This list has been developed after years of practice. I have tried them all and they have all worked for me. I hope that they can work for you too. They have been built up during the various versions of DBM but early play testing indicates that they still hold good for version 3.1. Most can be learnt easily and require no prior experience but one or two require a highly advanced level of incompetence to execute efficiently. Most are generic and can be used with devastating effect with any army even the so called ‘killer armies’, but a small number require particular troop types to be present.
1. Roll bad dice – The old favourite and still the surest way of losing. Particularly pleasing is the 1:6 combat dice roll that has odds of 1 in 36 but seems to make its dramatic appearance in most combat rounds. (see illustration one and two)
Illustration one: the highly effective 1:6 split.
Illustration two: the perfect command dice roll.
2. Get your generals killed – Especially useful once you have lost three or four other elements from the command just to stack the odds against you holding the command.
3. Play an opponent who has read the rules – The DBM rule set has a number of beautifully simple concepts but rest assured there is a mass of complexity and confusion awaiting in the small print.
4. Support your flanks with thin air – This allows your opponent to outflank you and get quick kills against any of your elements.
5. Ensure your flank march never arrives – You must avoid rolling a six to achieve this but you know it is worth the risk. If you are careless enough to cause the flank march’s arrival at a point where it might do some damage to the enemy, try to compensate by failing to bring on all your troops in the subsequent bound and then get your general pushed off the edge of the board in the first available combat round.
6. Do not read your opponent’s published army list – This gives you a nice vague idea of what type and how many of each element your opponent has and thus allows him to spring those wonderful little surprises depending on the year, tribe, and selection of allies.
7. Ensure your allies are unreliable – This one is harder to achieve since you must roll a one on your first round pip dice but with practice and enough allies (three is particularly useful for this), you can do it. To finish it off try to get your now unreliable allies to change sides by getting one of your other commands demoralised first and before you can roll a six.
8. Assume that the better looking your troops are the better they will fight – You will discover that there is no correlation between the quality of the figures, painting, and basing and their ability on the tabletop. This means that you can spend hours painting the eyebrows on your guard cavalry in the safe knowledge that you will be putting them back into your box just as quickly as any other element.
9. Do not bother bringing your own terrain, any bits and pieces lying round at the club will do – Particularly helpful this if you forget to bring any hills and you end up attacking Normans with your Norse Irish.
10. Put impetuous troops with different march rates into the same command – This is especially useful if you are irregular and succeed in rolling one with your command dice.
11. Assume the weather rules will not ruin your bows – Try attacking during the season when the likelihood of rain or strong winds is at its highest.
12. Get your pikes or spears caught in rough or bad going – There are, of course, a number of variants to this tip including blades, and most mounted troops but pikes and spears remain my favourites since they are unable to give rear rank support in rough going.
13. Structure your command so that its element equivalents add up to a number that can be divided exactly by three – This avoids a protracted and desperate fight for that extra half an element equivalent required to break the command.
14. Position your troops in combat so that they cannot recoil without being killed – This remains a very popular option with players at all levels. It is especially useful since it normally kills at least two elements when normally your troops could have got away with a simple recoil.
15. Always assume that your next pip dice will be more than a one – This only really works with irregulars and preferably with some impetuous troops or at the very least some troops that cost more than one to do anything than move their full move straight ahead.
16. Use up a lot of pips trying to march in line through a large patch of difficult going – Obviously psiloi are useless in this role since they can still move as a group but the tip works for anything else.
17. Assume that troops that cost a lot of points in the rules must be very effective – This is a little harder to execute since it is possible to win with small, expensive armies but with practice you can ensure that a small army gets swamped very quickly particularly if you can get the right match ups.
18. Believe that your plan is bound to work regardless of what the enemy does – You need to concentrate hard during the deployment phase and try not to notice where the enemy has placed his troops.
19. Try to get two of the enemy’s commands attacking one of yours – This can be facilitated by careful deployment.
20. Move your general into combat before moving any other troops from that command – This is a useful precursor to tip one. This more advanced option ensures that you have to pay an extra pip for any other troops you move that turn.
John Hogan with lots of help from Sabrina Hogan