Sunday, February 26, 2012

Dark Age DBA Campaign - Year One

This weekend I hosted a Dark Age DBA campaign. I've been dreaming of running an historical DBA campaign since I first got a copy of the game nearly 22 years ago. The first campaign I tried to orchestrate was the Alexander the Great 334BC Campaign. I had six players organized. Most of us bought armies (mostly 25mm Rafm - Armies of the Helenistic Era - with a few Ral Partha here and there). I had the later Achaemenid Persians. I think I may have been the only one to ever paint an army of that group. Mike and Cory and I played a few games (Mike and Cory with unpainted minis...). I think Cory may have eventually painted his Scythians... I have no idea what even happened to the others armies... John had the Later Greek Hoplites... I'm not even sure what Mike had (Thracians, maybe?), or who the other players even were...? Jay...? Todd...? Christian...?

Though I successfully ran a Hordes of the Things campaign (two and a half years ago!), and a pseudo-Russian Civil War campaign later that same year, this is the first actual DBA campaign I've ever gotten around to running (and it won't be the last!). What was really exciting was that at least two of those original two wannabe campaigners, John and Cory, (from the never-happened Alexandrian campaign) were able to make it out for this one! (Sorry Christian, I can't remember if you were going to be in on that campaign?! Christian was a fellow gamer back at that time and it was great that he made it out too!)

One of these days we'll have to drag Mikey K back from Ottawa for a camapign weekend...

I've been planning on running a Dark Age campaign focused on England for some years... 15 years, maybe...? Originally I'd bought all the armies in 15mm... then I discovered I HATED painting 15mm figures. Over the last 5-10 years I traded away the 15's and acquired all the armies again in 25/28mm... and finally (FINALLY!?) finished painting them all this year - I actually planned this campaign over this weekend (of my 40th birthday) as an impetus to get them all finished!?

Anyway, enough with the nostalgia/history lesson...

We used the 3 February 2012 draft of the new DBA3.0 rules (with a minor modification to the terrain set-up rules) with DBA2.2 lists. There were eight players, I provided six of the armies (Cory and Gary brought their own). We had a bidding system to determine who would have first choice of armies. Everyone bid the number of elements they would be willing to start without at the beginning of the game – highest bidder had first choice and ties were broken by dicing. Rowan bid four and took the Normans. John , Rick and Jackson both bid two, and everyone else bid zero.

(Remember: click on the pictures for a bigger version)

Player – Country – Cities
Cory - Wessex (Orange) Capital: Winchester, Other Cities: Exeter, Canterbury, London
Jackson - Mercia (Yellow) Capital: Lincoln Other Cities: Cambridge, Nottingham, York
Rick- Norway (White) Capital: Nidaros, Other Cities: Oslo, Shetlands
Gary - Denmark (Purple) Capital: Roskilde, Other Cities: Aarhus, Ribe
Rowan - Normandy (Grey) Capital: Rouen, Other Cities: Cherbourg, Dieppa
John - Ireland (Green) Capital: Duiblinn, Other Cities: Lind Duachaill, Loch Garman
Terry - Scotland (Blue) Capital: Scone, Other Cities: Dumbarton, Burghead
Christian - Wales (Red) Capital: Dinefur, Other Cities: Deganwy, Caer Guricon

One difference from previous campaigns was that I didn’t allow for recovery of troops after battle. I found that in previous campaigns it compounded loss - as those who were victorious were more likely to recover their troops - quite often in the following season the vanquished would be facing a full-strength army with their own at half strength.


Here’s how it all played out.


Declarations of War
The Norse declared war on the Scots. The Normans declared war on the Danes. The Danes declared war on Mercia. Wessex declared war on Wales.

And that was it! The rest (Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and Wessex) were all peace-lovin’ hippies or something and didn’t make any declarations of war….!? I think everyone was feeling a little timid and didn’t want to burn any potential allies by declaring war on the one country that hand’t declared war on THEM!?

