Here are some photos of the test game we played over the weekend. Matt setup the venue at Games and Stuff in Glenn Burnie this past Sunday (Feb 26th). I didn’t take any notes but the photos are in chronological order.
Here is my standard DBA 3.0 battle of Magnesia. I have the Romans as the invader and the battlefield being a flat plane with a river on the Roman left. The forces are as follows.
1xKn Gen 1xKn 1xLh 4xPk 2xPs 1xEl 1xWb 1xSch
Roman With allied Kn
1xCv Gen 1xKn 4xBd 2xSp 2xPs 2xAx
My play test rules are the same. No supporting elements. Pikes are changed to +5 (foot) +6 (mounted) +4 (against shooting, or in close combat against Ps, Bw, Cv or Lh). They suffer a -4 penalty in bad going.
The Seleucids get 6 for pips on the first turn but are content to advance at a slow pace and keep the line together. The Romans get a 1 for pips on the second bound and elect to stay put. The Seleucids get another 6 but continue their slow march.
The Romans roll a 2 for pips and elect to kick out their cavalry to extend their flank a bit.
The Seleucids get a third 6 for pips and advance the main line across the front. The Sch moves in in hopes of doubling the Roman general and forcing him to flee off the board. They are supported by the Kn on their left.
The Romans get 3 pips, enough to do some maneuvering of their own. They advance across the front. The right gets some support from an Ax.
On bound 7, the Seleucid luck turns for the worst. They roll a 1 for command points and are forced to use it to block the hole left in the line. Hopefully they can slow the blades up.
Rome has a chance to cause some real damage now but only rolls a 1 on their pip roll this turn. To recap, Rome rolled a 1-2-3-1 for pips. The General moves to support the Kn.
This particular game was pretty interesting. The Romans were out manned on their right but made good progress against the lighter troops on their left. The Galatian Wb was particularly disappointing. The Pk cracked easily with a double overlap. Command failures occured on both sides but the Romans overcame adversity despite rolling less than 2 pips per turn on the average. The Seleucids, on the other hand, probably could have made better use of their pips. Their luck left them when they needed it most. That is what lost the battle for them.
So, I am thoroughly convinced that movement does not break the game as some claim. It is not any easier to gain a flank. “Barkering” still works just fine. Reserves work quite well for counter attacking (the El for instance!).
I settled in on Pikes being +5 because the relationship between Pk and Wb was +2 if the Wb were supported as well. Since there is no support in this test, it made sense that Pk should be +5. So what is going through your mind is that they enjoyed a 1 point advantage over Bd. Well, they also had to attack on a narrow front. So, I think it is a good compromise. Sp will enjoy a boost in fire power over Pk with only a 1 point deficit but again, Pk can attack across a broad front. The extra verbiage for shooting and some unit types is necessary because Pk are weaker in the game against some types of troops.
This battle pitted a Pyrrhic army vs a Polybian Roman army. For the battle, I had no support rules. The only modification was to have Pike be +6 vs foot or mounted. Pyrrhus invaded so Rome put out a terrain rich environment including a river. The river would be a non-factor with the new setup rules and the fact that it was behind the Pyrrhic army. Here is the line-up.
1xCv Gen 1xCv 6xBd 2xSp 2xPs
1xKn Gen 1xCv 1x Lh 4xPk 2xSp 1xPs 1xAx 1xEl
The Romans deployed the Bd in the middle with 1 Cv on the left and the Cv Gen in reserve. The Ps and Sp started in the woods. Pyrrhus deployed the Pk in the cnter flanked by 2 Sp. The Kn Gen and Lh were on the left and the Ax, El and Ps were deployed in the woods on the Pyrrhic right.
The Romans got a 6 for pips and were able to advance everything in good style. Pyrrhus, only rolled a 1. They still were able to advance the better part of their army. The El would have to wait. Rome then rolled a 3 on bound 3 so they were not inclined to be so aggressive. It was Pyrrhus who would drive the attack home on bound 4 with 5 pips.
The Romans get 4 pips on bound 5 and are able to retaliate. They use the Ps and Sp to drive back the Pyrrhic cavalry and managed to win a few fights in the center.
Pyrrhus gets 3 pips and renews his attack, this time killing the center Sp but losing the Lh with an unlucky toss of the die. On the Pyrrhic right, the El can’t quite clear the woods but fight the Roman Cv anyway since the combat factors are close. The El is doubled and destroyed.
The Roman general hopes for the Pk to clear a good distance so he can flank them with his Cv Gen. The shoving does continue but not to his liking. He is obliged to move his Ps to the safety of the woods but is able to “Barker” the Pyrrhic Kn Gen. He also concentrates on flanking the Pyrrhic Ax in the woods and destroys it with cavalry and a Ps. However, in leaving his Sp double overlapped he loses that contest.
The lines are thinning on both sides. Pyrrhus does manage to double overlap a Bd in the center and destroy it. He is not able to cause any further casualties.
Rome rolls a 3 for pips. This is enough for Rome to flank the Ps in the woods. Pushing and shoving continue in the center but the Ps is destroyed ending the game with a Roman victory.
