I gave it a year, but the controversy in the online forums over the changes in the forthcoming version 3.0 of DBA has not died down. Since I was a little ‘tired’ last Sunday due to overindulgence on Saturday night (and hence, not really up to painting 6mm ACW figures), and I had a window of quiet time while my son was having his nap and my daughter was doing some artwork, I thought I’d see for myself. I wanted to have a game using the new tactical factors for double based units, and a mixture of fast and solid troops, so I got my Nikephorian Byzantine and Early Hungarian armies out, as the Byzantines have double based elements in spades, just as the Hungarians have fast troops.
The Byzantines rolled a ‘6’, so with their aggression of 4 they were the obvious attackers in this game – presumably Basil the Bulgar slayer is taking on the Hungarians while the latter were briefly allied to the Bulgars. Previous games on 2 foot boards persuaded me to use a 30 inch playing area to compensate for the higher movement rates. The first thing I noticed was that I may need to make more terrain, at least some ‘scrubby’ or ‘rocky’ markers, because of the greater variety of terrain allowed. Looking at another battle report, if you go to the effort a table can look really nice. Anyway, I put together two pieces of ‘rocky flat’ and a gentle hill, and my daughter diced for their locations.
The Byzantines chose their table edge, no more of those unfortunate misrolls for the base edge – if the attacker chooses the wrong edge now, it’s their fault. I deployed the Hungarians in a conventional formation with infantry in the middle and mounted off to the flanks, with the general and his noble cavalry in reserve. The Byzantines had a narrower deployment area, and they deployed to pretty much shut down their left flank. I initially set up with psiloi in rear support, but then I remembered that that rule’s gone, so I moved them into the battle line for a bit more width.
In the first turn, both sides had plenty of PIPs (the Byzantines had 6 to the Hungarian’s 5). The Byzantines trundled down the table, extending their left flank. The Hungarians moved the light horse on their right flank out to threaten that flank, while bringing their reserve out onto that flank.
In turn two, both sides continued their advance. The Hungarian foot moved into contact. Their spear were in contact with the Byzantine menavlatoi (4Bd), the extra +1 tactical factor for solid troops with solid flank support meant that they were evenly matched, and the blades were recoiled, along with the psiloi next to them.
The next turn was really nasty for the Hungarians. Basil lead his cavalry into the Hungarian bowmen and auxilia. Both combats resulted in ‘killed’ Hungarian elements. The menavlatoi managed to recoil the spearmen they were facing, and suddenly the Hungarian line disappeared.
In a somewhat feeble effort to make a comeback, the Hungarian right flank light horse charged into the Byzantine left flank cavalry, but all they got was a ‘stick’.
The Byzantines then did a bit of a switcheroo – an element of Hungarian spear was facing some Byzantine psiloi, but the psiloi withdrew through the klibanophoroi (6Kn), who were lined up behind them. The klibanophoroi then charged in to overrun the hapless spearmen. In the cavalry combat, the Hungarians were able to cause the Byzantine cavalry to recoil into friends, but in DBA 3.0 that is no longer fatal unless the defender starts the combat in contact with no room to move. So if the Byzantine cavalry had been Light Chariotry instead it would have been all over for them. So now the Byzantines were 3-0 up.
In turn 4 the Byzantines surged forward. Their skutatoi were within bowshot of the light horse and psiloi that the Hungarians had on their left, but although they recoiled all of them they didn’t manage any kills. In the melee on the other flank, the menavlatoi managed to double the surviving Hungarian spearmen, and that was it.
Ironically, because of the way I played the game, I never really got to experience fast troops or double basing (although the klibanophoroi got a bit of a boost). The Hungarians didn’t have much luck with their PIP dice, which would have helped them move their light troops more, but on a one for one basis they were pretty overmatched by all the shooting power that the Byzantines had, and the combat power of the Byzantine cavalry.
Once I finished the game, I still felt like I’d been playing DBA. I had feelings that were a combination of the feeling I got the first time I played DBA with 28mm figures (when I found that everything moved a little bit differently so judging distances was harder), and the first time I played HoTT (and there were all those detail differences). But on the whole this is not the catastrophe that some have made it out to be. I haven’t played DBA 2.2+, but from playing DBA 3.0, and reading the rules, I imagine I’d have the same feeling.
I’m looking forward to seeing how the DBA3.0 army lists have turned out, and having a few more games to see how different matchups behave, and learning new tactics. I have to be careful not to muddle my poor brain though, as DBA 2.2 looks to stay in use in competitions.