Saturday, September 4, 2010

Civil war

Educational theory says that now that I've been playing DBA for a while I should be improving from a state of unconscious incompetence to a state of conscious incompetence.  Well, today's game certainly seemed to provide support for that theory.  I feel like I'm getting worse at DBA, but at least now I'm quicker to figure out what I'm doing wrong!

We played a Middle Imperial Roman civil war, I took East versus my opponent's West.  The board was as below, with a steep hill in my deployment zone, a gentle hill opposite, a wood on my right and a waterway on my left.  Our armies were the same, except he had chosen Bw where I chose Ps.

After the first bounds
I dithered a lot with my set-up.  I certainly didn't feel like I had any sort of plan and it probably shows.  I started to run my LH around to the left hoping to outflank the Art on the hill.  My own Art moved up the road facing his Cv.  He moved his Ax into the woods and generally advanced the rest of his army but left behind an Ax and Bd near the road.

Having this many groups is painful when you roll a 2 for pips
I kept rolling low for pips and my LH movement was gobbling them up so I didn't get much further forward.  His Cv and LH came down the road and veered to hug the edge of the woods. His CvG backed up his Bd block.  And his rearmost Bd went towards the waterway to intercept my LH. 

My Cv moved towards my right flank when I saw his Cv and LH coming.  I left room for my Ax to recoil - I've been caught like that before!  My Ps moved to the left to broaden the line, thinking I might be able to skirt around him.  My Ax on the steep hill moved forward to throw a ZOC out in front of my Ps and Bd.  I would have liked to charge the Art on the flank with my LH but he had the hill so I would probably have to recoil, and then in my turn the Art would blast me.  I needed to get those Ax up fast to help out!

East 0 - West 1
Then I got a shock - his lone Bw stepped up and shot my Ax to death with a 6-1 roll!  His own Ax came off the hill and suddenly my left flank looked flimsy.  I juggled my Bd and Ps around to get the Ps behind the Bd before they got chased off by the enemy Bd - I wanted the combat advantage when our lines collided.  His Ax continued to advance through the woods so I brought up my Cv to oppose them.  My Art was shooting at his LH but failed to achieve anything real.

Take a bow.  East 1 - West 1

In my turn, my Ax came off the steep hill and killed his Bw by recoiling it into the flank of his Bd.  My Bd also managed to recoil both of his Bd units.  Then my Art managed to recoil his Cv and LH back onto the road.  My CvG moved to behind the Bd to the right of my Art, with the thought that I might be able to pounce on his Cv in the future.

Jostling for position

In the next few bounds, my Ax retreated to form a line with my Bd block, but his Ax formed up opposite it and his Bd moved to overlap me on the steep hill.  I moved my rightside Bd out of the way and charged my CvG into his Cv but only managed to recoil it.  However, both his Cv and LH now had a toe in the forest so if they recoiled again they'd be dead.  I then succumbed to temptation and ran my LH right behind his Ax in the hope of recoiling his Ax into it.  Of course, I was right in the sights of the Western Roman artillery and we rolled even on the dice so my LH was left swinging in the breeze with nothing to show for it...

Click click, BOOM!  East 1 - West 3
So in his turn, his Art destroyed my LH.  And then he flanked my Ax and killed it too.  And now he had the flank on my Bd line.  I think I only rolled a 1 for pips, so I stupidly attacked with my Bd where I couldn't actually kill anything.  Unfortunately I didn't take a picture of the final setup but here's what happened:

East 1 - West 5
His units flanked my Ps-backed Bd and recoiled them, killing both because they'd been flanked by his Bd.  Game over.

Post-game thoughts:
  1. It was really interesting playing against essentially the same army (only 1 unit difference).  Much trickier as there weren't any strong mismatches.  A much more tactical game that I think I lost because I got rash and did risky things whereas my opponent held his nerve.
  2. It was funny playing with no Wb on the board!  I'm so used to their adorable impetuous advances.
  3. I'm still pretty bad at using Art.  I still prefer LH.
  4. My initial setup was bad.  If I could play this game again I would start with my Bd in column on the steep hill.  I would advance them against his Art.  My Art and Cav would creep up on the flat, guarding the right flank of my Bd.  No idea what I would have done with my Ax though!
  5. I should have left my Ax on the steep hill rather than pouncing on his Bw to kill it.  I was so keen to avenge the unlikely shooting of my other Ax that I didn't foresee how fast my flank could collapse.  If I'd stayed on the edge of the hill I would have had the uphill in the bad ground and my ZOC would have put his Bd line in disarray for a while.
Again, it was a fun game, and I feel like I'm still on a learning curve for DBA.  Soon hopefully I'll have some Kn, Wb and Ps painted and then I'll be able to play the Patrician Romans.  Thanks for reading.


  1. Another great report Peter and a good example of a flank collapse.Once again dont be so hard on yourself i left the archers there to tempt you and your troops were rash with the sudden loss of an auxiliary cohort and fell into the trap.I think the best way to think about DBA is that each element is a unit of men not a token and to try an outsmart your opponent.Which is of coarse what a real General would do.The Light horse appear to be your Nemisis and maybe hold them back or advance them with cav straight away.Till next time Ave Caeser!!

  2. Hi,
    Great blog - interesting to follow your DBA experience. After only 12 months of 'serious playing' (preceded by years of dabbling - mostly solo) I too get the feeling of going backwards form time to time. Hang in there!

    Just my two-cents worth, how about playing for a while with a little less terrain on your battlefield? It provides a great opportunity to build your tactical approaches to your opponents without the extra complication of constrained manoeuvring. Perhaps use the minimum and slowly build up from there. Especially when fighting against more experienced players who can take great advantage from terrain.

    Just as an aside, I'm assuming this is an arable battle you report on here - if so, you are (I think) exceeding the maximum terrain anyway - road (1 of 2 compulsory - other being a BUA), then a steep hill, gentle hill, forest and waterway - so you have 4 optional pieces (max is 3). If this is your preference - go for it - it will just make developing your tactics more difficult in the early days of DBA.

    As I say, just my opinion. Keep it up - I'm enjoying your blog.


    Harold (Aust)

  3. Thanks for your comments guys! Glad you enjoyed reading the report.

    Harold, yes we've been playing fast and loose with the terrain layout. Turks pointed out the same thing yesterday - that with less terrain I'd find it easier to develop my tactics. I think I tend to get sucked in by the visual appeal of the crowded board.

    It definitely messed with my mind during deployment though which is why I mistakenly crowded my whole army into that little space.

    The more I think about this game, the more I think that my strategy was completely wrong. For example:
    - There was no real point having the Ps where they were. The two Bd lines couldn't kill each other until one got flanked anyway!
    - I had the Art on the road so I could move it faster, but with it in the middle of my line I didn't WANT to move it faster.

    I think next time I will try to play a simpler strategy and not get caught up in trying to think of tricky plans!