Welcome / Bienvenu

This blog presents my different wargames armies, after action reports, campaigns which I have run, some scenarios and a presentation of some of the different rules I play. The pages at the top of the blog contain historical information on the periods that interest me. They are an aid to my poor memory, and not in any way exhaustive nor necessarily correct. As I am an Englishman living in France, some pages are in English and others in French...sorry, I am too lazy to translate...

I hope this blog offers you much enjoyment and some inspiration !

vendredi 31 août 2012

DBM

I used to play a lot of DBM, but it has been replaced for me by two French rules set, DSC (De Sumer à Constantinople) and then AdG (Art de la Guerre). I wrote these pages when I was a regular DBMer.


Written by Phil Barker and Richard Bodley-Scott, and edited by the Wargames Research Group, DBM is published in its version 3.0, but on-line amendments are available as version 3.1.

DBM can be used to simulate conflicts from the dawn of history until the end of Medieval warfare, ie. around 1500.

Strong points :
- You have the feeling of participating in a major historical battle, with realistic troop deployment and command problems. You are absorbed into the game and it definitely has a "history-making" feel to it.
- The core rules are not only simple but extremely elegant. There are quite a few "fringe" rules, but you can integrate these as your experience of the ruleset grows, and all add elegant subtlety.
- A battle reaches a conclusion in 3 to 4 hours. DBM is the one of the few rulesets I have played where a game can be finished in an evening.
- The language is concise and, once you have fully understood it, no situation is left uncovered. You never have to say, during a game of DBM "alright then, let's say the outcome is X, as that is probably what would have happened historically".

Drawbacks :
- The language of the rules is so concise as to be opaque in some parts BUT a very active Yahoo Group is ALWAYS ready to help with newbie questions, even those that they have answered a million times before. Just DON'T ask about Medieval Germans : )
- DBM has a geometrical aspect to it which is very pleasant and elegant until you run into the "millimetriste", who measures distances with a laser rangefinder. The answer is simple enough : choose who you play with.
- DBM simulates large battles. Once the protagonists have less than 5-6,000 men a side, another rules set is needed. Fortunately, DBA exists...

Without pretending in any way to be an expert - nor even a good - DBM player, I have written here a few hints and tips for newbie players, from my own experience.

Victory

There is only ONE path to victory - crush the enemy army before he crushes you. Looting enemy baggage is a bonus, but it is truly difficult to achieve unless you have an army of light horse. By the time you reach the baggage, the battle will be over, and your troops and PIPs used in the attempt will have been wasted.
The only way to crush the enemy army before he crushes you (apart from total luck) is to have local superiority, on one part of the battlefield, in match-ups, quantity and quality. Killing 25% of the enemy army is generally enough to rout him, and that can be done very quickly in a narrow area.


Deployment

Deployment is a crucial moment of the battle. The first question to ask yourself is : who, in my army, can manoeuvre and who cannot ?

Light cavalry, cavalry, mounted infantry, auxilia and psiloi are manoeuvre troops. They may often be deployed in column at the beginning of the battle. To this list can be added, within a certain limit, regular knights. Perhaps camels and elephants too, but I have never played with them.

All other troop types (irregular knights, spears, pikes, warband, blades, bowmen) are non-manouvrers. They will essentially advance directly forwards. The regulars amongst them will of course be able to perform some local manoeuvres, but, REALLY, don't expect much. Put these troops in line with enemy opposite, if you want them to have an impact on the battle.

Troops in DBM do not whizz about the battlefield. Consider that a typical double-line of Auxilia, just in order to shift the length of its own formation to the left or to the right, will use up 5-6 PIPs, which is a lot.
When the enemy has already deployed a corps, and you deploy one of yours opposite, take the time to place your troops so as to have favourable match-ups. Obviously, your enemy might shuffle around before contact, but that will cost him PIPs and you will have the initiative.
Finally, I always have a tendance to clump the same troop type together, ie. all Bw in a corps in one block. This is a bad habit from "regimental" games. Nothing stops you creating small groups of Bw interspersed among other troop types !

Playing the game

I am not a good enough player to offer many tips here, but do take the time to learn how to deploy from line to column and, above all, from column to line. If you don't know how to use these manoeuvres, your troops will ALL seem cumbersome and DBM may even seem boring, as your groups will quickly get broken up when encountering terrain, and your army will become scattered and clumsy.

All troops who have at least 150p of movement can use, with ease, the "KMDT" manoeuvre (Google it for more), and this gives them great flexibility. It basically allows you to deploy from column marching along a given axe, to a line facing at 90° to this axe. Very useful for deploying on enemy flanks, or deploying your reserves into line after having marched them across the enemy's front.


Using psiloi

During my first battles, I didn't really know what to do with my psiloi, especially since version 3.1 of the rules. A breakthrough came when I realised that they are a) cheap (generally 2AP each) and b) cheerful (at only 0.5 EE, their loss does not greatly affect your army's morale).

I have noted the following missions for psiloi :
- The most obvious, occupy RGo and DGo. Psiloi fight as well as anyone in this terrain (except Auxilia). If enemy marches past the terrain with 150p, they may end up with Ps charging their flank...
- Extend flanks of a fighting line. This will avoid the flankers of your fighting line suffering a -1 for overlap if the enemy line is longer, when it is your turn and you choose the order of combats.
- Protect the flanks. Psiloi exert a 40mm "ZOC" like anyone else. If they hang back behind your fighting line, they won't stop the -1 for being overlapped, but they will prevent it being taken in the flank.
- The above two tactics can be combined. If you have 2 psiloi on the flank of your fighting line, one can charge with the line into battle, protecting it against overlap. It will no doubt be killed or flee in the first turn, but the 2nd psiloi is there to stop your fighting line being taken in the flank in the enemy's turn. Be careful that this 2nd psiloi is not within 40mm of the first, as it will then flee with it.
- Delay enemy advance. Despite having become more difficult in DBM 3.1, this is still an important role for psiloi.
- Screen redeployment. If you have buggered up your deployment, a screen of psiloi can slow the enemy down and give you time to get into position (nothing fancy, though).


Using light horse

Light horse are not just psiloi on horseback. First up, they are more expensive (around 5AP), and count as 1 EE for demoralisation. Plus, seeing as they cannot interpenetrate friends, they can easily get "stuck" between advancing lines and wreak all kinds of havoc on your own side.

Missions are :
- Scouting. A single element of LH is all that is needed to uncover an enemy ambush, especially one behind a hill.
- Flanking. LH can play the same role for cavalry fighting lines as Ps play for infantry fighting lines.
- Opportunity attacks. LH can hit an enemy flank at the amazing distance of 155p away. They can also be used to "sack" enemy flank guards.
- Outflank the enemy. The classic use for LH. You do not necessarily need large groups of LH, 3 or 4 can do the trick.
- Provoke impetuous troops. Send a couple of "sacrificial" LH against a line of enemy knights or warband. Even when you lose the combat (which is likely, as you will have overlaps on both flanks), even if you are destroyed, your enemy is forced to pursue. His line is now broken, rendering very difficult its control. If your LH survive, remember that you can withdraw them from combat in your following turn, as they are faster than their enemies. Note that this is a perfectly historical tactic (cavalry were frequently used to provoke the charge of enemy knights in Western Medieval armies).

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