Sunday, February 12, 2012

DBA 3.0 Playtest #3

Christian popped by Saturday afternoon to play a couple quick games of DBA to try out the new rules…

Again with the terrain – that’s my biggest concern. I like the idea of some randomness to the terrain, and I like the idea of the attacker getting to simply choose the side, but the totally random – with the attacker having an opportunity to decide where some should go - is turning out some truly awful terrain set-ups where terrain in critical for the armies involved…

One thing we tried out today – which had been suggested on a post I’d make about the previous playtests – was giving the defender a “mulligan”. The Defender diced for terrain set up 1-4 indicating the quadrant it was set up in, 5-6 the defender chose which the terrain should be set up in (a change from the current draft rules ins which on a 6 the attacker chooses which quadrant to place a terrain piece in). After the terrain was set up the defender could choose to scrap it and start again – but would have to deal with whatever was rolled up.

In the games we played I ended up defending twice. On the first go round (I was playing Scots vs. Viking invaders) all the terrain ended up on one half of the table – which clearly the Vikings would have chosen to attack from – so I re did it and the second tie around the terrain was spread out a bit more evenly and we played on it. In the second game it turned out as well as could be hoped for (three bad-going features in three different quadrants) so we played on that.

Another idea I had along the same lines – when dicing for terrain placement a 1-4 would indicate the quadrant it was set up in, 5-6 the defender chooses. If a quadrant is rolled (1-4) and there is already a pice of terrain in that quadrant (or a bad-going or area terrain piece in that quadrant?) the defender may elect to re-roll, but the second roll counts…. I’ll give it a try in my next game (hopefully on wedensday).

Other that the whole question of terrain set up, in general, I think both of us thought the games played out fine… I still really like the distance things move and the extra room to maneuver in.

Anyway… the games…


I played Pre-Feudal Scots, Christian played Vikings. I took the warband options hoping for some terrain to catch the Vikings in and mess them up with the quick-kills.

Pre-Feudal Scots
1x Warband General
2x Warband
6x Spear
1x Light Horse
2x Psiloi

1x Blade General
10x Blade
1x Warband

Finnegan and Maeve (Christian’s daughter) were also on hand to help us with dice-rolling…

As I mentioned earlier The Vikings were invading the Kingdom of Alba and I set up the terrain. All the area terrain (two woods and a difficult hill) ended up on one half of the table – which clearly the Vikings would have chosen to attack from – so I re-did it and the second time around the terrain was spread out a bit more evenly and we played on it.

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

The first move for the Scots: Warband advancing in the woods.

Same thing. Different angle.

Christian and our helpers.

Vikings first move. Off the hils and across the open.

Scots second move. Can you spot it?

(Light Horse dashing around the flank – I was a little nervous about trying this again after Last Time… but I figured his Blade was slower – and getting further form his general… what were the odds he’d even try to catch them…?)

Viking line moves forward.

My light horse try to gallop past…

Christian, I think blew all his PIPs this turn sendingone blade after my light horse – not actually able to contact, but trapped in his threat zone – and the other blade started moving forward to join the main line.

That Line of blade sitting just outside the forest – with the open end – was just too great a temptation for my Warband…

The gamble paid off – very nearly ending the game!! Vikings down three!

The rest of the Viking line surged forward to contact the Scottish Spear. The Blade picket advanced to contact the Light Horse.

Viking Blade Clash with Scots Spear.

Psiloi flee and Spear recoil.

The Blade and the Light Horse

The Blade Recoil. In the following turn they contacted again. This time the Light Horse recoiled. In a later turn I moved them backward just enough to get then out of the Blades Threat zone and on a later turn, when I had a surplus of PIPs got them moving again towards the Viking camp… watch for them in the background – I don’t think I took any further pictures of this flank action, specifically.

I think I had only one PIP this round and tried to move the general into a position where he might cause that line of Blade some trouble – all I had to do was take out ONE more…

The Vikings Surge forward again. This time they flanked the end of the Scottish line.

The Scots survive – miraculously fending off the flankers – and recoiling everywhere else along the line.

A pile of PIPs sees the Scots straighten the line… The General’s Warband contacted the Viking line from the rear… The fleeing Psiloi were brought back… The Light Horse backed off (so they can carry on towards the Viking camp)… I even started wheeling the Warband around to deal with the Viking Warband that had been left out in the open..

The line was mostly recoiled – one spear stayed in it with their blade opponent.

The Vikings move back in…

…and the shoving match continues.

I think I only rolled one PIP this turn so I only brought in the General. Nothing happened in either contact – both were ties…

You can see my Light Horse in the background here making a break for that camp!

The following turn the Vikings moved back in…

…and things went south for the Scots – evening up the score!

I only rolled on here and again tried moving the General in – thinking the odds best for a kill…

The General was thrown off and the Vikings surged forward again…

… and finally beat down and other element of Spear ending the game!!

That’s what I love about DBA – quick game… lots of back and forth drama… with the Vikings coming form behind to seize victory!! Huzzah!!

This time around Christian (and Maeve and Finnegan – who had defected to the winner’s side) decided to have a go with the Normans. I thought I’d try the English – as they’d be the most likely opponents in the campaign.

I couldn’t quite muster enough Spear for the Middle Anglo-Saxon list, so I fielded Anglo-Danes

1x Blade General
2x Blade
8x Spear
1x Psiloi

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

This time around the first terrain set up seemed as good as I could hope for – three pieces of bad-going, each in a different quadrant – of course the Normans decided to deploy in the half with two – hoping to gallop past that in the first turn or two and catch most of the rest of my army in the open.

