Saturday, January 28, 2012

Next Draft of DBA 3.0 is Out

The Jan 2012 draft of DBA 3.0 is out. Phil Barker has been active on the DBA forum on Yahoo, field questions and addressing concerns (although some still do not like the answers they have received). At first I was a little dismayed by Phil and Sue not really joining in on the debates on the forums (Yahoo or Fanaticus), as Phil had on the DBMM forum on Yahoo. Actually, it was watching (from the public bleachers) the development of DBMM that got me excited when I heard that it was DBA's turn. A chance to interact with the authors, to voice a preference, to be heard. So when Phil did not come on immediately, I really did think like some of the detractors were complaining: Phil did not care about DBA.

Turns out that all things need to happen in their own time and at their own pace. Phil is engaged and providing some very interesting and useful insight into his game design philosophy. And let's face it: for all the complainer's about "Barkerese", his ancients rules - in all their various forms - are clearly the most played ancients rules on the planet. (Might they also be the most played wargaming miniatures rules, regardless of period or genre, out there? Quite possibly, but the Warhammer franchise probably beats them. If counting only historical, quite probably, but it is hard to tell, given the popularity of Flames of War.)

Enough gushing. Here are some noteworthy changes from the last draft (or from the previous version, if I did not note it in the last draft, but it was there):
  • Army lists can now swap three elements from their list with three elements from an allied list.
  • Clarity on terrain piece sizes.
  • Choosing a BUA does not take away the attacker's choice for a baseline.
  • Having a lot of War Wagons in your army does not exempt you from having a camp if you don't have a BUA.
  • Littoral landing force can have a maximum of only three elements now (down from four).
  • You can have a landing force if your, or an allied contingent's, home topography is Littoral.
  • Clarified that a single element only gets a 0 PIP move if on the road.
  • Allied elements cannot make a group move with non-allied elements.
  • The < 1BW slide movement has been clarified.
  • Distant shooting targeting priority has been clarified.
  • Turning to flank when a column has been contacted is now clear.
  • Clarified that recoiling is a controlled retreat (which explains why mounted have a choice in how far they recoil).
  • The Buttocks of Death is no more!
  • Rear support from Psiloi is gone! This got rid of the controversy of rear-supporting Psiloi being destroyed if any of the three elements it was supporting were destroyed, but definitely changed the dynamic of the game. I wonder if this change will survive past this draft...
  • If you recoil but cannot complete the move, you are not destroyed; only if you cannot start the recoil are you lost.
  • Fleeing is no longer "recoil, turn 180ยบ, then move a full move". The initial recoil is now gone.
  • 4Kn (cataphracts) do not pursue like other Knights.
  • Loss of a General no longer results in an automatic loss in some cases; it now simply counts as an extra element lost.
  • Only the first double element lost counts as 2 elements lost; all subsequent double elements count as 1. Given the rumors that the Thebans could have a substantial number of double element Spears (8Sp), this is good news indeed!

The one area that confused me on the previous draft, and which I still do not see in this draft, is where some have complained that "heavy infantry" (infantry moving 200 paces) could, from a previous overlap position, flank a recoiling enemy cavalry element, as shown in the picture to the right. Like the last draft, this draft clearly states that:
An element can move into close combat against an enemy flank edge only if it starts entirely on the opposite side of a line prolonging that edge ...
So why do people think that you could legally move into flank contact just because you previously were in an overlap position, given the above rule? Having said that, I still do not see how people maintain that "closing the door" is even legal anymore. In both cases the element starts wholly (or partly, depending upon whether you define an edge touching a line is on the opposite side of that line) in front of the enemy element, so flank contact is not allowed.

Sometimes, one's knowledge of the previous edition is a hindrance, as you tend to gravitate interpretation towards what you already know, rather than really trying to see what the new version says. As far as I can tell, "closing the door" seems to be a concept no longer supported.
Update: I now see that my reading was incorrect. The reference to "that edge" refers to the flank edge, not the front edge! So those contacts are legal because the element is beyond the flank line.
I am definitely in the camp of buying and playing DBA 3.0 when it comes out. With each passing draft of the rules the writing gets clearer. (Is "Barkerese" now a dead language?) It is unfortunate that the 2.2/3.0 schism appears to not be going away, but some people just do not like the faster movement, changed deployment area, and randomized terrain, all things that I favor.

But, as with choice of WW II rules, fantasy rules, Napoleonic rules, etc. to each their own.


  1. I had not noticed this.
    But, given that the flanking element is not in the TZ, I suspect it is also outside the prolonging line.
    Hopefully Phil and the team will clarify this soon.
    ( have you sent a note to Phl about this.? )



    1. I grant you that "prolonging line" is not a term one usually hears. But, in this context, I assume it to mean that you draw a line out from the left and right of the front edge. Those wholly on the same side as the enemy element can hit it in flank; all others cannot. The TZ is not mentioned, and I think not relevant, because if you are in the TZ of an enemy, your choices for movement are extremely limited, thus negating the ability to hit their flank entirely.

      Personally, I don't see any conflict. This is the way it is in HOTT, but not in the previous version of DBA. Some people are making statements and I just cant figure out which sentences they are getting it from, thus I suspect it is residual from previous play.

      No, I have not sent it in to Phil because to me it is clear. That and no one has made that sort of comment since the new draft has come out. Maybe it is a non-issue now.

  2. Thanks for this, Dale. Just the kind of informative post I need! Saves me a lot of reading drafts and forum posts for updates!

  3. Where can the rules and lists be found?

  4. On the DBA forum: