Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Dark Age DBA Campaign… Some thoughts…

Lessons learned, etc….

As Christian has mentioned in the comments of one of the other posts I think this was the most successful of the campaigns I’ve run so far. This was a combination of the players involved plus some minor tweaking/evolution of the campaign rules over time. There are a few changes I’d make if running it again (or other campaigns) – and I very much hope to do so! (on a fairly regular basis!)

Gary commented was that he wasn’t killed by his enemy, but by the sea – and that it would have been more honourable to die in battle. An odd comment from a guy that spend half of his first battle hiding in a swamp… but he makes a very good point. I don’t th ink I want to completely remove that, but think I would change the sea losses to a d3 instead of a d6.

I might also make SOME sea routes “safe” mark them in black like overland routes and they wouldn’t have to be diced for in the spring or fall. I’m thinking mostly of the two routes into Roskilde. I’ve effectively done that with the route from Oslo to Nidaros – I doubt very much that there would have been a regularly used overland route between those two areas and that most travel would have been by boat following along the coast.

I’d definitely want to add some more travel lanes. I wanted to keep this as much like the wagon wheel schematic campaign diagram with isolated capitals (capitals that could not be reached without first attacking at least one of the players other cities first. I didn’t want to make too many cities TOO accessible – cities with three or four (or more!) ways leading into them. But as I don’t really have a center city that all can get to I think I’ve created some bottlenecks…

I’d definitely add one from Shetland to York, and probably from Oslo to Ribe and/or Cambridge. I might also consider Lind Duchail to Nottinghanam and/orLoch Garmon to Exeter? Would Lind Duchaill to Deganwy put too many routes into that area?

Of course adding in the West Franks and East Franks would change a lot of this…

I had considered at one point doing Sea Zones – where a move from one city to another within the same Sea Zone would be considered one move and not require dicing for loss at sea, moving from a city in one Sea Zone to a city in another Seas Zone would count as two moves and would require dicing for loss at sea… but there’s so many capitals that are on the ocean I couldn’t figure out a way to effectively isolating them…

This has gotten me pretty stoked about the idea of painting up a few Greek Hoplite armies for a Greek City-State War/Peloponesian War campaign (well, and the fact that my kids are nuts about Ancient/Mythic Greece right now… and I HAVE figures for two Hoplite armies and have already started them… and the fact that Jackson already has a Spartan army!). I think one of the advantages to such a campaign is that all the participants would have more or less the same army, removing the trump card army of the Normans. A feudal Japan campaign as Phil suggested in the comments on the previous post could also be similar (and a bit more dynamic – as there would be a few more troop types to play around with – yet everyone still has a pretty level playing field).

The one thing I worry about in adding East and West Franks to this map is the addition of two Knight-heavy armies… It would be idea if they would quarrel among themselves, but if you get two friends running them they could end up destroying everyone.

An interesting idea from the simple rules laid out in the DBA3.0 draft that could easily be added to this system and remove the two friends back to back issue is adding a bunch of cards with the names of all the countries on them which are dealt out at the beginning of each year. If you are dealt a card with the name of a player that you currently share a border with (i.e. have a direct travel route from one of your cities to one of their cities) you MUST declare war on them and attack them in the spring.

There was a problem with forcing players to attack other players and letting other players know about out in a previous campaign – other players could potentially take advantage of that knowledge and attack a neighbor that they knew would be busy attacking their other neighbor. This could easily be circumvented by doing it during the declaration phase AFTER all the players had secretly written down who they want to declare war on and simply add the card drawn to their declarations – or even deal it out before declarations are made but do it secretly so players can decide NOT to invade BOTH neighbors (if they’d originally been planning on invading the opposite neighbor indicated on the card). Does that make sense…?

Oh I forgot to mention elsewhere - the one change we made to the 3.0 rules was to add a caveat to the rules involving placement of terrain - that when dicing for a quarter to put a terrain piece in if the result indicated a quarter in which there was already a piece of terrain, the defender may roll again, but most accept the outcome of the second roll. I think this worked very well. Some of the earlier games of 3.0 ended up with some very lop-sided terrain. I don't think there was anything really terrible in any of the fields of battle generated by our tweak. Also we added that bad-going much be diced for first - because it was conceivable that if you had all gentle hills plus one piece of bad-going - if the bad-going was diced for last I could possible be placed in a quarter in which there was no room and therefore be discarded which could leave a table without any bad-going at all!

Anyway… just a few ideas…? I’m sure I’ll think of other things in the following weeks and months.…

Anybody else have any ideas…? Please leave a comment!

Coming soon on Tim’s Miniature Wargaming Blog:

I have no idea. I need to take a break from the late nights of painting minis and get going on some other projects (comics, painting pictures, etc…). I have a bunch of Greeks and West Franks and space ships and 20mm WW2 Soviets all polluting my work station already… hard to say which will see paint first…


  1. Looks like a great campaign.

    I've found with DBA campaigns that aggressive (or unlucky) players often get ground down in terms of units thus you get 12 on 3 battles.

    I wonder if a solution is to give everyone 12 units at all times but any casualties not replaced as per the reinforcement rules are then filled in by hordes. Basically King Rolledaone has drummed up levies to fill out the numbers.

    If you have a lot of hordes you can still play a competitive game but you do face some consequences from your previous battles. In sieges, you lose good units to unsuccessful seiges.

    Just a thought. Looks like an awesome weekend.

    Bob in Edmonton

  2. That's a really interesting idea, Bob...

    (Of course since I've been supplying all the armies and I'd potentially have to have up to half of each army playing worth of hordes... That's a whole lot of Hordes I'd have to acquire and paint up!!)

  3. It would be awesome to morph the DBA rules into naval rules as well, and let players go to battle at sea with ships as well as fight battles on land with DBA rules.... Especially for Greece...

  4. OOOoooOOooohh... Brilliant! Time to retool the Shipyard!

  5. I thoroughly enjoyed this one...well done Tim!

  6. Regarding building of sea lanes (or other connections) into an out of countries.
    Scotland had 4 neighbours as did Wales, Wessex, the Danes and the Normans. The Mercian had 5 and the Irish and the Norse had 2.

    The number of neighbours I had was one of the reasons I picked the Irish, I wanted to see the lay of the land before I played a battle.

    If you do add more sea lanes, I think ideally you want more connections for the Irish (Loch Garmon to Exeter and possibly Cherbourg) and for the Norse (Shetland to York, and maybe a second?)

  7. Yes, that is a lot of figures. But a quick fix would be some sabot bases with two-sided tape. If you made them a bright colour, you would know which units were stand-ins for hordes with no extra painting.

  8. Instead of always replacing everything to twelve, you could allow the loser to recover half of their losses, as these would be troops that ran from the battle after they lost. This will allow you more flexibility but still wouldn't help the Danes and the sea losses they took.

    These could lead to 12-10 battles, or even 11-10 battles.

  9. In our DBA ancients campaign we use the following rules based on a d6 roll.

    For each ship entering a section of sea...

    a) Roll of 1-4 is OK

    b) Roll of 5 means Pirates. If the player has stuck Auxilia, Blades, Spears etc. on board then they are fought off - otherwise the ship is lost.

    c) Roll a 6 - storm (lost ship)

    The Player can make a sacrifice (20 Gold) to the gods which means the first 'lost' ship is miraculously saved.

    When you've got a fleet of 6 ships, you expect to lose 1 to storms and 1 to pirates. As they cost 30 gold each, players now tend to stuff each one with a stand of Auxilia to give them a 5:6 chance of getting through.

  10. Another excellent campaign, Tim! I like the way you're learning from each one and trying to improve for the next.

    Reading these campaign logs always makes me want to actually sit down and READ the DBA and/or HOTT rules that I bought a few years ago (as a result of reading your site). Maybe this will be the magic year... ;-)


  11. I agree with Gordon. Very nice and looked like a lot of fun. Now, as a solo player myself I wouldn't run into many of the issues with who attacks who and all, but I could see the reluctance to initiate hostilities. Was there any mechanism to encourage players to attack (such as getting some points just for participating in a battle, even if you lose)? It may depend on the group, but is there any thought about encouraging declaration of war that keeps things from falling into "gang-ups"? (not sure I'm describing this well) Having never run a real campaign, and certainly not with more than one person involved, I'm sure you've thought a LOT more about things than I have (and had actual experience! ha ha).
    If your players and you all had fun and want to do it again and more often then it was surely a success.

  12. I really enjoyed reading about this campaign -so much so that I'm ithcing to do something similar with HotT or DBA in 15mm. Although now that you mention it, the Greek and Samuria themes are especially tempting.

  13. Hey! Hiding in the swamp worked! Broke up the knights-in-a-line formation that would have made 4 of my units into speed bumps in 2 bounds. No different from your Welsh hiding in the hills from my blades in a recent game we played. It’s called tactics not dumb bravery . - Gary

  14. Sea Rules: Yes, I feel the sea rules should cause some annoyance but not be crippling to Norse, Danes, Normans and Irish who are required to sea move to get anywhere. Let the players decide their fate in battle. 14 units were lost to sea losses in the campaign, with two occurrences of 6 units lost. It took the Danes out of the game and hamstrung the Irish for a turn. I would reduce the sea movement losses to a maximum of one unit lost if you roll a 6 on a 1d6. - Gary