For my own future reference and knowing how hard it can be to find things in the Yahoo Group archives I have copied this excellent article (warts and all) by Robert Beattie. The original can be found at: http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/DBA/conversations/topics/40711
Thu Oct 3, 2013 2:08 pm (PDT) . Posted by: "Robert Beattie" beattieumichedu
In the beginning there was DBA. A wonderful new game for historical miniatures that needed only small numbers of figures to represent large armies. Played in a small area. Standardized armies. Rules were pretty simple, until you tried to play with players from different areas when you discovered that different people had different interpretations. And so began the 20 year process for mutual acceptance of standard interpretations. Nonetheless, people did manage to play with each other. I remember the first couple years after DBA came out, at Historicon, players were walking about with 24in battle fields and fishing tackle boxes of armies looking for opponents. They would sit at a table, with armies set out, asking if they could teach you DBA. They did not have signs, Will Play DBA for Fun, but they did so.
Tournaments began. Standard elimination and Swss chess and even fancier ones. What a thrill to play against Phil or Sue when they came over.
http://www-personal .umich.edu/ ~beattie/ dbatourn/ DBAtourn. html
Then came HOTT. Almost the exact same game rules as DBA. If you knew DBA you could easily play HOTT, just add a few new troop types. There were a couple different rules, for example you could only attack an enemy on the flank if you started on the other side of that flank (now in DBA 3). This was the dream time of the two games. They were in almost perfect sync.
Then DBA changed. Phil wanted to change the game for some reason. It was actually good as it was. One of the most played games in the history of historical miniatures games. There were modifications to other times and places in the glossy monthly magazines. I wrote an article on how to play big battle games.
http://www-personal .umich.edu/ ~beattie/ bbdba.html
My local group played DBA or HOTT twice a month.
Nevertheless, Phil wanted change so wrote DBA 2. It was still a good game and people picked it up easily. No one wanted to make a house rule version of 1.1 instead of switching to 2.0. However, now DBA was misaligned with HOTT. Richard Bodley Scott, a co-author, took it upon himself to being the two back into sync. In the process he deviated from the new DBA so they they were close but not actually the same, anymore. See the differences here
http://www-personal .umich.edu/ ~abeattie/ dbasum2005/ HOTTDBAdiff. htm
Even with the many differences, players were still able to move back and forth between the two games. There was still a call for a HOTT based DBA game as the former was so much better written and had diagrams.
http://www-personal .umich.edu/ ~abeattie/ dbasum2005/ HOTTancients. htm
While some players could work their way through DBA 2 and 2.2, many sought help to understanding the subtle and sometimes complex language. For a while I presented a Commentary on the game, on the net, and then others made a very useful guide to aid in understanding the game. This Guide enabled many to play the game who could not otherwise struggle through it. Note that there many players who were able to learn the game from the original text. It is very interesting in understanding the development of the two games, that HOTT did not need any Guide. Just a short FAQ page.
So, late in first decade of the 21st century there were two games, that started out almost the same in the middle 1990's, but now diverged markedly. Most, almost all, players of both games were happy with them as they were. The HOTT players wanted no changes, the DBA players only wanted some clarifications.
Then came DBA 3. A major change from 2.2. So now the two games have almost nothing in common except the basics of elements and PIPs. By the way, the combat procedures are pretty much the same. A person who knows either cannot easily just start right in playing the other. Thus what were two very similar games have diverged because of the need for the writers to add additional touches here and there without concern for the synchronization of the two.
On Oct 3, 2013, at 5:22 AM, <matthew_bailey@ mac.com> wrote:
> Why is DBA limited to just 12 elements, and why could it not adopt a point-system similar to HotT?
> Since some armies have options that present some problematic armies with just 12 elements (I am talking those armies that typically have 12 identical elements, yet the DBMM Army lists show options for other types of elements - although many of the DBA lists do give those options in most cases).
> But why is it that this is an option (points for army element selection) for HotT and not DBA?
> Why is it that DBA isn't considered for fantasy rules, and that people defer to HotT?
> I have a growing selection of Middle-earth armies that are nearing completion (beginning with Hithaeglir Goblins, Rohirrim, Gondor, and Haradrim), and HotT doesn't provide nearly the elements needed to support the armies in question (especially armies like the Easterlings, Haradrim, Gondor, and Orcs, where both psiloi and bows (crossbows, longbows, etc.) would be found as troop types (to say nothing of pikes among some armies).
> I know that HotT has options for Heroes, Monsters, magic, etc. But why have two rules systems for what is the same sort of combat?
> That said, DBA 3 looks really good. Pity that it can' the dressed up a little more with some illustrations and pictures.
> Matthew Bailey