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"DBMM vs DBA?" Topic

De Bellis Antiquitatis (DBA)

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02 Jan 2017 12:02 a.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Crossposted to De Bellis Antiquitatis (DBA) board

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Comments or corrections?

MichaelCD13 Oct 2016 9:52 a.m. PST

I have DBA 3 and I was just wondering how it compares to DBMM? Is DBMM more elements/figures with more options for an army/element? Would DBA be considered easy and DBMM medium to hard in complexity?

Really just curious. Thanks.

coopman13 Oct 2016 10:01 a.m. PST

DBA = Easy, with 12 elements per army in its basic form. DBMM is pretty complicated and uses lots more elements, from what I have heard.

Dale Hurtt13 Oct 2016 10:21 a.m. PST

DBA can also be expanded to more than 12 elements with Big Battle DBA and Giant DBA, so if you want to buy and paint more elements – which is required for DBMM – you can accommodate it with DBA.

Allen5713 Oct 2016 10:46 a.m. PST

I am not fond of DBMM. A bit more complicated for no apparent payback that I saw. I have always found the big battle version of DBA to be all I need for larger games. DBA is a great game.

vtsaogames13 Oct 2016 10:47 a.m. PST

DBM and DBMM are both more complicated than DBA and require bigger armies. They are both offshoots of DBA so graduating to the harder stuff should be a natural progression, if you don;t mind complexity.

Phillius Sponsoring Member of TMP13 Oct 2016 10:51 a.m. PST

I have played DBM and DBMM in most of their versions. Can't say I love them, but they work.
I have struggled with DBA, which I got to from DBM. Calling DBMM a more complex version of DBA doesn't really cut it.

It took me a while to shift from DBM to DBMM and when I did, and got to know the game, I found it significantly different. Going into DBMM with preconceptions based on DBA might not work for you. It didn't work for me the other way round.

Markconz13 Oct 2016 11:47 a.m. PST

DBA is 12 elements, but has provision for bigger battles. I'm not so fussed on the 12 element basic game, but quite like the big battle version with 36 elements. A good quick and fun ruleset.

DBMM has far more detail in terms of potential battle stratagems, gradation of troop quality, and greater variety in choosing army lists. It has considerable extra complexity as a result, but also more "flavour".

Another little comparison here:

platypus01au13 Oct 2016 12:54 p.m. PST

DBMM is much more complicated than DBA.

If you only intend to play infreqently, then I would recommend playing DBA in either the 12 element or Big Battle version.

To get the best of DBMM, you will need to play it more frequently. However when you do, it is a fantastic game. You can do much more with it than with DBA, with Strategems, Flank and Delayed marches, naval, etc.

DBMM has extensive army lists and used points. I played a game last night, Italian Condotta vs French Ordonance. My army had about 50 elements in it. At our club we have an interest in pre-Columbian armies, and we often can have about 100 elements on the table each.


YogiBearMinis13 Oct 2016 1:36 p.m. PST

Our group used to play DBM exclusively, but the length of battles (several hours) and number of figures required began to become tiring. We switched to DBA and are able to get several games in during an evening, and can paint up armies tremendously more quickly. I miss the detail and flavor of DBM, but am very happy the lighter experience of DBA.

We only played DBMM a few times, and were not crazy about it. Because DBMM in some ways prefigured certain rules changes from DBM that made their way into DBA 3.0, I imagine we would like DBMM if we tried it again.

catavar13 Oct 2016 1:48 p.m. PST

I started playing ancients with DBA. I found it easy to learn and fun to play. After awhile I wanted bigger battles with a little more complexity. Having learned DBA I had no problem making the transition to DBM.

While I haven't played either DBA3 (have it) or DBMM (have army lists) I would hope to have the same experience with these rules as well.

vtsaogames13 Oct 2016 6:08 p.m. PST

DBA is like a good burger with fries.
The others are like a proper 3 course dinner.

Personal logo miniMo Supporting Member of TMP13 Oct 2016 7:23 p.m. PST

I've always preferred Big Battle DBA over any other set of Barker's rules.

For my tastes, his more complex rules add a lot more drag without much play value benefit. And oy, the headache of trying to parse so much more of his writing style in the longer rules >.<

Piyan Glupak13 Oct 2016 10:51 p.m. PST

DBM and DBMM seem very different from DBA, although DBM was developed from DBA, and DBMM from DBM, I understand.
Some people go for the simplicity, relative ease and quick games of DBA, whereas others prefer the more detailed rules, with, for instance, a points system and a grading system. There is no right or wrong, in my opinion, only personal preference.

When I started ancients wargaming, I originally intended to do DBM, which seemed to be the predominant set of ancients rules then. I found learning DBM difficult without experienced players to assist me. To help me get the hang of the basics, I tried DBA, and found that I preferred it.

