Saturday, 17 June 2017

DBA Double Header

With the outside chance I might be playing some DBA seriously in the near future, I took the time to fit in some practice games.

The event I'm thinking of attending is the Portsmouth and Allied Wargamers Summer DBA event. These are themed, and this year's theme is "The Decline of the Sarmatian Tribes, 201 – 300 AD". I can put together quite a few armies from the list, depending on how accurate I want to be (eg all my Parthian cataphracts are mounted 3 to a base, not 4 and my Romans are a bit early for the proposed list).

Phil was able to pop in on the way back from family duties in the South, so I put together a few armies to choose from. The Germans were quickly discarded (too many opponents with "Knights" that quick kill Warbands) so we ended up with Middle Imperial Romans (Phil) and Sassanids (me).

Phil was defending and made the most of my terrain collection for DBA, which isn't big. I don't often play DBA as she is written, and my major contribution on the subject was the Cannae scenario for the DBA Big Book of Ancient Battles, or whatever it ended up being called. Any how, that hill with the building is a built up area, and the other item is a Difficult Hill.

With the defenders going first I decided not to fight left to right, which was my first thought, as despite my army being faster it wouldn't get out of the terrain in time.

I was helped as Phil only rolled a 1 for his PIPs in turn 1.

With a 3 for my PIPs I was slightly better off, enabling me to chose where the fighting would take place. My Light Horse are double depth to give me a +1 on frontal contact, or expand to give me an overlap, or hopefully both. The cataphracts are lined up with the legionnaries to give me most opportunities for a quick kill, which I did in two contacts, so good news there. Trouble was out on my right every contact was drawn.

What proved to be decisive (apart from a rookie error by me later on) was that Phil's Bows on the difficult hill first recoiled then killed some of my Light Horse, breaking up my line and making it harder to move with few PIPs.

That meant, in this move, that I had one main choice. Either shore up the left flank with the single unit of LH, or go for the jugular out on the right by doubling up some LH. I went for the latter, and got another load of draws. My combat dice were poor. I didn't roll a single 6 in the whole game. Phil's weren't much better, but he did get a 6 on the combat most in my favour.

So I got no kills out of this round, and got some annoying knock backs. In Phil's turn he took advantage of the flank I hadn't closed off, and rolled me up. I had another terrific round of combat rolls and didn't kill anything else. Phil came out a winner 4 elements to 2.

Next up we switched to a non-themed game and blooded the Khmer and Thai armies. At random Phil took the Khmer. We had to improvise the tropical terrain a bit.

The Angkor Wat model looks good with some added palm trees. Phil insisted on the palm trees, even tho' the foliage out there doesn't have much in the way of them. He took the Artillery option, so he has the bolt thrower mounted on an elephant.

Again Phil defended, and although he set up first I made the mistake of putting my elephants in front of his bolt thrower. I could also do with some Psiloi to screen the elephants, but the army only gets one element of them.

It also is a bit of a surprise that elephants are disadvantaged in Bad Going (like all the terrain on the board in a Tropical set up) which is bizarre as Asian elephants are forest creatures, and for the armies in that region formed their centre piece. The idea of not wading into jungle to duff up the enemy with your elephants is a bit odd.

We closed tentatively, not wanting to be the first to get into bow range and not be able to shoot.

Then Phil killed one of my Auxilia with his bolt thrower. My elephants were already dropping behind, due to the double PIP rule for them.

I had to pull more infantry in front of my elephants to shield them...

....which lead to them being killed instead. Meanwhile I shifted one of my beasts across to support my other wing. I was having the usual PIP problems (not a roll above 3), but I did succeed in shooting one of Phil's units with my archers.

That was my only win. The next round we got into the hand to hands, which I lost comprehensively. Oh well. Win to Phil 4 to 1.

So, a good showing by the Khmer, more thought to go into how to use the Thais. Possibly should have picked them as Blades not Auxilia as they'd have been more resilient against the bolt thrower, and even fighting in the jungle they'd just have been on evens against their opponents.

I am clearly in need of a lot more practice, and I need to re-read the rules and work out what they are trying to do more deeply.

BTW I know they aren't the done thing these days, - insufficiently elaborate - but the stockade camps do hold up well for pretty much any army you choose. They're made from matchsticks glued to old smart cards.


  1. A very nice looking game, wonderful terrain and a stunning Angkor temple!

    1. Terrain's not bad for a quick put up job. The temple was a lucky purchase in Angkor itself, since repainted.

  2. Two good battles! Better luck with the dice next time?

    1. Yes. I think I'd still lose if the luck evened out, however.