DBA at NatCon2010: Day One (Friday): A Blow for Liberty.

11 April, 2010

Over Easter I got down to Wellington for NatCon. Two locals, Brett and Bryan, had organized DBA demo games for the three days. We had a great time, and I want to thank both Brett and Bryan for all the work they put into the event. We used 25mm figures provided by some of the local players and we played on gameboards prepared by Brett and Bryan.

  • Day One (Friday): A Blow for Liberty.

On the first day we played a series of battles around the period after Caesar’s assassination which culminated in a BBDBA between the Triumvirs and Liberators. The system was adapted from a campaign on the Fanaticus Website (Roman Civil War 49-45BC at Campaigns). I was Marcus Brutus alongside Decimus Brutus (Bryan) and Cassius (Brett). The Triumvirs were Octavian (Tim), Mark Antony (Richard) and Lepidus (Mike). Before lunch we each played single battles against the three generals of the other alliance. We started with a core of 6 elements , 1x3Cv, 4x4Bd and one of our own choice (I chose another 3Cv). We then got two randomly assigned cards. I started with some Egyptian Levies (2x7Hd and 1x2Ps) and some Spanish Auxiliaries (2x3Ax).

My first battle was against Mark Antony. We each had to ‘risk’ one contingent. Not surprisingly I offered the Egyptians, while Richard offered Sextus Pompey (1x4Bd, 1x3Ax and 1x2Ps). He also had some Galatians (2 double-based 4Wb). Named cards like Sextus Pompey had the disadvantage that they could not group move with the rest of the army.

I was the defender and managed to get Mark Antony deployed with a wood in the middle of his zone. Sextus Pompey was on one side of the wood and the rest of his army on the other. I had my Levies on a hill facing Sextus Pompey and the rest of my army went after the bulk of his. I had the advantage with PIPs for this battle, as Richard failed to roll higher than 3! With this advantage, I was able to attack his right flank while he never had the PIPs to go after my hordes. Despite this it proved a close encounter, as my Spanish auxiliaries got themselves killed and my general (a 3Cv) did not roll well (I reckon it was because he looked a lot like Julius Caesar and was giving off bad vibes to his assassin! He looked just like Julius Caesar in Asterix, white hair and a laurel wreath). However, with the advantage of numbers I eventually prevailed in a close battle: 4-3. As a result of this victory I got to choose between taking Sextus Pompey and another random card, Parthian Levies (2x2LH). I couldn’t pass up a good Republican like Sextus Pompey, so Richard got the Parthians. The other Liberators were also victorious in their opening battles.

My second battle was against Marcus Lepidus. I was the defender again and decided to make a large hill permanently affixed to the board BGo. Lepidus ended up with this on his edge and I deployed hoping to use my BGo troops to win control of it and go for his camp (I had 3x3Ax and 1x2Ps). I was facing 5x4B (1=cmd), 1x3Cv and then some Hellenistic mercenaries (1x3Ax and 1x2Ps) and some Macedonian mercenaries (1x3Kn and 1x2LH). I made the mistake of not realizing that the 3Cv was not his general, which had a fairly significant effect on my tactics. I deployed my legionaries on a hill with the cavalry on the left wing next to them.

I was faced his legionaries lining up on his right flank with the cavalry next to them. His BGo troops were on the hill. I was nervous of the knights and elected to stay on the hill, hoping to win with my BGo troops. However, the Spanish managed to get themselves killed again and a stalemate developed on the hill, as I faced his 3Ax with Sextus Pompey’s 3Ax and 2Ps. On top of this they were out of command range.

On the left flank I came off the hill and met his blades. My cavalry were unable to get an advantage. I was very unimpressed with my white-haired Brutus! At the end of the battle I went down 3-4, but in the last combat I almost defeated Lepidus, rolling 5-2 when he was overlapped on both sides. After this battle I decided to dismount Brutus, and use a much younger looking legionary general. This got rid of the bad-vibes ‘Brutus’ and gave me a foot general who was less likely to end up on one flank. I was the only Liberator not to win my battle.

The third battle was against Octavian, who was ‘risking’ Cleopatra with 2x4Pk and 1x4Ax. I risked my Spanish, who’d hardly excelled in the previous two battles. I’m not sure who was the defender, but I set up with my BGo troops on the left flank where there were hills and woods. I don’t recall clearly how this battle unfolded, but I remember that the Spanish infantry continued their bad form by having one of them destroyed, but the second one finally showed some grit and was crucial to my eventual victory, refusing to die. Octavian’s troops collapsed when I managed to expose the right flank of his heavy infantry. These were Cleopatra’s pikes, and were attacked front and on the flank by legions. The result was very predictable! From this victory I got a choice of Cleopatra or Cato. Cato had crap troops Inferior Bd and Hd, but I couldn’t let a good Republican like him end up in the ranks of the Tyrants. Octavian complained that despite risking Cleopatra in all his battles he couldn’t get rid of her.

The other Liberators continued their winning record and for the fourth battle their was some infighting to establish faction leaders. The first and second of each faction fought each other. As I’d lost to Lepidus, that was Decimus Brutus and Cassius on our side and Lepidus and Mark Antony on the other. I refought Octavian. The plan was that the faction winner could field 3 cards instead of 2 and the number two would be understrength, not being allowed to recover losses from the previous battle. However, when one side won by killing the opposing commander and the other won by sacking the camp, the losses weren’t as heavy as had been anticipated. In my battle I defeated Octavian again with my Spanish going from strength to strength. I picked up another good Republican, Labienus, with 1x3Kn, 1x2LH and 1x4Bd(I).

The final encounter of the day was a BBDBA between the two factions. It was a big reversal of history that the two leaders were Lepidus and Decimus Brutus, the least significant historically of their factions. I was deployed on the left flanks with instructions to roll it up with my superior mounted strength. I was facing Mark Antony, who was fairly weakened, in the centre was Cassius facing Octavian, while on the right flank was Decimus Brutus facing Lepidus. I had open ground in front of me, but allowed myself to get complacent against a smaller army that I’d beaten earlier. If I’d given myself time I should have been able to crush the Antonians, but my Gallic cavalry had a rush of blood to the head and charged Octavian’s artillery, destroying then, but failing to take out auxilia next to them. These cavalry were exposed and flanked by Parthian LH and destroyed. After that things just got worse, and the Antonian Galatians quickly demoralized my command. Despite a valiant rearguard by Brutus, who personally held out for much longer than expected, I wasn’t able to last long enough for Decimus Brutus to beat Octavian (in fact, Decimus Brutus was eventually demoralized by Octavian himself). So the day ended with overall victory to the Triumvirs, despite all those victories by the Liberators earlier in the day. And our loss could be squarely blamed on my rash overconfidence.

I really enjoyed this scenario, and I think everyone else did. The cards were a really good idea. I liked the idea that Cleopatra ended up debilitating Octavian the way she was popularly believed to have done to Mark Antony historically. One slight change would have been to make some of the cards more useful, by mixing hordes in with more powerful elements, as the cards with hordes were never really worth fielding. The cards made for some really interesting armies, rather than seeing walls of blade crash into each other, and it’s a format that I’ll look at adapting to other scenarios.


2 Responses to “DBA at NatCon2010: Day One (Friday): A Blow for Liberty.”

  1. Stephen Says:

    Very interesting post Mark. The cards system seems good… a similar feeling to the battles in Kingmaker?

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