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Battle Scenarios

Battles of Taginaea (552 AD)
and Casilinum (554 AD)
Narses' Italian Campaign

By Mick Woods

The following are two scenarios from Narses’ Italian Campaign (circa 552-554 AD), using Basil's  DBA-M points system to generate balanced army lists.  Both battles are quite interesting and manageable on the table-top.

When converting historical battles to DBA-M, I reckon on an element of close rank infantry (Bd, Bw, Sp, Wb) equalling 1000 men, Bw (X) types equalling 1500, Ax, Cv and Kn equalling 750, Ps and LH equalling 500. Pretty much as in the great (DBA) book. For smaller battles (<10-12k) without too many mounted (for example most of the battles during the War of the Roses) you can fight them as 100 paces equals 4cm and then divide (or multiply- you know what I mean) the above ratios by 40%.

In both cases I've fiddled a bit with the DBM Army Lists (Volume 3) to make the points fit, represent troop quality, and the way the armies fought on the day. This is done largely by dismounting some Byzantine Cv as Bw and Lombard/Herul knights as Sp. Otherwise it is guesswork inspired by the DBM army list.

TAGINAEA

At Taginaea (552 AD), a total of 18,000 Ostrogoths faced off against 26,000 Byzantines and their Lombard/Herul Allies.   I've drawn up the armies as follows:

Byzantines

Element

Number

Points

Comments

 Thousands

Narses, Cv

1

7

CinC

0.75

Cv

7

49

Byzantine Cavalry

5.25

Kn

2

18

Heruls and Lombards

1.5

Sp

4

16

Dismounted Kn

4

Bd

5

25

Byz. Skoutatoi

5

Ps

2

6

Byz. Archers

1

Bw

6

24

Includes dismounted Cv and Lombards

6

LH

2

10

Byzantine

1

Ax

2

6

Filler

1.5

Total

31

161

 

26

 Ostrogoths

Element

Number

Points

Comments

 Thousands

Totila, Kn

1

9

CinC

0.75

Kn

13

117

Gothic horse

9.75

Bw

6

24

 

6

Ps

1

3

 

0.5

Sp

2

8

 

2

Totals

23

161

 

19

Terrain

The only scenery on the field of battle worth mentioning was a small hill on the Byzantine left.

CASILINUM

Casilinum (554 AD) was a stand-up fight between 30,000 Franks (mostly infantry) and a smaller (18,000) but essentially similar Byzantine Army to the one that whipped Totila. The Franks advanced in a giant wedge and lost big-time. Archery again played a big part in the battle, as the Byzantine line formed a giant half circle with archers on the wings who were able to fire into the rear of the Frankish wedge.

Byzantines

Element

Number

Points

Comments

 Thousands

Cv

7

49

Includes CinC

5,25

Kn

1

9

As above

0,75

Bd

4

20

 

4

Ps

2

6

 

1

Bw

4

16

 

4

Sp

2

8

 

2

LH

2

10

 

1

Totals

22

118

 

18

Franks

Element

Number

Points

Comments

 Thousands

Kn

4

36

Includes CinC

3

Wb

26

78

Not an army of great subtlety!

26

Ps

2

6

 

1

Totals

32

120

 

30

Terrain

The battle occurred near Capua, on the banks of the river Casilinum.  Otherwise, I don't think there was much scenery on the battlefield.

Notes

Most of the info about Taginaea was gleaned from the Dark Ages website. They also have info on Casilinum and a map.  There is also a good Danish language website on this as well.

One problem with re-fighting Casilinum is that under DBA the deep wedge tactic employed by the Franks doesn't really work. Any ideas?

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Last Update:   Feb. 22, 2003

My thanks to Mick Woods for these scenarios. Comments, questions, and suggestions are welcome. Send them to Chris Brantley at IamFanaticus@gmail.com.