Dux Bellorum demo game

The release of Dux Bellorum is just around the corner, so I thought I’d do a little demo at the NWA. I roped in Mark there as he had expressed an interest and he used to play Glutter of Ravens.

I put together Middle Period (450-600AD) Saxon and Romano British armies from the figures I had available. The Saxon army was made up of four noble warriors, one being the leader’s companions, three ordinary warriors, and a unit of foot skirmishers with bows. The Romano British got three noble riders, including the companion unit, four ordinary shieldwall, foot skirmishers, and a unit of mounted skirmishers with javelins. I used a couple of army points for each army to buy strategies, focusing on command and control, so the Saxons got an extra Leadership Point, and the Romano British got the Experienced Leader strategy, which allowed them to swap an LP once all the LPs had been allocated. Normally I would have fewer noble units and more ‘ordinary’ troops and skirmishers to give the armies more staying power, but I was trying to make sure that the armies were easy to use, while giving a quick an interesting game.

I set up a pretty empty board with a hill and a wood framing the action. We diced for who got which army, and I got the Saxons. Predictably I was also the attacker. Mark set up in a single line with his riders on his right, and skirmishers on the left. I also opted for a single line, with my skirmishers on my left ready to make a dash for the wood.

In the first few turns my army moved up, while the skirmishers fought on the flanks. Mark charged into the wood some of his noble riders, and while they were disadvantaged they were still more than a match for my skirmishers who were forced to retreat. Meanwhile on the other flank, Mark’s skirmishers strayed a little too close to the frontal arc of one of my warrior units and were lucky to survive the ensuing combat when they were charged down. With my skirmishers no longer in the way, Mark was free to start attacking my left flank with his riders. His mounted skirmishers began launching very pesky hit-and-run charges against the rear of my warriors on the other flank.

The Saxon army (green bases) charges to grim disaster

At this point Mark’s shieldwall had advanced to within charge range of my warriors, who elected to charge them instead of joining in against his riders. The isolated couple of warrior units that were left behind succumbed to repeated flank and rear charges from Mark’s riders, who then delivered the coup de grace to the rest of my army, which was slowly making inroads against the Romano British shieldwall. At least I got those mounted skirmishers in the end!

If only there had been a bard around to record this heroic last stand!

We both had a very enjoyable evening. We felt the game really captures the atmosphere of the period well. It’s easy to play, but there is plenty of subtlety in keeping your army cohesive and reacting to the fog of war created by Bravery Tests for movement, when your troops don’t move when you want them to, and impetuous troops who move when you don’t want them to.

7 responses to “Dux Bellorum demo game

    • Yes when it’s set up it *looks* very DBAish on the tabletop, well my games do anyway. It uses DBA style basing, and I’ve used my DBA armies and terrain. The two systems play out pretty differently though; the command and control and combat systems are very different. DB is a bit more involved than DBA, which is fine because there are generally fewer elements on the table. Overall the feeling I get is that in DB I command an army of hundreds of men, and in DBA I’m the commander of thousands, with a corresponding difference in the level of detail that is depicted. Also DB is very focused on the Dark Ages so there’s lots of period detail in there which is left out of DBA to avoid complexity.

  1. Absolutely – the game seemed (to me at least) to be acloser run thing than it reads like above. Very taken with some of the subtleties inherent in the Leadership Points system – deciding whereto put enough for a “king hit” (whilst you still can) is an important part of play. Looking forward to its publication – and I’m already busy rebasing 15mm minis & painting more for the game.

    • I didn’t mention that when I was putting my figures away I found Saxon Noble Warriors unit still in my box! That would have made the game a bit more bloody but I reckon your riders would still have put paid to them as they were free to roam the battlefield. It seems to be pretty important to nobble the enemy’s riders somehow.

      • Bugger – they would have come in handy. Tr4ruly, I did feel things were very close until right at the end – another stand of Nobles might well have turned things around.

    • It’s my pleasure Dan, it was great fun. The Dark Ages are going through a bit of a renaissance at the NWA at the moment, so I hope to get a few more games in.

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