Beware The Pretender!

For me one of the very appealing features of DBA is the ability to build armies in matched pairs and to refight both historical and fictional games between these pairs of armies, at reasonable cost in both lead and painting time. Over the years I have had plans, and on occasions false starts, at building large Ancient or Medieval armies for rule sets such as DBM. Yet with such games my opponents generally tend to have a preference to use their own larger armies. This is of course a very understandable preference given the investment we as wargamers make in our own armies, especially when game time can be limited. It can be difficult after all to find time for a larger game and when you do it is natural for a wargamer to want to finally get his own troops on the table.

However, with DBA these time barriers start to break down. Armies require less painting time and with a game lasting an hour a couple of games can be played in an evening. There is now time to use your opponents army allowing historical opponents to be engaged. As such I tend to build DBA armies in historical pairs. Last night was no exception when four of us caught up for a gaming DBA gaming evening.

For my part I played three Wars of the Roses engagements, one against each of the other players. The result was three excellent games where each ran down to the wire. While I’m not going to provide a breakdown of each game they all had a degree of difference. Partly as a result of different player styles, partly based on army composition or deployment, and partly due to the vagaries of the dice.

In two games ploughed fields become a major obstacle, a result of a recent heavy rain or a late campaign season. In each players opted for alternate troops or tactics. Archery proved on occasion effective, while at others brittle. Bill and bow closed to melee while in another game mounted men at arms charged, perhaps foolishly, in an attempt to gain advantage and glory. All these elements can easily be found in historical accounts. Yet all remained in period. How very different from unhistoric encounters.

Above, in both photos, Irish light troops dominate a rock covered hill and threaten some Yorkist billmen while in the centre Lancastrian bill and bow advance on the Lancastrian main line. The Lancastrians are from my own collection while the Yorkists are from John Kerr’s collection.

If you haven’t tried historical pairs I would highly recommend it. It’s very different from “Open” events and in my view is one of the great strengths of DBA.

4 thoughts on “Beware The Pretender!

  1. Good points Keith. I also enjoy the narrative quality of DBA 3.0. DBA is such a simple set of rules that most of the detail of what is happening needs to be filled in by your own imagination. It reminds me of my early experiences of playing toy soldiers as a boy. Other systems by having complex rules automatically explain what is going on. For instance, when light horse ‘engage’ they are assumed to be fighting in their preferred style which means when they win the players are invited to construct a narrative to understand what just happened e.g. the opponents facing them were drawn out of formation, or a commander in the formation was slain unexpectedly etc. For me, that adds a great deal of flavour to the game. Thanks for posting.

    1. Matthew, you have captured the narrative well in your most recent report.

      I tend to think as the elements as large bodies of men. This way the story comes to life.

      As to detail wargame rules often postulate what may have happened and wrap this in detail. Often much effort is spent on weapons and armour class. The truth is that we have very little actual detail available. I believe DBA resets these potentially false assumptions based on detail we do not have. Instead we focus on broad understandings.

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