Starting Positions

Wessex (Orange) - London
Mercia (Yellow) - Lincoln
Norway (White) - Shetlands
Denmark (Purple) - Ribe
Normandy (Grey) - Dieppa
Ireland (Green) - Lind Duachaill
Scotland (Blue) - Scone
Wales (Red) - Caer Guricon


The Norse sailed for Burghead and there met the Army of the Kingdom of the Scots. The Normans sailed for Ribe and caught the Danes in preparation for their own invasion of Normandy! The Mercians holed up in Lincoln expecting invasions from the Welsh or the Danes. The army of Wessex Marched to Nottingham – presumably to aid in the defence of their English ally. The Welsh and the Irish Stayed put.

The Battle of Burghead

Rick and Terry setting up their respective armies.

Ready to go: a horn sounded and cheer went up down the Viking line for they knew Freya (well… Keira – who was rolling the dice for the Rick) looked after them this day and the Viking line began it’s advance…

The lines draw closer…

Now I’m not sure how this happened… it looks to me like three elements of Vikings that have broken off from the main line no completely surrounded by Scots… Must be some of Jarlrick’s “fancy maneuvering”…

Of course it matters not how you maneuver when the gods are on your side (or Keira is rolling dice for you)… The Vikings have thrown off their attackers and crashed into the Scots main line - one continuous wail of cries at bones shatter, shields splinter and bodies are torn asunder!

The might of the Vikings destroys and scatters all that stand before them.

Well… except for that one batch over on the flank that got ridden down by horses…

Back to our regularly scheduled destruction and scattering… aaaaand that’s the game – Burghead has fallen to the Norsemen (who also scored 3 victory points) and the Scots had to skulk back to their capitol of Scone.

The Battle of Ribe

Gary and Rowan setting up their armies. Finngan volunteered to help out with the dice rolling for both sides!

All set up, the Danes are all hiding in a swamp… except for a few preparing to make an amphibious assault to the Normans rear in an attempt to sack their camp.

Duc Rowan of narmandy bravely leads his knights in search of the perfidious Danes.

Rowan, a DBA noob, receives some sage tactical advice from his dad – Veteran DBA campaigner Cory (Aethelbert the Almost Ready)

The Danes make their landing…

The Normans successfully locate the Danes hiding in the swamp, but they’ll be damned if their going to get their precious horsies all muddy going in there!!

There was much faffing about in the woods and the swamp… the Vikings didn’t want to come out… the Normans didn’t want to go in. Kind of silly, really, the Vikings outnumbered the Normans 12-8. Of course there’s that nasty Knight quick-kill on Blades…

Eventually it was the Vikings that came out… with some initial success against the Normand Spear and Bow…

They also charged out at the Knights guarding the camp!?

…which wasn’t so successful…

There was a fair bit of bashing around back and forth over by the swamp.

Some Norman Cavalry rode down some Danes…

Then the Danes unhorsed poor Duc Rowan!

This probably should have ended the game but I think I may have made a bad call and the game continued another round which saw a few more blade ridden down by the Knights and the battle ended a victory for the Normans. They had lost their General and an element of Bows, The Danes lost Four Blade and their berserk Warband (for a total of 2 Victory Points for the Normans) and the Normans took control of Ribe.


The Welsh, incensed that the Mercians would declare war on them and then NOT invade in the spring took the matter into their own hands and marched on Nottingham. They arrived to discover that the Army of Wessex had marched off to London . they had, however, left an allied contingent lurking in the area to aid the Army of Mercia which had just marched up from Lincoln (presumably feeling a little more secure that a Danish invasion was no longer immanent),

In the Norse the Norse pressed their attack, pursuing the Scots to their capital at Scone. The Irish moved across the sea to Dumbarton to send aid to the beleaguered Scots. Would their help arrive in time, or would they choose to visit every lonely pub along the way…

Meanwhile over to the East the Normans, for some reason, decided NOT to pursue the Vikings to Roskilde and instead marched north to lay siege to Aarhus. The Danes arriving in Roskilde, realizing the Normans were not hot on their heels, marched back to Ribe and Besieged the Norman garrison there. The sieges continued through the summer and into the fall, weakening the besiegers without capitulating.

The Battle of Scone

The Scots line up out front of Scone to once again meet the Norse invaders.

Terry King of Alba maneuvers his forces.

It seems the Scots tried some fancy maneuvering – galloping Light Horse around the flanks, sending the Psiloi off down the other flank, vainly in hopes of sacking a camp – all the while leaving the hopelessly depleted “main line’ dangerously exposed on their own flanks.

