Monday, March 2, 2015

Prodigious, Purple, Pricey: DBA 3.0

Well, I just had to do it. Even though I sold my DBA armies a few years back with the thought that I would never play DBA again (which may still be true), I couldn't resist the allure of the new DBA 3.0 rules.

I balked at the idea of purchasing them after I looked online for them from the sole US reseller and discovered the price was $47.00(!). The slick, glorious, glossy rules from Warlord Games are cheaper than that. My balking at the price of things doesn't tend to last long, however. I have every edition of DBA from 1.0 on, so I thought I should get it just in case.

I heard that The Game Matrix in Tacoma, WA had them in stock and I set out to get a copy this Saturday. After morning mass in Bothell, I made a stop at Eltana Bagels in Seattle for a breakfast nosh, then down to Tacoma. Traffic was good and I got to the Game Matrix much quicker than I thought, arriving just a bit after opening hours. I didn't see any of the South Sound stalwarts around—in fact, almost no one was there. (I might have intuited that right off by the fact that I could park within 100 yards of the door.)

I trotted back to the section where historical rules can be found, wondering if they'd have any left. I might have called first, but needn't have bothered anyhow. There were two stacks of them dominating the rules shelf. They're big. It looks like A4 format (210mm x 297mm), though I haven't measured. They're also hardcover. Both size and binding are big departures from past editions of DBA.

Oh, they're also very purple (which is, appropriately, the liturgical color for Lent, but I don't think the Barker's had that in mind.)

And, they're $47.00, which is three times what DBA 2.2 cost.

I had a browse through them when I got home to stately Chez Dave in bucolic Lynnwood, WA. Unlike most of the people on the Fanaticus forum, I don't have DBA memorized, so I can't spot offhand how much they've changed. However, from the look of it, 3.0 is not a major revision. What they have done is:

  • Add diagrams for some of the more opaque rules situations (as an alternative to just writing the rules in Standard Modern English?).
  • Expand the army descriptions, so you don't have to go to Wikipedia to look up what Blemmyes are (in which case you might think they were an army of headless people).
  • Change the army compositions, which must cause a few groans from people who have 100 DBA armies that they need to change in order to be valid.
  • Tweak a the rules regarding rear and side support.
  • Changed some of the combat outcomes.
  • Change the measuring system to be multiples of the base width.
  • Revise the terrain setup rules.
  • Change the army deployment rules.

That's all that I can see from what I've browsed. There may be a bit more that I don't notice yet; I'm a bit obtuse sometimes, so I expect I've missed a lot.

These aren't the Blemmyes you're looking for.
I have, I think, some 15mm DBA armies in a box in the garage. Unpainted, of course. I'm not likely to paint them any time soon. I have, however, a bunch of the 28mm Cutting Edge Bronze Age minis from Warlord Games. I bought these last year because I couldn't resist. As a recovering ANE student, I'm pretty jazzed about having accurate figures available for the period. From Akkadians to Amorites, they've got it all. But I've been wondering what to do with them.

Maybe a 28mm DBA project...

My last 15mm DBA project was painting the armies and enemies of  Old Kingdom and Middle Kingdom Egypt. I could do a similar project for the Age of Hammurabi (ca. 18th c. BC). The figures aren't bulky, so I could easily fit them on the official base sizes (60mm wide) for larger scales.

Mounted on the standard bases, I might also be able to repurpose anything for DBA to be used with the old Al Margolis Legion rules published by Fantasy Games Unlimited in 1976.

Postscript: Eltana Bagels

Eltana is a new favorite spot for me. It's on the edge of Seattle's Wallingford district and not far from where I used to work when I was at Adobe and later Sakson & Taylor. It's also just up the street from the Pacific Inn Pub. The best dive bar in Seattle with the best fish & chips in the world.

Eltana makes their bagels Montreal style in a wood fire stove. They're chewy and slightly sweet. The only comparable bagels are Siegel's Bagels from Vancouver, BC, but that's too far to drive.

When I was in between jobs last summer, I went down to get a bagel on several mornings. A toasted bagel with schmeer and lox is the best way to start a day. I wish they'd open a shop up north by me.


  1. David: I commend you for making the long drive down for the rule book. Although I've only played a couple of DBA games, and actually incorporated a few of the mechanics to some homebrew rules, I just don't see myself getting into it proper. Who knows though, maybe getting my 28mm Mycenaeans in on a DBA game might be interesting.

  2. A friend came down for a game over the New Year break with the new edition, and it seemed to play ok. My friend thought that under the new rules warband were comparatively too powerful or too weak (I forget which), but I don't have the long history with DBA to know, to be honest. The only thing I've really picked up from the dozen or DBA games I've had throughout my life is 1 bad 6 good! Anyway, hope you get those 28mm armies painted and based up and a few games in at some stage.


  3. Early Bronze Age sounds very intriguing - I have thought about it recently as well. However, I am not sold on DBA, mostly because the basing scheme never quite piqued my interest, even though the combat system IMHO is brilliant.

  4. I'm a bit dicey on the historical basing for larger scale (60mm wide with varying depths). 60mm x 20mm is pretty shallow and tight for most 28mm figures. The Cutting Edge figures are 28mm in height, but seem very wee next to any other figures in this scale. They would fit on the 60mm wide basing, but no other figures would. I earlier adopted a 28mm basing that was simply 2x the 15mm base sizes, e.g., 80mm x 30mm for Blades, spears, pikes; 80mm x 60mm for mounted; 80mm x 80mm for elephants, chariots, etc. The Cutting Edge figures would look lost on bases that big.

    I like DBA generally, but DBM showed the limitation of the idea, I think. Expanded to larger battles and more diverse armies and troop types, the original rock-paper-scissors approach broke down and lots of odd tweaks had to be added to fix things, which only made the game more of an obsessive-complusive's paradise.