15 February, 2011
I had a solo game of the short version of this game last Saturday. On the first turn the Goths failed to break through (as did the Vandals). They also failed on the next turn, being left to watch the Huns surge ahead to sack Balkan cities. The Vandals broke through on the second turn and started advancing for Spain. The Goths decided to sit up in Germany away from the Huns and grow. It wasn’t a great strategy. The Huns got very powerful, turning on the Vandals and slaughtering them before turning on the Goths, with enough counters spare to head into North Africa and march for Egypt). The Vandals also got attacked by a daring raid by sea into Spain that overran many of their scattered tribesmen. However, on the return voyage the Roman leader, army and ships were destroyed. The Vandals now had a much safer voyage to Africa and sacked Carthage. They then decided to settle the islands of the Mediterranean, away from Huns; they got to Sicily and Corsica OK, but had a shipwreck on the way to the Balearic Isles. This pretty much sealed their fate (especially when a seaborne raid by the Eastern Empire destroyed their Berber allies). Using the random events, the Goths were struck by plague and then holed up by Huns in Scandinavia! They achieved nothing. However, the Huns were not able to break into the Eastern Empire; a Persian invasion (controlled by the Huns) was defeated by a seaborne response, though the counters from North Africa did succeed in sacking Alexandria.
The Romans won handily. The main mistakes I made were not noting that combined attacks are only possible close to one’s leader. This would have hampered the Huns. I also didn’t do sea movement properly, or carefully enough. Each movement of the fleet has at least a 1/6 chance of disaster. In particular, the move of the fleet to the counters being moved needs to be rolled for, which wouldn’t generally be a problem for the Romans as they only had one mobile army. It was more that I had the fleets in out-of-the-way places, when they could have and should have been with the field armies.
It’s an interesting game, and very nostalgic, as it’d be some 25 years since I played it. It doesn’t play that well solo, as the different players need to negotiate how they will work together; you can’t really play all-out attacks against all the others, as that benefits the Romans too much. The barbarians need to cooperate to some extent.
10 February, 2011
Last night was the first time I got to do any DBA this year! I got over to John’s and had a battle against his very attractive Khurasan Patrician Romans. I could have gone with either the Carthaginians or the Komnenans, as both need the practice, but I opted for the Carthaginians, as I figured I still had little idea how to use them; they still seem to be three or four groups of elements that have trouble working together.
I was the attacker, no surprises there, and John put down two woods and a steep hill. I didn’t get the edge I wanted and had to attack from between two woods. I opted to leave one empty and trust that my mounted could defend against anything that tried to come through it. The other wood had my warbands and auxilia and psiloi in it. John used his two swaps to move two auxilia to face my elephant and warband, and two blade to face my cavalry.
The batttlelines advanced rapidly, but with few PIPs our light horse ended up hanging back. John attacked first and lost a Knight, doubled by spear, but I lost my elephant to his auxilia. Elsewhere, I was lucky not to have my general doubled (one short—something that happened regularly!).
I was lucky to be able to get back into things with 5 PIPs (I’d been recoiled all along the line). I thought I had a good chance to sort out his auxilia with my spear facing one at 4-2, which if I got the recoil would make a warband face the other auxilia at 3-2; the spear were recoiled (something of a pattern for the game were opening attacks would falter like this). I lost that warband, who found himself 4-1, but my general rolled 4-1 onto some overlapped blade and made things even.
For a while things see-sawed, and I think I was lucky to hang in, but eventually a big attack on my spear came to nothing (they proved very resilient, and that opening attack again was recoiled). I was able to get both the Romans’ auxilia and the other blade to take the game 5-3. In fairness, I think I was lucky to win, but I wouldn’t call it a jammy win. Lots of fun (good to catch up after quite a while) and a sense it could go either way from the start.