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Battle Scenarios

Battle of Tribola (147 BC)

By Keith Finn

This battle occurred after the so-called "Spanish Wars," as part of Viriathus' uprising. Marcus Vetilius was marching against the Lusitanians with a force of around 10,000 Romans and had bottled them up in a place from which there was no escape. The Lusitani asked for a truce, but a shepherd called Viriathus, a born leader, reminded his countrymen of Roman perfidy and broken pledges. With 1000 men and some swift horses Viriathus managed to harass and delay the Romans while the Lusitani escaped.

Pursued by Marcus Vetilius, Viriathus and his men proceeded toward the town of Tribola, where the rest of the Lusitani were waiting for him. Near Tribola, Viriathus laid an ambush in a dense thicket. As the Romans passed the thicket, they were suddenly attacked by Viriathus from the front and by the concealed Lusitani in the flanks. About 4,000 of the 10,000 Romans were slain; Marcus Vetilius was captured and then killed.

The Armies

We have a figure of 10,000 each for both the Romans and the Lusitani.

  • Ancient Spanish (#52)(or use the DBA 2.0 sample list II/39c Ancient Spanish Lusitanian: 1x3Cv (Gen), 1x2LH, 3x3Ax, 6x2Ps, 1x3Wb or 4Bd or 2Ps).

  • 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)


Tribola was an ambush in hilly, wooded country. There will be a road bisecting the mapboard, with one endpoint on the roman board edge and the other endpoint on the Spanish board edge. The Spanish player will then place the remainder of the terrain on the board - it should be a mixture of woods, steep hills and one BUA. No rivers were indicated in the history, so don't deploy any river. 6-8 terrain pieces should be used.


Since Tribola 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. The last unit of the Roman column must be within 200 paces of the Roman Board edge.

The Spanish may then deploy anywhere on the board, but no closer than 500 paces to any Roman unit. Historically, it seems the Lusitani deployed in a classic 'L' shaped ambush, with the General, heavier troops and cavalry blocking the road while the light troops deployed along the road itself in the thicket.

Victory Conditions

Each army 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. 7, 2001

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