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De Bellis Antiqitatis - DBA

DBA is a set of simple fast play ancient wargame rules (by the Wargames Research Group), which can be used with any scale miniatures and you do not need loads of them. 

It is very easy with DBA to run a campaign.  I have played in many, But my friends and I find that we like to alter the campaign rules from DBA rule book to suit our group.  The below is a day campaign a friend ran a few years ago, which was very enjoyable to play.

DBA Battle Campaign

Rules used are De Bellis Antiqitatis V2 & Campaign Rules detailed below.


The objective of this campaign is to get the greatest number of battles fought within the time available. The game has not been set into any historic context though the armies conform to the current or previous version DBA’s army lists.

The campaign makes use of the new terrain rules based on defenders territory rather than who is the aggressor. It limits national army resources  over the three year campaign period. The game will end at 5pm or when the three years campaign is up - whichever comes first.

There has been added a couple of  additional twists, “General’s Luck” and “The Gods” as successful generals seemed to make their own luck and the outcome of battles was affected by the superstitious belief of the troops.


Initially each player secretly nominates which army he wants to use from the list below. If no other player has selected that army he keeps that choice. If more than one player has selected the same army they dice and the highest uses that army. Those players which an army nominate a new choice from the remaining armies. The above process is repeated till all players have an army. One should be aware when selecting an army the rules for replacement forces, especially where there is limited replacement for some element types.  


Midianite Arab

Dry Ag3

General with 2Cm, 5x3Cm, 6x2ps



Arable Ag2

General with HCh, 2xHch, 1xLCh, 6x3Sp, 2x2PS



Littoral Ag2

General with LCh, 4xLCh, 4x4Pk, 1x3Wb, 2x2Ps


New Kingdom Egyptions

Littoral Ag2

General with LCh, 3xLCh, 1x4Bd, 4x4Sp, 2x4Bw, 1x2Ps


Early Assyrian

Arable Ag4

General with HCh, 2xHCh, 1x3Cv, 2x3Bd, 2x3Aux, 4x2Ps


Sea People

Littoral Ag4

General with HCh, 7x3Wb, 2xWWg, 2x2Ps


Later Libyan

Dry Ag0

General with LCh, 1x3Wb, 10x2Ps


Early Hebrew

Hilly Ag3

General with 3Au, 5x3Au, 1xWWg, 2x3Wb, 3x2Ps



Dry Ag1

General with 3Wb, 2x3Wb, 6x3Bw, 3x2Ps



Arable Ag3

General with 3Cv, 3x3Cv, 6x3Wb, 2x2Ps


Early Samurai

Hilly Ag1

General with 3Cv, 3x3Cv, 5x3Ax


Han Chinese

Arable Ag3

General with HCh, 2x3Cv, 2x2LH, 3x4CB, 3x4Sp, 1x2Ps

Each player starts with a complete army and two reserve forces that have the same composition as the original army. When elements are lost in battle these can be replaced from the reserves until that element type has been exhausted. At no time can an army have more than 12 elements and at all times an army must have no more elements of a particular type than allowed in the army list given above. If a player has lost all his then he is eliminated from the campaign.

Player’s Territory

There is no map for the campaign but it works on each nation having three provinces between their capital city and boundary of each of their neighbours. This is the same for all nations, hence any invasion, between two nations, is along their connecting provinces and is independent of the relationship to other nations.  All nations are thus connected to all other nations by three provinces.  Nations only fight over one province in a battle campaign season and martial etiquette means once a nation’s army is committed to battle there are no more invasions of that nation’s territory. This means there are no lines of communication to worry about, territorial gains only matter at the end of the full campaign to see who is the most powerful landlord, and troops can travel anywhere to fight in a campaign season without hindrance.  

Provinces are capture by the attacker of that province - allies do not gain any land. This is the only way provinces change hands. A war between two nations ends when one nation captures all the opponents three provinces - the capital then surrenders and losing player is out of the game and his army disperses. Any invasion by other nations on the defeated nation provinces will be defended by the new owner.

