DBA Gaming and Military History-By Musashi

Late Imperial Roman II/78b vs Alan II/58

My second game of the Fall of Rome themed event at Hurricon 2010 was against Rob Jones. I was still manning the Late Imperial Roman (this was before my Roman Army boycott, mind you) vs Rob’s Alani.   

Rob Jones --Looking Friendly and Confident

  The important part to start off with is my previously mentioned blunder. I did not have an army painted for this event ready to go so I wound up borrowing this Late Imperial Roman army from Marty Schmidt. When you’re borrowing armies, you are likely not that familiar with them. I do not offer it up as an excuse, I mention it because I could have fielded my Skythian army and just called them Alan. There are 4 armies in DBA that can be composed of 12LH units and Alan is one of them. Rob didn’t have that mix, as most wouldn’t, but since my Skythian army is 12LH, then I could have called them Alan.   

I’m normally not a fan of using one army for double duty–that is, just calling them something different. In this case it not only, would have been ok, I have no plans to paint another army for Alan. I am purposefully going to use my Skythian army. They would look identical anyway. They are from the same basic area of the world. They are also very close in the military purpose for their LH units. Here is a picture showing the close proximity:   

Alani and Skythians Are Just North of Modern Day Turkey

I know I’ve beaten that horse to death (har har), but it does have some bearing on this battle report. As usual with my posts, the comments on each picture are below each.   

Early In The Game

The bearing it has on this game is the fact that as Rob was defender and he chose to have a nice open board to favor his superior number of mounted units. Had I been playing my Skythian/Alan army it would have proven a very interesting fluid battle.   

A lot of the value of taking pictures of your battles is to learn from things that in many cases, never occurred to you at the time. This is a perfect example of a faulty conviction I had from the start of this battle. I saw he had a mobility advantage against me and for some reason allowed that fact to paralyze me into turtling up on my baseline. Like a lot of things in life, hindsight is 20/20, but still reviewing this battle and how it turned out is a very good lesson. Had I been more calm in my approach, I would have realized my Ax with Psiloi support are more than enough to deal with his LH. I did not have to hide in my little patch of woods. I mean it’s dumb on so many levels. Would Rob ever have marched his LH into the woods to fight me? Of course not. There is zero reason to camp a piece of bad going unless it has a strategic value on the battlefield. In this regard, it reminds me of Phil Barker’s advice in the rulebook that the more historical you move your units the better off you will be.   

I think many gamers are as guilty as I am in this regard. I get so caught up in the minutiae of the geometric ZOC’s, and movement distances and combat factors, that I lose sight of the big tactical picture. Just because someone has a movement advantage on you does not mean they are going to roll enough pips to do anything about it.


Tony Aguilar was sitting next to me this game, playing his own round and he looked over at what I was doing. He later ribbed me about sitting on my baseline not moving. Boy was he right!  About two turns into this game, I realized of course how idiotic my idea was. Once I got it in my head he would dominate me in the open, I never considered anything else. Target fixation is not good soldier!   


 You can see here, that Rob is doing exactly what he should do; moving forward in good order. At this point, I had realized the folly in sitting still. But there wasn’t much I could do about it. As he clearly wouldn’t run LH into woods to fight my Ax…duh…he then attacked my open flank. To top it off, he was showing restraint due to the fact that I had at least successfully place my Knights opposite his blade. When you look at the matchups in this light, you can see that me moving forward to contact would have made a lot more sense. While he has a mobility advantage, I have a few Quick Kills I could have pressed to my advantage. Also, I’m not mobility crippled either. I have a fair amount of mounted as well.  

 Now that I’m sitting there, and realize I shouldn’t be sitting there, there still isn’t much I can do. I didn’t roll high pips, so I just moved one of my Psiloi over to my exposed flank and was running him over like mad hoping he’d make it in time!  

 I find it amusing now, but it wasn’t so amusing at the time, that I have my Ax on my right flank sitting in the pretty protection of the rough yet the gentle hill in my backfield is being used by my enemy. The only answer I have for this is my intrepid Psiloi! Rob stopped short of ZOC’ing me. I can’t remember if he meant to stay out of ZOC range or if he just didn’t have the movement but at any rate….  

 A huge temporary help to me was not having my Cav General or LH units ZOC’d. It allowed me, since I rolled high pips to semi-rescue my exposed flank. I mean I’m still in deep doo-doo, but I have a prayer now. You can see in the above picture that my Ps moved over to ZOC his LH, one of my LH did the same and in case he recoiled me, my LH and Cav General was sitting there to support next turn. I also used my last pip to charge my main line forward. I bet Rob was a tad shocked that I finally got off my duff. As you can see he didn’t move his LH up on my right flank, so I took that as my best opportunity to rush forward. As I was only moving at the rate of my blade, I wasn’t able to get into contact yet.  

 A closer look at my gambit. My units are just short of contact, but the writing was on the wall and I had to do something and fast!  

 The way I remember it, he didn’t move forward so I sent my LH up to join in battle, only to be promoted doubled and killed! Due to restricted geometry, I saw it was safe to move my Cav General onto my main battle line on the far left side. Still that LH loss wasn’t going to help anything lol.  

