A Load of Gauls – A DBA Campaign Matrix Game

‘A Load of Gauls’ is a Engle Matrix Game campaign based on the Gallic invasion of Italy in 225-224 BC. Battles are fought using DBA. The game was devised by Colin Tothill although I’ve made minor tweaks to it.

Warband Ooops

This is a great campaign let down by using DBA as the tactical rules. When I ran it the lead up to the final battle was really exciting but then the Gallic Warband just sliced through the Romans. Quite an anti-climax. Use some other tactical rules instead of DBA or tweak DBA Warband rules.

Historical Situation

The Roman success at the siege of Veii (circa 405 to 396 BC) was the final defeat of the Etruscan League. It also exposed the Romans to direct contact with the Celtic tribes of northern Italy whom they called Gauls. This new enemy lost no time in acquainting themselves with Rome. They sacked the City in 386 BC and occupied it for nine months. This sack had an enormous psychological effect on the Romans. From then on, the enemies they feared most were the Gauls.

The Romans rose to dominate the Italian peninsular by the prosecution of wars throughout the fourth and early third centuries. The Gauls were always involved on the periphery of the activity – and the Romans were very aware of it. In the middle of the third century Rome and her one-time ally Charthage became embroiled in a Sicilian dispute. So began the First Punic War. It seems that during this struggle the Gauls in the north waited for the victors to emerge, ready to challenge them. As Rome was marginally victorious in 241 BC, it was quite simple for enmity to be resumed.

Although the Gallic tribes often fought among themselves, in 232 BC Rome offered a reason for them to unite. The Gallic terriotry known as Picenum was colonised by Roman citizens. Latins and other Italians had lived there since 283 BC when the Romans conquered and expelled the Senones (a Celtic tribe). However, colonisation by citizens was the practised Roman method of annexation. Naturally the Gauls found this act provocative, and the Boii allied themselves to another tribe, the Insubres. They sent messengers to other tribes, including those living in and to the the west of the Alps.

In true Celtic fashion, it took persuasion, coercion, bribery and a great deal of time to organise themselves for war. Two of the tribes, the Cenomanes and Venetii, could not be encouraged to take part. Finally the Gaesatae led by two Kings, Concolitanus and Aneroestes, crossed the Alps into Gallia Cisalpina to precipitate the invasion. This was in the year 225 BC.


Order of Battle

The initial forces have been chosen to give a total force of 30 elements per side. The Roman Praetor is subordinate to both the Consuls, otherwise, all leaders have equivalent status. The two Gaesatae kings count as one leader. The initial force locations and strengths are:


Gaesatae under Concolitanus and Aneroestes (Alpes Penninae): Large force.
Insubres under Insubrix (Insubres): Large force
Boi under Boiorix (Cispadana): Large force

A large force is: 1 Cv, 6 Wb, 1 Ps, 1 Cv or Wb, 1 Ps or Wb


Consul Gaius Atilius Regulus (Sardinia): Large force
Consul Lucius Aemilius Papus (N. Picenum): Large force
Roman Praetor (N. Etruria): Small force

A large force is: 1 Cv, 9 Bd, 1 Ps, 1 Cv or Ps
A small force is: 1 Cv, 4 Bd, 1 Ps


Normal movement is one area per turn. Forced movement is two per turn. Sardinia to Transarnus
or N. Etruria is a normal movement. Sardinia to any other western Italian area must count the sea
as an area as well. Movement by sea is not allowed to eastern Italian areas.
Game duration
The game is played over 17 turns (half a month). The first turn being early May 225, the second
late May, and so on. Thus, the 17th represents early January 224.


Recruitment recovers one lost element, up to the maximum of 30 elements total for each side. The Romans may recruit in Italia, Cenomani and Venetia. The Gauls may recruit in Gallia Cisalpina, except Cenomani and Venetia. Recruitment is impossible in reduced areas.

Specific Victory Conditions

The Gauls keep track of Victory Points (VP) as follows:

  • Immediate victory: Gauls reduce Roma
  • +2VP Gauls win a major battle
  • +1VP Gauls win a minor battle
  • +1VP Gauls reduce an Italian area
  • -2VP Romans reduce an area of Gallia Cisalpine
  • -2VP Gauls lose a minor battle
  • -4VP Gauls lose a major battle
  • Immediate defeat: No remaining Gallic formation of 10+ elements

A major battle is one that involves at least 10 elements on each side. A minor battle involves at least 5 elements on each side.

Decide victory using this table after 17 turns:

  • 6 or more Clear Gallic win
  • 3 to 5 Gallic advantage for following year
  • -2 to +2 Draw
  • -5 to -3 Roman advantage for following year
  • -6 or less Clear Roman win

Players also record their individual victory points. Points cannot be split and go to only one player. At the end of the game, change any negative Roman players cores to positive and vice-versa. The player with the highest score has done best individually during the game.

At the end of the game, all players vote for the best argument of the game, and for the most sportsman like player. Both the player with the best argument, and the most sportsman like player, get a bonus VP

Play Sheets

In the games I ran each player got 2 x A4 sheets (plastic wrapped) with all the rules etc:

  • First sheet
    • Generic Rules for a Matrix Game
    • Generic Rules for Battle Resolution (unless using DBA or some such)
  • Second sheet
    • Specific Campaign background and rules
    • Playsheet for their specific General

I have templates for A Load of Gauls as a word documents (zipped) for those interested in running a Matrix campaign.


Tothill, C. (1988). A Load of Gauls. Wargames Illustrated, 88, 33-36.

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