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"DBM Early Imperial Roman" Topic

De Bellis Multitudinis

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maverick290916 Jun 2015 8:19 a.m. PST

Hello! I have recently just gotten into Ancients wargaming. Some of the guys in my group convinced me to jump in so I bought a 15mm Early Imperial Roman Army. My group uses the DBM 3.2 version rules as no one can seem to find DBMM and DBA just feels unhistorical. Any way, I am at a loss as to where to start concerning a good list. I did some reading around and get the feeling EIR is somewhat hard to master and can be frustrating at first. I was wondering if there were some good starter lists or if anyone had a list they have created using EIR that proves good on the battle field. I was thinking max blades with minimum auxila and an even dispersing of Numidian LH and regular Auxilia Cav.

Any strategic advice as to how to play them, group them, what terrain to set out, what to fight and what to avoid, etc would be greatly appreciated. I have just about anything you can take on their list (allies aside) so that isn't an issue. I have one of my first battles coming up in two weeks, 400 points vs my friends Indians. Not sure how I'll fair against mass elephants but I'll give it my best for Roma!

aynsley68316 Jun 2015 11:36 a.m. PST

I wouldn't use max blades, you need the Ax as well, will take a quick look at what I have done in the past list wise but you will defiantly need the art(f) to sit behind your lines ( as they can shoot over your own troops until enemy are 150 paces away I believe ) to shoot his elephants as they get quick killed by artillery ie. Beat them by 1.
The Indians will most likely have a line of Bw(s) with the Knights sitting behind , the blades get shoot at and your line becomes staggered, the Knights charge through the Bw into your blade giving them an advantage as they also quick kill your Bd unles you have double ranked Bd.
As I said the standard indian deployment is the Bw(s) then the Bd(I) or Kn's sitting behind or a mixture and the elephants in between or the flanks with the Wwg's deployed back on the flanks so your Lh don't go zipping around them. If his Kn's are else where try and get them broken up either by shooting at them with your art or hit them on a flank with Lh.
Hopefully he invades you and you place 6 half pieces of rough going to break the Indians up. Good luck anyway as any plans never survives dice rolling.
Will look for any lists I have.

aynsley68316 Jun 2015 11:41 a.m. PST

I assume your friend has classical indians?

maverick290916 Jun 2015 1:08 p.m. PST

I will post the list I came up with when I get home tonight. Yeah he has classical Indians. Elephants and bows and Knights I believe. Thanks for the advice, I will have to check out the shooting over your own guys as I wasnt aware of the 150p rule. I want to say my artillery is half the cost of his elephants, so I figure if they take out at least one they will get their money's worth!

maverick290916 Jun 2015 1:40 p.m. PST

Ok here is my list so far:

Command #1
C-in-C bd(o) x1 – 26
Legionaries bd(o) x25 – 150
Auxiliary archers ps(o) x6 – 12
Bolt shooters art(o) x2 – 16
Fortified camp bg(o) x6 – 6
-----cost: 210; break 11

Command #2
Sub gen bd(o) x1 – 26
Legionaries bd(o) x5 – 30
Auxiliary infantry ax(s) x9 – 40.5
Bolt shooters art(o) x2 – 16
Spanish slingers ps(o) x6 – 8
-----cost: 120; break 7

Command #3
Sub gen cv(o) x1 – 28
Equites alares cv(o) x4 – 32
Numidian cavalry lh(o) x2 – 10
-----cost: 70; break 3

So there it is. Pretty heavy in one command. I took 4 bolt shooters for the elephants and plenty Psiloi to to mess them up. I don't expect the cavalry to carry the game, they are more there for closing a gap in the line or reinforcing if need be. Thanks again for the helpful comments

aynsley68316 Jun 2015 2:26 p.m. PST

You need art(f) which is artillery on carts and costs 10ap a piece , 2 would be fine. They can fire over your own troops unti the enemy is at or under150 paces from you. For example you have double ranked Bd with the art(f) directly behind them then once enemy get to within or under 150 p art dosent Fire unless you have other targets. The guys at the club there will help you.
Also try and make at least two of your commands the same amount of elements which will give you deployment options, being Roman your break point is always going to be low, if both are the same size you get a choice as to which one goes down A or B command first, again the guys at the club can help you on this better than me writing it here.
My personel favourite armies were Warbands but then moved onto Ax(x) types, Picts, later Samurai (MM version) or a nice Skythian army was fun as people put masses of terrain down as they forgot Skythians had lots of rgo troops in the list to deal with rgo.
Where abouts are you out of interest?

maverick290916 Jun 2015 2:35 p.m. PST

thanks for the input. Ax(x) is super strong, it will for sure be my next army (probably Picts). I might move 3-6 more legionaries from one command over to the other to make it a little more balanced. I live in Oklahoma City. Our play group is about 4-6 players who play DBM, FoW, Warhammer fantasy, and most recently Bolt Action. I asked them about FoG when I bought the Romans and they said they weren't interested. One thing I did like from reading the rules is FoG had an impact phase where they could accurately represent the pilum.

