DBA Optional Rules
One, all or none of these rules may be only used with the prior concurrence of both players. An explanation of the rationale behind the rule change is provided in italic text.
Regulars and Irregulars PIP Modifier
Regulars differed from irregulars in receiving training to operate as formed bodies, making them more responsive to the Commander’s plans, timings, manoeuvre intentions and battlefield orders. Although fighting prowess as individual may be similar, regular training resulted in more consistent collective performance than the extremes sometimes experienced by irregulars.
To reflect the relatively consistency performance of regulars compared with the sometimes erratic behaviour of irregulars, dice modified to show 2, 3, 3, 4, 4 and 5 are used for all throws by regular elements. The conventional 1 to 6 dice are used for irregulars.
Whether troops are regular or irregular depends on their organisation, training and the consistency with which they could be controlled. Warband, Horde, Camelry, Scythed Chariots, Camp Followers and Denizens can never be regular. All other troop types can be regular or irregular according to their historical prototypes.
Elephants are always irregular for combat dice throws. If the elephant model also represents a general who would otherwise fall within the regular definition, modified dice are used to generate PIPs.
Troop Quality Combat Modifier
Some troops acquired a greater degree of efficiency and higher morale through experience and training than others. This was reflected in their performance and confidence in their own ability, whether or not it was in fact justified. Conversely, some were untrained, inexperienced and lacking confidence. These differences manifested in combat.
In addition to ordinary elements, troop quality can be further modified as superior or inferior. For every element in a force upgraded to superior, one element must be downgraded to inferior. Deciding which element should be upgraded or downgraded, if any, is more immediately apparent in some lists than others.
Superior troops are those recognised by their contemporaries as significantly superior in morale and efficiency. Elephants, Knights (or Cataphracts if the Cataphract option is used), Cavalry, Light Horse, Spears, Pikes, Blades, Auxilia, Bows, Psiloi or Warband can be superior.
Inferior elements are brittle troops historically identifiable as of significantly inferior morale and efficiency. Elephants, Knights (or Cataphracts if the Cataphract option is used), Cavalry, Light Horse, Camelry, Spears, Pikes, Blades, Auxilia, Bows, Psiloi or Horde can be inferior.
Compare elements total score after combat, rear support and tactical factors are calculated but before applying combat outcomes:
- Superior troops whose primary opponent is not superior add +1 to any lower distant combat score or equal or lower to any close combat score.
- Inferior troops whose primary opponent is not inferior deduct -1 from any lower distant combat score or equal or lower to any close combat score.
Cataphract Combat Modifier
The almost complete armour for man and horse used by Cataphracts combined with extremely close formation made them ponderous in manoeuvre and almost impervious to archery. Cataphracts also includes cataphract camels.
Cataphracts in combat against or in close combat against Cavalry, Light Horse, Pikes or Spears add +1 to any equal or lower to any close combat score. When shot at by Bowmen, they add +1 to any lower distance combat score.
Cataphracts in close combat against Scythed Chariots, Elephants, Knights (other than Cataphracts), Blades or Warband deduct -1 from any equal or lower close combat score.
Spear and Bow Combination Combat Modifier
Some formations used shielded spearmen or pikemen to protect archers shooting overhead. The front rank shields of the formation provided an advantage of protection against other bowmen but shallower formation of close combat troops in the front ranks was a disadvantage against close combat opponents.
Combinations or pike or spear armed front ranks with integral support from rear rank bowmen. They count as bowmen when in distant combat but add +1 to any lower combat score. They count as spearmen when in close combat but deduct -1 from equal or lower to any combat score.
Spear and Bow combinations cannot claim rear support.
Cavalry and Infantry Combination Combat Modifier
Some nations deployed with light infantry in close support of their cavalry, sometimes being carried as pillion on the cavalry horse, otherwise running alongside or behind. The close support lent some stability to the horsemen but at the cost of reduced mobility trough the horse carrying extra weight or being slowed to enable to foot soldiers to keep up.
