Using Big Bases for DBA

Big Base DBA (also known as Big Base De Bellis Antiquitatis or BBDBA) allows fast games with a small number of playing pieces and lots of figures. Big Base DBA requires few modifications from the standard DBA rules.

Inspired by Philip Sabin’s Analysis of Ancient Warfare in Lost Battles I’ve drifted further away from normal DBA than you need to, but I’ll explain why as I go along. Mostly it affects basing.


Basing for Big Base DBA

The big change is, not surprisingly, the bases. Big Bases.

Roughly speaking my Big Bases are the same size as an Impetus base. This makes them four times the area of a normal DBx or Field of Glory base.

The number of figures is up to you but I have followed Impetus and used a lower density of figures than DBx and Field of Glory use. There are four reasons for this:

  1. economy – 25% to 50% less figures per base means cheaper or, because I have the figures and I’m just rebasing, it means I get more bases for my money.
  2. aesthetics – impetus players, for example, try to make each base a mini diorama. I’m not so flash but try.
  3. figure insurance – the more space around the figures, the less they get handled/bashed, the longer they last.
  4. I just followed what the Impetus players do – the lower density looks normal to them.

I, like Philip Sabin, follow ancient authors who only divide infantry into heavy and light. Similarly cavalry is divided into heavy and light. I have adopted a basing style that reflects that simple division. Elephants and Chariots are different.

That means I only have two base sizes. Foot are on 80mm wide and 40mm deep bases. Mounted on 80mm wide and 60mm deep.

Heavy Cavalry

All of my Big Base DBA mounted bases are 80mm wide and 60mm deep. Each Heavy Cavalry stand – Knights, Cavalry, Camalry – gets six mounted figures – six men and six mounts. This is 50% of the troop density you would have in a game like DBx or Field of Glory but matches what people use for Impetus.

With quite a big base for the number of figures I have quite a lot of choice for how to base the figures. My Seleucid (or any Macedonian) cavalry are based in wedge.

BBDBA Seleucid Companions

BBDBA Seleucid Companions

BBDBA Seleucid Companions - Top

BBDBA Seleucid Companions – Top

My Gallic Noble cavalry are based in a single line.

BBDBA Gallic Cavalry - Top

BBDBA Gallic Cavalry – Top

BBDBA Gallic Cavalry

BBDBA Gallic Cavalry

My Iberian cavalry are based in an irregular pattern.

BBDBA Iberian Cavalry - Top

BBDBA Iberian Cavalry – Top

BBDBA Iberian Heavy Cavalry

BBDBA Iberian Heavy Cavalry

Vandals

Vandals

Light Cavalry

My Light Cavalry, like all mounted, are on 80mm wide and 60mm deep bases. As with light infantry I put 4 figures on a base. This is 50% of the DBx / Field of Glory figure density

BBDBA Iberian Light Cavalry - Top

BBDBA Iberian Light Cavalry – Top

BBDBA Iberian Light Cavalry

BBDBA Iberian Light Cavalry

Heavy Infantry

Each of my infantry bases is 80mm wide and 40mm deep. I put 12 figures on most heavy infantry elements, whether Spearmen, Blade, Auxiliary, Warband, Pike or Bow. Six figures in each of two rows for the more regular types. This is 75% of the troop density you would have in a game like DBx or Field of Glory but is what you see on Impetus stands. To my eyes it gives a good sense of mass but leaves some gaps around the figures to allow handling of the bases.

Spearmen

I base Spearmen in two rows of six. This is in no sense a shield wall, more a bunch of guys standing next to each other. But locked shields are not possible with most figures.

BBDBA Greek Hoplites - Front

BBDBA Greek Hoplites – Front

BBDBA Greek Hoplites - Top

BBDBA Greek Hoplites – Top

BBDBA Greek Hoplites

BBDBA Greek Hoplites

BBDBA Roman Triarii - top

BBDBA Roman Triarii – top

BBDBA Roman Triarii

BBDBA Roman Triarii

Blades

Regular blades go in two rows of six figures.

BBDBA Roman Hastati - Front 2

BBDBA Roman Hastati – Front

BBDBA Roman Hastati - Top

BBDBA Roman Hastati – Top

BBDBA Roman Hastati

BBDBA Roman Hastati

Rather than the DBx convention of having irregular Blade as a lower density of figures (3 to a base rather than 4) I give my more irregular types a more irregular basing pattern. For example, I based my Thracian Rhomphiamen as a wild mass.

