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"DBA As A Tournament Game" Topic

De Bellis Antiquitatis (DBA)

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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian04 Oct 2016 11:34 a.m. PST

DBA was recently voted best tournament game.

What makes DBA the best for tournament gaming?

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP04 Oct 2016 11:42 a.m. PST

My guess is because you can get multiple games/rounds completed in a short period of time.

raylev304 Oct 2016 12:25 p.m. PST

That's what it's designed to be, and it does it well. (Too bad I don't like playing in tournaments, but I can see why people like it for that reason.)

blacksmith04 Oct 2016 1:36 p.m. PST

Because it's similar to chess…in a way.

evilgong04 Oct 2016 2:40 p.m. PST

It does what it says on the tin – provide the simplest set of rules that can produce a visually realistic and exciting game.

Many moons ago I used to survey players at the (DBx and other) comps I ran and the results on what they wanted came back with some constants, the punters wanted:

to meet new players
to play against different armies
to try out new armies and tactics
to have fun

On the weekend I played DBA at the MOAB event in Sydney, Oz, and got in 11 games in 2 days.

So by the above survey responses there was plenty of opportunity to meet new people /armies etc and building a new army on a whim is not a 6-month project.

If you get a bad army match-up or a horror slice of luck, it's not like you are stuck with it for 3-4 hours – the next game will start just after you come back with coffee / beer.

In the 11 games on the weekend I reckon I looked at the rules only four or five times and one of those was to try to help another game that was unsure about something.


David F Brown

advocate04 Oct 2016 10:20 p.m. PST

Easy to provide sets of matched pairs, or require armies from a limited period, to ensure historical match-ups.

Father Grigori05 Oct 2016 1:22 a.m. PST

There are few, if any, army list problems. Everyone has 12 elements, and most of the unusual options are available only as an either/or choice. No fiddling lists to get that killer army or masses of filler.

platypus01au05 Oct 2016 1:30 a.m. PST

I really like DBA, and it has all the attributes people have said above.

But it has some faults. Firstly the army lists are not balanced. So there are armies that simply are not suitable for tournaments. Of course, going to a tournament you should know not to choose those, but then not everyone can do that. Secondly it can be very influenced by runs of luck. You can deal with that by running lots of rounds, but again, that may not be possible.

Still, if you go into the tournament with the idea of meeting people and having fun, the above won't matter.


Ivan DBA05 Oct 2016 4:25 a.m. PST

DBA tournament players in my experience have a relaxed, non-competitive attitude. Probably because the whole tournament just lasts the afternoon, they did not spend weeks crafting a killer army list, no spend thousands of dollars amassing the necessary miniatures for that killer list. I think most players are there "with the idea of meeting people and having fun."

And as others have said, it plays quickly.

Another positive point from a tournament perspective is that games never end in a draw. There is always an outright winner.

Thomas Thomas05 Oct 2016 8:06 a.m. PST

Quick resolution allowing multiple rounds in a single four hour session.

Read medieval battles were often fairly short (1-2 hours) so I'm always amused by four hour enduro battles produced by more figure heavy systems.

That I can use real medieval tactics in a tournament environment is for me the biggest plus.

Balance is tricky. DBA isn't perfect because your limited by the 12 element requirement (but see D3H2 for a simple point system). Even so far more elaborate point system often produce unbalanced games as players learn to work the point system. Games are often decided by who worked the point system better with actual play on the table top almost irrelevant. (Yes I'm looking at you Games Workshop.) In DBA your are at least more or less stuck with an historical army.


Personal logo Bobgnar Supporting Member of TMP05 Oct 2016 12:06 p.m. PST

Ditto to all the points made above. I'll just add a comment to JohnG 's thought. Indeed some armies are fairly week although I do not know of any killer army that always wins or it would show up in every tournament and would win.

So how do you get weak armies that are colorful and interesting to show up. I believe the solution is the "matched pairs" tournament. Players show up with two armies that are listed as enemies of each other. In each game, one player is chosen to pick which of the two armies provided by his opponent to use. Thus in a 4 round tournament a player uses his armies twice and his opponents twice.

