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"BUA - Hamlet?" Topic

De Bellis Magistrorum Militum

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Action Log

07 Jan 2017 8:29 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Changed title from "BUA - Hamlet" to "BUA - Hamlet?"
  • Crossposted to De Bellis Renationis board
  • Crossposted to Hordes of the Things board
  • Crossposted to De Bellis Velitum board
  • Crossposted to Horse, Foot and Guns board
  • Crossposted to De Bellis Multitudinis board
  • Crossposted to De Bellis Magistrorum Militum board

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Comments or corrections?

dave836528 Aug 2016 6:34 a.m. PST

I'm modelling some terrain for some BUA, and am curious if it can be treated similar to a city or fort – ie, the base is placed in the center and then deemed to be defending wherever it may be attacked, but just treated as combat vs. a base in rough going? I want to have some permanantly fixed buildings, and don't want to have to move them around.

In the alternative, do folks use such models as "cities" but just ignore the rather stupid "denizen puppet administration / revolt, etc." rule?


robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP28 Aug 2016 7:04 a.m. PST

A city IS a BUA.
But, generally, the best rule is to determine the size of the allowable garrison and make sure there is room on the stand for it--then make sure the limits of the BUA are clearly understood. As an example, if the garrison is a 1" square stand of infantry, there might be a "plaza" or "garden"--AKA a flat space in the middle of the stand--in which to place any such unit. The outline of the BUA would be defined by buildings, walls, fences or hedges.

dave836528 Aug 2016 8:59 a.m. PST

I guess I wasn't clear. I really don't like cities or forts because of the garrison and denizen rule; but I am modelling fixed terrain pieces that look like manor houses. I'd like to treat them as hamlets – rough going, but am curious about whether combat in a hamlet BUA is treated more like a city or fort, with an element occupying the center and being assumed to be dispersed and defending the perimeter, or like other forms of terrain, where the element is where it is, and opposing elements can occupy the terrain at the same time.

I suppose I could always make a rule where it is treated like a city/fort for placement and assault purposes, but with a reduced close combat factor.

Personal logo Bobgnar Supporting Member of TMP28 Aug 2016 10:35 a.m. PST

A BUA Hamlet is a rough going piece of terrain with the same characteristics as scrub, Rocky, boggy, enclosure, or rainsoaked plough. The physical placement of the element is where it is on the terrain piece. Enemy elements can occupy at the same time as friendly ones. There is no effect on combat, just movement.

lkmjbc328 Aug 2016 11:36 a.m. PST

What Bob said…
except there is some effect on combat… It is rough going…
So, it isn't good going…no side or rear support… knights don't destroy foot if they beat them etc…

Bob means that there is no special effect on combat… other than that of rough going.

Joe Collins

dave836528 Aug 2016 2:20 p.m. PST

Ok. So I guess that means I will just treat my little hamlets as a fort or city, but with reduced defensive factors and no "denizens" rule so I don't have to worry about the need for establishing a Hamlet Administrative Zone, secret police and informers network, or the Hamlet Liberation Front which will arise in the 2-3 hours of approximate time that a DBA battle is being fought.

Seriously folks – what the hell was Phil thinking when he came up with the nonsense?

jwebster Supporting Member of TMP28 Aug 2016 4:18 p.m. PST

I am trying to understand this

A BUA is a rough going terrain piece, which means that if you model a house or something that prevents a base from moving, then it is not working correctly in DBA terms

There is an implication that you might have 1 or 2 buildings in your BUA but the real thing would have lots of small buildings, walls, outhouses etc.

So the house or whatever ought be removed when a base enters the BUA so that it can move freely within the BUA

Does that make sense ?

Incidentally, please do not discount the impact of the HLF in a BUA in DBA. Not to mention the HPLF


lkmjbc328 Aug 2016 4:52 p.m. PST

I'm not sure I understand your issue.

There are really 5 types of BUA in DBA.

A Hamlet… which counts as rough going.

An Edifice… which counts as bad going and can be a camp with defenses.

A fort… which must start garrisoned… but has no denizens…

and finally a city… with all the rules concerning denizens as such.

Seems to me your "manor house" would be a fort. The garrison can leave first turn. Though an un-garrisoned fort seems unwise.

Joe Collins

Personal logo Bobgnar Supporting Member of TMP28 Aug 2016 8:13 p.m. PST

In most peoples numerology, there are four types of BUA:)

John, the BUA is not a rough going piece. You are somehow confusing a Hamlet with a BUA. a Hamlet is one type of BUA. All BUAs are area terrain features.they are not all bad going nor are they all rough. A city and the fort are neither rough nor bad, Hamlet is rough, edifice is bad. I make my hamlets with small houses and huts which I can move around like I move around trees in the woods.

Dave, what the hell kind of nonsense are you making up. Nothing that you state is in the rules, none of it suggested by Phil. He kept the concept of a built up area which in his model of ancient warfare is important but responded to players complaints and divided into four different types. You certainly don't have to use the city if you feel it's too complex for you. I certainly never use them. The Hamlet makes the perfect BUA that's required for the arable Terrain type.

warhorse29 Aug 2016 6:50 a.m. PST

No, Dave, in DBA v3, a Hamlet is just a piece of rough ground that blocks shooting. And as Bob pointed out, if you don't like cities, use forts or hamlets. So simple really. The rules for v3 give you a fair bit of flexibility. You can pick them apart pretty badly on many things (solid Auxilia, running cavalry battles, chariots, attritional effects, etc) but unfortunately not on the BUA rules.

Oh and if you read the history of the Peloponnesian Wars, you will note that towns changed hands frequently during short battles. Read about the battles on Syracuse, and the seizing of Plataea.

The time scale is a nod to people who went on and on requiring a time scale. It really can be anything. Short Dark Age raids could be over as a fight in mere minutes. A battle like Syracuse could take a long day, or even pause overnight and resume in the morning, with exhausted troops simply sleeping in their current positions…

lkmjbc329 Aug 2016 8:24 a.m. PST

I was being campy about counting the Edifice Bob!

So, 4 types if you will.

Ok… bad pun.

Joe Collins

jwebster Supporting Member of TMP29 Aug 2016 3:54 p.m. PST

Thanks Bob, that really helps


Tries to think of Shakespeare joke involving the King of Norway and rolls a 1

dave836529 Aug 2016 5:34 p.m. PST

Bob – I'm not talking about a see-saw battle where towns or other terrain pieces change hands. this is what I'm talking about:

"If it is not occupied by the enemy or it is vacated; a puppet administration has been put in power and its denizens will defend the city for the enemy. Denizens of a surrendered city cannot sally, as the puppet administration is fully occupied holding down a doubtful populace."

This implies that the existing civil government has been changed over to collaborators favorable to the enemy (ie, "puppet administration") which also has to institute various forms of civil repression in order to ensure that the natives don't rise up against the Quislings. During the battle. I would like to know how many armies took the field with such ready-made administrative apparatus, lists of informers necessary to ensure that the civil populace is kept in order, etc., etc. This is what I meant by "what the hell was Phil thinking."

As to the underlying point, let me state specifically what I am looking to do – and yes, it is not in the rules, but is a really just an effort to put some very pretty terrain pieces on the table for my Italian Wars battles which has a space set aside for a single element, and without (1) having to make the terrain removable during the battle (as a hamlet would have to be, but which for aesthetic purposes I don't want to do), and (2) not having to mess with the unduly burdensome City/Fort rules (which, as I pointed out above, I think are foolish to the extent he wrote all that "puppet administration" claptrap.)

Perhaps it could be treated like a camp that can either have space for an element to defend it, or assumed camp followers if no elements are inside.

Don't get me wrong. I like DBA 3 a lot. And it is one of the few games which I can actually get my husband to play with me. And other than the fact that I wish pike would have been treated as a troop type which didn't need rear support, I have no complaints.

I suppose I was really looking to know if anyone else had terrain pieces which they put on the table, and used an adapted version of the city/fort/hamlet/edifice rule.


lkmjbc330 Aug 2016 9:50 a.m. PST


I may be completely misunderstanding you… The rules you pointed out above are for a City… not a Fort.

Here are the rules for a Fort..

"(b)A FORT (or castle) has permanent defences and a gate and must start the game garrisoned by a foot element. It has no economic value or denizens. It is left undefended if its garrison vacates it or is destroyed; and can then be occupied and garrisoned by any foot element (except War Wagons)."

So, no weird denizen rules… This seems exactly what you are looking for with your terrain piece.

I hope this helps.

Joe Collins

warhorse30 Aug 2016 10:58 a.m. PST


Most cities taken during the pre-gunpowder era fell to treachery from within. Ancient cities had smaller populations, and internal factional strife was damned-near constant. Often the appearance of insufficient force could spur a sympathetic faction to rise up very fast (how long does a riot take to get started in a walled city of 5,000 that is just one square mile, say?). If even 50-100 garrison troops are pro-enemy, and 1,500 of the population, you can overwhelm the guards and open the gates, or drop ladders for approaching enemy troops). The current government has to be equally strong everywhere through the city. The insurrectionists only have to seize one point on the perimeter.

