Freitag, 7. Juli 2017

Triumph! Test Game


Triumph! – what is this?

Triumph! is a new ruleset for playing miniature battles from the classical era up to early renaissance, written by WashingtonGrand Company WGC. These are the same guys which have published the 2.2 “plus” amendments to DBA back 2012, when they called themselves “Washington DBA Gamers” WADBAG. I very much like these DBA 2.2 “plus” rules and have been playing them ever since.


Now WGC has published their own set of rules named „Triumph!“. You can get it at Wargames Vault’s in pdf format in a so called “early access edition” for 15$. The authors claim that this early access edition has been playtested thoroughly and is complete and fully playable. Refining the text for clarity, adding diagrams and design notes will be done prior to final publication.





The ruleset at first glance
When reading the rules it soon becomes apparent that the roots of Triumph! lie within DBA (“de bellis antiquitatis”) by Wargames Research Group. The core mechanics of commanding, moving and fighting are akin to DBA. This core has been developed further for Triumph!: Sometimes it is more of a refinement or a clarification, but many parts have been highly reworked, so I can confidently write of an independent and original ruleset.
First thing I noticed is the comprehensive and precise style of the paragraphs. Opposed to the extremely dense syntax of DBA, Triumph! does not skimp on words if it improves intelligibility. You may think it is weird when the text says: “A player may not spend more command points than were rolled.”, but there are many paragraphs where I appreciate this kind of circumstantiality and completeness. And already in the existing early access edition there are numerous diagrams which help explaining the rules and illustrate typical situations, which is very helpful.
In Triumph! there are 26 kinds of troop types. Although you will not find camels or scythed chariots, there are elephants, chariots and seven more types of mounted troops. This is also true for foot troops where Triumph! differentiates more than DBA 2.2 plus.
A Triumph! army is made up of troop elements - each with its own points cost - up to a total of 48 points. The army lists define the possible troop types for each army and the minimum and maximum number of elements you may choose of each troop type. Thus Triumph! armies in general allow for more flexibility than the fixed 12 elements DBA armies. You can check all the Triumph! army lists online at the “Meshwesh Army List Explorer”: There are 648 lists ranging from Early Sumerian starting 3000 BC up to Vilcabamba Neo-Inca Empire ending 1572 AD – so no buying a pig in a poke here.
 
Test game – setting up the battlefield
Reading the paragraphs on how to set up the game I got the impression that it would be a prolonged and elaborate process, but in reality it was a quick and smooth procedure: Rolling a die and adding each army’s “invasion rating” defines the battlefield topography. In our game the Arabo-Aramaean Hatra army’s low invasion rating of 0, resulted in the battle being fought in their home topography which is of the “dry” type. In the next step the players seek for the tactical advantage – again by rolling a die and adding their army’s “manoeuver rating”. My Middle Imperial Romans’ manoeuver rating of 3 helped me gain the tactical advantage, so I can define – within certain limits – the type and number of terrain pieces to be placed on the battlefield. Yet the placement of these terrain pieces is largely out of control of the players as it is defined by a “Terrain Card” drawn at random. As the player holding the tactical advantage I may then still choose my battlefield edge.

Triumph! Terrain Card





The results of the tactical advantage die rolls also define if the armies have the option for a flank march or not – having a high manoeuvre rating is advantageous but not necessary.
 There is another important feature of the Triumph! army lists which comes into play during the setup of the game – it is about the so-called “battle line troops”: Each army list states which troop types belong to the battle line and thus have to be placed in the central sector of the battlefield. This battle line trait may have a considerable influence on the ensuing battle: 10 out of 13 elements of my Middle Imperial Romans are named battle line troops and I had to set them up in the center. My opponent’s Hatra army however had only three archer elements in his battle line and he was free to place his remaining troops all over the width of the 64x96cm battlefield (15mm miniatures size). This battle line thing adds to the characteristics of the armies in play.

Triumph! Gameboard after setup and before the first turn


Test game – the first turns
A flank march has to be placed along one of the two side edges or on your base edge during your army’s first turn and it is a challenge for your opponent – but also for yourself! Your general element’s command distance of 32cm (if line of sight is unobstructed) necessitates a careful planning of placement if the flank march elements are to be in command range.
 If your command roll has given you enough command points Triumph! allows your elements and groups to make a second move (“march move”) as long as they keep a certain distance to the enemy’s elements. This is good news for all the heavy and slow foot troops: In my first turn I made my central line of Roman Legionaries make a double move to quickly approach the enemy archers. March moves add a lot of flexibility to the movement phase of the game and suddenly you have to make hard decisions: While in DBA every now and then you drop the odd command point, in Triumph! you almost always have enough options to spend these points, which makes up for a very dynamic game.
 Compared to DBA the effects of the „zone of control“ (ZOC) have been modified only in details but in a very beneficial way, so that the most accurate and elaborate positioning of elements in respect to each other becomes less important. This again adds to a fluid gameplay.
 There are subtle changes both in the distant and close combat rules: Triumph! is rewarding attacking an element in the rear or flank, while in DBA the attacked element simply turned to face. At first sight this might appear as just another variation of how to handle close combats, but on the battlefield it makes perfect sense and it feels “right”. Again the precise wording of the rules and the explanatory diagrams leave no room for doubt and interpretation.
Speaking of close combat rules: Certain troop types like knights and elephants have to pursuit if they have beaten an enemy in close combat – there is nothing new to it, but: In Triumph! any element that wins a close combat by doubling its opponent must pursue – no matter which type of troop it is! I very much like this rule since it seems logical to me that close combat troops have to advance to beat their enemies. And of course this rule adds to the disorder of your formations.



the Cataphract element has been temporarily based on a 40mm deep base according to the Triumph! rules





 
Test game – Victory or Defeat
To win a Triumph! game you have to eliminate enemy elements worth of a total of 16 points, corresponding to one third of your army’s total points. What does this mean in numbers of elements? Most mounted troops and the best foot troops have a worth of four points. Artillery, Skirmishers, Light Foot, etc. are three points and there are two points troops like Bow Levy or Hordes.
So to win the game it is not enough to eliminate four of your enemy’s skirmishers – you would have to beat six of them. Alternatively you eliminate fewer but stronger troops to win. The capture of the enemy camp counts for eight points. A captured camp is removed from the battlefield and you can’t win it back. The element that has captured the camp is removed as well (they are busy looting) but does not count as lost.

the first attack on the Roman camp has been defeated




Conclusion
Triumph! is a treasure of matured miniature game mechanics, presented in an easily accessible and excellently written rulebook which results in dynamic and fluid gameplay. Let me give you one more example: The messed up rules for rivers in DBA 2.2 have been streamlined for the 2.2 “plus” amendments, but still a river on the battlefield could make a game almost unplayable. In Triumph! a river is simply a long and narrow strip of “difficult terrain” – nothing more and nothing less. What an elegant solution for this issue.
Whoever likes DBA will like Triumph! as well – or even more. After our first two test games – exciting battles which went for little more than one hour each – we have immediately fixed time and place for a following Triumph! game. This is all I desire from a miniature wargame ruleset.

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