Saturday, 15 March 2014

DBA on Hex mat

Hi Everyone!

These days, my professional life is very complicated and complex. This creates in me a real need for simplicity. In my eye, everything can be simplified. Is it a good idea? Not always. Applied to DBA, my new found love in the wargaming world? It seems to work! My goal was to find the simplest point where the qualities and enjoyment of the game are still intact. Let's look at what I tried:

This game is already very simple. To cite the very words of Phil Barker in DBA's intoduction:
"Our intent was to provide the simplest possible set of wargames rules that retain the feel and generalship requirements of ancient or medieval battle."

I think M. Barker could have made a step further along the realism/simplicity axis; the movement rules in DBA are the only thing, in my mind that are complex or difficult to address during play. Not to say that they are wrong in any way, but they are in my opinion, too complex to meet the requirements mentioned above, and too complex for what my tired brain can cope with these days. I tried to take that step forward. I am certainly not the first to do it, but still, here is what I did:

  • I used a hotz mat (link) with 4" grid arrayed in the length direction.
  • Units face the corners of hexes.
  • I assigned a scale of one hex = 200 paces. every distances were rounded up. (500 paces = 3 hex).
  • A group is formed of adjacent units (all units on the left can be grouped in the following picture).

  • Two enemy units in adjacent squares are NOT in contact, they are 200 paces apart.
  • contacting units move INTO the enemy unit's hex by assaulting an hex edge.

  • The winning unit remains in the hex (left combat: blue unit destroyed, red wins the hex)
  • Recoil is made along the assaulting unit's edge direction (center combat: blue unit recoil, red wins the hex ; right combat: red unit recoils)
  • Pushback is also made along the axis of the assault (Cv unit charge and wins combat, recoiling red into a friend facing the same way, which is pushed back)

  • A unit's Control area is the two hexes in front of a unit (dark hexes in the left example below)
  • A unit can support a friend's combat if it faces the same direction and if the combat takes place in one of the four hex in it's front and sides (lightened hexes in the center example below)
  • A unit is flaking if it is assaulting the side of the hex of an enemy unit contacted to the front. (right example below)
  • Units capable of providing rear support must enter the same Hex as the supported unit to give the support bonus.
  • Units can change facing after any move(left example below); provided they are not in the area of control of an enemy (ILLEGAL MOVE; center example below)
  • a group can perform a wheel, by moving each unit up to it`s movement allowance, and keeping one flank anchored in it`s Hex (right example). The group must all face in the same direction. The group don`t form a "neat" line any more, but they are still a group, and they are still supporting one another.

  • The battlefield I used has 12x14 hexes; which is bigger than the usual battlefield (2800 paces wide instead of 2250), but this still gives the right "feel" because units have a larger front (200paces intead of 150).
  • terrain occupy contiguous hexes, 3, 4 or 5 hexes (max total width + length = 4.5 hexes)
That's about it! It seems like a lot of text for a SIMPLE solution, but in the end, it really is more simple to play. For the moment, I have found no loopholes in the "rules"; and I think that both the tactical aspect of the game and the gut wrenching decision making (roll a "1" on your PIP die...) are completely intact. 

I'll admit that I only tried solo. I should be able to try it out in the next few days with a friend; we'll see how it fares then!

Please feel free to leave comments and/or questions


  1. This is great!
    I also have been playing around with ideas using hex map for 15mm DBA miniatures Armies or even using counters.

    One problem with hex maps is how does one perform a group move i.e. wheeling groups to left or right?

    mind you the answer is a simple rule "groups are not allowed to perform wheeling"


  2. Thanks!
    But, no, do NOT use counters... not when you already have nicely painted armies!!! heretic...

    For the group wheeling, because the scale is set at one hex = 200 paces, simply keeping every unit in the group within it`s movement allowance should be enough ruling; basically, normal move for every unit, but keeping the group intact all along. Make your line pivot, while keeping one side anchored. You will see that you will advance the other side one, or two hex, if their movement allow them to.

    You end up with a "broken" line, like the blue and red lines in the third diagram above, but in fact, such a line is only "angled", not "broken": because of the area of control, each unit is supporting each other in that line. Try it out, it's far less complicated than it first seems.

  3. I added a section on facing and wheeling.

    1. Great! even better :o)

      I concur with you as well as Peter (Gonsalvo) that most of the DBA movement rules are a pain in the back side and unnecessary.

      The way I see it DBA rules are more of a "tactical" based game engine for its army units/elements, moving around freely on the board almost like WWII blitzkrieg tactics....where as other ancients/medieval rules i.e. Impetus are more of command control game engine - cohesion,discipline and morale more historical than DBA in terms of movement.

      I'm currently trying out your ideas Jo, so far working well..........

  4. Very good. The movement rules for DBA always put me off, and this is an excellent solution!

  5. Great idea. The next evolution of this might be to play with unbased figures. That would look great.

  6. Just curious if you have any updates on using DBA on a hex map?