And very, very often the mere presence of an opposing army at the gates will awaken all the old strife within the existing society as people place their bets on who they think will win out in the end.

You can see a version of this internal political division/phenomenon currently in action on modern Europe, as millions of young, militant men from a virile and violent culture descend on the modern European welfare state…

dave836530 Aug 2016 2:21 p.m. PST

I appreciate everyone's input. And you would think that, as a 50 year old lawyer, I would learn to communicate better. I clearly am not doing so. So let me try again.

I am familiar with the camp, city, fort, and hamlet rules.

I am making several pieces of terrain which I want to use as a BUA rather than a camp. They consist of "fixed" architecture and features, and have a space large enough for a single element to be place.

I understand that a hamlet is simply a patch of rough going; any buildings or terrain is simply moved around the location of the elements. I am not fond of this treatment, due to my desire for fixed buildings.

I don't think calling it an edifice changes anything either, because, as I understand the rules, an edifice is simply treated as a patch of bad going – but again, any structures on it are moved to make way for the elements.

Because of the self-imposed limitations of my models, I understand that I am limited by the rules from treating this piece of terrain as anything other than a city or a fort. But as stated above, I don't really like either of those rules.

Perhaps the solution I am looking for is to simply treat the terrain piece as a camp (for attacking purposes) with either fixed "inhabitants/followers" or a deployed element, but not have it actually BE a camp (because I want to be able to use those as well), i.e. plus 1 defense bonus, but it does not count as a lost element if sacked, etc.

Essentially, I want to have the option to have a building that can be occupied or not, without penalty.

Has anyone done anything like this?


PS – still hoping someone can explain where the whole "puppet administration" thing came from…

Personal logo Bobgnar Supporting Member of TMP31 Aug 2016 7:30 p.m. PST

There are two streams of thought regarding DBA. One is what the rules say and how they are implemented in games between people in a competition. The other is using DBA as a tool kit for creating home rules to play ancient games that are self satisfying. What people have been writing so far is what the rules actually say. There are the four kinds of BUAs and these are hamlets and edifices and cities and forts. They have certain rules.

There is certainly no reason why a person can't make modifications to the rules to satisfy themselves as to how they think a game should be played. The rules are based on Phil Barker's theory of ancient warfare turned into a model of that activity in the form of a game. Throughout the history of DBA people have made modifications to the rules for their own pleasure. People even apply the rules to other eras.

So do as you wish to create the kind of habitat that you want for your games. The problem is that Most people want to help players understand what the rules actually mean and sometimes discussion gets a little tight about what somebody is trying to do if it's not within the actual rules.

I guess sometimes a discussion needs to be prefaced by a comment that "I'm working on a home rule for my game". Then perhaps the discussion can be more free-flowing and not so focused on the actual meaning of the rules .

Phil thinks that in many cases ancient battles took place around cities and those cities influence the battle. Some cities were captured through attack during the course of the battle, not as part of the siege as that takes much longer than a DBA game. In some cases, he believes that treachery by the inhabitants of the city turned it over to the enemy. In these cases the "rightful" rulers of the city are displaced by other citizens, who become in effect puppets of the enemy.

This results in a lot of rigmarole during the game that the vast majority of players feel un necessary for a tactical battle. Nevertheless, this is part of Phil's model of ancient warfare. It is important to recognize I believe, that he understands many players are hesitant to implement his rules for cities, therefore, at the urging of Sue as well, He added three other types of BUA's in addition to the original BUA which is now a city. I am not saying that every player does not like the complexity of the city (previously the only type of BUA), some feel it adds to the game. What's important is that now players who like that complexity can have it, and those that don't can put out a Hamlet, or even two ploughs.

GRothwell11 Sep 2016 2:21 p.m. PST

"You can see a version of this internal political division/phenomenon currently in action on modern Europe,"
Or, in the current US presidential campaign…

Henry Martini12 Sep 2016 8:59 a.m. PST

To be or not to be… a hamlet.

timurilank13 Sep 2016 7:49 a.m. PST

I prefer to keep all my structures (BUA) on bases which have terrain fixtures; shrub, hedges, or trees.
The system is modular so I can group them to construct a BUA from small to maximum size.

Some examples:
Dark age:


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