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"Barker Marker?" Topic

De Bellis Antiquitatis (DBA)

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Comments or corrections?

Mooseworks823 Sep 2011 6:22 a.m. PST

As I've mostly been a HOTT player, what is a barker marker and what is it's function?


Image from:
Excalibur looking Arthurian Army there!

MajorB23 Sep 2011 6:30 a.m. PST

"DBx gaming accessories used to measure "Base Width Distances" for purposes of determining an element's zone of control. Named for DBA co-author Phil Barker, these are typically simple tools comprised of a nail or golf tee glued to a 40mm square base (for 15mm gaming)."

Terrement23 Sep 2011 7:02 a.m. PST

Alternately, they are meant to represent the thought process and flexibility of the writer of the rules, as clearly indicated in the picture above… grin

The Beast Rampant23 Sep 2011 7:19 a.m. PST


gold star for you, this fine day.

Personal logo Inari7 Supporting Member of TMP23 Sep 2011 8:16 a.m. PST

@Terrement Don't forget his fine writing style, you might as well try to get blood from one as to figure out what he is trying to cram into one HUGE cryptic sentence.

Terrement23 Sep 2011 8:42 a.m. PST

I've written my own version of a Barkerism infected rule section I've posted elsewhere at an earlier time.

For those who for whatever reason don't understand that to which Inari7 refers, a lot of Barker's rules are in technically perfect but unfathomable English, sounding a lot like this:

"When the party of the first part (hereafter referred to as the party of the first part, except when the party of the third part becomes the party of the second part due to a change in the original party of the second parts initiative which exceeds that of the original party of the first part and thus becomes the actual party of the first part unless untrained or irregular in which case rule refers) comes in contact with the party of the second part in their flank (hereafter referred to as the flank of the party of the second part, unless the part of the second part is now, in fact the party of the first part as clearly explained above) then the terrain shall be placed not more than 6 but not less than 4 inches (hereafter referred to as the placement distance, unless played outside of US competitions in which case the units shall be changed to centimeters, and the numbers recalculated accordingly and referred to as before, to wit: "the placement distance") until disordered or contacted by a lead element (with or without bows) and receive a +2 for flank, + 2 for charging, -7 for general principles (not to be confused with General Electric, purveyor of home appliances, hereafter referred to as "the purveyor" not to be confused with the conveyor, not used in the legal sense but referring to the conveyance, usually belted which is used to advance items continually or until interrupted by the store clerk or the electric eye beam (possibly manufactured by a wholly owned subsidiary of "the purveyor" (formerly known and referred to as "General Electric" who, being a superior general, gets 2 extra pips for orders or scouting (that is with scouting troops, not troops of scouts as one might see in a weekend jamboree doing knot tying and semaphore…"

Bob in Edmonton23 Sep 2011 9:58 a.m. PST

And yet, he managed to get the core of a rule system spanning 3000-odd years into about 8 pages that most people seem able to wade through in a pinch and the game can be taught to an eight-year-old in about 10 minutes and is one of the most popular systems going. So, yeah, the rules can be tricky but it is hard to argue with (but apparently not whine about) success.

Personal logo Inari7 Supporting Member of TMP23 Sep 2011 10:34 a.m. PST

"yet, he managed to get the core of a rule system spanning 3000-odd years into about 8 pages that most people seem able to wade through in a pinch"

Sure, but as most players on threads, and websites state that it's recommended that you have someone teach you DBA or read the 72 Page WADBAG Unofficial guide to DBA to figure out what Barker means in his "concise" 8 pages or rules with very little clarification and almost no diagrams.

It's not often you see a set of rules that compels people to make a 72 page document explaining in layman terms what the original set of rules was trying to convey.

Are there any other rule sets like that?

The closest would probably be Two Hours Wargames…. maybe….

BTW I am not a DBA hater, I have over 20 armies and play whenever possible. I am a Barker hater….LOL

Yesthatphil23 Sep 2011 10:58 a.m. PST

Thanks for publicising my picture :)

Perfect explanation from Magard :)

Actually I have a few more ideas … also they are useful in many other games including FoG – just someone in the DBA family had the idea of sticking interesting things on them and making a genre. link I applaud that. It is a sadness that the ancients table traditionally is more bare than it ought to be.

@ Inari et al, DBA doesn't compel people to make or use the 72 page document. Most casual UK players I know don't use it, don't need it – and are horrified at the very sight of something so huge … That said, I would acknowledge that, if you can get by the daunting size of it, there are some useful passages … but necessary? No – I think you exaggerate :)

Anyway, enough from me (honestly, an evening of the very game of which we speak beckons – so keyboard rattling will have to wait til the morrow) …

Phil Steele

The Beast Rampant23 Sep 2011 11:20 a.m. PST

I'm with Inari. I had noone to teach me DBA, and the WADBAG document provided me several, "oooh, THAT'S what that meant" moments. Do I feel all 72 pages are necessary? No. But if DBA were sixteen pages long instead of eight, it would have been ten times as clear. I don't know how many editions we need before Dear Phil decides to kill another tree to provide us more clarity. If I lived in Jolly Old, I'd enjoy the luxury of being able to shuffle down the street a bit to find some friendly fellow who already learned how to play through fine oral tradition.

Are there any other rule sets like that?

