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Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Second Game of Dux Bellorum – Further Thoughts

First of all let me apologise for the lack of photos – I still am having problems downloading from my camera and have stopped taking pictures until that is resolved.  Rather a pity as some visual aids would have helped this report.
I took an Early Saxon Sea Raider Army made up as follows
Foot Companions
Noble Warriors x 3
Ordinary Warriors x 2
Foot Skirmisher (Bow) x 1
Foot Skirmisher (Javelin) x 1
My opponent for the night, Kev, brought a Late Roman Army
Mounted Companions
Noble Cavalry x 1
Ordinary Shieldwall x 3
Noble Shieldwall x 1
Bow x 1
Foot Skirmisher (Bow) x 1
Mounted Skirmisher (Javelin) x 1
Additional Leadership Point
Before we deployed I tried my assassination attempt needing 11 or 12 on 2 dice.  If successful it would have robbed the Romans of 3 of their 7 leadership points but it was not to be so it felt like 4 points (out of a total of 32) wasted at the start.
Having a much superior Aggressor factor it was almost inevitable that the Saxons would take that role which they duly did leaving the Romans as the defenders (repellors)
My plan was to punch through the centre with my 4 best warrior units, covered by the skirmishers, leaving an ordinary warrior unit on each flank to either to hold an attack or exploit the position if possible.  I intended to target the weaker shieldwall and bow units with my better troops and then move on to the harder troops who would hopefully be on fewer leader ship points having lost some units.
Kev’s Romans deployed with his 2 units of cavalry on his far right with the shieldwall and bow alongside them so his right and centre were fully occupied with the skirmishers covering his left.  I think his plan was to hold the main body of infantry back, sweep the cavalry round and then catch my main force both in the front and from the flank.
We had decided to play this game using Impetus bases (12 cm wide) but at half base width movement to make the game playable on a 6 x 4 board.  This greatly improved the look of the game and I think we will almost certainly continue to use this approach for future games.  What we did not do was increase the amount of terrain (probably a mistake) so we ended up with 2 hills, one on each flank with both our left flanking units having the opportunity to use them to their benefit in later combats.
The early moves were fairly predictable as I advanced along the line and Kev's cavalry and skirmishers also advanced.  Throughout the game there was only one occasion when damage was done by shooting when the Roman Bow unit took 2 cohesion points off a noble warrior unit.
I had a bit of luck on the right where I was able to catch the mounted skirmishers with my ordinary warrior unit and fairly quickly despatch it.  On the left the two cavalry units and the warrior unit on the hill started a melee which ground on for some time – more on that later as it was to prove to be the most controversial part of the battle.
My centre units closed with the Roman line and very quickly took out the bow (another leadership point lost by Kev).  I had detached the furthest left noble warrior unit to prevent the line being outflanked in the side where it was up against the noble shieldwall and a unit of ordinary shieldwall.
I threw good dice all night and before long another 2 Roman units had been destroyed, including the noble shieldwall.  By this stage, with the Saxons having lost no cohesion points at all in combat, Kev conceded.
Whist all this had been going on my ordinary shieldwall unit had stood firm on the hill, twice throwing back the opposing cavalry and causing 3 cohesion points of damage on the Roman mounted companions.  Both of us had been giving the units between 2 and 3 leadership points a turn, but I had used them in defence whist Kev had used them in attack.  Although I was always throwing less dice I was able to negate all the hits on my unit whist Kev had to take any his suffered.  The moral of the story was seemed to be that defensive use of leadership points is much more effective than using them for attack.  My dice rolls in that combat were certainly a bit better than Kev’s but the difference was by no means extreme.  It did seem a little odd that one 3 point unit could not only hold up 2 x 5 point units but actually be winning the combat hands down because of the way the leadership points had been declared.  Not only that but if the Roman leadership points had been used more effectively in defence there would have been a complete stand off barring some rather extreme dice rolls, which would still have been very much to the Saxon’s favour.
What was our conclusion? 
1) Stick with the Impetus bases but half base width movement on a 6 x 4 table but consider more terrain
2) Think carefully about the use of leadership points.  One option we talked about was that they could in the first instance be used to counteract each other, so 3 in defence and 2 in attack would deny any additional attacking dice and retain 1 to cancel a hit.
3) Give the game another go soon (without making any changes) whilst the rules are still fairly fresh in our minds.
4) It still seems an awfully quick game – we started a bit late but the game took barely an hour. Once again I was home early not really having had a fully satisfying night’s gaming.  Next time we might consider bigger armies or try to get 2 games in.


  1. Dave, my thoughts are along the same lines, although I was completely outplayed and really stuffed up my deployment, my thoughts after 2 games are:
    1. Great Turn sequence. Integrated turn are by far my preferred way to play.
    2. Nice army selection.
    3. Looks much better using Impetus bases on a 6x4
    4. Needs more terrain.
    5. LP's need work. I have two issues. LP's used defensively always work, whereas LP's used offensively only work 1 time in 3, or 6 depending on what you are up against. Basically always use them defensivly as then you will always get the benefit from them.
    6. Lp's can be distributed as you like, this gives your commanders a god Like ability to be wherever they are needed. It might be more interesting to have lp'splaced in a similar way to monks, depending on the distance you are from certain stands, like your Companions.
    7. Foot bow are a bit difficult to use correctly. They have a range of 4 stands lengths but warriors can charge 3 lengths so you either get 1 shot and have to run away or 2 shots and then get charges (and probably killed). Foot Javelins would seem a better prospect as you can shoot and then move.
    8. We really need to decide what optional rules we are going to use before the game starts.
    9. I agree that the game feels a bit light and is not entirely satisfying for an evenings gaming. We will definately need to try using larger forces.

    All in all still good fun despite 2 miserable performances. My Romans had better buck their ideas up as I did not spend the better part of eight months painting them just to dustpan and brush them of the table every game.


  2. David,

    An excellent AAR – thanks.

    As you noted in my blog AAR several points are similar.

    We use a fixed BW of 3” combined with units 18cm wide worked much better. The game looked better and the units did not ‘wizz around’ – much better.

    Defensive LPs – We agree entirely. They are too strong in defense. We use a system that allows you to roll a d6 and on a 4+ you get to cancel a hit. That changes things a fair bit. It makes the game a bit more tense and gives the attacker slightly better odds for a successful assault. The defense is strong. Therefore a unit would need to give a unti 3LPs to truly be sure of cancelling one hit, though more could possibly be cancelled.

    This provides a better balance in IMO.



  3. I didn't stick around to watch all of the game, but I am surprised about the outcome from what I did see. I would have expected the cavalry to have minced those warriors on your left.

    Though a question about archers, my understanding is that archers aren't usually held in much regard in Arthurian warfare. Is that perhaps why they don't seem to fit properly?