ARMY POPULARITY AND SUCCESS IN DBM 3.3
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
|1||Late Imperial Roman||61||42|
|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=||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
|Early Imperial Roman||25||52|
|Middle Imperial Roman||31||58|
|Late Imperial Roman||61||42|
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
|Macedonian Early Successor||12||39|
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
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
|Early Frankish etc||16||43|
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
|Wars of the Roses English||42||52|
|100 Years War English||12||38|
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
|Later Achaemenid Persian||36||53|
|Later Muslim Indian||20||60|
|Sui/Early T’ang Chinese||20||50|
|Central Asian City-States||11||72|
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
|Later Hoplite Greek||36||45|
|Norse Viking & Leidang||16||48|
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
|Central Asian Turkish||8||51|
|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
|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
|Tamil Indian & Sinhalese||15||52|
|Khmer & Cham||8||41|
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
|Later Pre-Islamic Arab||14||65|
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
|Early Achaemenid Persian||32||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
|New Kingdom Egyptian||36||62|
|Later Sargonid Assyrian||40||47|
|Spring & Autumn Chinese||8||41|
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.