Rules for a DBM wargames campaign

Rules for a simple campaign for 3 or more players using the Wargames Research Group rules De Bellis Multitudinus (DBM). If desired, a campaign can be played to a conclusion in a few months. It closely follows the campaign rules given in De Bellis Antiquitatis (DBA).

The rules are intended to give a context to the battles being fought, while requiring a minimum of book keeping and letting the campaign organiser be involved as a player.

1 How to set up and run a campaign

1.1 A campaign requires commitment from everyone involved

It is very important that everyone involved realises their responsibilities, whether campaign organiser or player.

Campaign Organiser

The campaign organiser’s main role is to keep the campaign flowing by providing players with on-going updates and encouraging players to make their moves, fight their battles, finalise their recruitment, etc. If gentle encouragement is not sufficient to get players moving then the campaign organiser will take any steps necessary for the continuation of the campaign.

The campaign organiser also performs certain duties which are related to the campaign as a whole, not to a particular player. Part of their duties is to keep and distribute a campaign diary. This should be light hearted, and since the campaign organiser is also a player, is expected to be biased.


Your main responsibility is to take your turn in a timely fashion. This may involve moving your armies, fighting your battles, and/or raising recruits.

You are engaged in a game with other people. You have a responsibility to the other players to make your moves timely and to provide the campaign organiser with any information they may need.

If for some reason you are indisposed for any event then delegate to another person so play can continue. If you lose interest in the campaign please withdraw.

If you’re unhappy with the campaign tell the campaign organiser, as things can be changed.

1.2 Things the campaign organiser must do before play

As the campaign organiser, you must do certain things before the campaign can start:

  • Choose a start date for the campaign, eg 1450 AD.
  • Draw a map of the region

The map should reflect historical geography. Movement is by marked routes between nodal points representing provinces. Each province is considered to have a city. Ownership of provinces can conveniently be shown by coloured counters. Some routes may be by sea.

Each province has a terrain piece associated with it. These are chosen to reflect the historical terrain in the vicinity. These provincial terrain pieces remain constant for the duration of the campaign and are used for terrain placement in battle. When used in battle they must be greater than 80% of the maximum size given in DBM. Compulsory hills must be steep on at least half of their circumference. [When the DBM lists become available, use the terrain of the army that is native to the province.]

DBM gives the climate for each province.

Allocate four home provinces to each player, and designate the rest as neutral.

Provinces either start neutral or become so when a player leaves the campaign. Neutral provinces are included for three reasons:

  1. To fill the space of a nation which does not have a player.
  2. To encourage players to expand without “offending” other players.
  3. Be used as the initial territory of a new player, where upon they cease to be neutral.

Neutral provinces placed primarily for reason 3 may be designated “inviolate” and hence can not be attacked. Normally these provinces will be on the fringe of the map.

Neutral provinces can be besieged in the normal manner, but without risk of an open battle. In sieges they are treated as a city which has a field army in it.

Field armies or allied contingents can pass through the territory of such an independent city as if an unoccupied hostile players province.

  • Ask the players the initial locations of their armies.
  • Determine a random sequence of play for the first year.
  • Distribute rules and all of the above information to each player.

1.3 As a player you must recruit and place your field army

Things that, as a player, you must do before the campaign can start:

  • Make up an army list for your nation. The pre-DBM army lists provided by the Wargames Research Group are modified for this campaign.
    • You choose a single period and geographical option from those offered in the list. All troops, and upgrades, not available to this option are removed.
    • Allied troops from a nation which is being controlled by another player in the campaign are removed. There are rules to cover allies in the campaign. Thus all allied troops of a nationality different from your C-in-C are removed from the list, if they are from a nation controlled by another player. In some cases the foreign troops are mercenaries, not allies. Such mercenaries are retained. The onus is on you to provide historical justification for the mercenary status of such troops.
    • Increase the quantity of troops to allow some choice in selecting an army of 480 army points. Where the total points available for troops in the revised list is less than 480 army points, increase each maximum and minimum proportionally, such that the total is between 480 and 600 army points.
    • Round maximums and minimums. All maximums are rounded up to the next highest complete element. All minimums are rounded down to the next lower complete element, but can not be reduced to zero.
    • Up to four generals, as per DBM.
  • Recruit an army of 480 army points from your nation’s army list . You must adhere to the maximums and minimums in your national army list when creating your field army.
  • Choose in which of your provinces your army starts.

