Thursday, 26 January 2017

Third Dark Age game for 6x6 challenge

I managed to fit in another Dark Age game between the Norman and Saxon paper armies. Again using Dux Bellorum for game rules as I come to grips with the rule mechanisms and begin to commit them to memory.

My battle reports continue to be rather brief (apologies) as the games are a rather stop start affair as I am referencing rules. So I have not been making any turn by turn notes - only taking photos to remind me.

For this game I went with 29 point forces and thought I would try one side with some additional leadership points. I also tried out limiting the use of leadership points to offset a hit to one hit per unit (an option suggestion in the rules).

Saxon army:

  • 2 x Noble Shieldwall units (10pts)
  • 3 x Ordinary Shieldwall units (9pts)
  • 2 x Bowmen (6pts)
  • 8 x leadership points (+2pts)

Saxon forces rolled as the repeller in this game a setup for the defence of a hill
 Norman army:

  • 1 x Noble Cavalry (5pts)
  • 2 x Noble Shieldwall units (15pts)
  • 3 x Bowmen (9pts)
  • 6 x leadership points (0pts)

Norman forces prepare to assault as the aggressor
Saxons wait for the advancing Normans while bowmen exchanged missile file
Mixed results for both sides as their shieldwalls came to blows
Norman bowmen after eliminating their Saxon counterparts move in to support their shieldwall
Saxons lose half their units and survive the bravery tests, but the writing was on the wall.
I ended the game just after the Saxons had to take a bravery test when they had lost 50% of their units. While they did pass their bravery test, they were out numbered 2 to 1 with little opportunity to comeback from their predicament.

I have 3 more games to play as part of this particular 6 x 6 challenge. For the next game I am thinking of tailoring or modifying the rules in a couple of areas:

  1. The use of leadership points (LP) to reduce hits is overly effective when compared to adding 1D6 to an attack with a 6+ hit chance on a shield wall. Even when allowing on one LP to be used for defence you tend to spread single LP across more units. One thought is to do the reverse of attacking LP which adds 1D6. Instead of reducing a rolled hit, a defencive LP reduces the attacker's D6 by 1D6.
  2. The grid works well for most movement except for retreats from combat which in the rules are 3 inches. The move of one 6 inch square is too bigger step back. Not sure how to deal with this one - possibly there are no retreats. Anyway more pondering to do.

I find it interesting how some rule mechanisms seem to suit me as a solo player. For example, the allocation of LP in Dux Bellorum is great where there is an opponent and you are trying to out guess them. The rule creates a tension, but less so for a solo gamer. Generally I would say I prefer in most cases fast moving rules so when you are playing a solo game you get become more absorbed by the game.


  1. Good report! While rules mechanism do not tend to slow me down during solo play, what really slows me down is documenting all of the detail to recount the story in a BatRep later. If I would simply play the game, I could get through them rather more quickly.

    I like that you can recreate a BatRep from photos alone. While photos help, I need to jot down a note or even for the most rudimentary BatRep.

    1. I just rely on my memory and the copious amount of photos I tend to take. I reason that, especially with a solo game, if I don't remember correctly what happened, and write up something that's incorrect, no-one will ever know :)

    2. I think I am like you Jonathan, in that I document (blog, really) during the game itself when I game solo. I don't do it, however, when I am with another player, which is why those battle reports are always a bit sketchier.

  2. I have noticed a few blogs take the photos approach to game reports. They work well. Generally I like to write a few lines and often cover two turns in the description of events - particularly so for larger games.

  3. If the lowest common denominator in the rules is 3", then perhaps the best solution is to convert to 1 square equals 3" and I think visually that is going to look strange, even if you double or triple the number of paper bases in each unit.

    The best solution might be to make up a new mat on a small piece of cloth marked out in 3" squares and perhaps also have two paper bases in line representing each unit

    1. I may take an approach from Lion Rampant. Losing unit of the combat takes a bravery test and if fails retires one 6 inch square. Alternatively, I could ignore the rule and both units remain locked in combat. As you can tell for these options - I am reluctant to go to 3 inch squares at the moment.

  4. I hear you about the time taken to record and write up a battle report. There was a short time when the number of games dropped dramatically as I felt almost guilty if I didn't report. Now I rarely seem to take time for a proper report. Somewhere there must be a happy balance.

    I agree that mechanisms like secretly assigning points, holding a hand of cards or the old written orders work best with an opponent.

    What is wrong with just extending the retreat to a full square? Would it take longer for the unit to return than in the non gridded version? Would the gap in tge line be worse?

    1. In my most recent game I allowed two units to occupy a square one behind the other. This means a unit can retreat one square without pushing back another unit (unless there are two units in the square they are moving into - unlikely given no of units involved in a game). Previously (before allowing two units to occupy a square) two lines were disrupted as one retiring unit pushed another second line unit back - which seemed a bit too much disruption.

  5. I enjoy the game, but like you, find the 'let's hatch a cunning ploy' aspect of LPs doesn't translate that well into solo play. I was thinking that the defensive LP could perhaps allow a saving throw chance rather than an auto-save. Currently, as you've already seen, once combat has begun, defence is clearly the best use of LPs, almost all time.

    Still, gives us something to tinker with!


    1. Hi Aaron, I ended up reducing protection factors, a shieldwall becomes 5+ to hit and bowmen 3+. This seemed to speed up combat and I found the games to be more enjoyable. Regards, Peter