Cavalry of the early Germans (List II/47), ancient Spanish (List II/39) and early Samurai cavalry (List III/54) can claim +1 if supported by integral infantry when in close combat against other Cavalry or Knights (or Cavalry and Cataphracts but not other knights if the Cataphract option is used). The combined element moves at the slowest speed applicable to its constituent troop type (cavalry or psiloi/auxilia) for the terrain it occupies.
Wedge Formation PIP and Tactical Factor Modifier
A wedge formation was used by some mounted units to provide additional shock effect at contact by focusing the point of attack to rupture the opposing formation. If impetus was lost however, the narrower formation could be more easily outflanked, surrounded, and destroyed before the shock advantage could be exploited.
Other less formal wedges common amongst some irregular forces where braver individuals led their less enthusiastic supporters forward, the followers echeloning back along the flanks, lacked the necessary cohesion to count as wedge formation.
Alexandrian Companion cavalry (shown as 3Kn in List II/12 and 15), Hellenistic xystophoroi (shown as 3Kn in List II/16a, b, c, and d; 17; 18; 19a and b; 20a and b; 27; and 34), Byzantine Clibanophoroi (shown as 6Kn in List III/64), and later German knights (shown as 6Kn in List IV/13c and d, and 74) can be deployed in wedge formation.
To reflect their emphasis on momentum and shock of impact, troops in wedge ignore any overlaps by enemy elements in side edge to side edge contact or in front corner to front corner contact, but not those enemy in front edge with the wedge’s side edge, provided:
- In their own bound: the wedge either advanced into contact
- In their opponents bound: the wedge pursued close combat opponents who recoiled, broke-off, fled or were destroyed during their last bound
The loss of some bodies of troops would have a greater impact on the morale of an army than the loss of others. For example, the destruction of levy infantry would have less effect on the cohesion of a force than the loss of elite heavy troops.
Prior to the start of the game, elements can be modified to represent morale equivalents for calculating losses. Morale equivalents can be modified according to the table below provided that the total morale equivalents equals the total number of elements in the army.
Alternatively, opposing forces may be made up of equal total morale equivalents, representing large forces of poor troops or smaller forces of high quality troops. Army lists must still contain at least one element of the range of alternative troop types.
Elephants, Knights, Heavy Chariots, Light Chariots, Cavalry, Pikes, Spears, Spear/Bow, Blades, or Warband
Light Horse, Psiloi, poor quality Auxilia or Bowmen, or Hordes
½ - 1
Scythed chariots, camp followers and denizens are always worth zero morale equivalents. As a scythed chariot element still counts as an element for calculating the total number of morale equivalents, armies with a scythed chariot must always have at least one element also worth two morale equivalents. Camps and BUA occupied by the enemy during the battle count as two morale equivalents as long as they remain under enemy control.
The first side at the end of any bound that has lost its general or whose lost element’s morale equivalents total a third of its original morale equivalents and has also lost more morale equivalents than the enemy loses the battle.
The same calculation methods are applied to determine the demoralised and winning and losing thresholds for BBDBA.
Artillery during the ancient period was more rarely used in field operations than during sieges. Some types lacked manoeuvrability and had to be assembled in place. Other types attempted to compensate by making the equipment light enough to be man-portable or mounting equipment on carts or elephants.
Artillery is divided into two types: static or mobile.
Static artillery is lager or heavier pieces without the means to be moved during a battle without extreme difficulty. Its movement is restricted to pivoting in place to alter its arc of fire. Such a pivot counts as a move for distant combat purposes. Static artillery with a distant combat total score of less than its opponent but more than half has a ‘no effect’ outcome.
Mobile artillery can be moved during the battle but has its maximum range reduced to 350 paces. It can shoot only in its own side’s bound or if it is shot at by the target and if it did not move.
The majority blade type relied on edged weapons, shields and armour. Some had heavy edged, pole arm or concussive weapons but lacked defensive shields or adequate armour. They were more vulnerable to missiles before closing to contact but equally formidable in close combat. Their lack of armour was offset by heavier weapons in comparison with other blade types.
Blades are divided into two types: ordinary and light.
There are no rule modifications for ordinary blades.
Light blades include Aurelian’s (doubtful) Palestinian clubmen (List II/64), Indian clubmen (List II/3), Dacian falxmen (List II/52), Byzantine menevlatoi (List III/64), and early Swiss halberdiers (List IV/41).
