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The DBM South-West Doubles League

Army popularity and success in DBM 3.3

ARMY POPULARITY AND SUCCESS IN DBM 3.3

John Graham-Leigh

This is based on analysis of over 1,100 games using DBM 3.3 between 2016 and 2019.  The great majority were played in UK competitions and a few in the USA and Western Australia – the latter two may have used slightly different versions of the rules.

15% of the armies used were from Book 1, 35% from Book 2, 23% from Book 3 and 27% from Book 4 – this relative popularity of the different periods has been fairly constant throughout DBM’s history, but the use of Book 3 armies has increased at the expense of those from Books 2 and 4.

Armies from 185 different lists were used; 73 armies were used in only one competition each (normally 4 games) and have not been included in this survey.

 

Table 1: Most Popular Armies

Army Games Success %
1 Late Imperial Roman 61 42
2 Later Carthaginian 58 44
3 Alexandrian Imperial 54 55
4 Medieval German 52 50
5= Classical Indian 44 45
5= Seleucid 44 48
5= Later Hungarian 44 49
8= Alexandrian Macedonian 42 54
8= Patrician Roman 42 41
8= Wars of the Roses English 42 52
11= Later Sargonid Assyrian 40 47
11= West Frankish or Norman 40 44
13= New Kingdom Egyptian 36 62
13= Later Hoplite Greek 36 45
13= Later Achaemenid Persian 36 53
16= Skythian 32 42
16= Early Achaemenid Persian 32 51
16= Free Company or Armagnac 32 60
19 Middle Imperial Roman 31 58

19 armies were used in at least 30 competition games. Late Imperial Roman returned to the top position, and Later Carthaginian remained in second place. New entrants to the “most popular” list are Skythian, Later Sargonid Assyrian, Later Hoplite Greek, Later Achaemenid Persian, West Frankish or Norman, Free Company or Armagnac and Wars of the Roses English; they replace previous favourites Polybian Roman, Marian Roman, Early Imperial Roman, French Ordonnance, Italian Condotta, Ottoman, Lydian, Graeco-Bactrian and Medieval Portuguese.

 

Table 2: Roman Armies

Army Games Success %
Polybian Roman 15 61
Marian Roman 26 55
Republican armies 41 58
Early Imperial Roman 25 52
Middle Imperial Roman 31 58
Late Imperial Roman 61 42
Imperial armies 117 48
Patrician Roman 42 41

Roman armies are still popular, and the legionary-heavy ones are more successful than the later ones with more diverse troop types.  Sub-Roman British were used in only one competition so do not figure in the list.

Table 3: Pike Armies

Army Games Success %
Alexandrian Imperial 54 55
Seleucid 44 48
Alexandrian Macedonian 42 54
Later Swiss 24 49
Macedonian Early Successor 12 39
Akkadian 8 51
Later Macedonian 8 43
Graeco-Bactrian/Indian 8 36
Pike armies 200 48

Pike armies remain popular, but many appear to have dropped out of use. Sumerians did not appear at all, while Pyrrhic, Low Countries and Scots Common Army were used in only one competition each. Generally pike armies maintain their middle-of-the-road performance.

 

Table 4: Impetuous Armies – Knights

Army Games Success %
West Frankish/Norman 40 44
Carolingian Frankish 24 50
Anglo-Norman 20 50
Later Crusader 16 56
Feudal English 16 56
Sicilian 12 47
Feudal Spanish 12 59
Early Crusader 12 55
Early Serbian 12 25
Feudal French 11 54
Serbian Empire 8 41
East Frankish 8 31
Italian Ostrogothic 8 63
Italian Lombard 8 53
Cilician Armenian 8 31
Medieval French 7 44
Knight Armies 214 46

Perhaps surprisingly, Normans are now the most popular army based on irregular knights, and Superior Knight armies are much less common. The Carolingians and Early Crusaders are not necessarily irregular knight armies as some or all of their knights can be regular. Generally knight armies have done well, their average success being brought down by the dismal performance of a few such as Early Serbian and East Frankish.

 

Table 5: Impetuous Armies – Warband

Army Games Success %
Gallic 16 53
Early Frankish etc 16 43
Middle Frankish 16 42
Ancient British 8 68
Galatian 8 50
Warband Armies 64 49

Warband armies have nearly disappeared from competitions; former favourites such as Old Saxons and Early Germans have vanished altogether. Of course, many other armies can include warbands but armies relying on these as the main troop type seem to be considered too clumsy.

 

 

Table 6: Medieval European Armies

Army Games Success %
Medieval German 52 50
Later Hungarian 44 49
Wars of the Roses English 42 52
Free Company 32 60
Italian Condotta 28 54
French Ordonnance 28 43
Medieval Portuguese 16 52
Burgundian Ordonnance 8 55
100 Years War English 12 38
Medieval Armies 262 51

Knights (mostly regular) supported by bows, heavy infantry and sometimes light horse form the basis of these armies. The Germans remain the most popular, Wars of the Roses English are much more successful than their Hundred Years War ancestors, and the most striking improvement is by Free Company armies. These are actually mostly Armagnacs, offering some cheap infantry as well as the (dismounting) knights and other costly troops. With few exceptions these armies are of average performance.

