The following rule modifications and naval lists were developed specifically for the needs of an e-mail DBM campaign set in the late 3rd century BC. They are designed for the simple but satisfying resolution of fleet sized naval battles.
Although these rules are grounded on the existing naval aspects of DBM, they are in no way intended as a replacement for the existing rule mechanics used in the land game. Instead the aim has been to create a set of rules appropriate for purely naval battles.
The rules and naval lists have been written with a very specific period in mind, namely 240BC to 167BC. This is the period from the end of the First Punic War to the final Roman destruction of the Macedonian monarchy. But the rules should be perfectly valid for a much greater time frame, embracing most of antiquity up to the Byzantine era. I have no doubt that later periods might be accommodated with further modifications right through the 15th century and beyond.
The DBM naval modifications are detailed below. All existing DBM rules should be used except as indicated in the modifications:
Exceptional galleys fight in contact as (S) galleys, may shoot as (F) artillery or (S) galleys (owner's choice of one per bound), and act otherwise as (I) regulars.
Regular only. Fleet dispatch vessels and some pirate craft.
The following tactical factor also applies to boarding actions: +1 For irregular (S)/(O) galley, (X) galley or (S)/(O) ship in close combat that begins a bound in frontal contact with an enemy (grappled).
Weather and time of day may be determined as in the land game. Terrain should be restricted to open water, rivers, and land (mainland, islands, etc.).
Players may wish to experiment with shoals and reefs as difficult going, but remember that even large ancient warships were of very shallow draft. In general, no ancient naval battles were fought very far from land.
The sail/ oar distinction in movement creates more accurate "march" restrictions for naval elements. Even though galleys would routinely put their main sails ashore before an engagement; their smaller boat sails would be retained for pre-combat maneuver (where possible) and flight. The progressive penalties for continuous rowing in a bound is a fatigue limitation.
The diekplus is the one aspect of ancient naval warfare that was the hardest represent in DBM. The ability to attempt it has been appropriately limited to the well trained "regular" galleys. The historical maneuver involved the front galleys in the column rushing the gaps in the enemy line and disabling opponents by raking their oars rather than maneuvering to ram bow on. Ideally it was the depth of the attack formation that allowed the following galleys to strike the flanks any enemy attempting to close on the flanks of those in front. This is the situation that makes the lead element immune to adverse flank supports and the depth of the column important as a modifier. The risks of this maneuver are represented in the vulnerability of the diekplus to envelopment by the enemy line (periplus), especially when adequate allowance has been made for a reserve line to contain any breakthrough.
Grappling simulates naval elements involved in drawn out boarding actions and possibly disabled after being oar raked. The effects of grappling should encourage the player with skilled crews to avoid attacking under less than ideal conditions. The player with the +1 advantage in boarding combat should seek to tie up more maneuverable enemy ships. Both will be well served by a second line reserve that is free to maximize combat support against immobilized enemy elements. This interaction sets up something of the classic interaction between the maneuver fleet (Athenian/Carthaginian) against the boarding fleet (Peloponesian/Roman).
The modified flee result from shooting makes more sense of the DBM result, and is a pleasing game effect.
Below are included some examples of the naval lists written in conjunction with the rule modifications for the campaign. These lists are constructed to accommodate battles up to 400 points; but 200 point battles seem more than adequate, especially when many (S) types are present. There are no minimums other than admirals to encourage some experimentation with the limited choices of naval elements available. If players end up taking all the (S) types they can get, this is historical for the period battles anyway. The lists do not include foreign allies and possible coastal fortification/ artillery; as these were separately provided for by circumstances in the campaign. Each fleet is required two Irr Ships (I) per command to serve as baggage. These are not paid for.
Admiral's Flagship Reg Gal (S) @30AP 1 Vice-Admiral's Flagship Reg Gal (S) @30AP 1-2 Standard Cataphracts Irr Gal (S) @9AP 0-30 Smaller Cataphracts Irr Gal (O) @7AP 0-10 Dispatch boats Reg Bt (F) @5AP 0-2The Republican Romans were normally ambivalent in naval affairs. In the course of the first Punic War they went from having no fleet to having the best fleet. By the era of the second Punic War these advantages had all been lost; and the Romans were relying on allied (many Greek) navies right into the imperial era. This list represents the Republic's own fleets in an era that Rome fought few naval actions. Although all galley fleets necessarily practised both boarding and ramming; limitations on Roman seamanship abilities led the Romans to emphasize boarding actions with legionaries. I have assumed that the best crews would be confined to the ships accompanying the admirals and dispatch boats. Regular flagships in an irregular (S) galley fleet will mean that in boarding actions the flagships will fight with the same +4 as the line ships; put this anomaly down to Roman commanders being ill at ease away from dry land.
