Lessons learned - Tactics and army / terrain making

After posting five of our battles, we thought we could share some ideas and remarks on the tactics employed and the general outcome of each battle. We will soon post these comments and we consider it an open discussion on DBA gameplay and strategy so feel free to comment.

In addition, we will post pictures and the methods we used to make the armies and the terrain. Although it was not as intricate as with metal figures, there are still some better ways than others to do things as we found out ourselves :)

Note1: Given the lack of an option for adding posts to a page in the blog, we will update this page so visit it when feeling like it!

Note2: We discovered a bit late in our campaign that we made a mistake in the opponents' historical accuracy :P Komnenan byzantine (a) should have been against the fatimids, not the ayyubids. However, if you look closely, the differences between the two egyptian armies are not too great. The fatimids get one more bow (and the option of two more instead of Cv), the option of a Bd instead of Ax and one less Lh. We thought we should get on with it nonetheless...
26/09/11 Update
First Battle of Samaria
Our first battle was a rather straightforward bout. The terrain was dominated by two bad going hills which created three good going paths, one narrow in the center and one on the Greek right and a wide one on the left. The Egyptian army was on the offensive.

Now, the attack plans were almost identical. The bulk of the cavalry faced one another on the Greek left, the infantry met in the center, between and on the hills and the remainder of the cavalry fought on the right. The two hills were symmetrically challenged. One was dominated by Byzantines (the right) and the other by Egyptians (the left). On the side where the greeks were winning we made our first important discovery: a line anchored on appropriate ground (e.g. bad going) and in oblique manner (with an acute angle to the side of the board) defends with great success. It was impossible for the arab cavalry to break that line. They had to attack while flanked on one side and without recoil. Tough! :)

Even though the greeks had the upper hand after a few rounds, the Lh of the Ayyubids was invaluable. Used in an unconventional way (in bad going), it was drawn from the flanks to support the center, where the infantry was fighting. These two armies are heavy on Cv, making the fight in the center fragmented. Once the Lh arrived, it provided the missing superiority and soon the tables turned. In addition, the warband of the egyptians was deadly (killing bow and spears) while the greek blade (the usual foe for the warband in our campaign) was eventually encircled and killed.The greek army did not capitalize on the initial advantage on the right flank and allowed the arabs to exploit the uncertain battle in the center with their reserve units (Lh).

Lessons learned: defend narrow paths between bad going and the side of the board in an oblique fashion and don't be afraid to use Lh in bad going (with extra PIPs if necessary) as support. Use the reserves at the right place at the right time. Don't miss the chance to capitalize on your local victories.

First Battle at Thessaly
This one was really a disaster for the greeks. The byzantine infantry tried to use the road on the right to cross the (difficult) river quickly while the Cv would be defending the left. This could have worked with great success but, on the one hand, they moved slowly while the egyptians charged on the left, and on the other hand, the greek Cv on the left was cut off by being in front of the river instead of behind it. Within a few rounds the arabs were charging the greeks on the left and with some lucky rolls they killed two units quickly.

Another problem for Dukas was that his reserve Lh units could not support his Cv from across the river. By the time that attack took place, his infantry were still on the road, marching too slowly. The battle was lost when the greek general left a Lh in a position of no recoil and the arabs destroyed it soon after. Three casualties in a short period, and with our winning rule it is almost impossible to win after that (the greek army had to keep rolling 4 or more every round not to flee... not easy :)

Lessons learned: don't leave isolated units across (and with their back to) a non-paltry river, especially when they may face a superior enemy. Even when there is a road, it may restrict your infantry in moving away from where the battle is taking place. Cavalry can move really fast and make most infantry moves redundant (even when on a road).

Update 27/09/11
First battle at Thessaloniki
This is a battle we really enjoyed! The arab general decided to pursue after the last victory despite the risk. Far from supply routes, the egyptian reinforcements did not come and the army arrived at Thessaloniki as it had been since the battle at Samaria (10 elements left). The greeks, rolling for reinforcements without any penalty, not only refilled their ranks completely but got a mercenary spear, arraying an army of 13. With three extra units AND defending a terrain of his choice, the byzantine general had serious advantage. The terrain was quite open, with, a road, one gentle hill and a small forest. The byzantines were also defending the hill so this seemed like an impossible task for the arabs.

The principle of the egyptian plan was sound. The idea in such warfare (and how it plays out in DBA) is to win locally in decisive places and moments, and defend in non-decisive ones. If Turan-Sha could have taken the hill with all his cavalry without losing the center completely, he had a chance. He could then turn and roll down from the hill to the right greek flank. The greek infantry would have taken too long to turn and form lines and the arabs would also have the hill advantage. All this is theoretical of course...

In reality the hill was defended by the greeks (although there a couple of rounds when an arab Lh encircled the greek Cv but the latter survived), an egyptian Lh was killed in the center by a foolish mistake (no recoil space) and the egyptian general died while fighting in the front line. This battle is an example of how to plan your attack but also what mistakes to avoid. Turan-Sha overstretched himself, thinking the hill would be easier prey. The greeks defended the hill and attacked on their strong side, the left. They lost their numerical advantage due to the column on the road, but were never overwhelmingly outnumbered. A few times only they were in serious danger on their right. Nevertheless they tried to win where they were strong, on the left. As we said, the principle of attacking is invaluable.

Attacking is generally more efficient because you choose your battles. Especially in a game like DBA where a battle may be decided by the sequence of combats in the combat round, the one who attacked gets to choose that sequence. More than once our battle was won by the one who took the initiative.

Lesson learned: attack locally and win, you can't win everywhere. Try not to lose decisively where you defend. Plan your attack carefully and don't overestimate your units, especially non-'killer' ones like cavalry. ALWAYS make sure your units can recoil. If you are planning to defend, avoid stacking slow units in columns or where they might become useless because they are slow to redeploy (we played a notorious battle in our current campaign with macedonians vs persians where 3(!!) mounted units (Cv, Lh, SCh) almost defeated and army of 12...)

No comments:

Post a Comment