Monday, 29 June 2020

More tabletop experimentation!

This morning I spent a couple of hours setting up and playing a game of DBN based upon a scenario  randomly selected from One Hour Wargames by Neil Thomas. This was Double Delaying Action, scenario #9. Basically, both forces are attempting to reinforce their respective larger armies five miles to the North. The Anglo/Portuguese force army may deploy anywhere to the North of the river while the French begins the game off table to the South entering anywhere along the Southern edge on turn 1. Essentially both sides aim to move units off the North edge of the table with some mandatory timings placed upon the British withdrawal of units.

It's a Peninsular War based battle, and I selected 12 point forces as below:

French line infantry x3
Polish line infantry x2
Grenadiers x1
Light (skirmish) infantry x 1
Light cavalry x 3
Foot battery x2
+ Mounted command.

British line infantry x 4
Portuguese line infantry x 2
Cacadore rifles ('jagers') x1
95th Rifles ('jagers') x1
Light Dragoons x2
Royal artillery battery x1
Horse artillery battery x 1
+Mounted command.

The main purpose was to see how suitable DBN could be for use with the OHW scenarios, and I wanted to record my overall impression rather than a full AAR.

Things began well. In DBN you roll a single D6 to see how many Command Action Points you have for the bound and the attacking French rolled a 6 and the attacker gets a +2 CAP's on first turn, excellent. The columns steamed towards the bridges with 2 units of light cavalry being first to cross. British bound and a 1 rolled for CAP's! I could do nothing but advance a battery of Horse artillery, which whilst having a shorter range than their foot brethren CAN move and fire. No hits. As the French started to come into musket range of two rather splendid looking Portuguese line units supported by cacadores I expected to see the casualties quickly mount up on the advancing French but volley after volley failed to score a hit which was quite simply down to terrible dice rolls. the French beating the active firers result each time. This happened across the front, on one occasion I had no less than 4 fire combats, some with supporting artillery or other infantry bases but again the French beat the British dice scores resulting in ineffectual fire. The French attack columns stormed onwards as the 95th rifles were driven out of the village by artillery fire (a high D6 roll), taking 1 hit and recoiling 600 paces, allowing the French infantry to move through the village and out the other side where more British line infantry stood waiting for them. Once again with both sides infantry having the same basic fire factor of '4' and both sides having a fire support it came down to that D6 roll with the active British again rolling low and the French rolling high, more ineffectual volleys!

I continued to play on, despite feeling a bit troubled at this point, French light cavalry successfully charged the Portuguese line but suffered hits in the ensuing combat, one unit going shaken (2 hits), fair result. Using artillery to support the fire of the infantry was still not sufficient to win a fire combat roll in some cases which I found a bit frustrating again down to poor die results in the roll off.

I could not help but to think back to my experience in the previous Commands & Colors game and how much more the game flowed, with the ramekin activation and order chit system allowing multiple units to be ordered in each bound. To roll a '1' on a D6 for CAP's on two consecutive bounds seemed almost beyond reason to me and I reached the conclusion that the wildly varied result of a D6 throw was causing the game to feel unbalanced in both movement and firing. Again I missed the good old C&C battle dice, so simple, and with the adjustments made under ramekin producing far more consistent results ( I made several test rolls).

Thus I find myself with something of a dilemma which is that whilst I do continue to enjoy playing C&C rules and especially with ramekin, I much prefer being able to use an open table free of grids. This may seem insurmountable, and maybe it is, but I'm giving it some thought.

Some photos from the game in the meantime.

Windmill and hill are along the Northern edge.


  1. The dice rolls were poor, but the narrative reads well - what we have is the French on a good day, against an allied force under a poor command (and there were plenty of them - Wellington was definitely one of a kind :o) ) I am playing a Russian 1812 battle against DG at the moment and am suffering the same poor dice throws - bit like standing in the path of a steam roller...! A thought - if the range is too high on D6, you could try with an AD6??

    1. Hi Steve. I guess it's important to see the bigger picture with DBN as you suggest and to think more in terms of whats actually happening on the ground, in this case the British had an off day. I won't tweak anything as I know the rules work from all the videos I have watched.

  2. Lee, I'm sure you could modify Ramekin for use without the grid, especially if playing solo. That way you could get to keep the CCN dice which is one of the best aspects of the game for me!

    1. Hi Ian, I'll continue to play DBN as is and C&C with ramekin as I get to grips with it. Somewhere in my mind I can see a sort of hybrid using C&C/ramekin without a grid replacing it with a standard distant unit measuring stick, purely for solo entertainment.It's the C&C dice and all that they do that I really miss in DBN.

  3. That is a nice looking table. I have two thoughts on this post. Firstly I would be tempted to play the same scenario again with the same rules, just to see whether you had one of those one in a hundred games that have persistent dice so dire, that is skews the game. It seems such a popular set that this may have been a one off game.

    The other thing I would try if you like the rules themselves is to switch from a D6 to am Average dice (2,3,3,4,4,5), would the system allow that or does it need some 6's and 1's to be rolled for any of the mechanics.

    1. Thanks Norm for your input. As said above I wont tweak or change anything about DBN and will continue to play them as they stand. I will do as you suggest and run the same scenario to see what happens. Great thing abut this is the ability to set up quickly and easily in a small space which is just perfect.

  4. I bet you could make a hybrid Commands and Colors without a grid. Your soldiers and table look first class by the way.

    1. Thanks Paul, that is just what I am thinking about, off grid C&C purely for solo play. I have found that if you read the C&C rules booklet mentally replacing 'hex' with a standard 'distance unit' you can begin to see that it could work.

  5. Hmm it's been a while since I played DBN don't the British get a bonus when shooting? And the French a bonus in melee when two bases deep?

    1. Hi Graham, yes British infantry fire as Elites so +1. I'm going to stick with DBN as they stand. Attack columns also get a bonus in close combat as you say. It was just the firing 'dice offs' that I need to get to grips with.

  6. Interesting… not being a DBN player I don't whether this was just extraordinary bad luck and I agree with Norm that you should try doing exactly the same again (don't change the battle plans) and see what happens.
    One obvious suggestion is that if you like the Ramekin orders system, why not use the Ramekin 'orders' as CAPs? I sense though that you feel the range of combat outcomes range is too variable - or is that in a contested roll system only one side takes losses (I'm assuming DBN works like the other DBA variants) and that is the issue, i.e. while you might expect to lose some of the firefights in your favour you would at least expect to do some damage in the process. Using a combat system with more than die would be the obvious way to go but then it feels like we're leaving the DB-world completely. Anyway try it again before tweaking anything.

    1. Hi Rob, many thanks for your thoughts. I won't make any tweaks to DBN as I know they are a very well tried and tested set of rules, it was all down to the dice rolls on the day but I will run this scenario again later in the week.

      Yes, my only real issue was in the contested ranged combat dice rolls when only the active side causes casualties but the defending side rolls against it, with so few additional factors it mostly comes down to that dice result.

  7. Well, it does look better and the Brits did seem to be particularly unlucky, could to just indicate the grids with dots like TtS? I barely notice my grid except when I have to and then you could carry on using c&c but get a more open look?
    Best Iain

  8. Hi Iain, thanks mate. I have considered dotting a square grid with yellow dots but I think I'm going to stick with DBN in open play. One suggestion that has been made by an experienced DBN player is to give DBN commanders a pool of between 1 and 3 CAP's according to quality, in addition to the CAP dice roll each bound and this would certainly help keep things moving so I might try it.


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