Now that we are playing DBA regularly, I decided to check out DBM and see how it compares. I took the latest rules (DBM 3.0 + 3.1 amendments) and created two 200 AP armies: III/73 Seljuk Turk and IV/7 Early Crusader. The date for both armies was 1097, which is the date for one of the first major battles of the First Crusade: Dorylaeum. The army lists are contained in a separate post.
The Franks were the defender, the Turks the invader. The board contained two steep hills, some rough going, and a road. The defender gets to place most of the terrain, although the attacker can pick one major feature (a river, waterway, or road), with the Turks going for a road. The terrain is randomly placed on the board, so no one can get a perfect set up. As it turned out, all of the terrain ended up on half of the board. Both sides placed their main command in the empty half, the supporting commands and camps in the hilly half.
The Turks got some good PIP rolls in the first two turns, and were able to position their light horse units to disrupt the Crusader's knights. The Crusaders moved forward, waiting for the right opportunity to unleash the knights, with a solid anchor of crossbow supported spears in the center.
On the flank with the smaller commands, the Turks were able to peel two knights out of formation. The light horse were able to separate them and kill them both, greatly aided by the knights impetuousity and the superior grading factor of the light horse (more on that later). The rest of the knights advanced toward the Turkish command group, consisting of bowmen, auxilia, and psiloi. The bowen managed to kill one knight, but were then run down. In the end, neither side had done enough damage to break the other's command, although the Franks appeared to have the edge.
On the other flank, the Turks broke in to two groups. One group, consisting entirely of light horse, was to occupy the knights, while the other group, consisting of the heavy cavalry with a light horse screen, was to go after the Frank infantry. The Frank pushed some pilgrims forward (classified as Hd(S)), to disrupt the charge of the cavalry, and it worked. While one element of horde was quickly killed, the other managed to hold out the entire game. Thus the heavy cavalry was prevented from attacking. The light horse drew the first wave of knights into combat, but the Frank player was able to keep a few units as a reserve. The light horse were not able break up the formation, because the fast knight's (Kn(F) move 4" instead of 3") were able to catch them.
The Frank player threw the reserve group into the fray, killing 4 light horse while only loosing 3 knights. However, one of the knights was the general. The next PIP roll would decide if the command broke, losing the game for the Crusaders, or stuck around for more action. The knights stuck around, deciding to avenge the loss of their general. The now uncontrollable knights impetously charged into the mass of light horse, killing 2 more, breaking the Turk's largest command, and ending the game in a Crusader victory. The game took three hours from start to finish.
I had a lot of fun. The game felt like a slightly more complicated version of BBDBA (which, of course, shouldn't be a surprise). Units have a very similar feel to DBA, and all of the mechanics of the game are basically the same. The biggest difference is that there is a bit more to all of the rules sections.
IMO, I like three parts the best: grading factors, impetuosity, and army selection. I think the grading factors add a lot of flavor to the units without a lot of complexity. For example, the Turkish light horse were superior, Irr LH(S), and were much more difficult to kill than LH in DBA. Also, the Frankish knights were fast, Irr Kn(F), making them slightly weaker in combat (which didn't matter much here, since LH quick kill Kn), but giving them an extra inch of movement, which made a big difference. I also think the impetuosity rules are very interesting. The units are cheaper than regulars, meaning that you get a lot of them, but once they are committed they become nearly impossible to control. If you have a group of impetuous troops, you only have one chance to commit them, so you have to make the most of it. Finally, I like the army selection. There is much more of a variety than in BBDBA. I also like the fact that you can have a big army of inferior units, or a small army of superior units, or anything in between. Again, its really the variety that I like.
There are some downsides, of course. DBM armies are larger than BBDBA armies. My two armies had 30 and 38 elements, and that was 200 AP worth. The armies in the book are for 300-500 AP, which would probably mean armies of 40-70 elements, or even more. That is a lot of guys to paint. Also, you have to keep track of different grades of the same type of troop. The Turks had Ps(S) with javelins and Ps(O) with bows, so it actually mattered what troops were on the base. Finally, the rules are a bit more complicated than DBA. Plus, there isn't an official 3.1 release, so you need the 3.0 rules and the 3.1 amendments.
Now, I don't plan on giving up DBA. I think it is a great game and has a lot of things going for it. I would like to try a few more DBM games, however, and see how the group feels about it. I don't think that I want to pursue DBMM. It is MUCH more complicated than DBM, and its not clear that its any better. Of course, I still have a half dozen other ancients rules that I'd like to try, but that is the subject of another post. :-)