DBA Strangeness

Going through the rules of DBA 2.2, I pondered some of the strangeness of the combat modifiers, trying to reconcile them in my mind. Here are some thoughts on what works and what is completely strange.

In melee double pikes get +3 and double warbands +1 vs all but cavalry, psiloi, light horse, scythed chariots and bows.  This is because these attackers all have some sort of missile weapons or are designed to crash through the ranks (scythed chariot) so the second rank could not actively help the front. That actually makes sense.

Double spears get +1 when fighting knights or other spears.  OK.  Huh?  This makes no sense.  If you are going to allow spears to support other spears, then one would think they would perform similarly to pikes with a +1 instead of a +3.  Not quite sure why the difference.

Psiloi supporting blades spear and auxilia confer a +1 bonus when attacking mounted, or forts or camps.  This is because 1) the target is vulnerable to missile fire or 2) the shooting overhead is making the defenders of the fort/camp keep their heads down.  This makes sense.

All of the tactical factors seem pretty straight forward.  As a whole, I think the support relationships are pretty well thought out save the Spear.  in the next iteration, I would love to see that standardized to behave like pikes do now.  Will it happen?  That remains to be seen.

4 Responses to DBA Strangeness

  1. Dale Hurtt says:

    Another way to look at it is that a Spear is +4 versus the Knights’ +3. Adding +1 makes it +5 versus +3, just slightly worse than the Pikes’ +6 versus +3. If you believe the Pikes should be slightly better than the Spears, then an additional +1, instead of +3, makes sense.

  2. DBA 1.1 (and probably 1.0 but do not own a copy) have pike, spear and warband receiving rear support in exactly the same circumstances: “Pikes add +3, spears or warband +1, if supported by another such element which is contiguous behind and facing the same direction, and neither is in bad going or attacking a camp, nor is being shot at or just moved into contact with bows or artillery”.
    DBM 1.1 has pikes, spears and warbands receiving the same for rear support, except pike and spear only get it in good going, warbands get it in and going.
    DBM 2.0 is similar, but superior warband get a 3rd and 4th rank bonus fighting mounted.
    I don’t have later versions of DBM (I gave up when 2.1 or 2.2 came out).

    So your hope that DBA 3.0 will go backwards may be illfounded. In my ongoing love-hate relationship with DBx, I am seriously thinking of playing a few games of DBM100 with the terrain rules from DBA and using the Andy Watkins mods for DBM 2.2 as he seems to have similar views to me.

  3. Mark Davies says:

    I agree with what you say about Spear. In a fight between blade and spear, The spear really have little hope. The chance to double rank a few would allow for local advantage.

  4. cutting_runner says:

    Of course, on paper many of the DBA interactions seem well thought out, and accounted for. But it all breaks down when the dice start to fly, and you realise that one side rolling a sequence of rolls consistently less than the other is not a statistical anomaly, but rather the hallmark of a true, stable stochastic process. I really do wish more game designers had advanced training in statistics and stochastics…

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