enemy, the kingdom's treasury is enriched by one Silver Talent in plunder or spoils. Also, the victorious general may attract additional recruits or be entrusted by rulers with more troops. This is represented by having a general's skill level (and army size) increase as he wins battles. To help keep track o f victories (and to add color to the campaign), players MUST name their commanders.
It becomes progressively more difficult to rise to the highest levels. To advance from Level 1 to Level 2, only one victory is required. To go from Level 2 to 3, two new victories are needed. From Level 3 to 4, three additional wins are needed. Thus, it would take 6 victories in a career to go from a lowly Level 1 commander to Level 4.
The winning kingdom controls the province where the battle occurred. The losing commander and his army must retreat to his choice of neighboring, con trolled If none exists, he may immediately retreat all the way through the provinces of an adjacent, non-player, Ally Kingdom into the closest province of his own kingdom. If option does not exist, he may pay f or his army to pass through Neutral territory (Talent per kingdom passed through). Neutral is defined as either any player kingdom permits this (the Talent goes to the player's treasury) or any non-player kingdom not at Hostile or At War diplomatic status with his kingdom. If none of these options exist or can be negotiated, the commander and his army is destroyed. An army may not utilize sea movement on retreat.
Also, if the general's element was destroyed in the battle, there is a chance the commander was slain. To determine this, each player rolls 2d6 and adds the number of enemy elements he destroyed or forced to recoil or flee of f table in the battle. If the player whose general's element was lost rolls higher, the commander survives. If not, then the commander was killed.
When a general is killed or a losing army has nowhere to retreat to, major disorder is assumed to have struck the army and shattered it. Troops that may have been bound by personal loyalty to the commander go home and faint-hearted ones desert. The end result is that the old commander's skill level is permanently lost. The army is now controlled by a new Level 1 general, unless there was already more than one general in the province. One of the remaining commanders would then assume control of the army and his skill level determines its size.
Cities and Sieges
There are five cities on the map (Rome, Carthage, Constantinople, Antioch and Ctesiphon), located wholly within separately-named provinces. If a battle is fought and a new kingdom takes control of the province, it does not automatically take control of the city, too. It must roll a Siege Roll after the battle. The defender, who lost the field battle, is always assumed to have a sufficient garrison to force this roll.
On the turn that the battle was fought, the attacker takes the city on a roll of 6 on 1d6. If unsuccessful, each season (following the resolution o f tabletop battles), the attacker rolls again. He adds +1 to his roll for each consecutive season of siege (thus, if the battle was fought in Spring, h is roll in Autumn would be 1d6+2). Byzantine and Sassanid Persian players also modify this roll.
Until a successful siege roll is made, the attacker does NOT control the city. The defender retains control of it, and continues to receive the Silver Talent each Autumn turn.
Just as there are several ways to get Silver Talents into your kingdom's treasury (Autumn income phase, Major Victory, Tolls, etc.), there are many wa ys to spend it. All expenditures except Hire Recruits and Pay Tolls must be written down and turned in, along with any planned invasions and movement o f generals. The following is a list of expenditures. All cost one Silver Talent.
As the campaign progresses, new ideas may emerge as things kingdoms should be able to spend Talents on.
Unlike in normal games of DBA, where the player setting up the terrain has few restrictions, some attempt will be made in campaign battles to do so. Each province is listed with a dominate terrain type, such as Plains, Woods, Hills, etc. The following charts contain restrictions upon the defender on how he must set up the terrain, according to the dominate type.
General Restrictions -- These apply to ALL provinces.
Plains--There are few restrictions on this type. Defenders may place any number of gentle and steep hills, bad going, etc. Rivers may not run from one side edge to the opposite side edge, though. One terminus must be along a side's base edge, and its length may not cover more than half the battlefield. A minimum of roughly 3/4's of the total area of the battlefield must b e clear, good going terrain.
Forest--There must be at least one bad going woods area in six of the eight sectors. Rivers are limited as above. However, at least 50% of the total area of the battlefield must still be clear, good going terrain.
Hills--There must be hills in at least five of the eight sectors. Of these, at least half must be bad going steeply-sloped hills. However, at least 50% of the total area of the battlefield must still be clear, good going terrain. Rivers are further limited than above by being limited to covering no more than a quarter of the length of the battlefield.
Mountains--All eight sectors must contain hills. At least half of these must be steeply-sloped, bad going. No rivers are permitted. Only roughly 1/ 3 of the battlefield must be clear, good going terrain.
Desert--At least half of the sectors must contain either (defender's choice): a bad going sandy or rocky area; an impassable rocky cliff area; or six inches of linear gully/wadi low area, which is bad going to cross and counts as uphill for an element defending the edge. No rivers are permitted. More than 50% of the total area must be clear, good going terrain, though.
Army Lists and Special Abilities
Players will notice that the following army lists are NOT always identical to the ones published in the DBA rules. In some cases, I have made changes to reflect what I feel be a more accurate breakdown of troops available in this particular time period. In others, I felt that the troop types chosen to represent certain historical forces could be better depicted with a different class.
The biggest example is with many of the Germanic barbarian cavalry element s. I do not feel that DBA's Knight class adequately portrays them. It makes them too powerful against other cavalry, in my opinion. Also, it makes them able to line up and run over much of the infantry of the period -- which they were not necessarily able to do. If this were so, the Frankish kingdom would have been slaughtered by neighboring Ostrogoths and Visigoths instead of going on to set up the most successful of the barbarian kingdoms.
Instead, I have invented an impetuous Cavalry class for them. It is rep resented in the list as Cavalry(!). For game purposes, its factors are identical to all other Cavalry class at +3 versus both foot and mounted. However, Cavalry(!) will pursue exactly as Knights do in DBA. This will be helpful when things are going their way, but vulnerable to getting into trouble with rash pursuits (as historically). They are NOT treated as Knights a s regards to quick-kills.
In all cases where a choice is granted, the player may pick and choose. F or example, the Byzantines are allowed 2 Spear or Auxilia or Psiloi in one part of their list. They may choose one Spear and one Auxilia, or two Psil oi or one Spear and one Psiloi, etc. Any variation is permitted.
(Special Ability: When defending in their home
province, the Basques set up terrain, choose their table
edge, and deploy second against all opponents - -
including the Huns).
Level 1: 6 Cavalry(!); 3 Warband; 3 Psiloi; 6
Cavalry(!) or Warband or Psiloi
Last Updated: August 1, 2000
Kudos to Mike Demana for this extensive campaign scenario. Questions, comments, and feedback are welcome. Sent them to my attention at IamFanaticus@gmail.com.