Category Archives: DBA

DBA Resurgent

I’m very fortunate to have a number of regular or semi regular opponents and between them I can satisfy my very disparate gaming interests. For the last couple of weeks there has been a bit of a DBA theme to my gaming.

Now I know that DBA is not for everyone. However, one of the real advantages, at least to me, is the ability to field a range of different armies and engage in games between historical or near historical opponents. What is even better is that even in a short evening gaming slot, sometimes only of two hours, defeat in the first game can be replaced with victory in the next. It all combines for a relaxed evening. Indeed, a series of four recent evenings, over the last couple of weeks, was a great reminder of these advantages.

Some of the games have been hilarious encounters, especially those involving my recently renovated Post-Mongol Samurai.

The army was originally built for DBR and portions occasionally used for DBA. However, with a serious lack of opponents locally for DBR I felt it time to rebase a portion of the army to make it more usable for DBA. This included some options that aren’t for me typical.

Above, a seated commander looks on as the town militia advances. These are one of several options in the list. It’s hard to take an army with a seated commander, who is actually unable to initiate combat, too seriously. The horde, often fielded in DBR as “filler” now even get to fight, sometimes with determination!

But of course it wasn’t all to do with things Japanese, as the photo of Andrew’s and Robin’s Early Mycenaeans below indicates. This was one of several armies being used recently.

Interested in some additional photos? A small selection, covering several of my recent DBA gaming evenings, can be found here. Of course you feel inclined to play some DBA drop me a note, or considering joining in one of the local DBA events coming up.

Conquest Thoughts

Over the weekend several locals and and four visitors gathered for a DBA competition held as part of the larger Conquest convention. As always I’m appreciative of all the organising that goes on behind the scene. Organising venues, gathering registration fees, organising prizes and the setup and take down of all the tables.

Generally the games being played at Conquest were the various fantasy and science fiction systems. I believe DBA was the only historical competition at the venue, attracting a number of visitors. Even more surprising was the lack of demonstration games, usually a feature of Conquest. Likely all a result of the change of venue and reduced space.


From a DBA perspective the event was a success, at least based on player feedback. A solid ten players turned up for the first day competition that comprised six rounds of games. I must say I rather enjoy the splitting of the day into an Ancient theme followed by a Dark Age and Medieval theme as it encourages a greater mix of armies.

The second day comprised a three rounds Big Battle DBA competition. This too seemed successful though it attracted eight players rather than the previous ten. This format was a bit of an experiment, yet proved popular with all the participants.

A few photos of the DBA events, including some of the excellently presented armies can be found here.

BBDBA Comparisons

Last night we managed another Big Battle DBA game. As I mentioned previously I was particularly interested as it came just two days after a 300 point game of DBMM creating an opportunity to compare the two rule sets. In addition, as we used similar armies, both based on Hellenic Successor states, comparing the two games was even easier.

As to the specific armies, for this latest encounter I deployed a Lysimachid Successor army while my opponent deployed Graeco-Indians. Both armies of course had a core of phalangites and similar mix of supporting troops to our MM game. That said there were some differences as the DBMM lists allow more army composition while DBA armies are generally more restrictive.


For BBDBA we used a table that was 1.2m wide by 0.6m in depth, which was of a similar width, though narrower, to that we used for DBMM. The most obvious difference was the deployment width of our troops. My phalanx for example while being only five stands wide in MM, though four deep, was now nine stands wide but only two deep. It’s worth noting that the figure scale had changed. While DBMM has a nominal troop scale of 250 men per stand DBA suggests a scale of around 500-600 men per stand. As a result my pike phalanx alone had grown from 5000 men to around 10,000 men. Now to the battle…

The Lysimachus was determined to be the invader, and invading Bactria. We used a slightly modified deployment system with the players recording the relationship of commands to each other after camps were placed but before any troops were placed. The armies deployed symmetrically with heavy foot in the centre and cavalry on each wing, but the Bactrians maintained an advantage in cavalry and elephants, the Lysimachid in heavy foot.

The battle started with the Bactrians, not surprisingly, sweeping forward against the Lysimachid right flank with their Iranian lancers destroying all before them. However, before they could exploit the success the centre and other wings were engaged.

On the Lysimachid left the advancing Thracians and Greek hoplites overcome the Bactrian foot and mounted breaking the Bactrian right flank. A factor here was the smaller Bactrian wing and the higher PIP allocation to the Lysimachid left flank.

Meanwhile the clash continued in the centre. Here, Graeco-Bactrian elephants caused much disorder to friends and foe alike while phalangites pressed forward, each army ebbing and flowing. It was in the centre that the second Graeco-Bactrian general fell, a casualty to the Lysimachid silver shields who surged forward. Yet it was too much, while both armies were nearing exhaustion the Lysimachid centre finally buckled. With it the Lysimachid army broke.

