So I’ve finally got round to reading DBA v3.0. It’s taken me a couple of goes because I tried to print it out as a booklet at first and the print was really small and I couldn’t read it so I had to print it out again full size.
So much for economising on paper and ink.
Any how, what have the Barkers done to this much loved set of rules? I say the Barkers as this is clearly a collaboration between the two of them and no one else, as only their names sign the introduction. Of course, in line with Phil’s methodology, this has been play-tested “on three continents”, which I assume means that they were in communication with gamers on other continents, not just that they were playing the game on their holidays.
I’ve known the Barkers for nearly 30 years now (through WD) and whilst I wouldn’t say we’ve grown to love each other I am aware of Phil’s idiosyncrasies and I have some admiration for the way he works and the care he expends over his rules. I’m also aware he is very well read and very opinionated. (Sue on the other hand tends to be quiet but is clearly the much smarter of the two of them). Phil’s never been backwards in putting his opinions in his rule writings, but there are some odd bits even by his standards in these.
He’s obviously not happy with the way some people have been playing with his system, - he wants the boards to be 24” x 24”, but some people use 30” x 30” even though this gives “longer games and more draws”. Bases sizes are fixed, so figure manufacturers responsible for “scale creep” need to sort themselves out, rather than Phil adjust the size of bases to allow for what is becoming more normal. Grudgingly we are allowed to expand the base depth to allow for our over sized figures, which is a relief as the alternative is to chop one of their legs off. In fact there are several instances where the sub text of the writing seems to scream out “Will you just leave my rules alone!!!”.
There’s another odd window into someone’s secret pain in the section on Dice. This reads:
“All dicing uses a single ordinary 1 to 6 dice, which should be used for the whole game to avoid suspicion of malpractice. However, as a concession for the superstitious, a dice that scores 1 in six successive throws may be junked and replaced.”
Suspicion of malpractice???? Keeping track of the number of 1’s rolled? As I said, there’s some secret pain there. Me, personally, I like to have several dice on the table, as sometimes I’m in a green die mood, and some times I’m in a red die mood. I can be impulsive. I hope my regular opponents will be able to forgive me this foible when we play.
A lot of the changes to the text are further explanations rather than new rules, but they don't do anything for Phil's reputation for dogmatism. However they do help you understand where he's coming from.
I'm not really in a place to comment on the rule changes yet. The change in measuring to use Base Widths is to be applauded as making the whole system more internally consistent and I'd be in favour of it a lot more if I hadn't bought myself a special DBA v2.0 ruler last year at Derby. There are big changes in the effects of recoiling units which strike me as a good thing, and also a variation of blade factors if being shot at,
Finally there's more stuff about Built Up Areas. I've never understood these rules and I understand that they are not universally liked elsewhere either. All I would point out is that each turn in the game is approximately 15 minutes, and within that time it is possible to seize a town and install a puppet government.
Yes, in less time than it takes to watch a Simpsons' episode you can have a full political revolution.