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BUA Church With Pallisade

Guide to BUA's in DBA

The BUA or "Built Up Area" is a type of terrain piece, like a hill or bad going forest. DBA armies that have "Arable" as their home terrain are required to use a BUA when defending. BUAs are optional terrain for all other armies except those whose home terrain is forest.

Examples of BUA's provided include "a large palisaded or walled village, a hill fort or a walled town or castle." Since a BUA is technically a "built up area," if you wanted, you could model your BUA as a village with peasant cottages, walled fields, orchards and arbors instead of a fortification.

You can purchase scenics suitable for use as BUAs from various suppliers (including both resin/plastic models and/or 3-D paper cut-outs, or you can scratch-build them. Scatchbuilding allows you to be creative and/or tailor the BUA to a specific army or period. For example, as a Roman BUA, you might want to model a mile fort on Hadrian's Wall; for an Anglo-Norman army, a motte and baily castle; or for a Crusader army, a small representation of the Krak de Chevalliers. Or, in the same way that you can create a generic camp scene that works for several armies, you can also create a BUA that can be used for more than one army. Thus a simple stone keep or pallisade and ditch could suffice for Romans, Anglo-Normans and Crusaders alike. It all depends on how much time and energy you have for BUAs and how creative you want to be. While your opponents will admire more creative works, by the same token, no one should complain if you use something simple and functional even if it is generic.

A typical scratch built BUA could be a walled city made up with foamcore (art board) walls and balsa wood towers, glued to a base. In this approach, it is common to use buildings that are smaller in scale than the figures used (e.g. 1/285mm or 6mm scenics with 15mm figures), so that you can fit several into the BUA, creating the appearance of a real town or settlement.

The easiest way to represent a BUA would be to cut out a piece of felt in an appropriate color (grey?) and shape, and then set it on the board to indicate the boundaries of the BUA. If you wanted then, you could put something else on the felt, like a building(s), tower, village scene, etc.

One important consideration in buying or building a BUA scenic is size. There are four basic size criteria:

  1. Like all terrain features, BUAs can vary in size, but "must fit inside a rectangle, the length plus width of which totals no more than 9 element base widths." (i.e. total of 360mm in 15mm or smaller scale or 540mm in 25mm scale)."

  2. The rectangle's length must not exceed twice the width.

  3. Features (including BUAs) cannot be less than 1 element base width across in any direction. Thus the smallest legal BUA would be a 40mm x 40mm square at 15mm scale or smaller scale and 60mm x 60mm scale at 25mm scale.

  4. When placed on the battle field, "all of a BUA must be within 900 paces (225mm/9 inches) of 1 battlefield edge and all of it at least 220mm/900 paces from any other battlefield edge."

Also, when modeling the BUA, there should also be room within to place a garrison element (e.g. a flat area 40mm x 40mm or larger in 15mm scale or 60mm x 60mm or larger in 25mm scale).

In a nutshell, a standard size like 6x6 inches or smaller will always work in DBA in either 15 or 25mm scale. The largest legal size that will always work in both DBA/DBM will be something that would fit in a 6x9 inch rectangle. Depending on the shape of the BUA, you could create something that fit in a 7x9 inch rectangle or other sizes and deploy it legally by careful placement on the board, but that would be tricky.

As for shape, DBA provides a "BUA can be polygonal, otherwise all features must be roughly oval." Polygonal means "many sided", meaning 3 or more sides, including your basic square or rectangle.

As a DBA gamer, if you like BUAs and have elements in your army well-suited to defend them (e.g. Blades or Artillery), then you will want a BUA as large as possible to help dominate the board and limit your opponent's room to maneuver. If your army is not well-suited to defend a BUA (e.g. Gauls with warband) or you need the maneuver room, then the smaller is better. Of course, many (most?) DBA gamers put tactical considerations second to visual considerations.

Other Resources

Martin Hogg (MogWorld) offers a downloadable paper BUA.

Will Johnson (Will's Games) also offers downloadable building graphics suitable for BUAs.

Usborn's Cut Out Models (3-D paper buildings adnd villages) can be adapted in a variety of ways to create BUAs.

Fanatici Feedback

Alex Aimette: 3-D cutout buildings are a fantastic resource. They usually look better than resin moulds in detail, and aside from a few minor aspects to the paper side, they are great looking. I own a medieval castle that gets plenty of mileage, and it cost about 3-4 dollars.

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Last Updated: Nov. 17, 2001

Comments, questions and additions welcome. Send them to Chris Brantley at IamFanaticus@gmail.com.