General’s Luck

Players start with five ‘General’s Luck Stones’. Players will get one more of these for each time their general survives a battle. They will get two more if the general survived and is on the winning side.

General’s Luck can be used in two ways:

  • Each one buys an initiative point. Up to five can be used in the imitative stage.

  • Stones can be used to enable the player to re-roll a dice during a battle. They must accept the second roll. They must declare before the battle starts how many they will use in the battle to a maximum of three. Declared but unused stones are lost.

The stones can only be used once.

The Campaign Year

There are three periods to each year, Winter, Spring and Summer. Spring and Summer are battle campaign seasons. Winter is for negotiation between countries. The war lasts for three years.

Winter Negotiation Season

Players will have ten minutes to negotiate with other players during this season. At the end of the ten minutes each player will write down who they are declaring war on during the coming year. This will then be made public. In the coming year players will only be able to attack those they have declared war on or those who have declared war on them.

Battle Campaign Seasons

There are two campaign seasons in the year Spring and Summer. The sequence of play is:

  • Divination

  • Initiative and campaign army moves

  • Call for Allies

  • The Battles

  • Battle Results


Players can sacrifice to the Gods at the beginning of a battle campaign season (Spring and Summer) in an attempt to gain a favourable omen from the gods for a forthcoming campaign season and battle. They do not have to do so but if they do they draw a single card from the pack. All players draw a card and results should not be declared until they need to be at the end of the initiative round or during the battle. Whatever the omen is, good or bad, it will affect that player’s campaign or  battle in that season and MUST be played. At the end of the season all cards are returned to the pack and the pack reshuffled.

The cards give the following events:




Your sacrifice was well received by the god and your general has received divine guidance: Have 1st initiative for the coming season’s campaign.


Your sacrifice has insulted the gods. They favour your enemies. You have last initiative for the season’s campaigns.


Mercury will aid you in the coming battle. Your may re-roll any one of your dice in the coming battle in this campaign season and choose the best result.


Apollo has decided to aid you enemies during the battle. Your opponent may make you re-roll any one of your dice rolls in the coming battle in this campaign season and nominate which you take. The card must be passed over to your opponent before the battle.


Your priest has partially interpreted the riddle of the Oracle. You gain +1 on this seasons initiative score


Your priest has correctly interpreted the riddle of the Oracle. You gain +2 on this seasons initiative score


Aphrodites takes a fancy to your general. If your general dies in the battle he is saved by the gods for the next seasons battle. He is counted as lost for game purposes in this battle but not removed from resources.


Your general has been given divine strength for the battle of Achilles and you may re-roll any one of THE GENERAL element’s dice rolls during the battle


The Gods toy with you for their amusement. You may re-roll any one of your dice rolls during the coming seasons battle but must take the second roll.


The gods are too busy partying and ignored your request


Dionysus gives your army a divine sign before the battle inspiring your troops. Take the first ‘Play initiative points’ dice roll as ‘6’.


Aeolos gives your army a bad omen before the battle demoralising your troops. Take the first ‘Play initiative points’ dice roll as ‘1’.


Juno aids you in battle. Once during the battle one of your elements can move twice in a single turn. However an extra play initiative point must be used to do this.


Diana confuses your troops in battle. Your opponent can, once during the battle, nominate an element which cannot be moved in that turn. No initiative point is lost however. This card must be given to your opponent before the battle.

Initiative and campaign army moves

Players can effect when they act in relation to each other by calling on the gods through divination and by “biding” their general’s store of ‘luck’. The results of this are declared simultaneously.

The players hold the number of general’s luck stones they wish to bid concealed in their hand. Hands are opened simultaneously. The maximum number of general’s  luck stones that a player can “bid” is five.

