El Cid crushes the Caliph – A Big Base DBA Battle Report

Adam and Chris came over for a Big Base DBA set in the Reconquista. El Cid (Chris) leading a Castilian/Spanish army against the fanatic, Moroccan, Caliph of the Murabitun (Adam). Feudal Spanish versus Fanatic Berber according to DBA. Any one who has seen the Charlton Heston “El Cid” movie will know what this is all about.

Summary: Fun game. The action was all cavalry with the infantry hardly involved. Ed Cid and his Hidalgos (Knights) triumphed after a long and fierce struggle. The Caliph died at the head of his army.


The table had a couple of big hills and a wood. Chris’s

El Cid 57 Battlefield

I prefer HoTT Strongholds over DBA Camps, so my scratch built Christian tower appears in this game. Chris garrisoned it with a Crossbow unit.

El Cid 66 Spanish tower
El Cid 66 Spanish tower

Chris had cavalry on both wings. On his right was Knights and Light Horse.

El Cid 65 Spanish right
El Cid 65 Spanish right

Because of the defender deployment swap thing, Chris ended up with a lone Psiloi in the middle of his line.

El Cid 64 Spanish right centre
El Cid 64 Spanish right centre

El Cid, the general, was on the left with more Knights. Spears and Psiloi were in the centre.

El Cid 62 Spanish left - El Cid on the far side of the hill
El Cid 62 Spanish left – El Cid on the far side of the hill

On the other side of the table was the muslim camp. I have a variety of options for these, and for this battle went for tents and camels. I like camels.

El Cid 58 Murabitun Camp
El Cid 58 Murabitun Camp

In some ways Feudal Spanish and Fanatic Berber are similar armies. The main similarity is the infantry. Spear and Psiloi. both Chris and Adam went for Spear backed by Psiloi, a DBA 2.2 rule that makes infantry more resistant to cavalry.

El Cid 59 Murabitun infantry centre
El Cid 59 Murabitun infantry centre

The battle

The Murabitun, taking the initiative, rushed forward on the left. They dominated in light horse and want to try to exploit this mobility advantage.

El Cid 60 Murabitun left flank
El Cid 60 Murabitun left flank

There was a brief chance to turn the Spanish right flank.

El Cid 61 Berber cavalry race forward
El Cid 61 Berber cavalry race forward

So Adam pushed his flanking light horse as far forward as possible.

El Cid 68 Al Murabitun light horse rush forward on the left flank
El Cid 68 Al Murabitun light horse rush forward on the left flank

Would Chris advance into the pincer?

El Cid 67 Al Murabitun light horse rush forward on the left flank
El Cid 67 Al Murabitun light horse rush forward on the left flank

The answer is, kind of. Chris advanced his entire line.

El Cid 63 Spanish infantry centre
El Cid 63 Spanish infantry centre

Out on the Murabitun left flank, Chris spun a Light Horse around to face the threat. Although this unit still had an exposed flank itself.

El Cid 69 Spanish break line to face flank attack
El Cid 69 Spanish break line to face flank attack

Adam went for the sacrificial lamb

El Cid 70 And Al Murabitun charge
El Cid 70 And Al Murabitun charge

And with the odds in his favour, Adam’s Berber Light Horse destroyed the traitorous Berber Light Horse in Christian employ. The traitors got what they deserved!

El Cid 71 Al Murabitun break Spanish Light Horse
El Cid 71 Al Murabitun break Spanish Light Horse

Knowing he had a problem on his right, Chris moved El Cid and his left flank Hidalgos (Knights) towards his right, over the hill to his front.

El Cid 72 El Cid advances over hill
El Cid 72 El Cid advances over hill

Adam saw his opportunity and the Murabitun went straight in. Camels, Light Horse and the Caliph (General with Cavalry guard). There were a lot of Light Horse versus Knight match ups. How would the Berber light cavalry hold up against the armoured charges? It might be okay, given the Murabitun had numbers and outflanked their opponents.

