Saturday, February 4, 2012

DBA 3.0 Playtest #1

For the first Game Night of February I thought we’d try out the latest draft of the new DBA 3.0 rules. After a quick look over I generally liked what I was seeing. After playing it I’ve been reading it over again and realizing other things had changed that I hadn’t realized. I still like it, but I need to play it a bit more to get a really good feel for it.

We ended up playing three games. All Three were played on a 1200mmx1200mm playing area (~4’x4’). Rather than the rigid (and small!) 3’x3’ playing area for 25mm troops in DBA2.2, in 3.0 there is a minimum and maximum suggested playing area of 3x3 to 4x4. I like playing on the bigger area. There’s a lot more room to maneuver and the game isn’t slowed down because everyone moves considerably faster – 100 paces is now equal to 1 base width (60mm, rather than the 40mm of the previous edition). Strangely a 1200mmx1200mm playing area (~4’x4’) with 100 paces being 60mm makes a battlefield 2000 paces by 200 paces. A 3’x3’ battlefield at 40mm /100 paces made a battlefield 2250 paces a side… so the “maximum” size for a battlefield is smaller than what was previously used…. But as the size of stands remains the same 60m frontage – the area an element takes up one a battle field is proportionally smaller so there is more room for them to maneuver about in… does that make any sense…? (I’m writing this rather late at night just to get it finished…)

Anyway, the games…


I started off playing Mr. Miller. He took Vikings I took Irish.

Norse Irish
1x Auxilia Gneral
2x Blade
5x Auxilia
4x Psiloi

1x Blade General
10x Blade
1x Psiloi

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

The Irish spread out on the left. The Vikings all in a big, sensible block on the right.

I was so giddy about all the space I seem to have forgotten my cardinal rule about set up (keep everything together – keep it simple!!). I am an idiot.

There is a wood and two marshes.

I wish I could have taken a bit MORE terrain. Normally you can have 1-2 compulsory features and 2-3 optional. Unfortunately for the Irish their compulsory terrain type is waterway – of which there can only be one… and it’s not all that effective as something that affects a battle (yes.. yes…. I could have landed some troops behind him, but as I’m quite sure he was completely unaware of that rule and as I’ve never used it before I didn’t think of it until after set up… anyway…) So that left me with just the 2-3 optional terrain features.

Vikings landing on the shores of Eire.

I launched forward on both flanks splitting up my forces further (like an idiot… se previous comment about all that space). I had six PIPs – of course I was going to double move all those Psiloi!

I think maybe my plan was hoping he’d be tempted to chase down all those little elements rapidly sneaking around his flanks and rear – chase them into the bad going and then I’d mess them up.

The Vikings surge forward – posting som pickets to protect the flanks fro those annoying Psiloi and Auxilia.

Command distances have changed (and yet they haven’t…) it used to be beyond 1200 paces (or beyond 600 if on the other side of woods or hill) cost and extra PIP to move. Now it’s 800 paces (and 400 paces) – which if you’re quick with the math will have noticed both end up being 48 cm (24 cm) of course with the bigger tabletop and faster movement (in terms of mm) means you quickly get OUT of that easy, one PIP command range – so these Psiloi and Auxilia behind the woods were already out of easy command distance… doh…

A blade is left behind to block (with it’s Threat Zone) my Auxilia from chasing down the Psiloi. They ended up in a bit of a Mexican stand off because where the Auxilia stood the blade would end up with a corner in the badgoing if they tried to move forward and contact my flank….

Also some bad PIP rolls meant Mr. Miller had to concentrate on keeping the main body moving forward.

…and move forward they did!

What a mess… What was I thinking…?!

Well with apparently PIPs to spare I tried to chase down the Viking Psiloi

…and the Psiloi wiped out the Auxilia!? What the hell!? (I rolled a one, he rolled a six… it happens…)

(1-0 for the Vikings)

The Viking main force collides with the Irish.

I got off lucky – Three elements recoiled, one stood their ground. I thought in the following turn they’d be history… I suppose I could have moved up my others so they wouldn’t be double-overlapped… but Ihad other things in mind.

On MY next turn I finally got my psiloi in contact with the Vikings camp!

…and SACKED IT! Booy-yah!!

