Friday, 7 March 2014

DBA Campaign

It has been a while, my last DBA game. And I actually like the game although I know it does polarise opinion amongst games; it just works for me with little hassle or fuss. To this end, whilst in a reflective kind of mood, I thought it might be fun to play a few games at the club; rope a few more in.

The campaign is essentially the one that comes with the rule book but set in an island and with the addition of three extra armies over the six used normally. The new armies allow for a foreign invader (from beyond the island), a tribe of nomads and the army of the dead Emperor based at the central city on the original campaign map.

The background is simple enough, the Emperor is dead without an effective heir and so a war of succession breaks out. The Emperor's personal army is led by an evil (what else?) Chancellor, this is faced by the six armies of the islands six regions, who also hate each other. I have added a tribe of nomads by adding four camp sites around the spaces in the map from which they can start, essentially their equivalent of the three settlements the main players have. The nomads can be chased back to these campsites and if defeated there that one is forever lost. The Foreign invader, tempted to take advantage of the chaos, has three possible landing sites that work much like the camp sites. Once one has been lost they must operate from another, once all three have gone there is no way back for them and they are out or, the remaining forces come under the control of the player that defeated them. This all allows for nine players and a lot of politics!

The last meeting saw a few moves and several battles. Already some players have had a rough ride whilst others seem to have escaped relatively unscathed....for now, its all early days!

I thought you might like to see a few of the battle reports from the members playing, it is always interesting to see the various takes each has.

The first comes from Andrew (not Andy or confusing these days). He is the Nomad faction and chose to attack one of my own cities. Interestingly, the Emperor's force also went to the same city and a bit of a row ensued out side the city gate...watched with some bemusement by the city populace from the wall tops.

Harthah, the Scourge of the Desert, Serpent of the Sands, husband to a dozen wives, and father to a hundred sons had been visited by the god Al-Qaum in a dream.
“This land must be cleansed of the Infidel! Slaughter their sons, burn their buildings and mate with their maidens, for they are soft of belly and round of rear!” said Al-Qaum.
He consulted his first-wife Shaqilath, Oracle of Al-Qaum, hoping for a sign as to which city should kneel first.  Shaqilath spend hours consulting the entrails of a freshly slaughter camel and at last decreed “The decadent city of Elysium will be the first to fall before you husband”.

So Harthah gathered his forces and set off on this most holy of wars. This land would tremble and bow at his feet.

He approached Elysium through the desert plains, but on approaching the city scouts reported that the forces of the so-called “Emperor” had gathered in defence of Elysium.
Harthah ordered his men into the battle formation known as the Camel’s Jaw, ready to crush these Imperials and grind them into the desert sands as Al-Qaum wills it.

Battle was met but the ending was not as he had planned.  His elite units of Camelry, the Teeth of Al-Qaum, proved to be as soft-bellied as the women of Elysium and were slaughtered to a man.  As a shrewd tactician Harthah knew when to retreat and like the shifting sands he returned to the Oasis of Serenity to plot his next move.

As they retreated all that could be heard was Shaqilath saying “I said NOT to attack Elysium, why do you never listen to me?!”

Indeed. The battle was indeed great but nobody came away with anything, each withdrawing back whence they came and leaving a mess outside the baffled city. No comment was made by the Chancellor.

Two of the regional forces next, Phil invading his neighbour, Drew. Drew had this to say...

I had a great game against Phil, the new army you (Alan) kindly lent me allowed me to be a bit more tactical then the Gauls I’d practised with. Unfortunately i lost but it was pretty close and I’m used to that. Phil's follow up with a lucky 6 in the siege on my capital was a bit of a s*#t. But not to worry as the Romulan Empire has a long memory, we'll be quietly sharpening our biggest "stab in back" knives...... our new motto is "Come the day"
 Also Mark's for it as well. LoL

Well, Drew did get a bashing and came off worse than anyone. As he says, he lost one city to Phil, another to a besieging Mark and then, adding insult to injury, lost a siege to Phil and so became Phil's vassal. Phil, understandably, was rather pleased with himself and was not in the least bit smug...well, not too  much...

