Heretical Gaming is my blog about my gaming life, featuring small skirmishes and big battles from many historical periods (and some in the mythic past or the far future too). The focus is on battle reports using a wide variety of rules, with the occasional rules review, book review and odd musing about the gaming and history. Most of the battles use 6mm-sized figures and vehicles, but occasionally 15mm and 28mm figures appear too.

Thursday, 16 April 2020

DBA: Battle of the Standard (2)

Battle of the Standard (2)

As promised / threatened, this was the second refight I did of the Battle of the Standard (details of the first one are here). The forces and set-up are as before, so please refer to the linked post if you need refreshing!

The Battle

Missile fire from the standard guards drives back some of the Galwegians (centre)

This time the dismounted Norman knights make short work of the ferocious but lightly-equipped Galwegians (who were) in front of them.

The remaining Galwegians make another effort to advance and capture the standard...

But the standard's guards make short work of them, too!

Crossbow fire pushes back the flanking Scottish spearmen...

But the Scots reform whilst advancing...

...or not; that crossbow fire continues to drive back some of the Scots

The Anglo-Normans have nowhere near enough missile troops to do anything more than delay the Scots, who eventually do get their spears into action across the line

The Scots push back some of the Normans (note the gaps in the centre) but the Anglo-Norman line is broadly holding...

A closer look at the Scots pushing back some Normans

And again

Anglo-Norman light troops engage their Scottish opposite numbers, who they handily outnumber

Anglo-Norman spearmen on the right begin to move to outflank the Scottish left flank

The Scottish archers and javelinmen are quickly disposed of on the Anglo-Norman left

A wider view

Melee combat continues to rage along the line, flowing around the Anglo-Norman's standard...

King Malcolm puts in a charge at the head of his Knights to prevent the Anglo-Norman's spearmen carrying out their flanking attack

The Scottish break through the Anglo-Norman spear line!  But the Anglo-Normand do have some reserves who may try and stem the gap

Things looking decidely shaky for the Anglo-Norman centre as the Scottish spearmen flow around the standard...

But battle is rejoined in earnest as the Anglo-Norman left executes a flank attack on the Scottish right (left)

The Anglo-Norman reserves restore the situation on the right of the line - at this point, the Scots' morale collapsed

But no victor ever suffered from a surfeit of victory! More Scots go down on the other flank too

The position at the end of the battle - the remaining Scots' strength in the cente must cut and run, covered by their mounted Knights.
Game Notes: Another enjoyable game of DBA, reversing the result of the first game but also providing a much more balanced game.  The Scottish pike elements with rear support are always going to be challenging to stop, but if they can be, then they must always be very vulnerable to flank attacks.  I have been meaning to do this battle for ages, so I was pleased to get it into the battle, with a proxy standard too!
I do enjoy DBA with all its virtues (simplicity, tightness, speed) although it will always be, by its nature, limited, particularly in terms to army organization - the model is a one-size fits no-one exactly, although I have never really seen too many clear alternatives to this.  To make my point clear, it might be worth explaining why I haven't played DBR.  I much prefer rulesets which deal with the units of Foot and Horse which are closer to those employed historically (tercios, battalia, troops whatever) than elements of 'Pike' and 'Shot' etc.  In that period there are alternatives I know about, and so use; in earlier periods, I don't know of any, so I stick with DBA.  Polemos: SPQR makes a decent stab at representing some of the differences.  I used to play Comitatus and that had a good stab at it too.  There are a couple of magazine rules which had some promising mechanisms also (there was a good one for the Stephen and Matilda civil war IIRC) but nothing I know of which means that I could play this particular battle with the troops organized in a particularly historically plausible way.  Anyway, I feel a longer blogpost about rulesets coming on, so I will leave this one here...

Figures by Baccus 6mm, except the standard which is by Irregular Miniatures.


  1. A good game but as mentioned before, I could never get to grips with DBA. Of late I have been re-reading Neil Thomas' Ancients & Medieval wargames rules and have been very impressed. Although elegantly simple, they allow for you to add on as much detail or not should you wish to.

    1. Yes, I like the A&MW rules too. It is perhaps the best ruleset out there for making being a javelinmen or a light horseman a valid life choice! I often go back to Neil Thomas' rules when I want to refresh my gaming and start again with something simple and fun. I like his approach of solving battlefield difficulties in simple and direct ways (e.g. wheeling, interpenetration etc.).
      That said, I do have some minor problems with the set (otherwise I would play them all the time...), particularly in command, unit organization and scalability.

    2. I ignore the organization bit and go with historical OOB of what feels right. For me I don't want large battles, so scalability less of an issue. For C&C I use either a D6 PIP system as per DBA or more recently, an Average Die. It works for me.

    3. Sounds good, I will try copying some of this.

      For the organization, it isn't so much the Army Lists which can always be changed, as you mention: it is more that the units seem like wargaming constructs rather than historical constructs. What I really want is a Roman army to be organized like a Roman army, an Anglo-Saxon army to be organized like a an Anglo-Saxon army, a Wars of the Roses army to be organized like a WotR army, and so on. That said, maybe with some work A&MW could be adapted to such things. I shall have a think!