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ARMY POPULARITY AND SUCCESS IN DBM 3.1

ARMY POPULARITY AND SUCCESS IN DBM 3.1

John Graham-Leigh

This is based on analysis of nearly 9,000 games using DBM 3.1 between 2005 and 2009.  The great majority were played in 2006-7, about 1,000 dating from 2008-9.  Thanks to David Young for providing most of the source material.  The tables and totals exclude armies which were used only a few times.

Almost all the armies were based on the DBM 2nd Edition army lists; a few used in 2008-9 were based on the now-standard DBMM army list books.

For comparison, readers may like to look at the similar articles by Gavin Pearson in Slingshot issues 194, 201, 214 and 219, and by me in Slingshot 243, dealing with earlier versions of DBM.  This piece is in the same format as the latter article, to allow direct comparison.

15% of the armies used were from Book 1, 38% from Book 2, 21% from Book 3 and 26% from Book 4 – this relative popularity of the different periods has been fairly constant throughout DBM’s history.

 

Table 1: Most Popular Armies

  Army Games Success %

1

Late Imperial Roman

537

50

2

Seleucid

489

49

3

Medieval Portuguese

429

54

4

New Kingdom Egyptian

372

49

5

Alexandrian Macedonian

369

56

6

Medieval German

350

55

7

Patrician Roman

343

45

8

Ugaritic*

337

56

9

Later Carthaginian

336

47

10

Alexandrian Imperial

291

54

11

Later Hungarian

272

54

12

Classical Indian

256

48

13

Skythian**

242

58

14

Early Imperial Roman

227

36

15

Later Swiss

222

54

16

Abbasid Arab

219

57

17

Arab Conquest

212

47

18=

Norse Viking & Leidang

207

48

18=

Medieval French

207

48

20=

Early Samurai

199

42

20=

Ottoman

199

52

* Includes one non-Ugaritic Syro-Canaanite army (4 games)

** Includes two Early Hu armies (10 games)

The most startling change from DBM 3.0 is that the Patrician Romans, who were by far the most popular, have fallen to 7th – and their success percentage has dropped significantly.  Long-standing runners-up Late Imperial Romans now top the table, closely followed by the Seleucids who have risen from 11th to 2nd.  Armies which have disappeared from the list are Chinese Northern and Southern Dynasties, Lydian, Kushan, Beja, Anglo-Norman and Ch’in Chinese; they are replaced by Alexandrian Imperial, Classical Indian, Early Imperial Roman, Later Swiss, Abbasid Arab, Arab Conquest and Medieval French.  All the popular armies are within the 45%-55% “average” success range except Early Samurai and Early Imperial Romans; the Romans have always been below average, but the Samurai used to be a top army.

 

Table 2: Roman Armies

Army

Games

Success %

Tullian Roman

4

40

Camillan Roman

15

53

Polybian Roman

61

42

Marian Roman

160

45

Republican armies

240

44

Early Imperial Roman

227

36

Middle Imperial Roman

101

45

Late Imperial Roman

537

50

Imperial armies

865

46

Patrician Roman

343

45

Sub-Roman British

56

48

All the legionary-heavy armies have improved (and are more popular) compared with DBM 3.0, but several are still below average – seriously so for the Early Imperials.  3.1 helped them a bit, and the 3.2 changes should make them more competitive.  The new army lists favour the Marian Romans and to a lesser extent the Middle Imperials, but I expect that the Late Imperials, with the best balance of troop types, will continue to be the most popular.

 

Table 3: Pike Armies

Army

Games

Success %

Seleucid

489

49

Alexandrian Macedonian

369

56

Alexandrian Imperial

291

54

Ptolemaic

87

50

Graeco-Bactrian/Indian

141

48

Pyrrhic

86

47

Asiatic Early Successor

69

54

Lysimachid

34

58

Later Macedonian

17

49

Commagene

13

58

Macedon Early Successor

12

43

Hellenistic pike   armies

1608

52

Later Swiss

222

54

Scots Common Army

180

52

Low Countries

82

42

Akkadian

71

59

Minoan/Early Mycenean

54

46

Early Sumerian

16

68

Sumerian Successor States

8

31

Other pike armies

633

50

Pike armies became much more popular with DBM 3.1, notably Seleucids, Alexandrians, Scots and Swiss.  However, although the rules changes were expected to favour pikes they have not been notably more successful.  The Hellenistic types have improved from 49% to 52% success; the others remain exactly average.  The apparent exceptions, the highly successful Early Sumerians and dismally unsuccessful Sumerian Successor States, had too few games for their statistics to be meaningful – anything below about 40 games probably involves only a few players so “player quality” may be more important than army type.