With only one army to protect against three neighbours it was immediately obvious that diplomacy was the only way to prevent a war on multiple fronts. So I decided I would take on the role of supporting the beleaguered Emperor in the centre to reunify the Empire (though the Emperor declared war on me -along with everyone else - anyway). I enlisted Steve to this cause also, thereby securing my left flank and leaving me free to concentrate on my right, which turned out to be Drew's place. It was just luck that Mark also attacked him from the other side simultaneously (or, as I see it, sneaking in the back door as I heroically fought Drew's field army).  My battle with Drew was one of the longest DBA games I can remember. I was using the Late Seleucid (a) army list and he was using New Kingdom Egyptians.  
As the aggressor I rolled for the direction I was coming from and got the worst result, with a deployment area cluttered with forests. This combined with rolling a 1 for command points for the first few rounds to prevent me forming a decent battle line for ages.  I think my 2 elephants were first to actually get into action but ended up facing off against archers and pesky psiloi. His psiloi were chased off once but came back and destroyed 1 elephant. The other elephant then had a long-running battle with the same psiloi unit, which it only eventually destroyed after he'd got himself into a position where he could not flee or retire.   Drew's archers on this flank were very unlucky and achieved nothing except disrupting my advance a little, and the same goes for his archers on the other flank where they faced off against my two psiloi and 1 auxilia for the whole game. On the centre right my 2 cataphracts tackled Drew's four chariots, the two generals going toe to toe. This is where my first kill came but there was lots of back and forth. On the centre left my 4 elements of pikes, in two ranks, eventually got to grips with Drew's blades but again there was lots of pushing back and forth with no breakthrough for ages. I think I did finally kill one of them.  Drew had me really worried when one of his chariots swung in on the flank of my pikes but he failed to engage them frontally as well so they were able to turn. They managed to push back that chariot. At the end, my general finally managed to kill the enemy general, the psiloi got trapped by the elephant against the side of my pikes and destroyed.  The final result was 4 elements (including Drew's general) to me, 1 element (an elephant element) to Drew, but that was not a fair reflection on the closeness of this epic struggle and I really felt he had me on the back foot until the last couple of rounds. A really good game. 

The battle won, I captured Sisyphus (appropriate name considering the uphill task I had winning it - go look up the Greek myth of Sisyphus if you don't get the reference) and  was free to attack Drew's capital. As Mark had already taken his other city, meaning Drew faced losing all his cities in year 1, I offered to spare his capital if he acknowledge me as his overlord but Drew bravely opted to stand a siege, obviously hoping I would fail to take the city, suffer losses and be forced to withdraw by the approach of winter. My luck held and I rolled the 6 necessary to take the city on the first attempt. A very satisfactory start to the campaign for me obviously, but I'm well aware I got lucky both in the battle and the siege at the end.   Mark's obviously the next target. 

Mark gets a lot of that, understandably really. Andy provided, as usual, a more rounded and reasoned report of his games. I shall end this post with his report. The next few rounds will be very interesting indeed!

Ixion Campaign Diary

Army Muster
Anglo-Norman army comprising 4 Knights, which can dismount as either Blades or Spears and one of which is the General; four Spears (of the 4Sp variety); three elements that can be deployed as either Bows or Psiloi in any combination; and finally one element of either Cavalry, War Wagon or Spears (of the 3Sp variety).

Turn 1 Spring
Declared war on Elysium, but invasion of Juno by Sea Raiders precluded an attack. Instead the army (which fortuitously was stationed at Juno) took to the field to defend Juno against some very Celtic looking barbarians under Bob's command.

The city of Juno was on my left flank, with a wood on the right. One element of Spears was told off to garrison Juno, the remaining Spears deployed between Juno and the Wood with an element of Psiloi in support. The two elements of Bows were deployed in the woods, in column. The general and two elements of Knights were deployed in column behind the Spears, and the final element of Knights and the Cavalry were deployed to the left of Juno.

