Revised Polybian Roman DBA Army List

For a long time I’ve been disgruntled with how DBx, including DBA, handles the Macedonian and Punic Wars. I don’t like both the way the games play in this period nor the army lists. This post is about the Polybian Roman DBA Army List and how to make it more historical.

The Official DBA Army List

The standard Polybian Roman DBA army list is:

II/33  Polybian Roman – Official = Ugly

Ag: 1 before 202 BC, then 4

Arable: 1-2 Compulsory (BUA or Road) 2-3 Optional (River, Steep Hills, Gentle Hills, Woods, Road, Waterway)

  • 2 x 3Cv (General)
  • 6 x 4Bd
  • 2 x 4Sp
  • 2 x 2Ps

The problems with this army list are:

  1. All compulsory troops, which is a bit boring
  2. Which is only the Roman and Latin element of the historical army
  3. Doesn’t reflect historical ratios for the Romans and Latins
  4. In particular doesn’t reflect the relative lack of cavalry the Romans armies had historically
  5. Ignores the flavour provided by local allies in different theatres
  6. The veterans of the army (the Triarii) are weaker in combat against the more junior troops (the Hastati and Principes). This is because Sp have a combat factor of +4 against foot and Bd have a +5.

Historical Roman Order of Battle

The Consular Roman armies of the Macedonian Wars and Punic Wars usually consisted of two Roman Legions and two Latin Ala (Wing). A Roman Legion started at 4,200 infantry and 300 cavalry. However Legions up to 6,000 were recorded. The proportion of Velites to Hastati to Principes was always 1:1:1. So a larger legion would increase the numbers of all of these in proportion. A Legion always had only 300 Triarii and 300 Cavalry regardless of the size of the legion.

A Latin Ala started with the same number of types of infantry as the Legion but three times as many cavalry. Ala could also be much larger than the base size of 4,200 infantry and 900 cavalry. 15,000 Italians accompanied two Roman Legion in Spain in 180 BC. Suggesting 7,000 for each Ala. 1/3rd of the Latin cavalry and 1/5th of the were nominated as elite extraordinarii.

Historical Roman Army

  • 2 x Roman Legions
    • 300 Cavalry
    • 1,200 to 1,800 Velites (skirmishers with javelin)
    • 1,200 to 1,800 Hastati (pilum)
    • 1,200 to 1,800 Principes (pilum)
    • 600 Triarii (long spear)
  • 2 x Latin Ala (Wing)
    • 900 Cavalry
    • 1,200 to 1,800 Velites
    • 1,200 to 1,800 Hastati
    • 1,200 to 1,800 Principes
    • 600 Triarii

Roman armies of the Punic Wars were multiples of this two legion army.

  • 295 BC. Sentinum. Romans v Samites and Gauls. Romans had four legions plus a larger than normal Allied contingent including an 1,000 Campanian cavalry over the normal allocation. 45,000 total.
  • 280 BC. Heraclea. Romans v Pyrrhos of Epeiros. Romans had four legions plus allies, 40,000.
  • 279 BC. Asculum. Romans had four legions, probably 20,000 Roman citizens, plus allies. Probably 40,000.
  • 255 BC. Bagradas. Romans v Carthaginians. Romans had 15,000 foot and 500 cavalry.
  • 225 BC. Telemon. Romans v Gauls. Consul Lucius Aemilius Papus had four legions plus allies, 50,800 infantry and 3,200 cavalry. The praetor’s force had 50,000 Sabine (Roman citizens) and Etruscan foot and 4,000 horse.
  • 218 BC. The Trebia. Romans v Carthaginians. The Romans had four Roman legions (16,000 foot), Italian allies (20,000 foot) and Cenomanic Gauls plus 4,000 cavalry.
  • 217 BC. Lake Trasimene. Romans v Carthaginians. Romans had two legions and 25,000 men in total. That suggests 15,000 Italian allies.
  • 216 BC. Cannae. Romans v Carthaginians. Romans had eight legions but were under strength in cavalry. 80,000 infantry and 6,000 cavalry.

A better kind of Polybian Army for DBA

John is also unhappy with the Roman DBA army list for similar reasons. So he has come up with a A better kind of Polybian Army for DBA. John does two things:

  1. Reduces the compulsory Roman and Italian Allies element of the list.
  2. Adds options for various theatres.

What that means is the list becomes:

II/33  Polybian Roman – Revised by John

Ag: 1 before 202 BC, then 4

Arable: 1-2 Compulsory (BUA or Road) 2-3 Optional (River, Steep Hills, Gentle Hills, Woods, Road, Waterway)

  • Eight elements of compulsory Romans and Latins:
    • 1 x CV
    • 4 x Bd – the Hastati and Principes
    • 1 x Sp – the Triari
    • 2 x Ps – the Velites
  • The remaining four elements come from the local allies:
    • Spanish Allies in Spain or Italian subjects in Italy or Gallic Allies in Italy
      • 2 x (Ax or Wb)
      • 1 X (Cv or Lh)
      • 1 X (Ps or Ax)
    • Syracusian Allies – Only First Punic War in Sicily:
      • 3 x Sp
      • 1 x Ps
    • Numidian allies – Only in Africa:
      • 2 x LH
      • 1 x Ps
      • 1 x (Hd or Ax)
    • Aetolian league allies – Only in Greece:
      • 2 x Pk
      • 1 x (Ps or El)
      • 1 x Cv
    • Pergamenid Allies – Only Middle East
      • 2 x Ax
      • 1 x Cv
      • 1 x El

John’s offering goes some way to fixing the problems but I would make some additional changes.

Steven’s Polybian DBA Army List

Here is my variation. It includes an option for an overlarge Roman and/or Latin infantry component. I’ve focussed on the theatres I’m interested in.

II/33  Polybian Roman – Revised

Ag: 1 before 202 BC, then 4

Arable: 1-2 Compulsory (BUA or Road) 2-3 Optional (River, Steep Hills, Gentle Hills, Woods, Road, Waterway)

  • Eight elements of compulsory Romans and Latins:
    • 1 x CV
    • 4 x Bd – the Hastati and Principes
    • 1 x Sp – the Triarii
    • 2 x Ps – the Velites
  • The remaining four elements come from the local allies:
    • Big Legion or Ala – any theatre
      • 3 x Bd
      • 1 X Ps
    • Gallic Allies – Only in Italy
      • 2 x Wb
      • 1 X (Ps or Wb)
      • 1 X Cv
    • Italian subjects – Only in Italy or Spain
      • 2 x Ax
      • 1 X (Cv or Lh or Ax)
      • 1 X (Ps or Ax)
    • Spanish Allies – Only in Spain
      • 2 x Ax
      • 1 X Ps
      • 1 X (Cv or Lh)
    • Numidian allies – Only in Africa or Spain
      • 2 x LH
      • 1 x Ps
      • 1 x (Ps or Hd or Ax)
    • Aetolian league allies – Only in Greece:
      • 2 x Pk
      • 1 x (Ps or El)
      • 1 x Cv
    • Pergamenid Allies – Only Middle East
      • 2 x Ax
      • 1 x Cv
      • 1 x El

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