Unfortunately it was only then that I realized that sacking a camp only counts as one lost element instead of two in the previous edition… doh… so much for my plan of sacking the camp and picking off stragglers on the flanks to win..

So for all that effort I only evened the score at 1-1…

My luck continued as that stranded element of blade was only recoiled on my bound – neatly dressing my line for me…

But that’s where my luck ran out…

His line moved forward AND closed the door (yeah, you can do that with blade now due to their extra move). One Auxilia lost and the rest of the line recoiled. (2-1 for the Vikings)

On their next bound their surged forward again taking down one of the blades…

…and then the Auxilia General.


Rick had showed up just as the game with Mr. Miller was getting underway. For game two Mr. Miller and Rick went head to head. Rick took Normans and Mr. Miller for some reason took the Welsh…?

1x Warband General
9x Warband
2x Psiloi

1x Knight General
7x Knight
2x Spear
2x Bow

Unfortunately I didn’t get a good shot of the whole table – but terrain is now placed a bit randomly… the table is split up into quadrants numbered one – four and terrain pieces are diced for. On a one through four the terrain piece is located in the corresponding quadrant, on a five the defender chooses, on a six the attacker chooses (though the defender places all pieces.

Oh and then the Attacker just chooses which side to attack from – no rolling…

The battlefield turned out just about as bad as it could for the Welsh. Three of the five terrain features (Three difficult hills, Two Woods) ended up in ONE quarter, a fourth ended up in the quadrant next to it, the final piece of terrain was in the quadrant opposite the one with three. So on one half of the field there was only ONE feature (a difficult hill) … guess which side the Normans decided to attack from? I guess it COULD be worse – there could have been no terrain AT ALL on the Welsh half of the table…

The Welsh NEED terrain to hid in when fighting the likes of the Normans… or Vikings or even Anglo-Saxon/Danish (though to a lesser extent). I’m guessing the dicing for placement of terrain was to downplay the caginess of placement… but man… when one entire side of the field ends up with next to NO terrain… wow… that sucks for the Welsh… especially fighting the Normans… ESPECIALLY when said Normans get to pick which side to attack from… yeah…

This was probably the biggest complaint about the new changes to the rules from Mr. Miller – though he mostly didn’t like that the attacker didn’t even dice for a side. He thought the randomness of dicing for a side would have made it a bit more fair – of course they’d still have 50% chance of getting that side. 66% chance of getting the quadrant with the three terrain pieces.


Mr. Miller formed up all the Welsh in a great big block and tried to rush them forward to the cover of the woods.

For some reason I ended up taking far less pictures of this game…? I felt like I had less time – though I’m sure the game was just as long (or longer?!) Probably because I had to spend more time looking up specific wording of various different rules. Both Mr. Miller and Rick are pretty competitive and get very fussy about these sorts of things – they both like to gain mastery over their opponent through thorough knowledge of the rules and figuring out how to best exploit that knowledge… Except neither of them had READ the new rules… and haven’t played DBA in some time… so I was constantly being bombarded with questions about how exactly this or that worked or what the exact wording of something was that would maybe allow something or other…

Also Mr. Miller got a bit crabby and impatient – partly because of the untenable nature of the set up (fair enough) and Rick’s constant asking of questions and inability to remember absolutely everything.

So anyway, there are no casualty markers to mark where stands were destroyed or anything fun like that… I’ll try and describe a bit, but all I really remember was the tenseness in the air and that it was, in fact, a bit of a slaughter.

Knight and Bow have effectively blocked the Warband from getting into the woods, rest of the knights trying to swing around…

Looks like a Warband has pushed back an element of bow in the background there and an element of knights has ridden down a stand of warband. …?

Same thing, slightly different angle…?

Some knights gallop up to ride down some Psiloi in the open and the Knight General closes the door on the other Psiloi engaged to the front by the Norman Bow coming out of the woods.

Oh look I did get to place a casualty marker – one Psiloi destroyed. (must be 2-0 for the Normans…?)

Strangely the other Psiloi repulsed the Knights that charged them! (if only they’d been BOW!)

I think the Welsh were trying to maneuver around the Knight and set themselves up to flank the bow in a subsequent bound. As well other Warband and the back on the mass spread out a bit.

Looks like the Knight chewed through another warband… and at that point Mr. Miller conceded the game.

