Last night the Corlears Hook Fencibles test drove "To the Strongest", Simon Miller's ancient/medieval rules. We have numerous DBA armies and some in larger numbers. The game uses a grid. I had a piece of felt that would do for a small game, where most units would be a single DBA stand. I planned a Hun/Frank dustup but then decided all the ammo markers would make a first game too complex. I instead fielded Normans against Saxons (Anglo-Danes for the fussy). These are some of our larger forces but I had the small mat, so most units were represented by a single stand while the deep Saxon shieldwall units were represented by two stands.
The game takes some advance preparation. I selected two 125 point armies and made labels for heroes and veteran units. Next time I'll make labels with save numbers and color code them by command. I made Excel spreadsheets for the armies and players can use them ahead of time to decide what kind of armies to field. And the armies have to be divided into commands (battles) with a list of forces, demoralization levels of each command and the number of medals for the whole force. Players give up medals as units and generals are lost and camps overrun. When you're out of medals, you've lost.
Old decks of playing cards surfaced just before I sallied out to buy new ones. Each side needs two decks of cards, with the picture cards taken out. For a first game we ignored terrain set up, throwing together a faux Hastings. We also ignored stratagems, looking to get the activation, combat and rallying mechanisms understood.
Rick opted to take the Normans and attack, while Ken decided to park the bus with his Saxons. I related the rules; the blind leading the blind.
The Normans advanced at a walk while I ran through the rules PDF on my PC. The first turn was long. It started speeding up as we all got the hang of it. Arrows, crossbow bolts and javelins began to fly. Ken now made an error. The two Saxon light infantry units advanced to challenge the Norman host. On his right, the javelinmen were duly ridden down by Eustace's horse. In the center, Harold's archers managed to survive a charge and make their way back to the line. They then took station in front of the line and were cut down after several turns of struggle.
As the Normans ran low on missiles, they began to charge. Rick had a run of high cards to activate followed by low combat cards. Bill arrived late and observed the Saxons.
We broke for dinner.
Ken played a turn after dinner and then handed the Saxons over to Bill before heading home. The armies were locked along the front with no reserves. Rick's cards improved and the right flank Saxon unit started to go under. Worst of all, a Norman light javelin unit move unopposed through the woods on the Saxon left and headed for the unguarded camp. Bill responded by charging along the line. In some places the Norman horse evaded, in others they stood their ground. The line began breaking up.
Late in the game I realized I'd forgotten the heroic general rules and decided to just leave it that way. Next time. The Norman javelin unit got into the camp, sacking the first of the three boxes, costing Bill 3 medals. His right flank shieldwall unit collapsed, costing another 2 medals. The victorious horsemen hit the next unit in the flank and had it in trouble. Then the javelins activated twice in a row and cost Bill his last 6 medals, sacking the entire camp.
The Saxon army faded away. Four Norman units were a hit away from running, but they had not lost a unit yet.
We played 11 turns in about 3 hours. I'm sure this will go faster in the future. The game went well enough that we'll give this another go some time. I'll make a canvas mat with 100mm boxes so our larger armies can strut their stuff. That would be Normans and Saxons, Swiss and Burgundians. Bill has a sizeable Roman force but I don't know that we can field a large opposing force unless we throw together an unlikely barbarian conspiracy.
The smaller mat (50mm boxes) requires me to make some custom terrain to fit in such a small area so our other DBA armies can fight on it and look good. Plus I need to make a canvas mat, looks better than the felt.
TTS requires more lead time and effort than DBA and takes longer to play. I do think we'll speed up next times as everyone has gotten some play time in. Ken still likes DBA, as do I but Bill dislikes all armies being 12 elements. We were waiting for the new edition and army lists of Basic Impetus to come out, but who knows when that will be?
We will have more games of this, though our ongoing Franco-Prussian campaign awaits. Sedan beckons next, where I'll try to get some French troops out of the trap.