DBA Resource Page

Unofficial Rules Variants

PIP Die Handicap System

By Jason Ehlers

Here's another method to handicap armies of different strengths to make single battles more interesting. The purpose of these optional rules is to change the "pip" die each player uses based on the comparative strengths of the opposing armies. The intended result is that weaker armies will be more responsive and mobile and they will be able to take more chances and attempt more complicated maneuvers. Conversely, stronger armies will be sluggish and more difficult to maneuver.

If players agree to use a handicapping system, they should agree on a single system to use for that battle. Don't use this handicapping system in combination with other handicapping systems like Break Point Handicapping, this may have a too-powerful effect.


  1. Players will first agree upon a point system to use. One is provided below.

  2. Then, players will each secretly determine which elements in their army they will use for the upcoming battle, write it down (including mounted/dismounted and camp followers), and cannot change this composition later.

  3. Players deploy their armies on the board, and the composition of both armies is revealed. Then players total and compare the point values of the armies they have deployed, and the ratio of the two point values is determined.

  4. Players reference the ratio on the chart and decide which PIP die they will use for the upcoming battle. Then play proceeds as normal, with the possibility that one or both players are using different a PIP die than the usual six-sided die.


If players are going to use this handicapping system, they need to reach agreement on the numerical value of each element that could be involved in the upcoming battle. Here is suggested point value system, and it can be modified by agreement of both players.

              Auxila             6.0
              Blade              8.0
              Bow                6.5
              Camelry            8.5
              Camp Follower      2.0
              Cavalry            8.5
              Heavy Chariot     11.0
              Knight            11.0
              Light Chariot      8.5
              Light Horse        7.0                 
              Pike               6.5
              Psiloi             5.0
              Scythed Chariot   10.5  
              Spear              7.0
              War Wagon         10.5
              Warband            6.0


After players have added up the point values of all the elements they will use for the battle, they compare totals.

To find out what "pip" die options both players have, just divide the stronger army total into the weaker army total. The result will be a decimal from .001 to .999.

Find which range this ratio is a part of on the chart below, then note the two PIP die options which best handicap the ratio of the two uneven forces.

Ratio Range Stronger Army
PIP Die Options
Weaker Army
PIP Die Options
.001 to .273 (d4-1) (d8+1)
.274 to .333 (d4-1) (d6+1) or (d8)
.334 to .429 (d4-1) (d4+1) or (d6) or (d8-1)
.430 to .455 (d4) or (d6-1) (d8+1)
.456 to .556 (d4) or (d6-1) (d6+1) or (d8)
.557 to .600 (d4-1) (d4) or (d6-1)
.601 to .636 (d4+1) or (d6) or (d8-1) (d8+1)
.637 to .714 (d4) or (d6-1) (d4+1) or (d6) or (d8-1)
.715 to .778 (d4+1) or (d6) or (d8-1) (d6+1) or (d8)
.779 to .818 (d6+1) or (d8) (d8+1)
.819 to .999 (d4+1) or (d6) or (d8-1) (d4+1) or (d6) or (d8-1)


After players have determined the ratio range of the two armies, they choose from among the die options for their army for the remainder of the upcoming battle. (Explanation of abbreviations: "d4" is a four-sided dice, "d6+1" is a six-sided dice with "one" always added to the result, "d8-1" is an eight-sided dice with "one" always subtracted from the result.


Any mistakes are my own. I hope this adds some interest to army pairings that would otherwise be foregone conclusions. Players and clubs will have more ideas along the lines of these rules and could modify them to reach their goals of helping beginners or big-battle DBA.


David Kuijt: The smallest number you can have (Ancient Libyans) is 61 (1x Wb, 11x Ps, no camp follower). And the largest number possible is 134.0 (12x Kn plus camp follower). So the smallest ratio possible is .455, which makes the top three or four lines of the "ratio range" chart impossible to achieve with standard 12 element armies.

Stan Olson: Handicapping the Command die rolls will not obligate the general of a "weaker army" to use his troops properly. The greater the tactical challenge, the better you must deploy and move. Handicapping the die should not be neccessary. If a player insists on an advantage have the stronger army lose 1 element of his choice (play with 11 elements). But, insist the favoured general win by killing 5 enemy instead of 4 .

| Top of Page | Rules Variants | Home |

Last Updated: Dec. 1, 1998

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