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"DBN v. HFG v. DBA-HX?" Topic

De Bellis Antiquitatis (DBA)

22 Posts

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08 Jan 2017 6:26 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Crossposted to De Bellis Antiquitatis (DBA) board

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Desert Fox Supporting Member of TMP21 Mar 2014 4:29 a.m. PST

I am intereseted in a set of rules that will allow me to fight a battle in a short period of time on a small table. It looks like these are the main suspects.

De Bellis Napoleonicis (DBN)

Horse, Foot, Guns (HFG)

Humberside Extensions (DBA-HX)

Any advantages/disadvantages of one ruleset over the others?

daubere21 Mar 2014 4:46 a.m. PST

I'd go DBN personally. It's an elegant system.

DBA-HX is still DBA. Which is fine if you like DBA.

HFG is a bloated mess. Its first conception was fine, but PB listened to too much 'advice' from too many people. And it's still not 'finished'.

Still you can't argue at the current price, and the army lists are worth a read.

Who asked this joker21 Mar 2014 4:47 a.m. PST

Having played none of them, here is the little I know.

DBN uses some DBA mechanics but I believe incorporates attrition into the combat results. Costs a small amount ($15?)

DBA-HX is essentially DBA for the Horse and Musket period. At it's core, it plays like DBA but with different element types to represent troops. Free

I don't know anything about HFG except that it is written and designed by Phil Barker himself. It has been in the works for many years. Not sure it will ever be "done" or maybe it already is! I believe it is still free so you can look for yourself.

Personal logo timurilank Supporting Member of TMP21 Mar 2014 4:52 a.m. PST

I have taken updated the DBA-HX for use with version 3 of DBA (30 September draft).

The subtleties of overlapping support and combat outcomes of version 3 lend well to creating troop distinctions. You can follow the adaptations I made at the following Fanaticus link:


The 9th of April is our next Musket period game; Northern Russia 1812, Oudinot vs. Wittgenstein.

I will post a report and photos then.


Whatisitgood4atwork21 Mar 2014 4:53 a.m. PST

'DBN uses some DBA mechanics but I believe incorporates attrition into the combat results. Costs a small amount ($15?)'

Yes, attrition is an optional rule in DBN. IMO a worthwhile one. I like DBN. I have not played the other two.

Whirlwind21 Mar 2014 4:56 a.m. PST

I've managed to get Horse, Foot and Guns work alright. I'd advise designing your own QR sheet with everything relating to troop types you aren't going to use eliminated. I felt it made things a lot clearer and you see how the rules 'work' whilst you do it.


True Grit21 Mar 2014 5:47 a.m. PST

HFG is a bit of a mess, DBA-HX is what it says 'DBA with modifications'. My vote would be for DBN, its does what you want very well, its comprehensive with plenty of optional extra rules and a good web site.

photocrinch21 Mar 2014 6:58 a.m. PST

DBN has quickly evolved into my favorite rule set. The authors are good at supporting the rules and the attrition system makes for an excellent and challenging game, while the mechanics themselves are pretty straight forward. Last time I tried HF&G it was a messy behemoth. DBA-HX is fun, but without the strategic complexity that the DBN rules give at very little cost to playability.


Personal logo miniMo Supporting Member of TMP21 Mar 2014 8:06 a.m. PST

I've played DBN and like it very much. Also in a similar vein, Snappy Nappy and Polemos are worth a look.

MajorB21 Mar 2014 8:33 a.m. PST

I've tried all three and much prefer DBA-HX.

Personal logo Bobgnar Supporting Member of TMP21 Mar 2014 11:05 a.m. PST

My first email message from Phil about HFG was in the year 2000. That's a very long gestation period for a set of rules that are not born yet. It was supposed to be something like DBA for musket era but ,wow, it's turned into something more complex than the DBMM, approaching empire or Napoleons battles.

I have played many games of DBN and find it a very good small Napoleonic game. My first choice of course would be column line and square and 25 mm but that's hardly a small game. If I'm doing a small game DBN is good. it's based on Napoleonic concepts. It originally started as DBA basic but has moved on to incorporate other ideas.

matthewgreen21 Mar 2014 11:11 a.m. PST

I have only played HFG of these. Thought they worked rather well – but the basic rules cover a greatly extended period and include too many things you don't need. The version I had was in Word, and it wasn't too hard to edit the unnecessary bits out and create a QR. There was a specific Napoleonic version not by PB, but these seemed to lose the high level appeal of the original.

The rules are classic Barker, which although expressed very compactly, do your head in a bit on the first outing (which I'm afraid is all they got) as you try to work out which way up the modifiers are, etc.

The core mechanism involved single D6 with modifiers. I am happier with D10 rules or ones that handfuls of D6.

Still it provided an absorbing game with the right mix chess-like build up and breakthrough moments. My memory is that it didn't handle attritional tactics (like artillery bombardment and skirmishing) all that adeptly.

I have played DBA in its ancient guise – had many of the same strengths and weaknesses.

Prince Lupus22 Mar 2014 12:05 p.m. PST

Have a look at 2 by 2 rules

although they say they are designed for 2mm they seem to have begin life as a DB type set

Prince Lupus22 Mar 2014 12:10 p.m. PST

… forgot to add that I've mated these with DBA and a square based system for my solo campaign.


the squares speed this things up as they eliminate the need for measuring. Not everyone's cup of tea but a bit of fun.

uglyfatbloke23 Mar 2014 5:12 a.m. PST

We have a DBA-type system for enormous ACW attles that works fine for small ones (maybe 8 or 10 units per side) in an hour or so. PM me thathistoryblokeATbtinternetDOTcom and I'll send you a copy.

Royston Papworth24 Mar 2014 6:20 a.m. PST

I've had some fun games with La Grande Army. They are from Vae Victus and available free, bundled up with Kepi Rouge (FPW), an ACW version, plus a Mexican-American variant.

The only two versions I have used are LGA and KR, both give a fun, interesting game. They can be played as a DBA style game or scaled up to BBDBA. I'd recommend giving them a try. I can't remember whether I got them via Fanaticus or from Free Wargames Rules. Either way, Google is your friend..

I used 60mm wide bases and 15mm figures, 16 to a base for infantry, looked rather good, but it was a lot of figures to lose…

Inventedregiment29 Mar 2014 2:16 a.m. PST

DBA-Hx is my favourite of those three, particularly with the author's "limited recoils" adaptation. Makes for a stellar ACW game on pleasantly small board.

donlowry31 Mar 2014 9:38 a.m. PST


forwardmarchstudios31 Mar 2014 9:04 p.m. PST

2x2 Naps has some neat ideas in it- especially the way it makes off-board reserves integral to the game instead of an add-on. Their use of "pinning" is also pretty characterful. Definitely worth the ten minutes you'll need to read them. Plus the price is right!

mashrewba02 May 2014 12:18 p.m. PST

I wonder if HFG off spring "Kepi and rifle" will ever see the light of day?
I haven't played DBN yet but I've got it and it looks good.
I'm doing 28mm on 90mm bases.

Allan F Mountford03 May 2014 2:10 a.m. PST

According to Phil Barker, Kepi & Rifle was to be the first of the sub-sets following publication of HF&G.


uglyfatbloke03 May 2014 4:01 a.m. PST

Our brutally bloody DBA-style ACW rules will be published in the ACW Gamer e-magazine in the near-ish future. We can generally manage a game with 100 or so units on either side with half a dozen players and 3000 figures or thereby in the course of about five hours…less if we spent less time gossiping and arguing about the merits (or otherwise) of the Federal and Confederate causes.

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