Random Terrain System

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The following is a system for randomized placement of terrain on the DBA game board. It reflects terrain typical of temperate climates (e.g. central Europe), although it can be adapted to other climates or geographic areas with a little thought.

The system requires a deck of cards, a six-sided die (1d6), and terrain of the appropriate type. It consists of three steps:

  1. Terrain Placement
  2. River Placement
  3. Road Placement

As a random system, it is possible that a game board would result that violates DBA's rule that three quarters of the field have some type of terrain feature, or two quarters with a water or bad going feature.. In the spirit of "randomness" in which this system was created, these DBA deployment rules are waived.

Terrain Placement

The DBA game board is divided into a 3 by 3 grid.  A player then shuffles an ordinary pack of playing cards (joker removed) and then each Player draws four cards.

                     Player A

             |       |       |       |
             |   1   |   2   |   3   |
             |       |       |       |
             |   4   |   5   |   6   |
             |       |       |       |
             |   7   |   8   |   9   |
                    Player B

Once all cards are drawn and examined, each player takes turns placing a playing card face down into a zone of their choice (so that only they know what the card represents) until all cards are placed. One card per zone only. A final card is drawn blindly from the deck and placed face down in the last empty zone, or players can agree to leave the final zone clear as good going terrain.

Once all cards are placed, the players take turns revealing the cards, consulting the table below and placing the indicated terrain on the board .  As part of placement, they can determine the size and shape of the terrain and control its facing/orientation within the zone it's being placed in.  One the terrain is placed and oriented, it may not be subsequently adjusted.

As a more random alternative, cards can be dealt face down for each zone and then revealed to great the game board, with players taking turns revealing the cards and adjusting the orientation of the terrain within the revealed zone.

Card Black Suit Red Suit
A Built Up Area (Bad Going) Good Going
2 Broken Ground (Bad Going) Good Going
3 Broken Ground (Bad Going) Good Going
4 Heavy Woods (Impassable) Good Going
5 Light Woods (Bad Going) Good Going
6 Light Woods (Bad Going) Good Going
7 Light Woods (Bad Going) Good Going
8 Marsh (Bad Going) Good Going
9 Marsh (Bad Going) Good Going
10 Hill* Good Going
J Hill* Good Going
Q Hill* Good Going
K Lake (Impassable) Good Going

* Deploying player can determine whether the Hill is Steep, Gentle or Wooded.  As a more random alternative, players can agree to make the determination by dice roll:  1-2 Steep, 3-4 Gentle, 5-6 Wooded).  If the Hill is classified as Wooded, then roll 1D6 before the Hill is placed in it zone. On 1, the Hill is heavily wooded (i.e., impassable). On 2-3, the Hill is lightly wooded (bad going). On 4-6, the Hill is open with gentle slopes. Once the nature of the Hill's coverage is determined, the player placing the Hill can determine its size and orientation within zone.  Wooded hills provide slope advantages to the defender, but are otherwise treated as Woods.


Once basic terrain is placed, roll 1D6 to determine if there is a river, adding +1 to the result for each army that is Littoral.  On a result of 6 or higher, then a river will be placed on the Board. Players than roll off, with the high result placing the river feature.

Rivers must begin at one board edge and must terminate at either another board edge, a lake (if one is present on the field), or another river.

Rivers may be placed along a Board edge as a littoral feature.

Any place a road crosses a river will be designated automatically as either a ford or bridge.


Roll 1D6 to determine if there is a road(s). On 1-3, there is one road. On 4 there are two roads. On 5 or 6, there are no roads.

If there is one road, players roll die, with high die winning the opportunity to place the road. If there are two roads, each player is allowed to place one road.

Roads must begin at one board edge and must terminate at either another board edge, a built-up-area, or another road (i.e., an intersection).


Once all terrain is placed, players roll 1D6 to determine order, with the lower result deploying first as Defender and the higher result deploying second and moving first bound as the Attacker.


Since additional die roll and table references are required, this system can take longer to implement than the current DBA deployment system, but not significantly longer once mastered. It does have the benefit of producing a more random terrain layout and perhaps greater terrain density than the current DBA system, posing a greater tactical challenge for the gamers.

It is not totally random, however, since players take turns orienting the direction terrain faces as it is placed on the table. Also, no attempt is made to determine the size of the terrain element, which gives another measure of control to the placing player.

This system is certainly experimental. Any comments, suggestions, and criticism of a constructive nature is appreciated. Send your input to IamFanaticus@gmail.com.

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Last Updated: 18 August 2015

Questions, comments, suggestions welcome.
Send them to Chris Brantley at IamFanaticus@gmail.com.