I wasn’t sure how fun the game would be without support. I have to tell you, I did not miss the support rules. The game played fine. It wasn’t boring. The large amount of terrain kept the game interesting. As for the pike modification, I think +6 across the board is a bit too much for pikes. Whenever they were in dire straights with a double overlap, it felt like they were still indestructible at +4. I think I will try pikes at +5/+6 (Foot/Mounted) next time. I’ll keep the double penalty for bad going should it be needed.
The new setup rules require the infantry to be placed in the center half of the board. This adds another tactical problem and forces the general to decide what he will place in reserve if he has an infantry heavy army. Both armies started with some elements doubled up but it was less ofg a problem for Rome and they managed to get out of the woods (literally!) more quickly.
I have come to the conclusion that the greater movement rates are a good thing. This allows the armies to come to grips quickly and prevents one side or another from shuffling about too much. Flanking is a bit easier but not overly easy. Barkering” is just as effective as in the previous versions of the game. In all, I think that playing the game without the fiddlly support rules would work much better and…dare I says…the DBE rules actually would make a bit more sense!
I am finally done with my Craftee army. This is the Punic army for the Battle of Zama.
You have already seen the Punic horse so I will not show them here again. Below is the army Arrayed for Battle!
Matt and I are running two games at Cold Wars. His game is on Friday and mine on Saturday. Unfortunately, I will not be able to make the Friday game. If you make it to Cold Wars, come check out the game. It is “Kid Friendly” so plenty of death and maiming for the whole family!
The author has stated over and over again how DBA is a much more abstracted game than DBM(M). Slowly, the supporting ranks have been dwindled down to just pikes at this point. At this level, I suspect that even pikes could take a pass on supporting ranks. Here are some mods worth trying to bring back balance to the game and get rid of supporting ranks once and for all.
1) No unit can support from the second rank anymore. This includes pikes.
2) Since pikes no longer get a support bonus, the combat factor should be increased per unit. Each pike unit now has +6 vs infantry or cavalry. When fighting in bad going, they get a double penalty (-4!). This will bring them in line with spears in bad going.
These two mods will actually make pike armies a bit more attractive as now they can deploy a line the same length as an enemy and enjoy a bit more firepower with the improved phalanx.
DBEs: I don’t like them for the extra functions and penalties in DBA 3.0. However, those brand new pike units (heck any heavy unit!) might look a lot better as a DBE. Just treat them as a normal unit. They should recoil a half base depth rather than a full base depth.
This is an extreme case to show how powerful knights can be. I used the 2.2 lists because I do not have a copy of 3.0 Book III lists. The Vikings were the high roller with their AG 4 vs the Norman AG 2. So the Normans had to put out terrain. 3 pieces in arable is all. They opted for hills. Small hills. The Normans got to place one. The Vikings placed another. Then the Normans randomly placed the third. Here is the line-up for the game.
1xBd Gen 10xBd 1xBw
1xKn Gen 7xKn 2xSp 2xBw
The Normans started things off with a pip roll of 1. Luckily, it is the first turn of the game so they just moved their battle line forward 2 BW. The Vikings rolled a 6. So they were able to extend their line and then move forward about 1 BW.
The Normans rolled a 4 for pips. They decided to be aggressive on the right, charging the Vikings with 4 Kn. They then brought up the rest of the line 2 BW to support the attack. Going from right to left, the Normans won every combat, killing 3 Viking Bd.
The only chance for the Vikings was in the center. The charged the Sp with the Bds and lined up the Bw on the overlapping Kn. The Norman Cb were also charged by Bds In missile fire, the Bw destroyed the overlapping Kn. The melees resulted in a the Gen Bd driving back the Sp and the other Sp driving back the Viking Bd. One melee here resulted in a Bw being driven back and the other locking up with the Bd. Finally, the last Bd on the Viking left was forced to conform to the Norman Kn, thus getting overlapped on one side. The Viking won extending the game one more turn.
The final turn had the Normans charging with their right and left to finish the game. In the center, the Vikings killed another Bw but the Normans killed 2 Bd weakening the Viking right and completing the destruction of the Viking left. The game ended 5-2.
So, if a knight heavy army manages to be the defender, woe to the vanquished. Blade heavy armies just won’t stand a chance. This game was a laugher after the first contact. The only chance to make it close was for the Vikings to attack in the middle. If there is a lot of terrain (and maybe a waterway) I think the Vikings would have a chance. I’m not sure if limiting the quick kill on some units to knights moving to contact would make a big difference. In this situation, the knights are also faster. They will be able to choose the first fights.
An interesting side effect of the new deployment rules is that infantry only armies can’t deploy as wide as armies with cavalry. I had to stack up blades and deploy them wide as part of the Viking first move. I never was able to fully extend my line before the Normans charged in. I suppose deploying back some would have helped buy time.
For this game I bent the rules a bit. There is no terrain on this board. I wanted to see how maneuver worked in the new rules. I pitted Ptolomy against Antiochus the Great (Seleucid). Note: I made a glaring mistake due to laziness. Both knights on the left side of the board should have been dead by turn 3. I did not look up the outcome. El Qk Kn. Oh well. All things remained relatively equal. Here are the armies.
