Sunday, March 5, 2017

DBA Death & Destruction: Rome Vrs Carthage

It's been quite a long time since I've played DBA, once described to me as "the checkers of miniature wargaming" (more on that later) so when Ken said that he and another buddy were going to be playing DBA recently, I jumped on the chance for some mindless (or so I thought) gaming.  I'd never seen Ken's Romans or Carthaginians before so this was also a great chance to play with some beautifully painted and colorful troops!

The Carthaginians!

My Carthaginian general with the Cavalry

More Carthaginians!

The mighty Roman host!
As I found out though, DBA is anything but "checkers" and much more like chess.  There is much tactical thought required, operational planning, and many, many things for the budding ancients general to consider!

The first game I was still trying to remember how to play and my opponent, Steve T graciously offered me tactical advice during the game.  I had some tough terrain to deal with and could definitely have deployed my army in a smarter way.

First clash of the game was with light troops in the woods.  "Psiloi" have some interesting capabilities and strengths that regular troops do not have.  
 I was primarily concerned with getting my infantry out from behind the woods and allowing them to "shake out" into battle line.  Luckily, my cavalry was in decent position to strike and they rode directly at the Roman line.

Infantry and of course the elephant!

 The first big clash with the cavalry and some of the Roman infantry was a huge learning experience for me!  My general was subsequently killed, so now everything I'd do would cost extra command "pips."
My general would be killed in the ensuring carnage.  

Trying to build the line while the Roman juggernaut comes down on me!
 I reached my "breakpoint" of 4 units as the death of the commander lends more to the breakpoint so I ended up losing fairly quickly.

Next up was Dave playing as the Carthaginians.  The scenario progressed to them being pushed back through Spain and with their backs to the Mediterranean.  They are now defending.

My my demise in the last battle, Dave F takes over as the Carthaginian commander!
Steve looks on while Dave has a hill and a marshy swamp to  contend with.  

The Roman battle line!  You know for such small units, they still look damn good on the table!

Dave anchors his defense on the terrain

The Romans quickly close and the battle is joined!

 Much of the battle would turn into a fight over the key hill on the field, with Steve T attempting to move infantry up the hill, and Dave countering with the elephant and his light cavalry.

Steve scored some breakthroughs here during the fighting and Dave reached his breakpoint, although WITH his general!

Chalk another victory up for the Senate as the Roman war machine moves on!  The final game saw Ken taking over with his Gauls fighting against me as the Romans.  Now that Rome has taken over the provinces, they have an entirely new enemy to contend with!

Ken has some terrain to move through so my plan is to move up the entire force as a big battering ram.  The last thing I want to do is let warbands run around the battlefield!
 I forgot to count my numbers and ended up only playing with 9 "elements" instead of 12.  We rectified this later on but some exciting combat develops as my cavalry push back the Gallic invaders but my infantry are finding warbands to be a tough opponent!  My plan is simply to "kill as many things as possible"  That sounded adequately "Roman" to me.

Through attrition and no tactical finesse, Rome etched out yet another victory!  Tacitus was there to record the proceedings history will forgive the fact that the Roman commander literally "forgot a couple maniples" and the fact that Ken was able to ransack the Roman camp, stealing the commander's chickens and slaying his cook.

Note the Gallic Cavalry moving towards the Roman camp.  

Thoughts:  Well DBA is certainly NOT checkers.  The order of your combats is important as a loss or even a victory can have unintended consequences on additional combats along the line.  The sly general has to consider "the bigger picture" when making these important decisions.
I'm probably still a little shaky as to how to deploy troops out of a column (how much does it cost?  how is it executed?).

All in all, this was great fun both to play and to watch and I can understand the lure of DBA among the die-hards.
Cost is minimal especially if you're playing 15mm.  The rules pages for the latest edition are 6 or 7 pages total and you only need a 4 square foot playing area (2 by 2) for a proper 12 element game!

I'm confident I could complete an entire force from priming to basing in a week if I buckled down.  Must fish out those Romans and Gauls and start repainting and basing them.  ROMA VICTOR!!!!



  1. I don't play anymore DBA, but I found these rules fun, and easy to start a new period...nice report, and great looking minis!

    1. Thanks Phil! They are my friend Ken's minis and were a joy to game with. I liked DBA - perfect for weekend gaming after an exhausting week!

  2. Wow. A long time since I played DBA - but a great report and epic gaming there.

    1. Me too, Darren. But it was a good and refreshing change of pace from Naps lately. We'll be playing our standard Crossfire game this friday night though. I also want to teach my buddy Dave "Hail of Fire" as well.

  3. Nice layout for your blog. I understand the work involved here with the pictures and the blow-by-blows. Well done.

    I remember when DBA came out, a single page, poorly xeroxed, though admittedly, very small font. What is nice about it is that it is easily adaptable to almost any genre.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Phil. I rather enjoyed DBA as a nice change of pace from more advanced games

  4. Steve W sells himself short. I was the Gallic warlord and he beat me with one hand tied behind his back (he literally forgot to deploy three elements of Hastati so I was fighting 12 elements to 9 and we didn't notice until a few moves into the game!). Shameful performance by the Gauls :)

    1. Thanks Ken. You are too kind! I learned from my previous defeat at Steve T's hands that these elements have to move together! If anything for the supports they offer!