A BEGINNER'S INTRODUCTION TO DE BELLIS ANTIQUITATIS (DBA)
This was begun with 1.1 and is being updated to 2.0
D R A F T
(please read text to see general plan then go to Fighting a battle and give me comments, thanks)
De Bellis Antiquitatis is a mavelous little book that brought a revolution in the hobby of historical miniatures gaming. It was first published in 1990 with a revised second edition in 1995. A third greatly revised version - DBA 2.0 -- was published in February, 2001. The authors of the first edition were Phil Barker and Richard Bodley Scott; the second and third editons has Sue Laflin Barker added as a third author.
One of the authors, Phil Barker, is given credit for the rules by most gamers. The irony is that for the previous 15 years, Phil was responsible for the development of a rules set almost the direct opposite in structure and play from DBA. The different perspective of DBA gave much vitality to the ancients and medieval era and brought many more people into that era of gaming.
See my article in the January, 2001 of The Courier for a discussion of the history and impact of DBA on the hobby.
The style of writing and presentation in DBA does not lend itself to good understanding by those who have not participated in historical gaming, or even by some who have. The authors seem to make an assumption that all readers have some common knowledge of how to get started and carry on with games. It takes careful reading, if not advice from experienced players, to get into the rules. I can teach a person to play in 10 minutes but I doubt many who are just reading it can do so as quickly.
What follows is a pictorial introduction to playing the game. I have tried to avoid presenting actual rules or other copyright material what would allow a person to play without a copy of the rules. Rather the goal of this web page is to fill in what the authors did not include and thus allow a new player to begin gaming as quickly as possible. I present photos that illustrate various aspects of the rules.
Note that De Bellis Antiquitatis is the name of the the booklet which contains a number of items, one of which is the rules for a one player vs. one player game. Other parts of the book are a listing of troop type descriptions, rules for a multi-player campaign, rules for big battles, and lists for about 400 "armies." I put armies in quotes because these are not what most gamers would consider an army. They consist of only 12 stands of figures called elements. This site will explain how to play the 2 player game including how to get started; how to make up armies; how to create the battle field, how to deploy and move; and how to fight a battle.
I welcome comments and suggests, please send to me at: Bob Beattie @umich.edu
Overview of the Game
Setting up a game
Deploying and moving
Fighting a battle