They deduct -1 from distant combat scores against Bowmen (including Longbow or Crossbow if that option used).
They add +1 to close combat scores against Knights (or Cataphracts if the Cataphract option is used), Pikes or Spears.
The majority spear type relied on the cohesion provided by their close formation and defensive ‘shield wall’. Some instead operated with light equipment in a more flexible formation in broken terrain or in deep formations in open terrain using their spears to keep enemy at bay. They were more vulnerable to missiles but less susceptible to the effects of broken terrain.
Spears are divided into two types: ordinary and light.
There are no rule modifications for ordinary Spears.
Light Spears include those categories listed at ‘3Sp’.
For movement and for distant combat against Bowmen (including Longbow or Crossbow if that option used) Light Spears are treated as Auxilia. In close combat they count as Spears except that they deduct -1 from close combat scores against ordinary Spears.
Longbow and Crossbow
Longbow and crossbow technology coupled with improved missiles provided greater penetrating power than the self bows used my most nations or longbows used without improved arrowheads by others. This improvement came at reduced mobility associated with larger and heavier weapons and a significant additional training debt in the case of longbows or slower rates of fire in the case of crossbows. The mobility disadvantage was offset to a degree by mounting archers for transport to combat. Static defence was often be enhanced by the use of armour, shields, pavaises or fixed stakes.
Longbow or Crossbow armed bow elements (listed as Lb or Cb in the army lists) can shoot only if it did not move in its own bound immediately preceding.
Bowmen (not Longbow or Crossbow) deduct -1 from distant combat scores against Elephants, Knights (or Cataphracts if the Cataphract option is used), Scythed Chariots, Spears(or ordinary Spears if the option is used), Pikes, or Blades (or ordinary Blades if the option is used). There would be no appreciable disadvantage against other troop types as penetrating power was already adequate.
A close combat advantage for longbow or crossbows using substantial armour or defensive stakes should be achieved through classification as superior.
Longbows or crossbows used in the second rank of Spear and Bow Combinations count as normal bows to allow for reduced numbers compared with full longbow or crossbow elements and loss of accuracy due to the elevation required to fire over the front rank.
Some troops rode to battle dismounting to fight, sending their mounts away to the rear. Others dismounted on the battlefield to fight but kept their mounts nearby to remount if required.
Element combinations separated by // in the army lists are permitted to dismount or mount during the game as part of a tactical move. An additional transport element of horse holders or wagon models, as appropriate, must be positioned immediately behind the dismounted element. The transport element is lost should the dismounted element make a tactical move without remounting or be destroyed, flee, break-off, or recoil as a combat outcome.
In a BBDBA game, an element eligible to flee as the result of demoralisation automatically remounts to do so, the 1 PIP and delay to remount being waived. The transport element of a demoralised element that is not being held is immediately removed.
If the player desires, the transport element can be permanently removed to save space, it being assumed that the transport has been sent off the battlefield.
Like dismounting, remounting costs 1 PIP. It takes an entire bound with no other activity to remount and form up, ending the bound facing in any direction desired.
Heavy Troop Combat Outcomes
It was the combat between heavy troops that usually decided the outcome of battles. Some mounted troop types such as knights could shatter a formed opponent with an impetuous charge. Some infantry troop types such as blades or warband sought to resolve the engagement thorough a series of pulses, others like spears and pikes through constant pressure until one side gave way. The initiative would pass from one side to the other. The side with the initiative would seek to maximise the tactical advantage afforded by their style of combat.
The following outcomes are substituted in the event that the total is less than that of its opponent but more than half:
Cavalry If in an enemy bound:
· destroyed by Knights not in wedge if in good going,
· flee from Scythed Chariots or Camelry.
If not, recoil.
Pikes or Spears If in an enemy bound, destroyed by:
· Elephants, Knights, Light Horse or Scythed Chariots if in good going;
If not, recoil.
Blades If in an enemy bound, destroyed by:
· Knights or Scythed Chariots if in good going,
If not, recoil.
Warband If in an enemy bound, destroyed by:
· Elephants, Knights or Scythed Chariots if in good going;
If not, recoil.