Monday 20 August 2012

Testing out the Duxes

On Saturday I had the great pleasure of being invited by Michael (aka Dalauppror) to try out not only Dux Bellorum, but also Dux Britanniarum. As I'm usually the host for my regular gaming opponent(s), it was a rare luxury indeed to just show up at Michael's club without having to bother with any painting or even setting up.

The brave Saxon warriors desperately trying
to hold back the British cavalry.
In the first game, Dux Bellorum, I took command of the defending Saxons against the raiding Romano-British. A misunderstanding on my part saw me deploying all my best troops, including the leader, on the "wrong" side of the battlefield inside a village. This consequently led to them having very little impact on the overall battle apart from killing three skirmish units. Not very glorious!

Instead it was my regular, but mighty brave, warriors who took the brunt of the British onslaught. The three units managed to tie up the enemy's four cavalry units in some heavy fighting for the better part of the game. In the end though, as the Saxon lord and his nobles struggled to reach the main battle in the centre of the board, they couldn't hold up against the British might and were run down. This led to me hitting the 50% of the starting units lost cap, which forces each unit to take a Morale test to see if they rout. With my usual luck I managed to fail two tests, and so 75% of my starting units were lost and not just these two units routed, but the whole army decided enough was enough and ran for the hills.

Despite this defeat it was a very fun game, and I will definitely play Dux Bellorum again. As with any new game it takes a bit of getting used to, despite the core mechanics being pretty easy to understad. It took some reading and reasoning before we got a grip on combats between groups for example (which is usually the most complex part in any rules set I guess, so nothing against Dux Bellorum there). When we've had a few games I expect this will flow very naturally however. Also, I think we will use Leadership Points to interrupt the movement order to better effect than in the first game. There were some points in the battle were this would have given me a slight edge I could have exploited.

Michael has posted a short review of the rules on his blog, and it pretty much sums up my feelings about the game too.

On to Dux Britanniarum then. This time I got to play the Romano-British, and Michael took command of the raiding Saxons. We started by rolling up our Lords, which is very fun RPG-like method to personalize your campaign. (You're supposed to roll for your two Nobles as well but to save some time we skipped this.) After this we rolled to see which scenario to play and got a raid on a village. We set up the table according to the rules, with a river dividing the battlefield in half. We rolled to decide the depth of the river and the result was ... "Impassable". The only way to cross it was at a single ford. We then rolled to see were the village would be placed and to my luck, it was placed on the opposite side of the river seen from the table edge were the Saxons entered. Finally we rolled to see how many rounds headstart the Saxons would have (three), deployed the Saxons accordingly and then the actual game began.

The Saxons are out to raid the village to the left
but get stuck at the ford.
In the picture to the right is the table after the first "real" round, were the British appeared. As you can see the Saxons are pretty much stuck in a jam at the ford, but one group has managed to reach the village. The British forces are preparing to cross the enclosed fields just outside the village.

The jam at the ford would continue for the remainder of the battle, with only two other Saxon groups reaching the village. The first group entered a house but only got to take one Loot test, before my Lord and his comanipulares stormed in and cut them down. Meanwhile, the second Saxon group arrived, only to get attacked by the two groups of milites. Heavy fighting ensued, until the Saxons, having suffered heavy losses, routed.

The third Saxon unit to clear the ford and reach the village was no other than one of the gedridhts, accompanied by a Noble. They now clashed with the Romano-British Lord and his elite comanipulares. The fierce Saxons inflicted heavy casualties on the British, nearly taking down their Lord, but the Champion stepped in instead and saved his Lord. The British fought well however, and in the end both sides had lost too many men to keep fighting and routed.

As we were running out of time, and both sides were in pretty bad shape, the Saxons performed an unchallenged withdrawal and the battle was over. Rules wise the British counted as the winners, but morally I think it was a draw.

We spent some time afterwards chatting about the games and both agreed that while both Dux Bellorum and Dux Britanniarum are great games, the latter were a bit more fun. The only downside to Dux Brit is the fact that some very important things are not spelled out in the rules! I would recommend everyone interested in the game to check out the players notes on Too Fat Lardies' blog.

Michael will post more detailed AARs on his blog in a day or so, with more and better pictures. There you can also find pictures of the splendid forcces used for these games.

Hopefully we will be able to get some more gaming going in the future, and I'm very much looking forward to fielding my Welsh in both games.

Thanks for reading!

Update: Michael has posted an AAR for the Dux Bellorum fight on his blog.


  1. It was realy nice games, looking forward to the nex opportunety !

    best regards Michael

  2. That sounds like a great evening of gaming! I am looking forward to trying Dux Bellorum as it sounds like a fun game.

    Dux Britanniarum is certainly great fun. And you are right - all new players MUST read the game design notes before playing, as they really help with some core principles.

    I look forward to hearing about your next games :-)

  3. Cheers guys! I'm afraid all credit for the good looks will have to go Michael/Dalauppror though, as all I did was show up and play. :)

    We have a new game planned for tomorrow night – we haven't decided if it's going to be Dux Brit or Dux Bell though – and I'll be sure to take some pictures and write a short AAR.