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Guide to DBA Generals

DBA provides that each army will have a general (also referred to as the commander or CnC), which must be posted on one of the 12 elements that comprise the army. The rules provide "the general's element must be recognisable by his figure, his standard, or at a pinch his conventional white charger, and should be of a type appropriate to that army."

Depending on how many element types you have in your army (e.g., Blades, Light Horse, Cavalry, Warband, etc.), that gives you a number of options for locating your general. This gives rise to two basic questions.

  1. How do you model your general's element?

  2. Where is the best place to assign your general's element?

See also the variant rule for Mobile Generals.

Modeling Your General's Element.

DBA Resource Page regular John Meunier posted the following query to the historical newsgroup:

I am curious about who paints up general elements to use with their DBA armies -- and if they do whether they paint up more than one. So, for instance, they might have a general element as blades and another one as cavalry that they then use when they play. Or, do most folks just use markers of some sort to mark their generals?

The following is a collection of responses from the newsgroup and other sources.

Jay VC: I use both systems. Single general stands as markers. Different types of command elements for the same army. Try giving your command elements a more dioramic effect. Nothing is as dull as 3 blades and 1 general. We usually use 12-24 stands to play our brand of DBA.

Anonymous: It varies, depending on how much time I've had to spend on the army - originally, I didn't do any leader elements, but I'm going back and fixing that.

Sometimes I just temporarily modify a figure by giving him the appropriate flag. Sometimes I have dedicated general figures.

When I have dedicated generals, I create one general element for each troop type that would be historically appropriate. For my Later Imperialists, for example, the only appropriate choice was a Knight General. For Hussites, the leader could be with the Blades or Warwagons.

Gary: The custom in our gaming group is to have detached generals (mounted generals based separately on individual bases) so that we can attatch them to whatever element we desire without having to base and rebase or buy extra elemenst that we would only use once in a while. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if the rules say that we're not supposed to do this, but what the hey, it works for us!

Pulver: I use a single mounted figure on a small base (just big enough for that figure) which I can then place behind or in front of the general element. The figure "does not exist" and can be moved out of the way if necessary and is, of course, tied to that unit. I find this is a more flexible way of doing it, since it means I can vary the general from game to game.

I've never had any trouble with the figure getting in the way, since I'll just move him behind, in front of, or to the side of the unit as needed.

Bob Beattie: Most of the time our group just puts a piece of red pipe cleaner on the element with the general, even if the general is distinctive. Then there is no confusion as whether you said the general was the element with the white horse or the one with the red flag.

The Best Place to Assign Your General

For many players, the "best" place to put your general is with the troop type that he fought with historically. Alexander fought with his Companion Cavalry. Caesar stood with his legions. Arthur rode with his Knights. Etc.

If you aren't constrained by notions of historical accuracy or "appropriateness", then the best place to assign your General is on the element where it can do the most good. That will depend on the composition of your army, your tactics, and your opponent. Because there are so many variables, no definitive answer is possible here. You might, however, take into account the following general guidelines.

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Last Updated: Nov. 9, 1998

Comments, suggested additions, and/or critiques welcome. Direct them to Chris Brantley at