Sunday, 11 September 2011


DBA has to be the most popular set of rules ever. The armies are easy to assemble and you can play two or three games in an evening to a clear result.

I have to confess that actually I've probably only ever played 2 or 3 games of DBA in my life, which I guess might make me a bit of a wargaming oddity. I have two DBA armies - Normans & "Anglo-Danish" - which I assembled after a trip to Hastings. I think that honestly speaking they've done more service in a matrix game of Dorylaeum than they ever did as DBA armies.

Anyhow my friend Phil has been waxing lyrical about his beautiful new DBA army (well, it does look nice, - take a look at it here: Phil's Brilliant DBA Arthurian Army) so I thought it might be nice to become more closely acquainted with the game. Especially as you can download v2.2 from the Barkers' website for free (sans Army Lists, admittedly, but you can get enough data from the Fanaticus website to put armies together). So this Thursday we're going to have a DBA evening.

The v2+ of the rules has a few changes compared to the v1 copy I've got and have previously played so I'll need to read up on them at some point this week and sort out the terrain rules as well.

I note that I'll need a camp and that they have to be a certain size and so on (smaller than an 80mm x 80mm total area for 15mm but big enough to hold an element. I've knocked up a pait of basic camps stuck on old credit cards which are approximately 9cm x 5cm so I hope they'll do. I think the photo more than does justice to them, and I feel that if I used if at a competition I'd be roundly mocked. My aim is to be able to use them for Normans, Saxons, Romans, Parthians, Ancient Germans, Yorkists & Lancastrians so simplicity is the answer. I've not put any camp followers in as the only spare figures I've got lying around are some WW2 British XIVth Army and some dervishes.
DBA camp. Stockade from matchsticks, campfire is a Peter Pig PITS marker

I've never understood Phil Barker's obsession with camps. I know from many ancient battle accounts that both sides often have a camp close by, and they form a place to rally in the event of a disaster and the sacking of them is an event of note but how significant should they be?

In DBA loss of your camp counts as 2 elements lost in a game where if you lose 4 it's game over. This has always seemed to me to be a bit off. After all, if you've completely stuffed your opponent's field army do you really mind that much if a few light horse got in amongst your baggage? I've never been good at covering things like camps, - my view has always been that the aim of a field army is to destroy the opponent's field army. Once you've done that you control the field and you can pretty much do what you want.


  1. DBA camps

    There's quite a bit in DBA that I think is mad or out of scale (a lot of the supporting ranks rule make no sense given the groundscale; whoever dreamt up the BUAs had overdone their medicines; the Arable home terrain has to have a road or BUA on tha battlefield _what? Why?? I could go on ...)

    Camps I am more happy with: their main function is to telegraph your deployment (losing the camp is very very rare, but it is high value, so once it goes down it indicates you will deploy in front of it - ish); they make you want to avoid being outflanked (or need a reserve if you can't avoid it); and they give light cavalry armies something (plausible) to go for.

    They are worth 2 stands because otherwise they'd just count like an abandoned troop element. Nobody much would bother. Light Horse are about the only troops who ever get them, but they can struggle to kill frontally (so a LH army that gets your camp gains the handicap of only needing 2 of your troop elements - and that about works ...)...

    I would agree that camps are too near the battlefield but that relates to table size. The troops who can get extra moves in the game (LH + Ps and Wb occasionally) get them given the the current table size. Making the table much bigger and the camp much further away works for me, but you'd have to give lots of slower troop types extra movement (play a few games with infantry troop types and you'll find the enemy's camp is already bloomin' miles away in game terms).

    Some of these features may be addressed in DBA 3, but, by and large, I think some indication on table of where the baggage is is a good rule feature, and how DBA does it is better than some other approaches ...

    I would love to do, say, a rewrite of Armati (it is much needed). One of the first things I would add would be baggage. Wierd deployments would become less common over night!


  2. Phil,

    Thanks for your thoughts & tips. A comment almost longer than the blog. I take your point on the deployment of the camp has an effect on where other things go, but I still think that they count as too important in the overall scheme of things.

    Based upon the height of my experience playing 2 or 3 games with a set of rules that is now out of date, that is.


  3. I doubt it will bother you when you see how the balance works :)

  4. I agree. I don't know why I'm worrying about camps. I'll have lost 4 elements way before anyone gets near it.