Sunday, June 24, 2012

DBA 3.0 - Even Less DBA - And That's . . . Now That's Just Weird

So more DBA 3.0 playtesting, and things are beginning to feel a little silly. I don't mind trying out new ideas. I think that every rule set needs some experimentation, but I don't get the feeling as though these rules are settling down yet.

Things I've noticed so far:

"Solid" and "Fast" 

Yes, these are silly choices for names. No, in no universe is "Solid" the opposite of "Fast". I found myself referring to them as "Heavy" and "Medium", which begins to sound like WRG 6, which may be why Phil didn't use those terms, but does at least sound understandable. "Close Order" and "Open Order" would work as well, with identical objections.

All that said, the concept is intriguing. It brings back a distinction between deep-based elements and shallow-based elements that was otherwise ignored when 3.0 was first proposed. It makes the distinction much more noticeable, but I'm willing to give it a try.

Fast Pike Are Awesome (But Silly)

Needs to be remodeled with roller-skates and jet-packs
My Ghurid Fast Pike had a field day, mostly because my opponent clearly thought "auxilia" when looking at them, so opposed them with his own auxilia in the open. Even so, the way that fast pike can exploit a hole is something that would make most modern armored units envious. Welsh and Later Samurai now have deep pike formations that can fly into contact and then keep moving if they destroy what's in front of them. That's not as good news for those armies that get a single element of fast pike. It also doesn't strike me as being at all historically accurate.

Offhand, I think it would look a little better if the Fast Pike went back to the 2.0 concept of being Fast Spear, which would still make them effective against mounted while being only so-so against foot. Of course, I get the feeling Phil is trying to get all DBA troop types to be identical to the type in DBMM, so there may be resistance to that.

Another minor point is that pike now get depth bonus against psiloi and bow, which doesn't feel right, even with bow's longer range and psiloi's ability to avoid overlaps, but I'll need to playtest those matchups a bit more to see whether that's a legitimate concern. I'm not certain how I would put together an Ipsus scenario, in which peltasts managed to grind down pike.

Let Us Mourn For Spartacus

Also hosed by this change are all armies using 5Wb, which have now become Fast Horde. Spartacus Rebellion and Aztecs don't look as fun as they used to. Sure, Aztecs can replace their deep-based elements with Auxilia, but then they just look like any other Mesoamerican army. I admit this is just a personal peeve. I always liked the ability to field massed warband armies with Spartacus Revolt, Aztecs, or French Jacquerie, but precisely because these were so incongruous. Now they cost an extra pip to move, fear bowfire and artillery, and have no reason to deploy in awe-inspiring ten-figure deep formations that seem to scream "Fear me!" to any opposing line of blade.

So Where's DBA 3.0 Going?

As fun as all the playtesting has been, I don't see where this is leading. In any design process, there has to be a point where you stop brainstorming and start cutting away everything to the essentials. So far, for every cut, such as removing extra moves for warband or psiloi rear support, I see many more new ideas that need a lot of playtesting and consideration.

This isn't done yet. It isn't even close. But I'm having fun playing it for now, so I'll try not to complain too much.