 

Table 7: Cavalry Armies

Army Games Success %
Later Achaemenid Persian 36 53
Khurasanian 28 52
Ottoman 20 63
Later Muslim Indian 20 60
Sui/Early T’ang Chinese 20 50
Seljuk Turk 16 43
Central Asian City-States 11 72
Avar 8 73
Later Mycenean 8 71
Mede 8 59
Ghaznavid 8 45
Khazar 8 40
Cavalry Armies 191 55

The Ottomans have fallen from favour, displaced at the top by Darius III’s Persians, while the Khurasanians consolidate their position as a popular choice. The Russians and Byzantines have disappeared. However, the Ottomans (usually with a Serbian contingent for punch) continue to be highly successful, as do the Later Muslim Indians whose combination of cavalry and elephants can be formidable. But the similar Sassanids and Timurids have vanished, while the Ghaznavids are less successful. Avar armies do well, with plenty of good light horse and light infantry to support the cavalry.

 

Table 8: Spear and other HI Armies

Army Games Success %
Later Hoplite Greek 36 45
Lydian 24 46
Fanatic/Islamic Berber 16 48
Norse Viking & Leidang 16 48
Aztec 12 48
Communal Italian 8 45
Philistine 8 41
Syracusan 7 43
HI Armies 127 46

These armies, relying on either Spears or Blades, tend to be draw-heavy and include no outstanding performers. Hoplites (mostly Spartans) have displaced the Lydians as the most popular choice. Aztecs have considerably improved their performance to reach average status.

 

Table 9: Light Horse Armies

Army Games Success %
Skythian 32 42
Yuan Chinese 12 61
Komnenan Byzantine 12 43
Hunnic 12 32
Sha-t’o Turkish 8 73
Early Armenian 8 60
Lithuanian 8 55
Central Asian Turkish 8 51
Numidian 8 31
Light Horse Armies 108 48

Armies based on light horse seem to do better when supported by Chinese infantry, as with the Sha-t’o Turks and Yuan Chinese – the latter was the only Mongol army with enough games to be listed, with Golden Horde, Ilkhanid and Mongol Conquest appearing in only one competition each. Hunnic performance continues to be poor, and the Numidians are much less successful than hitherto. Apart from those two, light horse armies are still hard to beat.

 

Table 10: Light Infantry Armies

Army Games Success %
Pictish 12 73
Early Libyan 12 63
Early Slav 8 80
Pre-Feudal Scots 8 58
Thracian 8 43
Mannaian 8 36
Chanca 8 26
Light Infantry   Armies 64 59

Once again, these armies are not much used but several of them have high success rates. The Picts have the advantages of a force of Superior Warband and plenty of light horse as well as the numbers provided by the light infantry.

Table 11: Elephant Armies

Army Games Success %
Classical Indian 44 45
Tamil Indian & Sinhalese 15 52
Khmer & Cham 8 41
Burmese 20 47
Elephant Armies 87 46

The Burmese are no longer the elephant kings, the Tamils now being more successful. Classical Indians remain by far the most popular.

 

Table 12: Camel Armies

Army Games Success %
Christian Nubian 12 49
Later Pre-Islamic Arab 14 65
Early Bedouin 8 54
Camel Armies 426 57

Camel-based armies are even less common than previously – the Tuareg and the once-popular Blemmye have vanished. The Pre-Islamic Arabs are the best-balanced of these armies and consequently the most successful.

 

Table 13: Bow Armies

Army Games Success %
Early Achaemenid Persian 32 51
Welsh 28 50
Neo-Babylonian 24 50
Wallachian/Moldavian 8 59
Arabo-Aramaean 8 56
Tupi 8 29
Early Samurai 6 77
Bow Armies 114 51

Armies relying on massed archery have done rather well – apart from the Tupi who have special disadvantages. The Samurai are no longer popular but won convincingly on their few outings. The Welsh have become both more popular and markedly more successful; this may be partly due to the few games in 2017 when Welsh archers were all Bw(S).

 

Table 14: Balanced Armies

Army Games Success %
Later Carthaginian 58 44
New Kingdom Egyptian 36 62
Later Sargonid Assyrian 40 47
Mithridatic 19 55
Sung Chinese 16 56
Abbasid Arab 14 41
Papal Italian 12 32
Middle Assyrian 8 70
Saitic Egyptian 8 68
Spring & Autumn Chinese 8 41
Later Hebrew 8 40
Ch’in Chinese 8 34
Nikephorian Byzantine 7 63
Libyan Egyptian 6 62
Balanced Armies 248 50

The Carthaginians continue to be the most popular in this category of mainly Regular balanced armies. The increased utility of Inferior Elephants may have influenced this, but it doesn’t seem to have done much for Hannibal’s success rate. Some formerly much-used armies such as Han Chinese and Palmyran have vanished. Papal Italian is slightly more popular than hitherto and considerably more successful, but still below average.

With around a dozen competitions each year there are still enough games to make comparisons viable. It should be borne in mind, though, that an army with only a few games played, such as Early Slav, may represent a single player using such an army in a couple of competitions. If that player is particularly skilful, the army may appear to be a killer whereas it needs a lot of talent to use effectively.

JGL 9.11.2019

 

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