DBA 3.0 solo tournament


I recently bought a set of DBM 3.0 and decided to play a few games solo to get a feel of the game and try to absorb some of its intricacies. Rather than just picking armies at random, I chose to play a series of games “winner stays on”. I started with my earliest armies and tried to play “historical” matchups wherever possible. The first few games were played with the standard rules and I moved on to the “big battle” variant for some of the later games. And here is what happened…



Game 1: New Kingdom Egypt (I/22a) vs. Nubians (I/3), 1500 BC

The only terrain the Nubians get is a gently hill on their left flank.

The Nubians deploy a line of bow, with their Warband in the centre and Psiloi on the hill to their left. The general is in reserve.

The Egyptians deploy chariots on both wings, with fast blades on their left and bows and axemen on the right.

Two Egyptian chariots start to outflank the hill, and the Nubians counter by bringing their general across (Bow).

On other flank, Egyptian fast blades close quickly and start to slaughter Nubian Bows.

The Nubians advance in centre but are outshot by the Egyptian Bows and Nubian army breaks before its Warband can get into combat. The Egyptians never looked to be in any trouble and won 4-0.

Lessons learned: Fast Blades beat Bows, and quickly. The Nubian army is very limited in its capabilities and it is not surprising it lost so comprehensively.



Game 2: Kushite Egyptian (I/46a) vs. New Kingdom Egypt (I/22a)

A waterway on the Kushite left and steep hills in their left and right flank sectors.

The Egyptians deploy their fast Blades on the right, supported by 1 Bow, 1 Psiloi and 1 Chariot, and their remaining Bows and Axemen in the centre. Their left flank is protected by 3 Chariots.

The Kushite advance on their right, with all their Cavalry and Chariots supported by 2 Auxilia.

The Egyptians advance their fast Blades, Bow and Psiloi on their right, and move the Chariot on that flank across to the centre. As the Kushite cavalry attacks, the Egyptians reinforce their left flank with 2 Bows and an Axeman unit (4Bd), and the Kushite cavalry is driven back with casualties. Meanwhile, the Egyptian fast Blades reach the Kushite Bow and begin to slaughter them. Even the intervention of the Kushite general is not enough to turn the tide and the Egyptians win a slightly flattering 5-0.

Lessons learned: Fast Blades beat Bows, even uphill. Again, the Egyptian Blades were the decisive troops.



Game 3: New Kingdom Egypt (I/22a) invading Later Sargonid Assyrian (I/51)

Almost no terrain - a waterway on the Egyptian left, a small piece of brush on their  right and two ploughed fields on the Assyrian side (which were good going).

The Assyrians deployed with Spear on their right, Bow in the centre and mounted on their left, with Auxilia on both flanks and Psiloi on the far right, against the waterway. The Egyptians deployed their fast Blades on the left and Bows and Axemen in the centre, with their flank defended by Psiloi in the brush. Their chariots were held in the centre, to the rear.

As per the previous battles, the Egyptians advanced quickly with their fast blades, supported this time by chariots guarding their flanks. But the Assyrians advanced to meet them, and managed to make favourable first contact, driving the Egyptians back and destroying one of their chariot units on the Egyptian far left. This allowed the Assyrian Auxilia to turn onto the flank of the Egyptian Blades, and in two bounds the remaining Egyptian Blades and a further Chariot unit were destroyed, breaking the army. Final score 5-0 Assyria.

Lessons learned: Turning flanks is decisive, and allowed the Assyrians to win, even with less powerful troops.



Game 4: Skythian (I/43a) invading Later Sargonid Assyrian (I/51), 650 BC

The Assyrians had city protecting their left flank, and deployed with Spears in the centre, flanked by Bows and Auxilia, with their Chariots and Cavalry all on their right flank.

The Skythians massed most of their Light Horse on the left and advanced quickly in an attempt to overwhelm the Assyrian Cavalry, but the Assyrians extended their line to block the gap. The Skythians responded by moving some of the Light Horse from their left wing to reinforce the right, but the Assyrians charged the remaining Light Horse and slaughtered most of them in a pair of bounds. Another 5-0 win to the Assyrians.

Lessons learned: Light Horse are a lot less manoeuvrable in DBA than in DBM (no group retreats). The Skythians could not find enough space to take advantage of their superior mobility.



