PDA

View Full Version : DBE - again


Matt
01-15-2012, 08:44 AM
Wanted to tread into the volatile waters of DBA 3.0 discussion. :D

Most of my knowledge of the DBA period is in the Classical period and early Roman Empire. My ideas below may not accurately depict later periods.

I like the concept of DBEs, but think they could be modified to better represent the various troop types.

My first thought was that pikes should be represented by DBEs. I think this has been suggested elsewhere, and in my mind makes sense from historical deployment examples. This would also allow for many of the pike armies to include some of the elements that now are (IMO) missing. As an example, Alexander's army could go from 6 Pk to 3 or 4 DBPk, allowing for the mercenary Greek spear elements to be more fully represented.

I realize this entails a lot of additional work on army lists with pikes.

To make this work DBPk would receive the current bonus double ranked pike receive if they are in edge to edge contact with only one enemy element. This keeps pikes wary of their flanks.

Pk elements could now be used as the light-spear element that has been suggesed in the past, or as non-phalanx/sheild wall spear armed infantry.

Other DBEs. I'm not sure what the full range of historical troop types would/should be represented, but Theban spears, some Roman blades, and Persian combined bow/spear troops come to mind. A flat +1 combat factor is easy, but the 2 elements lost for victory points is too steep a penalty.

I think a better model for the spears and blades would be to have an additional entry on the combat outcome chart. If DBE pikes, spears or blades tie their non-DBE foot element, the non-DBE element recoils. I would suggest mandatory follow up for these DBE element types, and remove mandatory follow up for non-DBE blades.

As a thought for army lists, the Theban list should have the option to replace one of their Sp elements with a DBSp (this could be the general) and Roman Polybian armies could opt to replace all or none of their Bd with DBBd.

Double ranked bows could be handled as is now, with a flat +1 combat factor against foot.

BDE mounted I don't have a good feel for when/where they were used, although I think from a modeling standpoint, they should be on a 40mm square base with 5 models. This reduces the unwieldy depth of such an element.

Dangun
01-15-2012, 11:34 AM
My first thought was that pikes should be represented by DBEs. I think this has been suggested elsewhere, and in my mind makes sense from historical deployment examples.

What sources do you have in mind to suggest that DBE pikes or any other type of DBE is historical?

My five cents: the geometrical game cost of DBEs is so great as to be unattractive, even if they were historical.

broadsword
01-15-2012, 11:53 AM
Perhaps because Pike seem to seldom be deployed single-ranked in the game? Why not avail yourself of a great big modifier?

Matt
01-16-2012, 05:34 AM
What sources do you have in mind to suggest that DBE pikes or any other type of DBE is historical?

My five cents: the geometrical game cost of DBEs is so great as to be unattractive, even if they were historical.

Broadsword correctly identifies my issue.

Historically, pike based armies, when deployed, did not sacrifice half of their frontage to achieve their maximum combat power. Pike armies when deployed against Roman opponents generally filled the same width on the battlefield. Cynocephalae 197 BC, Magnesium 190 BC, Pydna 168 BC, Chaeronea 86 BC.

I don't know what you mean by "geometrical game costs". Pikes must double rank now, filling the same amount of space as a DBE. Same with deep spears. My suggestion allows these armies to fight with the same frontage as their historical opponents (as they historically did), and simulates the actual weakness, that being penetration of the formation or flank attacks.

What was unclear in my orginial post is that there would be no bonus for a second rank of spears or pikes. The depth of a force would be no greater than what is commonly used now, but the frontage would be greater.

The advantage would be armies could included less pike in some cases, and more of other troop types, which historically were present, but now are missing.

The only reason I include BDE Bd, is due to the Roman use in the Second Punic War of very deep formations. DBE Bd allows these to modeled in the 12element game, and don't provide an overwhelming advantage.

Matt
01-16-2012, 05:38 AM
Perhaps because Pike seem to seldom be deployed single-ranked in the game?

Yes!

Why not avail yourself of a great big modifier?

That works perfectly well too.

However, my suggestion essentially provides another element type that could be used to represent light spear armed troops.

broadsword
01-16-2012, 10:13 AM
Matt, what you say makes perfect sense to me now. I had thought that one of the great shortcomings of DBA was its inability to represent the choice between massing "firepower" in the centre, versus spreading out and trying to outmaneuver the enemy.