Second approach is to use a duplicate format. This idea was for suggested by Dick Bryant as something like duplicate bridge. There are two games set up with the same armies in each game and terrain the same. Players then take both sides of both games in a four-game series. For example there might be a war of the roses battle, and perhaps Romans versus Gauls. This is difficult to put on because the game manager must bring sufficient troops for all of the players, usually more than four. So perhaps a double set of all the armies in order to provide 4 battles . The most I ever did was for 16 players. That meant four sets of each army.

evilgong05 Oct 2016 3:22 p.m. PST

I guess an army loaded up with 3Ax or Ps will struggle and Wb look like they need something to help them.

In any case, with 4 element kills needed for game victory the vast majority of armies should be able to plot a win somewhere on the table.

The removal (unnecessarily in my view) of break-offs did take away one trick for lower-impact armies.

Poor old Wb might benefit if the first counted as only a 0.5 element loss. Or something.

I wonder if playing 24 elements (and extra PIPs and table-size to suit) would counter people's perception of the game being subject to too wild swings of luck.


Yesthatphil05 Oct 2016 3:53 p.m. PST

You should be able to play enough games that individual disappointments aren't worth worrying about …

Let it go … have fun and get on with the next game.


Rudysnelson05 Oct 2016 5:29 p.m. PST

DBA tournaments seem to be popular in the Southeast USA. Nashville, Orlano-recon and Hurricon, Augusta and maybe Jacksonville all have them. A lot depends on the format. There are opens and matched pairs as well as era tournament lists.

The Wargames Room05 Oct 2016 9:29 p.m. PST

There are a number of reasons outlined here why DBA is often used in a tournament setting. For my part I find them ideal as I can play several opponents in a day, or try out different armies, in a themed event or historical matched pair.

However, they are a great set of rules outside tournaments as well allowing me to build different armies without a massive investment in painting time.

Thomas Thomas06 Oct 2016 7:49 a.m. PST

I did try and get Phil to have Ps count as only 1/2 an element lost to reflect their expendiable nature and lower value. But no luck.

Some armies need terrian – which can be fickle.

As to 4 and out – yes a good run of luck can sometimes knock out 4 elements and end the game – but its harder than you think (without Flank Locks its hard to kill some types even on a 6-1 die split). HOTT required you to kill half the opponent's army which further reduced "luck runs" from deciding games. (D3H2 also uses half.)


Personal logo Bobgnar Supporting Member of TMP06 Oct 2016 3:20 p.m. PST

I lobbied to get Phil to include hordes in those elements that do not count towards winning and losing so I was glad to see that implemented. it has been on the table for discussion since 2.0. I have always liked the Spartacus army and now it's very competitive.

Weasel06 Oct 2016 7:39 p.m. PST

Being able to burn through 10-12 games in a weekend would definitely be a benefit.
Back when I played 40K at tourneys, we were lucky to get 5 games all weekend.

evilgong06 Oct 2016 8:03 p.m. PST

Ps and Hd at 0.5, and first DBE at 1.5 would have been a better balance (and maybe the first Wb at 0.5) but PB has been strangely against half point values over the years.


warhorse07 Oct 2016 6:23 a.m. PST

Also LH at 0.5? Just try an all LH army against Pike and Bow on the standard board?

warhorse07 Oct 2016 6:26 a.m. PST

But I really like the idea of fractional point values. Or, just doubling things:

Ps, Hd, LH count 1 toward victory.
1st DBE counts 3.
General, camp, BUA etc… count 4
All others count 2…

Victory is 8 points

Thomas Thomas07 Oct 2016 1:39 p.m. PST

Agree that double elements should have been 1.5 instead of first lose counts 2 rest 1.


evilgong07 Oct 2016 3:18 p.m. PST

I reckon LH have enough special powers to count as a full element.


warhorse09 Oct 2016 8:23 a.m. PST

evilgong, against an all pike and bow, or against all spear, the LH-heavy army is next to useless. Make that fast pike and fast bow, and the LH die off right quick.

Remember, LH die if recoiled off the map edge. They only do the cockroach scuttle as a result of fleeing…

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