The Waving Flag: Playing Pieces

Thursday 9 March 2017

Playing Pieces

There are times when you think you are at the forefront of your hobby. There are times when you think nothing ever changes. There are also times when you think things have changed but you eventually realise they haven't. I've just had one of the latter moments.

When I returned to regular wargaming in the later 80s I quickly made the transition from DBA to DBM. I then followed the masses to DBMM and on to Field of Glory Ancients & Medieval (FOG AM). I also played DBR switching to Field of Glory Renaissance (FOG R) when FOG AM palled.

I stopped playing DBA when the twelve element format started to get repetitive. I moved on for a more complex game. I certainly got that with DBMM: perhaps too complex!

When I switched to FOG AM in 2010 I was looking for a "cleaner" set of rules with more structure and fewer conditional clauses. Until recently I thought I was playing a game far, far removed from DBA. I was wrong. Let me show you why.

DBA in its simplest from uses twelve elements armies on a small table roughly two feet square. DBM, DBMM & DBR (DBx) all use many more elements than DBA on bigger tables. Likewise FOG AM & FOG R but elements aren't the same in FOG as they are in DBx.

Whilst FOG armies certainly contain lots of elements they contain far fewer game pieces. Elements in FOG are combined into battle groups, usually of 4-8 elements, and it is these that are the independent units in the game. In effect a FOG battle group is equivalent to an element in DBx games

I'd been blinded by the high element count into thinking FOG games involved lots of pieces. A check of my army list databases quickly proved that most of my FOG armies involved 10-13 game pieces: not that different from DBA!

FOG Average Battle GroupsArmy Points
MedievalIlkhanid Mongol10.013.5
Italian Condotta14.0
Later Lithuanian10.012.014.0
Later Polish11.813.0
Later Russian14.5
Mongol Conquest9.511.012.0
Mongol Invasion9.0
War Of The Roses10.0
Period Average10.512.314.1
RenaissanceEarly Lithuanian12.0
ECW Parliamentarian13.0
Italian Wars French11.013.0
Safavid Persian11.313.0
TYW Danish11.013.5
Period Average11.413.2
Rules Average10.912.814.1

This has radically changed my view of FOG armies. If you focus primarily on the number of game pieces then they are just larger, scaled up DBA armies.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.


Vexillia said...

TMP thread

Nin Win said...

Isn't about decisions? Do you get to choose how the groups of stands are formed up in FOG? Can you detach them as needed later in the game? Or change their formation/arrangement within the group? That's not a huge amount of additional decision making but it seems something.

That said, I've landed on Basic Impetus, so I tend to have a variable number of single base elements around the 12 of DBA.

Vexillia said...

You can easily change a battle group's frontage and there's some formation changes possible but you can't detach elements from a battle group.

It's hardly earth shattering as it's usually done to get round terrain or run away.

Nin Win said...

So there's not really much additional decision making gained by FOG's approach? Then yeah, I think your analysis about the number of units being similar to DBA is right on.

Anonymous said...

For me the additional "detail" provided by FOG and DBMM doesn't provide sufficient gain compared to DBA 3.0. Further, I find being able to play a six round competition in a single day very appealing.

We are fortunate to have so many choices for rules.

Vexillia said...

We are indeed fortunate but the pace of change in rules far outstrips my ability to paint!

It seems like every time I decide to build a new unit or allied contingent the rules change (or fade away) before I've finished painting.

Isembourg said...

I Played Napoleonic games in the 70's and 80's where an element was 1 figure.
A competition game consisted of:-
1 C in C
1 Brigadier
4 line battalions (22 figures each)
Skirmishers taken from the Line Battalions
1 Light Battalion
1 Regiment of Light Dragoons
1 Regiment Of Heavy Dragoons
1 Battery of Artillery
So you only had 9 groups to worry about consisting of about 160 elements or figures.
However, the later 4 figure elements per battalion so that 1 hit can reduce a battalion by 25%.
very few battalions lost more than 10% in an assault when the battle lasted for perhaps 6 to 8 hours.

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