Alexander the Great’s Solo DBA Campaign

Paul from the Man Cave wondered if I’d seen Solo Wargamer: Micro-Campaigning Part II. I hadn’t but I did find it quite interesting – it reminds me of the mechanisms that Two Hour Wargames use for their campaigns. My first thought was that this would be perfect for a campaign featuring Alexander’s trek into the East. (Can you tell what I’ve been reading lately?) It uses DBA.

As Solo Wargamer says this type of campaign is:

a way of stringing my solo games together and giving the battles some wider context without
resorting to maps and complicated ‘virtual’ opponents. The emphasis was very much on simplicity
and playability…so this won’t be to everyone’s taste!

Solo DBA

It seems there is a whole movement on solo DBA that I wasn’t aware of. For example: Fanaticus: De Bellis Solitarius, Solo Wargamer: Some Thoughts on De Bellis Solitarius, and Yahoo Group: Solo DBA Development.

Alexander’s Campaign

Alexander really did plunge into the unknown. So a sort of random encounter system suits quite well. As you can see from the map he travelled quite far and thus encountered quite a range of opponents. He was also rumoured to be eyeing up the western Mediterranean before dying from fever.

Alexander's Empire

Alexander’s Empire 334-323 BC

For more details see Wikipedia: Alexander the Great

Set Up

Alexander sets off with a beefed up, i.e. 18 element, army. The list combines the Alexandrian Macedonian (II/12) and Imperial (II/15) lists. I’ve made the Hypaspists Pikemen not Auxilia.

II/12+15. Alexandrian. 355BC-320BC.

  • 2 x 3Kn (Gen)
  • 2 x 3Cv or 3Kn*
  • 1 x 2LH
  • 10 x 4Pk
  • 1 x 2Ps
  • 2 x 4Sp or 4Ax or 2Ps or Art or EL**

* Optional 3Kn only available once have defeated a Later Achaemenid Persian army (II/7).

** Optional El only available once have defeated an Classical Indian army (II/3)

Alex also has a war chest with 100 talents.

Campaign Turn

The campaign runs from 335 BC when the historical Alexander pacified Greece and the Balkans in preparation for his Asian adventure. Each campaign turn is nominally a year. At the start of each turn throw a D6 to see what happens:

1d6 Event Description
1 Attrition One random element lost to the “Reserve” through disease, desertion, starvation, or low level skirmishing
2 Barren lands No effect or if you are ok with more extreme random events then roll another 1d6: 1-5 No effect; 6 Alexander dies from fever (or poison)
3 Reinforcements One random element returns from the “Reserve”. Optional troops can be swapped around in the “Reserve” – this is how Alex can get El and the bonus 3Kn.
4 Tribute Add 75 Talents to the War Chest
5 Attack Battle with your force as attacker
6 Defend Battle with your force as defender

Battles

You get at most 12 elements from your surviving army. Any remainder are assumed to be in garrison somewhere.

Enemy Army

The opposing army list is determined randomly. The potential enemies are taken from those in the Alexandrian Macedonian and Alexandrian Imperial lists with a conjectural western campaign added on the end. The western campaign is assumed to go from Egypt via Carthage, Sicily and into Italy with an inevitable clash with Rome. Repeat opponents are possible.

Determine the opposing army list by throwing 1d6 and adding the turn number:

1d6
+turn
Enemy
2 I/48. Thracian. 700BC-46AD.
3 I/47. Illyrian. 700BC-10AD.
4 II/5abcdfi. Later Hoplite Greek. 450-275BC.
5 II/6. Bithynian. 435-74BC.
6 I/62. Lykian. 546BC-300BC
7 II/14.  Ariarathid Kappadokian. 330BC-17AD.
8 II/7. Later Achaemenid Persian. 420-329BC.
9 I/35d. Phoenician. 489-332BC.
10 I/6c. Early Bedouin. 999-312BC
11 I/43a. Skythian. 750-301BC.
12 II/2. Mountain Indian. 500-170BC.
13 II/1. Republican Indian. 500-321BC.
14 II/3. Classical Indian. 500BC-545AD.
15 I/56a. Kyrenean Greek. 630-314BC
16 I/7. Early Libyan. 3000BC-70AD.
17 I/61b. Early Carthaginian. 550-275BC.
18 II/5gh. Later Hoplite Greek (Siciliot or Italiot). 450-275BC.
19 II/9. Syracusan. 410-210BC.
20 II/8. Campanian, Apulian, Lucanian or Bruttian. 420-203BC.
21 II/13. Samnite. 355-272BC.
22 II/11. Gallic. 400-50BC.
23+ II/10. Camillan Roman 400BC-275BC

If the list for the opposing army has selection options then pick the version of the army with the best chance of defeating your Alexander’s army.

Tactical Rules

DBA or a variant is assumed. If playing solo then De Bellis Solitarius or some such. Check out:

Winning a Battle

If you win a battle you get 100 Talents of tribute into your War Chest. Immediately roll 1d6 for each element lost in the battle: 1-3 the element goes into the “Reserve”; on a 4-6 the element returns to the army.

