Sunday, September 20, 2015

Dux Bellorum: Late Romans vs Welsh

Yesterday I popped up to Christchurch to catch up with my wife who is doing an 8 week placement for her studies. While up there I also caught up with Ian and we decided to have a game of Dux Bellorum using his 15mm figures.

I am still looking for a ruleset that makes for fun, interesting “Dark Ages” games. In the past I’ve not been convinced that Impetus is the system in this era for me, VBU 5 javelins being a tad too effective in Impetus (though apparently now turned down a bit). DBA makes for interest match ups with lots of pushing and shoving and gets the right types of results but isn’t the most inspiring system as far as I’m concerned (though I admit that I have not tried DBA v 3) so I’ve been pinning my hopes on Hail Caesar or Dux Bellorum, though haven’t explored either as of yet.

Ian hadn’t played before and neither of us had read the rules in a long, long time so we decided to use two of the sample armies: Late Roman and Welsh, though I slightly tweaked the Welsh by dropping the special rules units (monks + Stampede) for more regular troops.

Late Romans
General + Mounted Companions
1x Cataphract
1x Noble Riders
4x Ordinary Shield Wall
1x Bow
1x Skirmisher (bow)
1x Mounted Skirmisher

General + Mounted Companions
2x Noble Riders
5x Ordinary Warband
1x Skirmisher (Javelin)
1x Mounted Skirmisher

The game was pretty straight forward, we quite often found ourselves saying, I guess it should go like this and usually once we found the rule it was correct, so pretty intuitive. One thing that did take a bit of getting used to was who fights in combats. One unit fights and others can act as support. Unlike many other games you don’t have to fight the unit contacting you to the front so you can be charged in the front and charged in the flank and chose to fight the easier kill enemy unit- which made using skirmishers as supports in many instances a tad dangerous, no using them to “close the door” as in DBA. In one amusing combat my mounted nobles charged downhill at Ian’s cataphracts which were also on the hill, then I charged my warriors into the rear of the cataphracts, only to find that instead of attacking the noble cav, Ian attacked the warriors, gaining an uphill advantage to nullify his penalty for being charged in the rear, 

The turn order is interesting. Starting with the attacker both sides fire then move units according to the unit type:
Missile fire
Foot troops

I’ve seen online people allowing skirmishers to go last so that they don’t move forward and then get charged before they fire so we may look into that in future.

The leadership points (LPs) were interesting but we tended just to use the one that gave an attack bonus, or the on that negated a hit. As you lost units you also lost leadership points so things became more of a slog. Tactially the LPs made for another fun dimesnion to the game in plotting where and how to use the LPs. We need to make more use of them to interrupt another units movement though,.  
I enjoyed the game, at times it felt a bit DBAish (though with more dice), at other times closer to Impetus. It has some nice mechanisms but can see us tweaking things a bit- such as possibly the order for skirmishers, letting them go after mounted. The game didn’t gab me as a “wow” type game but seemed to have the right feel for the era but a few more games are needed before I make up my mind. In the meantime I am continuing to rebase a couple of armies to be able to use them on 12cm wide bases.

The game about to begin, Ian checking the rules. The Late Roman's defended and had a hill to deploy their sheildwalls on. The blue counters are my ledership points. 

The Welsh warriros advance enmasse.

On my right flank we ended up having an epic battle as our general's and their companions fought the opposing noble riders (cavalry). After several tuns my general emerged triumphant, killing the Roman cavalry and general.

The cavalry battle got interesting when the Roman cataphracts turned up and ran over my skirmishers, then my warriors and a few other units.

Meanwhile the bulk of my Welsh warriors continue to head towards the hill. My other noble riders can be spotted on the far left flank attempting to rll up the shieldwall.

The cataphracts continue rampaging across the plains.

Then the head to help to Roman shieldwall on the hill.

In the end we broke each others forces but I managed to roll better than the Romans and stayed on the field to gain a very hollow victory.

A good game and well worth giving a few more goes to get the hang of...



  1. Nice report, great looking minis...and well done cataphracts !

    1. They were a beast! Using warband and skirmishers in open terrain to try to slow them down was a tad... hopeful!

  2. An interesting report, plus a fun looking game. I've been thinking about DB for a while but still not played it yet. Good to hear your own views.

    1. It's definitely got potential, need a few more games to figure out of its what I am after.

  3. I like the game. It gives you things to think about, there's room for planning, and it will handle house rules to get things how you want them. Nice report!

    1. Good to hear Prufrock. We have placed limits on defensive LPsto cancel hits.Our biggest issue was remembering to fire bow before starting movement.

      I am looking forward to experimenting with a Hunnish army soon

  4. Very nice report and photos Craig!

  5. Cheers Rodger, the old trusty phone came in handy for this one.