Sunday, 28 January 2018

Sparta v Argos (Re-Run Take III): Setting Up (Part 1)

I had a modern Chain of Command game lined up but "flu" called away the critical players so I had to rustle up something at the last second. So in my box of tricks I thought I heard my "Greeks" summoning me ;)

Call it a Greek tragedy if you like but I feel compelled to play and keep playing DBA Version 3.0 with various wargaming friends to inculcate the principle of a 'quick wargame' in an hour or so [or quicker is something goes terribly wrong/right]. DBA is the perfect vehicle for this, simple but offering elegant, emergent complexity and that sense of frustration when (not if, always when) you roll a "1" at a critical time. I also note that Phil Barker has produced a Marlburian+ DBA styled sort of game to take the concept through to the early 20th Century. Meanwhile in another field in Greece Argos has rolled to be the 'aggressor' and marches upon the city state of Sparta. Given the Version 3 rule changes the double ranks of spears [4Sp] are no longer needed so a long single line of hoplites is the order of the day. Sadly (or rather - unhistorical) they cannot line out in the DBA deployment zone so they start in a "U" shape to expand out at the flanks (see below, I am introducing the Spartan King to DBA, he possesses the 12x4ps [one of which is a General-King] v the Argive (myself) 10x4p [one of which is a General] and two Psilio, 2x2Ps):

As Sparta was the nominated  'defender', they chose the terrain. As Argos was the attacker they chose the base edge to come on from and I rotated the board as above. Top left a cluster of three terrain hexes that represent "ploughed fields" (aka rough going [meaning individual element moves]). There is a gentle hill middle left and another gentle hill bottom middle (same terrain just different styles of terrain pieces. From my innate "wargaming sense" I just knew we would end up with 4Sp sliding down these terrain pieces (and I was correct in this assumption [many time], as you will see later). Argos has the slight advantage in that its 2xPs can deploy outside the central deployment zone. Thus Argos has a deployment advantage in that it has a nine base width deployment against Sparta's seven bases. Trouble is Sparta by far has the advantage in heavy infantry, but the Argive General has a "cunning plan" and Argos has not yet lost a DBA Version 3 battle against Sparta! The Argive General views the deadly Spartans from the slopes of the gentle hill (see below, note the Argives are all from Irregular Miniatures, although some would say dated they paint up really well): 

The Spartan King looks on (see below, the normal hoplites are from Chariot, the most useful of which are the rear rank with raised spears which fit anywhere on a battlefield, whereas the front rank with leveled spears always seem to bounce awkwardly into the opposition figures. Also note in DBA Version 3 there is no real need to worry about two spears being used as a front and back unit giving a supporting +1. As a final point, the Spartan King/General was donated to me in naked metal form to paint up by Renko, so sadly I cannot remember the manufacturer. Any takers?):

My (Argive) "cunning plan" goes awry from the start. Reassuring as ever, no plan every remains intact after contact with the enemy! The "plan" is not the key but "planning is" [Patton]. The Spartan is the defender, so he can move first. Instead of taking several turns to disentangle themselves from the ploughed fields, the Spartans do it in one single bound. Call it 'beginners luck' or 'never ask your opponent to do what you want" the Spartan King rolled of the first of his many 6's on the night (he even had a spare PiP he couldn't or didn't need to use). I explained he could expand out an additional two bases and he did so (see below, "The Mighty Spartan Phalanx" approaches):

In response to this typical aggressive Spartan behaviour the Argive General revealed his cunning "first turn Psilio fast double move". Especially since he too rolled a 6 PiPs. Using 4 of these PiPs he scoots his two 2Ps Psilio over the hill and onto the flank of the Spartan flank. With the remaining two he advances the hoplite battle line and expands one base. The Spartans now have the advantage of a nine versus eight heavy infantry frontage. Looking at the pictures below I see that we [Argive and Sparta] got our lefts and rights mixed up - the Spartan King is on his left and my Argive General on his left .. my bad I probably confused things babbling on about ancient history and things (see below, the Argive right flank looks punt compared to the Spartans, while on the other side we are evenly matched in heavy infantry but I have those "cunning" Psilio):

"Eyes on the Prize!" The Argive Psilio try to look inconspicuous as they look lovingly on the rear portion of the Spartan Phalanx. "If" is a big word, pregnant with many haunting and hanging possibilities but if the Argive hoplite spears can pin the Spartans frontally then they could be in for a big surprise with Psilio in teh rear and nowhere to run (see below):

Critically the Argive General knows he cannot hang about. The Spartan left (unhistorical but again I think that was down to me getting my lefts and right mixed up) is far superior than his own right and hoplite stands will definitely will die, but the question is can the Spartan right be killed off first? The faster Psilio speed should be of great assistance assistance here, but you can certainly not expect the Spartans to do what you want!

Next: Clash of the Battle Lines!


Phil Broeders said...

I agree with your view of DBA. We have tried a multiple of ancients rules and our mantra remains the same. We've never had a bad battle using DBA.

We ran a campaign based around the Med in ancient times - Romans,Carthaginians, Selucids etc. Using DBA as the basic way to resolve combats we cracked along at a fair pace and managed to get around 5-6 battles fought each night. We still talk about the fun the campaign was. A cracking rule set.

Geordie an Exiled FoG said...

Play (lots of games and enjoyment therein) and Fun (participation not reading and trying to figure our rule nuances - that is where DBM lost it for me)

Ian Robinson said...

I ahve to say the basic idea is good. I loved the bounce back idea. We should try an ECW-30YW battle soon. But first CoC.

Geordie an Exiled FoG said...

Chain of Command will come soon young Spartan
Next I shall show you where the Iron Crosses grow in Five & Movement then move you through Spearhead of Command Decision ;)