Saturday, 8 September 2012

Dux Bellorum: First Games

Following on from my first look at Dux Bellorum, which can be found here, Monday night saw my first games with the new Dux Bellorum rules. I hadn't managed to finish painting up two Dark Age forces in time so I proxied some 15mm figures I use for Impetus. This meant that I had to pick armies that would fit with the figures I had available. I went with a Late Roman army vs a Romano-British army at 27 points giving us room to use the special rules or buy extra Leadership Points (LP). The lists are shown below.

Romano-British 27pts
General with Foot Companions
Ordinary Shieldwall x 5
Mounted Skirmishers
Foot Skirmishers x 2

Late Roman 27pts
General with Mounted Companions
Noble Riders
Ordinary Riders
Ordinary Shieldwall x 3
Mounted Skirmishers

Here's a photo of the initial layout. I was the defender and selected a couple of hills as my terrain choices.

Here's a close-up of my Samurai pretending to be Late Romans.

And my Arab Conquest figures pretending to be Romano-British.

I got so caught up in playing and trying to explain the rules to Matt that I forgot to take any more photos.

The rules recommend a 32 pt game but we decided to not bother spending our spare points on the special rules to keep things simple in our first games. We also decided not to use any of the scenarios that come with the game and just had a couple of knock down drag out fights. Although some of the scenarios do look interesting.

So onto the game. First thing to say is that we both had fun and managed to get in two games despite having to flick through the rulebook all the time to answer queries. Next thing to say is that the rulebook could be set out better. It was tricky to find some rules as they weren't where I expected to find them. But these are minor niggles and after a few games you'll have the rules sorted and won't need to refer to the them.

So how did it play? Well the Leadership Points (LP) mechanism worked as well as I thought it would. Having to plan out how to use your LP added a nice tactical extra dimension to the game. Having your LP reduced each time you lose a unit also makes it much harder to work out where you use them as the game progresses. The surprise for me was the effect of the Bravery rolls. Before you can move a unit it has to pass a Bravery test. Situations where a unit had defeated an opponent but taken losses and failed a bravery roll to charge into a fresh unit felt right. We could imagine a unit of knackered warriors saying 'hang on a sec, lets get our breath back first before we go charging off again'.

We did find that the Late Roman cavalry proved decisive in each game. Their speed and manoeuvrability meant they could easily get flank and rear attacks on the infantry which made all the difference. Also melees tended to develop into very messy affairs with units coming in at all angles. Missile attacks could be very effective but we found it difficult to keep the skirmishers alive as what LP we had were needed elsewhere.

The move sequence takes some getting used to (Attackers Skirmishers then Defenders Sk, A's Mounted then D's Mounted, A's Foot then D's Foot) as well as firing coming before moving. This can be a pain for archers as they can't move if they fired, unlike javelin armed troops.

Good value
Quick to learn and play
Tactical depth
Interesting game mechanisms

Poorly laid out rules
Limited range of forces (Arthurian Period)

I'm sure we got loads of things wrong in the games we played but these aren't tournament rules and lend themselves to the inclusion of 'house rules'. So when we weren't sure about something we made up a 'rule' and got on with having fun. I'll happily play Dux Bellorum again, hopefully with painted period figures next time, and I have no qualms about recommending the rules to anyone. Buy them play a game or two and have fun after all that's what wargaming is supposed to be about!


  1. Thanks for this report. I don't play this period myself but Insee a lot of folks like yourself playing this period, either with DB like yourself or with the new rules by Too Fat Lardies, so it seems to be catching on. Glad you're having fun with it.

  2. Thanks for the write up, I hope you enjoyed it enough to persist! What were the tables that were split in different parts of the book? If it was stats, they're all together on page 9. Cheers!

    1. Had good fun playing your rules, thanks. Yes thats the table I needed, I've updated my post accordingly.

  3. Nice one! Keep plugging away at painting the armies...


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