Wednesday 17 April 2013

I Don't Believe It!

Who'd have thought it possible. The wargamer who's 'perfectly happy with two periods' has started a new period! Butterfly wargamers of the world unite! And furthermore, the time from inspiration to first game was five days. Cost? Zero. Is this a record?

Well, no, to be honest. This has been brewing for a long time. I've been looking for an alternative wargaming experience that gave me a genuine miniatures game, but with a quick set up that didn't involve lots of scenery, scenario development and rearranging the dining room. You know how it is sometimes - middle of the week, back from work, rush that early tea then usher family out of 'gaming room'. Maybe an hour or more to get the terrain how you want it and the figures and scenario paperwork prepared. By the time everything is ready, you just want a rest. And the whole lot has to be put away once the game is over, before you can retire to bed. It's all a bit too much like hard work.

So I've been looking for a 'dining table game', for those occasions when I just can't be assed. My acquisition of the 'Bridge Too Far' boardgame was a move in this direction - a game I continue to enjoy, but it's not toy soldiers. Of course, some of you will be thinking that small scale figures (6mm or even less) are the answer - a full battle on a 4' x 3' board. Get thee behind me Satan! These days I need proper size toy soldiers to scratch that itch - perhaps it's my failing eyesight. To cut a long story short, DBA became my favoured solution.

The cynical amongst you will probably blame my enforced sojourn at home, due to an arm broken whilst skiing. I can only reply that you're probably right - reading about and reflecting on wargaming has filled much of my time over the last week and a half. So, staring at that dining table and considering the options, the decision was made. What finally swung it was the prospect of expansion into 'Big Battle DBA', where you use 3 x 12 element DBA armies on each side, on a 4' x 2' battlefield. A real wargames battle could take place on any kitchen or dining room table. My own dining table measures 5' x 2.5', and with a Games Workshop battlemat thrown over it would form a battlefield just a bit bigger, to allow for more manoeuvre. So this was a rules choice with a future.

I already had the DBA rulebook (v2.2), purchased a couple of years ago when similar thoughts were brewing. I chose the normal 15mm size of troops. My Polish WW2 wargaming in 15mm and my previous flirtation with DBR (see below) would provide me with all the terrain I needed (which isn't much for DBA). Choice of period was between Rome vs Carthage, or Rome vs Ancient Britons. For me, ancient wargaming always had to include the Romans. Eventually the Ancient Britons won out - the choice would give me two contrasting but equally capable armies. And I think I had fond childhood memories of the Airfix figures in my mind as well.

Of course, I wasn't intending to paint my own armies. My goodness no. There's still lots to do for my other two periods. The internet led me to a UK painting service with a high standard and prices comparable to those charged by asian-based companies, namely Mount and Blade. A commission has been agreed, and it looks like my two armies will be around £65 a piece, all in. But I will have to wait until July for delivery. With time on my hands, the Fanaticus DBA resource site led me to some printable paper armies which I could mount on card and which would allow me to get going with some games. The left arm was just about serviceable enough to allow some sticking and cutting to take place.

And so, within a week from deciding I would add DBA to my wargaming world, my old buddy Paul was round for a game or two.

Paul deploys his Romans
Now I'm not going to pretend that cardboard counters fill the shoes of real toy soldiers - they're fiddly to move and position, and much more importantly the visual appeal just isn't there. But two very enjoyable games were had, and the counters are better than nothing. I really do like DBA. DBM and DBR can be a little complex, but DBA v2.2 retains the simplicity of the original. The battle rules cover just 4 pages of a small booklet. It's a shame you have to get past the famous 'Barkerese' to access this delightful and unique game, but careful reading usually does the trick. The 'Unofficial Guide to DBA' is invaluable in helping you through.

I've Been Here Before
As already mentioned, the world of DBx is not entirely new to me. Around 2006-2007 I owned French and Spanish Imperial armies for the Italian Wars. I was lucky enough to hook up with a very experienced DBM player and we had some excellent games, although my opponent's guidance was vital in keeping things flowing. In the end, however, they became an 'army too far', and were sold off.

Blog posts need photos, so here are a few images of the armies taken before their sale on eBay. Not painted by me, of course - another pro job.

Italian Wars French Army

Gendarmes and generals

Spanish Imperial commanding general

Spanish pikes
Don't expect to hear too much more under the DBA label until the figures arrive. Blow by blow accounts of DBA battles with counters would be of limited interest, I reckon. But rest assured I will be filling some pleasant hours battling away on my 2' x 2' tile.


Bluebear Jeff said...

Actually I quite agree that DBA is a very good rule set . . . and the "Fantasy" version ("Hordes of the Things") might even be better.

It is surprising how many different types of actions can actually be fought using DBA.

So, sir, ENJOY!

-- Jeff

Ross Mac said...

I've found myself increasingly interested over the last 3 years in small, quick to setup, play and take down games.

Nothing wrong with DBA though (or HoTT) though I've only played a few games in the 20 years. Before that I played a fair amount for a while including some good multi-player Big Battle games.



Prince Lupus said...

Just rediscovered DBA and HOTT myself. Can set up, play a game and put away while the Other Half is in the bath!

Steve J. said...

Well my dear wife has just revived me with some smelling salts, as I passed out with obvious shock! Three periods Keith; good God man what has gotten into you? What has Johnny foreigner done to you whilst in hospital? Questions will need to be asked in the House tomorrow to ascertain answers to the above.

You have seemingly spent the prolonged Winter period in chrysalis form and have now emerged as a true wargaming butterfly. Welcome to the club.

I've never played DBA but have enjoyed the Dux Bellorum games that I've played that seem to have something in common with the former. I look forward to possibly giving it a go sometime in the future.

Grenzer John said...

In all honesty, I used to despise DB... games. Since then I've been playing Pike & Shot games with DBR. I REALLY enjoy them. Some of the rules seem odd at times but the simplicity of play appeal to someone of my advanced... age.
Wonderful photos!

Stryker said...

I can see the appeal especially as there appears to be plenty of room left on the table for a bottle of wine...

Keith Flint said...

Well spotted Stryker. Indeed, there's room for more than 1 bottle; or a six pack of beer, doughnuts, coffee, a plate of cup cakes...

Anonymous said...

It was DBA that brought me back to wargaming after a gap of some years.

Isembourg said...

DBA is an easyway to start playing ancients. Twelve 'elements' to make an army makes it inexpensive to try out.
I fact the latest version of the rules DBA III wit the army lists built in makes it good value at just under £20-00 and an army in 15mm. will cost anthing from £20-00 to £50-00 the all foot army being the cheapest army to field.

If you want to try DBMM v2.1 you can use the 120 army points version which will be almost the same as the DBA army.
I love it but I've never won a game.

I have 50 years worth of panted Napoleonic figures and a hundred years worth of unpainted figures.
The resul of traveling to any Wargames show within 3 hours drive,or so.