Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Big Battle DBA 3.0 (part 2 of 3)

Positioning of Troops.
To better illustrate the change in game style the following series of photos will best show the difference between the two versions. Here the Middle Imperial Romans (Western) are used as an example of an army deployment with a mix of cavalry and infantry. DBA 2.2 required that commands be positioned within 600 paces (6”) of their own base edge and though you could change the composition of a command the smallest must have no less than 6 elements.

DBA 2.2

Note: the string marks the center line of an 80 x 160 cm game board.

The distribution of troop types into three commands followed a tried and true recipe; one large central command with a supporting wing and a smaller mobile command positioned on the opposite flank. To maintain a steady advance to engage the enemy, commands generally moved forward as a group two deep or with columns formed up on the flanks. On average this process took three or four bounds to reach the centre line and engage the enemy if your opponent was like–minded. 

With the distance between opposing battle lines and the shorter movement armies usually took the opportunity to readjust their units before coming to grips with one another. As battle lines could extend to the side edges hampering any turning movement the game settle down to a long slugging match. Two or more hours later you reached a concluding end.   

DBA 3.0
Two noticeable changes with DBA 3.0 are the enlargement of the deployment area allowing troops to be positioned 3BW of the centre line and which troop types could be positioned on the flanks, up to 2BW of the side edge. This new deployment area meant close combat was possible with “fast” or mounted troops within the first turn. The new deployment and increased move distance now accelerated the game, such that a re-thinking of deployment was in order. First solution was to create deeper formations.

The Middle Imperial Roman army strength lay with its core of “solid” infantry (Bd, Ax) and a respectable selection of cavalry (Kn, Cv and LH). The revised army lists now allow an increase in cavalry and artillery are now an option. From the large number of games against historical opponents and these are Picts, Caledones, Marcomanni, Quadi, Carpi, Sarmatae, Moors, Parthia, Armenia, Arabo-Aramean, Pre-Islamic Arabs, and Sassanid I have developed a balance of troop types within each command and their role when fighting any of the above enemies.

These early battles with the Middle Imperial Romans, I organized two relatively equal sized commands and a smaller command comprising the majority of the army’s cavalry. This worked well with the older version, but less so with 3.0. The smaller command was usually mauled and demoralized in short order and the supporting wing would follow shortly thereafter. This was due to the rapid movement of the enemy to counter my threats or underestimating some of the changes to close combat, such as side support and rear support for LH.

These minor setbacks prompted me to reassess the usefulness of maintaining a mobile command. Some of the most compelling changes were multiple move possibilities by Light Horse and Psiloi; the latter by reaching difficult ground on their subsequent move. If Psiloi were used these were placed on the flanks while the LH were collected as a central reserve. This change meant the legions supported by auxilia would open the battle while the cavalry would engage the enemy a few bounds later. 

Part three will cover specific tactics I found useful against the “barbarians”.

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