Saturday, 15 March 2014

DBA 3.0 acid test 1 Warband v Spears

Following on from our last game of the DBA Month I have been curious to run this test further to Jon's valid point that Warband could be dubbed a "super troop" as they would appear at least on paper to be a killer of most infantry, escpecially blades.

Below is a simulated melee between 8 elements of Gallic Warband classified as Wb3 fast ordinary and 8 elements of Carthaginian spearmen classified as SP4 Ordinary.

Before we begin I present the combat factors for both protagonists.

Warband - +3 Versus infantry 
Tactical factors - +1 for 1 element in rear support
Will pursue 1/2 base width if they win a melee.

Carthaginian Spearmen - +4 Versus infantry
Tactical factors +1 for each friendly element in flank contact (shieldwall)
No rear support and will not pursue a beaten opponent.

According to what I have read in the rules it seems clear that we got a few interpretations wrong relating to when to apply certain tactical factors in a melee so I hope the test helps clarify these issues.

Round 1

For games sake the Gaul's will start the combat.......

 First melee.... its a 5 v 4 which takes us to 10 for the spears v 8 for the warband.
The spear get +1 for the friend on the right flank as a shieldwall support. It makes no difference whatsoever if the friendly unit is otherwise fighting an opponent to its front, this does not cancel the flank support!

Even in two ranks in V3 spear no longer receive any rear support factors so its 5 + 4 + 1 = 10
The warband just receive a +1 for rear support so its 4 + 3 + 1 = 8

The spears win and recoil both elements of warband 1 base width and we move on to the next elements. This time the odds are in favour of the spears as they not only receive the flank support on BOTH sides but the warband are overlapped on the left flank so will fight at a -1

The Gaul's roll well with a 5 + 3 + 1 - 2 = 7. Our Spears roll a lousy 2 so even with two flank supports only end up with 8 (sorry wrong dice pips shown!) 4 + 1 + 1 + 2 = 8

 The warband are beaten again and must recoil.....

Next up it's a 1 rolled by the warband but a bad roll of a 2 for the Spearmen lets the side down as it's clearly not enough even with another 2 flank supports plus an overlap gives us 7 v 4 so another push back on the warband.

The last elements to fight this round roll and although the spears win with a 9 to 6 result it only forces another pushback.

So after the first round the Warband have charged home but been pushed back in numbers by the mass of spears....
 Now to the Carthaginian's, it's their turn and they charge everything forward, remember that the Zone of control forbids any fancy stuff at this stage of the melee....

It's a roll off and the scores are 5 v 2 both the gauls and spears receive a +1 for their tactical factors and once again the spearmen win and push back the gauls.

 Back they go once again....

 With another chance to really put the boot in with an overlap and a +1 the spearmen roll  3 giving them a total of 8 4 + 3 + 1. The gauls have been thumped here as a roll of 1 in the fight gives them a total of 4. The overlap cancels their rear support so its 8 v 4 which is half. The warband is destroyed
 First blood to the Carthaginian's..........

 With the impetus with the spears we move on to the next group of elements......
The Gauls roll a 6 this time! they only get to add their combat factor in as the rear support is cancelled so its a 9 for the warband. Our spears roll a 3 but do get to add in a +1 for 1 flank support so we have 4 + 3 + 1 = 8.
 The gauls win and more importantly they destroy the element of spear and pursue 1/2 base width forward!
This was Jon's point that warband only have to beat blades and spears in a melee and they will destroy them.
Last fight of the round and the Spears win again even though I wrongly applied a -1 to the spears for being overlapped on the flank by that stray warband element. This is not correct as this is not an overlap as defined in the rule book.
 That's it for the first 2 rounds.....
 Back to Warband and its round three.......
 I started on the left side this time. The result here is a drawn melee as the spears get no flank support and just add their normal +4 to the die. The warband add in a rear support which sways the result to evens.
Because our warband is fast and not solid it must recoil versus solid foot.... (sorry no photo)

The Spears switch the attack over to the opposite flank to try and create an advantage for the elements to the left.... Pity that the warband rolled a 6 here giving them a 10 v 10, another draw when it could of been a thumping, never the less the Warband must recoil....

 Another tactical advantage for the spears, we have an overlap and a flank support and the warband is on it's own so will be rolling with a +2 only this time. Luckily a 4 provides a solid 6 for the Gauls. Our spears roll a 5 but can only fudge this up to 10 so once again another push back....
 These Warband are in a world of hurt being overlapped on each flank and having two flank supports against them. It's only a +2 for the Gauls this time and they end up with 5 total. Our spears throw a 6 which becomes a total of 12 (4 + 1 + 1 + 6)
 As its more than half the Warband element is lost.... is the tide turning?
 With that being the last elements to fight it now goes back to the turn of the Spears....

