Monday, September 11, 2017

Another Try of Art De La "DBA"

The Spanish army after deployment, facing off against their Andalusian foes as the Reconquista rages
 Years ago, I was about as avid of a player of 15mm Ancients using De Bellis Antiquitatis rules as you could find. I ran and played in tournaments a good half dozen times a year. I was constantly painting new armies. I did my best to promote the game and teach new players.
Two of our three opponents -- Andy (enthusiast of the rules) and easy-going Allen, who will play anything
And then, after more than two decades of enthusiasm, it abruptly died in me. I simply lost all enthusiasm for the game. What before seemed elegant and simple seemed vanilla and stale. The idea of rolling for movement pips and then out-rolling my opponent in combat was just tired to me. DBA had a good run with me. I pretty much played it from the beginning. But all good things must come to an end, they say, right?
Things are getting a little iffy on my flank, as Keith's light horse maneuver all around me with their speed
Ever since then, Ancients has kind of languished in our Sunday night gaming group. There was a brief period of reinterest when Steve V ran games of Hail Caesar for us. Several of us went out and bought the rules. I made it a point to say I enjoyed them -- even though they were possibly even more die-rolling intensive than DBA was (by the way, rolling dice is not a particular strength of mine...ha, ha!). But Steve lost interest, and veered to Might of Arms, which excited zero interest in me. He later tried a game of "To the Strongest" (or something like that), but that was one of the worst Ancients systems I'd ever played.
With poor Joel crushed on our right, and Keith making me nervous on the left, Mike S and I order in the spearwall
Lately, a few of the people in our area started buying, playing, and talking about a French set of rules, Art De La Guerre. Andy was a fan of it, in particular. We heard others liked it -- Mike S bought the rules at Historicon last year, and Steve V once again had a new Ancient rules set he wanted to try! One night, they did a small playtest, but we had a late family dinner and I showed up only to kibbitz at the end. As they talked their way through combat, it sounded a LOT like DBA. On another evening, I was there for the playtest. I was not impressed. WAY too vanilla, in my book. And way too much like DBA. That was when I coined my own name for it: Art De La DBA.
But surprise, surprise! I manage to run off some of Keith's lights, and then hammer with my knights
Steve and Andy were enthused, though, and Mike S was intrigued. So, we tried it again -- this time with Steve V's El Cid era medieval troops. The figures are gorgeous, but it was a little confusing differentiating the "Light Horse" from the "Heavy Cavalry," as they all had the same number of figures on the base. This caused a blunder on my part as I gave my right wing commander a force of mostly Light Horse, thinking he didn't have a strong enemy opposite him. He was outclassed and quickly crushed.
The right wing was looking very shaky when the Spanish managed to pull out victory over the Andalusians
It ended up being a close-fought game, with the Spanish winning by one point. So, what do I think after a third exposure, second time playing? Honestly, I feel it is simply a DBA variant. It has troops based by elements, like DBA. You roll dice for your movement pips, like DBA. Each troop type has a combat factor to which you add a roll of 1d6, like DBA. When you are beaten badly in combat, your element is destroyed -- like in DBA. The "variant" part comes in with each type of troop being able to take a limited number of "fatigue" or "hit markers" (or whatever they call them) before their element is destroyed. You receive those when you are beaten by an enemy in combat (or shooting), but not badly enough to be destroyed. And, like DBA, the game is over when you lose a certain number of elements, with some small variation on counting "disordered" units for half-points, as well.
The rules...popular with some in our group and not-so-much with Keith and I!
For all intents in purposes, I see Art De La Guerre as simply a variant of DBA. I would much rather play Saga or Hail Caesar. Maybe it is me -- maybe my jaded-ness from DBA prevents me from seeing this as a new and interesting set of rules like some of my friends do. However, I can't help the way I feel, and am not particularly looking forward to more games of Art De La DBA.

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