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Variant Rules

DBA Naval Rules

The following DBA-inspired rules can be used for naval wargaming, either in the context of a DBA campaign or as a stand-alone game.

John Meunier's Naval Rules for DBA Campaigns

The following is a set of suggested rules for simulating naval actions in DBA campaigns.

Every power in a campaign is assigned a starting Naval factor and a maximum Naval factor. Naval factors represent neither a set number of vessels nor a firmly defined lift capacity, but rather reflect the general naval power/superiority of each power in a campaign game. Naval factors come in four levels: 0,1,2,3. Zero represents a power with no appreciable naval power.  It is possible for a power to start with no naval power, but develop into a formidable power during the course of the game.


Naval factors may be assigned to transport armies, or they may move independently, as long as they move only by sea legs. They can move across any sea route, even if this would normally put them in another power’s territory, but they must stop moving if they enter an area containing hostile power’s (one with which they are at war) naval factors.

Naval factors can move two areas per turn and are subject to the same storm and weather and season-related restrictions/risks as land elements. Any naval factor not in an area with a friendly (its own or a tributary) port is considered to have moved at sea and subject to potential losses in appropriate seasons.

In order to transport an army over a water leg of the campaign map, the power must allocate one or more naval factors to that force. If the factors do not start in the same area as the army, they must be moved to that area. Their total move may not exceed two areas. Land elements moved by naval forces may not subsequently move by land that turn.

When this happens, both sides have an option. They may either fight or withdraw.

Withdrawals are either by sea or land. A sea withdrawl is made along any sea route that was not used this turn by the hostile factors causing the withdrawl. A land withdrawl is considered to be beaching the ships or vessels them into harbor. It can only occur if the area is controlled by the power that owns the ships or one of that power's tributaries. Such naval factors cannot be attacked by the other power, but are considered destroyed if a subsequent land battle or siege results in the destruction of a friendly land army in the same area.


If both sides decide to fight compare naval factors. Roll d6 and add the factors. If both sides tie, the side that moved withdraws one area. The side that did not move may remain in the area or choose to withdraw one area.

If one side wins by less than double, that side wins. One enemy factor is destoyed and the enemy must withdraw (by sea or land) one area. If the opposing side had only one factor, it is considered completely destroyed and no withdrawl takes place.

If one side wins by twice as much, that side wins. One enemy factor is considered destroyed and one is considered captured. If the victorious player has not reached his maximum power level (as set at the beginning of the campaign) he can add the factor to his total. He may also give the factor to one tributary who has not reached his maximum level. In all other cases, he must scuttle the captured vessels. The losing side must withdraw one area or retreat to land.

Each naval factor destroyed or captured is worth 1 prestige point. If a naval force is totally wiped out, the victorious power earns an extra prestige point.


Naval elements may be replaced during the reinforcement phase of the yearlong turn. Each naval factor reduces costs the same as one land element. In addition, a power that has not built up to its maximum naval power level (as assigned at the beginning of the campaign) may add new naval factors up to its limit.


A power with tributary powers may compell the use of the tributary's naval factors instead of or in addition to the normal ability to compel allied contigents. Each naval factor counts as the equivilent and replaces one land element that would otherwise be provided by the ally.

Concluding Note

I hope you like the rules. They are very simple, I hope. But they give some flavor. I'd be happy to hear suggestions for improvement or wholesale revision.

Questions and Answers

Here is a series of questions posed by Konstantine Trtiambelas and answers by John Meunier:

Question: Say I start the game with a factor of 2, max is 3. Do the 2 factors move independently fron each other? Can they attack coastal cities without any land army? Do I need both of them to transport a land army ?

Answer: The two factors can move independently. But, of course, you run the risk of getting a single factor caught by a larger force. It only takes one factor to transport a land army. As for attacking coastal cities, you can assume some level of raiding is going on, but the naval factors cannot hold or capture an enemy city, so they do not influence enemy cities if they do not carry a land army.

Question: How do you calculate the loses when at sea, not in friendly waters, and in appropriate seson (other than summer I take it)?

Answer: I don't have my DBA rules handy. I believe we just rolled as per the sea movement rules in the campaign game with any losses coming from any combination of land/naval units at the owners' discretion. Of course, an all naval force could only lose naval factors. (It is possible something in the rules makes this explanation nonsense. I'll have to dig them out later and read through it.)

Question: Also, after a battle with another power of equal strength which I won by double, both of his/hers factors are gone with my factor increasing to 3 am I understanding this right?

Answer: Yes, that is how we played it. Makes naval battles both dicey and potentially very decisive. In the game we played -- a restricted Peloponessian War campaign -- however, Athens started at 3 and Sparta started at 1 with a max of 2 that it could not build until the 3rd year of the game. Other Greek powers were 1 with a max of 1.

Gamer Feedback

Allan Redmond: In response to John Meunier's proposal for DBA naval rules I suggest those interested get a hold of a copy of Wargames Illustrated no. 104 (May 1996). A complete set of rules is provided along with fleet lists corresponding directly with DBA armies (those with water borders anyway). The focus is mainly on DBA battles at sea and provides various ship element types used in each navy. However there is also a good section on campaigns that can provide interesting additions to campaining across sea borders. This part at least may add something new to traditional DBA campaigns. I note that the winter catalog from Wargames lists back issues of Wargames Illustrated for sale and this issue is available.

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Updated: Nov. 6, 1999

Questions, comments and suggestions are welcome and can be sent to Chris Brantley at IamFanaticus@gmail.com.