Friday, September 26, 2014

Pontus vs Rome: Big Battle DBA 3.0

Last Wednesday, Mr. Bob (Pavlik) & I had a Big Battle DBA game. One advantage of retirement is you can play during a weekday. 

DBA is a game designed for armies containing 12 elements or bases of troops per side, sort of like a chess game. Big Battle DBA is a larger game using 3 times the number of troops on a larger playing area. Bob chose to be Mithridates of Pontus, while I chose to play Marius of Rome.

We used the 3.0 version of the DBA rules for the first time. For those unfamiliar with 3.0, the following is a summary of the major changes from the previous versions of the rules:

  • There are now certain troops classified as "fast" while most others are "solid." Fast troops move faster for their type, but are more fragile in combat (they lose when a tie is rolled). We didn't use any in our game.
  • Subsequent (multiple) tactical moves are only allowed to Light Horse, Psiloi, and troops on a road.
  • Built up Areas (towns) have more extensive rules, with some armies having the option to have them instead of a camp. We didn't use one in our game.
  • Movement has been simplified slightly and is by "Base-widths" (BW), the actual width of the troop stand is the unit of measurement.  
  • Rear support is now only allowed to Pikes, Warbands, Light Horse, and certain types of double based elements.
  • Flank support is allowed to Spears and Bows if certain types of troops are side-by-side on their flank, such as other Spears and Blades.
  • Psiloi now cannot be overlapped with corner contact by other troop types.
  • A couple of the troop combat factors and combat results have been slightly changed (I can't remember which ones, probably due to senility).
  • Pikes and Blades must now pursue any recoiled or destroyed infantry opponent except Psiloi.
In Big Battle DBA, you divide your 36 element army into 3 commands of at least 6 elements, each commanded by a general. After deployment, each commander decides which command will always get the "high" die, and which will get the "low" die. This represents your pre-battle planning, as the "high" die gets more movement impulses.

Above, the Roman Army of Marius is deployed on the left, the Pontic Army of Mithridates is on the right. We waived the use of camps for each army. I have the draft of DBA 3.0 on my Kindle, upper left, along with a Leinenkugel.

Mithridates opened the battle by hurling his Scythed Chariots (the "Fire & Forget" weapon of antiquity) at the Roman left, running into a wall of immovable Legionaries. The Legionaries cut them down.

On the Roman right flank, Marius' Mercenary German Cavalry and Spanish Scutari engaged in a back and forth fight with the Thracian Peltasts and Pontic Theurophori.

In the Center, the Pontic Pike Phalanx crashed into the Legionary center and a vicious back and forth engagement began. The new pursuit rules meant the Pikes and Legionaries have to pursue when they recoil or destroy an infantry opponent, which quickly created an uneven battle line. Off the photo to the right, below, the Pontic left flank command broke and what troops couldn't be held by pips routed away.

The battle ended when on the same turn, the Phalanx in the center defeated the Roman center command, killing enough elements to cause the removal of the entire command. The Pontic Heavy Cavalry killed the Roman left flank general, with additional losses causing that command to break as well. Pontus won the battle against Rome, 2-1.

Post Mortem: Bob liked the game & the win, the food, & the beer. He was concerned that DBA 3.0 may be too complex for old guys to remember the changes. I believe the number of changes are not that great, the main body of the rules is basically the same, and that old guys should be able to comprehend the rules after a few games.

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