The Celts deployed opposite, with a wood on their left flank, and a gentle hill on the right. The Celts deployed their 8 Warband elements in the centre, supported by their Chariot borne General and a couple of elements of Cavalry, with an element of Psiloi skulking at the rear.

Now Warband and Spears don't mix too well, at least not from the Spears point of view. On the other hand, Warband really don't like Knights. Time for some rearrangement. As defender I was allowed to swap the positions of two pairs of elements, I chose to swap the Psiloi with one of the spears, so instead of having 3 Spears in a line with a Psiloi behind, I had two Spears in the front line, with the Psiloi on the left flank and the third element of  Spears in the centre of the second rank. This was done so as to allow the column of Knights to advance through the Psiloi (as they are permitted to do) and then form a line in front of the Spears.

The game then slowed down as a combination of low PIP rolls on both sides, and in my case the extra PIP cost of moving groups over 600p from the General and out of sight in woods or behind the city, resulted in the armies closing at snails pace.

Eventually I had the army rearranged as I wanted, with the Knights in front of the Spears, the left wing Knights and Cavalry in line and in sight of the General, and the Bows at the edge of the woods. In the mean time the hordes of Warband had split like the Red Sea to allow the General and Cavalry to come forward and form a united mass with the mounted in the middle and the Warband split evenly on the flanks. To prevent my knights being outflanked one of my Bows left the wood and took position on the end of the line of Knights, while the other advanced out of the wood into range of the Warband and started to annoy them with archery. I didn't really expect to kill anything, but by recoiling them I would give Bob the dilemma of how to spend his PIPs, would he use one to get the recoiled Warband back into line or use it elsewhere?

After a bit of manoeuvring, a couple of Warband elements on Bob's right flank turning to face my left wing, battle was finally joined as Bob's Cavalry charged my Knights; he had wanted to bring the Warband forward as well, but didn't quite have enough PIPs to give them the second move they needed, and would have been allowed, to get them into contact. This turned into shoving match, Generalissimo à Generalissimo, with the nice neat line splitting up as my Knights either recoiled when they lost, or followed up Bob's recoiling Cavalry and Chariot. Eventually I rolled high enough to double the score of one of Bob's cavalry units. First blood to me!

Meanwhile, on the left flank my Knights charged into the Warband Bob had used to refuse his flank. Bob got +1 for a second rank of Warband, but this was countered by my element of Cavalry outflanking him, and as Knights get a quick kill on Warband, I only needed to beat Bob's score by 1 to kill both Warband elements. So of course the first round was a draw! Eventually Bob's luck ran out and I managed to beat his score, killing both Warband elements. 3-0 to me.

The clash of the Cavalry and Knights in the centre continued, with Bob not rolling enough PIPS to bring any more of his Warband into the fight.

Now came the decisive moment, the Knights on my left flank were able to charge Bob's right hand end Warband units in the rear, forcing the one in the second rank to turn and face. The Knights rolled high, the Warband didn't and died.

So, a 4-0 win to the Ixion army, forcing the Celts to withdraw to Stheno. Shame his general got away!

Turn 2 Summer
The war with Elysium was put on hold, as the army pursued the defeated Celts back to their beachhead at Stheno. Not wishing to face the victorious Ixion army in their depleted state the Celts withdrew back to sea. Which I believe denies them the use of that beachhead in future.


  1. It sounds good but I did find it hard to work out what was going on and who's involved and with what army and who's positioned next to each other and who can attack who and I think you get the idea. Any chance of a map/diagram or list of armies involved next time.

  2. Hmmmm, you're not supposed to tell people i'm sharpening the stab in the back knives.
    Consider all further diplomacy with Elysium cut off.

    Expect an enraged Squirrel style attack when I get the OK from overlord Phil.......... *grumble grumble grumble*