Thursday, 6 September 2012

Dux Bellorum - A Personal Review



Some of you may have already seen or even written a review on the new rules Dux Bellorum, by Dan Mersey. I've been meaning to write up mine for some time now, but school holidays and life just got in the way, so its a bit later than I would really have liked to but here goes anyway. 
As I previously said you may have seen other reviews, so I won't warble on too much about the technical side of the rules and I'll keep my review quite simple. There are two great indepth reviews over on Ferb's blog and on Dalauppror as well. Also a top notch interview with Dan himself in the recent issue of Wargames Illustrated, so check them both out if you can. 
Early last month I answered a blog post an Dan's blog, and received a free copy of the rules a week or two later!!! Nice one!!!! But you can buy them on Amazon here, for a measly £8.39. Which in my opinion is a bargin. Its always difficult with new rules and their pricing. I've bought rules for £30, read them and thought they were rubbish, and been quite sick and angry that I've wasted my £30, ( like I'm you have?) but at under a tenner, you just can't go wrong!!

This has always been one of my favourite period's and I've never even played it before?? As you may have read previously on my blog, my favourite books are the Bernard Cornwell Warlord Chronicles, so these fit right in there!
 The main thing I like about these rules is they are simple and effective. Dan set out some ground rules as he developed the game, which fit in perfectly with my idea of a great game. 
  • "A Simple non tournament ruleset concentrating on playing, not learning." Now I'm all for complicated rulesets, but sometimes I'd just want to play a game that's not going to leave me with a banging headache and the wish to strangle my opponent.
  • "Keep the emphasis that its a game not a simulation. "
  • "Present optional rules without cluttering the basic game" I used to play another set of Dark Age Rules that no longer exist, I'm not stupid (I'm sure some will disagree!) but some rules are to technical we used to end up forgetting everything and the game wouldn't work properly. It was hard work reffing them.
  • "Engage players in every phase of the game, give them choices to make" Now I like this idea! It's great when you have to make a choice in a game, what unit to move and when to move it, there is no, all your troops can move. So you best make the right decision or else!!!
  • "Flexible army lists, that retain the character of each army." Some rules don't work with army lists, but these do, they'e very simple to read and understand and give you the feel of what they are supposed to be.
  • "Represent close combat as a swirling, dangerous mass rather than a well co-ordinated battle line." It's rather to simulate that in a game, but Dux Bellorum seem to do just that!
  • "Differentiate between offensive and defensive foot troops and allow armies to be foot or mounted" Just as they should.
  • "Convey the spirit of Dark Age Battles without being too technical" Some will like this idea, some won't. I do!
Like I said I won't go into the technical side of the rules, but after reading them several times, I've found myself trawling the internet for some 15mm Romano-British figures on far too many occasions. I've resisted up until now, but I'm not sure how long I can hold...............Thanks Dan!!!!!!



74 comments:

  1. Look forward to hearing more about these from you.

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  2. Nice review Ray !

    Thanks for whriteup of my blog:)

    Resist the 15mm and go for 28mm ;) Have a look at Dans article about making 2 28mm armys for less than £40... http://merseybooks.blogspot.se/2012/01/dux-bellorum-making-two-28mm-armies-for.html

    Best regards Michael

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    1. I already own stacks of 25mm later Dark Age figures, if, if! I do it'll have to the the mighty 15's I'm afraid!!!

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    2. Of cours should I have known you already had a bunch of 28mm Dark age minis:) Bring them out and start playing instead of painting loads of new minis;) Either way I´m looking forward a AAR soon:)

      Have a nice weekend

      best regards Michael

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    3. Sadly I've not used them for around 6 years, I really do need to get them out!!!

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  3. Simple, ,quick, and mated to way I want to play a game is the rule set I use. Sounds like you have found your mate, Sir.

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  4. Sounds great! Very interested in trying them out

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  5. Nice one Ray, I have seen them on Amazon and was tempted before. (Slightly more so now).

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  6. I have the rules and I do like them! The Arthurian period is my big project for next year albeit in 28mm. I've already collected most of the stuff I need from Bill at Musketeer and am waiting for him to finish off the rest of his Romano British and then I'll start.
    What I like about the rules is they are geared towards linear combat and not skirmish which is my preference.
    Exciting times!

    Christopher

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  7. I'm going to agree that you should step up to a manly scale and go 28mm with these Ray. The plastics out there right now for this period are great and if you are buying minis anyway you should give it a try.

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    1. I'm aware of Viking age 28mm plastics, but not Arthurian/Late Roman. Who makes these please?

      Christopher

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  8. Thanks for the write up Ray, I have just received Dux Britanniarum, and was going to order this set. It looks like there can be some overlap with SAGA, so with some clever basing, I might be able to play all 3 with the same groups of figures.

    John

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    Replies
    1. I can't see why you couldn't John?

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    2. Nice review Ray - a great set of rules for a little more than £8 - can't be bad.

