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Battle Scenarios

Battle of Cypsela (188 BC)

By Keith Finn

On his journey home from Galatia the consul Manlius Volso ran into trouble near Cypsela in Thrace. His Roman legions and auxiliaries were marching down a long, narrow wooded track when he was attacked by a conglomerate of about 10,000 Thracian tribesman. They waited until after his van had passed. Then, before the rearguard had come into view, the Thracians attacked and looted the baggage waggons in the middle of the column. When the troops from the van and rear rushed to the center, a disorderly fight ensued and persisted until the Thracians withdrew at dusk. Both sides suffered heavy losses.

Army composition in this battle will be fairly straightfoward. We have a figure of 10,000 for the Thracians, but the Romans are more problematic. The Roman force here is a portion of the 30,000 man consular army that fought at Magnesia in 190 BC. The brief description of the battle leads me to believe at the Thracians were not badly outnumbered, so we can use the premise that standard DBA 1.1 armies will do the job for this scenario.

The Armies

  • Thracian (#27) - no camp will be used.

  • Polybian Roman (#46b) - substitute a baggage train for the camp. I would suggest using War Wagon factors (but disallow shooting), or treat the baggage train as a non-impetous Horde (using the new Horde type from DBA 2.0)


Cypsela was an ambush in wooded country. There will be a road bisecting the mapboard, with one endpoint on the roman board edge and the other endpoint on the Thracian board edge. The Thracian player will then place the remainder of the terrain on the board - it should be a mixture of woods, gentle hills and possibly one marsh. No rivers where indicated in the history, so don't deploy any river. 4-6 terrain pieces should be used.


Since Cypsela was an ambush, the Romans are going be handicapped as to deployment. There will be a road bisecting the mapboard, and the Romans will set up in column on that road, with the baggage train in the middle of the column. The last unit of the Roman column must be within 200 paces of the Roman Board edge.

Thracians may then deploy anywhere on the board, but no closer than 500 paces to any Roman unit. Before you go hog wild and surround the Romans, remember the PIP penalty for separation from your general!

Victory Conditions

Each army/battle is broken per normal DBA. The loss of the Roman baggage train is equivalent to losing the camp.

Special Rules

Treat the baggage train as either a War Wagon that does not shoot, or a non-inpetous Horde.

Background Resources

This scenario was developed from the description provided in Battles of the Greek & Roman Worlds by John Drogo Montagu (Greenhill Books, April 2000).

Gamer Feedback

Comments are welcome at orcafinn@core.com.

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Last Update: Jan. 6, 2001

My thanks to Keith Finn for this scenario. Gamer feedback is welcome. Send comments to Chris Brantley at IamFanaticus@gmail.com.