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Unofficial Rules Variants

Activation Die

DBA's Player Initiative Points (PIP) die roll is a simple and elegant way of representing the "friction" that interferes with effective command and control over bodies of fighting men in ancient and medieval warfare. If it can be criticized, however, it is because a PIP die, once rolled, provides a certain result. If the die result is 3, for example, then a commander knows for certain that three elements or groups may be moved. This allows the commander to plan and execute a battle plan for each bound within the constraints of the die roll. With three pips, for example, you can decide to send your cavalry group on a flanking move, advance your center, and shift reserves to cover your camp, and know that all three actions will be successfully accomplished.

The following variant adds even more "friction" to command and control and ensures that a commander's best laid plans may not necessarily be realized:

Discard the PIP die roll. Instead, at the beginning of each bound roll 1D6 to activate a chosen element or group for purposes of movement. Activation is successful on a roll of 1-5. On a roll of 6, the Player's movement for that bound immediately ends.

Elements which are "out of command" range (due to distance from commander or intervening terrain) and Elephant elements or groups can only be activated on a roll of 1-4. On a roll of 5 or 6, the Player's movement for that bound immediately ends.

A Player may continue to activate and move elements or groups (by rolling successful Activation Die) until an activation fails. A player may elect to stop moving at any time, but must stop once all eligible elements or groups have been moved.

Impetuous follow-up movements and movements caused by close combat results are not subject to the activation rule.

As an option for gamers using the DBA 1.2 amendments, players may require an activation roll for each second or subsequent movement by a single element or group (e.g., an element of Psiloi moving in the first bound would have to roll 1D6 with a result of 5 or lower on its first movement and for each subsequent movement in that bound.)

As an option, you can apply modifiers to the activation roll (subject to the rule that a roll of 6 always ends the movement phase regardless of modifiers):

  • +1 for a poor General
  • -1 for an excellent General
  • +1 for each element lost
  • +1 if camp is lost
  • +1 if General is dead

This DBA variant rule was inspired by Gerard Quinn's "The Wrath of the House of Barca: Simple Ancients Rules," which appears in MWAN (Sept-Oct 1998).


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Last Updated: August 13, 1999

Comments and suggestions welcome. Send them to Chris Brantley, c.brantley@ieee.org.