DBA Points System

One of the complaints about DBA is that of balance.  It is true that some armies are weaker than others.  A way to figure on how strong an army might be is by a points system.

The first thing to do is to determine how valuable a unit is based on combat factor.  At first, one might think that assigning a linear progression to the combat factors would be fair.  However, higher combat factors are harder to double than lower ones in a non-linear fashion.  So, I examined the natural break points.  Combat factors of 1 or 2 behaved similarly where stronger units could double them.  Combat factors 3 and 4 were also similar.  A 2 could double a 3 but a 4 could only be doubled by another 4 or more.  Finally, the 5 is very tough.  It takes a combat factor of 6 or more to double it.  In looking at percentage chances to double, the combat factors were in three groups.  Summing the numbers up, the low group costs +1 to go up by 1 number starting at 0.  Group 2 costs 2 points to go up one number starting at 3 and group 3 costs 3 points to go up to 5.  The actual costs are 1 costs 1, 2 costs 2, 3 costs 4, 4 costs 6 and 5 costs 9.  Simply figure out the costs vs infantry and cavalry and average the two if different.  Othersie, just use the value for infantry.

Next was movement.  I simply averaged movement for good going and bad going and then took the cost at 1 point per 100p.  Range was done in a similar fashion.

Next, I looked at support factors.  This was somewhat subjective but I generally added 1 per +1 factor.  So pikes would add, for instance +3 to the total cost for instance.   There was also a deduction -2 for rough going where it applied.

Finally, I had to determine the amount of bonuses or penalties for quick kills and either for or against.  The number of quick kills divided by 3 a unit could inflict was the number for an addition to the point total.  The number of quick kills divided by 3 a unit was vulnerable to was the number for a deduction from the point total.

The final results were as follows:

  • Elephants 9 (Originally 10 I reduced it to 9 because of the extra pip to control it.  Might even be worth only 8!)
  • Blades 8
  • Knights 8 (Heavy Chariots)
  • Cavalry 6 (Light Chariots)
  • Light Horse 6
  • Pike 6 (Originally 7 but I felt after a few plays that it loses some value because you are almost compelled to put them in support.)
  • Spear 6
  • Auxilia 6
  • Warband 6
  • Bow 6
  • Scythed Chariots 5 (This might be worth only 4)
  • Psiloi 4
  • Hordes 3

So how does one use a points system in a game where armies are a static 12 elements?  Tally up the total army points based on the schedule above.  Compare the two.  If one side is 3 or more points better, then they must try to eliminate one of their elements to bring the totals to parity or near parity.  For instance, A Pyrrhic army totals 75 points.  A Polybian army totals 80 points.  To bring everything down to parity, the Roman player should remove at least 3 points of units.  The lowest cost unit in the Roman army is a Psiloi at 4 points.  So, removing 1 would bring the total down to 76 points.  He could also opt to remove a spear instead bringing the total down to 74 points.

Like all points systems, this one is subject to debate.  However, I do feel it is a good gauging tool to determine how good/bad a given army is.   The system does not take into account good generalship.  But what points system does?


One Response to DBA Points System

  1. John,

    I assume you have seen the variant DBA point system on fanacticus – http://fanaticus.org/DBA/variants/index.html

    I have an older copy of the point system stuff from about 6 years ago, with 5 variants. The 5th is Philip Woutat’s which is an updated average of variants 1, 2 and 3 and is still at fanaticus.org. Variant 1 was the DBA 1.1 version of Lance Gambles’ point system (updated to version 2.1 and on fanaticus.org). What I like about your point system and Lance’s is that there is a well defined mechanism to arrive at the points – I was always a little uncomfortable with the use three formulas and average them out (Philip’s). There are differences between yours and Lance’s, significantly that he goes into 0.5 of a point. Not fond of that either. Anyway, I really really do like the idea of a point system for DBA. If only I could incorporate longer range shooting, limit movement and reduce the power of skirmishers, it would be my dream game…but them it would not hang together like it does. Still, it is one of the best games out there for less than one hour.

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