I’ve seen several attempts to add rules for playing DBA on a square grid. The idea behind the square grid is to get rid of the micromanagement aspect that DBx games are famous for. Using a 60cm board and a grid, you can play a game of DBA with out the use of a ruler.
This is the heart of the grid game. Each unit will observe the command rules for the standard game. Movement rates for each unit are also the same as the standard game. The rates are expressed in paces with the following changes:
- Each square is 100 paces across
- Each unit must face a square edge
- A forward move costs 100 paces of movement
- A diagonal move costs 150 paces of movement
- Groups must wheel in increments of 90 degrees at the rate of the slowest unit. For each 100 paces a group can move, one unit in the group can wheel. Thus, a group that can wheel 200 paces could wheel a maximum of 2 units. Groups with a 300 pace move could wheel a maximum of 3 unit. And so forth.
- Units may turn at the cost of 100 paces. They may, however, move about in any direction without changing facing as per the rules.
Zone of Control and Engagement Range
Units have a zone of engagement in the square directly in front of them. An enemy occupying that square counts as being engaged with the friendly unit and a combat must be fought. A unit that is in front but 2 squares distant counts as being pinned (or “Barkered”). That pinned unit can either move into contact with the unit to the front, stay put or back away from the enemy. Backing away may be in a diagonal direction but the move cannot be into another square that is an engagement zone or pin zone.
Commanders have a command range of 800 paces or 400 paces if the line of sight is blocked by intervening terrain.
Bow and artillery ranges are expressed in units of squares. Bows can shoot 2 squares away with the usual 1 square to the left or right. Artillery can shoot 5 squares away. Note that shooting units cannot shoot into the square directly in front of them as this is the engagement zone.
There are few changes to the melee rules. Recoils are done by squares. 2 infantry may occupy a square. Only 1 of any other unit type may occupy a square. All of the rules for overlapping, flanking and supporting still apply.
DBA plays very well on a square grid. There is no room for ambiguity on a grid. You either make contact or you don’t. No rulers. No micro-measuring. Nothing. I wasn’t sure if I would like the 90 degree wheeling rules. After a few plays, I have learned to like them just fine. I honestly think I like DBA on a grid better than I do on a free form board. If you are a DBA player, you should give it a try. You will find yourself more working on tactics and less on wondering how you will make contact with that Psiloi when the front is covered by 1/4″ from the spear unit to its front.
DBA on a grid plays very similar to DBA on a standard board with some subtle differences. The first thing someone will notice is that pieces will be able to get across the board faster than they would in a standard game. This is because that 100p equals 1 square (about 1.5″) and not 1″. We are still playing on the same sized board so, naturally, it will take less time to get across the board. This is not a bad thing really as players will have less time to do drill team maneuvers to get their units in just the right order. A turning penalty of 100 paces was added to slow down the unit as it changed directions compensating for the fact that you measure from the farthest point in the standard game. Consider that a Blade unit trying to close the door simply wheels on its corner in the standard game using all movement. In the grid game, you advance 1 square (100p) and then turn (100p). Basically works out.
I was not going to include any zone of control rules or “Barkering” but in the end, it was necessary. I found in my first game that it was too easy to gain a flank on an enemy. Allowing for flank covering ZOCs gives the same feel as the standard game. Since the board is smaller and the ZOC covers a greater distance, I allow the withdrawing unit to move at an angle to get away if it needs to.
Shooting ranges are a bit farther too. I was going to express shooting in terms of paces but I figured I had better make it squares since all of the units will be moving faster. I wanted to give shooters the extra boost in range to match the extra boost in speed for melee troops.
Command range was reduced. A general in the center of the field can give commands to almost the entire width and length of the field but not in the corners in the standard game. I made the range 800 paces so that the command radius would be of a similar span.
These rules were adopted from Andy Watkins DBM amendments for the Classical period. The rules are quite nice. I took the liberty to use many of the ideas here and filled in the blanks where he did not add any detail.
Andy Watkins DBM Classical and Medieval House Rules