 Here is the result of the combat which was joined. My leftmost Knight locked with his blade, which was a real downer since that was one of my Quick Kill opportunities and of course he blade might be able to close the door on me the next turn. My Kn vs his Kn (General) battle just to the right of that, saw me being pushed back, but as happens with Knights that actually helps me as his Kn General is now surrounded! An excellent chance for me to inflict some pain next turn.

My left most blade recoiled his mounted, who I think was a Knight as well. I’m pretty sure I sighed with relief on that one. And the now lone LH facing my blades, I sent to fleeing! Run away little horsey, run away!  

 A view of my most pressing problem. I checked and my Ps had one recoil of movement left before I fell off the earth.  

 This shows his LH having fled, but the ensuing combat against his surrounded Knight only resulted in him recoiling which didn’t help me a bit! He was able to bring up his other Knight to order his troops. I brought up one of my Ax so my right flank is looking even more secure.  

 My feeble left flank holds! Uh…just barely. You can see the Ps is pushed to the very edge of the world, but my LH showed some serious resolve and recoiled his LH giving me another breath of life.  

 I’m enjoying one serious comeback here. You can see that in the middle my left most Knight is unopposed. That’s because his blade unit blew up! Yeah! That is my beloved Red Precision Casino Die on the table (from Kardwell Int’l) which you can read about at length in one of my other posts. My Cav General was recoiled, but that little bit of distance didn’t bother me one little bit!  

 I rushed my Ps and LH forward  hoping for a miracle. The prayer went unanswered and both of my units were pushed back. Looking back at it, I should have spent every pip where I had an advantage, not trying to rescue a losing proposition.  

 You can see that die is NOT a nice red casino die. This would indicate it is Rob’s die and as you can plainly see, it is a 6 for Movement. The oracle is saying things that sound like the word, “Doom” but I refuse to listen.  

 Rob surveys the world. With a 6 for movement, the world is his oyster.  

 He moved his LH forward, with my Ps precariously perched. He moved his other LH behind my General, thereby denying me the ability to recoil. He turned his LH around and joined up in line and attacked again.  

 I’m missing the picture of what happened during Rob’s combat, but you can see what did happen with my Cav General…It survived! I’m alive! Really at this point, no matter how the game turned out, I was ecstatic with the performance of my troops! It turned into one of those games where you simply couldn’t believe you were still alive and in some cases fighting back to the point you even entertain ideas of winning!  This picture above shows what I did in my turn. I ran my Cav General into his blade unit and turned my Kn to close the door on that same blade unit. I could have closed the door on his Knight facing my Kn, but I felt my Cav General needed all the help he could get!  In that I was completely wrong! Why?

I was so caught up in the moment, I forgot that his Knight I could have closed the door on is his General. He had been pressuring my general hot and heavy so I became fixated on saving my own versus going after his. Based on where we were at the time I turned my Knight to close the door on this blade with my Cav General fighting, I could have closed the door on HIS general!  It would have been a +4 to +4 even up battle. You mean I could have had an even die roll chance to kill his general and I didn’t take it? Akk….

See, this is why photo after after reviews are so nice to have. I didn’t even catch this until I started writing this review, and even then I had to come back in here and edit this thing because I didn’t catch it until just now.

This is exactly the sort of thing you don’t see many times until after you’re reviewing the pictures. Rob might have internally let out a sigh of relief that I turned toward his blade, that I do not know. It’s how I would have felt. I was now playing the price for having turtled up at the beginning of the game. Still, it was absolutely amazing I was still chugging along!  

 Akkk….I got a lock result!!! So in his turn Rob moved up his LH to not only prevent a recoil but to get the -1 against me! So I’m Cav Gen +4 minus 2 for overlaps so I’m a 2….He is blade vs cav so +3 but one overlap so he is a 2! Neither of us can recoil! Result? I win the combat! His blade is destroyed and his LH forced to recoil.  

 So, my Cav General survived, he is down another unit. I don’t have a picture of it, but my Ps on my far left did get pushed off the board so I was also down another unit. Now, in my turn, I have several juicy opportunities. I have numbered my juicy opportunities. At the 1 position, I could move up my blade and close the door with my other blade. At position 2 I could move up my Ax on his LH and close the door with my other Ax. Two delicious looking close the door opportunities! At position 3, I could move my Cav General up and slide my Knight over to close the door there as well!  

What do I roll for movement pips? A BIG FAT ONE! Arrgghhh!!!  

 Now this is a precision casino die people. I know the one is a good distribution as I’m using a precision die and using a dice cup. But still, I’m cursing the dice Gods loudly at this point! All those juicy opportunities and I only get to do one action. All of my close the door prospects required a minimum roll of two. I needed to kill something and couldn’t. I didn’t get the last shot, but suffice it to say he decided to wrap my general up again and this time he went down.  

But what a fight! What a magnificent stand for my Roman General! He did everything he could despite my poor initial decision. I was quite proud , even in the loss! It was easily the most glorious loss I’ve ever suffered. It was so good it has me rethinking my Roman Army Boycott! LOL  

Thanks to Rob for a great game, it was great fun!


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