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The DBM South-West Doubles League

Army Popularity and Success with DBM 3.2

ARMY POPULARITY AND SUCCESS IN DBM 3.2

 This is based on analysis of nearly 1,600 games using DBM 3.2 between 2010 and 2015 (some in 2014-15 using the proposed 3.3 amendments).  This is only about one sixth of the number of games included in my previous survey, reflecting the reduced popularity of DBM due to competition from newer rules sets, but there are still enough games to make comparisons valid.  Of course, the more games played by an army the more its success rate will tend towards the average.  The tables and totals exclude armies which were used only a few times; I have taken 7 games, normally representing use in 2 competitions, as the minimum for inclusion.  Most of the games were played in the UK, the rest in the USA and Western Australia.

About 70% of the armies were based on the army list books produced for DBMM, which represent the most recent available scholarship, and the rest were based on the 2nd edition DBM army list books issued in 1998-2000.

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 and on this site, dealing with earlier versions of DBM.  This piece is in the same format as the latter article, to allow direct comparison.

16% of the armies used were from Book 1, 38% from Book 2, 17% from Book 3 and 29% from Book 4 – this relative popularity of the different periods has been fairly constant throughout DBM’s history, but shows a slight swing towards late medieval armies at the expense of the early medieval period.  Overall, armies from 194 of the total 313 lists were used.

 

Table 1: Most Popular Armies

 

  Army Games Success %
1 Seleucid 101 48
2 Later Carthaginian 93 43
3 Marian Roman 86 49
4 Late Imperial Roman 80 42
5 New Kingdom Egyptian 76 49
6 Alexandrian Imperial 59 52
7 Medieval German 55 52
8= Early Imperial Roman 52 40
8= Patrician Roman 52 63
8= Early Achaemenid Persian 52 54
11= Italian Condotta 51 54
11= French Ordonnance 51 49
13= Ottoman 50 58
13= Polybian Roman 50 43
15 Lydian 49 46
16= Middle Imperial Roman 48 53
16= Later Hungarian 48 55
18 Classical Indian 41 40
19 Graeco-Bactrian/Indian 39 51
20= Alexandrian Macedonian 38 52
20= Medieval Portuguese 38 60

The fall of the Patrician Romans continues as their popularity slips to 8th, while the Seleucids, always popular, now top the table.  Nine armies of the 21 are new arrivals, the most dramatic being the Marian Romans who have jumped from nowhere to 3rd, while the Early Achaemenid Persians are also in the top half.  The Marians’ success rate has improved, too.   Of the former favourites, Ugaritic, Skythian, Abbasid Arab, Early Samurai and Medieval French have all disappeared

 

Table 2: Roman Armies

Army Games Success %
Polybian Roman 50 43
Marian Roman 86 49
Republican armies 136 47
Early Imperial Roman 52 40
Middle Imperial Roman 48 53
Late Imperial Roman 80 42
Imperial armies 180 44
Patrician Roman 52 63

There are now six Roman armies in the 21 most popular. The legionary armies are more popular than previously and their success rate appears to have settled down at just below average.  The most effective are those which can have Superior Blade legionaries or praetorians.  The 3.2 points changes have evidently helped these armies without making them killers. The Patricians are rather different in relying on troops other than legionaries, and are much more successful.

 

 

Table 3: Pike Armies

Army Games Success %
Seleucid 101 48
Alexandrian Imperial 59 55
Alexandrian Macedonian 38 52
Graeco-Bactrian/Indian 39 51
Macedon Early Successor 19 41
Lysimachid 13 48
Later Macedonian 8 45
Pyrrhic 7 54
Hellenistic pike armies 284 47
Later Swiss 35 46
Scots Common Army 34 45
Low Countries 8 64
Akkadian 12 62
Other pike armies 89 49

Pike armies remain popular, with the Hellenistic types not noticeably more or less successful than the others.

 

 

Table 4: Impetuous Armies – Knights

Army Games Success %
Medieval French 21 41
Feudal French 18 52
Feudal Spanish 16 54
Romanian Frank 15 39
Kn(S) Armies 70 46
Anglo-Norman 31 49
Early Crusader 27 50
Sicilian 19 56
West Frankish/Norman 16 44
Italian Ostrogothic 16 33
Early Ostrogothic 13 65
Carolingian Frankish 11 20
East Frankish 9 37
Feudal English 8 30
Kn(F/O) Armies 150 45

Very varied performance by these wild-charging armies; strangely, the one with probably the highest proportion of Irregular Fast Knights is the most victorious while Charlemagne’s paladins have a woeful record.  The Feudal French do much better than the very similar Romanian Franks.  Overall these armies are rather below average but there are obvious variations.

 

Table 5: Impetuous Armies – Warband

Army Games Success %
Gallic 33 46
Early Frankish etc 16 70
Early German 16 41
Old Saxon etc 16 72
Ancient British 15 57
Early Vietnamese 13 52
Arab Conquest 13 55
Middle Frankish 12 36
Villanovan Italian 12 63
Galatian 9 54
Later Visigothic 7 46
Abyssinian 7 81
Warband Armies 169 55

Warband armies have become much less common but rather more effective.  The Early Franks (who include my own 25mm Suevi) and Old Saxons have been very successful, with front rank Wb(S) backed by Wb(O), though less deadly against mounted troops than they were in DBM 3.1.  The more popular Gauls, relying on Wb(O) and cavalry, were less effective although the similar Villanovan Italians were more so.

