Saturday, October 30, 2010

Callinicum refight with DBA slight mod

As mentioned in my refight with DBA, I am not keen on DBA due to the lack of differentiation of troop type as in many other rules.  Rather than go all the way to DBM, E-BBDBA (see files section of the DBA yahoo group) offers an alternative (and I quote the relevant paragraph):

Inferior (I) troops must re-roll a combat score of ‘5’ but don’t re-roll again if they score a second ‘5’.
Superior (S) troops can choose to re-roll a combat score of ‘2’; they can so choose after an (I) opponent re-rolls.  Where (S) troops oppose, the player whose turn it is can choose before the other side or after inviting him to re-roll first.  A second score of ‘2’ is not re-rolled.

I will use this to see if I think it improves what I am looking for.

For for information of the Battle of Callinicum see my previous post.

Troops


Persian
6xCv
3xCv(S)
3xLH

Byzantine
3xSp
4xCv
2xCv(S)
1xAx
3xLH(I)


Deployment
I deployed the same as in most refights, and the same as the DBA refight.

The Persians are in two groups, from their right to left: 6xCv, 3 Cv(S) and 3xLH.
The Byzantines are in three groups, from their left to right: 3xSp, 2 Cv, 2 Cv(S), 2 Cv, 1 Ax and 3xLH(I).

I have placed a general figure behind the general stand as a reminder.


Persian moves first.

Turn 1
Different tactics, slightly, to my previous DBA game, as the Persians will be attempting to overwhelm the Byzantine LH(I).  In the previous game I was aiming for their neighbours, the Ax.  So the Inferior/Superior has already modified the tactical options.
Low PIPs for both sides which gave a general advance to both battlelines.

Turn 2
Persians get low pips and advance their two groups.
Byzantines get worse (a 1) and move the Auxilia up to help protect the LH(I) slightly.  It will be a clash of almost the complete battleline.

The battlelines face off

 
Turn 3
High PIPs for the Persians.  Move the battle line up, flank a Cv on one edge and move the LH to the other flank for an overlap and out of the way of the LH for possible retaliation.  Two Byzantine Cavalry destroyed.  There was an option for a reroll when the Byzantine general rolled a 2.  The reroll was a 1!  Ah well.  Fortunes of war.
Byzantine roll high for PIPs, moves back into battle and brings up the LH.  A reroll by the Persian Cv(S) changed a destroyed to a 'remain in combat' on the reroll.  But the Persians lose another Cavalry and a LH.

View from the Persian side of the LHs on the left, and the heavy cavalry zig-zag in the centre.


Turn 4
Persian has 1 PIP and attacks a Cavalry on their right flank for no effect.  Byzantines also roll low for PIPS and attack on the other flank, bringing up the Ax and LH.  But they lost a LH (to a 1-5 roll).
Byzantines have lost 3, Persians 2.

Turn 5
Persians get a 6 for PIPs! and reform the battleline.  The dangerous combat for the Byzantines was going to the the one where a recoil for a cavalry would take it straight back into the generals element.

The centre front show the Byzantine cavalry in contact with the Persian cavalry.  If the former recoils, the General unit behind it will be destroyed.  It was.

It got a recoiled.  One cavalry and one general gone.  The other combat left was a draw.
Byzantines have lost 5 elements, including the general, Persians 2.  Persian victory.

Verdict
I thought having the Inferior and Superior helped differentiate the troops and give it a slightly better feeling for me of ancient combat.  It did help in a few instances and did change the tactics of the game.There are other things (the swing of the die for PIPs) I wouldn't mind changing.  But to me, vanilla DBA is king - it really works well as is.  By changing some of the rules around to get more of my historical feel, I think I am better off with other rules.  If I was to play DBA, I would still likely play as-is, the modifications only increased the historical feel slightly.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Callinicum refight with DBA

Rules
DBA is the primary and worldwide leader in fast play ancient rules that plays on a 2'x2' board in under an hour.  I have played about 8 games over the last 15 years and it doesn't move me.  I don't hate it, don't love it, would just prefer to play something else.  One of the things I don't like is the lack of difference between good and poor troops (unlike its big brother DBM).  I am also not fond of the PIP system - a range of 1 to 6 per turn for unit/group activation is just too much for me to rationalise.  I don't mind rolling for commands, but maybe if it was a range of 3-5 or 2-4.  There are lots of ways to change the PIP system (2d6 and best roll, 2d6/2, average die, die modifiers etc) but for this replay I will leave it as a d6.  For for information of the Battle of Callinicum see my previous post.

On the lack of poor/superior, I think after the DBA replay, I will do a quick run through with the E-BBDBA modifications for inferior and superior.  I will also, if I have the energy do a game of DBM100.

