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"Playing Pieces II" Topic

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vexillia09 Mar 2017 12:37 p.m. PST

New blog post

There are times when you think you are at the forefront of your hobby. There are times when you think nothing ever changes. There are also times when you think things have changed but you eventually realise they haven't. I've just had one of the latter moments.

When I switched to FOG AM in 2010 I was looking for a "cleaner" set of rules with more structure and fewer conditional clauses. Until recently I thought I was playing a game far, far removed from DBA. I was wrong. Let me show you why.

Read more …

Martin Stephenson
The Waving Flag | Twitter | eBay

advocate09 Mar 2017 1:35 p.m. PST

Yes and no. You have the same number of maneuver units, but choice of formation (?) and how they fight (damage and disruption) is more detailed. Choices as to how you allocate commanders.
12 main elements and some supports is a decent number to command without being too many for a game to reach a conclusion in three hours or so. No surprise that many rules might cluster around that number.

Marshal Mark09 Mar 2017 1:39 p.m. PST

Most games with units have around the same number (10 – 15) because that seems to be about the right number for one player to command. But just because you are commanding a similar number of units it doesn't mean the game is similar to DBA.

vexillia09 Mar 2017 2:16 p.m. PST

Most games with units have around the same number (10 15) because that seems to be about the right number for one player to command.

Probably true for unit games but not true for DBM, DBMM & ADLG which use 20-40 "pure" elements.

Martin Stephenson
The Waving Flag | Twitter | eBay

evilgong09 Mar 2017 4:34 p.m. PST

Yep. What you see in DBA is the same tactical problems of larger games concertinaed in time, space and lead.

'Can I strip the other army's left flank, where I have an advantage, before the other guy can break through my centre?'

In DBA it might take 40 minutes, a square foot in space and 6-10 figs; a traditional 10-15 unit game just adds time, space and lead but the player choices are largely the same.

The formation-changing ability of large units is a mirage in one sense DBx assumes units are in a formation appropriate to their type and situation, if you cop a 6-1 combat split maybe you were caught mid formation change or in the wrong one.

Your rules may have a complex soup of orders, command and control systems and reaction testing. However at the end of the day if six cavalry units charge into six infantry and one infantry is destroyed and five cavalry were repulsed did it really matter if you spent 45 minutes buried in charts, rolling handfuls of dice and recording hits and morale steps or instead rolled a simple DBx style dice per unit or similar to get to the same end point?

Wargame rules for periods up to say WWI are (warning generalisation alert) set at the cliched 10-15 unit level because that's what people have been conditioned to think a wargame is.

DBM showed in its spectacular success that you can have an army of 60-80 moving parts and play to a conclusion in 3-4 hours.

The key was simply to strip the detail out of command and combat computation (and scale of representation) and allow the interaction of the multiple moving things to provide the puzzle for players to develop tactics and skill.


David F Brown

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP09 Mar 2017 7:23 p.m. PST

Part of what I enjoy in many games is just that tactical minutiae. Do I take a chance and counter charge? Should I use my second unit to support spearmen A, or swordsmen B? Should I evade?

But if my command is higher level – if I am Wellington and not Craufurd – then yes I want that abstracted out.

My real issue with DBA is just the smallness and lack of terrain. But blwon up to 6x6 and with a great table, it might be more fun.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP09 Mar 2017 8:39 p.m. PST

+1 to evilgong.

UshCha10 Mar 2017 2:17 a.m. PST

DBM is DBA All Growed Up. Its insanity of covering a massive period range detracts fom an otherwise excellent mechanic. We just used the rules and re-set the combat factots to better represent the English Civil war period and it was magnificent. I stopped at I think V2. The only other change we added was from DBR, the rules for Cavalty Breaking though is a good match for the Ruperts cavalry.

We fought many of the Civil wat actions and many had similar outcomes and forced similat tactics so it adds massively to the enjoymeny that you are behaving in a similar manner to the real thing, (Not Reality but simulation; they are not the same).

Personal logo War Artisan Sponsoring Member of TMP10 Mar 2017 2:25 a.m. PST

did it really matter if you spent 45 minutes buried in charts, rolling handfuls of dice and recording hits and morale steps or instead rolled a simple DBx style dice per unit or similar to get to the same end point?

It can matter a great deal, depending on what the designer of the game and of the scenario were trying to show, and on what the players' interests are. If you're just after an outcome, then "roll a die, high man wins, pick up your toys" is fine. If what's important to you is the process by which the outcome is achieved, what factors go into achieving it, and how each of them affect it, then that can be quite unsatisfying.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP10 Mar 2017 1:16 p.m. PST

Hmm. Some of my sympathy goes to evilgoing. Once I stop making tactical decisions, I want a speedy result. I can invent my own reasons for my somethng worked or didn't work. Does anyone else remember the Peninsular Siege Game" in Battlefields in which the player made no decisions whatever? Just kept rolling dice until he had a description of a Peninsular siege? NOT my idea of a wargame.

But number of units, complexity and time are for miniature warfare what armor, mobility and firepower are for tank design--an unending series of trade-offs. I figure 12 "quantum" units--no formations, no strengths and no morale states: they're either there or they aren't--is the minimum acceptable use of a player's time, and between 40 and 50 the most he can handle. The more the unit has different formations, can be atritted away or requires book-keeping, the lower the numbers get: he requires fewer to make him happy, and he can't handle as many anyway. I just wish more designers would keep in mind two more factors--that the player probably needs 4-6 units of two or three kinds to maintain tactical interest, and that he needs probably four to six feet of frontage. Certainly at least three, and his depth limit is between three and four feet.
No good designing a game if human beings can't play it comfortably. But I've seen it done.

Yellow Admiral11 Mar 2017 12:58 a.m. PST

A similar epiphany (to the OP) is why I stopped playing Tactica back in the early 90s. Tactica games *looked* like ancient battles with huge crowds of figures and severely channelled deployment and movement that resembled minimalist book diagrams, but I realized that DBA was simulating ancient battle at about the same representational level with a much richer decision cycle. DBA had more deployment choices, terrain influences, grand tactical and micro tactical options, maneuver room around the flanks and rear, involvement with camps, and on and on. Even better, if a DBA game went badly because of bad dice luck, there was almost always time to try again, maybe more than once. Meanwhile, if Lady Luck pissed on my Tactica game, that pretty much poisoned the whole day.

- Ix

sausagesca11 Mar 2017 11:08 a.m. PST

Funny and wonderful how people can arrive at such different conclusions. I picked up DBA immediately, hoping it would solve the problem of ancient gaming in my group spinning its wheels on the perennial WRG 5th edition. We played the latter for years feeling like the best rules lawyer won the day. DBA seemed bland and didn't stick. Then I picked up Tactica and not only was the gaming experience wonderful and the games looked super, but we felt that we were playing 'battles' that seemed historical and with a very simple design engine. We play Armati now (helped play test it) and love it although if we went back to Tactica (or Tactica II whenever that is released) I would be delighted.

This is all to say that we are rich in choices now. Of course, we would still be having fun with the older games too. Getting together to push lead is the real joy here, whether dice fall favourably or not.

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