DBA Game Tools

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One of the advantages of DBA is that you need relatively few things in order to play -- just an army, a game board and some terrain pieces, a ruler or measuring stick marked in appropriate increments, a six-sided die, and the rules.  There are several other tools that some DBA gamers use, however, to help them with various aspects of play.  Typically, they can be created by the player using inexpensive and easily obtainable materials.  DBx gaming tools and gauges are also available from a number of commercial sources, such as Litko Aerosystems and Principles of War.

Measuring Stick

A standard wooden or plastic ruler or tape measure are all suitable for measuring DBA's one inch (25mm) = 100 paces movement increments when gaming at 15mm scale.  For 25mm and larger scale gaming, you'll need to create your own measuring stick marked in 40mm increments.  A measuring stick can be fashioned out of card, plastic, or wooden dowels or strips (typically of bass or balsa wood).  When creating your own measuring stick, it is customary amongst DBx gamers to paint each increment in contrasting colors (e.g. red and white, green and yellow, etc.).

Roland Fricke's Quick and Easy Measuring Tool

Here is my twist on a DBA movement measuring tool. using a 3x5 index card.  Just remove a 1x1 inch section from any corner.  You now have a 2, 3, 4 and 5 inch sides to the card.   It's flexible so you can measure around corners and since it's thin, it's more accurate than some of the dowels and wooden sticks which never seem to get directly on the corner of a base.  It's cheap - so losing one is no big deal. I've made mine out of plastic as its more durable.  It's small. By putting the 2/3 opposite each other and 4/5 opposite the overall size is minimized. Easy to store in the book. Seeing if you can reach is easier than with longer sticks that can't get in between elements.

Here is a creative alternative by Nick Whitlock.

One interesting innovation is to incorporate basic DBA reference information on your ruler for quick reference, such as these ruler templates created by Chris Milne.

Barker Marker

A "Barker Marker" is a game tool used to determine whether an enemy element is within a "base width distance" of the checking element, an area that is also often referred to as the "zone of control" or ZOC.  Hence the "Barker Marker" is sometimes called a "ZOC Marker."  Just place the marker in front of your element to see if it touches or overlaps an enemy base.  If so, that enemy element is subject to various movement restrictions.  The Barker Marker can also be used during movement to make sure you have sufficient clearance to move around an enemy elements' zone of control.

You can create a Barker Marker by simply affixing a handle to a 40mm x 40mm base (for 15mm scale or smaller gaming) or 60mm x 60mm base (for 25mm scale and larger gaming).  For example, a golf tee or wooden dowell glued to a spare base will certainly do the job.  You can also get very creative with your Barker Markers, by putting structures, figures, or other things on the base that are historically appropriate to the army (e.g. an obelisk on an Egyptian Barker Marker).  Check the Eye Candy gallery for inspiration.

If you don't have a Barker Marker, it is easy enough to measure "base width distances" by using a spare base or with a ruler marked in mm increments.

Wheeling Stick

A "Wheeling Stick" is a tool occasionally used by DBx gamers to help move lines of troops who are wheeling in place.  It is typically made out of a strip of balsa/bass wood or heavy card and marked in base widths (i.e. 40mm for 15mm scale games or 60mm for 25mm scale games).   Most wheeling sticks are between five and ten base-widths in length.  Too short, and it won't help you measure the wheel.  Too long, and it will be hard to position on the board.  240, 280 or 320mm seems to be typical lengths (for 15mm) since you are unlikely to wheel a line longer than 6-8 elements at a time.

To use a wheeling stick, place a corner next to the corner of the element on which your line will pivot.  Then lay the stick on the gameboard at the angle you want your line to wheel to.  Use your measuring stick at the opposite end of the line to make sure your wheeling distance does not exceed the movement allowance of the element moving the farthest distance.  Once you get your new frontage adjusted appropriately, then you can advance your individual elements to align with the markings indicated on your wheeling stick.

Firing Gauge

A "Firing Gauge" can be used to indicate the area that can be targeted by an element engaged in distance shooting.  You need different gauges for elements who shoot with a range of 200P (e.g. Bow) and a range of 400P (e.g. Artillery).  Firing gauges are often cut from balsa wood or card, and handles/attachments are optional.  A firing gauge for Bow elements in 15mm scale gaming is 120mm wide at its base, extending out two inches (or 50mm) in a curved arc from the centermost 40mm section.  A diagram is provided below to illustrate.  In my experience, firing gauges are fairly rare since their function can be easily performed with the measuring stick.

Camp/BUA ZOC Template

Terry Griner:  "I use flat thin poster board templates under my camps that extend from the camp a BWD all round (except the area to the rear which is off the battlefield.) I paint these templates to represent fields and scatter wheat sheaves and hay stacks around loose so they can be picked up when troops occupy the space. This looks good and makes it easy to tell exactly where troops will enter the ZOC of a camp. I use the same procedure for my BUA's."


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Last Updated:  18 August 2015

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