El Cid 75 Al Murabitun swarm forward
El Cid 75 Al Murabitun swarm forward
El Cid 76 Al Murabitun swarm forward
El Cid 76 Al Murabitun swarm forward

But even with numbers against them, Knights are pretty tough. They won everywhere. They even drove back the Murabitun Camels!

El Cid 77 Unstoppable knights
El Cid 77 Unstoppable knights

And, being Knights, they charged straight back in.

El Cid 78 Spanish knights charge forward
El Cid 78 Spanish knights charge forward

On the second go, the Camels managed to push their opposite numbers back.

El Cid 80 Camels rock
El Cid 80 Camels rock

And then the Murabitun swung around on each flank. It was looking pretty grim for the Spanish/Castilians.

El Cid 81 Al Murabitun lap around flanks
El Cid 81 Al Murabitun lap around flanks

But nearby Chris was taking a risk. He was marching El Cid from his left to his right, across the front of both armies.

El Cid 82 El Cid crosses the front of the Al Murabitun infantry
El Cid 82 El Cid crosses the front of the Al Murabitun infantry

You can see the two infantry “centres”, now actually both flanking wings, facing each other. The real battle, all cavalry, was happening near the tower.

El Cid 83 Battle getting a bit messy
El Cid 83 Battle getting a bit messy

Adam wasn’t winning everywhere, but the rout of a unit of Knights, meant it was lookking alright for the Caliph.

El Cid 85 Looking alright for the Caliph
El Cid 85 Looking alright for the Caliph

Spoke too soon. El Cid had arrived and his escorts charged right into the Caliph’s guard. Actually was the Caliph was nearly surrounded.

El Cid 86 Looking bad for the Caliph
El Cid 86 Looking bad for the Caliph

Adam brought in some Light Horse to help the Caliph and he fought on.

El Cid 88 Caliph fights on
El Cid 88 Caliph fights on

But El Cid made short work of the Light Horse facing him.

El Cid 90 Victorious El Cid
El Cid 90 Victorious El Cid
El Cid 91 Unstoppable El Cid
El Cid 91 Unstoppable El Cid

Adam had some success with his Light Horse facing Knights.

El Cid 95 Tidying up some Knights
El Cid 95 Tidying up some Knights

But then the Christians piled into the Caliph. El Cid, two Knight units, plus Spears and Psiloi, all went for it.

El Cid 94 Caliph fights alone
El Cid 94 Caliph fights alone

Bang. Dead Caliph. Game over.

El Cid 97 El Cid crushes the Caliph
El Cid 97 El Cid crushes the Caliph


Observations and conclusions

A good fun game. DBA struggles as a simulation. but it is quick and enjoyable. And Big Base DBA looks great. Lots of figures. Simple rules. Perfect.

It was nice to get my El Cid army back on table and play Reconquista game. For a long time this was my favourite period and I didn’t play anything else. I really like both the armies: El Cid and the Castilian/Spanish; the Murabitun who were the most fanatical of the Fanatic Berbers.

4 thoughts on “El Cid crushes the Caliph – A Big Base DBA Battle Report”

  1. The DBX family of games were always fun and fast. Beer and pretzels! We don’t play them to much anymore in our group. Rules with more seasonings were required. I don’t disagree with that. But I do miss the simplicity of those games.

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  2. A really nicely presented AAR! The big bases are very photogenic and stand well on hills. I think DBA does quite well on simulating a lot of aspects. And it always gives such a quick fun game. A good rule in DBA3 is that light horse get a +1 factor for a 2nd rank of LH. Perhaps that would have helped the Muslim side in your game.

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  3. Steven. Great battle report! I had a question regarding your Battle Of Sagrajas OOB over yonder- https://balagan.info/sagrajas-1086-a-big-battle-big-base-dba-bbbbdba-scenario#more-8272 How transposable is that to DBM version 3.2? I am only just now dipping my toes into DBx anything, so I’m horribly naive in all things proper order of battle. I can be contacted at murdockpeter AT gmail DOT com if you have any time to reply in that method. – Peter Robbins (author of https://lairoflubidius.blogspot.com/ blog)

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