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Unofficial Rules Variants

Variable Terrain

By Tony Stapells

Another curious feature of the DBA rules are the terrain definitions. Terrain features are set down and defined by the defender. Both players know exactly how their troops will behave in that particular piece of tabletop decoration...except rivers. Neither player knows for sure what type of river it is until one tries to cross the waterway.

Which is excellent! DBA attempts to limit the "omniscient" helicopter view of wargamers.  Should a general know exactly how steeply banked, or fast flowing a river is before his troops reach the actual stream?  No. And neither should he know how dense a wood is, or how steep a hill is before his men begin struggling through the terrain.

So, let's extend the randomness of rivers to the rest of the terrain laid down by the defender. As with rivers, the first element to enter the terrain feature in question requires a roll on the appropriate table. However, such a roll only defines that actual piece. Seperate woods, for example, each require their own standard six-sided die roll.

Bad Going
Roll Result
1-2
Little underbrush, few BUA obstactles, slopes are fairly stable - all elements may move as a group move in this terrain, and any but auxilia or psiloi; and in, or mounted in contact with enemy in, suffer only a -1 in combat.  Mounted are still destroyed on an adverse combat result.
3-4
Normal DBA rules for badgoing - all elements move by column in this terrain, and any but auxilia or psiloi; and in, or mounted in contact with enemy in, suffer a -2 in combat.
5-6
Very dense underbrush, barricaded BUA, extremely treacherous slopes - all elements move as columns and must dice seperately and score more than 1 to move.  Any but psiloi; and in, or mounted in contact with enemy in, suffer a -2 in combat.  Note - Auxilia also suffer a negative modifier.

Gently Sloped Hills
Roll Result
1-4
Normal DBA rules for gently sloping hills - they are not considered badgoing, but do confer a combat advantage for troops upslope.
5-6
Upon closer inspection, slopes are slightly more difficult than first suspected.  They are treated as a 1-2 result on the badgoing table above.

Players may wish to apply die roll modifiers to the above tables based on their interpretations of the appropriate geography for historical matchups. Romans versus Illyrians in rocky Illyria, for example, may warrant a +1 to the terrain rolls. Conversely Pechenegs fighting Cumans on the open steppes could justify a -1 to all terrain rolls.

(Original Rule)


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Last Updated: August 30, 1999

My thanks to Tony Stapells for letting me reprint this proposed variant rule. Comments and suggestions welcome. Send them to Chris Brantley, c.brantley@ieee.org.