DBA Resource Page

Unofficial Rules Variants

Conforming Movement

The DBA rules make it difficult for two elements to enter into close combat (i.e. elements must be in front edge contact and aligned corner to corner). Although single elements may move obliquely into contact, a line or group must move straight ahead or by wheels, which makes it difficult to get the correct alignment. In fact, it is possible for opposing groups of elements to come into contact without being able to engage in close combat due to the lack of corner to corner alignment. Moreover, as noted by Kevin Boylan below, it is possible for a defender to leave gaps in his line to frustrate the attacker's efforts to align his line properly. To solve this problem for DBA, Kevin Boylan made the following proposal. Responses and counter proposals are collected below:

Kevin Boylan: The point that the DBA rules say nothing about shifting units so that their front edges conform to one another is well taken. However, the rules also make no allowance for oblique movement by groups. Thus in oder to move a line of friendly units to attack a hostile line that is not directly opposite yours, you must tediously wheel first one way, and then the other, in order to line your units up precisely with the enemys' (also ensuring that if you end up in a hostile pinning zone, your edge is perfectly parallel to his).

Things get even more complex if two or more hostile elements form a non-contiguous line, and are not spaced at precise, one element wide intervals. If one applies the rules in their strictest sense, then a line of attacking elements would have to break up into sub-groups that move independently into contact with each component of the opposing, non-contiguous line.

It seems unreasonable to me that an attacking line should not be able to move into contact with several hostile elements that are spaced at irregular intervals. Indeed, if this were the case, then a defending player could severely complicate an attacker's task merely by placing several elements "in line" with intervals of less than a base width between them. If no conforming is required, then the only way such a formation could be attacked would be 1 attacking element on each defending element (spending 1 PiP to move each into contact).

I would tentatively propose as a solution that oblique group moves be allowed for the sole purpose of moving into contact with and conforming to hostile element(s)' front edge(s). Each element in the moving group would have to move into contact with the hostile front edge that it overlapped the most. Finally, if a line moved into contact with several hostile elements whose front edges are lined up, but are spaced at irregular intervals, it would have to move into full frontal contact with the greatest number possible. Then, any defending element whose ENTIRE edge is contacted by attacking elements must turn and/or shift so that is front edge conforms to that of the attacking element which overlaps it the most.


Responses and Counter-Proposals

Geoff Rothwell: I like this suggestion. It is very similar, though a bit more complex, than the unofficial house rule that I and the members of the gaming club I sometimes attend, use. Lines just move forward in their bound; no need to mess around with wheels and individual pip costs etc. We just make whatever minor shifts are needed to square up once the lines are in contact. I feel this is in keeping with the spirit of DBA; simplicity first, otherwise go back to playing 7th Edition!


Jim Wright: When I play DBA, and usually its solo, I follow the DBM mechanism used in my local gaming group. DBM 2.0 rules state that elements may slide sideways up to line up on the enemy element most overlapped. Page 18. Movement Restrictions:

(begin long quote from rules)

No element can cross the front of or retire from in front of any enemy element closer than one element base width distance with no element or fortification at least partially intervening, nor having done so continue moving except:

  1. To advance directly forward towards such an element at least part of which is directly in front.
  2. To advance and line up directly opposite such an element's front.
  3. To advance so that its front edge contacts the front edge or front corner only of whichever enemy element can be so contacted by the shortest move. An element attempting contact having started opposite a joint between two enemy elements must therefore contact the enemy element it initially overlaps most.
  4. To follow behind an element or elements contiguous with its front in any of the above.
  5. To retire directly to its own initial rear without ending in edge contact with enemy.
  6. As a spontaneous or outcome move.

When a single element or group moves within one element base width of enemy, any sideways movement of up to half an element basewidth necessary to line up with enemy elements is treated as if straight ahead for the purpose of PIP expenditure and permissibility of group movement and, if contacting their front edge, for measuring move distance.

When an element which is not part of a group or which is part of a group entirely of psiloi is contacted by the front edge of an enemy element which is part of a group, it must immediately pivot and/or shift sideways as necessary to exactly face the element contacting it, unless already in contact with enemy to its front or either of the following apply:

  1. It is defending fortifications or the edge of a terrain feature.
  2. This will position it so that a recoil would meet a friendly element it could not pass through or push back.

If it is in even partial edge to edge contact with another friendly element other than psiloi, it need not pivot, but must shift sideways to line up if there is room. If a group contacts the front corners of two or more single enemy elements, the order in which these pivot is decided by the player whose bound it is.

