Wednesday, June 4, 2008

DBMM Battle Report from KublaCon

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I ran two versions of the same scenario at KublaCon on 25 May. I set aside only three hours for each game, so I had to start with everything already set up and set people going right away. Even experienced players would have trouble finishing a DBMM or FoG game in only three hours. However, I was scheduled to be setting up, running, and tearing down games for eight hours that day as it was.

The scenario was loosely based on Losecoat Field, in which Edward IV defeated the Earl of Warwick's initial revolt in 1470, thereby forcing him to flee into exile to join the Lancastrians. When I say loosely I mean that I put together one Wars of the Roses list with all elite troops and a fortification, and another with low-quality troops, all limited to my own available figures. This meant that I gave Warwick's side one command of Irish, who never were at the historical battle, but I needed something to bulk out the army.

The players were Mike K., Dave Kush, John Kelly, Alan Staton, and Jay Vicara. (I hope I have Jay's last name right -- my notes are difficult to read.) Everyone had at least some experience with one of the DB* systems. Dave, John, and Mike had all played DBMM at least once before.

The Warwick forces advanced slowly, emphasizing the flanks, and avoiding a direct assault on the center fortifications held by the king's army. The king's forces extended their flanks to intercept the attacks, but were generally outnumbered by the rebels on both sides. The games saw the two sides coming to blows early on. The Irish flank started receiving bowfire on the third turn, with the rebel mobile command getting into bow range by the sixth turn.

The Irish found progress difficult, trying to manage multiple groups of light foot moving through a marsh, while attempting to waylay the enemy knights. Eventually, after some general skirmishing, both sides withdrew just out of bow range.

Command rules made it difficult for the rebels to manage the mobile command, which found itself on either side of a woods. The king's troops facing them did better than those facing the Irish, relying chiefly on the king's bodyguard (two stands of superior knights, with the Kn(S) CinC) to keep the advancing mobile command off-balance.

At this point, thirteen turns into the game, we had to call things on time, after three and a half hours of play. The king's troops had a slight advantage, mostly due to the performance of the superior knights.

The game played well, but definitely required a good deal of rules analysis from the less experienced DBMM players. The standoff on the Irish flank was reasonable under the circumstances. DBMM certainly seems to encourage periods of regrouping and waiting for the appropriate moment to attack. This is realistic, but was frustrating when playing under a time constraint.

Alan Staton, playing the rebel mobile command, felt that his currour Cv(O) were horribly outclassed by the king's bodyguard Kn(S). And so they were, but even after being warned beforehand that cavalry are now much weaker against knights, Alan was understandably surprised to see three lone stands with only a little longbow support slowly take apart his command.

Personally, I felt that DBMM has fixed a number of problems with older systems. It is no longer as easy to send lone elements running off in odd directions. Games of geometry are not as useful as they once were. Troops move faster, and you spend less time maneuvering into a battle line early in the game. However, the battle can still take a while, and an experienced player can still use a few elements effectively where another is thinking only in terms of large-scale maneuvers.

When comparing DBMM to Field of Glory, I still think that DBMM is richer in detail, and can simulate more varied situations. The cost of that is that the game takes longer to play and requires more attention to detail by the players to be played well.

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