Tuesday, September 26, 2023

"Collision Course" DBA Historical Battle Using "DBF" Playtest Rules

 We recently lifted our hiatus on gaming and tried a 12 element DBA 3.0 game combining the use of the "Collision Course" deployment variant and the "DBF" (De Bellis Fantasiae") playtest rules. 

"Collision Course" is a variant deployment where both armies have three marching columns of equal strength entering the board, the first column is entirely on the board, the second column has the lead element only at the owning players board edge, and the third column is waiting to enter on a later turn when the owning player has 4 pips to spend allowing the column to enter the board. 

DBF is the proposed name for a new "big battle high fantasy" play-test rule-set from WRG, combining the DBA 3.0 rules engine, plus adding HOTT (Hordes of the Things) fantasy rules & elements, along with some additional experimental rules. The play-test rules and the "Collision Course" deployment rules are available on the "DBA & HOTT Wargaming"  Facebook group page in the files section (the file named "DB-H" are the DBF playtest rules). We decided to play a historical battle using them with Parthians vs Marian Romans.

Some of the changes DBF makes to DBA 3.0 that we used in our game are listed below:

1. Point System: DBF uses a simple point system similar to HOTT's. Most elements average 2 AP (army points) each. 

2. Big Battle: DBF considers any game using more than 24 AP per side a "big battle" game, which adds additional rules/options. Armies of certain size can have multiple generals and commands. Since our game both had armies of 25AP each, we were allowed to both have 1-2 generals and commands. We chose to use 1 general and 1 command for each army, even though this was technically a "big battle" game. 

3. Subsequent Moves: In DBA 3.0, only Light Horse and Psiloi are allowed subsequent moves. In DBF if playing a "big Battle" game, ALL units have the capability of subsequent moves, though at extra cost and availability of "pips."

4. Breaking Off From Close Combat: DBF allows individual engaged elements faster than their opponent to disengage under certain circumstances.

5. Unit Quality: In a "big battle" game, optional unit quality rules can be used. We used unit quality to even the small army point disparity between the Romans and Parthians by elevating 2 of the Roman elements to "superior." Superior elements can re-roll a combat die of 2 or less. Inferior elements (which cost less) cause the owning player to re-roll combat dice of 5 or more.

6. Command Bonus: In a "big battle" game, the CinC's element is only allowed to add +1 to a combat roll once per game. However, the CinC has additional abilities if playing a larger big-battle game than we were playing.

7. Victory Conditions: DBF increases the victory threshold to eliminating 50% of your opponent's army or command's army point total. DBA's victory threshold was 33%. As a result, games tend to last longer as you have to defeat more of your opponent's elements to win the battle.

8. Flank Marches, Ambush, & Hidden Deployment: We did not use these because they conflict somewhat with the Collision Course variant.  

The Forces (based on the DBA 3.0 Army Lists):


10 x LH (Horse Archers)

 2 x 4Kn (Cataphracts mounted 3/base)  

Total: 25 AP (Army Points)

Marian Romans:

1 x Cav (CinC, Superior Cav)

1 x Cav (Gallic Auxiliary Cav)

4 x 4Bd (Legionaries)

1 x 4Bd (Superior Veteran Legionaries) 

1 x Art (Bolt Shooter)

1 x 3Ax (Thracian Javelinmen)

2 x LH (Javelin Light Horse)

1 x Ps (Archers)

Total: 25 AP

The Battle:

The game was played on a 4' x 4' board, the largest allowed for regular DBA in 28mm. Both armies home terrain is arable at this time (about 53 BC). The Romans were the defenders and one terrain feature ended up in each quarter. The Parthians entered on the left. Collision Course deployment restricts terrain from being placed near the center of each board edge. In the photo above shows the starting positions of both sides. Each side has a mobile baggage element instead of a fixed camp.



The end of turn 1. Both sides have two columns on the table. The Parthians use subsequent moves to occupy the gentle hill, while the Romans use a subsequent move to deploy the bolt shooter. The plough (fields) did not become "mud" due to lack of rain and have no effect on play. The bog in the lower left is bad going.



The troops below are the third columns of both sides waiting to enter the board. The long movement stick (& the metal yardstick in other photos) are the border of the game surface. 



More Parthians have occupied the hill while the 2nd Roman column has advanced.

The Parthian 3rd column (bottom left) has now entered the board while the Romans have deployed their 2nd column.




The Parthians are advancing their 2nd & 3rd columns of horse archers. The Roman 3rd column has arrived on the board on the right.

The Parthians have wheeled and deployed their 3rd column into line to face the Romans using subsequent moves. The Romans have deployed their army into a single large group with the baggage behind. 

The Parthian 3rd column advances towards the Roman left flank while the Parthian 2nd column deploys into line. The Romans deploy their light cavalry with legionaries supporting.



The Parthian commander watches from the hilltop.



The Parthians & Romans engage each other on the Roman left flank (lower right). Both sides recoil while one Parthian horse archer flees.

The Parthians have lost an element to the bolt shooter. Another flees to the rear.

Another Parthian horse archer is lost to the bolt shooter. The Roman light horse supported by the legionaries recoil the other Parthians.



