Sunday, November 23, 2014

Dux Bellorum trial game

Originally posted in 2012--apparently updating the label brought it back to the top of the blog...

As I mentioned in my previous post, elder son Norman was home for the weekend.  I'd had a week to myself, and was ready for some company...After our casting marathon, we had dedicated Sunday afternoon to playing some sort of game.  I sgguested that we try Dux Bellorum, which I had picked up at Historicon.  The game uses elements of troops; basing is somewhat optional, but the usual WRG sized elements would work.  My massed Dark Ages armies on on two rank 80mm wide stands, so that's what we used.  The standard 32 point army yields about 8 stands in some mixture of companions (and the leader), nobles, lesser warriors and skirmishers.  We were playing at a remote location, so we had a limited selection of trade-outs.  Also, to keep things reasonable for a learning game, we limited strategems to one each.  I took "javelins", and Norman took "Experienced Warlord".  As it turned out, neither of them had any significant effect on the game.

Norman consults the rules

The mechanics of the game are fairly simple. Units may form groups with like units for movement. Movement is alternating. Combat involves throwing a number of dice for a target number based on the opposing unit's protection rating. My Viking Sea Raiders were mostly Warriors with a (d6) protection rating of 5 and throwing 6 dice; Norman's Saxons were Shieldwall with a protection of 6 and throwing 3 or 4 dice. A charging unit gets an extra die. Units can be pushed back if they take more hits than they give; if they are pushed up against an obstacle, they take extra hits. This did come into play in one corner of the field.

A rather rudimentary layout

Because of the remote location, and to keep the game simple, we used a very basic scenery set up.

My bravery roll for my first move

Units have to roll under their bravery to move; I got off to an inauspicious start...

Norman, as Athelstan the Overconfident, decided to advance into contact

The main mechanical peculiarity in the game is the use of Leadership Points. These LPs are allocated by the commander at the beginning of each turn, and can be used to cancel combat hits, add agression dice, or modify bravery rolls. Canceling hits felt like the most powerful use to us.

Norman impetuously pushed forward at the beginning. There didn't seem to be much ability or need to break off combats, so we stayed stuck in until combats finally resolved. He eventually took out my left and right flanks just as I finished off his center.

Looking bad on my right flank

5 cohesion points taken of 6; right down to the wire...

We probably missed a few rules; I intend to reread them now that I have an inkling of what they actually mean. Overall, though, it was fun, something like a DBA with the added LP mechanism making the clash of shieldwalls a little more interesting. We will play again...


  1. Interesting.

    It is hard to inject player decisions into a push of shield walls.

    1. Agreed. That's one of the reasons we were both favorably impressed with the game. The author notes in his introduction to the rules that Dux Bellorum is intended to give an interesting game without worrying too much about the exact nature of what the Leadership Points are simulating. I'd say he achieved that. I also very much like a good excuse to put these troops on the table. I ought to do a post on how this project evolved, when it's not really one of my primary areas of historical interest--the period is ok, but I'd choose Byzantium and enemies over the semi-civilized north...

  2. Great looking game, and nice pics too!