By taking that choice away from the "DBA player", maybe we prevent all kinds of gamey things. On the other hand, how does one simulate a choice like Cannae, where Romans and Carthaginians pursued exact opposite strategies, and the Romans almost succeeded?

I think you are onto something, but perhaps DBE Sp and Pk should be choices.

Personally, to represent Thebes, I'd suggest each DBE Sp element replaces one "regular" spear, and a "light spear" of strength +3/+3 is added, simulating thinning the ranks out wide to try to break through in the middle?

larryessick
01-16-2012, 11:47 AM
This discussion fails to recognize that visual cues that we have transferred from larger games do not apply at the size and scale of DBA. The single element represents the multiple ranks of depth used by pike in a Macedonian style phalanx.

The entire notion of DBE along with other remnant mechanics like rear rank support needs to be eliminated from DBA.

In modern terms, the single element of any type represents a corps at the very least. No general would stack one corps behind the other in order to improve the combat prowess of the one in front.

This entire concept of rear support and the accompanying move to DBE for some elements in some armies is inappropriate for DBA. That it exists at all is simply a failure to move past old mechanics from old games.

broadsword
01-16-2012, 12:32 PM
Interesting. Of course it is untrue that all armies were 12 elements, and had the same frontage. Gaugamela is evidence against this? I am concerned now that Gaugamela would play very differently. Why would Alexander be concerned at holding his left?

Martyn
01-16-2012, 06:07 PM
This discussion fails to recognize that visual cues that we have transferred from larger games do not apply at the size and scale of DBA. The single element represents the multiple ranks of depth used by pike in a Macedonian style phalanx.

The main beneficiary of rear support in DBA is Pike. If comparing with DBM/M Pike get rear support for three additional ranks, so the support of a single rank in DBA is proportionate when compared with the other DB family.

larryessick
01-16-2012, 06:12 PM
The main beneficiary of rear support in DBA is Pike. If comparing with DBM/M Pike get rear support for three additional ranks, so the support of a single rank in DBA is proportionate when compared with the other DB family.

True. That doesn't make rear support in DBA right. It only points out what we already know, that the deep support in DBM/M is wrong.

This is a point raised repeatedly thru the life of DBM and with Phil during DBMM development. It is a remnant of WRG7 and, to some degree, earlier WRG ancients.

Dangun
01-16-2012, 11:09 PM
True. That doesn't make rear support in DBA right. It only points out what we already know, that the deep support in DBM/M is wrong.

I agree with Larry here in regards to DBA, pike rear support seems inappropriate for reasons of scale.

But you could go further and make an argument against rear support as a mechanism in general.

For example, the rules might be reflecting too much of the noise in the sources. The basic mechanism of rear support comes from historical sources describing phalanxes from 4 (Marathon) to 50 (Leuctra) ranks deep. But there are all sorts of interpretation problems. The DBA mechanism insists that the pikeman further back than say... the 3rd rank are actually doing something useful, but there is not much evidence for this in the sources. The idea of pike blocks being pushing matches is an inference from formation depths and there is not much direct evidence for such an idea.

jacar
01-17-2012, 12:23 AM
Part of the problem with depth in DBA and probably other games is that they don't actually recognise the depths of a Roman formation. Now this is specifically focusing on Roman vs Macedonian fights.

A phalanx typically deploys in ranks of 16. Period. If they go double deep, we presume 32 ranks. Evidence. Polybios has his famous comparison of the Roman system vs the Macedonian system. He describes the formation as being 16 ranks deep. I suspect that this is the standard formation and not the double formation. Why would you make a general comparison on a special case?

He describes the Roman formation being deployed in lines. Each line is probably 6-8 ranks deep. The last line is half ranks of either the first two. So, we are looking at 15- 21 ranks deep for a typical Roman formation in triplex acies. Even if the Triari were deployed to the wings to guard against cavalry, that would still be 12 to 16 ranks.

So, at leats the Romans deployed as deep or even deeper than the Macedonians or Greeks.

Carthage also seems to find value in multiple lines. At Zama we have a clear picture of how the army was deployed in 3 lines. It would not be a stretch to think that other armies found value in deep formations and multiple lines as well.