The Parthian cataphracts come down off the hill.



The fight on the Roman left flank continues.

The Parthians pull back from the Roman left.

Another Parthian horse archer is lost to the bolt shooter.



The Parthians mass in front of the Roman line. The Bolt shooter kills another horse archer. There are no opponents left in front of the Roman left, who are out of supporting distance of their main battle line. At this point, the Parthians have lost 4 elements and would have lost if we were playing only DBA 3.0.



The Parthians charge the center of the Roman line, successfully taking out the bolt shooter and recoiling a legionary element. 

The Parthian cataphracts destroy 2 legionary elements. The Parthian horse archers have another legionary element flanked.

A closeup view of the action.



The Roman CinC's Cavalry element dies in close combat, even with a re-roll (he already used his +1 earlier). The CinC cataphract element wheels into the Thracian flank, though the other cataphract element is lost. The legionary element flanked the previous turn is destroyed. The center of the Roman line is broken.

The Parthians seize the Roman mobile baggage element (which fights like a camp).

The end of the battle. The Romans have lost to the Parthians 13.5 AP (army points) to 11 AP.

The battle lasted longer than a typical DBA 3.0 game, due to the Collision Course and DBF rules. The Collision Course variant is definitely an interesting alternative to deployment. The point system is simple and easy to use. We were able to easily convert existing DBA army lists to AP's, then balance the armies using unit quality. We both used subsequent moves at various times, which was a nice change. There were no attempts to break-off from combat, though that was always an option, especially for light horse.  

As far as the armies were concerned, the Parthians chose to have only a couple cataphract elements and more light horse and maneuverability when they could have had a larger percentage of cataphracts. The Romans chose an army with more cavalry and a bolt shooter, which is definitely effective vs light horse.

UPDATE 09/27/2023: I have been informed that the DBF play-test rules and the DB-H rules on the DBA & HOTT Facebook Group are two different documents, so my error in assuming they were related. The game played above used the DB-H rules that combined DBA 3.0 with HOTT, plus some optional rules.


Saturday, October 29, 2022

Russian Civil War Interlude

I'm finally getting around to posting some pictures of a game I played in June. It was a 15mm Russian Civil War game put on by local gamer Ivor Janci. The figures, rules, and beautiful table layout were his. The game lasted several Wednesday nights over several weeks where we played a few turns each night.

The Red forces are defending the village (foreground). The White are approaching from the top.

To the right of the village, the rest of the battlefield can be seen.

The Whites are advancing to assault the village.


A Red unit on the hill is preparing to fire on the White cavalry.

The village defenders prepare.

The Reds advance across the central large open wheat field while cavalry are sent to support the village across the stream on the left.

A large Red infantry and Tchanka force moves around the back of the hill to flank the Whites.

The Whites charge across the wheat field near the village while the Reds bring up reinforcements to support the village.

White cavalry engages Red sailors on the wood edge.

The Red infantry climbs the steep hill towards the White right flank.

The Tchanka's are racing around the hill.

Red artillery on the hill opening fire.

A strong Red infantry force supporting the village. The White cavalry has eliminated the sailors on the wood edge.

White cavalry charging a Red battery on the far stream bank and the Red cavalry that just crossed the stream.

A full scale White attack.

Half the White cavalry is destroyed.

White infantry emerging from the wheat field to attack the village. The Red sailors are ready to defend.

The Whites press their attack on the outskirts of the village (above) and have wiped out the Red battery crews. The Red infantry is swarming forward on the left flank of the village towards the small wood on the flank of the wheat field.

The Red infantry is still swarming over the large hill while the Tchanka's are advancing through the gap.

The Whites have taken two of the buildings, with swarms more reinforcements advancing in the distance.

More Red cavalry arriving in the center behind the infantry advancing in the field.

Overall, this was a fun game with simple rules. The stands of troops represent platoons. The table was 12' x 6.'

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Summer 1942 Desert Battle: A Spearhead AAR

 Recently we made a diversion from Ancients and played a 1942 Desert game using the Spearhead (SH) rules. For this game, we played a meeting engagement of about 450 pts using the points from the Spearhead Scenario Generation System. Our scenario was basically of both sides having 2 armored and one motorized infantry battalion, entering the board from opposite ends with the option of keeping one battalion in reserve. Victory would be based on defeating 2 of 3 enemy battalions. Regarding modifications to the standard SH rules, we used the following:

  • Increased all the game measurements by 33%. In SH, standard measurements are multiples of 3." Thus, 3" = 300 yrds became 4" = 300 yrds.
  • Allowed select recon platoons to "disperse" prior to the game, where they can only suppress enemy or be suppressed on a roll of "11 or 12" using 2 x 6D (a rule borrowed from Great War Spearhead). They automatically evade a full move if the target of an overrun or close assault. They behave in all other ways like a recon platoon.
  • Allowed FO's from artillery battalions to call in an area barrage using a template similar to a pre-planned bombardment.