So how did the two games compare. DBMM, without doubt has much greater detail, but this detail comes at a cost of increased complexity. I feel the same aspects are modelled adequtely in DBA. Let’s consider some examples. The Graeco-Bactrian thureophoroi were still superior in combat to the Thracian auxilia and the Bactrian horse still outnumbered the Lysimachids with deadly results. Psiloi played an important part in front of the main phalanx. They disrupted enemy main line or attempted to counter elephants. Yet, they eventually retired through the lines as the phalangites pressed their attacks, just as in DBMM. Then there is the phalangites who swirled back and forth for some time each gaining an advantage, but nothing massive, with the possible exception of the loss of a Graeco-Bactrian general and on the flank of the Lysimachid phalanx which was eventually turned. As casualties mounted command break and demoralisation set in, just as with DBMM. As commands broke commanders struggled to find troops to exploiting success.

From my perspective it was an outstanding game. From turn one I was on the edge of my seat. Clearly out deployed, my army seemed doomed but the game evened out and soon the Graeco-Bactrian commander, who had victory in his grasp one moment was starting to consider defeat as a real possibility.

DBMM has some real strengths, certainly it has significant detail which can be ideal for players seeking this. I will occasionally play DBMM, but the rules are more complex. In contrast the larger DBA 3.0 games capture enough extra challenges and provide further visual spectacle for those players seeking that. I think BBDBA will work well in historical settings which is my main interest, but less well in a competition.

I don’t see BBDBA replacing standard DBA which remains my preferred Ancients game. However, I can see it supplementing it. Of course your requirements or preferences may be different. Either way, we are spoilt for choice.

Natcon Musings

Another Natcon has been and gone and for 2015 it was of course in Auckland. Despite there being some organisational issues, including a change of venue in the week before the competition, it seemed to go reasonably well. Well it did from my perspective. I’m always impressed how much time a few organisers and a small number of volunteers put into such events. I find it enough just organising a few competitors for a competition. But this year I had a break from this as well!
In recent years I have played in or organised DBR events, but with a range of local amendments being used I decided to look elsewhere. As a result I decided early to participate in the 15mm DBA competition which ran for two days. However, being in the main historical area of the venue it gave me a reasonable view of the other historical games. I believe there was a fantasy area but I didn’t go looking so I’m not sure of the details. The historical game systems in use were DBA, FOG Ancients, FOG Napoleonics, Renaissance using DBR and Flames of War, all in 15mm. I was a little surprised by what I thought was a small number of Flames of War games. The only 25mm games were Ancients using DBMM, but there was a good turn out for this.
I forgot my camera, so the limited photos of the day were of the DBA games. Above Sinhalese engage Norse Vikings on the second day. The thought of the Sinhalese massed archers fighting solid Viking foot was one game I was dreading! On another table Aztecs are engaged by Spanish, and a full European Spanish army at that. To my amazement the Aztecs overcame the Spanish, certainly a change from the history books! A few additional photos of the DBA Competition can be found here.
Unfortunately, there were no demonstration games nor any retailers. Perhaps these were casualties of a limited space at the original venue or the late venue change? Interestingly there were still a number of visitors and certainly the DBA area had a number of people who were looking to pull armies out of storage and buy copies of the rules.
Overall a great venue, and for us a positive change as it greatly reduced our travel time. I have no idea who will host Natcon 2016, but I’m sure details will come out soon.


A Wargaming Summer Holiday

It has been a busy few weeks since my last few posts during which there has been plenty of wargaming mixed in with Christmas & New Year activities. Family, good weather and wargaming with friends has made it a very pleasant summer holiday.

From a wargaming perspective there has been much activity. Before Christmas I managed to make considerable progress on some 15mm Ancients having painted a good number of stands for my Roman, Greek and Successor armies. Many of these figures have been smiling at me from the lead pile for many years. I’m sure some of these figures will appear on this site in due course.

During and after this painting blitz a large number of DBA 3.0 games have been played. These rules have proved very satisfying both in regards to the rules but also in allowing me to catchup with a large number of players. I have not generally attempted to record these games but a brief summary of the Woolston DBA Challenge can be found on my Ancient & Medieval website should you be interested. The next DBA event for me looks to be the “Pokeno Invitational” which, all going to plan, will see an informal gathering of DBA gamers south of Auckland.

Napoleonic gaming has also featured in recent weeks with a couple of excellent Napoleonic games being played. The first was an 1813 affair between Russians and French and the second, fought last night, was set in the Peninsular between an Anglo-Spanish army and the ever belligerent French. As always we use Volley & Bayonet for these games and 6mm figures.

Below, French forces are shown on the left while the Anglo-Spanish army with the burden of attack, on the right. The situation shown, early in the battle, has the Anglo-Spanish attempting to pin the French centre while rolling up the extended French left. The French attempt to reinforce this flank. Jourdan managed to inflict heavy casualties on the Anglo Spanish right, using Sebastiani’s Corps and elements of the “Madrid Garrison”. However, further Aliied attacks attacks on the French centre, under command of Victor, caused heavy French casualties. It was only fading light, and heavy allied casualties, that curtailed the Anglo Allied attacks.

150109_VB1Discussions are already underway for further Volley & Bayonet encounters.

Enough ramblings on recent games, I really need to prepare for my first 15mm DBMM game in many years. The army list needs to completed, the army packed and a review of the rules are all required before tomorrow…