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Variant Rules

De Bellis Minimus

De Bellis Minimus is a "fast play" variant for DBA, which uses the basic rules mechanisms with modified army lists, deployment and victory conditions. The idea is to fight your battle and get it over with fast. It uses half-sized armies and a quarter-sized gaming area to bring about a decisive result in record time. Now you can play whole campaigns in an couple of hours!!!

Here are the key rules:

  • Use a game board that is one foot square (15mm scale)
  • Players role 1D6, with high die taking the role of attacker
  • Defender may place one piece of terrain on the terrain board. That terrain should cover no more than 25% of the available area. BUA's are not allowed.
  • Attacker chooses base edge.
  • Each player then selects an army of six elements from among the eligable elements on their selected DBA army list. One element must be the General.
  • Preferrably, both sides deploy simultaneously using a screen. Otherwise, each side deploys one element each in turn, starting with defender. Deployment continues until all elements on both sides are deployed.
  • Elements must be deployed within one inch of the home baseline
  • There is no camp or camp followers.
  • Conduct the battle using normal DBA movement and combat rules.
  • The first side that at the end of any bound has lost either its general or 3 elements, and has also lost more elements than the enemy, loses the battle.

Gamer Feedback

Dan Higdon I tried this out over the weekend, and I must say it's a hoot. The games are over almost incredibly fast (10-15 minutes or so from pre-setup to victory), but still maintain the essential flavor of DBA. Of course, one deployment mistake or bad die roll and you've lost, but the games are so fast that you don't have to try to dig yourself out of a hole - just concede victory, and set up again.

What we did for deployment was the "you place one stand, I place one stand" method, without first declaring which stands we would use. That added some tension to the setup process.

The only down side (other than extreme brevity, small number of stands, and a fanatical devotion to the p..., er, sorry. is that the game becomes even *more* unforgiving of bad tactics. Making the breakpoint 3 units instead of the more mathematically correct 2 is absolutely necessary, since you can lose 2 elements in a heartbeat. For instance, when my line (LH/Wb/Sp/Wb/LH/El) collided with my opponent's line (Sp/Bd/Bd/Bd/Bd/Sp), two lucky rolls with my warband broke his line completely, and the resulting overlaps (and another good roll) allowed me to kill a third blade with my spear, thus winning the game in one turn. The board is so narrow, that these lines really stretch the entire width of the board, and there is little time for maneuvering once the game is underway.

I've mentally toyed with a few modifications, but I'm not sure they're really needed, and probably add complexity to little purpose. But here they are, just in case anyone's interested:

  • First, a D4 for PIPs seems reasonable. Using half a d6 (divide by 2, round up) is also decent, but to be honest, the normal d6 works pretty well.

  • Second, allow any stands that can receive rear support to have it, including armies (Polybian Romans, for example) that could have Ps support but do not field the Ps elements. So the Romans, if they chose not to field any Ps, could get +1 against Mounted, and a single Sp fielded counts as rear-supported for combat. This simulates a "zoomed out" battle instead of merely a small battle.

If anyone has a few minutes to kill, I highly suggest trying De Bellis Minimus. It's probably also a good way to introduce novice wargamers to DBA.

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Last Updated: Oct. 25, 2000

Comments, suggestions and gamer feedback are welcome. Send input to Chris Brantley at IamFanaticus@gmail.com.