So on to the game. Obviously, there is value in doubled up pikes. There is value in DBEs as well. However, even though blades can interpenetrate blades, there is no value in this formation. So you retreat through a friend. That is really no different than pushing the rear element back. Unless I am missing something. So, there is not much value in doubling up blades. And so there is no incentive for Roman players to deploy their army deep. And here is where the model breaks down. Roman players will use a-historical formations because there is little value in deploying Roman armies deep.

I'm not sure what the answer would be to "fix" this or if it really needs "fixing". The game otherwise plays fine. You might say something like blades two deep win ties and negate quick kills on them if there is room for the front blade to interpenetrate the rear blade. Something like that.

My 2 cents.

John

Dangun
01-17-2012, 01:25 AM
Part of the problem with depth in DBA and probably other games is that they don't actually recognise the depths of a Roman formation. Now this is specifically focusing on Roman vs Macedonian fights.

A phalanx typically deploys in ranks of 16. Period. If they go double deep, we presume 32 ranks. Evidence. Polybios has his famous comparison of the Roman system vs the Macedonian system. He describes the formation as being 16 ranks deep. I suspect that this is the standard formation and not the double formation. Why would you make a general comparison on a special case?

He describes the Roman formation being deployed in lines. Each line is probably 6-8 ranks deep. The last line is half ranks of either the first two. So, we are looking at 15- 21 ranks deep for a typical Roman formation in triplex acies. Even if the Triari were deployed to the wings to guard against cavalry, that would still be 12 to 16 ranks.

Exactly.

The Roman 'blade' are quite a deep formation themselves, at least as deep as the pike (phalanx). This would suggest that making pike an exception - giving them rear support benefits in DBA or any other system is a bit silly historically, although may be valuable for game flavour.

We seem to forget scale and latch on to the idea that a pike is a long stick and therefore rear support is relevant. But, there isn't much source evidence for even this. There is source evidence for number of phalanx ranks, there isn't much evidence for what ranks 5 to 16 were doing while the first couple of ranks were hacking and stabbing.

larryessick
01-17-2012, 08:59 AM
But you could go further and make an argument against rear support as a mechanism in general.

This is, in fact, the exact argument that I have made concerning rear support -- both for DBA and DBM/MM.

It is also moot as Barker will include rear support as he always has.

larryessick
01-17-2012, 09:08 AM
He describes the Roman formation being deployed in lines.

There is a difference between being deployed in lines and being deployed in deep ranks.

Lines gives you reserves so that if one fails another is available.

Deep ranks do not do this.

It has to do with proximity to the actual combat.

In modern terms an army might have corps behind corps in reserve ready to move in and replace or fill a failed attack or defense. It would not stack them bodily one behind the other with no separation and no ability to exercise other tactical options.

At the scale of DBA armies do not deploy in multiple lines because there is too much reward given to the army that is able to extend the line and obtain the outflank. On a large scale this has precedence so isn't without merit. But, because we are constrained with 12 elements it means players don't fight in lines.

jacar
01-17-2012, 10:58 AM
There is a difference between being deployed in lines and being deployed in deep ranks.

Lines gives you reserves so that if one fails another is available.

Deep ranks do not do this.

It has to do with proximity to the actual combat.

In modern terms an army might have corps behind corps in reserve ready to move in and replace or fill a failed attack or defense. It would not stack them bodily one behind the other with no separation and no ability to exercise other tactical options.

At the scale of DBA armies do not deploy in multiple lines because there is too much reward given to the army that is able to extend the line and obtain the outflank. On a large scale this has precedence so isn't without merit. But, because we are constrained with 12 elements it means players don't fight in lines.

Same net effect in the game. There is little value in deploying a reserve in DBA. Most of the games I've seen have units deployed in one long line. The exceptions comes from the use of Psiloi or a supporting rank when available. Like I said, little reason to deploy your blades deep.

As for your analysis, yes I agree in the real world. In game, especially one as simple as DBA, there is little reason to make separate game mechanics for one type and not the other. if Roman Legions deployed deep, it would be enough to allow them some sort of rank bonus. It is an abstract game after all and there is no reason to actually move the front rank to the rear.

Matt
01-17-2012, 02:26 PM
Matt, what you say makes perfect sense to me now. I had thought that one of the great shortcomings of DBA was its inability to represent the choice between massing "firepower" in the centre, versus spreading out and trying to outmaneuver the enemy.