Game 5: Early Hoplite Greek (I/52g) invading Later Sargonid Assyrian (I/51), 650 BC

Terrain was a waterway and some rough going close to the waterway on the Greek side (their right flank).

Assyrians deployed with Auxilia, Psiloi and Bow on the left, Spears in the Centre and Knights and Cavalry on the right. Greeks has a line of Spear (double ranked at both ends) and 2 Cavalry as reserves on their left flank.

The Greeks pressed forward with their massed Spears, and the Assyrians tried to threaten their flanks. The Greek Cavalry managed to protect their left flank and drive off the Assyrian cavalry, but the Assyrian Auxilia sneaked around the end of the Greek line and destroyed a Spear element. With no reserves to protect their right flank, the Greeks pressed forward into the Assyrian Spears, but made little progress. A tough fight on the Greek left wing between Greek spears and Cavalry against Assyrian Heavy Chariots and Cavalry resulted in further casualties on both sides, and the Assyrian Auxilia destroyed a second Greek Spear unit on the other wing.

Finally, the Assyrians managed to kill one of the Greek Cavalry which broke the army - despite the Assyrians losing their general on the last turn of the game, killed by the Greek general! Result 4-3 to the Assyrians, and the first really close game.

Lessons learned: 2 Auxilia beat 1 Spear. Knight generals get themselves into trouble. Spear only get their phalanx bonus against foot!



Game 6: Later Sargonid Assyrian (I/51) invading Later Archaemenid Persian (II/7)

The Persians have a fort and a steep hill in their right zone, and deploy Auxilia on the steep hill and most of their mounted (including a scythed chariot) on their left wing.

The Assyrians have a steep hill in their left zone (opposite the Persian hill) and put their Auxilia there, anchoring a battle-line of Spears with Bows on their right. The Assyrian Cavalry is split between the two wings and the Chariots are on the right.

The Assyrians advance along the line and the Persians respond by attacking on their left flank with a mixed force of Cavalry, Knights and Light Horse, preceded by Scythed Chariots. Lucky Assyrian bow fire kills a unit of Cavalry and drives back the Light Horse, and the Assyrian Cavalry destroys the Scythed Chariot. The Persians fall back and try to move their mounted back behind their hill, hoping to switch their attack to the other flank, but the Assyrians pursue and manage to destroy a Light Horse and a Psiloi with shooting, routing the Persian army. Final score 4-0 Assyrians.

Lessons learned: Bows can be deadly if you don't get into combat with them. In this battle, the two Assyrian Bow elements killed two Light Horse, a Cavalry and a Psiloi. The Scythed Chariots achieved nothing and encouraged the Persians to be reckless.



Game 7: Later Sargonid Assyrian (I/51) invading Alexandrian Imperial (II/17)

Terrain was a waterway and some ploughed fields (good going).

Alexander deployed his camp on the extreme right next to the waterway, with the phalanx in front. Behind the phalanx were the companions and Elephant (on the left). The left flank of the phalanx were covered by Auxilia and Light Horse and the right by Psiloi and the whole line was echeloned (with the right troops furthest forward).

The Assyrians deployed their Spear on the left, Bows and Psiloi centrally, and Chariots on the right, in front of their baggage. The Cavalry and Auxilia were divided between the flanks.

The first few turns were all manoeuvre - the Assyrians advanced their cavalry on the left to threaten the Alexandrian Psilioi protecting the flank of the phalanx and also advanced their mounted and Auxilia on the right. Alexander responded by moving his Elephant to protect the right flank of the phalanx and his Companions to the right to drive off the harassing Assyrian Cavalry. The Cavalry were slow to retreat and were pursued and destroyed by the Companions, though this brought them close to the Assyrian Spear which drove them back shelter behind the Alexandrian phalanx.

On the other wing, both sides tried to manoeuvre for the best matchups, a battle won by Alexander when he managed to pin the Assyrian Auxilia with his Light Horse. Two bounds later Alexander managed to charge his Elephants into the Assyrian commander's Chariots, destroying them and winning the battle. Score 4-1.

Lessons learned: The Assyrians spent the whole game worrying about the enemy Elephant, and in the end it still won the battle for Alexander. Pike cannot achieve much if you cannot protect their flanks.



