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DBA Demo Game – Battle Report and Impressions

DBA (De Bellis Antiquitatis) is a game with a lot of established players in my local historicals scene. At Broadsword 3, I played my third game with the ruleset. My host for this game was Howard Tulloch and we used a modified version the third edition rules. He slightly modified the rules for simpler demo play at conventions.

De Bellis Antiquitatis (DBA) After Action Report (AAR)
Here two armies line up to prove their might in battle.

This battle represented above is part of the Peloponnesian Wars between the Athenians and Spartans. I played the Spartans (which is the army closest to us in all of the pictures). The figures are all 15mm and supplied by Howard.

To start, both players moved their armies up with the Skirmishers (Psiloi) units ahead of the main armies. Below is how the battle unfolded.

De Bellis Antiquitatis (DBA) After Action Report (AAR)
The lines move forward with the skirmishers leading the way.
De Bellis Antiquitatis (DBA) After Action Report (AAR)
Some of the skirmishers engage. Two of Psiloi on the Athenian army moved to the edges of their army, leaving just one unit in the middle to deal with the two Spartan stands.


The Psiloi engage.


De Bellis Antiquitatis (DBA) After Action Report (AAR)
The Spartan skirmishers lost. One stand perished and the other ran away. Look at the distance it covered!


De Bellis Antiquitatis (DBA) After Action Report (AAR)
With the skirmishers out of the way, the armies engage.


De Bellis Antiquitatis (DBA) After Action Report (AAR)
The lines waver, but overall, the Spartans hold up better than the Athenians. The Athenians lost a couple of units and have a a bit more wavering in their lines.


De Bellis Antiquitatis (DBA) After Action Report (AAR)
A close up of the action.


De Bellis Antiquitatis (DBA) After Action Report (AAR)
The Athenians strike back and now the Spartan lines are seeing holes of their own.


De Bellis Antiquitatis (DBA) After Action Report (AAR)
On the left wing, the Spartans outnumber the Athenians so one of their units break off from the main group to perform a flanking maneuver.


De Bellis Antiquitatis (DBA) After Action Report (AAR)
On the Right side of the battle, the Spartan lines did not hold. Two stands die. The Spartan Skirmish unit that ran away earlier is there hoping to offer a bit of a deterrent preventing the Athenians from charging the right rear of the Spartan lines.
De Bellis Antiquitatis (DBA) After Action Report (AAR)
The Spartan sweep on the left flank continues and the Spartans win the battle through elimination points. They had reached the victory conditions for the number of stands killed.

Overall, DBA at Broadsword was very enjoyable. Howard is absolutely awesome at introducing new players to the game. The rules as presented here are very easy to pick up and run with. That said, the feedback that I get from many veterans of DBA is that if you are to learn, you need a veteran player (or the Internet) to help you along. I am told that the rules are simple, but can be hard to understand straight out of the book without help. Having never read the book, I cannot attest to the validity of that statement, but I can assert that I have heard so from multiple players.

Of the DBA games that I played, they all worked out somewhat similarly. There is some maneuvering and marching to the centre of the table followed by a battle in the middle with perhaps a few units trying to get in behind or to flank the others lines. From there, the units push back and forth (or waver) until one side breaks. Once one side breaks, it gets easier for the other side to sweep them.

Personally, I like the wavering line aspect of the game. It is simple enough that you could almost put the game on autopilot when the battle engages, but there are some choices to be made. Units wise, there is a rock, paper, scissors gaming going on in that different units have different results when defeated by other units. There is a chart to reference for the unit effects. There are lots of other elements of strategy to this game too.

One of my favourite aspects of the game is how action points are generated. Each turn, a player rolls a die to see how many commands he (or she) gets to issue. Roll one pip and you can only order one unit. A unit is all basses in base-to-base contact. You can also break and rejoin elements within a unit. The game relies on geometry and precision. For those that get really deep into it, I could imagine movements in the centimeters making a difference. For those not as deep into DBA, it is a fun game to try out and play in a casual setting. If you ever see it in a demo setting, try it out and let me know what you think.

De Bellis Antiquitatis (DBA) After Action Report (AAR)
Howard hosted three demo games simultaneously while acting as my opponent. He is well versed in the system and very good at teaching DBA. Thanks Howard!

Until next time, Happy Gaming Everyone!!!

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Phil

    Nice report…and beautiful armies!

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