DBA Ladders

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Ladders are a way to promote tournament style competition in a local club or geographic area over a period of time, especially when it is difficult to get all the players together at the same location and time.  They can also be used for gaming over a multi-day convention.  In a ladder, each player challenges players higher on the ladder in order to move up. The goal is to reach (and hold on to) the top spot on the ladder.  An umpire (or ladder coordinator)  is usually needed to both maintain the ladder and to resolve any challenge appeals or disputes. 

Here are some suggested rules for administering a DBA ladder adapted with input from Alexander Hay's Greater Houston DBA Ladder rules.

Formation of the Ladder

  • Initial ladder entrants are randomly assigned to their beginning steps on the ladder by the umpire.
  • Once the ladder is established, new players can join at any time and are added at the bottom rung of the ladder as they join.


  • Unless otherwise agreed to by the players, ladder matches are best of three games.  (The umpire may opt for single match contests when establishing the ladder rules).
  • All games use the most current version of DBA (or the version designated by the umpire in the ladder rules).  Rules variants are not permitted unless established by the umpire when the ladder is created.
  • Players on the ladder may field any legal army contained in the DBA edition used for the ladder, and may use different armies in different matches.  Once an army is selected for a particular match, however, that army must be used in each match game.
  • A player may challenge another player up to 5 positions higher on the ladder.  The challenge should be made directly to the challenged player with time/date notification to the umpire.  Players may not challenge down the ladder.
  • Players who receive multiple challenge must respond to them in the order received, but are not required to accept more than one challenge per week.  If the challenged player chooses not to accept a challenge due to other current challenge commitments, then the challenger and umpire must be promptly notified of the reason for declining the challenge in order to avoid a default.
  • The Umpire should establish the time allowed for matches to be completed (typically two to four weeks), which should be posted with the ladder rules.
  • Failure of a challenged player to respond to the challenge in the required time results in an automatic default. On expiration of the time, the challenger must contact the ladder umpire to request a default victory.
  • Match results are applied to ladder positions in the chronological order in which the matches are played.
  • When a lower ranked player wins a challenge match, the lower ranked player assumes the higher ranked player's ladder position and all intermediate players are moved down one position.
  •  The winner of a challenge match is not obliged to accept a challenge from the loser of the match for a period of 1 month after the match has been played.
  • Players who decline a challenge without good cause may be moved to the bottom or the ladder and/or removed from the ladder at the discretion of the umpire.
  • Players for whom no match result, whether as winner or loser, has been reported to the umpire within the last six months will be removed from the ladder. Once removed, the player may challenge back into the ladder at any position at any time.

Ladder Outcomes and Recognitions

A DBA ladder can last as long as there are active players interested in continuing the ladder.  As an alternative, the umpire can set a time frame for the ladder (e.g. one year, 18 months), with a prize to the winner as an added incentive for active play.  Then a new ladder can be launched.

Recognitions can also be given for the player(s) with the most challenges, the player with the best win-loss percentage, the player who has climbed the greatest number of ladder rungs, etc.

Other Alternatives

In order to ensure historically appropriate match-ups, ladders could be established around specific themes (e.g. armies and enemies of Rome) or by DBA army books (e.g. Book I Chariot, Book II Classical, etc.)

Players could elect to fight battles by mutual agreement as regular DBA, DBA Big Battle and/or DBAOL.

Current Ladders

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Last Updated:  12 July 2004

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