Any way, the carts are the one thing I don't seem to have, so I might just say they are on carts or go with what I got and pray for the best. Will defiantly even up the spread on commands though.

aynsley68316 Jun 2015 3:37 p.m. PST

Most players don't mind stand in figures, especially as your art is on the same sized base as other art. as long as you don't have both types and you declare them as (F) at the beginning.
Have you looked at madmadigans website, he has some DBM lists in there to give you an idea of something to start with but don't copy them too much as the Brits have a different style of play over there.
As to the Picts you have two versions to choose from MM which has a lower mandatory Lh amout (4-20 something ) but the Ps don't support the Ax(x) and the M version that the Ps do but a higher Lh minimum. Otherwise the standard Saxon Wb block in the middle with the rest of the Pictish army supporting it, Ax(x) don't like Bw much but otherwise they have bulk so you ,can lose a few and make some mistakes and they can fight in the rough as well as reasonably in the open, don't expect miracles though.
Please let us know how your game goes with your Romans, we all start with Romans 'cause they look cool before moving onto something else and they are a good starting point.
Do any of your lot ever make it to Lancaster Pa for Cold Wars or Fall In 'cons ?

aynsley68316 Jun 2015 3:41 p.m. PST

Just looked at the map you are way out there, being English myself american geography isn't my strong point. My email should you need anything is aynsley then the numbers 683 then the @ thingy with yahoo and .com at the end.
For pictish list, haven't looked for my Roman stuff yet.

maverick290916 Jun 2015 5:30 p.m. PST

Yeah PA would be a ways, definitely a flight. We go to Dallas cons a lot and the furthest I go every year is Gen Con in Indianapolis. Sadly no one around here has the DBMM rules as we would like to give the version 2 a shot, hear good things about it.

I'll definitely be sure to do an AAR after our game. One question I was wondering about the Pict list, when the Psiloi support ax(x) in a 3rd rank, do they add another +1 to the die roll (thus making it a +2 total) or do you have to line up 3x ax(x) and then a Psiloi to get the 5+ die roll?

aynsley68316 Jun 2015 7:28 p.m. PST

The MM rules are not my cup of tea at all, adds another layer of chrome to things ( some like it others don't stick with M or have a look at the new French rules l'art de la guerre), but we use the MM army lists as well as the M army lists.
As to the Ps supporting they only mitigate not add anything, again something your guys can show you. Also the Ps only help in the second or third rank.
With three ranks of Ax(x) againsts foot they fight as a 5 with the three ranks (3 for the first rank, 4 with the second and 5 with the third). But check the description of ofAx(x) as they are (s) against some troops and (I) against others.

John GrahamLeigh Supporting Member of TMP17 Jun 2015 6:16 a.m. PST

If you use the DBMM army lists (which include notes on applying them to DBM), Middle Imperial Roman has a few advantages over EIR. You can use the same figures (for early in the period, anyway) and you get Praetorians who count as Bd(S) – cheaper under DBM 3.2 than previously, and now good value. Also more psiloi, and options for heavier cavalry including some cataphracts. Take a look.

If you'd like a few sample army lists, contact me via my website at This site is mainly for UK DBM competitions results, back to 1996.

maverick290917 Jun 2015 12:54 p.m. PST

Very interesting! Where does one find the DBMM army lists? I might have to mention it to the guys and see if they would go for it. Thanks!

John GrahamLeigh Supporting Member of TMP17 Jun 2015 3:53 p.m. PST

Not sure if the DBMM lists are in print, but there are copies on Amazon. In general they're better than the older DBM lists, though not error-free, and my friends and I use them exclusively now.

aynsley68318 Jun 2015 11:12 a.m. PST

Most of us use both army list books, the original DBM lists as well as the MM army lists. The MM has a little paragraph in the back to convert some things, for example we have Ax(x) and the MM books call them Pk(f).

They also have a few army list specific rear support stuff, again for example the Spartan Sp(s) can be supported by their own Spartan Sp(o).

Most lists are very similar for example the Picts in M have 15-20 something Lh(o) and the MM lists have 4-20 odd Lh(o). Then the later samurai (which I did in 25's) are nigh on the same I think apart from the MM list allowing 0-8 Bw(s). The MM books totally ruined my Roman British list ( which is a dog of an army anyway) so for that one I still use the M lists.

Not sure I would say they are better myself ,some lists are nigh on exactly the same and others have bigger differences. When we declare which army we have we also say if it's M or MM.
I think the MM crowd are redoing the army lists again but could be wrong.

catavar18 Jun 2015 3:45 p.m. PST

Hi. EIR's got me started in DBA. I have LIR's for DBM. Great armies to begin with.

Blades will usually be your center (backed by P's) with ax and mounted covering your flanks. Some players will hug one table end with EIR's, but I don't recommend it (unless your looking for a draw).

