DBA Glossary

For the benefit of newcomers to DBA, the following is a glossary of DBA gaming terms, acronyms, and slang. It is very much a work in progress, subject to revision and addition of new entries as they are identified. If you have a comment on a current entry or suggested addition to the glossary, drop me a note at IamFanaticus@gmail.com.


Ag - Aggression.  Each army is assigned an aggression factor, which is used to modify the die roll that determines which is the invader and who is the defender.

Akland Manouever -- Losing a DBA game by allowing your general's element to be killed in the first few bounds as the only casualty of the battleCoined by associates of Tony Ackland, legendary former GW and BTD designer who perfected the manouever while gaming with the Newark Irregulars.

Art - Artillery (a DBA troop type)

Aux (or Ax) - Auxilia (a DBA troop type)

Bad Going - Rough terrain such as bogs or marsh, steep hills, enclosed fields, etc. that slow movement and may disorder formed troops, putting them at a disadvantage in combat. At least two quarters of the battlefield will have at least one river, impassable or "bad going" feature.

Barker Marker - A device used to determine whether an enemy element is within a "base width distance" of the measuring element, typically consisting of a 40mm square base with a knob or other handle for easy handling.

Barkered - Slang for subjecting an enemy element to your zone of control or ZOC.  Derived from use of the Barker Marker to determine whether an element is within the Zone of Control.

BBDBA (Big Battle DBA) - a version of DBA involving 36 elements in three commands per side.  Can be played by 2-6 players, with singles and doubles being most typical BBDBA competition formats.

Bd - Blades (a DBA troop type).

Billiard Table - Term used to describe a game board deployed with minimal terrain, often of smallest legal size, positioned along the board edges and/or in the corners, so that the terrain deployment is legal but will have little or no effect on the game.  A tactic most frequently used with armies that fare poorly in terrain (e.g. lots of Knights, Warwagons, etc.) and not considered particularly sporting.

Bound - One player's actions during a game turn. In a two player game, alternating bounds comprise one turn.

BUA - "Built Up Area", an area terrain feature in DBA common among Arable armies. You can model a BUA as a village, town or fortification such as a castle..

Buttocks of Death -  DBA prohibits units from recoiling through or pushing back other units unless they are facing in the same direction and provides that units unable to recoil are destroyed. Until addressed in DBA 2.0, crafty players could take advantage of that rule by pushing an element around an enemy flank into the zone of recoil but facing away from the enemy rear (so that their "buttocks" face the rear of the enemy's line). When attacked in front and forced to recoil, the enemy could not recoil through the rear of the element in their rear, and thus were destroyed by the "Buttocks of Death." 

Bw - Bows (a DBA troop type) See also Cb and Lb.

BWD -- "Base Width Distance" (see also ZOC and Barkered)

Cb - Crossbows (variation of the DBA Bows troop type).

CF - Camp Followers (the garrison of a Camp.  May be represented by figures on a removable base or figures affixed to the camp element.  In the absence of actual figures, most gamers also assume that camp followers are present unless specified otherwise).

Cheese/Cheesy - A  term used to describe a deployment, move or tactic that is not prohibited by the rules, and which confers some special advantage that many players would deem out of character with the historical flavor of the game. What constitutes a "cheese" move is not well defined.  The term is also occasionally used to describe the choice of particular armies in a tournament setting to gain competitive advantage.

Close The Door - When an element in overlap position moves to a flanking position in order to put the opponent at risk of being killed if recoiled.  This involves a 90 degree pivot which resembles the swinging of a door.

Cm - Camelry (a DBA troop type).

CnC (also CinC) - Commander-in-Chief. Used to distinguish the primary commander from subordinate commanders, particularly in big battle DBA games with multiple commanders.

Cv (or Cav) - Cavalry (a DBA troop type)

DBA - De Bellis Antiquitatis (rules for ancient and medieval warfare)

DBF - De Bellis Fantasticus (fantasy gaming supplement to DBM)

DBHx -- DBA Humberside Extensions (popular variant rules for extending DBA into the 1500-1900 period)

DBM - De Bellis Multitudinius (rules for ancient and medieval warfare)

DBMM -- De Bellis Magistrorum Militum (ri;es created by Phil Barker to replace DBM).

DBx - A reference to anything related to the De Bellis (DBA/DBM/DBR) rules systems, including generic rules and resources.

DBR - De Bellis Renationis (rules for renaissance warfare)

Denizens -- Inhabitants of a BUA, otherwise analogous to Camp Followers (CF) in a camp.

EL - Elephant (a DBA troop type)

Element - A single stand of troops. Each element is comprised of 2 to 4 figures (or one chariot, elephant, warwagon, or artillery piece). Twelve elements make up a standard DBA army.

Fanatici - Someone who participates in the Fanaticus DBA on-line community; the term is not associated with the rules per se.

Flee -- A Combat Outcome that involves movement to the rear in two stages. In the first stage, the fleeing element recoils one base width. Then the fleeing element turns and moves with its back to the enemy for the remaining flee distance.