The player with the highest score (or whom the God’s favours the most) decides their actions for the season first. If there is an equal score a d6 is rolled and the highest on a dice goes first. The highest initiative player determines who they will attack this turn - it must be someone who they are at war with and who is not already committed to a battle. The person they have attacked can only defend and can not declare an attack on any other player in the current season.

This is repeated for the next higher initiative player who is not already in battle and then the next highest and so on for all remaining players .  

If a player is not in combat after this they can offer to act as ally for an attacker or defender as per the ‘Call for Allies’ below.

Call for Allies

If there are any players who are not committed to a battle then allies can be called for by attacking or defending players.

The participation by allied contingents follows the following procedures:

  • A player whose field army is not committed in a season. Distance etc is not a problem.

  • An allied contingent can only be sent to aid an invasion of the territory of a player whom he is at war with or sent to aid in defence to a nation whom it is not at war with.

  • An allied contingent consists of up to 3 elements from the player’s own field army, one of which must be nominated to include a general.

Allied contingent(s) move in sequence after the second of the main protagonists. They use their own separate die to determine how many elements/groups they can move each turn. They do not arrive in table until they score 6, then arrive in a single column at that edge. They may sometimes have choice of board edge. They do not have a camp on the battlefield. They cannot leave the table intentionally or change sides and attack their supposed ally, but the eagerness with which they assist him is a matter for their own conscience!

An element can affect combat in an allied player’s bound only be providing tactical factors. Artillery shoot only in the main enemy protagonist’s bound.

The Battle

The battle follows the DBA V2 Rules adjusted as below.

Before the game starts:

  • Players determine how many general’s luck stones are in play (to a maximum of 3). These are declared simultaniously by revealing number held in hand. 

  • Players must play relevant  “Divination” card and where specified pace them over to the opponent. The others they do not need to declare they have a card but not what it is.

  • The terrain features will be of the type of the country which is being fought over. The person fighting in his own terrain is always said to be the defender for terrain selection. The invader on attacking the first province of the country numbers the board sides 1 to 4 and then any other side he likes 5 & 6 dicing to see which side of the table he comes on. On invading the second province in enemy country the invader numbers board sides 1 to 4 and then two adjacent edges 5 and 6 dices to see which side of the table he comes on. On invading the third and last province the defender picks which side of the table he is on. A player who is attacking to regain provinces within his own nation numbers the board sides 1 to 4 and then any other side he likes 5 & 6 dicing to see which side of the table he comes on.

Battle Result

The battle is fought until ended as in the battle rules. The loss of allied players , including those of camp followers, are added together when determining whether their side is defeated. Loss of an allied contingent’s general requires its remaining elements to attempt to march off and leave the table, starting with its next bound.

Elements destroyed by combat are noted against resource ledger. Elements that leave the table return to their field army after the battle as do camp followers. Use the “Call on Gods” card to save general if relevant. If a player has 5 uncommitted general’s luck stones he can use these to save a general killed during this battle. This does not effect outcome of battle.

Loss of a main protagonist’s camp is penalised by the removal of 2 extra troop elements from the field army at the end of the battle in addition to those destroyed in battle - these being chosen by the general losing the camp.  This stimulates desertion by demoralised troops.

After a battle, each player gains 1 prestige point for each enemy troop element his troops have been destroyed or forced to flee off the table in excess of those of his own troop elements that have been destroyed or forced to flee off the table. A player who was first to capture the enemy camp or whose troops destroyed the main protagonist’s general gain an additional prestige point for each such instance.

General’s Luck stones nominated for use in the battle are surrendered - even if not used.

Campaign Victory

Players count up all their prestige points.

    Count 2 points for each General’s Luck stones still retained.

    Count 1 points for each enemy province now controlled.

    Loss 1 points for each of own provinces control by enemy.

    Count 30 points for each capital, including own, controlled.

    Count 5 points for each surviving general.

    Add prestige points gained in a battle.



© Edmund Proctor  2003 - 2012