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.
- 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.
- aesthetics – impetus players, for example, try to make each base a mini diorama. I’m not so flash but try.
- figure insurance – the more space around the figures, the less they get handled/bashed, the longer they last.
- 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.
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.
My Gallic Noble cavalry are based in a single line.
My Iberian cavalry are based in an irregular pattern. §
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.
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.
Regular blades go in two rows of six figures.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Two bases look very solid. A two element Pike block has 30 figures, with the figures in five files and six ranks.
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.
I put Chariots on my normal mounted bases (80mm wide and 60mm deep). However, I put two chariots on each base.
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.
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.
My big base camps are 120mm wide x 80mm deep.
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.
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.