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"DBR Back in Print" Topic

De Bellis Renationis

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The Wargames Room14 Mar 2015 2:29 p.m. PST

WRG have recently announced that the DBR rules and army lists are now back in print having been combined into a single volume, which can be purchased from Lulu. While the rules and lists have not been revised having the rules available is a good outcome for many.


Phillius Sponsoring Member of TMP14 Mar 2015 5:50 p.m. PST

I wonder if that will be enough for people to start playing the game again? Or is this just the Barkers trying to keep a lame duck alive?

I stopped playing a few years ago. Not so much from a problem with the rules, but with the "chosen" approach to using them here in NZ. And interestingly, after viewing pictures of Cancon in Oz recently, I see they choose to play in the same style there.
I wonder if that is the problem. People don't understand the game as it was intended? When I played it in the UK, only a few times I will confess, we played it straight out of the book. But here in NZ and Oz, there is very much an attempt to make the game into DBM for renaissance.
NZ and OZ players please squeel now.

To put it simply, the reason I stopped playing, was that everyone wanted their battles to look like DBM games. And they still do.
Sixteenth century pikes deployed four deep instead of six or eight. 17th century armies only deploying in a single line, not the mutually supporting lines that the Dutch introduced and Gustavus Adolphus famously enhanced.

The main problem in the games I witness, is that no one uses the terrain properly. Most terrain bits are small even by 15mm scale, and the group here in NZ I play with play exclusively 25mm, but we use 15mm terrain sizes. I believe this was derived from special competition rules in the UK back in the 90s or noughties, so the finger of blame is not entirely on us.
Of course, what this means, is that everyone deploys in a long skinny line, with no supports, and pikes, no matter if they are 16th or 17th century, deployed four deep. The game then just becomes a DBM game using the DBR parameters.
I have read about this period extensively for close to 40 years, and I cannot think of (right now) any battles where terrain was not a significant player. When a quarter to half of your infantry forces take a minute to load and fire their pieces, using the terrain to protect them as much as possible, is really important.

I don't have the rules handy (major reno's going on so they are in a box somewhere) but I'm pretty sure the intro says the rules are neither DBA nor DBM. Yet that is how we play them.

Being a DBMM gamer, it is clear to me that MM is derived from DBR not DBM or DBA. I say that because both games are structured around perceived statistical outcomes. If type X fights type Y in circumstance B3, then the outcome is likely to be 999 in 60% of instances, 99 in 30% of instances, and, 9 in 10% of instances.
In DBMM the terrain setting phase of the game is designed to create a historical type battlefield, based on a series of rules and conditions. For such a broad period that is a challenge indeed, but it kind of works.
This approach to statistical outcomes and terrain setting to force close to historical deployments and tactics is derived directly from DBR, but with considerable enhancement.

Lots of people think DBR is fundamentally broken and a year or so ago there was a big discussion about how to fix it. Here in NZ we have dabbled a lot trying to fix some of the bits. In my mind, almost completely unsuccessfully.
Phil Barkers take on this is that the rules are not broken. And he is right, the rules cannot be broken as it appears that so many gamers choose to play them "out of context" to the way they are written. Therefore it is not possible to prove they are broken.
And he is also wrong, in that the context of the game is so thinly (not sure that is the right word) maintained through the rule set, it confuses people. Hence all the problems.

So to sum up, if I knew people were prepared to play the game the way it was intended (and here in NZ this could be achieved simply by playing the terrain system correctly) I might give it a go again. And I suspect a few more people would. However, if the same style of thinking is pursued as seems to be the tradition, I suspect this republishing will turn out to be a waste of time.


Sobieski14 Mar 2015 7:36 p.m. PST

There's just too much characteristic WRG gibberish in them for my patience. Ah, there were no major off-table flank marches? Irregulars were no longer significantly different from drilled troops? Japanese armies didn't use pikes? Giving E. European musketeers a significant melee weapon means they become less effective in close combat? Swedish musketeers in fortified positions can't return fire at Imperialists, and a light gun in the line is a point of weakness against a charge? Knights are well advised to charge pikemen frontally?
And all this in addition to the fact that as the rules are written, foot attacking pike blocks get a BONUS if the pikemen have a third or fourth rank (look carefully at how the factors are defined, and try to remember what happens if you subtract a negative number from a positive).
But then again, this is the WRG that maintained for generations that pikemen couldn't use shields (and then changed without ever including the magic word "sorry"), that a pilum was still usable on the second or third round, or in the notorious 7th ed. that fatigue from firing a bow had the same effect on a unit as fighting a losing melee….
Pardon me if I extrapolate from my atheism, and prefer to have some contact with verifiable reality before I believe.

The Wargames Room14 Mar 2015 7:38 p.m. PST

Phillus writes:

"The main problem in the games I witness, is that no one uses the terrain properly. Most terrain bits are small even by 15mm scale, and the group here in NZ I play with play exclusively 25mm, but we use 15mm terrain sizes. I believe this was derived from special competition rules in the UK back in the 90s or noughties, so the finger of blame is not entirely on us."

How odd! Lots of silly bits of terrain sounds very strange.

Phillus, you raise some other points. Some of these I feel are issues with how games are frequently played, especially in competition games. By the very nature of competitions I don't think they are ideal for creating period flavour. Indeed, they create other issues.

In Christchurch we rather enjoy DBR. I feel they work well "in-period" when consideration is given to the terrain, the size of army being used and the playing area. That does not always mean competition play or bland points budgets.

YogiBearMinis15 Mar 2015 12:56 p.m. PST

We plan just to use the DBA-RRR extension set to play Renaissance armies if we ever dabble in the period, rather than try to use DBR.

NavyVet15 Mar 2015 1:34 p.m. PST

DBA-RRR works well for the group I play with. I plan on running a RRR tournament at Border Wars in early May in Kansas City.

Mac163816 Mar 2015 4:48 a.m. PST

We still use DBR and tarring them with the same brush as the DBM and DBMM is a travesty.
I think they play well for western european and near eastern, with limited defences.
Far eastern armies I think they fail on many points.

My main problem lies with the army lists, not fully thought out and definitely not play tested.

I find FOG-R a bit of a dice fest, as for eastern armies they do not work at all.

Who asked this joker16 Mar 2015 8:38 a.m. PST

I have DBR 2.0 at home and found the rules to be easy enough to grasp. Compared with DBM, where I could grasp most of it except the spontaneous advance rules. So, DBR, to me at least, is not that difficult to understand. How it plays remains to be seen…by me. The best part of the rules reprint is that they've included all the army lists and the price is pretty good at about $22.00 USD.

Geoffr18 Jul 2015 4:40 p.m. PST

Well, I still like these rules and have just bought the new edition.
Is there anyone in the Toronto area who wants to play these with me?

mashrewba19 Jul 2015 1:40 p.m. PST

Is the type face the same as the original rules?

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