You have been allocated four home provinces. These home provinces are valuable to you than any other provinces you may capture.

Losing troops

The term “troops” includes all elements and generals.

Any time troops of a certain army points value are mentioned, the DBM value can rounded against you, never for you.

On occasion (in sieges, sea travel, due to lack of supply, etc) you will have to take generic losses. You must immediately decide what troops are lost, which you transfer from your field army to your reserve. You must retain at least one general, unless there are no other troops left.

1.4 Game year = campaign phase + recruitment phase

Each round is a year in the campaign. The round has two phases: a campaign phase and a recruitment phase. You have a turn in each phase of each round of the campaign. The order in which you get your turn will vary from year to year.

During a round

  • 1st: all players take their turn in the campaign phase
  • 2nd: all players take their turn in the recruitment phase

Campaign phase

Before you make your move in a campaign phase the campaign organiser will give you a run down of the moves of the players who moved before you. You should prepare your moves in advance. If you haven’t you will be given a short amount of time to decide on your move. When you have decided, tell the campaign organiser.

During each campaign phase you have a choice of movement options available. These options are exclusive, thus you may take one, and only one, movement option in a round.

Option Description
Invade During your turn, invade or continue an existing invasion. All your contingents are recalled to your field army. Telling the campaign organiser that you are invading a province, and then choosing not to for any reason, counts as an invade option.
Ally During any player’s turn, send one or more contingents to assist allies.
Move During your turn, move your field army to another friendly province, ie one controlled by you or an ally. All your contingents are recalled to your field army.

Remember to keep your army in supply.

Recruitment phase

During the recruitment phase you can recruit new troops for your field army. The campaign organiser then checks for the end of the campaign, updates and distributes the diary for the campaign and determines a random sequence of play for the next year.

To win the campaign you must gain prestige points from destroying your enemies in battle, controlling provinces, and acquiring tributary rulers.

2 Conquest during the campaign phase

2.1 All movement is covered by the same rules

Normal movement

The normal movement limit for troops is two movement stages along the designated routes. This applies each time a force moves, including invasions, moving to a friendly province, moving to defend a province, retreats, and contingents joining friendly armies, but not contingents returning to their field army.

Forced marching

This normal limit can be exceed by forced marching. For each extra movement stage over the normal limit your army loses 40 army points of troops due to fatigue and straggling. The maximum move, including forced marching, is four movement stages. Contingents can not forced march.

Sea movement

If your field army or contingent moves by a sea route you must dice for each sea movement stage. A score of 1 indicates that your force has been caught in a storm and must dice again for the number of troops you must transfer to your reserve as lost to shipwreck. 25 army points for each pip on the second die. The first 25 army points must be of mounted troops, if any are present. You can then decide whether to continue to your destination, to halt, or to return to your starting point without dicing again.

Hostile provinces

Normally to pass through a province a force must have the permission of the player controlling the province and of the player controlling any field army present. If no player’s field army is present, the invader may elect to force their way through, but will take losses due to attacks by the hostile population, straggling, desertion and lack of supplies. Throw a die; 40 army points for each pip on the die.


Your field army is in supply if it is either at, or next to, a city controlled either by yourself or by another player who permits you to be supplied. A field army that find itself out of supply at the end of the player’s move in the campaign phase, before entering battle or dicing for a siege, dices for the number of troops lost to hunger, disease and desertion. Throw a die; 40 army points for each pip on the die.

If you force your way through a hostile province and end out of supply, only take one set of losses.

2.2 An invasion leads to either a battle or a siege

On your turn you may attack another player’s province, provided you have not already taken a movement option. Any of your contingents with other armies are recalled automatically. Before deciding to commit your army, you may solicit allies to assist you. If you then decide to proceed with your attack, the defender may also solicit allies.

If one of your provinces is invaded you may solicit allies and then can choose either to engage the attacker in battle, moving up your field army if it is not already present; or to stand siege, moving up your field army or retreating it away as you wish. You can do either of these in addition to any other movement option you have taken or may take this round.


If the defender has a field army at the city, this must either retreat to another of the player’s provinces or stand siege.

In a siege the attacker rolls a die. You must score a 6 to capture a city in which the enemy field army is standing siege, or 5 or 6 if the enemy field army is not present. If a captured city contains the defender’s field army, the whole army is lost.