 

Table 4: Impetuous Armies – Knights

Army

Games

Success %

Medieval French

207

48

Feudal Spanish

128

48

Serbian Empire

122

44

Romanian Frank

18

49

Kn(S) Armies

475

47

Anglo-Norman

167

45

Sicilian

153

55

Feudal Spanish

128

48

Carolingian Frankish

100

52

Early Crusader

91

43

West Frankish/Norman

82

35

Later Crusader

44

41

Early Ostrogothic

37

39

East Frankish

22

49

Early Lombard

16

48

Feudal English

16

36

Later Polish

15

65

Italian Ostrogothic

14

41

Kn(F/O) Armies

885

48

Conventional wisdom was that with Pikes and Blades being improved by the 3.1 amendments knight-based armies would become less popular and successful.  Popularity is slightly down, but effectiveness has marginally improved – these armies generally are still on the low side of average.  As in 3.0, there’s not much difference between the success of Kn(S) and other knight armies.

 

Table 5: Impetuous Armies – Warband

Army

Games

Success %

Arab Conquest

212

47

Gallic

193

52

Welsh

115

54

Middle Frankish

93

45

Galatian

88

47

Ancient British

81

49

Indonesian & Malay

79

48

Early Visigothic

66

57

Villanovan Italian

62

49

Abyssinian

56

55

Early German

56

50

Old Saxon etc

55

61

Early Vietnamese

47

53

Early Northern Barbarian

45

56

Later Visigothic

39

45

Early Frankish etc

36

39

Siamese

27

48

Warband Armies

1350

50

The expectation was that warband armies would become more popular and successful, as 3.1 gave them a boost against mounted troops.  They were certainly more popular with 3.1, but only marginally more successful.  There were some remarkable swings in popularity: Arab Conquest (which will no longer be a warband army with the new army list books) and Gallic were much more common, while Abyssinians and Early Frankish were much less so.  The success story was Old Saxon, which became enormously more victorious; this army can have a front rank mainly of Wb(S) with Wb(O) filling in behind.  With the new lists other armies (Early Frankish, Suevi, Alamanni) are able to use this advantageous deployment and I expect those to become more common.

 

Table 6: Medieval European Armies

Army

Games

Success %

Medieval Portuguese

429

54

Medieval German

350

55

Later Hungarian

272

54

Navarrese

106

50

Teutonic Orders

99

39

Wars of the Roses English

89

39

Italian Condotta

86

49

Free Company

84

51

Early Burgundian

70

41

Anglo-Irish

62

47

French Ordonnance

48

45

Burgundian Ordonnance

47

42

100 Years War English

39

42

Medieval Scandinavian

36

48

Order of St John

36

48

Hussite

25

44

Medieval Armies

1878

50

A very mixed bag of armies, generally relying on a combination of (usually Regular) knights, heavy infantry and bows.  The three most popular were also the most successful, while English armies woefully under-performed and the Teutonic Orders continued to be poor.  The Teutons may improve with the addition of super-wedges (Kn(S) double-based with Kn(I)) in the new list.

 

Table 7: Cavalry Armies

Army

Games

Success %

Ugaritic

337

56

Abbasid Arab

219

57

Ottoman

199

52

Nikephorian Byzantine

178

47

Khurasanian

134

60

Sassanid Persian

101

45

Sui/Early T’ang Chinese

90

49

Early Byzantine

79

46

Timurid

78

46

Later Muslim Indian

75

52

Later Achaemenid Persian

59

48

Avar

49

51

Buyid/Dailami

48

53

Khazar

46

55

Early Russian

32

65

Ghaznavid

31

36

Khitan-Liao

29

41

Seljuk Turk

17

58

Thematic Byzantine

16

57

Cavalry Armies

1817

52

 

The success stories here are Khurasanian and Abbasid Arab, which rocketed in both popularity and success.  The Ottomans were much less common than hitherto, while the Ugaritics were toned down (62% success in 3.0, 56% in 3.1) – presumably because of the reduced usefulness of their Ax(I) filler.  Overall, cavalry armies were slightly above average.

