Bidable Breakpoints

> Rules Variants > Resources > Fanaticus

Here is an off-the-wall variant that replaces the normal DBA rules for deployment and victory conditions. This variant allows players to bid for their army's breakpoint, with the low bidder enjoying the terrain advantage and the high bidder enjoying a more resilient army (i.e., a higher breakpoint). You can rationalize this imbalance by saying that the low bidder is on the defensive, compensating for fragile morale or battle loses by use of terrain.

First, the players select the available terrain (i.e. the number and types of terrain which may be deployed). The terrain must adhere to the basic rules regarding size and number. The terrain is set to one side.

Players then bid in turn, starting at 25 and working downward toward 1. Each point bid represents a break point that is used to calculate victory conditions.

In a game, break points are used up as follows:

  • 5 BP per element lost
  • 5 BP per general lost
  • 5 BP per camp lost
  • 2 BP per flee result
  • 1 BP per recoil result

During the course of a game, after each adverse combat result, you deduct the appropriate number of breakpoints from your total. A-ha you say, this introduces record-keeping into DBA...a mortal sin. I confess. Although you could use one of those neat markers that Magic: The Gathering(tm) card players use to keep track of their Wizards' lifes.

Once your army reaches its break point, you lose. If both armies reach their breakpoints simultaneously, then you continue the game until the next breakpoint is recorded (i.e. "sudden death").

Back to deployment....each player bids until one player declines to bid lower. At that point, the low bidder gets to allocate the available terrain, select preferred board edge and deploy first. The other bidder then deploys and moves first. The low bidder must fight with the number of breakpoints bid. The other bidder reverts back to 25 breakpoints.

What this system in effect does is allow players who are confident in their armies and their abilities as generals to fight on terrain of their choosing, while at the same time evening up the odds by allowing the other player to fight with a breakpoint advantage.

Is any DBA game worth this much tinkering? You tell me.

Gamer Feedback

Mac Walker:  We played 2 games with the Bidable Break Points variant the other night. The only change we made was that instead of each element lost costing 5 Break Points, we made a sliding scale:

Troop Type Break Points
Elephants 9
Knights, War Wagons & Heavy Chariots 7
Light Horse, Camelry, Blades, Cavalry, Light Chariots & Scythed Chariots 6
Pike, Warband, Auxilia, Spear & Artillery 5
Bows & Psiloi 4
Hordes and Camp Followers 3

This systems really adds depth to DBA. Suddenly having your light horse pushed around the table becomes a nagging issue instead of an irrelevancy. Play balance was spot on, both games ending in the same turn, regardless of whether we had used the variant or not.  Instead of record keeping we used a stack 25 pennies each and threw them away as we lost break points. I am in Australia so there was no danger of my opponent slipping some extra morale out of his pocket.  I recommend this system heartily.


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Last Updated: 22 Jan. 2007

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