By taking that choice away from the "DBA player", maybe we prevent all kinds of gamey things. On the other hand, how does one simulate a choice like Cannae, where Romans and Carthaginians pursued exact opposite strategies, and the Romans almost succeeded?

I think you are onto something, but perhaps DBE Sp and Pk should be choices.

Personally, to represent Thebes, I'd suggest each DBE Sp element replaces one "regular" spear, and a "light spear" of strength +3/+3 is added, simulating thinning the ranks out wide to try to break through in the middle?

From my understanding of ancient warfare, pikes never fought in the equivalent of DBA single depth. They sometime fought in ridiculously deep formations, which, as far as I can discern, did nothing for them. That is why I would go with a single combat bonus for pikes. The option of making them a DBE opens up a whole new element to use elsewhere. I have seen many people discuss the "light spear" concept, and I think there is some merit in this idea. Not all spear armed troops were phalanx like, or light infantry. There is no medium infantry in DBA.

I agree with you on spears. Personally, I think the best way to represent the Theban tactical advancements under Epaminondas is to allow a Theban army to double rank one (and only one) spear element. It could be the general, it could be another. But only one can benefit from this (the army was only about half Theban, and then only the "pros" in the Sacred Band were used in this manner). Theban armies are already a bit light on spear, so this would force them to shorten the line, which in my opinion is and accurate representation in this case (localized depth 5-6 times deeper than normal, that is going to cause shortening of the line)

However, Mr. Barker seems to like DBEs, so I would suggest substituting one Theban spear element with a DBE, and providing no combat advantage, other that what I suggest in my original post - "winning" on ties forcing the enemy to recoil.

On Cannae, and a few other cases, I think DBEs seem to be the perfect fit. You physically represent more troops, and on the same frontage, which is what happened. Problem is how to model it. Blades at +6 is too much in my opinon - they will blow through the light troops that were historically opposed to them, they may blow through them in any case at +5!) Giving them the "win" on ties, forcing their opponent to recoil seems to work in my opinion. Then, force them to follow up. One aspect of the 3.0 trial set I didn't like is the mandatory follow up for blades. However, that is another post. :D

I would agree with you again here, in that the Polybian Roman player should be able to choose to use DBEs or not.

Another post I am thinking about is ideas for battles with more than 12 elements on one side - a not so rare historical reality. In a nutshell, I think the small force should play with 12, and then the larger force adds additional units. You really can't double up an opponent, but I can see adding 3-6 elements to a Persian Army facing Alex. Maybe BUA should be jettisoned to include some sort of mechanism for this?

Matt
01-17-2012, 03:00 PM
This discussion fails to recognize that visual cues that we have transferred from larger games do not apply at the size and scale of DBA. The single element represents the multiple ranks of depth used by pike in a Macedonian style phalanx.


Nope, doesn't fail to recognize anything. First, I don't think I have played the rule sets you are invoking, at least not with pike armies, so I haven't "transferred" anything from them. Second, there is a tradeoff in the game regarding depth. You cannot accurately depict formation depth with 15mm figures, and I accept that.

Furthermore, I play miniature wargames, as opposed to boardgames, due to the aesthic presentation of the figures - I like to see troops on the table. I accept the physical inaccuracies as a trade off for this superior aesthetic presentation. I also believe the depth issues can be mitigated through effective rules.

I for one want my pikes to look dense and spikey. That is why I "base-and-a-third" based my single element of pikes. It effectively does nothing to game balance, but looks way cooler to me - which is a big part of the game.


This entire concept of rear support and the accompanying move to DBE for some elements in some armies is inappropriate for DBA. That it exists at all is simply a failure to move past old mechanics from old games.

This may be true. However, double depth bases provide a better image of a pike block, and as long as the depth does not come at the expense of frontage, you can have both a more realistic game and better looking game.

The question remains how to represent the realilties of pike in DBA, - either 2.2 or 3.0. My proposal is just that, and done in such a way that seems to fit Mr. Barker's current rule set.

So, what do you think about giving any pike element the current bonus they get for a second rank, as long as they are in contact with only on enemy element, as my proposal suggests?

Matt
01-17-2012, 03:25 PM
Part of the problem with depth in DBA and probably other games is that they don't actually recognise the depths of a Roman formation. Now this is specifically focusing on Roman vs Macedonian fights.