If the enemy is not required to pivot or shift sideways as above:

  1. Elements initiating close combat must move into edge to edge and corner to corner contact with an enemy element and, except as specified above, cannot exceed their normal move to do so.
  2. An element moving to contact an enemy element's flank must line up with one of its front base corners touching the enemy element's front base corner.
  3. An element cannot move to contact an enemy elements' flank or rear unless it starts entirely on that side of a line prolonging that base edge of the enemy element.

(end long quote from rules)

Whew! Back to Kevin's proposal:

"I would tentatively propose as a solution that oblique group moves be allowed for the sole purpose of moving into contact with and conforming to hostile element(s)' front edge(s). Each element in the moving group would have to move into contact with the hostile front edge that it overlapped the most. Finally, if a line moved into contact with several hostile elements whose front edges are lined up, but are spaced at irregular intervals, it would have to move into full frontal contact with the greatest number possible. Then, any defending element whose ENTIRE edge is contacted by attacking elements must turn and/or shift so that is front edge conforms to that of the attacking element which overlaps it the most."

Jim's amendment:

Oblique group movement is allowed to:

  1. Move into front edge contact with any edge of an enemy group.
  2. To advance and line up directly opposite an enemy group's front when the move will end within one element base width of an enemy group.

Oblique moves are limited to one half an element width either side of a line prolonging the flank edge of the moving elements. Groups oblique to line up on the enemy elements they most overlap before the oblique.

Elements not in groups that are contacted by a group must move to conform with the group element that it most overlaps at the end of movement.


Rich Kurtin: The fact that the rules make no provision for shifting of elements is correct. By taking a small chunk of ideas put forward in DBM and a little common sense one can break these contacts into a few types and decide upon corrections:

  1. Attacker front edge vs defenders corner. Action : no contact. If you can't get an edge of the defender vs. your front edge, tough beans. Drop the attacker back a hair and no contact or combat occurs. However the defender is now in the pinning zone and will either have to move into contact, stay stationary or move directly away from the attacking element which pinned it.

  2. Attacker Corner vs defender edge. Same as above - except now it's the attacking element which has pinned itself and its next move is going to be dictacted by advancing, retiring or staying put. Assuming the defending element doesn't move in its bound.

  3. A single element is contacted by a group edge to edge, but not corner to corner. This covers a single element attacker not hitting dead on or a single element defender hit by a group off center. The single element (regardless of attacker or defender) aligns to the closest possible match-up in edge and corner contact.

  4. A smaller frontage group is hit by a larger frontage group (i.e., a 2 element frontage group is hit by a 4 element frontage group. The smaller frontage comforms as above to the larger. It will move to the closest possible legal contact point. The player whose bound it is decides where it slides to if there is a situation where two elements might be trying to get to the same equidistant contact.

  5. Equal frontage groups strike off kilter. Tie goes to the acting player....i.e., the player whose bound it is decides how the whole mess aligns as long as it is the shortest distance required to align.

This seems to handle pretty much the whole situation that can occur.


Douglas Barker: In Manitoba, we always allowed a line to move obliquely for one pip, provided everyone was moving the same distance and direction. As for alignment in combat, most people I've played with let you align an attacking element with a defender so long as more than half of the attacker's base is in contact with the defender. This generally helps speed up the pace of the game and helps prevent some of the silly tricks some people can come up with. Besides, the game is pretty abstract to begin with so it doesn't matter much if we "bend" the rules a bit.


David Kuijt: My group allows sliding to conform, up to 1/2 an element width. Generally we have the attacker slide to conform, although if someone was trying something silly like dispersing his elements with small gaps between them, we'd force "nearly-aligned" defensive units to align, and ignore the others (no legal combat, no overlap modifier on adjacent units who are in legal combat).

I'm not really sure that this whole topic is a "variant" per se; more of a rules interpretation. The rules do not describe what moving "straight towards" an enemy element is. We choose to interpret that phrase as forcing straight-forward movement on the incoming attacker. But our interpretation would make combat almost impossible without a slide-conform at the end.


Keith Venables: I also play mainly solo and I use a very similar approach to Jim's modification. The only rider I'd add is that, if there's any doubt as to which way you oblique, you shouldn't be allowed to oblique in order to reduce the number of overlaps. E.g. if you have two groups in the position:

   [AAAA][AAAA][AAAA][AAAA][AAAA]

      [BBBB][BBBB][BBBB]

(The B's are supposed to overlap 2 A's equally) I would make the Bs contact the middle 3 A's. I don't have any logical reason for this, it just feels right to me.


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Last Updated: Dec. 27, 1998

Comments and suggestions welcome. Send them to Chris Brantley, IamFanaticus@gmail.com.