It has been several months since I’ve played in any form of “competition” and a year since I’ve played in a competition spread over two day weekend. However, last weekend I headed down to Conquest, an annual convention held here in Christchurch, for a weekend of gaming. These days I really don’t cope well with “serious” gamers. You know those people that argue over every point and have the social skills of a bulldog. I just don’t enjoy such games. Its probably the reason that I organise much of my gaming around social events at the end of the week or scenarios developed using various systems these days.
However I do enjoy DBA. The games are short and the players I generally find using the rules are relaxed. There is little focus on players fine tuning their armies for the perfect tournament play. This year’s DBA competition comprised three different sections which required armies to be changed which resulted in increased variety.
As to the number of games played, well over the course of the two days I managed six DBA games and three BBDBA games against six different players while using three different armies.
Each game provided plenty of challenges mixed with the tension of problems to solve and dice that wouldn’t behave – an excellent outcome! A short summary of the format, the results and a few photos can be found here.
The Sengoku Jidai period, which roughly ran from 1467 AD to around 1616 AD is a fascinating period in Japanese history marked by social upheaval, political intrigue and near-constant military conflict. Colourful and massive armies clashed across the country in a series of campaigns. It seems ideal to represent in the table.
Originally I built my own Japanese, mostly purchased second hand, for use with my preferred Renaissance rule set DBR. Typically DBR is used for large games on large tables. As a result in all that time I have used the army with the DBR rule set I have only managed a couple of games against other Japanese armies. Something was missing. Over recent months a regular opponent and I have been engaged in a series of Sengoku Jidai encounters using DBA. DBA of course is based around small armies and short games. The armies were now out on the table and providing excellent games in our mid-week gaming slot. Even more interestingly these smaller games have had considerable variety, more so than the large games which tended to use all my miniatures.
In part this variety is due to the options in the DBA army lists. The armies have a core of standard troops which is varied by yari armed ashigaru, various town or Ikko Ikki militias, or the warlike Sohei warrior monks. In addition unusual options such as command posts, dismounted generals and bodyguards, as well as cavalry supported by dismounted followers, can be fielded. As a result, assuming players make the most of the options, considerable variety between games can be achieved.
Now I know that DBA is not for everyone. However, the ability to fight battles between historical enemies with a pleasant opponent provides, for me, an enjoyable gaming experience – especially when time is limited. Last night additional variety was introduced when another player visited and fielded a Yi Dynasty Korean Army. Here was another seldom seen army and yet again DBA produced an excellent evening of gaming. A few photos of this game can be found here.
Our Ancients campaign continues with another turn complete, this time covering the period 280 BC to 271 BC. I’m pleased with the changes to the mechanics and the support a number of locals are providing. This turn for example we have had five people involved in the games with a bit of a lottery on which armies you end up commanding. Everyone seems to be enjoying the context of the games than any focus on world conquest.
All the playing states are suffering a mix of success and setback which is adding to overall interest. Pyrrhus, who is currently King of Macedonian, is under particular pressure. Despite this after two desperate battles he still controls his Macedonian throne, just. Meanwhile while Rome and Carthage are locked in combat Seleucus was last seen campaigning somewhere in Bactria.
If you are interested you can find a full summary here.
Having arrived home after my European sojourn it was good to breakout my miniatures for a couple of evenings of gaming this week. As it worked out it was a bit of a Punic Wars theme.
First up were a couple of DBA games against Jim early in the week, while I was still very much in another time zone. Jim’s Carthaginians are, like my own, from the excellent Corvus Belli range. Opting for a pachyderm heavy army these beasts required some focus by the Romans to neutralise them before they broke up the Roman lines. Due to some interesting Punic tactics in the second game the Roman tactics were not completely successful.
Above, Carthaginian light infantry, originally deployed in front of the elephants, nervously watch the elephants retire from the Roman infantry. The elephants soon surged forward again disrupting but not breaking the Roman lines.
Later in the week Colin made a long overdue appearance from the deep south and provided Andrew and I the opportunity for a couple of DBA games. Colin took command of my own Carthaginians in a two games where the battles formed part of our on-going Empire Campaign.
Colin also opted for the pachyderm heavy Later Carthaginians, but supported them with auxiliary infantry (4Ax) rather than my own preference for some more aggressive Gauls. My own PIP dice, I commanded the Romans in the first game, were horrifically variable tending to the extremes causing consternation, joy and embarrassment in equal measure. By good control Colin slowly but surely defeated the Roman upstarts.
A new Consul was sought (Andrew) and in due course another Roman army was dispatched to lower Italy in an attempt to defeat the Punic invader. The Carthaginians selected a field of battle near a large city though their deployment was somewhat constrained by nearby hills.
Now Punic command and control became hesitant and for some time the Carthaginian army refused to advance allowing the Romans to fully deploy. Good use of Roman light infantry slowly countered, if not destroyed the Punic elephants, while Roman and Italian heavy infantry slowly gained an advantage.
A great series of games over the week and an enjoyable start to normality following my travels. I will of course provide some additional context to the games here that formed part of our Empire Campaign when some other games are resolved, stay tuned…
Campaigns are something I always have a inkling to run but past experience has made me nervous of too much complication. Regular readers of my blog may recall that early last year I posted my thoughts on the Empire boardgame, developed by Phil Sabin. After some tinkering with the basic rules I converted the mechanics to a system that would allow it to be used with DBA.
Now, those who follow my Ancient & Medieval blog will have seen that we have recently completed the fourth campaign turn. Trying to simplify things further I recently moved away from dedicated players controlling states to a system where the decision process is automated. A basic decision tree is used to determine campaign offensives which is supplemented by a die roll where multiple options of equal weight exist. Games are now resolved by a group of volunteers subject to availability. The most recent series of six battles have now been resolved by a group of five players.
I’m rather pleased how this has all worked out. The revised format seems to be providing a better balance between my time investment and the value created by linking a background to an individual tabletop game. Further, it allows me to play in a few games while others are able use different armies, rather than being restricted to that of their player state. Placing the campaign in context, and despite only four campaign turns, the system has generated around 24 battles all of which have been resolved on the table using DBA. Given there are many more campaign turns ahead it will be interesting to see the campaign history develop.
If you are interested in the most recent campaign turn, covering the period 290 BC to 281 BC, you can find it here. If you are interested in additional background, visit the Empire Campaign Page.