There are a lot of resources for DBA on the Net, and a good place to start is Fanacitus.

Unlike other replays, I'm not going into to much detail on the dice that was rolled etc - there is enough out there on how DBA plays.

Lastly, my concern is that the game is unlikely to go historically, in fact, the historical Callinicum tactics such as the veteran Light Cavalry chasing down the unreliable Light Cavalry isn't going to happen (or at least, won't happen without the dice going the right way).  Straight BBDBA would cure this as you can tweak the number of forces on each side to bring out the differences, as can be shown with this BBDBA refight of Callinicum.  DBA shines as a game, but maybe not as 'historical' (and it is in quotes as it is all very subjective) as BBDBA is.

Troops
One thing about DBA, troops are easy to figure out!

Persian
9xCv
3xLH

Byzantine
3xSp
6xCv
1xAx
3xLH

Deployment
Deployment is a bit harder.  Normally at the start of the game it seems to be good practice to only have a couple of groups in total so as to be able to move all units regardless of the PIP roll.  According to the scenario, there would be 4 distinct Persian groups and 6 distinct Byzantine groups.  Not great for DBA. With a minor compromise, I think there is a good case for smaller number of groups.  I have used this for deployment:

Deployment - Persians on the left, Byzantines on the right


The Persians are in two groups, from their right to left: 9xCv and 3xLH.
The Byzantines are in three groups, from their left to right: 1xSp and 6xCv+1Ax and 3xLH
Note: the Sp is by itself due to the way the original battle played out.
I have placed a general figure behind the stand with the general as a reminder.

The trick is to get some local superiority as all the Heavy Cavalry are the same.  The best place for the Persians is on their left flank where the Auxilia is a weak point.  For the Byzantines, it is their left flank with the Spear that provides the best bet.  So that will be my starting point for strategy.  Even though I said DBA didn't seem to lend itself to the historical battle, this is roughly how it went.  So much for my pre-game thoughts on standard DBA and historical scenarios!

Persian moves first.

Turn 1
Persians advance along the front and move the majority of the cavalry to the right flank.  The Byzantines roll 1 for PIPs and advances the spears.

Turn 2
Persians continue the advance.  The Byzantines get a decent PIP roll and move forwards.  It really is going to be a clash of battle lines for most of the board...

Byzantine battleline

Turn 3
Persian's advance with roughly the right half of their forces into contact - there are some slight advantages to overlaps, the Aux is a good target and some forces needs flank support.  The other half can wait - the Byzantine general hasn't been contacted yet - as can't get an advantage so did not do it.
Byzantines lose a LH, Persians lose a Cavalry (via a 1-6 roll).
Byzantines see the chance to destroy the general (it was the cavalry on the flank of the Persian general that was destroyed).  Rolled just enough PIPs to put two units on the Persian general, one on the flank.  Unbelievable - another 1-6,  but this time against the Byzantines.  Byzantine Cavalry destroyed, and now there is a Byzantine cavalry unit with a cavalry unit behind it, this seems like a target.

End of turn 3 carnage - left side shows the two Byzantine Cavalry at right angles

Turn 4
Low Pips for the Persian but manage to destroy a Cavalry.  But the LH combat, that has had 3 successive equal rolls, sees the Byzantine doubling the Persians. Each side has now lost 3 elements. (note that due the a number of stands hanging around the edge of the board from previous battles, I thought the Persians had lost 2 LHs when it was only one.  But I only realised this at the end of the game when I was setting up for the next one.)
Byzantines gets a high PIP roll and pick on the remaining Persian LH and also use the Byzantine General to get an advantage in the centre battle line...Persian LH destroyed.  Byzantine recoils in the centre.


End of game

Persians have lost 4 elements (really only lost 3 - see note for turn 3) and the Byzantines 3.  Games ends with a Byzantine victory.

Verdict
A very clean game.  I liked playing it.  I can see why so many people play it. There is tactical depth to the game and the rules are very complete, tight and fit well together. It meets the requirements of playing under one hour and using a 2'x'2' (as expected as the rules are specifically designed for this!).  However, it just doesn't met what I am looking for in the feel of a historical game. I like to see a bit of missile fire rather than it abstracted.  Every unit in the Callinicum battle had bows or javelins, and yet not one die roll for long range fire. And how to represent the inferiority of the Ghassanid light cavalry?  In BBDBA is could be done by having less of them but not practicable at this level.  Don't gt me wrong.  I do like DBA and would play it again.  It just isn't in my top few ancient miniature games.  But I would recommend them to anyone to try them as if you like them, they are complete, comprehensive and fun.