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Commands & Colors: Ancients» Forums » Variants

Subject: How C&C compares to DBA ? rss

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Edmond Blackadder
France
Le Mans
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I would like to know if C&C Ancient is a good alternative to De Bellis Antiquitatis, what are the differences between the two games ?

Edmond
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Paul Dobbins
United States
Herndon
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This requires a longer answer than the following, but it's a start. The games are comparable scale-wise, i.e., DBA features battles between armies of 12 units (stands) played on a fixed-size gameboard with variable terrain. CCA features scenario battles of roughly 12 or so units per side, on a given sized gameboard with variable terrain. One could use DBA army lists and terrain ideas to gin up CCA games, or play CCA Punic war scenarios using DBA rules. Relatively simple conversions either way. The differences are many. CCA uses hex-based movement, combat, etc. DBA doesn't. CCA uses cards to drive the game, DBA uses pips. I would judge CCA to be simpler mechanically -- because of the hexes -- but more interesting and challenging because of the card play. There is far more meaningful chrome in the CCa system.
 
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bob machala
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Good observation, to me DBA seams to be too mechanical. It just
misses the feel.
 
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Dan Becker
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Well, it is much like comparing apples and oranges, but why the heck not. Both games have good points, so chosing which to play depends on what you are in the mood for.

C&C Ancients Good points
-Good command system. Lots of variety and decision making in the card driven command system
-Hex system simplifies movement. No arguments on distances, location of terrain, zones of control.
-Clear rules. Well written and diagramed with good examples.
-Rules support ancients well. Retreat, support, leaders, evade, battle back, advance - all these rules give C&C A a very good ancients feel.

D.B.A. Good points
-Incredible variety. Well designed and thought-out army lists. Covers many periods from biblical through renaissance.
-Miniature company support. Many companies provide miniature figures for "DBA army in a box". Hopefully one day we will see the same for C&C Ancients.
-User support. With a portal like Fanaticus.org with all the postings, army photos, terrain suggestions, camps, events, tournaments, alternate rules. We can only hope C&C Ancients becomes so well supported.
-No need for scenarios. Most of the armies are evenly matched, so it is very easy to pick two and have a good game. Perhaps C&C Ancients will have a point system to help set up scenarios.

One interesting comparison is the future potential of both systems. D.B.A. is about as well developed as it will ever get. It has a huge following and lots of support. C&C Ancients on the other hand is only starting out. Will users continue to play 3 years from now? Will there be follow on games (and not just talk)? Will follow on games be well executed? Too expensive? Will there be C&C Ancients clubs in every town? Who knows.
 
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Jake Thornton
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Wallsend
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Good question, Edmond.

Just played C&C:A last night, fighting the same battle both ways, and DBA seems the obvious thing to compare it to in terms of scale and general aim. Both are game systems rather than recreations of a single battle, and both play on a fixed sized area with limited units, as already mentioned. You can get a good idea from the reviews here as to how they work mechanically, and you may have already played DBA.

My initial thoughts are that both are good games, and that which is the better depends on what's important for you.

Convenience
Well both do similarly well/poorly here as you'll need either to spend hours putting stickers on or painting an army, and once you're done you won't have to do it again. Personally, I spent over 3 hours on the stickers so far and expect another 2. That's less time than it would take to paint an army by far, but I enjoy painting more. The other thing is whether you know people with DBA armies already, and if you'd have to carry the game about.

For pure convenience, C&C:A has the edge.

Appearance
With C&C:A you get what you get in the box. Whether you prefer blocks or models is your choice. Personally, I think nicely painted models look better than blocks, and badly painted ones look worse. In many ways it comes down to how good you could make your DBA battlefield look compared to the predetermined appearance of the C&C:A one.

Rules
DBA is famous for its densely written rules. To be fair, they're written for tournament play, and so are designed to "rules lawyer" proof. That's not an excuse, but it is a bit of an explanation. Some people also don't like the abstraction of the dice roll for command 'pips', but then some people don't like C&C:A's cards either. I find that it reflects the level of command being simulated remarkably well. YMMV.

One of the posters above said he thought C&C:A was very clearly written - I agree to a point. However, we still had questions we couldn't resolve on the evening after 2 plays and much reading the rules, and that's not the mark of a clearly written set in my books. When I have to look up the answers on the net, then I think they could be better written. This applies to both games.

I've played DBA quite a bit, so I'm past the nasty bit of the learning curve. If you can get into it, DBA is a pretty slick and simple system. I think C&C:A is of a generally similar level of complexity, in mechanical terms, so it's really about what they do with that complexity - see below.