Below is the order of battle for both sides:


Panzer Battalion A, 15th Pz Div (Veterans)
1-HQ Tank (PzIIIG short,), 1-PzIIF Recon, 1-PzIIIG short, 3-PzIIIJ long, 2-PzIVF1 short
8 platoons, BP: 6

Panzer Battalion B, 15th Pz Div (Veterans)
1-HQ Tank (PzIIIG short,), 1-PzIIIG short, 3-PzIIIJ long, 1-PzIVF1 short, 1-PzIVF2 long
7 platoons, BP: 5

Schutzen Battalion C, 15th Panzer Div (Regulars)
1-HQ Rifle/SMG, 9-Rifles, 1-HMG, 1-81mm mortar, 1-Engineer, 13 trucks, 
Attachments: 2-105mm Howitzer batteries & trucks, 1-Sdkfz 6/3 (Diana) Tank Hunter, 1-Flak 88 & tractor, 1-PAK38 ATG & truck, 1-GW38t (Bison), 1 FO & truck.
19 platoons, BP 10/13

 BRITISH FORCES (All Regulars)

Armored Regiment 6, 8th Armored Brigade
1-HQ Armored Car, 6-Crusader II, 2-Crusader CS, Attached: Armored Car Squadron 3-A/Cs (Diamler 2#), 3 platoons
12 platoons, BP: 6/8

Armored Regiment 7, 8th Armored Brigade
1-HQ Armored Car, 6-Lee/Grant, 5-M3 Honey
12 platoons, BP: 6/8

Motor Battalion, 8th Armored Brigade 
1-HQ Rifle/SMG, 6 Rifles, 3-HMG, 1-Eng SMG, 1-3" mortar, 3-Carrier Platoons, 2-2pdr Portees, 2-6pdr Portees, 12 trucks, Attachmens: 2-25pdr howitzers & tractors (on table), 2-25pdr howitzers & tractors (off table), 1-4.2" mortar & truck, 2-40mm Bofors AA guns & trucks, 1-FO & truck. 
25 platoons, BP 13/17

Both players made their plans & gave orders. An account of the game is below:

The battlefield. The buildings were treated as light cover. Lighter areas are sand (1/2 speed). 

The British Motor Battalion enters and goes directly towards the oasis & buildings. 7th Armored Regt is to their right (Grants/Honeys). 6th Armored Regt is off board in reserve.

A close up of 7th Armored.

Both German Panzer Battalions enter the board. The Schutzen Battalion is in reserve.

On turn 2, the 6th Armored Regt has appeared from reserve and shifting towards the left flank, while the Motor Infantry is approaching the oasis, leaving support platoons behind on the ridge.
6th Armored Regt (Crusader 11's & Diamler A/C's). AEC A/C is the HQ platoon.

The Panzers spread out.
Motor Infantry approaching the oasis.

The British have occupied the oasis. German Panzers moving above battle speed creating dust (upper left).

7th Armored has reached it's objective and is trying to change orders so it can advance further.

Panzer Battalion B advancing on the oasis.
Panzer Battalion A advancing between some ruins (rough) and sand. Armored Regt 6 starting to deploy on the ridge, while a Bofors, 2pdr portees, and a 25pdr are deployed for action.
Panzer Battalion B starting it's attack on the oasis.

The Schutzen Battalion is activated from reserve and enters the board.

7th Armored is finally able to change orders and moves forward through the sand.

Overview of the battlefield.
7th Armored clears the sand. Are they heading towards the German infantry or the flank of the Panzers?
The Germans lose a tank platoon (the red puff marks a burning wreck). British in the building are firing AT weapons at the Panzers.
6th Armored is still deploying to engage the Germans below.
The British lose 2 A/C's, and a portee, but the Germans lose 3 Panzers due to a combination of indirect artillery, 2 pdr A/C, tank,& portees, plus Bofors fire. Another portee is suppressed (white & black puff).

Another portee (6pdr) on the ridge is suppressed.

Due to orders they can't change, 7th Armored veers left towards the Panzers instead of the Schutzen, presenting their flank to the German gun line on the ridge. Moving at top speed to make dust, 7th Armored tries to obscure their tanks.

The Germans are pressing their attack to overrun the Motor infantry, who are only in light cover in the buildings.

The Germans have lost another Panzer, while the Brits lose their remaining A/C and a Crusader.

The fortunes of war definitely favored the Motor infantry, whose AT weapons destroyed 3 Panzers (three sixes in a row were rolled!). Panzer Battalion B is decimated and broken. Meanwhile, 7th Armored has lost 3 tank platoons and 1 suppressed due to 88mm, Diana, & PAK 38 fire from the opposite ridge.
The German gun line on the opposite ridge.
Panzer Battalion A has broken off, one platoon away from a morale check. The Germans have lost the engagement.
The battle proved costly for the British, as the German gun line destroys 4 more tanks of 7th Armored, who was unable to change orders and they fail their moral check.

Overall, it was good to play WW2 again after a long hiatus. Once the forces came into effective range, the action was fast & furious. The British infantry were lucky with their AT fire, it could have been much worse for them. The Spearhead rules are fun and orders are very important, as 7th Armored found out.

Battlefront Miniatures painted by and from the collection of Bob Pavlik.