Friday 10 June 2016

Project Rome – a campaign assessment.

While waiting for responses from other play testers I can say from our own tests I am very pleased with how well the game played. The use of cards to resolve campaign issues during each phase offered enough tension as players overcame or undermined each other’s strategy.

For example, Rome using her diplomatic skills gains a native tribe as “friend” and the Spanish player on his bound can attempt to convince friend to return to a neutral status, there were even moments when the Spanish player foiled Rome’s diplomatic mission and turned a neutral tribe into a “hostile” one. Players moving through each phase can generate a lot of card play, but of course players are not obliged to play a phase even if holding the appropriate cards which adds a nice level of suspense to the game. With the frequent use of cards in the “bidding” process, the card deck is generally re-shuffled four or five times during a campaign year giving both sides opportunity to accumulate good cards.

The game is fast pace and the quantity of counters needed to signify successful activity steadily grew; I found it expedient later to have both sides labelled with positive or negative outcomes. Movement on the map of a Roman command or a hostile tribe counter does not require the use of cards but can help modify its move distance in certain situations; guides can help locating fords or passes to negate otherwise a movement penalty to cross as an example.

Supporting each province of Ulterior Hispania and Citerior Hispania are two consular armies of 36 elements each, which at first glance may seem excessive, but not so when one considers each of the 90 plus squares across the frontier contain are the home of an army of 12 elements. Following Livy’s description of the campaigns the consular armies were split into two equal sized columns with a proconsul or propraetor generating four independent columns. This increased the potential to make new allies and gain valuable resources. 

During the campaign test year we experienced five battles, four of which Rome won and the fifth involved an inter-tribal conflict. The initial battles between Rome and a native tribe, the proconsul could field superior numbers of 18 elements versus a hostile tribe of twelve. Rome would win, however each victory however was bought at a cost such that by the third battle it was no longer prudent to fight as the risk was too great. 

The best strategy for the Spanish player was one of attrition, such that by the end of the summer period Roman columns would be sufficiently weakened so to ensure a victory in the fall season. To do this, the Spanish player needed allies.  

The stratagem options listed in this rule set and are taken from the writings by Frontinus and Polybios and were easily adapted for the DBA 3.0 game. In time the number of options may increase, but I do not see that as happening anytime soon.

Looking to the win/loss columns for the year 197 BC.
Ulterior Hispania:
3 battles won, 3 tribes made “Friend” and 1 tribe remained hostile at the close of the year.
Citerior Hispania:
1 battle won, 1 tribe made “Friend” and 1 tribe remained hostile.

Further, other factors such as the losses incurred on campaign and additional resources generating revenue earned for the proconsul of Ulterior Hispania high marks; but not enough to earn a triumph in Rome, but would bring honour to the family name. 

Further discussion of the rule set or suggestions I would invite readers to join us at the new Fanaticus DBA Forum given at the link below. Look to Building DBA Armies at the forum page for the topic thread.   



  1. Have you published your thoughts on Stratagems? I can't seem to find them but I have often thought about developing a subset of those defined in DBMM.

  2. TWR,

    I used four of the stratagems listed in Book II of Frontinus; rapid deployment, ambush, flank march and time of day.

    Rapid deployment moved the attacker's front line to the center of the board, the defender is essentially 3BW closer to his own camp.

    Ambush was adapted from the Lurker rule from HOTT.

    Flank march required a general and table side and bound must be written down.

    Time of day would offer the attacker an early meal before deploying leaving the defender scrambling to deploy having missed theirs or deployment would make use of sun dazzle, in both cases the number of elements required for victory was decreased by one.

    The last stratagem was not used in the tests, but the other three worked well.

    David Lawrence is looking at the rules as are others around the globe. I can send you a copy if you send me a note to timurilank (at) aol (dot) com with "campaign rules" in the subject line.


  3. Very interesting Robert. I have emailed you.