The best part of the day was just getting to hang out with folks we haven’t seen in far too long and getting a chance to catch up. Cory and Rowan traveled from Calgary for the weekend and Terry drove in from Edmonton, despite warnings of a late winter storm brewing….

By the summer I stopped trying to keep up with a blow-by-blow account of things, but I assure you, gentle reader, that it was a glorious and wild melee…

More of a disorganized brawl than a proper battle, but it got the job done… Scone fell to the Norse and The Scots accepted King Jarlrick of Norway as their Overlord. (And The Vikings scored another 2 Victory Points).

The Battle of Nottingham.

The Welsh and the Mercians meet in a field outside of Nottigham.

I think Christian is trying to unsettle Jackson here by pleasantly pointing out that he is utterly DOOMED!

The battle is joined with a thunderous din of metal on metal, metal on wood, and metal rending flesh and the horrible cries of the maimed and dieing…

In one round of combat the Welsh lay down a devastating defeat HALF of the Mercians starting army is wiped out (Remember Jackson bid two to get this army at the start of the campaign and so only started with 10 elements).

Nottingham fell to the Welsh who also gathered a whopping 5 Victory Points!


This isn’t actually the Autumn moves picture because I am a daft twit. This is a picture of the Summer outcomes… The English have retired back to Lincoln. The Norse have retired back to Burghead, leaving Scone in control of their new vassal.

There really wasn’t much going on in the Autumn. The Welsh marched on Lincoln, when the Mercians heard of their immanent arrival they fled south to Canterbury and left their capitol to the mercy of the Welshmen. The Welsh arrived and took the city and the Mercians were forced to sue for peace. The Welsh accepted the King of Mercia as his vassal, and marched back to Nottingham…

The Normans and Danes also continues their sieges, but eventually both had to abandoned them as the shill winds heralding the arrival of winter began blowing in off the North Sea .

Unfortunately thos winds whipped up into a howling fury as the danes tried to cross to winter quarters in Roskilde and all that remained of their tattered army was utterly wiped out!?

Wow… What a year!? The Scots are vassals of the Norse. The Mercians are vassals of the Welsh. The Danish army was completely WIPED OUT in a storm!?

Stay tuned of the continuing Saga of our Dark Age DBA campaign in the next post…

(…which, hopefully, I’ll get to tomorrow night…?)


  1. One thing in my defence was that I lost 6 units traveling back from drinking in Scotland to Lind Duachaill, leaving me with 4 at the end of Year One.Damn those seductive sheep!

    I had the later Greek Hoplites but they were purchased even earlier then that (1990 or so?) I think I gave the boxes of figs to you!

  2. Nope, wasn't me!

  3. Huh... I bet it was Tod...

    I think it was:
    John - Greek Hoplites
    Jay - Macedonia
    Mike - Thrace
    Cory - Skythians
    Me - Persians
    Tod - Indian

    He was dating that East Indian girl at that time wasn't he...? I'll bet he never bought a single figure for that army though... Just kept promising he would...

    Were you (Christian) at least in on that Mighty Empires campaign?

    I do have three packs of Ral Partha AN-100 Elite Hoplite Thrusting with Spear that I got from John at one point.

  4. Great stuff. Easy mechanics and great fun.

  5. Yes, with my Dark Elves.

    I gotta say that this was the most fun campaign to date. Good crew, and the discarding of any bigger battles worked awesome. No idiotic dancing around! Now we just need to figure out how to stop those pesky Normans, and maybe make the sea losses die a d4, not a d6.

    I think the game would have turned out very differently had Gary not turtled the first battle. He should have won even so, but had he come out and fight (with a 4 stand advantage) he might have really put some damage onto Rowan's 6 Kn, and might well have have won, thus avoiding the sea losses.

    I am sure Gary (and maybe Jackson) would disagree, but I would be entirely willing next year just to pick up with year four, if we had the same players.

    Great fun!

  6. The Mighty Empires campaign was 10-12 players IIRC.

    I would play a Year 4 as well, although Jackson and Garry may need some persuading. Rowan was not in great shape either, he was down to 3 units before winter freeze up too.

    A HotT campaign would be pretty awesome as well

  7. There is a HOTT campaign in the works for some time in the summer.