BBDBA Thracian Infantry - Front

BBDBA Thracian Infantry – Front

BBDBA Thracian Infantry - Top

BBDBA Thracian Infantry – Top

BBDBA Thracian Infantry

BBDBA Thracian Infantry

Auxilia

I’m not a big supporter of Auxilia as a troop type but they are a mainstay of many of my DBA armies. I base them like the rest of the heavy infantry. Generally two slightly irregular rows of six.

BBDBA Iberian Scutarii - Top

BBDBA Iberian Scutarii – Top

BBDBA Iberian Scutarii

BBDBA Iberian Scutarii

BBDBA Italian Infantry - Front

BBDBA Italian Infantry – Front

BBDBA Italian Infantry - Top

BBDBA Italian Infantry – Top

BBDBA Italian Infantry

BBDBA Italian Infantry

Warband

Again I’m not a fan of DBA’s Warband type so these guys just get based as normal heavy infantry, i.e. two rows of six. I ignore the DBx convention of 3 figures per base for loose formation warband and 4 figures for close formation – this is not a distinction I believe in.

BBDBA Celtiberian Scutarii - Top

BBDBA Celtiberian Scutarii – Top

BBDBA Celtiberian Scutarii

BBDBA Celtiberian Scutarii

BBDBA Gallic Infantry - Top

BBDBA Gallic Infantry – Top

BBDBA Gallic Infantry

BBDBA Gallic Infantry

Pikes

For Pike elements I want to suggest more depth without using significantly more figures. After much soul searching I’ve gone for 15 figures split over three rows, 15 figures total. One base looks fairly solid.

BBDBA Selucid Pikes - Top

BBDBA Selucid Pikes – Top

BBDBA Seluecid Pikes

BBDBA Seluecid Pikes

Two bases look very solid. A two element Pike block has 30 figures, with the figures in five files and six ranks.

BBDBA Seleucid Pikes - 2 Deep - Top

BBDBA Seleucid Pikes – 2 Deep – Top

BBDBA Seleucid Pikes - 2 deep

BBDBA Seleucid Pikes – 2 deep

Light Infantry

Psiloi in Big Base DBA are on my normal 80mm wide and 40mm deep infantry stands. But to show they are light infantry I only put four figures on the base. This is 50% of the DBx / Field of Glory figure density. But it looks alright to my eyes.

BBDBA Spanish Caetrati

BBDBA Iberian Caetrati

BBDBA Iberian Caetrati - Top

BBDBA Iberian Caetrati – Top

BBDBA Greek Archers - Front

BBDBA Greek Archers – Front

BBDBA Greek Archers - Top

BBDBA Greek Archers – Top

BBDBA Greek Archers

BBDBA Greek Archers

Chariots

I put Chariots on my normal mounted bases (80mm wide and 60mm deep). However, I put two chariots on each base.

BBDBA Gallic Chariots - Top

BBDBA Gallic Chariots – Top

BBDBA Gallic Chariots

BBDBA Gallic Chariots

For my biblical armies I’ve put chariot runners as escorts on the base, one per chariot, so two per base. For chariots with three crew in the chariot, e.g. some Hittite models, I assume the third man is a chariot runner and so don’t put a foot figure on the base.

BBDBA Syrian Chariots - Top

BBDBA Syrian Chariots – Top

BBDBA Syrian Chariots

BBDBA Syrian Chariots

Sea Peoples v NKE

Sea Peoples v NKE

Elephants

Again I put put my Elephants on 80mm wide and 60mm deep mounted bases. Again Philip Sabin creeps into my thinking. So elephants, whether African or Indian, can be accompanied by light infantry escorts or unaccompanied. For escorted elephants I put one elephant model on a base with thee light infantry escort figures. For unaccompanied elephants, representing massed elephants, I put two elephant models on a base.

BBDBA Carthaginian Elephant - Top

BBDBA Carthaginian Elephant – Top

BBDBA Carthaginian Elephant

BBDBA Carthaginian Elephant

Camps

My big base camps are 120mm wide x 80mm deep.

BBDBA Iberian Camp - Top

BBDBA Iberian Camp – Top

BBDBA Iberian Camp

BBDBA Iberian Camp

Shardana Guard crest the hill

Shardana Guard crest the hill
but you can see the Egyptian camp in the background


Wow that is big

Bigger bases means a bigger table and longer pace.

4′ x 4′ Table

To accommodate the bigger bases I’ve used a 4′ x 4′ table rather than the normal 2′ x 2′ table.

Deployment

4′ x 4′ table for a Egyptian versus Hittite grudge match

A pace takes you further

All distances have to increase accordingly. So in Big Base DBA 1″ = 50 paces i.e. 100 paces = 2″.

Big Base Barker Markers

And I thought I’d make some Barker Markers on Big Bases.

Big Base DBA markers

Big Base DBA markers

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