DBM Allies

Carl Holliday

This section aims at providing guidelines when selecting an allied contingent for a DBM army, as well as how to compose such a contingent. A certain amount of the information presented may also be applicable to other rule sets and periods, but the discussion follows DBM 3.0 closely.

First of all I can not take all the credit for what appears here, as too many individuals have contributed to this, both directly and indirectly. The following is broken down into two parts, namely (i) Selecting an Allied Contingent and (ii) Composing an Allied Contingent. It is not always possible or practicle to keep all applicable concepts separate, and some duplication does occur.

The discussion which follows assumes that basic game concepts and troop type definition mechanisms of DBM are understood. No attempt is made here explain how to play DBM, but only how to select an appropriate ally.

Selecting an Allied Contingent

Allied generals are more expensive than ordinary troops in terms of Army Points (AP), but cheaper than similar subordinate generals by 5-10AP.  Note however that regular allied generals are more expensive than irregular subordinate generals, while both have a limitation on sharing dice, and the ally always has a risk of unreliability.  An AP expensive regular ally may become worthwhile when it is used in a Medieval army, as such a Knight general is not impetuous.  They are still generals, allowing for an additional PIP die with a resultant increase in PIP's for the army as a whole.  With large irregular armies it is often worth while to have a fourth general (if available) to improve control over the troops.  The few AP spent extra on a general reduces the number of elements available for combat, but the increased control should more than compensate for this.  

In general:

Reasons for using an ally, may include some of the following: it is not necessary to use an ally general, if such an ally general will only give access to more of the same troops already available the main army.  This of course assumes that sufficient numbers of key troop types are available from the main list.  Always ensure that an allied fulfills a clearly defined role.

The advantages of using an ally: The disadvantages of using an ally:

It appears that the advantages are more numerous than the disadvantages and in the end a judgement call will have to be made, based on the way the army is to be played and whether the troops available as allies will complement the suggested order of battle.  Often the lack of suitable (or any) subordinate generals will force the use of ally generals.

Composing an Allied Contingent

The DBM Army List Books (Barker & Bodley-Scott: WRG 2nd Edition, 2000) specify that -

Unless otherwise stated in a particular list, the allied contingent can include only compulsory types, and must have at least a quarter of the specified minimum number of elements of each such type. It cannot include more than a third of the specified maximum number of each such type, or 1 element, whichever is greater.
This means that in the event of allies being used from the Early Armenian and Gordyene 300BC - 627AD List, Book II, List 28, the troops available will be the following:

List description Normally available Reduced for allies
Kn(X) general 1 1
Kn(X) 6-12 2-4
LH(F) 10-24 3-8
Ps(O) or Bw(I) 12-24 *3-8
Ax(O) 8-48 *2-16
Kn(F) Hiberian 0-3 0-1
Ax(S) Hiberian 0-6 0-2
Kn(I) Albanian 0-4 0-1
Ps(O) Albanian - if this is taken 1 Ps(S) must be purchased as well 0-8 0-1

Note that this list specifies on page 28 -
An Armenian ally-general's command in this army, or an allied contingent taken from this list, can include Hiberians and/or Albanians and need not include otherwise compulsory foot.
This explains why the Hiberians and Albanians are available, creating an exception on the rule that an allied contingent can include only compulsory types.  

Calculating minima

The specified minimum number of elements are divided by four and the available number of (full) elements are then used when composing the allied list.  The line Kn(X) 6-12 obviously specifies that for the minimum 6 must be divided by 4, which equals 1.5 elements.  The rules state that a quarter of the specified minimum number of elements must be used.  Elements are always full elements, and as 1.5 cannot be used, this therefore increases to 2 elements.

Calculating maxima

The specified maximum number of elements are divided by three and the allowed number of (full) elements are then used when composing the allied list.  The line Kn(I) 0-4 obviously specifies that for the maximum 4 must be divided by 3, which equals 1.33 elements.  The rules state that any such allied options cannot include more than a third in terms of (full) elements.  As 1.33 cannot be used, this therefore decreases to 1 element.


Normally only troops compulsory in the original list may be used when selecting troops for the allied contingent.  As we have seen this list allows for additional troops, and also creates an exclusion.  Normally the ally option for this list would also include those troops marked *, but the list specifies that  An Armenian ... allied contingent taken from this list need not include otherwise compulsory foot.  This means that the foot (*) are not compulsory for an ally.  

However the non-compulsory minima still apply, as there is no exclusion affecting this.  Should any foot from such a line be used, the non-compulsory minima are reactivated.

The specification that "otherwise compulsory foot" may be included is generally interpreted that lines such as the Ax(O) 8-48 are not compulsory, as they would normally be.  However, if any troops from this line are to be used, the normal minimum restriction again become applicable.  That is why the list reflects Ax(O) 2-16 available as allies.  

This is also in accordance with the intent of the authors, as per Richard Bodley-Scott, 2000.08.23.

Where a list states that allies "need not include compulsory foot" the options are to take no foot, or if selected the relevant minima and maxima must be adhered to. Where there is more than one compulsory type of foot, the selection of one type does not make the others compulsory.
BHGS Clarifications 8.5 for DBM 3.0 2001.03.11

Created on Augustus 18, 2000. Edited to include the BHGS ruling on April 9, 2001.