2.2+ Design Notes: New Element Types

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Deciding whether to add new element types or not

New element types need to be evaluated by several criteria to decide whether they should be included or not.

  • Are their game rules different enough from other element types to bother including them? If not, the problem may be with the army lists and not the available troop types.
  • Do they work more historically correctly against their historical enemies than the element's previous type? Ahistorical matchups don't matter in this evaluation.
  • Do they "work" from a rules standpoint overall?
  • Are there enough armies affected by the change to bother with it?

Nobody wants DBA to turn into DBM/DBMM with its regular, irregular, ordinary, superior, inferior, fast, and exceptional troop grades. But adding a few new element types is fine: HOTT already has more different/weird element types than DBA. Adding new element types that work within the existing rules adds variety without adding the complexity of special rules that proliferate in DBM/DBMM.

No matter what you do, you have to draw the line somewhere. The new element types included in 2.2+ represent the cases when the "is it worth it?" question was answered affirmatively by the designers.

"But if you differentiate some elements by figure count, you should differentiate all elements by figure count."

No, this is incorrect.

Each potential new element type must be evaluated on its own merit. There is no reason inherent in the antiquated basing system DBA uses, that differently based elements must work differently. There are many different looking elements that behave the same way in DBA. This applies not only to the figures' sculpting and paint jobs, but also to the number of figures on each base.

The important question is: did the historical troops represented by these elements behave differently enough to warrant treating them differently in the rules?

Specific New Element Types


Pavisiers were included because they are historically a distinct element type from unprotected massed bowmen, and because there is plenty of room in the rules to differentiate them from ordinary bows. In most cases, Pavisiers represent relatively mobile troops, not a line of bowmen standing behind a fixed emplacement (stakes, etc). When fighting against ordinary bowmen, Pavisiers are inclined to close the gap and fight in hand to hand combat, where they have an advantage.


Cataphracts are significantly different from ordinary Knights, both in how they worked historically and how they work in 2.2+. They are slightly slower, which makes them less maneuverable; but it also reduces their ability to break off from close combat. They aren't impetuous, but also don't have a quick kill against most element types that Knights do. Their lack of impetuosity and increased survivability against foot makes them more well suited as Generals.


In DBA 2.2, Vikings are boring. In 2.2+, because they have Raiders available, they are not. This is all the argument needed, to justify their existence.

The main "problem enemies" for Raiders are Knights and warbands. An analysis was made of all armies that contained a significant number of Raiders, and it was found that there are very few historical enemies that have a bulk of Knights. Monotype Raider armies are not likely to win an open tournament; but then again, most monotype armies have the same problem, including monotype Blades. Raiders provide a great benefit in the historical periods they are found in, with minimal effects to the "open" metagame.

Light Spears

Light Spears represent the broad category of "fast pike" that was forced to turn into either 3Sp or 3Ax when the DBM army lists were converted for use in DBA 2.0. In some cases, elements categorized as 3Ax in DBA 2.2 should probably be played as Light Spear rather than Auxilia, but changing the army lists was out of scope of the changes made in 2.2+.

Together, Light Spear and Raiders change the dynamic of Dark Age era armies and make the period a lot more interesting than it was with fewer troop types available to represent all the different troops available during the period.

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