 

Table 6: Medieval European Armies

Army Games Success %
Medieval German 55 52
Italian Condotta 51 54
French Ordonnance 51 49
Later Hungarian 48 55
Medieval Portuguese 38 60
Wars of the Roses English 36 63
Order of St John 16 51
Free Company 8 39
Early Burgundian 8 38
100 Years War English 8 34
Medieval Scandinavian 8 43
Teutonic Orders 7 46
Medieval Armies 334 53

These armies generally rely on a combination of (usually Regular) knights, heavy infantry and bows.  The success story is Wars of the Roses English, who have become very popular and vastly more successful.  The attraction of super-wedge knights doesn’t seem to have made the Teutonic Orders more popular.

 

 

Table 7: Cavalry Armies

Army Games Success %
Ottoman 50 58
Later Achaemenid Persian 36 47
Nikephorian Byzantine 32 56
Khurasanian 31 55
Later Muslim Indian 24 57
Seljuk Turk 24 51
Timurid 20 52
Post-Mongol Samurai 19 55
Sui/Early T’ang Chinese 16 41
Early Byzantine 13 41
Early Polish 12 59
Abbasid Arab 12 48
Sassanid Persian 12 19
Post-Mongol Russian 12 47
Central Asian City-States 10 59
Avar 9 52
Early Russian 8 59
Jurchen-Chin 8 78
Mede 8 53
Cavalry Armies 337 52

The Ugaritics, who used to lead this category, have disappeared – with only 4 games played they don’t qualify for inclusion.  Abbasid Arabs have also become much less popular and the Sassanids are markedly unsuccessful, while Later Achaemenid Persians are much more commonly used.  The Ottomans have resumed their place at the top and are also among the most victorious.

 

 

Table 8: Spear and other HI Armies

Army Games Success %
Lydian 49 46
Later Hoplite Greek 36 43
Fanatic/Islamic Berber 28 47
Early Hoplite Greek 19 60
Early Carthaginian 18 42
Communal Italian 16 51
Norse Viking & Leidang 13 49
Aztec 12 38
Philistine 12 80
Syracusan 12 54
Rus 9 49
Early Swiss 8 68
Medieval Scandinavian 8 43
HI Armies 240 49

Astonishingly, some of the previously most popular armies such as Makkan/Dilmun, Chinese Northern & Southern Dynasties and Anglo-Danish disappeared completely with DBM 3.2.  The Lydians are of course old favourites, but hoplite Greeks are now much more popular with early Spartans, fielding large numbers of Sp(S), being the best performers among the spear-based armies.  Massed Blades as used by the Philistines and Swiss did exceptionally well.  These armies are still draw-prone, but those based on fast-moving Blades at least can get results.

 

 

Table 9: Light Horse Armies

Army Games Success %
Skythian 36 50
Early Armenian 31 42
Mongol Conquest 23 45
Komnenan Byzantine 16 47
Yuan Chinese 16 61
Kushan 13 65
Numidian 12 50
Central Asian Turkish 12 49
Hunnic 12 35
Sha T’o Turkish 12 48
Dynastic Bedouin 11 61
Lithuanian 10 83
Early Hungarian 8 50
Ilkhanid 8 36
Light Horse Armies 220 51

 

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 Huns have plummeted in effectiveness.

 

Table 10: Light Infantry Armies

Army Games Success %
Pictish 26 56
Thracian 24 45
Early Libyan 8 49
Chanca 8 40
Pre-Feudal Scots 7 56
Norse Irish 7 60
Light Infantry Armies 80 51

These armies have become rather less popular and considerably less successful, now being only average.  It is often hard to force a win with one of these armies, though their numbers can make them difficult to beat.

 

 

Table 11: Elephant Armies

Army Games Success %
Classical Indian 41 40
Tamil Indian & Sinhalese 13 34
Burmese 12 57
Elephant Armies 66 42

Elephant-based armies have slumped in popularity and effectiveness; some such as the Khmer and Hindu Indians have disappeared entirely.  Only the El(S) Burmese retain their success rate, though they are still rare.

 

 

Table 12: Camel Armies

Army Games Success %
Christian Nubian 26 46
Later Pre-Islamic Arab 14 61
Tuareg 7 33
Camel Armies 47 49

Camel-based armies have also become much rarer, though maintaining average effectiveness.  The once-popular Blemmye have completely vanished.

 

 

Table 13: Bow Armies

Army Games Success %
Early Achaemenid Persian 52 54
Welsh 28 38
Neo-Babylonian 16 61
Early Samurai 12 38
Arabo-Aramaean 11 66
Tupi 8 30
Neo-Elamite 8 24
Nubian 7 50
Bow Armies 142 48

Massed archery has become relatively more popular, but no more effective.  The decline of the once-feared Samurai has continued.

 

Table 14: Balanced Armies

Army Games Success %
Later Carthaginian 93 43
New Kingdom Egyptian 76 49
Nikephorian Byzantine 32 56
Later Sargonid Assyrian 24 55
Han Chinese 24 52
Ch’in Chinese 20 54
Mithridatic 19 55
Middle Assyrian 19 61
Early Carthaginian 18 42
Palmyran 14 40
Hittite Empire 13 53
Sung Chinese 12 58
Spring & Autumn Chinese 11 62
Papal Italian 8 19
Neo-Assyrian Empire 8 56
Saitic Egyptian 8 59
Later Hebrew 7 61
Balanced Armies 406 50

A popular collection of armies with balanced forces of heavy and light infantry and cavalry, generally Regular and manoeuvrable.  The Middle Assyrians stand out as particularly effective, while Chinese armies are solid and reliable.  The only dismal failure here is the Papal Italian army.

 

DBM 3.2/3.3 seems to have achieved very good balance, with no category of armies much better or worse than average.  Even the legionary armies, for long the big losers in DBM, are now close to average.  Only elephant-based armies have been significantly less effective, and the small number of games played by these armies make it difficult to draw any firm conclusions from their lack of success.

JGL 7.12.2015

 

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