Funny, I seem to recall him complaining bitterly some time ago about the poor sportsmanship of a fellow he played in warhammer (I forget if it was fantasy or 40K) – who, after a particularly bad turn, just picked up his toys and said; “well I can’t win this” and quit before the game was over… Hmmmm…


Should have called it a night at two… But there was something about the defeatist negativity of Mr. Miller’s attitude that overshadowed the whole game and the fact that he’d completely ignored the terrain that WAS on his side of the table. I’d asked why he hadn’t parked on that that hill and tried to defend it. His comment was that it “wouldn’t have been any fun” (because getting ridden down in the open had more opportunity for “fun”? Didn’t seem like he was having any fun at all…?). I thought I’d like to have a go with the same forces, same set up, just to see. Not necessarily thinking I could “do better” – I certainly had no delusions about “winning” I just wanted to see how things might have turned out if the Welsh had tried to hold the hill.

Id’ kind of hoped Rick would have played the Normans again… but he didn’t’ step up and I think Mr. Miller might have taken my suggestion of having another go as me suggesting I had a “better” idea and so he had to PROVE his point – that it wasn’t tenable (and even less fun…).

I couldn’t fit everyone on the hill… so I left some Psiloi behind the hill thinking I could move them out to harass anyone that tried to get around the flanks or rear of the hill… I had a spare warband so I stuck them way off on the opposite side

I figured they might be a speedbump on the way to the camp (which I figures he might sack). In a best-case scenario – if I got lucky in PIPs and he didn’t – I postulated that they might get to the woods and stick their tail end in and deny the knights passage past with his Threat Zone…

Of course this is DBA not HOTT – losing our stands (a third of the army) ends the game, not six (half the army) so things probably shouldn’t be regarded as “expendable”… (as I sometimes do in HOTT…)

Or maybe he might just set his sights on the hill and ignore that warband altogether and when I had spare PIPs I could slowly move him about in the woods and do some crazy flank/rear action…?

Didn’t’ work out. Welsh down one.

The column of three knights that rode down the solitary, carried on to sack the camp. Welsh down two.

I did gamble on rushing a column of two warband across the open to one of the hills on his side of the table – thinking they could threaten the spear or he might see two as something that could be easily picked apart and send some knights or spear up after them.

Of course that was sheer lunacy for me to think that – Mr. Miller is FAR too crafty and calculating to do anything so silly…

Instead he just took forever getting all his ducks in a row so he could get the bow over to the Welsh flank and start trying to shoot them off the hill and then ride them down with the perfectly positioned knights.

Had I been particularly bold, perhaps I could have sent the general along with them and gone spearman hunting… and hoped that I could get back to the hill before the knights came to their aid… Then I’d just have to wait for those bow to come up to try and shoot me off the hill - and rush down and kill them before knights got into position to block me… Could have… should have… whatever... I didn’t…

Actually he did chase down one of the psiloi behind the hill first (Welsh down three, one more to go…). At that point I realized he was trying to just pick off anything that wasn’t on the hill and so I retreated my remaining psiloi onto the hill (mental note: make bigger hills – because they CAN be bigger now!!)

Once he did get the Bow in position I ran some warband down the hill to hopefully chase them off. I did kill one of the Bow – but pursuing took me so far off the hill that they couldn’t get back before the Knights rode them down…

Afterwards I did some rereading and noticed a few other things that have changed, or that we might have done wrong… I can't remember... In all I think I like the changes, I think it’ll be a good game to play…

Coming soon on Tim’s Miniature Wargaming Blog:

The rest of the Pre-feudal Scots (which are all Spear) should be finished up relatively soon. They’ve been kind of stalled a bit, but as long as I have them done by Monday I’ll still be “on track”.

I was thinking after I get them done I’d probably do some West Frank knights. But I may concentrate on the Anglo-Saxons, just in case I can’t, for some reason, get all of them done, I’d rather drop the West Franks… Knights are just nasty. Two armies with them… teaming up… could make the whole campaign rather one-sided. Though I’ve thought of a way I might be able to deal with that…

I’d also like to knock off some new terrain for the campaign.


  1. Enjoyed that! I'll have to check out the 3.0 rules myself.

  2. Lovely stuff as usual Tim, but, yikes, game 2 & 3 sounded a little brutal...