Admiral's Flagship Reg Gal (S) @30AP 1 Vice-Admiral's Flagship Reg Gal (S) @30AP 1-2 Standard Cataphracts Reg Gal (S) @10AP 0-12 Smaller Cataphracts Reg Gal (O) @8AP 0-24 Undecked vessels Reg Gal (F) @7AP 0-6This was not a remarkable period for the Carthaginian fleet. No doubt after recovering from the losses of the first Punic War it remained an efficient naval force. The Carthaginians historically preferred more lightly built ships. The maneuver advantages now conferred by the regular classification should reflect their naval capabilities better.
Admiral's Flagship Reg Gal (S) @30AP 1 Vice-Admiral's Flagship Reg Gal (S) @30AP 1-2 Standard Cataphracts Reg Gal (S) @10AP 0-20 Smaller Cataphracts Reg Gal (O) @8AP 0-16 Undecked vessels Reg Gal (F) @7AP 0-2Though never large, this should be the best fleet of the period. Excellent seamanship coupled with generally heavier types than the Carthaginians. Superior Rhodian naval architecture was a state secret, with the sentence death passed on unauthorized persons in military shipyards. Frequently allied to Rome, the Rhodians provided the major check on pirate activity in the Mediterranean. When Roman policy later diverted trade revenue from Rhodes destroying the economic basis of the fleet, the Mediterranean largely fell under the control of pirates. The modified DBM naval rules do no real justice to the qualitative advantages this very small navy enjoyed against period opponents.
Admiral's flagship Reg Gal (S) @30AP 1 Vice-Admiral's flagship Reg Gal (S) @30AP 1-2 Upgrade f-ships to lrge ctphts, Reg Gal (X) @5AP any Standard cataphracts Reg Gal (S) @10AP 0-12 Smaller cataphracts Reg Gal (O) @8AP 0-12 Lembi Irr Bts (O) @5AP 0-18 Undecked ships Reg Gal (F) @7AP 0-4The Macedonians had access to many good Aegean seamen from traditional Greek naval powers.. They also made large scale use of smaller pirate craft in support of their first line battleships. Very large ships were built after the example of Antigonus and Demetrius. The Reg Gal (X)'s represented here would in fact be dwarfed by some of the monsters the earlier successors were floating (and successfully too).
Admiral's flagship Reg Gal (S) @30AP 1 Vice-Admiral's flagship Reg Gal (S) @30AP 1-2 Upgrade flagships to (X) (Ptolemaic only) @5AP any Standard cataphracts Reg Gal (S) @10AP 0-15 Smaller cataphracts Reg Gal (O) @8AP 0-18 Undecked ships Reg Gal (F) @7AP 0-6The Seleucids and the Ptolemies drew on Phoenician sailors and ships from the same tradition as the Carthaginians. The Pergamenes relied on similar sorts from Aegean Greek states. The Ptolemies (like the Macedonians) had a tradition of building the largest sorts of ships. Ptolemy Philopater owned a "forty" in this period which probably didn't get out of the Nile much.
Admiral's flagship Irr Shp (O) @16AP 1 Vice-admiral's flagship Irr Shp (O) @16AP 1-2 Upgrade flagships to (S) @+2 any Larger boats Irr Shp (O) @6AP 0-12 Lembi Irr Bts (O) @5AP 0-25The Illyrians had a long tradition of organized piracy and slaving in the Adriatic. This list is a generic attempt at representing a period barbarian power.
Admiral's Flagship Reg Gal (F) @27AP 1 Ally Admirals' Flagship Reg Gal (F) @17AP 1-2 Pirate craft Reg Gal (F) @7AP 0-12 Smaller craft Reg Bt (F) @5AP 0-12 Lembi Irr Bt (O) @5AP 0-24This list is a collection of ship types typical of period Greek pirates. Although this period was not know for organized pirate fleets on the scale of the later Cilician pirates, organized piracy was an option for minor Greek maritime states and freebooters alike. Fast maneuver types are emphasized with ally admirals for appropriate effect. Although there are no minimums on any of these lists, each ally admiral should command at least 1/4 of the available elements.
The original lists included a Chinese, Indian and Barbarian list which I've added for completeness:
Admiral's flagship Irr Shp (O) @16AP 1 Vice-admiral's flagship Irr Shp (O) @16AP 1-2 Larger boats Irr Shp (O) @6AP 0-40 Upgrade any above to (S) Chin/Indian Only@+2 0-1/2 Smaller boats Irr Bts (O) @5AP 0-20
The rules were developed exclusively with 1/1200 models on 40 x 40mm bases. This scale seems an attractive and affordable option. I would like to thank all the participants in the campaign for their valuable criticisms. Simon Clegg of the antipodes deserves especial credit for his ideas.