If you fail to capture the city by siege, your field army loses 40 army points. Your allies suffer no losses. The siege continues next round unless you move your army or you are defeated in battle. The score needed for capture reduces by 1 each round the siege lasts.

A field army that is being besieged can sally out in its own turn to give battle, but not to retreat without battle.

2.2.1 Battles are fought using DBM

Battles are fought between the opposing field armies, using DBM.


You are the defending player if you control the province, otherwise if your army arrived in the province first. The terrain placed should attempt to reflect the historical terrain in the vicinity of the battle site. Using pre-DBM lists this means placing at least two provincial terrain pieces, otherwise terrain for the native army.

Winning & losing

You can lose a battle in three ways:

1 As per DBM, when your entire army is demoralised.

2 By conceding before this point. You can concede at the end of any bound. If your opponent accepts then the battle is over and no further losses occur, it is assumed that your troops withdraw from the table; otherwise you fight on.

3 Undertake a fighting withdrawal by moving your troops off your own base edge (or their side of entry). This is performed as normal movement. Troops removed in this fashion can not return to the table, and are not counted as losses for demoralisation or otherwise. The battle stops when all of your commands have withdrawn completely from the table or are demoralised.

Prestige for the winner is calculated the same way for all three methods.


If a general’s element is destroyed in combat then they are killed and go to the reserve. Otherwise the general is available for the next battle. If your army is left with no general, you must immediately retrieve one from the reserve.

The elements that were destroyed or which fled from the table are considered to be routing. All other troops return to your field army after the battle. Some of your routers will return to the army. If you won the battle, one third of your routing elements return to the army. If you lost, one sixth of your routing elements return to the army. All other routing elements are moved to the reserve and must be retrieved through recruitment.

The routing elements which are returned to the army must be divided as evenly as possible amongst the troops types lost. Allies must also get there fair share of returns. Where a fraction of an element is to be returned, then you have the choice of either rounding up or down to the next whole element. Bear in mind that the total number of elements returned (1/3 or 1/6) can not be altered by this mechanism.


If the player owning the province fought over is defeated, it is captured by the other main protagonist without further siege of the city. A defeated field army must immediately retreat to the nearest friendly province, choosing one if they are equally close. You can not retreat to the province the enemy entered from. If you have no friendly province to retreat to, you must force your way toward the nearest friendly province, taking losses while doing so.

2.2.2 The winner of a battle gets prestige

After a battle both armies have a prestige value. The prestige value of an army is the sum of the prestige values of their own undemoralised commands.

The winner of a battle gets prestige points equal to the prestige value of their army less the prestige value of their opponents. This is modified by the relative sizes of the two armies in army points, ie a small army beating a big army gets more prestige. The modifier is a multiplier of the army points of the loser over the army points of the winner. The winner always gets at least 40 prestige from a battle. The loser can never gain prestige.

The prestige value of each command depends on the total number of commands in the army. An army has 200 prestige divided evenly between the commands, with the C-in-C’s command being worth at least twice as much as other generals. There are normally from 2 to 4 commands, however, due to losses or allied contingents this may vary.

Number of commands Prestige value of C-in-C’s command Prestige value of each Ally general’s or Sub-general’s command
1 200
2 134 66
3 100 50
4 80 40
5 68 33
6 60 28
7 50 25

For instance in a battle where an army of Persians defeats an army of Byzantines the prestige is calculated as follows.

Army Persians Byzantines
Total Army Points 320 480
Number of commands 3 4
Prestige for C-in-C’s command 100 80
Prestige for other commands 50 40
Commands demoralised 1 C-in-C’s + 1
Prestige value of army 150 80
Unmodified prestige 150 – 80 = 70
Modifier due to relative size 480 / 320 = 1.5
Prestige awarded 70 x 1.5 = 105

2.3 You can send contingents to assist your allies

The field armies of players allied or tributary to an attacker or defender are not moved to their aid, but send allied contingents. The only circumstance in which two allied field armies can be at the same location is if one is standing siege and the other is attempting to relieve it, in which case the besieged army provides only a contingent for the battle.

Other than when it is being sent or retrieved an allied contingent must be associated with a field army at all times.


Contingents returning to their field army can move any distance, never count as forced marching, and do not have to force their way through hostile provinces. Otherwise, normal movement rules apply to contingents.