Game 8: Alexandrian Imperial (II/15) invading Classical India (II/3b), 325 BC

Main terrain was a wood in the Alexandrian left and another in the centre of the battlefield, on the Indian side. The Indians deployed (left to right) Cavalry, Chariots (Knights), Elephants, Bows, Auxilia, with a Psiloi just behind the centre wood. Alexander countered this by lining up his phalanx opposite the Indian Elephants, his Elephant opposite the Indian Knights, his Auxilia opposite the central wood and with his own Knights in reserve in the centre.

Alexander advanced his phalanx and supporting troops, though slowly due to a shortage of pips. The Indians advanced their Bows and Auxilia on the left and pulled their Chariots back behind their Elephants and in support of their advancing Bows.

The Alexandrian phalanx charged into the Indian Elephants and drove them back, and the Indian Cavalry fled before the Alexandrian Elephants. This allowed the Alexandrian Elephants to turn onto the flank of the Indian Elephants, and two of them were quickly destroyed.

Meanwhile, the Indian Bows wheeled anticlockwise about the central wood, driving back the Alexandrian Light Horse and Knights, and the Indian Knights charged into the Alexandrian camp.

There was a temporary lull in the battle as both battle-lines had wheeled 45 degrees anti-clockwise but were separated by the central wood (now held by Alexandrian Auxilia). Alexander started to redeploy his phalanx to confront the Indian Bows and the Indian Chariots, supported by their Auxilia, managed to trap and destroy an Alexandrian Knight and Psiloi which were pinned by edge of the battlefield.

The battle was decided when the Alexandrian Pikes advanced on the Indian Bows, only to lose an element to accurate long-ranged shooting - which was enough to break the army. Result 4-2, Indians.

Lessons learned: First game won by manoeuvre and the loss of a camp.



Game 9: Classical India (II/3b) invading Greco-Bactria (II/46a), 100 BC

I played this game using the Big Battle rules.

There was negligible terrain. The Bactrians deployed, left to right: (Command 1) 3 LH, 3 4Kn; (Command 2) 12 Pk and 3 Ps; (Command 3) 3 El supported by 3 3Ax, 3 Kn, 3 LH. Each command also had a Kn general.

The Indians deployed, left to right: (Command 1) 2 Cv, 4 Kn, 4 Bw, 1 Ps; (Command 2) 3 4Ax, 7 El, 1 Ps, 2 Cv; (Command 3) 5 Bw, 1 El, 2 Ps, 3 Kn, 2 Cv.

The Indians attacked on both flanks, and quickly made good progress on their left and inflicted several casualties on the Bactrians. The Bactrians tried to reinforce with their Elephants, but the Indians blocked this with their Bow and some of their own Elephants. The Bactrians managed to flank and kill two elephants, but their own Knights were slaughtered by the Indian Knights and Cavalry. However, the Bactrians managed to get an Elephant into combat with the Indian Knight general, killing him just before the Bactrian command broke. As the left hand Indian command had the lowest pip die, none of its troops were able to play any further part in the battle.

On the Indian right flank, they made progress initially, but their Elephant general was lured into advancing beyond the Indian lines and was slain by a Bactrian Psiloi! Shortly thereafter, the Indian command broke.

In the centre, the Bactrians pushed forward with their phalanx, but the Indians delayed it with Cavalry and Psiloi. However, with both of their flank commands out of action and with no realistic chance of breaking the large Bactrian phalanx, the Indian commander conceded defeat.

Lessons learned: I made a couple of errors with the army lists and forgot that the defender moved first. And keep your Knight generals away from enemy elephants!

The Big Battle rules (and choosing your pip die assignment in advance) make it much harder to change your focus of attack from one side of the battlefield to the other.



Game 10: Kushan (II/46a) invading Greco-Bactria (II/36a), 100 BC

Played with the Big Battle rules.

There was a gentle hill in the Kushan centre and another on their right, and rocky going in the Bactrian left and right sectors. There was also a city on the Bactrian far right (garrisoned by an Auxilia).

The Bactrians deployed, left to right: (Command 1) 3 LH, 3 3Kn, 2 Ax; (Command 2) 12 Pk and 3 Ps; (Command 3) 3 El, 3 4Kn, 3 LH. Each command also had a Kn general.

