Wednesday, January 21, 2015

DBA Army Upgrades

I tried to think up a fun title for this one, but failed. Sigh.

So DBA3.0 has a few surprises up its sleeves for those of us with existing armies. This post is going to get technical, so my apologies in advance for this deep dive.

First a few definitions, in case non-DBA players have decided to push on anyway:

In DBA, each army is composed of 12 "elements", where an element is a rectangular base with figures mounted on it. The size of the base and number of figures varies by what type of troop and what size figures you're using, but for my case of 15mm figures, they're 40mm across and have varying depthts from 15mm to 40mm, with 20mm being the most common for foot and 30mm being the most common for mounted.

Elements are specified in a sort of code. "3Sp" means a base with 3 spear men on it. "4Bd" would be a base with 4 blades (think Romans or Vikings) on it. 6x4Bd means 6 elements of blades with 4 blades per stand. In previous DBA incarnations, the number of figures was more of a suggestion. In 3.0 though, it helps determine if a foot element is "Fast" (usually 3 figures) or "Solid" (usually 4 figures), so it does matter.

Also, DBA uses some idiosyncratic terms for element types.

"Psiloi" (Ps) is used for all skirmishers. Originally, the Psiloi was the word ancient Greeks used for their unarmored, unshielded warriors who often fought with nothing more than a sling, bow or some javelins. But in DBA, they're any skirmisher troop.

"Auxilia" (Ax) was originally what the Romans called their native allies. They didn't have very good equipment or discipline by Roman standards, but fought in an organized way, and were pretty reliable if you didn't ask too much of them. In DBA, Ax troops are pretty much any troops with a shield but no body armor, and who are comfortable fighting in the rough.

Enough DBA history for now, let's get back to how my armies have changed.

The Hittite Empire army used to have a core of 6x3Sp but since Sp can't have only 3 figures in 3.0, they've separated that group into two - one group of 4x3Pk elements, and another of 2x3Ax elements. "Pk" means "Pike", and like other descriptors, DBA doesn't seem to literally mean "fighting with a 15 foot pole", but rather "fights in a close, deep block". And more mechanically it means, "fights about as good as Auxilia, but can double-up to take on just about anyone".

So my existing 3Sp figures are good enough for the new 3Pk, but I need 2x3Ax to round things out. The solution I've come up with is based on history somewhat. Hittites Auxilia are most probably Syrio-Canaanites, but the Hurrians were still around during the Hittite Empire days, and given their sometimes close political, cultural and dynastic ties, I've decided to raid my Hurrian army bag for some light infantry. They're mostly just wearing a Canaanite-style "kilt" with a bare chest and small shield, so they look the part. So I'll save myself $5 and just use them.

Last night, I got all 6 of those guys primed and painted with the exception of their kilts. I'm going to go for "Canaanite chiq", which will be white with solid colored borders. It' been a while since I've painted 15mm figures, and my eyes aren't up for the task without a magnifier. I hope tonight to get their kilt borders painted in and their faces touched up so I can base them.

From later in time, my Carthaginian Army (Hannibal's era) got the work-over too, essentially making me choose between Iberians or Gauls. But to make matters worse, DBA now classes almost all Gauls as SOLID Warbands instead of FAST. So all those 3Wb need to get rebased as 4Wb.

I actually did that rebasing work last night, and it went better than I was afraid it would. By the rules, 4Wb should be on a 15mm deep base, but since the army lists allows them to be 4Wb or 4Ax, and 4Ax is a 20mm deep base, I went for 20mm. DBA3 allows a 20mm deep 4Wb, so it's not technically wrong, it just looks odd to me.

Finally, my Ancient Nubians swapped one of their-bow Psiloi for a javelin Psiloi. No game function change, but I happened to have two left-over javelin & shield armed Nubians from a pack of 8 that was used for 2x3Wb, so now the Nubians have a new Psiloi element.

There are plenty more upgrades to go. My Thracians got savaged, and my Republican Romans need some proper Auxilia (2x4Ax), but those are projects for when I want to do some REAL painting.