Follow-up -- When an enemy in contact with an "impetuous" troop element (i.e. knight, warband, or scythed chariot) recoils, flees, breaks off, or is destroyed, the impetuous element must pursue or "follow-up" one base depth.

Group - Two or more elements in edge contact which are maneuvered together as a line or column. In DBA (unlike DBM), elements do not need to be in both edge and corner to corner contact to form and move as a group.

HCh - Heavy Chariot (variation of the DBA Knight troop type)

HD - Horde (a DBA troop type)

HOTT - Hordes of the Things (DBA-style rules for fantasy warfare)

Impetuous -- Required to "follow-up" or move forward automatically if/when an opposing enemy element is destroyed, recoils, flees, or breaks off. An impetuous element moves forward the depth of its base in pursuit. Knights, Scythed Chariots, and Warband are designated as "impetuous" troops in DBA.

Khazar Mounted Drill Team (KMDT) -- Maneuver whereby a column deploys into line by having its lead element wheel up to 90 degrees left or right and then each subsequent element filling in to the left or right of the lead element by moving up to its maximum move allowance. This maneuver only requires one pip and all elements are considered to be in a group as long as they are remain touching. KMDT is apparently sanctioned by Phil Barker for DBM as an appropriate historical tactic (originally employed by the Khazars), but is not provided for in the DBA rules except as an unofficial variant.

Kn - Knights (a DBA troop type)

Lb - Long bows (variation of the DBA Bows troop type)

LCh - Light Chariot (variation of the DBA Cavalry troop type)

LH - Light Horse (a DBA troop type)

Lit - Litter (a DBA troop type, basically a subset of War Wagon with no missile fire capability)

Morph (Morphing) -- To use figures/elements created for one DBA army list to supplement or represent another army list. For example, if you had a Late Roman-West (#77b) and an Early Gothic (#70) army, you could easily combine elements from each to create (i.e. morph) a Patrician Roman (#81) army. Similarly an Early Saxon (#75a) army can easily morph into a Middle Anglo-Saxon (#75b) army without changing any elements. Most players are reluctant to "morph" armies using figures that are historically inappropriate (e.g. you wouldn't use Roman legionaries to represent Anglo-Norman Blades).

Overlap - An "overlap" typically occurs when there is a mismatch between two opposing lines of elements in Close Combat so that one side has one or more elements available than the other and therefore "overlaps" an enemy's line. An element in contact with an enemy element can be overlapped on one or both sides by additional enemy element(s) that are parallel to its front edge and touching only at the front corners. An overlap also occurs when an element in contact with enemy to its front is also contacted by enemy on its flank or rear edges. Instead of resolving each attack seperately, the "overlapped" element subtracts -1 from its die roll for each edge that is overlapped. See page 23 for examples. An element forced to recoil or flee with enemy in overlap on its flank or rear edges is destroyed.

P (or Paces) - Paces is the unit of measurement used for purposes of determining movement and range for distance firing in DBA. 100 paces equal 1 inch or 25mm in 15mm scale. 50 paces equal 1 inch or 25mm in 25mm scale.

PIP - Personal (or Player) Initiative Point. This is the total number of tactical moves allowed per turn in DBA based on the result of a six-sided die roll. Thus, a roll result of 3 is referred to as three PIPs.

Pk - Pike (a DBA troop type)

Ps - Psiloi (a DBA troop type)

Psiloi Dash -- A special second and subsequent move option allowed only to Psiloi elements in the first turn of the game.   Instead of an actual "dash", some players prefer to think of this movement as simulating placement of a pre-positioned ambush as an extension of deployment.

Quick-Kill - When an element is destroyed by another element type when it's modified Close Combat die is less than that of the enemy but more than half. For example, Blades can be quick-killed by scythed chariots in good going or by warband.

RBS - Abbreviation for DBA co-author Richard Bodley Scott

Recoil - A Combat Outcome, a recoil involves moving an element back one base depth without turning. An element unable to recoil due to terrain or other circumstances is destroyed.

SC - Stampeded Cattle (a former DBA troop type, eliminated in DBA 2.0)

SCh - Scythed Chariot (a DBA troop type)

Sp - Spear (a DBA troop type)

Wb - Warband (a DBA troop type)

WRG - Wargames Research Group (publishers of DBA)

WWg - War Wagons (a DBA troop type)

Word According to Bob -- Used to connote a rules interpretation given by Bob Beattie, Chief DBA Umpire for the North American Society of Ancient and Medieval Wargamers.  Bob's interpretations are typically adopted for NASAMW tournament play, and provide general guidelines for other gamers.

Word According to Phil - Used to connote a rules interpretation given in response to a question posed by a DBA player to DBA co-author Phil Barker. Since there is no published "official" rules errata to DBA, the word according to Phil is the closest thing available to a sanctioned rules interpretation.

Word According to RBS -- See RBS. Comparable to the "Word According to Phil".

Zone of Control (ZOC) -- The area one base width forward from the front edge of an element. No enemy element can move across or through your element's zone of control except to close into combat with your element, unless you are already in close combat with another enemy element.


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Last Updated:  18 August 2015

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