The Kushan deployed, left to right: (Command 1) 5 LH, 3 Ax, 3 El, 2 LH; (Command 2) 2 LH, 3 Ps in front of 3 4Kn, 2 LH; (Command 3) 3 Ps in front of 6 4Kn, 4 LH.

Most of the action in the early stages of the battle happened on the Bactrian left, as both sides manoeuvred for position and attempted to find favourable matchups. The Kushans managed to temp the Bactrian Knights into a rash charge against their Light Horse, and the Bactrians lost 2 Knights before they could pull back to the safety of their elephants. The Kushans also tried to outflank the Bactrians on their extreme right, but were blocked by the Kushan Auxilia and Light Horse.

Further fighting cost the Bactrians one of their Elephants and the Kushan a couple of elements of their own.

In the centre, the Bactrians advanced their Pike, but had to stretch their line to prevent it being outflanked. The Kushan Elephants were blocked by the Bactrian Pikes, and made no headway. On the Kushan left, their Auxilia seized the rocky going on the Bactrian side of the table, but could advance no further for fear of the Bactrian Cataphracts.

On the Kushan right, the Kushans finally managed used their Psiloi to pull the Bactrian Elephants out of position and charged their Cataphracts through the gap, but took further casualties to unlucky combat die rolls. The Bactrians responded by attacking the outflanking Kushan elements, managing to pin them against the table edge and destroying them, breaking the Kushan command.

The Kushans tried to press attacks with their other commands but the Bactrian line held firm, and the Kushans conceded.



Game 11: Parthia (II/37) invading Greco-Bactria (II/36a), 100 BC

Played with the Big Battle rules.

There was a gentle hill in the Kushan centre and another on their right, and rocky going in the Bactrian left and right sectors. There was also a city on the Bactrian far right (garrisoned by an Auxilia).

The Bactrians deployed, left to right: (Command 1) 2 LH, 2 Ax, 3 Kn + 2 El (alternating), 2 Ps, 1 LH; (Command 2) 12 Pk; (Command 3) 3 Kn, 1 El, 3 LH, 1 Ps (in the rocky going). Each command also had a Kn general.

The Kushan deployed, left to right: (Command 1) 10 LH, 3 Kn; (Command 2) 2 LH, 3 Ax (in rocky ground), 3 Kn (behind Ax), 2 LH; (Command 3) 2 LH, 6 Kn, 3 Ax, 2 LH.

The Parthians tried to outflank the Bactrian right, but the Bactrians pulled back onto the central hill. In the centre, the Bactrian phalanx advanced slowly, hindered by some skirmishing Parthian Light Horse. The Bactrians advanced their mixed Knight and Elephant formation quickly on their left, but the elephants drove back the Parthians rather too effectively and the Bactrian flanks became exposed. The Bactrians had to pull their Knights back but both Elephants were surrounded and dispatched for the loss of one Parthian Knight.

The Parthians tried to take the initiative by attacking the Bactrian phalanx with massed Light Horse, but they were chased off with the loss of one of their elements. A Parthian attack with Knights on their right was also driven off with the loss of one Knight element to the Bactrian commander. With most of the battle lines static, the Bactrians pressed forward on their left, attempting to drive the Parthians off the battlefield, but once again their rapid advance left their flanks exposed and the loss of  two more Knights (including the commander) broke the command.

At this point, the Bactrians conceded, since they had no way to stop the Parthians from encircling their phalanx. 

Lessons learned: Mounted units which push back their opponents advance rapidly and leave their flanks exposed. Especially generals. This is a lesson I’ve learned several times now! Big Battle games sometimes seem to involve lines of troops staring at each other and being unwilling to attack first. I didn’t see this in “normal” DBA.



Game 12: Sassanid Persia (II/69a) invading Parthian (II/37), 222 AD

Another Big Battle.

Large gentle hills on the Parthian right and in the Sassanid centre, and two large areas of rocky ground on the Sassanid right.

The Parthians deployed, left to right: (command 1) 3 LH, 3 Ax, 3 Kn,1 LH (command 2) 3 Ax, 5 LH, 6 Kn with 3 LH behind; (command 3) 3 Kn, 7 LH (on the hill).