Round 4 begins

 We picked the first fight here as the spears are on their own with nothing but a +4 to add. Our Gallic warband just need to win the roll off but I believe they are overlapped on both flanks....I might of got this wrong....

Technically this is an overlap as both the flanks of the warband are in contact with both elements of spear flank edge. The rule book only seems to have one section relating to this and I will have to ask us all to have a think about this rule. For a normal overlap an element must themselves not be in combat with an enemy element to their own front.... So in the case below the two spear elements are not in combat themselves as they form a second line and do not contribute to the combat that their front element is involved with (spears no longer support from the rear) I would say that this allows the spears to overlap the Warband on each flank.
The result...... The Gauls roll a 3 but have no rear support and must deduct 2 for both flanks being overlapped giving them a total of 4. Our Carthaginian spear roll a 1 and just get their +4. It is a win and a push back.

Ironically this helps the warband out next as the push back provides an overlap agains the spears!
The Gauls roll the max and the spears roll the minimum. Not good for the Carthaginian's!

They get a kicking and are destroyed.
Moving across.... The Warband roll high again but the spears match their result with a nice 5 so it's 9 a piece as the overlap cancels out the spears shieldwall.
Even with a 6 it is not enough to kill the warband! It is starting to become clear that these Gauls can easily hold their own against Spears.

The end of the 4th Turn!

Turn 5

The gauls move back into the fight adding some rear support to the element over on the left flank.
We start over on the left with a draw so a push back on the warband.
Pity the spears rolled another 1! A luck escape and they only survive because of the overlaps. A draw means a push back for the Gauls. Remember that if one of those spear elements manages to turn it's front face onto the flank of that warband the warband will be destroyed on a push back. Easier said than done in this example though!
Over here another draw and another push back....

11 V 6 for the spears and still not enough to destroy the warband. A push back.
The end of the 5th Turn.

Turn 6
11 v 7 another pushback on the gauls
11 v 6 - another push back!
8 v 7 - another pushback on the warband
This was again lucky for the Carthaginian spear. Rolling 1's against warband is asking for trouble! A draw is the result with another pushback.
The final turn 7!

Good rolls on both sides here mean another draw and yes a push back on the Gauls!
A win for the Spears by 1 and another push back
7 to 6 here for the Spears - pushback
The elements on the right fought and yes - the spears won and pushed the Gauls back


What we have seen here is 7 rounds of combat. The losses are the same on both sides with 2 elements each.
I have to say that I agree with Jon. Warband are indeed a force to be reckoned with but ( and there is always a but) as Mark has mentioned using Auxillia to soften them up could be an option.

I won't run another test (thankfully!) but Mark's point is a good one and when we look at Auxillia they are on a +3 versus infantry which is the same as the Warband BUT importantly they recoil when beaten and are not destroyed like spear or blades. Other than the fact that the Gauls get a +1 for their rear support I would be more happy with some Auxillia up front.

Something else worth a mention. A lot of these results would of gone more in favour of the warband if they were up against blades because blades get nothing for flank or rear support. They do have a better combat factor than Spear (+5 v +4) which helps but in combats that allow for overlaps to occur I think that Warband pose a great danger to blades. This test has clearly shown that Spears can hold their own against warband. 7 round of combat has resulted in a balanced result with neither force holding an advantage.

Also remember that as good as they appear against infantry and even to some degree cavalry the table turns if they come up against Knights. I would add that Psiloi and bow armed infantry would be effective against them too!


  1. Very informative Russ,
    Do you have a copy of DBA3 and play sheets for us
    We need to know the differences between 2.0 and 3.0
    and the I, O, S and F adjustments.


  2. I have 3 copies of the rules here together with the excellent DBA "warfare in the good old days" pay aid which really does explain the rules in great depth. I will be bringing these along to the club on Thursday, I will give Phil his copy tomorrow so there are two sets up for grabs.

    Your troop differences are I = re roll a combat score of 6 once O, standard troops no bonus or penalty, S re roll a combat score of 1 once. F = fast troops ( don't worry about this too much because when you get you copy of the rules you will see a handy table that converts the troop types, there are a few instances where F troops are sub divided and this allows for greater movement and also no penalties for fighting in certain terrains.

    My advice would be to wipe all knowledge of V2.0 from your skulls. V3 is the future.......

    I will print off a few copies of the combat charts.