 

Table 8: Spear and other HI Armies

Army

Games

Success %

Norse Viking & Leidang

207

48

Later Hoplite Greek

181

51

Fanatic Berber

163

55

Chinese N & S Dynasties

122

45

Scots Isles & Highlands

105

52

Lydian

93

44

Rus

86

55

Makkan, Saba etc

85

61

Early Carthaginian

71

44

Kyrenean Greek

52

50

Anglo-Danish

48

47

Communal Italian

39

52

Aztec

38

32

Philistine

24

53

Sea Peoples

19

51

HI Armies

1333

50

These heavy infantry armies had overall average success.  It is probably no surprise that the Aztecs were the least successful, and the Makkan/Saba/Dilmun phenomenon was less dominant than in 3.0 but still well above average.  Generally these armies were solid performers with many draws.

 

Table 9: Light Horse Armies

Army

Games

Success %

Skythian

242

58

Dynastic Bedouin

131

51

Lithuanian

118

51

Komnenan Byzantine

102

48

Early Armenian

99

55

Kushan

98

52

Yuan Chinese

66

54

Hunnic

61

41

Parthian

57

49

Hsiung-Nu

50

52

Mongol Conquest

45

49

Pecheneg

32

56

Central Asian Turkish

29

41

Early Hungarian

27

59

Hsien-Pi etc

24

69

Numidian

22

53

Light Horse Armies

1203

53

All these armies rely mainly on large numbers of light horse but have assorted supporting troops – knights, cavalry or heavy infantry.  Generally they are a bit above average, with the usual wide variations in effectiveness.  The Skythians remain the most popular, while the Kushans have plummeted in popularity.

 

Table 10: Light Infantry Armies

Army

Games

Success %

Pictish

155

65

Early Libyan

79

56

Pre-Feudal Scots

65

45

Hellenistic Greek

57

49

Attalid Pergamene

40

57

Thracian

36

54

Medieval Irish

29

61

Late Judaean

23

50

Maccabean Jewish

22

59

Ancient Spanish

17

55

Light Infantry   Armies

523

56

The low usage but above-average success of these light-weight armies suggests that either they are intrinsically very effective or that only skilled players use them.  The combination of numbers and (usually) low aggression with plenty of terrain can make them a daunting prospect for many opponents.  They do, however, include the army with the worst record of all – Catalan Company, used in one competition, finished bottom after four 0-10 defeats.

 

Table 11: Elephant Armies

Army

Games

Success %

Classical Indian

256

48

Tamil Indian & Sinhalese

176

56

Hindu Indian

135

53

Khmer & Cham

44

48

Burmese

26

46

Elephant Armies

637

51

Many armies can include elephants, of course, but these generally rely on numerous elephants as their main attacking force.  All are within the “average” bracket except for the unusually effective Tamils/Sinhalese.

 

Table 12: Camel Armies

Army

Games

Success %

Nobades, Blemmye, Beja

135

57

Christian Nubian

135

59

Later Pre-Islamic Arab

97

68

Tuareg

43

37

Early Bedouin

16

37

Camel Armies

426

57

A strange mixture of three armies with above-average success and two with dismal performances – but overall it looks as though camelry are powerful troops.

 

Table 13: Bow Armies

Army

Games

Success %

Early Samurai

199

42

Early Achaemenid Persian

141

48

Tupi

67

56

Neo-Babylonian

59

46

Wallachian/Moldavian

36

42

Arabo-Aramaean

36

52

West Sudanese

29

50

Fatimid Egyptian

16

46

Bow Armies

583

47

The striking fact here is the decline of the Samurai – from killer army in 2.1 to just above average in 3.0, then losers in 3.1.  Apart from that, armies relying on massed archery are pretty much average.

 

Table 14: Balanced Armies

Army

Games

Success %

New Kingdom Egyptian

372

49

Later Carthaginian

336

47

Ch’in Chinese

151

51

Later Sargonid Assyrian

130

54

Mithridatic

115

51

Han Chinese

73

52

Hittite Empire

73

47

Libyan Egyptian

70

41

Middle Assyrian

58

55

Palmyran

54

54

Kushite Egyptian

52

52

Three Kingdoms Chinese

46

58

Later Hebrew

36

41

Balanced Armies

1566

49

A popular collection of armies with balanced forces of heavy and light infantry and cavalry, generally Regular and manoeuvrable.  No real changes compared with 3.0, and no stand-out killer or dud armies.

 

Overall, DBM 3.1 appears to have achieved a pretty good balance, with no major category of armies being markedly better or worse than average – except the Romans, who should be helped by the 3.2 changes.  Camel and light infantry armies did better than average, but these are always minority groups and I don’t think their success is significant.

I shall keep records of 3.2 games (many fewer than previous versions, unfortunately) and see how the trends go.

JGL 6.7.2011

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