I played this game primarily as a try-out of Richard Lee’s solo DBA variant rules (currently a work in progress). The two armies chosen were Vikings and Saxons (Anglo-Danish army list), with me running the Vikings and the NPG (non-player general) running the Saxons. The Saxons were defending, and the solo rules resulted in the following board layout, with a road (well, a dirt track really!) running down one edge of the battlefield, and a steep hill and wood making up the remaining terrain items (click on picture to upload a larger image):
The NPG camp was located as per Richard’s rules, and the NPG troop deployment determined on the same basis (Saxons are off in the distance in this picture!):
Note that the Saxons were bunched up towards the centre of the board, with their Spears protecting either flank and their Blades (including the General) in the middle of the line. The far left of the Saxon line opposite the wood was protected by their sole unit of Psiloi. I set out my Vikings in a long line, with Bows on my far right to counter the Psiloi. The battle lines arrayed (Saxons on the left):
The Saxon General’s stance was diced for, and he came up as a “defensive” commander. The NPG therefore advanced cautiously, sending his Psiloi into the woods and focusing on maintaining the cohesion of his line. As I moved forward the NPG pulled his Psiloi back a little and reinforced it with Spear supports:
Almost inevitably, the game came down to a clash of shield-walls, a hard slog which saw the NPG pushed gradually backwards as he attempted to maintain the cohesion of his line at all costs. I tried to over-ride the NPG’s default behaviour on two occasions to push the Saxons into a slightly more aggressive move, as allowed for in the rules variant – this came off the first time but failed on the second occasion. Consequently, Vikings and Saxons in the woods faced off against each other but didn’t move into contact:
Gradually the Vikings weakened the Saxon line, where first one Spear element then another was lost on the NPG’s right as the overlapping unit of Viking Blades swung round to flank the Saxons. Finally the Saxon right collapsed altogether, leaving the Vikings in possession of the battlefield without loss to their own ranks:
The defensive approach taken by the Saxons made their defeat almost inevitable, but I suspect that was a result of my uninspired interpretation of the NPG’s options rather than any flaw in Richard’s rules. The board set-up and deployment worked well, and the NPG behaved in a manner that more or less fitted the period and the contending forces. Next time though I think I’ll try a tougher match-up and a more mobile opponent, to see how well the solo variant works in those conditions.