Sunday, April 12, 2015

HMGS Midwest Game Night-Giant DBA AAR

HMGS Midwest has a monthly game night at "Games Plus" in Mount Prospect IL. I ran a Giant DBA 3.0 game for this month's April Game Night.

While regular DBA uses 12 elements for each army, Giant DBA uses 4 or more commands of 12 elements each to make up a large army for a Giant DBA game. This game was a Marian Roman vs Gaul battle using a total of 48 elements of troops within 4 commands in each army. There were 8 players, only one of which had played DBA before (a DBMM player), though some had an idea of how DBA worked. I went over the rules and changes to previous DBA versions with the players, who seemed to understand the game concepts fairly easily. The Gauls won the die roll and found themselves as attackers. The Romans were the defenders and set-up first, followed by the Gauls deploying. The Romans then took the first bound. Army composition was as follows:

Marian Romans:
6 x Cavalry
2 x Light Horse
32 x Blades
8 x Psiloi

10 x Cavalry
34 x Warband
4 x Psiloi

Above shows the deployment of both armies before turn 1. There are 4 plough, 1 scrub, and 2 woods terrain pieces in the photo. The plough was good going for the battle. The Romans deployed first on the left in the photo, splitting their cavalry and psiloi among the 2 flank commands. Also note the Romans deployed their blades in 2 ranks (which does not provide any combat benefit), along with most of their army. This had the effect of shortening the Roman frontage. As the attackers, the Gauls countered the Roman deployment by refusing their left flank near the central woods in their rear, and massing all their cavalry in their right flank command. The Gauls were double ranked to get the +1 "2nd rank" bonus against enemy infantry.  The table was 10' x 6'. Ground cover is an indoor/outdoor carpet remnant, highlighted with spray paint.

Above is on turn 2, as the Romans are aggressively moving forward. Note that the Roman psiloi at the bottom right of the photo have made subsequent moves on the first bound to reach the point where they are. At the top of the photo, the massed Gaul cavalry is ominously lumbering forward towards the Roman left flank. 

 Above shows the area of the first close combats of the game, as the far right Gaul infantry command engages the left flank of the Roman Legionaries. Note the center Gaul infantry command (left side of photo) is just out of reach, while the Roman left flank cavalry/psiloi command are at the top right of the photo, waiting as the Gaul cavalry approach them off the screen to the right. This part of the battlefield saw most of the fighting. 

A point came up in this area in a later bound regarding a group move making a double wheel. The latest DBA FAQ allows such a move. The FAQ can be found here:

Above shows the right flank Gaul cavalry and infantry pressing forward to turn the Roman left, the infantry is actually closer than the cavalry. At this point, 2 Roman and 1 Gaul commands have taken critical infantry casualties (3 elements or 25% casualties each).  The Roman right flank has not made much progress towards the Gallic left, which has a gap between it and the woods in the rear.

Above shows the end of the game. 2 Roman left flank commands have become demoralized, while one Gaul command is demoralized. As 50% of the Roman army is lost or in a demoralized command and the Romans have taken more casualties this bound than the Gauls, the game ends with a Gaul victory. The Romans never quite reached the Gaul left flank, and the massed Gaul cavalry never hit the Roman left (although it certainly influenced the Roman movement there) before the battle ended. Hard fighting Gaul warbands won this game. 

Our DBA friends in New Zealand should note we are using their DBA playsheet found here:

The players seemed to enjoy themselves, the rules, and the fact that the game was fast and decisive (about 1.5 hrs). 


  1. Go Gauls! Good use of limited terrain to get a favorable match up. Could the Roman use of double ranks have had any potential benefit? Should the Romans have used 1 command as a reserve or second line?

  2. I'm not sure about the 2 ranks. It did give the ROmans a counter-attack force if the Gauls killed the front rank element. The Roman right flank could have been more aggressive in hitting the Gaul left flank that wasn't really anchored well. To be fair, I can't remember whether or not he was pip starved.

  3. Interesting report. Thanks for sharing