Vic Lineal's linear campaign rules in action

We have been having a go with Vic's Quick linear 2-player campaign rules for DBA 3.0.

In Vic's own words:

This short rule set intends to provide a simple framework to play small, 2-player, linear campaigns using DBA 3.0. The framework has been designed to generate a small but variable number of battles, producing uncertainty and encouraging players to make highly abstract strategic decisions in terms of conserving forces or pushing for victory.

We did make some tweaks to the rules; see the bottom of the page for these.
We also used Super Stevie's Time of Day Display for the battles. Thoroughly recommended and, I think, will be used for all our battles from now on.

The map

We chose to set Alexander's Macedonians against Darius III's Achaemenid Persians, and used a simple A4 map to play on.

Initially I used a simple map with circles large enough to sit one or two elements of close order infantry on, and we used an element each to represent the army positions. And a tree to mark the season.

I have changed this to now be an area map.

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Starting armies

Alexander's Macedonian Army: 1•3Kn(Gen); 1•Cv; 1•LH; 6•Pk; 1•Sp; 4Ax; 1•Ps

Darius III's Achaemenid Army: 1•Chariot Cv (Gen); 2•Cv; 2•LH; 2•Ps; 5•Sp

332 BC: Spring

Alexander is in Syria. He attacks the Persians, who are in Babylonia. They meet at the battle of Arbela.

The Macedonian's advance is slowed by the river crossing the battlefield. By the time their pikes have contacted the Persian line, wiping out two units of Egyptian spearmen, their flanks are under pressure and they lose three of their lighter units (4Ax, LH, Cv). Nightfall brings the end of the battle and a Persian victory. (The Persians manage to rally one of the Egyptian units).

The Macedonians drop back from Babylonia to Syria.

Stacks Image 4971
The Battle of Arbela, 332 BC. The sun has set, the Macedonian pikes are damaging the Persian centre, but the Persian are about to maul Alexander's wings.

332 BC: Summer

Spurred on by his success, Darius advances from Babylonia to Syria. Alexander is unsuccessful in withdrawing and battle is joined on the coast, at Tyros.

Alexander's Macedonian Army: 1•3Kn(gen); 6•Pk; 1•Sp; 1•Ps

Darius III's Achaemenid Army: Chariot Cv (Gen); 2•Cv; 2•LH; 2•Ps; 4•Sp

The outnumbered Macedonians hold on their side of the bank and are attacked on their left flank by the Persian cavalry. They counter with their knights and spears, losing both. Alexander is wounded (see 'Tweaks to the rules' below).

They launch a counter attack across the river with their pikes, but this, and further activity on their left flank are stopped by nightfall.

This counts as a Macedonian victory, despite their losses, as they have not been defeated by nightfall.

The Persian fall back to Babylonia, with Alexander having the initiative.

Stacks Image 4988
The Battle of Tyros, 332 BC. Shortly after dawn, and the two armies face each other across the river, with the Macedonians keeping their pikes in a close mass next to the shore.

332 BC: Autumn

Severely weakened, the Macedonians drop back to Lydia to recover.

332 BC: Winter

Both sides reinforce.

The Macedonians are adjacent to their home, so get three units (see 'Tweaks to the rules', below). These are chosen to be 3Kn(Gen), 3Ax (Thracians), and 4Ax.
The Persians get one unit (to take them to the maximum 12). That is one 3Ax.
Note: we are using the optional Reinforcement restriction rule variant 1. You choose the type of your opponent's reinforcements.
The armies are now:

Alexander's Macedonian Army (Lydia): 1•3Kn(gen); 6•4Pk; 1•Ps; 1•3Ax; 1•4Ax

Darius III's Achaemenid Army (Babylonia): 1•Chariot Cv (Gen); 2•Cv; 2•LH; 2•Ps; 4•Sp; 1•3Ax

331 BC: Spring

The initiative is now with Darius. He advances and takes Syria.

331 BC: Summer

The Macedonians choose to reinforce in Lydia.
Their army is now: 1•3Kn(gen); 6•4Pk; 1•Ps; 1•Sp; 1•4Ax; 1•Cv; 1•LH

331 BC: Autumn

The Persians advance into Lydia and are met by the Macedonians and they fight the Battle of Helikarnassos.

This is a disastrous battle for the Persians. Some of their troops are tied up covering possible excursions from the city. On the wide open costal plain the two armies collide en-masse, and the Macedonian pikes maul the Persians.
The Persians lose: 1•Cv (later saved); 1•LH; 1•Sp (Egyptian); 1•3Ax. The Macedonians had no losses.

The Persians drop back to Syria.
Stacks Image 119
The Battle of Helikarnassos, 331 BC. The two lines collide outside the city.