      John, I've played Saga, Dux Britanniarum and Dux Bellorum using the same figures (alright, I did buy a British army for Dux Brit, but apart form that...). I stole the idea in the Dux Bellorum rulebook for sabot bases with round holes in them to turn the Saga based figures into units (Warbases in the UK cut them to my specs). Battle reports from all 3 systems using this method are on my blog.

      Cheers

      Norman

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  9. Good review Ray, im with you on this one, the Warlord books are great, and Dux Bellorum is a great looking game. Ive read it through a few times and i have the feeling it will play well.

    Ive been trawling the net looking for suitable figures, im normally a 6mm/10mm/15mm gamer, but there are so many great ranges out there in 28mm, Gripping beast, and Musketeer being my favourites. Im resisting for now though....

    Steve

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    1. I know what you mean, 25's always look superb, but 15's more affordable for me!!

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  10. that's a pretty awesome cover, btw. :D

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  11. Sounds good. Nice review is this ruleset designed with a scale in mind or is it scaleable?

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    1. Any scale can be used as it's based measurements are done in base widths.

      Christopher

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  12. Sorry, what I mean to say is any scale can be used as measurements are done using base width.

    Christopher

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    Replies
    1. I preferred the 1st version Chris!!

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    2. Lol!
      As you can see my dyslexia gets the better of me at times. I know what am saying, but it often comes out something altogether different when I write. You should see how many times I have to correct my blog after I've posted!:-)

      Christopher

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  13. I am totally buying these rules today!

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  14. Ray, chek Splintered Light figurines for Britons and Saxons.

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    Replies
    1. I have had a good look at these too, but im worried about all the customs carry on, they do look nice though.

      Steve

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  15. Looking forward to following this, I plan to make my next army 6mm Austrian but you never know

    Ian

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    Replies
    1. I worked it out to cost roughly £30 for an army, can't be bad!!

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  16. Got myself a copy at Amazon for my Kindle at US$10, a real bargain. I also read them through the summer and now I'm looking to test both Duxes (Bellorum and Britanniarium) recently published. A couple of suggestions: (1) to go for 28mm (Gripping Beast and Musketeer are a delight to paint); and (2) check a Yahoo Group called "Arthur List" that's having an unexpected revival following the release of these "Duxes"

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    Replies
    1. Gotta agree both GB and Musketeer are awesome figures, and I will check out the forum, thanks!

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  17. A very interesting rulebook, easy to play. Looking forward to see your project and your very good AARs.

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  18. Seems to be very nice, and easy...tempting!

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  19. Thanks ray, a very interesting review.
    John

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  20. Cheers Ray! Always good to be a part of breaking someone's will to resist new figure :-)

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  21. Since I've never really even read a rule book well, I'm a bit lost, but it does seem fun

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  22. I picked the rules last week and really like the look of them. If I'm not playing Hail Caesar tomorrow I shall be playing Dux Bellorum using my 28mm Early Imperial Romans and Ancient British. Just going to use the Roman and Celt lists in the book. The figures are based for DBA but as the rules themselves say, this won't be a problem. I like the Leadership Points aspect as well as building strategies into the army as well. None of them appear game breaking.

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    1. Can't see why you can't use the 2 armies, let me know how the game goes.

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  23. You know I don't game Ray, so I'll just say this. It's good to have you back on the blogosphere, we missed you!

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  24. Thanks for this, Ray. I've been interested in picking up a copy and I think I'll give it a go. I look forward to you trying the rules out in a playtest.

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  25. Your favourite period and a set of good rules, hmmmm I reckon it's only a matter of time. Alas, your bank account will weep! :) Have a good start mate!

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  26. Good luck with these Ray, they sound just the ticket.

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  27. I liked what I saw when I had a read in the toilet at work.

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    Replies
    1. That wasn't my target audience when I wrote the game :-)

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  28. Ray, I agree about the avoidance of competitive games, they tend to spoil the flavour of a game and yeah, they can indeed leave you with a banging headache and a belligerent red mist descending before your very eyes LOL.

    I'm going to have to order myself a set of the rules as you can play then in any size units from many rule systems which is very appealing. I'm thinking of impetus size bases but using 3 bases of 40mm frontage and 50-60mm depth. This way they could also be stacked up for WAB, CoE, Hail Ceasar and WAC.....

    Darrell.



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  29. Sounds tempting- though I haven't yet had a chance to give Saga a once around the block :( but if doing this game in 15mm.. hmmm.

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    Replies
    1. Me neither, everything else just keeps getting in the way!!!

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  30. Great review Ray, and maybe I can finally get some use out of my 1/72 Late Romans!

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  31. Thanks for the review and they sound a very interesting set of rules there.

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  32. Thanks for sharing, they seem to tick all the right boxes for a set of rules.

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  33. Thanks Ray, inspiring review. I've always liked the post Roman to Hastings period. So far the best rules I've come accross were free in Practical Wargamer Magazine. Will these rules work with individual basing or are they more traditionally based?

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    Replies
    1. You can use individual bases but they'd need to be on a larger base as well.

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  34. Good review Ray, shall look into these rules

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