The Sassanids deployed, left to right: (command 1) 6 Cv, 1 Ps behind; (Command 2) 8 Cv, 4 Kn (both in 2 ranks) with 3 Hd and 1 Ps to the rear; (command 3) 4 Kn, 5 Cv (on hill) with 3 Hd and 1 Ps to the rear. They did not deploy any troops on their right, due to the rocky ground.

The Parthians advanced quickly on their right, their Auxilia occupying the rocky ground and their flank Light Horse sweeping across the battlefield. Meanwhile, the Sassanids advanced on their left, where their Cavalry outnumbered the Parthian Light Horse on the hill.

The initial Sassanid attack was repulsed, but they persevered and managed to force a small breakthrough. The Parthians advanced in the centre with their massed Knights and met the Sassanid Knights, which pushed them back. This left the Sassanid Knights vulnerable to being flanked, and two of them quickly succumbed. The Sassanid centre general counterattacked and managed to kill a Parthian Knight, but this left him exposed and he was killed in turn by a group of Parthian Light Horse.

Meanwhile, the Sassanid left wing cavalry killed another two Light Horse, breaking the Parthian right command. However, at this point the main (centre) Sassanid command was only one element from breaking, and had lost its general.

On the Parthian left, their Light Horse and Auxilia had closed with the flank of the Sassanid centre on the hill, and were trying unsuccessfully to dislodge three tenacious Sassanid Cavalry which stood between them and the Sassanid camp.

The Parthians attacked desperately in the centre and managed to kill a Sassanid Knight, but from the Sassanid right wing command which had taken no casualties.

Sassanids quickly dispatched the remnants of the Parthian right and swung round to outflank the Parthian centre. The Parthian reserve Light Horse were no match for the Sassanid Cavalry, and the Parthian centre fell. The Parthian left had failed to destroy a single Sassanid element, despite attacking every turn and taking losses of their own. A close victory to the Sassanids.

Lessons learned: Reserves really matter in battles between closely matched troops. Losing a general is not quite so serious when his command has the highest pip die each turn – in game 9, the Indian left flank broke their enemy’s right flank command, but were unable to exploit at all as they had lost ther general and had the lowest pip die each turn.)



Game 13: Umayyad Arab (III/31) invading Sassanid Persia (II/69a)

Another Big Battle.

Small gentle hill on the Umayyad right and a large fort on the Sassanid right.

The Umayyads deployed, left to right: (command 1) 3 Ax, 4 Bw with 5 Cv and 1 LH behind; (command 2) 9 Sp in blocks of 3 linked by Cv with 1 Cv and 1 LH behind; (command 3) 5 Bw with 4 Cv and 1 LH behind.

The Sassanids deployed, left to right: (command 1) 5 Cv, 5 Kn, 2 Cv with 3 Hd and 1 Ps behind; (Command 2) 6 Cv with 1 Ps behind; (command 3) 2 Cv, 4 Kn, 3 Cv with 2 Hd and 1 Ps to the rear. The gort was garrisoned with a Hd.


The Umayyad advanced in the centre and expanded their Cavalry to protect their right wing. The Sassanids shuffled their Knights on both wings towards the centre, and then charged the Umayyad Spears with a mix of Knights and Cavalry.          

The Sassanids were initially repulsed, but charged again and achieved a couple of breakthroughs. Unfortunately they also lost some Knights to the defending Spears, and the Umayyad Bows managed to destroy two of the Sassanid Cavalry.

The Umayyad reserve Cavalry and Light Horse engaged the Sassanid Knights which had broken through the Spears and destroyed them all. This, combined with further successful shooting from the Umayyad Bows, was enough to break the Sassanid left wing command. The Sassanids tried to break through the weakended Umayyad centre (one element from breaking), but were unsuccessful. Two turns later, the Sassanid right wing also broke, ending the battle. The combination of Spears plus Bows plus mounted reserves was just too powerful for the Sassanids.

Lessons learned: Bows are more dangerous to Cavalry in Big Battle DBA as they are more able to “gang up” on the same targets. The Sassanids should have tried to use their Hordes to attack (or at least oppose) the Unayyad Bowmen.


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