1xKn Gen 1xKn 1xLh 6xPk 1xAx 1xEl 1xPs
1xKn Gen 1xKn 4xPk 2xAx 1xWb 1xEl 2xPs
This was the how the armies looked at the start of the game. Seleucid is on top.
The Seleucids advanced with the main phalanx and their right formation. The Ptolomies countered by charging head long into Antiochus formation and covered it with their own main phalanx.
Ptolomy rolls low for pips but needs to close the gap on his right with a Pk unit. The Kn on his left is too far away to command so he can’t throw them at the oncoming Ps.
Ptolomy pushes hard across his left and center but the initial attack is driven back.
The Seleucids push back but are also thrown back. Bad dice rolling causes locks or pushes across the front. Again, Antiochus does not have the pips to move his knights.
The Ptolomies redouble their efforts, this time with great success on the right. Two Seleucid units are shattered.
Antiochus is now playing for time. A decent amount of pips allows him to finally move his Kn from his left and attack the Ps supported by the Lh. However, his Kn is repulsed.
The end comes with a final attack eliminating a Ax and driving the Seleucids to the breaking point. Final score is 4-0.
At no time did I think the movement rates were too fast. Covering the flanks with ZoC (Now called TZ!) is the same as in 2.2. The only difference is that movement into or out of a TZ now is a bit more liberal. You can choose who you want to contact if you are in two for instance. The speeds are fast but not overly so. You now get the feeling that you can order your troops to do something and they get it done at that moment. None of this plodding across the field hoping you get a good pip roll next turn so you can continue the attack. I am certain there will be a few more tweaks but so far as I can tell, the game works pretty well and Phil definitely improved on 2.2.
There is some talk that Kn are now too powerful. Well…next up is Normans vs Vikings. We shall see about this!
For this fight I used the same setup as before. In fact, Gaul had a winning setup so why change right? The Romans pretty much copied their Polybian counterparts but with some noteable differences. The Marians get a single Ax and single Ps to deal with the Gallic Ps. Here is the line-up.
1xCv Gen 1xCv 8xBd 1xAx 1xPs
Gallic you already know it but I will post it again.
1xWb Gen 2xCv 8xWb 1xPs
The setup is below. The objectives seem to be the same. Note, I forgot to place the camps! Oh well. It’s not like there will be enough time to storm them anyway!
The game started in a similar fashion though the Romans had no Triari to expand. It would be a matter of luck and well, that’s about it. The situation after 2 bounds can be seen below. The Romans are going for a cheap kill and are hoping for some good luck on their right. The Gauls…well you know what they want!
The Gallic line continues forward knowing well that they may end up on the short end of the stick. The Roman line surges forward and inflicts a casualty but only locks up with the Ps on the right. The Gallic Wbs manage a casualty on their own breaking through on their right. Note: I forgot to move the reserves up!
Finally, the Romans get the upper hand. And inflict another casualty. The Gallic army gets only 2 pips. Not enough to react everywhere. After an indecisive turn the Romans flank 2 units and end the game with 3 kills this turn.
This was largely a reverse of the Polybian game. The Gallic army maybe should have matched the Roman line but that certainly would have cost them somewhere with the lowered combat factors from lack of support. As demonstrated, a break through works both ways. Reserves of some sort are very important.
This does show that blade heavy armies can still hold up to the Barbarian Horde. The two games also showed that luck is still an important factor. I think the outcomes were reasonable. The movement system is still my main concern. My next battle will pit Ptolomy vs Antiochus on a flat plain. Call it the battle of mini-Raphia. This should have some greater maneuvering.
This battle happen by accident. I wanted to play Marian Roman vs Gallic but had a brain cramp at the critical moment and deployed Polybian Romans instead. The line up was as follows:
1xCv Gen 1xCv 6xBd 2xSp 2xPs
1xWb Gen 2xCv 8xWb 1xPs
The Gallic army advanced across the board in 1 line. The Romans responded by holding position and extending the Triari to cover their left against a possible flank attack. The Gallic army inched closer but still did not commit on their next bound. The Romans felt that they were better off attacking rather than sitting back because waiting might give the Gallic army time to maneuver into a better position. They had a chance to get a cheap kill and pin the Gallic army so this is what they did.
Combat had the Ps get recoiled. Here is where luck turned on the Roman army. The Gallic army advanced forward in hopes of the quick-kill on the blades. The following result was completely unexpected.
To add insult to injury, the Roman army received only 1 pip for their next bound. There was an exchange of kills and the game ended 4-2.
I think I did something wrong. I am used to 2.2 where Wb pursue everything. Now they only pursue foot. Minor error. I very much like things so far. The fast speeds have shown that armies get into it quickly and there has been a minimum of flanking. I will say that this particular scenario is not a true test as any Barbarian army is going to line up and charge.
A quick note about the Roman strategy. I doubled up the blades just in case the Wb units got lucky. They would have to advance and then would be in big trouble. I did not anticipate them getting more than 1 kill this way anyway.
Up next: Gallic vs Marian Romans. This time I mean it! It’s already played. I just have to write the report.