My blog about my wargaming activities. I collect a lot of 15mm miniatures for the American War of Independence and so collect a lot of rules for this period. I started miniatures with Napoleonics, so I have a number of armies in 6mm and 15mm figures for skirmishing. I have15mm WW II figures that I use for Flames of War, Memoir '44, and someday, Poor Bloody Infantry. Finally there is my on-again, off-again relationship with paper soldiers that I sometimes write about.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Musings on DBA, DBM, DBMM ... and FOG

Geordie an Exiled FoG commented on my last blog entry where I was bemoaning the complexity of DBMM.

First, let me clear up any perception about my last post. I still like DBA, but I am a "tweaker"; a rules tweaker to be exact. I cannot leave well enough alone. Sometimes I see a good set of rules and I just have to "make it better". For me, I wanted just a little more period flavor and complexity.

I started in ancients with WRG 5th edition (I think - I did not own the rules). I later played 7th edition when I was older and could afford to build my own armies. I didn't really have a problem with those rules, I just happened to move away from where people were using those rules and it sort of petered out anyway.

For the longest time I never played ancients again. The closest I came was with fantasy role playing where we gamed out some big battles as part of the adventure. It wasn't until about one year ago that DBA was introduced to me. I can't even say that I was hooked when I first played it, but I could see that they were going to be "my kind of rules".

Eventually, I craved more detail and so I bought both DBM (rules only) and DBR (rules and lists) and I must say, I was disappointed. I knew I wasn't going to be able to "sell" anyone at the club on either of these rules due to their complexity. We like rules like Memoir '44, Command and Colors Ancients, ... and DBA. High on tactics and low on rules count.

Ira introduced me to Fields of Glory (FOG) and I must say, I was not impressed. I really should give it another go - Ira spent all that money on all those books - and we did not really play a decent match-up (Romans versus Maccabean Jews with no terrain). That said, I still think there are "too many" rules for my aging brain. Too many steps, too many nit noids. Everything DBA is not.

So, why did I turn to DBMM? Simply because I read an interesting review and some of the concepts sounded like something I wanted to try. But, in the end, where I wanted to be was somewhere between DBA and DBMM in complexity. Hey! Maybe I can tweak the DBA rules some more... !

Thanks Geordie for commenting. I agree largely with your comments except about DBX hell (I don't include DBA in that hell part) or leading me to FOG. I really should try it once again though... :)


  1. I can relate to your comment on being a tweaker, as that's something I've spent a lot of time doing. However, when I got back into gaming recently I decided to try to make the most of my time by avoiding tweaking. Instead I try to spend that time painting, which, I feel, has more tangible and lasting results.

    I too found DBMM too complex, and I don't like the opportunity for designing armies that the lists provide; it's an activity similar to tweaking and not entirely satisfactory. It's not generally about creating the most realistic army, but the most effective one.

  2. Like its predecessors, DBMM uses a fairly large core of fixed troops in a list but also allows some adjustment (ok tweaking) of the list either for period or personal perference.

    If you are looking for a balanced game, then you are stuck with either DBA fixed lists or some sorts of points system.

    If you want realistic or scenario conflict then DBA and other fixed based count systems are right out. Just about any other rules set can be used.

    Most of my games have used the list options to restrict the game to historical opponents in historical time frames or to allow for larger or smaller games e.g. "I have a friend coming over can we add another 100 point command?"

    My other use of list "tweaking" is to get a decent game out of the troops I have painted up and based. Right now my Britons are heavy on warband and light on chariots.

    Now tweaking a list for competition play is an activity akin to dancing with the devil. Might be fin but I wouldn't care to try it. ;)


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Huachuca City, Arizona, United States
I am 50 yrs old now. I bought a house in Huachuca City, AZ (although I have a townhouse in Houston, TX and a small home in Tucson, AZ) working on a contract for "the next two years" that is going on five years now. To while away the hours I like to wargame -- with wooden, lead, and sometimes paper miniatures -- usually solo. Although I am a 'rules junkie', I almost always use rules of my own (I like to build upon others' ideas, but it seems like there is always something "missing" or "wrong").