331 BC: Winter

The Persians (in Syria) reinforce. Their army is now: 1•Ch(gen); 2•Cv; 2•LH; 2•Ps; 3•Sp; 1•4Ax.
Macedonians (in Lydia): 1•3Kn(gen); 6•4Pk; 1•Sp; 1•4Ax; 1•Ps; 1•Cv; 1•LH

330 BC: Spring

Alexander attacks the Persians in Syria. They fight the Battle of Sidon. The Macedonians form up between a marsh and the shore. Facing them, the Persians deploy in a longer line, with cavalry on their open left flank, and psiloi on the right, in a wood. A messy fight develops as the Macedonians advance and have to counter the cavalry on their flank. The Persians manage to hold off the Macedonians until nightfall, losing one element of light horse. The Macedonians lose one element of pikes, destroyed by a combination of spears and cavalry. Alexander drops back to Lydia.
Stacks Image 230
The Battle of Sidon, 330 BC. The situation before the advance of the Macedonians, with the Persian cavalry manoeuvering inland.

330 BC: Summer

The Persians, two elements down, reinforce.
Persian army (Syria): 1•Ch(gen); 2•Cv; 2•LH; 2•Ps; 3•Sp; 1•4Ax; 1•SCh (12)
Macedonian army (Lydia): 1•3Kn(gen); 5•Pk; 1•Sp; 1•4Ax; 1•Ps; 1•LH; 1•Cv (11)

330 BC: Autumn

The Macendonians reinforce. By adding 4Pk.
Persian army (Syria): 1•Ch(gen); 2•Cv; 2•LH; 2•Ps; 3•Sp; 1•4Ax; 1•SCh (12)
Macedonian army (Lydia): 1•3Kn(gen); 6•Pk; 1•Sp; 1•4Ax; 1•Ps; 1•LH; 1•Cv (12)

330 BC: Winter

The Persians reinforce. They drop out the scythed chariot and 4Ax, replacing them with two Sp.
Persian army (Syria): 1•Ch(gen); 2•Cv; 2•LH; 2•Ps; 5•Sp (12)
Macedonian army (Lydia): 1•3Kn(gen); 6•Pk; 1•Sp; 1•4Ax; 1•Ps; 1•LH; 1•Cv (12)

329 BC: Spring

The Persians advance into Lydia. They are met by the Macedonians at Mangnesie. The Macedonian pikes push back the Persian centre, but spears and light cavalry advance round their flanks and attack Alexander's cavalry. Alexander escapes, wounded.

The Persians lose two elements of Phoenician spear. Alexander loses 3Cv(gen), LH, 2•4Pk.

Persian army (Syria): 1•Ch(gen); 2•Cv; 2•LH; 2•Ps; 3•Sp (10)
Macedonian army (Lydia): 4•Pk; 1•Sp; 1•4Ax; 1•Ps; 1•Cv (8)

The Macedonians are pushed back to Macedonia.
Stacks Image 246
The Battle of Mangnesie, 329 BC. The Persian centre manages to hold the pikes. The Persian horse and Egyptian spears are about to break through and swamp Alexander's cavalry.

329 BC: Summer

The Persians follow up, attacking Pella, Alexander's capital, because the losses of Alexander's army are so heavy, giving them a great advantage.

Persian army (Syria): 1•Ch(gen); 2•Cv; 2•LH; 2•Ps; 3•Sp (10)
Macedonian army (Lydia): 4•Pk; 1•Sp; 1•4Ax; 1•Ps; 1•Cv(gen) (8)

The Macedonians deployed between the wood and Pella, and had to deploy their pikes in a single rank. This had a very much shorter frontage than Darius's army, which outflanked them on the Pella side. The Persian spears also outfought the single rank pikes.
The losses were 2•LH (Persia) and 2•4Pk, 1•4Ax (Macedonian). This was enough for a Persian win because it is more than a third of the Macedonian force.

The remainder of the Macedonian army disperses. Darius enters Pella in triumph, and the campaign is over.
Stacks Image 5216
The Battle of Pella, 329 BC. The winning turn for the Persians.


This campaign involved six battles:
  • The Battle of Arbela, Babylonia, Spring 332 BC, Macedonia attacks. Persian win.
  • The Battle of Tyros, Syria, Summer 332 BC, Persia attacks. Macedonian win.
  • The Battle of Helikarnassos, Lydia, Autumn 331 BC. Persia attacks. Macedonian win.
  • The Battle of Sidon, Syria, Spring 330 BC. Macedonia attacks. Persian win.
  • The Battle of Mangnesie, Lydia, Spring 329 BC. Persia attacks. Persia wins.
  • The Battle of Pella, Macedonia, Summer 329 BC. Persia attacks, Persia wins.

Attack ratio, Macedonia:Persia was 1:2
Win ratio, Macedonia:Persia was 1:2
Winner ratio, Attacker: Defender was 1:2

Overall a very enjoyable campaign. We feared that it might be a long back-and-forth slog, but proved to be just about the right length.
Thoroughly recommended.

Tweaks to the rules


Alexander gets 3 reinforcements if he is in Lydia, unlike the standard 4 in Macedonia and 2 everywhere else.
Similarly Darius gets 3 in Sousiane, 4 in Persis, and 2 everywhere else.

The fate of commanders

If the commander's element is destroyed, roll a D6:
  • 1-3 commander is unharmed;
  • 4-5 commander is wounded (no +1 during any battle in the next season);
  • 6 commander is killed.


If the withdrawing army's total is higher than the pursuing army's, follow the rules, but give the withdrawing army the initiative.
If it is a draw, follow the standard rules for 'withdrawing army's total is higher'.
If lower, again follow the rules.