Losing a Battle

If you lose you immediately forfeit 100 Talents from your War Chest. If you can pay the full amount then dice for each lost element: 1-4 the element goes into the “Reserve”; on a 5-6 the element returns to the army.

If you have insufficient funds but 9 or more elements remaining you lose your remaining money then throw 1d6 for each element lost in the battle: 1-5 the element goes into the “Reserve”; on a 6 the element returns to the army.

If you have insufficient funds and less than 9 elements then it is all over. Your surviving men are enslaved, your War Chest looted, your hopes that Greek culture will penetrate the east are crushed, and you are sacrificed on the altar of some exotic deity.

Victory

Well you could play the campaign just to see how far you get. Or you could use these Victory Conditions:

  • If you die before turn 13 you lose.
  • If you survive to turn 13 or beyond then you win. Turn 13 corresponds to 323BC, the year Alexander died.
  • If you defeat a Roman Army then you not only win but become a living god.

Note: You don’t have to stop at turn 13. In fact if you aspire to being a living god then you have to keep playing.

Other Campaigns

This type of system would also be perfect for Conquistadors and New World DBA.

2 comments to Alexander the Great’s Solo DBA Campaign

  • Joseph Uzel

    Wanted to take a moment to express my thanks to you for posting the “Alexander the Great Solo Campaign”. Its led to alot of great gaming moments. I notice that you have numerous posts related to Field of Glory, so you are aware of its strengths as a ruleset, and will understand that I prefer that system to the DBA series (a personal bias). So I’ve adapted your solo campaign to Field of Glory.

    It feels like I’ve been a war-gamer most of my life: I think I discovered historical miniatures war-gaming before I discovered girls, to be honest. When I first started playing games, NONE of my friends were even slightly interested, and solo gaming was my only option. Over the course of my adult life, its remained something I enjoy from time to time because opponents aren’t always available, or schedules don’t always align.

    Because of some of those time constraints, and space limitations, I don’t have the kind of miniature armies I’d like to, nor do I occupy the dining room table with vast ancient armies marching to assault my wife’s sanity and patience! When I can, I attend a local game club, but at home I do much of my gaming on a computer.

    As you may or may not know, Slitherine has published a computer version of Field of Glory that can be played multi-player. Some minor changes were made, but it preserves the core rule mechanics, and is a lot of fun. Its main benefit is that opponents are always available, and I’ve had many exciting matches with players all across the world.

    But as you no doubt understand, solo gaming is a different experience, and sometimes that’s what you’re in the mood for. Part of it is that when you play online, you send a turn and then must wait (sometimes a day or more) for the other player to send one back. A solo game can be played out in an hour or two. That said, the A.I. in the game (like most computer opponents) leaves something to be desired. Fortunately, there is a work-around that can keep it challenging. When you go into the army designer to chose your units, you pick the point level based on the size battle you want, and then simply don’t spend all the points before you save the army. So what I’ve been doing for my first test run using your solo campaign as a guide, is building a 600 point Alexandrian army with only 500 points worth of units. The computer will of course spend a full 600 on whichever army I select as an opponent (based on your chart). If this seems too easy, I may increase the differential to 200, but so far this has kept it interesting.

    I haven’t incorporated all of your campaign rules yet, so I’ve mostly used the opponent list as a battle generator, with the restriction that I cannot move on to the next opponent until I score a sufficiently crushing defeat against the present enemy. I treat Alexander, naturally, as an Inspired Commander (the highest level) commanding an elite unit of Companions. Wanting to preserve the historic feel, I play him the way he behaved in battle, leading from the front with often reckless courage. As a result, since FoG has rules for Generals being killed, he sometimes dies! If he is killed in battle (which I treat as “wounded” to keep the campaign going!) or his unit is eliminated or routed, I treat the battle as a loss for the Macedonians regardless of other outcomes, and they must try again against that particular adversary.

    The end result has been battles that have very much the right feel for a game from Alexander’s campaigns. The Macedonian army will tend to be small anyway, as its high-quality units are individually more expensive, but when I give the A.I. additional points, it becomes very much a battle of quality vs quantity, and a real challenge to stem the enemy tide with my smaller force, making desperate holding actions on parts of the field while I crush the enemy flank. The mediocre command abilities of the computer seem to mirror the less than stellar Generalship of many of Alexander’s enemies, and the end result is outcomes that you would likely never see in an even-point tournament-style match with a human opponent.

    Thanks again, and good gaming!

    • Steven Thomas

      Joseph, thanks for your positive comments. I’m very glad my campaign has inspired you.

      The main advantage of DBA is that it is fast; it is a pretty poor simulation.

      Sounds like you are quite “into” FoG. My own table top experiences were not terribly inspiring. I found it a poor simulation for the Punic Wars, and slow. So I abandoned it after a few games. The computer version might well address the speed problem.

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