Historical Feel
Again, somewhat subjective. So far though, I'd have to say DBA wins this for me. Despite being hard to read, once you get through that and stand back, the 'story' the game tells is very convincing. One test I find useful for historical games is how the battles sound when recounted later, compared to real accounts of battles by period authors. On the couple of plays of C&C:A, DBA wins this hands down. DBA is a battle of lines, whereas C&C:A seems to be more of a battle of clumps. C&C:A is far from being a bad game, but if you want something that tells the 'story' of an ancient battle, then I'd say DBA does it better.

So...
Not a definitive answer as there isn't one, but hopefully something for you to think about.
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The Fiend
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All the above explanations are very good but there's really one big difference between the systems.

DBA is a Miniatures system, all you get when you buy it is the rules. You will need to provide the miniatures (and paint them), the playing field and terrain as well as some needed playing aids.

C&Cis a Boardgame with everything you need right in the box!

I've played DBA in tournaments for over 13 years and the rules are constantly being revised and updated. Several years ago they completelly re-did the army lists leaving me with the gigantic task of re-basing and revising over 50 armies! Your moves are made with a measuring stick and millemeters can get pretty prickly with hawk-eyed opponents. DBA is something you have to put a LOT of work into to get satisfaction out of. One great point is that this game rewards a good player in the long run no matter what PIP they rolled on the dice and no one wins just because they pulled a lucky card.

C&C, like "Memoir 44'" and "Battle Cry", is a much less complex system than DBA. No arguing about moves as your units are bound into hexes. No hours of painting expensive figures is needed (believe me, label-sticking is MUCH easier) or acquiring realistic terrain. You can teach someone everything they need to know about the game in a half an hour and then they might just beat you in that 1st game{especially if they get that "lucky" card!}. This wouldn't happen in DBA as a newbie would be lost until playing many, many games. Even with my experience I have to monitor DBA websites to check on what rules are currently mutating for the next tournament.

 
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Kevin Duke
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Thanks for the well-founded insights.

What I don't understand is why so many people get sucked into the "in a real battle..." mindset and start conjuring add-ons and variants to make C&C more like something it is not. Somehow the "what it is" is not enough for them, I guess. The system looks so simple that it seems easy to "tweak" a little and make it "better." I suspect all tweaks that touch the engine and mechanics.

By the way, I played Akgragus last night with a brand newby and he DID win the first game. Was not just a single lucky card either-- but there was a hot streak involved at a key moment. So be it-- I had a good time, we swapped sides and played again. Taking a guy who'd never seen the game and playing 4 games in 5 hours and wanting more (but it was near 2am on a work night) says a lot to me about how good this thing is.

Sure, other systems may be much better "simulations," and folks can ladle extra details on if they want to.

C&C is doing a fine, fine job of being the game it is without any extra "improvements."
 
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robin goblin
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Lots of good comments here, but I think the degree to which C&C works at structuring the game to work like an ancients battle is being under-estimated. The cards do some interesting things:

-there are enough group and line command cards to really reward keeping your infantry in a line and moving them forward. So, C&C really *can* be about maintaining a line and moving it forward.

-the evasion rules do an amazing job of simulating the role of light troops in a very straightforward manner

-the speed of Cavalry and the ability to pin units against the edge of the board does a great job of showing the importance of maintaining your flanks and how vulnerable your army's flanks are once your cavalry have been driven off, leaving your infantry pinned to your army's base line and subject to repeated pinning attacks OR if moved forward, subject to being surrounded by cavalry on the flanks, preventing retreat and leading to the disintegration of units as a result.

-the variations in different units do a surprisingly good job of creating strong differences in how units are used in battle and what they do well and poorly.

C&C is an amazing game...Oh yeah, and I am terrible at it...

Robin
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bob machala
United States
Waynesboro
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There is no game in existance, or everwill be that could actually
simulate an ancients battle or any battle, but to experience the
feel of a commander coordinating his movements in all the termoil, noise,dust, excitement, etc CCA does that as well as any. big plus;
its fun.
 
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Doug Acker
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C&C:A is more playable. I am converting my DBA armies (Polybian Roman, Late Carthaginian, Sicilian, Late Macedonian, Late Achemenid Persian, 50 misc Peltasts, 50 misc hoplites, 25 mis cavalry) into an almost complete set of C&C:A Punic wars figures.

Why? Although I have played DBA at casual and competative levels, the intricacy of the rules-lawyer-proof rules make it less fun. Another part of life ruined by lawers! Althouh my loving wife has gone so far as to learn DBA from the masters at conventians, she too thinks C&C:A is more fun. And even lopsided scenarios are fun when you play them both ways.

The conversion is pretty easy.
1. Cut apart your DBA bases into individual figures (or two-infantry stands for AUX, Medium and Heavy inf),
2. Paint the edges and a little of the top of the resulting bases with blue or orange (color-blind friendly red) to identify troops as medium or heavy. Paint white dashes around edge for Aux or Warriors.
3. (Optional) Varnish the resulting figs with acrylic floor wax for better resistance to handling.
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