Generally I don't like too much Art but versus Indians take the F. Your blades (w/P's) can handle anything the Indians can throw at you (even P's can take out Elee's).

I take all the Kn's I can, but only because I'm an old tread-head. In my hands they usually die like flies. Resist the urge if you can.

Try mostly rough terrian and/or rough hills, slowly and methodically advance, and press forward whenever you can. If your opponent takes a lot of El/ Kn/ WWg he probably will be less mobile than you. Take advantage of your reg statis to get the best match-ups. If possible, keep a small mounted reserve. Two Kn(f) with the C&C would do it (I have no willpower).

My two cents; take it for what it's worth. Best of luck.

maverick290918 Jun 2015 9:12 p.m. PST

Thanks for all the advice guys! Been doing some research on roman equipment, I think I might make a middle imperial roman list too as the dates it ranges they still used the semicylindrical shield for the first half of that list. This would allow me to get 4 more stands of Psiloi that can support Blades. It also gets me access to fast blades, not sure how well they work but I like the concept!

I'll post an updated list some time next week when I finalize everything, and of course I'll be sure to take plenty of pictures and do an AAR of all the action.

Thomas Thomas19 Jun 2015 2:00 p.m. PST

You could also try DBA3.0 Big Battle. Speaking as a former DBM fanatic, I find the new DBA a huge upgrade esp re historical battles. A big improvement over DBA 2.2 and at least as good as DBM 3.2 (though not as good as DBM 2.0) with far fewer rules to deal with.


aynsley68319 Jun 2015 5:21 p.m. PST

I wouldn't try DBA 3.0 I prefer 2.2+ as it's easier to read and play and DBM 3.2 has evolved since DBM 2.0 .
Stick with DBM 3.2 until you get the hang of things and let us know how your game goes.

Thomas Thomas23 Jun 2015 8:44 a.m. PST

Unlike Aynsley, I would advise you to try all games and pick the one you prefer. I have played lots (and lots) DBM 2.0 and found it an excellent game. I also played lots of DBM 3.0 (even won a national champonship) but found it a much inferior game to DBM 2.0 (inferior simulation, much more perdictable).

As to DBA 3.0 and 2.2+, I've played lots of DBA3.0 and a bit of 2.2+. For 2.2+ still had too many problems left over from 2.2 – I struggled with the rules and made up element types.

I found 3.0 much more intuative and easier to apply historical knowledge to game play.

For historical battles, I much prefer DBA3.0 over DBM 3.2 and look forward to the collection of great historical battles which the developers of 3.0 are about to release.

But try them all and see what YOU think.


John GrahamLeigh Supporting Member of TMP23 Jun 2015 3:35 p.m. PST

DBM 3.0 considerably improved the game, in my opinion – and after it superseded the earlier versions (in 2000) the numbers of players continued to increase. Phil and Richard were still doing something right. Subsequent minor changes to versions 3.1 (2005) and 3.2 (2011) have refined the game further, without major surgery.

So my view, after hundreds of games of all versions of DBM, is different from Thomas's – but I echo his advice that you and your pals try various rules (not all – life's too short) and decide what you prefer.

maverick290923 Jun 2015 7:05 p.m. PST

I just reread the entire rules for DBM and I like a lot of the revisions made under 3.1 and 3.2 (specifically 3.2 as I feel it really helped EIR, if you were to max your blades and Auxilia, you save 40 points compared to pre 3.2!).

I would really like to give FoG a shot as I like how it depicts every ranged weapon and even acounts for the pilum. People have had complaints about it but I'm not sure what they mean exactly as I've never played a game of FoG and have only read about half the rules.

I'd like to give DBA a shot as well as I read those rules entirely and it seems like a simplified and streamlined DBM.

At the end of the day I am only able to play what I can convince my group to try. They all seem to scoff at FoG so I don't know if that will ever happen. 4-5 of us have picked up DBA 3.0 now so we might try and get a 3v3 game going in the near future.

Oh and as for DBMM, we would like to get a version of the rules (and I'd REALLY like to get a version of the army lists considering I can use them with DBM 3.2) but I checked Amazon and online and everything is $75.00 USD+ which is a little expensive to justify right now considering we are content with DBM 3.2. Here's hoping to Phil reprinting the rules and army books soon!

John GrahamLeigh Supporting Member of TMP24 Jun 2015 2:59 a.m. PST

Just in case you don't know: while DBM 3.0 is the last printed version, 3.2 is available as a free download from Phil Barker's site at PDF link

Many thanks to Phil for making this available.

The 3.3 proposals are on my site at

aynsley68325 Jun 2015 8:57 a.m. PST

Thomas I didn't say don't try anything else just stick with 3.2 until he gets a handle on it. We can both agree either version of DBM isn't picked up in one of two games useing mentoring system works best I've seen.
I only put forward my views with out knocking someone else's didnt I Thomas?
Maverick raises a point though about the MM lists, what's happening with them I thought they were at the printers ?

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