Aspects of DBA that I like include the small armies, which mean that I can do armies with suitable opponents easily, simple rules that mean it is easier to teach someone new, and the small playing area. I suspect that many army lists for ancient armies are partly based upon pre-conceptions and evidence which needs a lot of interpretation. This means that I am not too concerned over the lack of grading in DBA.

EDIT: I find that I prefer earlier versions of DBA, because they are relatively simple. At the moment, I find that version 1.1 is the one I prefer for solo play.

langobard14 Oct 2016 2:48 a.m. PST

As others have noted, DBM and DBMM while developments of DBA are very different beasts in terms of complexity.

For myself, I found that DBM / DBMM while they looked good in terms of larger armies, the PIP die mechanism was overstretched for the dark age conflicts that I prefer (ie, where a lot of armies have Spear (I) as their basic component). I got a look I enjoyed, but I didn't really enjoy the mechanics.

However, while I liked the PIP die mechanics of DBA, I didn't like the look. That has now been fixed by using Impetus basing (effectively 4 DBA bases as 1 base) and playing Big Battle DBA.

36 four-element stands LOOKS like a proper army and I have the mechanics that I enjoy.

So, as others have said, it is really up to you to find the set that most appeals to you.

Khusrau14 Oct 2016 10:06 a.m. PST

Big Battle DBA (36 elements a side) gives a good and relatively quick game. It does have a downside in that some armies simply are not as competitive as others. This is just an unavoidable corollary of the 12 element lists. DBMM is more complex and more subtle. If you play regularly, then it repays the time invested. If you only play irregularly, then it can be difficult to get to grips with (and most of the nonsense about 'Barkerese' is just that, nonsense), due to the depth of the rules. So if ancients/medievals is your thing… and you want a set to play regularly, then give DBMM a go. otherwise, stick with DBA. I enjoy both in different ways..

lkmjbc314 Oct 2016 1:05 p.m. PST

DBMM is quite good, though too complicated for me. (Though the complexity level seems to have dropped slightly with the later editions.) Were I younger, I probably would have played it competitively as I did 6th and 7th Editions.

DBA version 3 hits the sweet spot for me now with the Big Battle rules.

Joe Collins

Drusilla199815 Oct 2016 2:27 a.m. PST

DBMM is by far, the best ancients game I've played. What most dislike about them, I happen to really enjoy. The details of the game system, make for a different result every game, startng with the wide variety of troop types, and with there being different results, based on whose turn it is, makes for a wonderful ebb and flow to the battle..

The ability to break an individual command of the enemy, is one of the fantastic aspects of the system, rather then breaking the entire army all at once and the breaking of an individual command, can effect neighboring commands as well, which will lead to the eventual breaking of the entire enemy army.

The normal progression of a command/Division is FRESH, then BROKEN, once a certain percentage of troops are destroyed. That concept has been expanded to add DISHEARTENED, which a command will become, once it has suffered greater then 25% casualties.

All units in a DISHEARTENED command are more difficult to move and fight at a reduced level, except for Elite units, who ignore being DISHEARTENED.

This is a great addition to the game for me and makes for a spectacular aspect of the battle.

All of this detail does make for a long game, 3.5 to 4 hours of playing, but i'm not in a rush and I truly enjoy and recommend playing DBMM.

However, it does help for you to play against an experienced player, who can teach the nuances of the system.



Oakley17 Feb 2017 6:00 p.m. PST

Every time I play DBA, I wish I was playing DBMM,
in my opinion DBMM is the best set of ancient rules ever written.

Thomas Thomas24 Feb 2017 8:35 a.m. PST

DBA 3.0 Big Battle will give you about 85% of the simulation value of DBMM with 25% of the rule over head.

Each player must decide for themselves whether the massive increase in rule overhead is worth that additional 15%.

DBA3.0 benefited from DBMM development – we took on the same problems with the basic DBX mechanics and solved them but using much more elegant mechansims in DBA 3.0. The need to keep the rules simple – the reason for DBA – imposed much more design discipline on the author. DBMM is essentially the mad scientist version of DBX – great ideas but thrown out in a near random fashion.

This comparison applies only to DBA 3.0 (earlier versions of DBA don't come close to 3.0's simulation value).

That said DBA (esp. Big Battle) would benefit from a point system and better Army demolarization rules – but see Fire and Ice for ways to do this (also in part D3H2).

DBA players because of already painted armies are heavily tied to the 12 element for both sides concept. This limits what can be done in tournament play. But outside that straight jacket much can be done.

Thomas J. Thomas
Fame and Glory Games

Father Grigori25 Feb 2017 8:46 a.m. PST

I'd go along with Thomas Thomas' comments. I have both, but plump for BBDBA if I have a choice. Fewer rules, and fewer arguments over army lists too. With no points, just a limited number of elements, choices usually come down to an either/or decision. The packing of armies with filler is absent in DBA, which means more maneuvre room on the table.

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