I certainly can't think of one.

Personal logo Inari7 Supporting Member of TMP23 Sep 2011 12:05 p.m. PST

@ Yesthatphil

"DBA doesn't compel people to make or use the 72 page document."

Well it compelled somebody or it would not exist. :)

Terrement23 Sep 2011 2:14 p.m. PST

I could teach myself the Two Hour Wargames various games with no problem. Same with just about any other game system out there.

Barker's stuff? Nope. I would suggest that there are few beginning wargamers that would have much hope at all of learning from the book itself.

In most other systems, you also don't have nonsense like the Buttocks of Death, and the Mounted Bulgarian Drill Team, and so many other "features" and "nuances" that result from the way he wrote his rules, which end up with gaming the rules rather than gaming the battle.

My .02


kyoteblue23 Sep 2011 4:08 p.m. PST

Sad but true..

Yesthatphil23 Sep 2011 5:14 p.m. PST

Hard comments to follow. I don't think anyone was compelled to write the Wadbag guide (or whatever it is called) – I think they chose to.

I have never needed anyone to translate or interpret Barker's rules (though I agree the consequence can be a game you enjoy which then turns out to be played differently when you encounter enthusiasts from a different group – but that applies to many other rules, and is something grown ups can deal with).

I do think there are varying expectations of precision amongst players of DBA (over here we tend to play a quicker looser sort of game so care less about exactitudes – no judgement is implied in that: I just think the cultures are different).

Nevertheless, I don't want to disagree with Terrement's comments about playing the mechanisms rather than using them to moderate the battle between the armies. WRG aren't really responsible for this (players are) – but endless additional wordings do nothing but reinforce that culture.

I do wish wargamers would accept that stupid moves aren't any the less stupid just because they're deemed 'legal' by somebody …

Then again, I also wish for world peace and an end to famine in Africa …

All the best


bobblanchett23 Sep 2011 9:19 p.m. PST

Barkerese (X): defeats analysis in good going. If beaten by criticism, flee.
Recoil from WADBAG (S), If doubled by Publishers(I), wait 15 years then deploy new Barkerese(X) as rear rank. Destroyed by Sue(S) in any combat, except where also receiving Rear Support from an Element of Sue(S), in which case advance full normal move accompanied by supporting Sue(S) element.

streetline24 Sep 2011 1:02 a.m. PST

I do think there are varying expectations of precision amongst players of DBA

Ain't that the truth. What do people want from a simple fast play of rules that spans all intersting periods of history? Some results are odd – so laugh and get on with the game.

It's intersting though that HotT, despite having to cope with variables such as flight, magic, etc is a tighter set of rules with less arguements as a result of rules interpretations.

Thomas Thomas27 Sep 2011 7:43 a.m. PST

So that casual readers can appreciate the degree of wild exaggeration contained in many of the above comments, I reproduce an actual rule written by Mr. Barker:

Each side dices and adds the army's aggression factor to the score. The side with the lower total is the defender. It places terrain of those types allowed to its army to create a valid battlefield. The high scorer is the invader. If the defender has used a compulsory road, the invader's base edge must be one of the edges the road joins. If not, the invader can choose any edge as his base edge except that opposite a waterway. The defender's base edge is that opposite the invader's."

While its dense and doesn't waste words – its perfectly understandable.

I've played DBA for years and never used the 72 page guide.

It may take a bit more work to digest Mr. Barker's style but it should be noted that the games produced are far superior to his competitors.


Personal logo Bobgnar Supporting Member of TMP28 Sep 2011 9:40 a.m. PST

By the way, "dices" means roll a single die. Phil calls one of these a dice. There is a mixture of pronouns in the text, its and his, both refer to a side or a player. Side refers to multiple players in multiple player games, or one player.
For example, "the side with the lower total" or "his base edge."

It is possible to have two compulsory roads, at right angles so then Invader can pick any edge with road end. Only Arable topography has a compulsory road, so only if defender has one of those roads will the defender be required to pick between two edges. All other cases, can pick any edge. Note that only one waterway can be deployed so Invader gets the three other edges to pick.

Now what if defender puts down a waterway with a compulsory road ending in the waterway. Invader cannot pick the edge opposite the waterway, so must pick other edge, but the road does not join that edge. Cannot deploy?

Yesthatphil29 Sep 2011 3:28 a.m. PST

I think that illustrates the issue very nicely, Bob …

I'm with Thomas Thomas on the extract. No clarification necessary. You must use the 72 page guide.

In truth, as several local DBA evenings have shown, we don't need/use the rules at all.

Embarrassingly, as some blog followers will know, we did come across something that needed checking and discovered nobody had brought their rules (so our host had to get on his computer and print off a copy) …


Personal logo Bobgnar Supporting Member of TMP29 Sep 2011 12:51 p.m. PST

Phil, good points. Our group plays with out much reference to the rules at all. After playing 15 years, we remember most things (rightly or wrongly). This makes testing a new version quite difficult :)

Mechanical02 Oct 2011 6:07 p.m. PST

Barker marker – What Margard said. Barkerese – a defense against a certain breed of competitor who plays the rules and not the opponent. If the situations Bob describes come up – talk it out if it is just the two of you or get an outside opinion in a tournament. It's not that hard – really.

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