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"DBA3: The Problem with Pike" Topic

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30 Oct 2019 5:43 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian30 Oct 2019 5:42 p.m. PST

Writing in Slingshot issue 324, Joe Collins proposed a rules change to fix a perceived problem with pike being too easy to flank and eliminate:

Under the heading

If its total is equal to that of its opponent

change the result to

'Solid' foot Destroyed by foot if CP, CWg or Lit & in contact on 2 or more edges by enemy front edges. If not Pike, recoiled by 'Solid' Pike. Otherwise no effect.

Would you support this change?

lkmjbc330 Oct 2019 6:22 p.m. PST

AKA…Pikes win ties.

Just to make it simple.

Joe Collins

YogiBearMinis30 Oct 2019 8:04 p.m. PST

Pikes are too weak in 3.0 relative to all earlier editions. Some minor tweak(s) would be appropriate. We have thought of just making Pikes all double element 8Pk and treat them under that rule, as +4/+4, and allow them to still provide rear support if the player wants.

Personal logo Bobgnar Supporting Member of TMP30 Oct 2019 8:29 p.m. PST

DBA 3 is Phil Barker's current theory of how ancient warfare can be modeled into a war-game. To make changes is like changing Homer, I do not want Hector to be killed off. or "fixing" Shakespeare, "A carnation by any other name would smell as sweet", or how about changing van Gogh's "Starry Night" into an overcast night by painting over it with gray?

Literature is the expression of the author, not to be messed with. Art likewise. Let's leave DBA to Phil and not try to "improve" it.

That being said, it seems acceptable to make a one-time modification to suit a particular scenario game or a tournament arrangement. But not permanent changes to the basic game. Also ok to modify rules to create a version of the game that is not within its current temporal domain. For example make a Napoleonic game with the DBA system.

Durban Gamer31 Oct 2019 4:32 a.m. PST

Again a useful idea for the official playtesters when considering DBA 4.

MichaelCollinsHimself31 Oct 2019 6:09 a.m. PST

Do elements still turn to face if they are attacked in a flank? I stopped playing at 2.0.

Who asked this joker31 Oct 2019 6:41 a.m. PST

Do elements still turn to face if they are attacked in a flank?

Yes, when the defender is not engaged to the front by another unit.

lkmjbc331 Oct 2019 7:51 a.m. PST

The issue with Pike was really an unforeseen occurrence with DBA 3. With the changes in the rules for conforming, the greater movement distances, and the fact that Pikes now follow up (pursue),one would have though that Pikes would have been improved in DBA 3. They have is some ways. Gone are the silly geometric ploys that forever kept them from ever getting into contact under earlier versions. Still, the changes in movement rates ultimately worked against them! Only a huge amount of play-testing would have shown this.

Read my article for a more in-depth look at this.

The "Pikes win ties" helps to address this as well as better model the actions seen at Cynoscephalae and at Pydna. (Whether you believe the rocky ground story or not…there is some debate.)

The Swiss are helped, but still will not fight to their full potential. As DBA has no grading factors this is to be expected and really can only be remedied by special rules. Still, the Swiss are more capable with this change.

Joe Collins

Who asked this joker31 Oct 2019 10:06 a.m. PST

Pikes and spears seem to fight in the same fashion in real life. Making a specific comparison to Phalangites vs Hoplites, the body armor is the same. In hoplites case, the shield provides more armor. The phalangite has a smaller and lighter shield but does have a longer spear to compensate. To me, a fight between these two would be a wash.

Having Pikes at +3/+4 for single rank is just plain silly. I'd rather see pikes and spear have the same CF (+4) and fight just about the same with the exception of that the pike can also gain rear support of +1 but must follow up victories as per the rules.It makes pike armies more viable as they no longer have to rely on having rear support to stand a fighting chance but can if the player so chooses.

I don't know or really care all that much about the perceived issues with the pike in tournaments or otherwise. I am a historical gamer and would like the game to results to yield historical results.

lkmjbc301 Nov 2019 9:55 a.m. PST

This change does help single rank pike become more viable. They still aren't great against other foot (though fine against mounted), but at least they are better than before.

Against a single Spear element they will no recoil their opponent roughly 41% of the time… vs 27% without the change.

Spear are still more likely to win… but this is a significant change.

Joe Collins

MichaelCollinsHimself01 Nov 2019 11:44 a.m. PST

Do elements still turn to face if they are attacked in a flank?

Yes, when the defender is not engaged to the front by another unit.

OK John, it still seems unrealistic to me.

Thomas Thomas08 Nov 2019 3:30 p.m. PST

First the easy stuff: elements turn to face as this more realistically simulates actual battlefield behavior without having to have "orb" rules or spear "circles" and so forth which real world units adopted when fending off circling attackers (being attacked from two directions at once – the "crush" – was the real danger). Of course when you turn to face you lose overlaps and will eventually risk being pushed into the side of your own battleline – quite fatal.

The difficult problem: Pikes. We almost got them to work in 3.0 (and if you get a copy of D3H2 where there is a point system taken from HOTT and so you can get cheaper pikes to represent mass they do come very close to working).

As to long range thinking: I've slowly come round to the idea of Pikes as +4 Heavy Foot; +2 Rear Support for 2nd Rank; Drive Off v. most Mounted (Recoil on Equals) BUT they give Cry Havoc (Destroy on Equals) to Blades representing advantage of sword/shield in close in sustained melee over clumsy Pikes. (This presupposes we take away Drive Off v. most Mounted from Blades and allow +3/+4 longbow missile elements – to deal with Scottish "pike".)

Given Phil Barker's health issues I don't think we will ever see another official version of DBA (we did as much as we could with 3.0). But DBX mechanics need to keep advancing – hence the above suggestions for fighting historical battles but not for DBA 3.0 tournaments which should be left alone.


Jefthro313 Nov 2019 5:39 p.m. PST

Pikes v Blades issues could be solved if pikes didn't have to be supported by another base to gain the extra combat factors. For game aesthetics Pikes could be in two ranks on a deeper base count the plus for being doubled based yet just be one element – that would be a game changer – same for double ranked War band – when were pike based armies or war band based armies Presenting a lesser frontage than their Roman opolents

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP14 Nov 2019 6:15 a.m. PST

The problem with pikes is tetanus, from constantly getting stabbed by the tiny brass/steel bastards.

FatherOfAllLogic14 Nov 2019 7:29 a.m. PST

Yeah, I got a killer unit of hoplites!

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