Wednesday, May 12, 2010
A horribly imbalanced game of DBA with 20mm soft plastic figures
I got together with a friend last week to play my first game of De Bellis Antiquitatis, the well-known ancient/medieval wargame commonly abbreviated as DBA. We liked the game, but we fielded very, very imbalanced armies consisting of the entirety of my 20mm-scale Hundred Years War collection, with each player using half of the figures...hardly a strategic army; more like a mishmash. Our game stagnated at some points for sure.
I've played a lot of wargames in my day, but they've mostly been single-figure affairs, where each guy stands on his own base and attacks separately, etc. DBA uses stands of figures representing hundreds of even thousands of combatants, enabling players to fight out some really big battles.
The problem with our game is that I had painted up way too many sword-and-shield infantry (known in the game as "blades"). These guys are elite troops, and most of the English and French army lists from the Hundred Years' War give each side no more than 2 or 3 of these units, because they represent dismounted knights. The bulk of the army is supposed to be composed of basic spearmen, longbowmen and mounted cavalry.
So we had waaay too many blades on each side, which resulted in the game turning into a massive slugfest in the center of the table. Again, this was because we were using only what I had painted up. I'm sure the next time we play, we'll be able to assemble much more balanced (and historical) armies from my collection.
I leave you with these two images, showing the downfall of a battalion of stalwart English longbowmen to a group of thundering knights. The game actually has rules that make longbowmen potent against mounted knights, but we misread them and the bows were slaughtered. That was the beginning of the end of the game for me, although I made my opponent pay dearly for his victory.