2.2+ Design Notes: Movement Changes

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Front corner measurement

Originally, DBA required measuring only the farthest moving front corner, when measuring movement. In DBA 2.0, this was changed to measure all corners, not only the front corners. In some areas, players never truly adopted all-corner measurement.

There are two main problems with all-corner measurement. One is that it is difficult to describe to new players, and difficult to get correct even for experienced players when elements are rotating as they move. The other is that most players used it inconsistently, even when attempting to measure all corners: most players failed to measure rear corner movement during group wheels.

Front corner measurement is not perfect, but it is better than all-corner measurement. It is easier to explain, easier to measure, and easier to get correct. It gives elements a bit more maneuverability, but not so much that it causes a problem.

Breaking Off

The rule that disallows breaking off unless your element is faster than the enemy was taken directly from Hordes of the Things. It has been thoroughly tested there, and produces better results than allowing slow troops from breaking off from faster troops. The rule also accentuates small differences in movement speed, and makes the 5 different movement speed categories more different. 1MU difference in movement speed isn't a big deal in terms of overall speed or maneuverability, but it can get you out of a jam if you can break off but the enemy can't.

Psiloi group move

Psiloi has never been a super troop. They have always been useful in small numbers in a support role, but armies with many Psiloi have had a hard time staying competitive. Psiloi are supposed to be fast, maneuverable skirmish troops who excel in bad going, but most of the time they don't have the long-term holding power required to prevail.

Allowing psiloi to group move through bad going gives them a benefit when armies have many of them, without making them much more useful if there are only one or two. The change improves a weak troop type, but not so much that they become more powerful than they should be. A side effect of psiloi group moves through bad going is that the first turn "psiloi rush" can be much more potent on boards filled with bad going.


Dismounting in DBA has historically been a point of contention, and a common area that was fixed with house rules in DBA 2.2. Many solutions for dismounting have been tried over the years, and most of them are better than the official rule in 2.2. The best dismounting rule is a bit of personal preference. The main goal in 2.2+ was to choose a dismounting rule that removed a bit of the "cheese" factor from Medieval dismounting knight armies. Dismounting at deployment time removes some of the army's flexibility, and reflects reality a lot more closely than allowing troops to dismount at any time. Dismounting armies still have more flexibility than their non-dismounting counterparts, but this imbalance is offset by fixing the troop selection at deployment time.


The single-element conforming rule was brought to 2.2+ from Hordes of the Things with minor modifications to help combat some of the "kinked line" problems that have been seen in DBA over the years. Deploying your army in a cup shape with front corners touching but rear corners separated results in a formation that the enemy cannot assault without putting themselves into a double overlap position. Requiring individual elements to conform to a moving group makes this ahistorical tactic less useful, which results in more historically accurate battles.

The difference between the conforming rule in 2.2+ and the rule in HotT is that 2.2+ allows a group to pull an element out of bad going as a part of conforming. This makes it more difficult to protect your flank with a single psiloi with "a toe in bad going," which was another common but ahistoric ploy in DBA 2.2.

Flank contact restrictions

The flank and rear contact restrictions were taken directly from Hordes of the Things, where they have had years of playtesting. They were added in 2.2+ partially to counteract the slightly longer move distances in 2.2+, but also because it encourages more historically accurate use of troops. One somewhat odd effect of this change is that a light horse beside an enemy element is allowed to move around to contact the front of that element, but isn't allowed to move around to hit the rear of the same element. Although this is weird, it is harmless.

Removal of "Illegal Contact"

In 2.2+, it is no longer illegal to contact the enemy in arbitrary ways; however, any contact that isn't a combat contact (full front, flank, rear, or overlap) has no effect on combat.

This change was made to allow some moves that were previously arbitrarily disallowed, such as first moving an element into overlap position and then moving another element into frontal combat. In reality, troops are all moving at the same time and not one at a time, so it makes sense to allow moves independent of the order in which the player performs them.

There was some controversy among GMs regarding the fact that non-combat contact has no effect on combat. It seems counterintuitive that front-to-side contact with an enemy only provides a flank bonus if front corners are touching. But this argument does not hold up: it is also counterintuitive that front-to-front contact with an enemy only results in combat when both front corners are touching, but nobody has had any problems with this odd corner of DBA historically.

In reality: there hasn't been a flood of people making previously-illegal contact just because they can. Since it has no effect, nobody bothers with it. The case where non-combat contact happens most often in practice is when an element with rear support is flanked and killed. At that point the supporting element is still alive, but has an enemy in front to side contact, which has no effect on combat.

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