A phalanx typically deploys in ranks of 16. Period. If they go double deep, we presume 32 ranks. Evidence. Polybios has his famous comparison of the Roman system vs the Macedonian system. He describes the formation as being 16 ranks deep. I suspect that this is the standard formation and not the double formation. Why would you make a general comparison on a special case?

He describes the Roman formation being deployed in lines. Each line is probably 6-8 ranks deep. The last line is half ranks of either the first two. So, we are looking at 15- 21 ranks deep for a typical Roman formation in triplex acies. Even if the Triari were deployed to the wings to guard against cavalry, that would still be 12 to 16 ranks.

So, at leats the Romans deployed as deep or even deeper than the Macedonians or Greeks...
John

AMEN BROTHER!!!

I feel we are all saying the same thing...

I wrote a post almost identical to yours about two years back on this site, and felt like I was reading a bunch of comic books as source material from some of the replies I got.

Agree that the general public consensus is that a single element of Roman blades is actually several lines (in Mr. Essick's definition of multiple supporting groups), and that this depth could actually represent a rank depth (again, using Mr. Essicks definition) greater than a typical pike phalanx.

The question, in my opinion remains, is there, or should there be, a fix???

I agree the game plays well, and generally produces historical outcomes. But historical formations often times do not produce victory, and are actually detrimental.

One thought I had was to shorten the command span of a general. However, this is not the trend of the game currently. This keeps armies compact, and could force some troops being put in a second line/reserve, but there may be play-ability issues.

Another thought was to increase the victory point value of certain troop types (Polybian Roman Triarii?) to encourage them being kept in reserve, or in the camp where they often times were. This idea I like the best, and in most cases could be used sparingly.

These are simple. Other ideas quickly become too complex.

Any other thoughts?

jacar
01-17-2012, 04:05 PM
AMEN BROTHER!!!

These are simple. Other ideas quickly become too complex.

Any other thoughts?

Great minds think alike! :D

While your ideas are fine I think a lot of the motivation for deploying in a deeper formation is directly related to combat (the actual killing and not command). I do think there is value in shortening the command length of a general though at the same time, pips are already highly variable. So, if you roll the coveted '1' on the pip die, those elements in the distance have no chance of moving this turn. Not necessarily a bad thing but others will disagree.

A simple idea would be for blades to be reduced to 4/3 (they already reduced the tactical factor against shooting!) and then allow a +1 for support vs all the usual suspects. Doesn't get much simpler than that.

larryessick
01-17-2012, 06:00 PM
Nope, doesn't fail to recognize anything. First, I don't think I have played the rule sets you are invoking, at least not with pike armies, so I haven't "transferred" anything from them. Second, there is a tradeoff in the game regarding depth. You cannot accurately depict formation depth with 15mm figures, and I accept that.

Furthermore, I play miniature wargames, as opposed to boardgames, due to the aesthic presentation of the figures - I like to see troops on the table. I accept the physical inaccuracies as a trade off for this superior aesthetic presentation. I also believe the depth issues can be mitigated through effective rules.

I for one want my pikes to look dense and spikey. That is why I "base-and-a-third" based my single element of pikes. It effectively does nothing to game balance, but looks way cooler to me - which is a big part of the game.

Matt,

Aesthetically it is more pleasing to see the large numbers as it evokes in our minds the images we have of ancient warfare. This is what I was referring to.

The predecessors to DBA and its immediate successors all employ this type of visual cue even though the element itself is sufficient to represent all of the soldiers regardless of formation or depth. What you do and what you find appealing is part and parcel of why it is difficult -- impossible I would say with respect to DBA -- to eliminate rear rank support.

Even though it is wrong given the scale of the game it looks right. And, the visual appeal has been routinely triumphant.

What I would suggest is that there is a way to achieve both but it is a way that has not been considered -- or perhaps has been but rejected. From a visual perspective what you do with your basing is right. From a game perspective eliminating rear rank support is right. If you expand on your visual display you'll soon recognize the better way forward.

That is moot, however, as what we currently have is what will transfer to 3.0.

Dangun
01-17-2012, 08:49 PM
From my understanding of ancient warfare, pikes never fought in the equivalent of DBA single depth.