Your contingent consists of up to 80 army points from your own field army. It must include a general, who is treated as a reliable ally-general. The allied contingent is an independent command which you can run. Your C-in-C must remain with the field army. If two or more contingents are sent in a single round, they must be of different troops and be led by different generals.


Allied contingents which were sent in previous rounds are considered to have already arrived. Allied contingents which were sent this round may or may not start on the table. They roll once before the battle, on a

1, 2, 3 or 4 they have already arrived and deploy normally with the ally’s field army

5 or 6 they are deemed to be too distant to reach the battle in time

Contingents of the main protagonists which are returning this round roll to arrive in a similar fashion to allied contingents.

During battle

During a battle allied contingents move and fight at the same time as the main protagonists. The allied player controls his own command. Allied contingents cannot leave the table intentionally or change sides and attack their supposed ally, but the eagerness with which they assist is a matter for the player’s conscience! Allied contingents must have the normal quotient of baggage elements, although these can be in another command with the rest of the baggage.

If your side wins, the prestige must be shared with you. You get a proportion of the prestige based on the number of commands in the army, counting the C-in-Cs commands as two. You can negotiate with the C-in-C for a higher prestige total, between the normal value and twice the normal value. If a higher prestige value is awarded to you, then the main protagonist will receive correspondingly less prestige.


You can order contingents to return to your field army any time they are not actually involved in a battle. You can not send or maintain contingents in the same round as other movement options, hence, your contingents will return automatically when you move your field army.

3 Recruitment phase: raise troops and check for victory

3.1 More provinces means more recruits

The reserve

All troops that are lost (through battle, siege, etc) are placed in a reserve, and all such that are recruited or purchased are taken from that reserve, so your field army can never exceed the original total. You must keep the campaign organiser informed about which troops are in the reserve so the campaign diary can be updated.


In the recruitment phase you can transfer 10 points of troops from your reserve to your field army for each province now under your direct control, this simulating new recruitment. If your field army falls below the minimums for any item in your national army list, then all such deficiencies must be rectified before any other troops can be retrieved from the reserve.


Generals can be retrieved from the reserve at any time, even in the campaign phase. You must always have at least one general. To retrieve a general from the reserve in the campaign phase you must transfer the equivalent value of troops to the reserve.

Changing your army

You may change the composition of your 480 army point army during the recruitment phase, but only troops in the reserve may be changed. The new list must still adhere to you national army list derived at the start of the campaign. You may voluntarily send troops to the reserve so they can be replaced, but the new troops are then retrieved in the usual fashion.

Profound peace

If you do not take part in a battle or siege during three consecutive campaign years, the maximum size of your field army in the next year is reduced to 440 army points. It being assumed that the profound peace has led you to economise and unduly neglect your defences. If you do not take part in a battle or siege during six consecutive campaign years, the maximum size of your field army in the next year is reduced to 400 army points.

3.2 To win the campaign you need prestige

Prestige for provinces

In the recruitment phase you get prestige points for provinces under your personal control:

  • 6 prestige for each of your home provinces
  • 4 prestige for each other province

and prestige for those provinces under your direct tributaries’ control:

  • 2 prestige for each of their provinces

Campaign end

At the end of each game year after the first the campaign organiser rolls two dice; on a 2 the campaign is deemed to have finished, unless all players choose to continue. This system of a random campaign finish rewards players who are consistently successful, rather than those who put in a sudden burst at the end of the game.

When the campaign finishes, you count as your score the prestige points you have gained in battles and for controlling provinces. High score wins.


A player can ask at any time to become your tributary. If you agree, you become their overlord. Your tributaries must provide an allied contingent if you order them to. Neither of you can attack the other while the relationship lasts. Either of you can renounce the relationship during the recruitment phase. Your tributaries can retain or acquire tributaries of their own, and can order these to provide a contingent to support their own field army or provide a substitute contingent for you. Your tributaries cannot have two overlords. If you are knocked-out of the game by losing all your provinces or elect to leave the campaign, then your tributaries regain their independence.

Obviously you can ask to become a tributary of another player.

Leaving game

If you lose all your provinces you are out of the game, get no points for provinces, but retain your prestige points. If there is a spare neutral nation, you may be allowed to re-enter the campaign, still retaining any prestige.

If you voluntarily leave the campaign without choosing a replacement then any remaining provinces under your control become neutral and you get no prestige points.

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