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Newbie's Guide to DBA

Veni, Vidi, Cheapie

Or How to Build Eight Roman Armies
for the Price of Two.

By Erik Kleinsmith

As a relative newcomer to DBA (only about 2 years now) I wanted to get quickly started with a couple armies that I could learn from and try different techniques. Of course, I had to have a Roman Army as my first acquisition. I quickly found out that DBA has specified 8 different Roman Armies to choose from. Which should I start with I asked. Early Roman so I could beat up on the Etruscans? Polybian so I could beat up on the Carthaginians? Or should it have been Marian so I could beat up other Romans?

I settled on a pack of Middle Imperial which came in a set with their victims, the Germanic Tribes. After using this army for a time I decided that it was time to expand. Must have been something in the flocking. Instead of going out and buying a whole other army, I found that it was more cost effective to just add to the one I own. Here's how to do it.

In order to create an army that is adaptable to any Roman period, list out each Army's requirements. After looking at the Early Camillan, Polybian, Marian, Early Imperial, Middle Imperial, Late West, and Late East Romans, count their respective unit make ups including all options. They should look something like this.

Element Early Camillan Polybian Marian Early Imp Middle Imp Late West Late East
3Kn 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 2
3Cv 2 2 2 3 2 3 3 3
2Lh 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 2
4Sp 8 5 2 0 0 0 0 0
4Bd 0 3 6 9 5 5 4 2
4Aux 2 0 0 0 4 6 3 4
2Ps 2 2 2 2 2 1 1 2
1Wb 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0
1Art 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0

Then look across the rows of each unit element to find the highest number of units required in any particular army. For example, the most number of Knight units needed in any of the Roman Armies is 2 in the Late Eastern Roman Army. The total count looks something like this: 2 Knights, 3 Cavalry, 2 Light Horse, 8 Spear, 9 Blade, 6 Auxilia, 2 Psiloi, 1 Warband, and 1 Artillery. Total number of units: 34

Multiply each of these units by the number of figures required to fill each unit. For figures you now need: 6 Knights, 9 Cavalry, 4 Light Horse, 32 Spearmen, 36 Blades, 24 Auxilia, 4 Psiloi, 3 Warband, and 1 Artillery (with crew). This gets a little more complicated when you take it a step further and compute how many packs of figures needed from a particular manufacturer. Total number of Figures: Around 122.

This total allows you to plan how many figures of each type that are necessary to play a Roman army during any time period. I even had to go a step further. Since my first Roman Army was from Minifig, I had also bought a Camillan Roman Army at a convention made by Tin Soldier. Deciding to go with the Tin Soldier Army, I had then only to decide how many more figures I needed to reach the above arrangement. Then things got a little crazy.

The toughest opponents of the Romans were actually themselves during their numerous Civil Wars. I went ahead and doubled this army so that I could actually field any Roman Army to battle with any other Roman Army. Total number of Figures 244.

Comparing costs, the different Roman armies average 14 units. To have two Armies, you'd need to buy about 28 and so on. Owning all 8 different armies would require 97 units. Compared to 34 units, that's not a bad deal. Even having two armies take the field in the way I have described requires 64. And that even allows you to have similar Roman armies face off against each other.

This method can be down with pretty much any nationality listed in DBA such as the Byzantines, Egyptians, French, English etc. I would be happy to hear any thoughts on this idea at this web site.

Friends, Romans, Carthaginians

By Paul Rice

I read Erik Kleinsmith's account of making 8 armies for the price of two after I had already started my Roman quest. Here's how I made five Roman armies and a Carthaginian army for the price of two and a half DBA-sized armies. (I also rolled a Numidian army in there as well by getting two extra packs of light horse (Essex R09 -- makes four stands), but that's not necessary to do this. With an artillery piece you can also make an ugly Syracusan army as well. Hence I ended up with ten armies for the price of three.)

Starting with a Marian Roman army from Essex (8 Bl, 3 Cav, 1 Ps), you can buy a bag of eight Ps (e.g. Essex R05) which are the same Psi used in both Marian and Polybian armies, and a bag of eight Sp (e.g.. Essex R04). These make four stands of Ps and two of Sp. You can then field Polybians. If you build Carthaginians, you have two stands of Aux, two WBs, and a LH which will come in handy. Buy another bag of eight Aux (e.g. Peter Pig 3-16) and you can field many of the versatile combinations of Early Imperial Romans. At this point you can also field Middle Imperial Romans and Late Romans (West). If you want a little variety you can buy Cataphractarii or Clibinarii to play knights, and some artillery to fill out the options.

Bang. Six armies for a little over the price of two.

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Last Updated: May 26, 1999

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