They sometime fought in ridiculously deep formations, which, as far as I can discern, did nothing for them.

The second part of this statement is definitely true, pike have been described as being in up to 50 ranks deep.

But the first statement is highly problematic, conflating problems of scale, representation and history. (This is almost inevitable given how abstract DBA is.)

There are scale issues. In DBA a pike base depth is 15mm or 60 paces, assuming Roman paces, then its about 90meters more than enough space to account for all but your most ridiculously deep pike formation.

And where is the data to suggest that historically units of pike occupied more depth than blade, or more depth than cavalry? There is almost no evidence - certainly not in the middle Roman and earlier period, for the depth in which other troop types were deployed.

Matt
01-22-2012, 03:27 AM
But the first statement is highly problematic, conflating problems of scale, representation and history. (This is almost inevitable given how abstract DBA is.)

There are scale issues. In DBA a pike base depth is 15mm or 60 paces, assuming Roman paces, then its about 90meters more than enough space to account for all but your most ridiculously deep pike formation.

And where is the data to suggest that historically units of pike occupied more depth than blade, or more depth than cavalry? There is almost no evidence - certainly not in the middle Roman and earlier period, for the depth in which other troop types were deployed.

I agree with you. Depth is (and always will be) grossly inaccurate in miniature war games. The worst is Elephants and Artillery.

My point with pike never historically operating in the equivalent of a DBA single rank did not relate to the physical depth of the represented unit, but its combat power. As best I can tell, pike were generally seen as the king of the battlefield when fighting frontally. The only way you can achieve this in DBA is by double ranking - and shortening your line considerably - which is critical is DBA.

I think the best historical representation would be to give pikes the current second rank bonus any time they fight frontally. My reason for suggesting a DBE, is the aesthetic value, and this seems to be a mechanism that would be acceptable by Mr. Barker.

I also suggested a different DB Blade option, which would be useful for representing the extreme depth of Roman blades used in the Second Punic war, Cannae in particular, possibly Trebia and others.

The DBE mechanism opens up standard based pike to represent other light armed medium infantry, which currently are absent from DBE. From this point it provides a "free" additional troop type, since rear ranking would not be an option with DBE pike, allowing some armies to have a +3/+4 infantry unit.

David Constable
01-22-2012, 03:34 AM
A thought on pike depth.

The proposed phalanx Alexander was thinking about was sixteen ranks, with half pike, half bow. Now that is a single pike element supported by bow, so effectively a single pike element fighting, however this was designed for Asia, not the West.

Over simplification because of file closers etc. But a good representation.

David Constable

elsyr
01-25-2012, 04:09 PM
While I do think that it would be quite appropriate, given the scale of DBA, to get rid of rear support of any type, I think there's more than scale-appropriateness at play here. Barker stated way back when that he wanted DBA to be the simplest set of rules that capture the essentials of ancient generalship. It seems to me that he felt that the balancing act between width and depth was one of those essentials. Therefore, it's in the rules.

Doug

Rich Gause
01-25-2012, 04:48 PM
A thought on pike depth.

The proposed phalanx Alexander was thinking about was sixteen ranks, with half pike, half bow. Now that is a single pike element supported by bow, so effectively a single pike element fighting, however this was designed for Asia, not the West.

Over simplification because of file closers etc. But a good representation.

David Constable

Hmmm an element that fights like a single rank Pk in CC and shoots like Bw.......... I wonder if that would be a good DBA element???????????

elsyr
01-26-2012, 11:59 AM
In general, I would welcome proliferation of element types before proliferation of rules. While both add complexity, the former is more palatable (to me) than the latter. That said, I think an element type representing the hypothetical phalanx with it's own fire support would probably be best implemented as a house rule for experimental games.

Doug

Doug
01-30-2012, 03:56 AM
While I do think that it would be quite appropriate, given the scale of DBA, to get rid of rear support of any type, I think there's more than scale-appropriateness at play here. Barker stated way back when that he wanted DBA to be the simplest set of rules that capture the essentials of ancient generalship. It seems to me that he felt that the balancing act between width and depth was one of those essentials. Therefore, it's in the rules.

Doug

I think this is the crux of the matter, the player must choose between weakening the centre by deploying shallow, or massing. It's another tactical risk-reward decision that adds to the complexity of player choices (in a good way)