Monday, June 14, 2010

DBR French Wars of Religion

Our gaming group got together to celebrate our fifth year anniversary and the birthday of Mark, the group's founder. Mark requested something Renaissance-era. I happened to have some figures put together for a demo scenario of a hypothetical Wars of Religion battle, so we ended up playing this using DBR.

The game highlighted some of the players' difficulties with DBR. I'd have to say that this rule set is not entirely my favorite. The period from 1500-1700 is difficult to cover with one set of rules, and the result is a little odd at times. Despite my concerns, I'd probably defend some of the odder problems we had. We saw two, in particular.

Overeffective Shot
There's no denying that in DBR, shot is king. Bruce, the player leading the Huguenot forces was feeling very frustrated watching his Swiss being held off and slowly destroyed by shot elements, most of whom were arquebusiers, for that matter. In general, I agree with the contention that the shot vs. foot factors are too powerful in DBR. Historically, shot could hold their own only if behind fortifications. I think this can be solved, perhaps by adjusting factors, or more likely be adjusting combat outcomes to make shot more fragile in the open against other foot.

Separation Anxiety
I'm not certain, but I think that members of our group actually first coined this term for this rule in DBR 2.0. Because the DB* system works with ad hoc groups of elements, and not predefined units, the rules had to come up with a way to avoid having individual elements spinning off in odd directions. In short, the rule says that it costs extra effort to separate any smaller group of elements from a larger group, unless the larger group is staying where it is or the smaller group is moving into combat.

The problem is that although we have been playing the rules since they were first released, we had been misreading the definition of "smaller group," allowing it to be a single element. In fact, it has to be two or more elements. This led to a lot of clumsy maneuvering and frustration, but here I'm willing to put up with the rules as is, without any modifications.

There are other problems with the rules. The game seems to be skewed to work better in Condensed Scale, which we don't normally use. It doesn't seem to scale up well to large battles. There are more issues. But after Friday's game, I may have been the only player coming away thinking that the system might still be salvageable.

Still, that won't stop me from trying out the anticipated Field of Glory Renaissance rules when they're released.

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