Initial set-up. I set up my Blade elements and some spear immediately behind the difficult hill on my side of the table – hoping I’d be able to get then all up onto that hill where it would be suicide for the Knights to try and get them.

The balance of the Spear I set up in the center and to the rear of the hill. My hope was the Norman Knights would gallop past the hill hoping to catch the spear out in the open and I might be able to take out a Knight or two with flank/rear contact.

Of course then Christian and the Kids set up the bulk of the knight way over to my left, planning to wheel around the woods and approach the line of spear far from where the hill-dwellers would be able to help them. I’d kind of wished they’d set up immediately behind the hill – so the knight would have to come closer to the hill to catch the spear in the open and I’d be able to catch them with troops coming down off the hill…

Ah well… next time.

Same thing, different angle.

First moves; I got most of my blade up on the hill. The Normans started moving their knights about.

On my second bound I got the rest of the spear up on the hill along with some Psiloi.

The Norman Knight continue their maneuvering.

With the Knights gone past I thought I’d send my General out hunting for soft, squichy infantry… Those Bow looked tasty.

The Norman Knights continue their advance.

Whoop – I seized the opportunity and moved up my main line of spear and the spear and Psiloi off the hill – hoping to catch the smaller group of knights and overwhelm them with numbers.

The Knights clash into my line…

..but are overwhelmed by my numbers – one element is destroyed, the other two recoil! HUZZAH! Normans down one (and we all thought this would be a slaughter… those Knight aren’t so invincible!)

With a nice big pile o’PIPs I advanced my General and his Huscarls further towards the hill and followed up my victories with the Spear…

Another element of Knights is taken down, but over on the flank the Norman Knights ride through the line scattering fyrdmen hither and thither…

The flanking knights try to deployinto line but things are turning into a mess. The surviving element of Knights from the small group in the center turns to chase down some Psiloi skirmishers.

The Psiloi fend off the Knights, as do the the Spear facing the Knight General (not to mention another Knight overlapping them!). Another band of Fyrdmen are ridden down, however, evening up the score…

Advacing on the infantry the English score another success slaughtering the archers before them… but it will not prove to be enough…

Knights riding up the line.

Norman Spear drove some English Spear off the hill.

The Norman Knight finally break the English line… all is lost….

Not bad. Considering I was expecting this to turn out like the Norman vs Welsh debacle

Hopefully over the next week I’ll be able to get in another game or two and finish up the Anglo-Saxon spear. In the following week I’m going to be making some new terrain. I’ve abandoned the idea of trying to finish up the West Franks. A player has dropped out and rather than move someone up from the wait list – I decided to lower my stress levels and settle for a campaign with 8 players.


  1. I liked it, especially the improved tempo brought about by the "faster" units.

    I think that the mulligan idea works, but I think that if the defender mulligans, the attacker should get his 6 back.

    I thought Maeve did pretty good, considering how dead beat she was. She said that she had fun, anyways. I am considering letting her tag along for the campaign if she wants, but I'll understand if you would rather she didn't.

  2. Games look great, and it's nice to see the kids getting involved.

  3. Great report and some lovely miniatures.

  4. Ok, I have thought about this a bit more, and I am concerned that we are giving the defender a bit too easy of a time with terrain setup. I think that terrain setup it basically a reflection of generalship; the better general will arrange to fight on ground of his choosing.

    I think we should keep the attacker chooses on a six throughout, and only allow a mulligan for ONE piece of terrain, and not one that a six was rolled for. This allows the defender a chance to move one feature that might be a thorn in his side. Maybe we allow this mulligan AFTER the attacker chooses his attack direction?

    Basically, there still exists a chance for it all to turn into a giant cock-up for the defender, but this just means that he has been outmaneuvered...

  5. I disagree.

    Basically we have gone from a system that greatly favours the defender (2.2) - where the defender simply chooses where all the terrain goes (with some limitations - three quarters must have part of a terrain piece, two quarters must have part of a bad-going piece) and then the attacker attacks from a semi-random side.... to one that greatly favours attackers that like fighting in the open - where the terrain is more or less random and the attackers simply chooses which side to attack from (with some minor limitations - must be at a road end, if there is one, or can't be across from a waterway)

    There needs to be some sort of balance between the two. I'd almost be okay with Defender sets up, attackers chooses their side.

    but I like SOME degree of randomness in the placement of terrain. I kind of like the idea of rolling and 1-4 indicates a quadrant, 5-6 indicates the defender chooses. If 1-4 is rolled and another area terrain feature is already in that quadrant the defender may re-roll (once). This would mean some randomness in the placement of terrain - in that the defender doesn't have complete control over exact placement of everything.... Attacker still gets choice of side to attack from.

    I think I'll give that system a shot for the next couple play tests.

  6. I completely disagree, as a matter of principle. Furthermore, I challenge you to a duel.

    Having said that, I agree with where you are going here. I think the complete mulligan might be too good for defenders who want open terrain. In fact even with that, i think it will be impossible to beat an open ground defender, based solely on the fact the defender places all terrain features, and can just stack terrain at the edges.

    Keep in mind too that we are using terrain features that are a bit smaller than what the rules call for, if I understand correctly. If we use bigger terrain pieces and / or BUAs, I can see the balance in what we are talking about going a bit too far in the defender's favour.